Lydia's Literary Lowdown Reviews: Make Me, by Tamara Mataya

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Saving her twin sister is all Tessa can think about — until someone makes her think about saving herself.

Gathering up the broken pieces of someone else’s life is so much easier than doing something about the missing pieces in your own.

Sloane has good reason to fear for her ‘broken’ twin, Tessa. In the past, she’d caught Tessa just in time, lying unconscious on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Back then, it hadn’t mattered how much Sloane begged and pleaded — Tessa still self harmed.

In the here and now, when Tessa confesses she’s into BDSM, all Sloane can see is the dawning of a new, more horrific age: one where Tessa stops harming herself because she’s finally located sick perverts who will do the job for her more effectively.

Sloane couldn’t stop Tessa in the past, but she’s all grown up now – a freelance journalist with the expertise to expose the house of horrors her twin has gotten herself involved in. Shortly after Tessa’s confession, Sloane silently vows to infiltrate the BDSM underground herself. She’ll show Tessa that there’s nothing right about weirdos with the perverse need to inflict pain on others.

Tessa, stung by Sloane’s rejection and unaware of her plans, leaves on a retreat shortly afterward. It is her refusal to communicate with Sloane that makes her sister more daring. Using Tessa’s membership card, Sloane enters the Underground, an exclusive BDSM club. The first person she runs into is Darko Aralica. Naturally, he first mistakes her for Tessa. But, after hearing her first few sentences, Darko realizes Sloane is nothing like her identical twin. He’s not quite sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

What he does know is this: he’s attracted to Sloane. Something indefinable catches his interest when he looks at her. Also,there is this: Sloane appears to be a natural submissive.

Sloane would vigorously disagree with Darko’s thought had he voiced it — even as she tried desperately to ignore her arousal while witnessing a scene between a domme and her submissive. All it takes to get her back on track is reminding herself that she’s on a mission to save Tessa from twisted, sick people like Darko. But to Sloane’s surprise, when she not-so-casually asks how membership is attained, Darko explains that the Underground is a club where members earn their way in – not by paying absurd amounts of money or by sleeping their way to the top – but by their acceptance of, and respect for, the rules in place to keep everyone safe, secure, and happy.

His words are an anathema to Sloane’s hastily formed misconceptions of the Underground in general and BDSM specifically. But her disappointment cools off quickly enough when she realizes that the principles Darko outlines are obviously meant to conceal the rampant abuse and cruelty taking place within club walls. Sloane soon becomes convinced that her only option is to endure the pain and cruelty (which she’s never actually witnessed) by allowing Darko to train her as a submissive. Only then will she be able to fully convince Tessa of the dark hole she’s fallen into. Only then will she be able to help her out.

There’s just one little problem with Sloane’s plan: dismissing her natural sexual makeup doesn’t negate it. She can either decorate the absence and try to ignore what’s missing – or confront what is there and make something beautiful of it.

Her success or failure, I won’t comment on. What I will say is this: there is no more thrilling experience we share as humans than discovery. With every new release, I thank the fickle publishing gods for my discovery of Mataya. Granted, in her hands I know whatever expectations I have will be thrown out the door … but that has become part of the thrill for me; part of the fun. I can only surmise that this is because as a human being, and more specifically, a voracious reader, there is no finer experience than that of veering off into a newly released novel by a trusted author, knowing I’m in safe hands for whatever journey I’m about to take. Four times, so far, Mataya has ushered me through her stellar work safely.

Hopefully, many more trips remain.

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