We all know that most contemporary romance stories have common elements, and it’s often tempting to compare one with another. However, what makes a novel (or a series) truly stand out is how each author builds the story and its characters. The portrayal of motivation and emotion within the characters, as well as the chemistry the author develops between them, should capture the reader within the first few pages. TouchStone for Play, by indie author Sydney Jamesson, captured me in the first few paragraphs and held me until its cliffhanger ending. What a ride.
TouchStone for Play takes place in London, where Elizabeth Parker, a schoolteacher, encounters Ayden Stone, a media mogul, when he is invited to the school as a speaker. Their attraction is immediate, and the relationship takes off like lightening. However, each character is hiding something from the other. For Elizabeth, it’s a college trauma that sent her into hiding. For Ayden, it’s his driving need to control everything and everyone, with a history of ruthless disregard for other human beings. Ayden takes pride in playing games, in business and in pleasure, viewing his associates as commodities or pawns. Of course, he has had a difficult past that makes him who he is; but the author doesn’t focus on that. Instead she brings these two disparate individuals together, then carefully reveals the effects that their secrets have on who they are and how they handle their feelings for each other.
Love and fear are never far apart in TSFP. The love between Ayden and Elizabeth is sudden, deep, passionate and literally life changing for them both. The fear – and the incredible suspense – comes from two sources. One is the villain, Dan, a stalker from the past who methodically formulates a terrifying plan to make Elizabeth his own. Ayden is also more than capable of eliciting fear, because although he is deeply in love with Elizabeth, there is inherent danger that manifests itself in abrupt mood swings, flashes of temper, and a relentless struggle for absolute control.
The love scenes in TSFP are very descriptive and realistic, but are also very tender and powerful. The use of mild BDSM as their love relationship intensifies is incredibly erotic, yet unique because of the qualities of each well-developed character. Their exchange of the dominant & submissive roles reveals not only the strength within Ayden and Elizabeth; but also their willingness to allow themselves to be vulnerable, and to trust each other completely in their most intimate moments. This exchange of power, as beautifully described by Ms. Jamesson, is utterly breath taking.
I found Touchstone for Play to be unique and absolutely riveting. The author’s use of two points of view to distinguish the merging story lines is brilliant. The suspense introduced in the story by Dan, the villain, terrified me to the point that occasionally I had to put the book down and walk away. As much as I wanted to keep reading, the sheer terror of that evolving scenario, took me right to the edge of my wits. But each time, I was so captured by the love story that I couldn’t stay away. That’s powerful writing.
I recommend TSFP without reservation. It reveals the raw talent of an independent, self-published author with incredible potential. I can’t wait for the sequels. I’m not sure that three books will be enough Ayden Stone for me.