Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Beards and Bondage 1)

Published by: Self-Published

Format: mobi ARC

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Erin

What to Expect:

This book represents everything I love about romance as a genre. It explores something profoundly true about the human condition, all while the characters bone down in increasingly hot and creative ways. What else could anyone want?

The first in a new series from award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon… A week-long getaway… City girl Claudia Cade’s carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival. A solitary world turned upside down… Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray. Two lives linked by tragedy… Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep’s doorstep again, she finds she isn’t the only one who can’t move on. … saved by bliss. The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder…how long can they be each other’s haven?

It’s going to be hard for me to review this book because it hit me so hard, so personally. So let me get this out of the way: If you want hot banging in the woods with well-developed characters, some light bondage and a dog, this is absolutely the book you want. This book is everything as advertised. My reaction to HAVEN is probably unique and if you read this review, I don’t want you thinking this book is full of heavy shit. It’s a hilarious, fun, touching book filled with sexy, sexy, sexy times.


What makes this book unique, however, is that this sexy, fun, amazing book starts out with a horrific, sudden, frightening crime. It’s fast, shocking, and disorienting for both the characters and the readers, and the rest of the book takes you on the journey of these characters coming to terms with this event and Claudia learning to deal with the trauma afterward.


I wasn’t sure how personal I wanted to get with this review, but here goes: Two years ago, I lost my mom, all her siblings, and several of their cousins to a rare, incurable genetic disease that will likely kill me in the next 20 years. I know, total boner killer, right? I went from having a big, close family, puttering through my late 30s, trying to raise my kids and pay my mortgage, to being the matriarch of a tiny, fractured, grieving family and waiting for the damn axe to fall on my own head.


Now, during that time, I got alllll kinds of advice. You can imagine. Poetry posted on my facebook wall. Eat, Pray, Love inspirational shit, you know what I’m talking about. I read books on grief and listened to songs and almost none of it felt like what I was experiencing.


This book? This romance novel about beards and banging and mountain men with dogs? This book absolutely nailed what trauma and grief felt like for me. I was gleefully reading along the first ⅓ of the book, then I sobbed through the whole end. When Claudia talks about “Claudia before and Claudia after” and coming to terms with…who IS Claudia after? Who is this stranger? I felt that. I still don’t know fully who Me After is. How do I recontextualize my life? When she talks about leaving her job because she couldn’t take everyone feeling sorry for her…I fucking did that. I was desperate to leave my job (partially, tbh, because I hated it) because I needed to be somewhere where I wasn’t the Tragedy Person. (I think that part of the book is where I started crying uncontrollably and didn’t stop until the end.)


The author doesn’t handwave Claudia’s trauma or have Shep’s dick magically fix things. She is still traumatized at the end of the book, and she gets her HEA. I am in awe of how much work was put into this book to have Claudia and Shep navigate an incredibly tricky emotional situation with such a dark back story and make it sexy and fun. Claudia is messed up from what happened to her and trying to make sense of it with the only other person who understands. Shep is a good guy who wants to do the right thing, and he’s not quite sure at first if that means pulling her closer or giving her space. He makes missteps in navigating her boundaries, as does she, and the push and pull makes it realistic and compelling.


I remember being in therapy and crying my eyes out because I was terrified — terrified — of never being happy again. That was the worst imaginable outcome for me, that I had been robbed of the chance to uncomplicatedly joyful for the rest of my life. And I can tell you, if I had the chance to grab a little joy in the form of banging the shit out of a hot mountain man? I would have grabbed that with both hands. Claudia tries all the right things, moving away, going to therapy, going back to work, resuming her “normal” life. But the trick that she had to learn, which I had to learn, is that you don’t get your life back. Claudia Before is gone, and Claudia After needs something entirely different. Happiness, love, connection…when you go through something that profound, those moments are never fleeting or trivial. Grabbing that joy (and two handfuls of Shep’s hot ass, amirite) becomes the most important thing, and seeing Claudia make that journey was so important to me.


This book represents everything I love about romance as a genre. It explores something profoundly true about the human condition, all while the characters bone down in increasingly hot and creative ways. What else could anyone want?


(PS, in case it’s not clear: I am very happy and joyful now. HEAs for everyone!)


What you might not like about this book: This book may be triggering if you’ve been the victim of a violent crime.


What you’ll love: This book is like an onion. Every time I think about it, I remember something else I loved about it.


Erin is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She is a voracious reader and reviewer who has been been reading romances since she stole them from under her neighbor’s mom’s bed while she was at work. You can read all her reviews here.

Connect with Erin on Twitter: @booksandjoe

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