Title: Red by Kate Kinsey
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Erotic, BDSM
Length: 85,000 words
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
Detective Tom Hanson has a string of grotesquely mutilated bodies on his hands and no answers—aside from the fact that the victims were members of an underground sex club catering to singular erotic tastes. Tastes the long, lean detective has sampled himself in the arms of his former lover, a fiery redhead who offered the most erotic, irresistible sex he’d ever encountered. Until the night she’d begged for the one thing he couldn’t give, and he lost her forever.
Gina Larsen is the only one who can guide Hanson through the fringe world of dark fantasy and desire that lies hidden deep beneath the Bible Belt. Lured into her lair by a quest for justice, Hanson discovers his hunger for Gina has only grown stronger and deeper…beyond the edge of control. Soon he’s shedding his last inhibitions in the search for answers, but the more she draws him into her erotic web, the less he can distinguish between passion and duty, pleasure and pain…good and evil.
Kate Kinsey’s Red is a compelling mystery that takes the reader deep into the world of BDSM. Their investigation of a string of grisly murders takes Detective Tom Hanson and his partner John Griggs into the local BDSM community. Needing an insider’s assistance, Tom turns to his former partner and lover Gina Larsen. Forced to resign from the force following a very public sex scandal, Gina is now working as a professional Dominatrix. Despite their unresolved issues and simmering sexual attraction, Gina reluctantly teams up with Tom and John to help catch a killer.
The characters are well-developed and multi-layered. Tom has not come to terms with the guilt he harbors over his relationship with Gina. While he was eager to participate in kinky sex with Gina, there were some lines he was unable to cross. He is still struggling to accept his darker desires when he encounters Gina in the course of the investigation.
Tom’s partner, John, is unapologetically rude and outspoken. He has no filter between his brain and his mouth and he is astonishingly politically incorrect. But there are unexpected depths to character and he really grew on me. By the end of the novel, I was surprised to discover that I actually liked him.
Gina is a complex character and she embraces her sexuality. She is who she is and she refuses to apologize for her desires. She does come off as cold and unfeeling, but there is also a vulnerability to her that softens her rougher edges.
While Red is a fairly well-written novel, the first few chapters are rather confusing and disjointed as different characters are introduced. However, by about a quarter of the way in, the pieces finally fit together and everything begins to make sense. From that point forward, the story becomes so engrossing, it is virtually impossible to put down.
Based on her personal experience with BDSM, Kate Kinsey does an excellent job dispelling some common myths and misconceptions about the lifestyle. Her sex scenes are raw, gritty and intense. There are no tender emotions or declarations of love. It is sexual desire at its basest and most realistic, and realistically portrayed with emphasis placed on safe and consensual sex between willing partners. There is one scene that is borders on non-consensual, but it is integral to the plot and characters involved.
The mystery aspect of the storyline is fairly well done. Although I figured out who the killer is early on, there are a few startling twists and turns that I did not see coming. The final scene of Red is quite shocking and the reactions of the characters were very unexpected.
Kate Kinsey’s debut novel Red is a page turning thriller that I recommend to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries with a bit of an edge.