Author: Megan Hart
Release Date: 25th February 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Elise is a dominant woman, she knows what she likes and she goes out to get it. Esteban has been providing her with an outlet for her sexual desires, but sometimes that just isn't enough. With her past and the man she refers to as 'George' (from Of Mice and Men) still haunting her, can Elise see past all the other stuff and find a man for her? And can she be happy with someone like Niall, who doesn't have her same kinks?
Vanilla was just what I think is needed in a book about BDSM. Well basically it wasn't about BDSM, or at least not in my opinion. Rather Vanilla was the story of a woman, who just happened to like things a little differently in the bedroom. The main focus of the story was actually on Elise's life in general and not on what she got up to in the bedroom.
I loved the fact that family was a big focus of Vanilla, and not just in a bad way, but in a real feeling way. I could relate to the frustrations Elise felt towards each member of her family because despite it all she found reasons to love them, and more than that, loved them despite their faults. It was particularly clear in her relationship with her mother as well as with her twin brother, Evan, and I'm not talking about the magical twin bond that seems to happen sometimes (and is most likely a real thing to some extent, but not being a twin I have no idea).
The main non-romantic relationship was between Elise and her nephew, William, who she had helped look after and shape into the boy he was in the book (which tied in with their Jewish heritage and his Bar Mitzvah). I really felt the connection between the two of them, and really liked how it played out, particularly because she treated him like an adult in a way that other characters did not.
Elise also had several friendships, more so than even normal. I liked how the long distance relationship between her and her oldest best friend worked, mostly because I have a long distance best friend and I know how hard it can be sometimes wanting to see her and not being able to! She also had a friendship with her business partner and his wife which came into play several times, mostly with stern talking tos!
The romance element for Elise was mostly fulfilled by Niall. Someone who wasn't into any of the things that she was. I liked that there were some things that they disagreed on, and that their preferences weren't the same but the relationship worked because they had so much in common otherwise. It felt right, not perfect but right. Esteban was completely different, he mostly felt wrong and I think that Elise as a character recognised that.
This was a book about life I think. At least that's the best way I can think of to describe it! But there was one quote that struck me at the time as being profound and I think sums up the book:
"I liked what I liked and didn't need to explain it to anyone, even myself."