If you pass the challenges we set, a world of pleasure awaits you.
The Dining Club by Marina Anderson
Rating: 3.5 stars
Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Synopsis: He is everything she never wanted: brooding, secretive, rich – and far-removed from her care-free artistic lifestyle. Yet David has a power over Grace that she cannot resist, a power that comes from his darker, passionate side.
And now he is ready to truly reveal himself. Inviting Grace to a weekend at the Dining Club, David offers her the opportunity to discover his deepest desires and to find pleasures far beyond her wildest imagination – but only if she if willing to play a series of sensual games.
Grace faces a choice: give in to her doubts and retreat to her quiet life, or truly embrace happiness with David and win over her mesmerizing lover forever.
Part One: Desire (3 stars)
This installment introduces us to David and Grace along with their needs and desires. it was easy for me to lose myself in this short story and forget that there was more to it than what was brought to the page. I was curious to know more about both characters and Marina Anderson did manage to please me a bit in that regard.
The author did a great job in drawing me into the story by luring me with bits of information and glimpses into each of the character’s personalities. Behind her tough façade of an up-an-coming theater director laid a vulnerable woman who was afraid to open her heart to David. She was already falling in love and didn’t trust herself not to lose herself in him. And David, well he did come across as hard and unyielding, but I’m curious to see how it would play out with him. At least he was being honest about testing if Grace was the right woman for him before he invested himself emotionally. Got to give him a little credit for that at least. We’ll see.
Part Two: Bound (3 stars)
Grace has accepted David’s offer to get away to the Dining Club. She’s curious but terrified of what she’s going to encounter. She’s already admitted that she’s more than halfway in love with David and she’s afraid that she is willing to do everything she could to please him even if she didn’t agree with it wholeheartedly.
David is determined for Grace to go through with the test, but offers her a chance to back out and in turn end their relationship. But he is who he is and it’s better to find out if they have a future together sooner rather than later.
To say I was a bit surprised with what I read would be an understatement. This was unlike anything I read before simply because David’s attitude took me completely by surprise. He was so adamant that they had to get through the ‘test’ to be able to keep on with their relationship, that I was starting to doubt his motives.
David, a strong, dominating man, is used to getting his way in the bedroom, but underneath all that I still could see that he wanted this relationship to work. He was honest with himself and with Grace, even if it would bring their relationship to a halt. I had to admire that about him.
My heart went out to Grace. She really was between a rock and a hard place (no pun intended). To please the man she loves or to walk away. She so wanted this to work out that at times her nerves got the better of her threatening her chances of succeeding. I think she wanted this a little too much and lost herself in the process. Gone was the strong-minded individual and in came a love-crazed fool woman. I’m hoping she gains her confidence back as the story progresses. Right now, I’m a bit disappointed in her although I could understand what she was struggling with. We’ll see.
Marina Anderson delivered a sizzling series of events that had me tapping the hell of my tablet to see what would happened next and how Grace would fare on this onslaught of pleasure that was thrown at her. I didn’t much are for Amber’s role in all of this, nor that of the twins. I would have been content with just David and Andrew, it would have made for a more sensual story for me, since Grace had that immediate attraction to Andrew. So sue me, I like my men.
I’m curious about what’s in store for Grace now and how she will react to it once again.
Part Three: Crave (3.25 stars)
Grace can’t wait to go back to the Dining Club. She’s surprised that she is looking forward to whatever David has in store for her, but she is also afraid of what this could mean.
Now that she has discovered this sensual side of her, she not only fears for the end of the relationship she has with David if she fails, she’s also worrying about what she will do with these new feelings the tests at the Dining Club have arisen within her.
Once at the Dining Club, Grace steps up to the challenge. She is certain that Amber is out to make her fail, but Grace wants a relationship with David – Amber be dammed!
I am not getting much of character development with David. I thought he would, not change his mind, but be more supportive. I don’t know. I feel like he’s just along for the ride and that he wouldn’t be losing much if Grace fails. it’s like he truly does not care. That’s the impression I’m getting.
Off all the Dining Club employees, Amber is the only one that has gotten a reaction out of me. I despise her. That is one bitch of a woman and I don’t like her AT ALL. However, she is what drives Grace to overcome her fears and forge ahead and one of the most developed of the characters. So yeah, I enjoyed her. Somewhat.
Then there’s Andrew, who caught my attention on the previous installment. At least now I understand what he wishes to get out of teaming with Amber. I’m sure it’ll make for some interesting reading what these two come up to sabotage Grace.
Having said all that, I am still intrigued. I’m hoping that David and Grace’s relationship progresses a little and that we get some insight into who David is, because so far he is not at the top of my list of favorite people.
Part Four: Seduce (3.25 stars)
One thing you can say about this installment is that it sure got a reaction out of me. It infuriated me to see David doubting HIS ability to commit to Grace WHEN she passes the Dining Club tests (I use the term ‘when’ because if Grace fails, I will be a very, very, very unhappy reader! Just saying.) Then to have Andrew getting in cahoots with Amber? That just about gave me a coronary! Geez, Amber get your own man and let the woman do her thing. And Andrew? Please, spare me the ‘I’m a better man for her’ line! Find your own damn woman and be a loyal friend to David.
Anyway, this time around we get to see Grace being more confident in her new-found sexuality. She doesn’t get as nervous as in previous installments, but she still worries for her ‘relationship’ with David. And yes, I used the term ‘relationship’ loosely, because I am losing faith in David and Grace ever having one. It’s ridiculous, that’s what it is!
However, I’m still intrigued although I am more annoyed than anything about how things are progressing. I wonder what’s in store now that David is having doubts and both Amber and Andrew are determined to sabotage Grace’s chances to succeed.
Part Five: Touch (2 stars)
Grace is set to begin her fourth trial and knows that it will be a tough one, especially knowing that Amber is enemy number one. Nevertheless, Grace carries on through the trial with a mixture of nerves and excitement.
This story didn’t grip me the way the others had. Yes, it had some of the elements of passion and expectation as the others, but I think it lacked on something I can’t quite put my finger on.
First, there were the twins. I did not care for them at all, nor did I want to read about them pleasuring each other. Truly, it threw me off the story. At least, it wasn’t mentioned more than a couple of times and never in great detail.
Then there was the whole spectacle that took place during the trial. Both Amber and Andrew were determined to sabotage this test for Grace and their presence alone bothered me greatly. I don’t like them. Not one bit. It can be said that they add to the conflict of the overall story, but to me they don’t. This is not an easy endeavor for Grace to get through as it is and would rather the author focused on her struggles and the development of her relationship with David.
To top it all off, there was David and his negative thoughts, doubts and second-guessing. I was wishing to see more of David’s emotions at this point as well as some sort of growth from him, but I found him as aloof as ever. Grace and David didn’t have any intimate moments outside of what they shared at the Club and it’s not working for me as a way to build their romance.
I am still interested in getting to the bottom of this. I want Grace to succeed, if only so she can throw it on David’s face if he rejects her afterwards. I don’t care much for Andrew or Amber’s role in the story, so I’m hoping that the author doesn’t let them succeed in sabotaging Grace’s chances.
Part Six: Caress (4 stars)
On this installment we get to see Andrew making his move on Grace. He wants Grace to start doubting David’s intentions during and after her trial, especially now that she’s so close to finishing it.
Grace doesn’t waver in her resolve to in doing this for her and David’s relationship. She has invested a lot of herself into the trials and is not willing to throw it all away on what Andrew tells her. Doesn’t mean that she doesn’t question why she had to go ahead and fall in love with someone the likes of David though.
She steels her nerves and goes ahead with the next test. Taking some by surprise and gaining some confidence in the process. On unfamiliar ground, Grace found her footing and now is more than determined to see this trial until its end.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the second half of this two-part challenge. I have a feeling that it will be a doozy.
Part Seven: Submit (4.50 stars)
Grace is about to start the second half of her two-part challenge and she’s a bundle of nerves, especially since the break between the two trials left her feeling out of sorts. That David continues to be indifferent doesn’t help her state of mind. However, she needs to see this test through its end, if only to prove it to herself that she gave it her all.
Once the trial starts, it was everything I was hoping it would be – sensual, original and compelling. Grace’s response to the test thrown at her showed her resolve to see this through. Her growth in accepting her sensual side coupled with the emotions she had for David, pushed her through and kept her focused at times when her spirit wavered. She was resolute and beautiful in her acceptance of what she was up against.
This installment made me glad that I stuck around to see Grace finish her trial in order to win David’s love. Now I can’t wait to see how she fares on her challenge against Amber. I am not a fan of that woman, but she does have the upper hand in the experience department. I just hope that Grace keeps her resolve and beats her at her own game.
Part Eight: Surrender (5 stars)
Grace started her challenge against Amber wavering in her resolve. She accepted that Amber’s experience in this was vast, but she still had that drive to keep the woman away from David. Like the smart, professional woman she was, Grace went into this putting all her ‘acting’ knowledge into play, surprising David, Amber and herself.
The trial was not something I had expected and the way Marina Anderson brought it to the page kept me engaged throughout. The trial showed how much Grace had learned about herself through the previous trials and how deep her commitment was to making David happy.
David. Well, he certainly got more than he thought he would with Grace and I’m so glad to see that she surpassed even his expectations. I don’t believe their story has come to an end though. Grace has much more to learn about the lifestyle and David has to learn to let go of his precious control. We’ll see.
All in all, The Dining Club serial was an interesting mix of sensuality, emotions and obstacles thrown into David and Grace’s path of establishing a relationship.
I received these titles from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion.
‘Grace, most people keep parts of themselves hidden from the rest of the world. Haven’t you any deep, dark secrets or feelings that you never vocalise?’
‘No, I haven’t. Tell me about this weekend before I get up and walk out of here,’ she retorted, her anxiety rising with every word he spoke.
His fingers stopped moving against the nape of her neck. ‘This Club isn’t really a dining club. It’s a Club for people with specialised sexual needs and desires. They come here so that they can enjoy themselves safe in the knowledge that they’re surrounded by likeminded people.’
Grace frowned. ‘Why do they need a dining room for that? There are plenty of clubs in London that cater for all kinds of sexual tastes.’
‘True, but sometimes people need a place to bring someone they’re involved with who doesn’t know some of their, shall we say, more unusual sexual needs. This is a safe place for them to find out if that person can ever be happy sharing their world, or if the relationship is doomed to failure because they can’t.’
Remembering the way her lover’s teeth had closed over her soft inner thighs, causing her moments of genuine pain, Grace began to understand what he meant. ‘Can you explain more about the dining room?’
‘There are four tables, five if you count the top table, but you don’t need to get involved with that. Each table is numbered from one to five. As you noticed, every table seats three people. This is because at every table there are two people like you and me, who are here to discover whether they are well suited sexually or not, and either another Club member or one of the staff. Needless to say, all of the staff here have a very wide range of sexual skills.
‘Tonight you and I will sit at table one. If the evening goes well, and you want to come back next month, we’ll sit at table two.
About the Author: Marina Anderson is the pseudonym of British author Margaret Bingley, whose novels have been published all over the world. Margaret uses this pseudonym for her series of erotica novels. She also publishes erotica for women under the pseudonym Fredrica Alleyn.