True North by Tamsen Parker (The Compass #4)
Released: July 25, 2016
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: There’s a reason I’ve been kind of an asshole my whole life, and it’s because it’s way easier than being a good person.
This Compass series has stretched my boundaries in a good way. Heavy on BDSM, the previous books have focused on India and her now husband Cris. Overall I enjoyed them and when I heard Slade was getting a book – a man who is not presented in the best light in the previous books, I was very intrigued. And let me tell you – Slade is a big asshole. I’m not kidding. He has a temper. He lashes out at people. He just plain isn’t nice – but I fell for him.
The author redeems him – not in some sort of magical way. At the end of the book he still isn’t perfect. He still makes mistakes. But he owns them and he wants to do better and he is working on it and I enjoyed him a lot.
Told all in Slade’s point of view, he works in DC for the Office of Public and Indian Housing. His job is stressful and he grows very distant from his wife, Pressly. She was raised by southern parents to be the perfect wife and hostess. At this point in their marriage nothing is perfect and she asks for a divorce. Jump forward a number of years and Slade is off the rails. He verbally abuses his staff and everyone around him. He has anger issues – and is frustrated. But then he meets India (previous heroine) and after a night of sex (this is before she is with her future husband) where he horribly tries to be dominant – she tells him, if he wants to pursue BDSM, and hurting people, he needs to learn to do it the right way. She tells him “There are people who are into that shit,” and he can’t believe it. He knows his fantasies include humiliating women, and to think there are people out there that share these same goals? He is stunned. Luckily, India knows a guy named Reyes. If you’ve read this series, you’ve met Reyes – the hot, sexy, man in charge of the BDSM scene. He pairs up people. He helps people through crisis – and he mentors. That is exactly what he does with Slade. He shows him how to be a dominant. How to correctly and properly humiliate someone (obviously with a willing partner). He lays down a lot of rules – first and foremost, stop being an asshole. Slade works on this.
He starts to get his life under control and is introduced to people at a local BDSM club who enjoy his same kinks – and then one night out of the blue, he runs into Pressly. His ex-wife – at the same BDSM club as he. He is shocked. She is shocked. Apparently, Pressly has needs, needs Slade never knew about. She likes to submit. She likes to be humiliated. Slade is still in love with her – and now he wants her back. But he has to prove to her that he is a man under control. He has to woo her.
Slade’s specific fantasy is:
I want to berate a woman. Tell her she’s stupid and worthless, embarass her and make her cry. And when she’s all teary and red-faced, I want to fuck her. Tell her she’s dirty and disgusting. But I want her to like it.
With something that challenging, he needs guidance and that is where Reyes comes in. Slade wants to be a better person and knows if he can get his sexual desires fulfilled, it would better his life.
And Reyes’ response:
“I’d be happy to help you with that, and you are certaintly not alone in that desire. I swear to you. Humiliation kink is a very real and valid thing. India was right. There are lots of people who enjoy either side of it, sometimes both. We’re going to find you someone who’s the yin to your yang so you can try it out. You’re going to learn how to do it responsibly, without hurting anyone. Including yourself. Promise.”
Slade is so appreciative there is someone in the world to guide him. He knows he made mistakes with Pressly and when he sees her at the club, so at peace and happy and – gorgeous and sexy, he wants a second chance with her.
Only having his POV, we don’t know what Pressly is thinking, but she allows Slade to interact with her at the club pretty quickly. She trusts him, and divorced him more because she thought he only wanted perfect political wife, rather than really getting to know her. When Slade and Pressly reunite years later, she has been in the scene for some time- she has confidence and beams happiness behind those club doors – where Slade feels completely out of water. I really liked that dynamic.
Reyes not only teaches Slade how to perform things in the bedroom, but also how to take care of his partner afterwards. How to communicate – something Slade lacks.
“Feeling guilty for the things you said? Queasy because of what you made her do? Uncomfortable because you shouldn’t want those things?
Since I feel like I could vomit into the toilet beside me….”Yeah.”
“Did you tell her?”
“Tell her?” I echo. Why would I tell her?
“Yeah. You know, talk to your partner? Communicate? Have I taught you nothing?”
There are two bigger things that happen at the end of the book that push Slade more in Pressly’s direction. Had these two big occurences not happened, would Slade and Pressly truly be together? I think so – but I these events move things along more quickly. I kind of wish they had had more time to talk and work things out without this added pressure.
I love though that at the end, Slade still isn’t perfect. Love hasn’t magically cured him of his assholeness. He is totally going to screw up in the future – but his communication skills are better and when he does mess up, it will be fixable.
This is book four – book six will be Reyes’. I’m ready!
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I loved this book so hard and glad you did too. Slade has to be my fav redeemed hero to date.
She did an amazing job with him!
Patricia Eimer says
I haven’t read this series — I think I’m going to have to give it a try
Def try the first book and see how you like it. This can be read as a stand alone too
Kate L says
Thanks so much for the review, Mandi. I’ve found with BDSM themes, it’s really important to understand the many flavors that that lifestyle comes in. For me, humiliation kink is a complete turn-off. But that’s what’s great about BDSM lifestyle: it demands people are clear with each other about what they like and don’t like, about how they want to be treated or to treat others. I respect the bravery of that. I have learned which authors use these themes in ways that appeal to me, but I look to you’all for recommendations of titles/writers new-to-me. Thanks again.
I don’t think I would seek out a humiliation themed book – I actually don’t seek out BDSM books in general. However, I realllllly like how this author writes…so I trust her. I’m not always super comfortable (especially in the first two books with India) but again – she takes care in how she writes it all.
I typically stay away from BDSM themed books, but I really enjoyed the first two so I wanted to try this out as well. I LOVED Slade so much. There isn’t I love more than a really jack ass of a hero who is really just an insecure fella acting out. She did a great job of redeeming him. I liked Rey a lot more in this book. I will definitely read his book. I saw that book 5 is Lucy and Evans? Does anyone know who Lucy is?
I do not. I couldn’t remember if we knew her or not…