Madame X by Jasinda Wilder
Published by Berkley, Penguin on October 6, 2015
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Romance
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Madame X invites you to test the limits of control in this provocative new
novel from New York Times bestselling author Jasinda Wilder.
My name is Madame X.
I’m the best at what I do.
And you’d do well to follow my rules...
Hired to transform the uncultured, inept sons of the wealthy and powerful into decisive, confident men, Madame X is a master of the art of control. With a single glance she can cut you down to nothing, or make you feel like a king.
But there is only one man who can claim her body—and her soul.
Undone time and again by his exquisite dominance, X craves and fears his desire in equal measure. And while she longs for a different path, X has never known anything or anyone else—until now...
Madame X was everything I didn’t know I needed, dark, gritty, and deceptively sexy.
Jasinda Wilder takes us on a path with so many forks I honestly didn’t know what I wanted. Every time I thought I had connected the dots the scenario changed and all I could do was follow. It took some time for me to warm up to the story. Let’s be honest we aren’t given a clear picture on purpose and so the lines albeit appear black and white they are anything but. Madame X performs a service for Caleb Indigo. In return for that service she’s totally provided for; food, clothing, home, and body. She wants for nothing…except maybe for another life. We know nothing of her really except that Caleb has saved her.
Caleb is an inigma. We get absolutely no background on him except for his interactions with Madame X. There’s obviously a dark, mysterious, possibly nefarious back story with him. But I didn’t really care at times, I just chose to hate him. He was contradiction after contradiction and not one time did he stay to true to any part of his story. Except for maybe his cold aloof personality, if you can even call it personality. He’s brutal and unforgiving.
It’s hard to really talk about this story without giving away too much. Suffice it to say Madame X’s journey is a rebirth. She’s comfortable, unassuming, resigned, until a spark is lit. This spark allows us to watch her self discover, become self aware. To dare to have hope. To possibly dream of different futures. I wanted so much for Madame X and I’m frantic for the next book. I feel like this was seriously just a set up for the heart of the story. There are balls at play things have been set in motion, there is no going back for Madame X. While at times I was frustrated with her choices I had no choice but to understand them.
While this book may appear to be sensual, I actually found the story of Madame X so much more than that. Yes there is sex. Yes it’s provocative even. I just couldn’t help but feel like it was more a part of her journey than a romantic element. It was needed in order for her to assimilate, compartmentalize, and regroup. Dare I say it was therapeutic? You’ll have to be the judge. As for Caleb, the jury is still out.
It’s been a while since I’ve read something sensually gritty and Jasinda Wilder nailed it for me.
*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
A knock on the door, the silent swing of hinges, and then heat and hardness behind me, a faint but intoxicating hint of cologne, the creak of leather. Hands on my waist, lips at my neck. Breath on my skin.
I don’t dare tense, don’t dare suck in a sharp breath of fear. I don’t dare pull away.
Strong, hard, powerful hands twist me in place, and an index finger touches my chin, lifts my face, tilts my gaze. I cannot breathe, don’t dare, haven’t been given permission.
“You are lovelier than ever, X.” A deep, smooth, cultured voice, like the purr of a finely tuned engine.
“Thank you, Caleb.” My own voice is quiet, careful, my words chosen and precise.
“Scotch.” The command is a murmur, barely audible.
I know how to prepare it: a cut-crystal tumbler, a single ice cube, thick amber liquid an inch from the top. I offer the tumbler and wait, keep my eyes downcast, hands behind my back.
“You were too harsh on Jonathan.”
“I must respectfully disagree.”
“His father expects results.”
I bristle, and it does not go unnoticed. “Have I ever failed to produce results?”
“You sent him away after less than an hour.”
“He wasn’t ready. He needed to be shown his faults. He needs to understand how much he has to learn.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” Ice clinks, and I take the empty tumbler, set it aside, and force myself to remain in place, force myself to keep breathing and remind myself that I must obey. “I didn’t come here to discuss Jonathan Cartwright, however.”
“I suppose not.” I shouldn’t have said that. I regret it as soon as the words tumble free.
My wrist bones scrape together under a crushing grip. Hard dark eyes find mine, piercing and frightening. “You suppose not?”
I should beg forgiveness, but I know better. I lift my chin and meet those cold, cruel, intelligent dark eyes. “You know I will fulfill the contract. That’s all I meant.”
“No, that isn’t all you meant.” A hand passes through artfully messy black hair. “Tell me what you really meant, X.”
I swallow hard. “You’re here for what you always want when you visit me.”
“Which is?” A warm finger touches my breastbone, slides into the valley of my cleavage. “Tell me what I want.”
“Me.” I whisper it, so not even the walls can hear.
“All too true.” My skin burns where that strong finger with its manicured nail traces a cutting line up to my shoulder. “You test my patience, at times.”
I stand stock-still, not even breathing. Breath whispers across my neck, huffs hot on my nape, and fingers toy with the zipper of my dress.
“I know,” I say.
And then, just when I expect to feel the zipper slide down my spine, body heat recedes and that hot breath now laced with hints of scotch is gone, and a single word sears my soul:
My tongue scrapes over dry lips, and my lungs constrict, protesting my inability to breathe. My hands tremble. I know this is expected of me, and I cannot, dare not resist, or protest. And . . . part of me doesn’t want to. But I wish . . . I wish for the freedom to choose what I want.
I have hesitated too long.
“X. I said . . . strip.” The zipper slides down to between my shoulder blades. “Show me your skin.”
Reaching behind my back, I lower the zipper to its nesting place at the base of my spine. Hard, insistent hands assist me in brushing the sleeves from my shoulders, down my arms, and then the dress is floating to the floor at my feet. That’s all the help I’ll get. I know from long experience that I must make a show of what comes next.
I turn my head, and see tanned skin and the perpetual two-day stubble on a refined, powerful jawline, sharp cheekbones, firm, thin lips, black eyes like voids, eyes that drip desire. My hair drapes over one shoulder. I lift one knee so my now-bare toes touch the gleaming teak, curl my shoulders in, let my gaze show my vulnerability. With a deep breath, I unhook my bra, let the garment fall away.
I reach for my underwear.
“No,” comes the purr, “leave them. Let me.”
I let my fingers graze my thighs, wait. My underwear slides down slowly, and where fingers touch, so too do lips, hot and damp, touching my skin, and I cannot flinch, cannot pull away or express how badly I want only to be alone, to even once have the right to want something else.
But I do not have that right.