Praise by Sara Cate was released on March 17, 2022, and the novel featured one of my favorite smut tropes – praise kink. Some people are into it and others don’t care much for it. This book encapsulates the desire to give and receive praise without adding other taboo topics in like age play or daddy/little girl play. If someone is looking for a novel that goes there without crossing those lines, then you’ve found it.
Synopsis: After ending an abusive relationship, Charlie seeks to get her deposit back from her crappy ex-boyfriend. He tells her the money is with his dad who he never speaks to, so the responsibility is on her shoulders. Once Charlie enters Emerson’s (the father) office, he accidentally mistakes her for his new office “pet,” commanding her down on her knees before realizing his mistake.
The situation establishes a fiery connection between the two where they felt more at home than ever before. After they’ve cleared up the misunderstanding, they can’t stop thinking about one another until Emerson comes up with a plan to keep them in contact – hire Charlie to be his personal assistant. No strings. No expectations outside of normal work requirements. But will that be enough for the newly awakened version of Charlie?
What I Liked: Honestly, I did really enjoy the fact that they didn’t make the dynamic more creepy than the premise might suggest. I went into the novel knowing it would be spicy and smutty, but I was pleasantly surprised by how sweet the story actually is. Deep down, Emerson isn’t a jerk, and he’s actually really caring and kind. Charlie had a lot of insecurities to overcome at the hand of Emerson’s son, and that added to their complicated dynamic.
There is a significant age gap, but the characters seemed just as creeped out by it. They had to get to know each other before developing a stronger bond, especially as Emerson served as a consistent confidante for Charlie and her personal issues. I really loved their relationship and the way it blossomed.
The smut was great, and it was more of a slow burn than I thought it would be. The book does heavily introduce the concept of BDSM and explains the dynamics between them, but they explored as much of it as they could before things turned more sexual.
What I Didn’t Like: Emerson was a bit of an idiot when it came to protecting his feelings for Charlie. I won’t go into it enough to spoil anything, but he could have been more confident in himself and his place. They were both controlled by his son in huge ways that caused trauma. Don’t worry, though, the ending does make all the suffering worth it.
Overall: I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys praise kink or sweet stories with an age gap. I also find it rare for there to be an age gap and the female character isn’t an 18-year-old virgin. I enjoyed the fact that she was a little older and that they didn’t get off on the age play dynamic. Made it more realistic to me and less predatory. Just a taboo story of two lost souls coming together.
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