Marlene: If you have been following Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour, when you read the opening of Hot Ticket, you might have the feeling that you’ve been here before.
And you’d be right.
Lea: The timeline of this one was a deja vu situation and I liked it in some ways because it refreshed my memory after such a long break since the release of Rock Hard. On the other hand there were times when it all seemed “more of the same” from a different character’s perspective. Also with reading Double Time late last year, we knew a lot of what was coming.
Marlene: The opening of Hot Ticket is the same scene as the opening of Rock Hard, just from a different perspective. Instead of Jessica going on stage at the strip club and being hauled off by Sed, we have Aggie going on stage and being mentally stripped by Jace.
At least Jace has a bit more self-control. He doesn’t start the barroom brawl. He only finishes it.
But then, control is one of Jace’s issues. And Aggie’s. Because Aggie uses her dancing at the club to find clients for her real business, being dominatrix Madame V. It’s Madame V. that Jace needs. Jace thinks that he needs to be hurt, that he deserves it. He’s long past the point where he’s mixed up pleasure and pain.
Being a domme is Aggie’s business. Helping Jace, finding a way for Jace to work through his real pain, becomes her mission.
Lea: Well put Marlene. Initially at least, I found Aggie challenged to the point of mental derangement because she cannot get Jace to submit to her domination. And, it isn’t for lack of trying, she beats him with every implement imaginable and he asks for more. Maybe it’s my nurturing instincts, but I found Jace’s heartrending emotional pain enticing. I just wanted to hug the poor guy and sooth his tortured soul.
When I first started this book and Aggie was wielding her bullwhip in the club, playing her tough dominatrix role, I nearly dropped my Kindle on the floor, I’m not good at all with brutal sadism. I was glad I persevered and thought Cunning did a good job of making Aggie’s sadistic tendencies palatable to readers by characterizing this tormented man who needed physical pain to lessen the emotional. Aggie gives him what he needs and eventually helps him to work through his insecurities and very low self esteem which was actually quite moving, to a point.
Marlene: Jace needs the release that Aggie gives him to keep the demons at bay. But Aggie sees that sweet, tortured Jace is deserving of all the love, and all the respect, in the world. If only he would ever let himself believe it.
I’ll admit that I had a lot of mixed feelings about this story. Surprisingly not about the BDSM aspects. While they exist, they did not seem to be as huge an element of the plot as the blurb makes you expect.
Jace has confused pleasure and pain because he is hurt on the inside. That’s the part that is really painful. And because he can’t admit to himself that he enjoys the pain. He’s decided he deserves it for reasons that are part of the story. He’s a walled up emotional mess.
He can’t believe he deserves anything good in his life. His need for pain is just part of that. And we do find out why in the story.
Lea: I agree regarding your analysis of what the author was trying to relate to readers regarding Jace and his inner turmoil. He certainly learned to suppress his pain as a defense mechanism. Jace also doesn’t believe he is worthy of love, which was heart breaking.
I too had great difficulty rating this story, I loved Jace to the point of swooning (and I never swoon) but I was also conflicted with regard to Aggie. It wasn’t the pleasure/pain part of their relationship, it was her whole amateur psychologist gig. I just didn’t buy that she would be so insightful and able to heal all of this guy’s horrific emotional wounds. I got there was a great love developing between them, and they both fed each others fetishes but thought was rather unrealistic. While I know, it’s to be expected (it is the Sinners’ modus operandi after all) but there was so much exhibitionism, voyeurism and sexual excess going on, on that tour bus I became desensitized at times. Which brings me to Eric, this guy is the ultimate voyeur, and the scenes with him, Jace and Aggie made my eyes bug.
I did like that once Aggie and Jace were together they stayed together, there was plenty of conflict but it was satisfying to see them work through their mega issues without the ultimate relationship break-up, then getting back together. I felt there was an overabundance of sentimentality with Aggie, she is supposed to be this bad-ass dominatrix but turns over the top mushy with Jace. As well, her meddling bothered me.
Marlene: What we don’t find out, and it does bug me, is why Aggie is so unwilling to commit. We do find out why she became a dominatrix, but I didn’t get enough of why she spends so much of the book completely unwilling to commit. Not just to Jace, but to anyone. It’s a pattern that’s not explored.
She also has a terrible relationship with her mother, who comes off as a stereotypical bad mother. This entire series has a parade of bad parents, and absent parents. Did no one have a good childhood?
Lea: Yep Marlene, there is that. lol Not one of them seems to have any sort of foundation of parental normalcy which is why they are such a bizarre, dysfunctional bunch. There has been a strong sense of loyalty established within the Sinners ‘family’, and it’s good to see how they support each other. I liked seeing more of Sed’s leadership strengths and despite his arrogance, he lends support to his fellow band-mates.
Marlene: Another big issue for me was that the out of order release impacts the story. A chunk of the beginning of this story is Rock Hard re-hashed from Aggie and Jace’s perspective. We know what’s going to happen because we know how that story ended. On top of that, we know how this story ends because Double Time was released out of sequence. We already know about the bus crash and its aftermath because that’s in the past in Double Time. And we know that Aggie and Jace are together in the future.
That’s not the author’s fault, but it makes reading Hot Ticket, well, not as hot as it might have been.
Lea: Again, I agree.
The thing I’ve so enjoyed about this series is the humor, Cunning always makes me hoot with laughter! The Sinners are so irreverent and crazy and you never know what is going to come out of these guys mouths. I am curious to see what will happen with Eric, we met the woman he is matched with in Double Time but it will be interesting to see how Cunning will manage his voyeuristic tendencies and I will give his book tentatively entitled Snared a try when it’s released this fall. I’m wondering if there will be a spin off series featuring the Exodus End band?
Rating 3 1/2 Stars