Review: Release by Suzanne Clay (2022)

Heat Factor: Chapter 1: Glory Hole. Chapter 2: Phone sex. Chapter 3: Banging on his desk. 

Character Chemistry: She takes care of him, he takes care of her.

Plot: Danielle uses anonymous sex as a stress release. Except this time, it wasn’t anonymous. It was her boss.

Overall: Very sexy with a nice message, but you must be prepared for a heroine with baggage to work through

On the one hand, this is an age-gap boss-assistant workplace erotic romance.

On the other hand, this book is not particularly interested in the erotics of power dynamics that most romances with similar tropes play with.

So a lot of this book went some unexpected places. I was pleasantly surprised. (It’s still extremely sexy, just not the way I was thinking it would be based on the premise.)

Let’s start with our heroine, Danielle. (We see everything from her point of view, though it’s a third-person narration, so we’re not completely in her head.) Danielle is what I would call a service submissive, though she never uses the term: she likes being useful. A lot. She especially likes being useful to one particular person—her boss, Mr. Victor Hughes. She refuses to allow herself to relax (or maybe can’t physically relax) unless his every need is taken care of. 

Danielle also has a lot of baggage about being lovable because of toxic parents (who are no longer in her life) and an even more toxic ex-boyfriend (who is also not in her life, but who plays a pretty significant role in the story because of the outsized impact he still has on her psyche). Danielle has a lot of negative self-talk. I generally struggle with heroines with anxiety and self-loathing, so I really appreciate that Clay included extremely detailed content warnings at the beginning of the book so that I could prepare myself for being in Danielle’s head.

Because Danielle likes being useful, that translates into sexual satisfaction at being used. So she regularly goes to a glory hole sex club. She can lie there, get filled up, and be useful for someone else as they get off. 

But then: the guy on the other side of the hole sounds an awful lot like her boss. And then, the following day, she has a wardrobe malfunction and flashes him her thigh bands, and he realizes that it was her. 

So. Awkward. 

It’s mainly awkward because Victor is really concerned with Danielle not feeling sexually unsafe. This, however, is not the central conflict between Victor and Danielle, as they quickly figure out that their sexual attraction is both mutual and longstanding. Rather, the central conflict as their relationship develops is around Danielle accepting that sometimes Victor wants to take care of her and realizing that it was ok to put her own needs first. I would say the ethos of the book is summed up in a realization Danielle has toward the end, that she is ready to want better things for herself, not just for everyone else:

It turned out that having someone else who also wanted those things for her was vital. People could say, you have to love yourself before anyone else will, all they wanted— but that didn’t make it true. 

Sometimes it took one amazing person to look someone dead in the eye and show them all the good that they deserved first. And only then would it feel possible to chase it.

I would say this is a very gentle erotic romance without going so far into gentleness that the erotic tension dissipates. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

Looking for something similar?

Boss-assistant romances

Erotic romance

Age gaps

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