When Peter, then later Patrick, is torn from Andy Sheaver’s life, she almost wills herself to die. Survive is about all she has done, but her body is now begging her for something more. It tears Hunter Sullivan up every time he remembers his best friend and godson, yet it hurts just as much to see Andy wasting away. He loves her, always has, and it breaks his heart that she refuses his help. The loneliness of her and Patrick’s home is finally too much, so Andy seeks an outlet in the only club she is comfortable in. Not running into Hunter is a priority, although doing so is not much of a surprise. What is a surprise is how much her body reacts to his, and how much he wants the same. Hunter will do anything to keep Andy in his life, especially if it helps them both heal from the tragedies of the past. Grief, anger, and guilt are the only emotions Andy has felt for so long it is no wonder she goes to extremes her first night out. I love how gentle, patient, but also persistent Hunter is when he reels her back from the edge. Their bond is much deeper than the physical, which turns this story from just BDSM to a real romance. Ms. Hammell tells a lovely story with a softer BDSM angle to spice things up.
After the deaths of her husband and child, tragedies that she blames herself for, Andrea “Andy” Sheaver has shut herself off from the world. The only place she finds any relief from her shattered heart is Club Splendor, where she and her husband often frequented. There, Andy submits to pleasure and pain in order to feel something other than grief for a little while.
But Hunter Sullivan won't stand idly by and watch Andy self-destruct. Her husband's best friend, and the owner of Club Splendor, Hunter has kept his love for Andy hidden for years. He refuses to think of her at the club, cold and detached, looking for an easy fix to take away the pain in her heart. Hunter wants her to be vibrant in life again and sets out to prove he is exactly who she needs.
Be Warned: BDSM, spanking, voyeurism, multiple partners
Hunter sighed, which caught Andy's attention. Her eyes met his briefly before lowering to her hands, which were clenched tight in her lap.
“Look, Andy,” he began.
“What do you want, Hunter?” Her forest-green-eyed gaze met his. Anger swirled in their depths.
“I'm tired of this. Dammit.” He snarled, rising, and crossed to the fireplace. He ran his fingers through his hair and leaned one arm on the mantel. He looked over at her, stomach churning with indigestion and pain. He'd loved Patrick and Peter too. Could she not understand that she wasn't the only one suffering?
“Tired of what? I never asked you here.”
“This!” Hunter spread his arms wide. “You. I'm so tired of seeing you locked away in this house, never leaving and pictures gone.”
“Go to hell,” Andy spat and leapt to her feet. She moved behind the loveseat, obvious fury making her hands shake as she laid them on the back of it. “You don't have any say in how I live. I never asked for your opinion. If you don't like it, get the hell out of my house. And my life!”
Hunter breathed deep, nostrils flaring. He could no more walk away from her than he could from the Sheavers. She was as much a part of his life, and his heart, as they were.
But his love for her went far beyond sisterly.
He pushed that thought away, buried it deep within himself as he'd done for years. She was Patrick's girl, his wife. He always honored that.
“Dammit, I don't want to argue with you, Andy. But you really need to move on. Live life again and leave this house.”
“I leave the house. You don't know what I do every day.”
“Oh yes, you go out. Like the other night? Why did you go to the club? I thought we agreed you were no longer a member,” Hunter demanded, curious about her answer.
“No. You decided I was no longer a member. Not me. I never said I wanted that. Who are you to make decisions for me?” Andy retorted, cheeks flushed, hands on her hips.
Hunter had to admit he was finally seeing a glimpse of the fiery, strong woman she'd been until this last year. He liked her eyes ablaze, jaw clenched and fury radiating off her body. He just needed to provoke her enough and challenge her to move beyond these walls and back to the things she loved to do.
“I don't want to make decisions for you.” He took a calming breath. “Listen, the club is not the place for you any longer. Without Patrick… There's no need for you to be there anymore.”
“Why do you think that?”
“He was the one who wanted to show it to you. He never really thought you'd come to enjoy it as much as you did. Neither of you interacted with others. What can you find there now without him?”
Andy smiled, cold and detached. He hated that smirk.
“Oh, come now. You know what happens in your club. Surely, I don't have to spell it out for you.”
Yes, he knew what she'd done inside the room she'd once used with Patrick. Though he normally didn't interfere in his members' activities unless there was a problem, he did ask Paige and Nolan if Andy had simply watched. He'd been shocked, then livid, to learn a few details of what happened between the three of them.
Andy had always been a devoted wife to Patrick, faithful to the core. To know she'd been an active participant at the club for the first time had suddenly left him empty and alone.
But he couldn't allow his feelings on the matter to distract him from pushing her back into life.
He shrugged. “No. You don't have to spell it out for me. But is that what you truly want and need in your life? Sex with strangers? Do you need to find comfort in people who don't care about you?”
Andy glared at him. “That is none of your business.” Her voice rose as she continued. “What I do in my life is for me to decide. I never asked to have you in my life. Don't expect me to want you there now.”
His heart clenched. Her words were like a punch to the gut.
Yes, he'd sort of come as a package deal when she'd married Patrick. But the Sheavers were the only family he had. And when Peter was born, oh, he'd played the dutiful uncle to the little boy. Though she'd never voiced her frustration at his being in attendance at nearly all family gatherings or taking up some of Patrick's time once a week for a guys' night out, he'd understood the stone-faced woman who left the words unsaid.
“I always promised Patrick I'd look after you if he couldn't.”
“Fuck off, Hunter. Don't give me that.” Her hands fisted at her sides. “Look, please just go. I don't need you here. I have things to do.”
He wouldn't be so easily dismissed.
“Things to do? Like what, plan your next adventure at the club? I don't think so. Why? Explain to me why you felt the need to go there?”
Arms wide, she yelled, “I wanted to fuck somebody. Is that what you want to hear? That I wanted to have a cock inside me for the first time in almost two years? I wanted to have a man inside, pounding me--brutal and painful. What better place to do that than at the club where I know I'm safe?”
Hunter's heartbeat accelerated. To know she needed someone that close to her was agonizing. It was a barren and desperate act of someone who had nothing to live for. Or didn't think she was worth much.
“Why pain? You couldn't have found satisfaction in that. No pleasure, Andy? You, of all people, found pleasure in that kind of sex? I don't believe for a moment that you're now into rough sex,” Hunter said, gruff. His mouth was dry, and confusion made his head hurt. Would he never understand this woman?
Andy crossed her arms over her chest. She looked out the window behind him. Her gaze was unfocused, filled with pain.
“Yes, pain. It's what I deserve, isn't it?” Her gaze captured his. Hunter felt his heart crack at her desolate look.
When Andrea "Andy" Sheaver loses first her son and then her husband, she spirals into a self-destructive depression for a year. When she seeks out the sex club owned by her husband's best friend for sex and pain, Hunter steps in to try to keep her from making terrible decisions she will regret in the future. Andy has avoided Hunter since her husband Patrick's death, feeling that he was trying to make decisions for her and boss her around, but the subtext of their ten-year friendship finally comes out of the woodwork in the form of an ultimatum - Andy can visit the club only with Hunter himself. Although there is one sex scene that walks into D/s sex, mostly Andy's kink is voyeurism. The sex between Andy and Hunter, though, is more sensual than kinky, and this novella is more about two people healing from the loss of family and finding a second chance at love than anything else. Although I appreciated both the past that Andy and Hunter were drawing from and the time they spent together before deciding they were "in love", I never fully connected with them as people. However, the sex was well written and the story was still enjoyable.
Sweetest Salvation penned by talented author Kacey Hammell is a delightful feel good novella that you will enjoy if you are like me; one who savors the delicate blend of romance, intrigue and titillating intimacies. Ms. Hammell is no stranger to the romance, mystery genre consistently doing an outstanding job of pulling the reader into the story from the first paragraph to the last sentence. Ms. Hammell artistically centers Andrea Sheaver on the canvas of Sweetest Salvation. Andrea is a beautiful, alluring woman with a sweet spirit who is suffering from the agonizing broken heart that may never go away. She has lost her husband Patrick, her best friend, awesome lover and soul mate. She has locked herself away from the life she once enjoyed for nearly a year since the death of Patrick and her baby. Hunter Sullivan, a dear family friend, Patrick's best man and the godfather to Peter the son of Andy and Patrick. Hunter is a man of honesty and carries a ripped body. He has “eight pack” abs, is tall, and has awesome bedroom eyes. Plus he has a heart of gold. He is a walking fantasy. Hunter is a dreamy man, skillfully sexy, and a hard worker. I admired that. I could not get enough of him as a main character in Sweetest Salvation and I admit I was more than a tiny bit envious of Andrea. One of the settings featured in Ms. Hammell's narrative is an ultra-exclusive adult club known to an elite clientele as “Splendor” where erotic play is befitting its name with Hunter as the proprietor of this classy, establishment. Hunter's heart is pained watching as Andy's lifestyle has changed since Patrick's death. As an understanding, trustworthy, compassionate friend Hunter is always there for Andy should the needs arise as she travels the rough roads of the grieving process. Hunter has a vibrant, electrical vibe for Andy. However, Hunter has long since buried that emotion and desire deeply in his soul. This secret emotional roller coaster would never be expressed because of his loyal friendship shared with Patrick since high school not to mention the Sheaver family's adoption of sorts of him into their family. Ms. Hammell depicts a backdrop of a peaceful day of the sunshine on a clear beautiful, warm day, heightened with light fragrant flowers; what a wholesome setting to embrace you as you move about your day. A day associated with blissfulness. Unfortunately, Andy would not permit herself that luxury and surrender to blissful days of this type since the deaths of her beloved husband and son. Ms. Hammell uses all the sensory receptors to ignite a sensual explosion among many of her characters. Her supporting cast is strong, enchanting and carries a sense of freedom similar to that of a soft breeze, along the rhythm of a bubbling stream. I enjoyed the encounters between husband and wife; Paige and Nolan and their sensuous role in the Sweetest Salvation. The tenderness of other characters: Bridget, the Sheaver’s, Mrs. Morrow sail throughout this story as a life raft for a grieving widow and mother. The representations of love in Sweetest Salvation reminds me of warm, delectable, dark chocolate on a plate of the mouthwatering summer berries. Will Hunter be Andrea's lifesaver rescuing her from the bottomless sea of alienation she has fashioned for herself? Could Hunter's tenderness, supportive nature be the ingredient necessary in soothing Andy's heartache? Can true love and a soul mate be granted twice into a person's life? This intriguing thought continuously tapped on the door of my heart as I devoured Sweetest Salvation. I enjoyed this story from beginning to end. It left me with the wonderful sensation of the meaning of trust, compassion and love. I highly recommend Sweetest Salvation hoping you will experience the same pleasures it provided for me. In my opinion, Ms. Hammell has earned her sparkling stars for another finely honed narrative.