by Elene Sallinger

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"Exquisitely beautiful, touchingly heart-wrenching, and hedonistic enough to keep your body on fire."—Coffee Time Romance, 5 stars

So Many Possibilities...

The minute Claire walked into his shop, she aroused every protective instinct Evan ever had. She looked so fragile, so lost. He ached to be the one to show her a world she's never dreamed of, to awaken within her the passion she was so ripe to share. It only takes one touch for him to see how open and responsive she is to his dominant side. But the truth test will be whether he can let go at least and finally open his heart...

The Chrysalis Series:
Awakening (Book 1)
Reflection (Book 2)

What Readers are Saying:

"If Fifty Shades of Grey intrigued you, Awakening will take you to a whole new level of desire, submission, and unforgettable romance."—Judge, Festival of Romance Contest

"One of the absolute best BDSM novels I have read. (And I've read quite a few.) This one is absolutely amazing!"—Autumn Jean

"Finally! A well-told story that shows the characters' vulnerabilities and how they learned to trust and love again."—A. Hirsch

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402289514
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Series: Chrysalis , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 25,568
File size: 795 KB

About the Author

Hailing from Washington, DC, Elene Sallinger first caught the writing bug in 2004 after writing and illustrating several stories for her then four-year-old daughter. Her writing career has encompassed two award-winning children's stories, a stint as a consumer-education advocate, as well as writing her debut novel, Awakening-a novel of erotic fiction that won the New Writing Competition at the Festival of Romance 2011.

Read an Excerpt

Claire Ryan pushed open the door to Bibliophile and struggled to calm her racing heart. Once inside, she rushed over to a large, square table covered in the newest bestsellers and leant heavily against it as she struggled to regain her balance. Closing her eyes tightly, she breathed deeply and silently chanted “In two, three, four. Out two, three, four. In two, three, four. Out two, three, four”. She continued the breathing exercises she’d read about in her latest Zen book as she fought the panic rushing through her veins.

Fifteen years. That’s how long it had been since she’d done anything social by herself, and she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to do this. She’d waffled all day about whether or not to come before finally becoming thoroughly sick of herself. It was just a goddamn book club meeting. It wasn’t like she was running the gauntlet. Well, not literally.

The last year had been spent in near isolation with only Chester, her Pitbull, for company. She had no friends, she was estranged from her family, and her relationship of 14 years had ended, leaving her alone. Claire had been determined to take the time to figure out what she was doing with her life, and the last year had been spent laying the foundation for living. For the first few months, she’d fooled herself into believing that she was actually living. She worked, she ate, she read, she went to sleep and she took care of Chester. That was it. That was the sum total of Claire’s life for the last 365 days. Today was the anniversary of her break-up with Charlie. It was no coincidence that she’d chosen it to re-enter the living world.

Slowly, Claire felt her chest loosen and her breathing slow to normal. Once she was certain she wasn’t going to pass out, she stood and smoothed her sweater down over her hips before standing straight and taking one last deep breath. On the exhale, she finally took a look around the store. Bibliophile was a small, local bookstore that catered to hardcore readers. It offered services for locating hard to find and out-of-print books and held regular readings, book clubs, and author events. For over ten years, Claire had walked by the store, but never once been inside. She’d done all of her shopping at the local Barnes & Noble, online, or simply checked books out at the library.

The store was actually a converted townhouse in the growing urban district of River Rock, Vermont. It was cosy, with row upon row of shelves housing books of every genre. The front of the building was dominated by a huge bay window with a clever display of books set up like a house of cards next to a sign announcing the store’s monthly event calendar. Perpendicular to the window was the checkout counter, which held a smattering of pens and bookmarks along with a Dell flat screen monitor and computer. The counter was neat and free of the usual clutter one tended to find in such places. In fact, as Claire scanned the entire store, searching out the club meeting, it was neat as a pin. The floors were oak done in a parquet style where the grain alternated direction. Cheery yellow paint covered the walls, which were lined with classic movie posters and playbills. The overall effect was modern vintage.

Hearing voices coming from the back, Claire headed in that direction. Just as she stepped into the aisle between New Releases and Popular Fiction, the single most gorgeous man she had ever seen stepped out of the row closest to the register and walked behind the counter. That fast she lost her breath all over again.

He was tall, well over six feet, with close-cropped, black hair that showed just a hint of grey at the temples. His face was almost harsh, with a strong chin and straight nose. Given the heavy shadow he was sporting at just past 6 p.m., Claire guessed he probably had to shave twice a day if he really wanted to stay smooth. He was older, probably in his late 40s, but extremely fit. His lean firm body was accentuated by the black T-shirt and black jeans he wore. The T-shirt lovingly accentuated his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Rugged. That was it. If she had to find one word to describe him, it was rugged. He had her body tightening in places she’d forgotten about.

Claire watched as he set down the stack of books he was carrying and reached for the mouse. She felt rooted to the spot. She knew better than to gawk, but he was stunning. She could stand there and watch him for ever. He moved with an unconscious grace that was almost erotic. His fingers were long and his hands were large yet surprisingly deft as he moved the mouse, clicking every now and then. From her angle, Claire could see that his eyes were a dark brown and she bet that if she got close, she’d probably have a hard time discerning the iris from the pupil. He mesmerised her. She couldn’t remember ever being so taken aback by a man. Not even Charlie, and he was the best looking man she’d ever dated.

Pain stabbed through her at the thought of Charlie. She had no right to stand there and ogle this man. After what she’d done, she knew better than to indulge in such a pointless endeavour. In obvious approval of her decision, a wave of cool air swept across Claire as a bell rung and another patron entered. The breeze fluttered her hair and pushed her gently toward the back. Taking it as a sign, Claire scurried into the stacks to find her club meeting. 

Customer Reviews

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Awakening 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Curvy More than 1 year ago
A fabulous read with characters that one can relate to!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can'you wait for another
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I normally don't write reviews. I normally just read what others have to say. But this book definitely deserves a review. I only read BDSM erotica and this boom was nothing like what I'm use to and was sooo good. Normally there's actual sex scenes throughout the entire book. A book of a woman finding herself and becoming new and renewed was refreshing. Very good. Definitely recommend. Nice change of pace.
Berls More than 1 year ago
My Initial Reaction… This was an okay erotic romance. I didn’t connect to the characters the way I like to and the story was extremely predictable, but the erotic scenes were pretty good, making Awakening a solid 3 star read for me. . The Characters… Awakening is told from the point of view of Claire and Evan. They’re both likeable characters for the most part, though I just didn’t connect to them. I think it might be because they were just a bit toogeneric. There were no surprises in either of them. Claire is coming out of an abusive relationship and trying to find her way back into the world. She’s very down on herself and doesn’t think she’s worthy of love. But she’s trying to connect with people again and she sees joining a book club as a way to do just that. And through her time at the book store where the book club is held she finds her way to the erotica section and starts fantasizing about BDSM. Lucky for Claire, the book store owner – Evan – just so happens to be a Dom, who’s very attracted to her. He sees in her the submissive that needs to be taken care of and it calls to him. But he’s not a practicing Dom right now, because his last submissive was his wife, who died from cancer years earlier. He’s still deeply in love with her and can’t move on, even if Claire calls to him. But he wants to take care of Claire and introduce her to the D/s lifestyle. So, he’s doesn’t know what to do. I really liked Evan and Claire – and the little bits we got of two or three side characters – and enjoyed watching Claire gain her confidence. I just didn’t connect to them. There was nothing about either of them that struck me as particularly unique – I could insert either of them into hundreds of other stories and they would fit. So I wasn’t really invested in their story, probably because I never had any doubts about how it would turn out. The Story… In true erotica fashion, Awakening‘s story is propelled by the sexual encounters. Yes, you have Claire who’s new to the BDSM lifestyle and timid about exploring it. And you have widower Evan trying to deal with his feelings for Claire when he still longs for his wife. But the story would have gone no where if it weren’t for the sex. And that’s fine with me – it’s what I expect in an erotica. But the realsex didn’t start happening until after the halfway point. There was lots of Claire falling asleep fantasizing about her books and eventually Evan, but it just took too long to get to their relationship. Evan was standoffish and unkind just a bit too long IMHO. I will say, though, that once it got going it was pretty good. And I liked that Elene balanced the sexual aspects of the D/s relationship with the emotional ones, providing a little bit more substance to the story. I just wished that the story were a little bit less predictable. Concluding Sentiments… If you’ve read a few books (which you probably have if you’re reading this review) you already know these characters from the little I’ve written and you know how this story is going to go. But if you like a little bit of BDSM play, Awakening delivers pretty well. I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. *This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.*
pagese More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure I was going to review this on my blog. This site tends toward young adult with the occasional younger book thrown in. But, I realized I'm a grown adult and I think most of my readers are as well. I've read a few BSDM books. Some of it really is hard for me to take. But, this one was presented in a very 'tasteful" fashion. I think it would be good for those easing themselves in the genre. I really liked Claire. It's interesting to me that she came from a very abusive relationship. While you constantly hear of women who claim they deserved their beatings, Claire actually craved it. But, she never recognized that it was delivered in the wrong context. It wasn't until her relationship is long over that she realized what it was she wanted. But, these types of relationships take care and consideration. They aren't to be entered into lightly. I understood that Claire had an intense attraction to Evan. But I was a little disappointed that she agreed to his terms. I know she realized that she was not a replacement for his deceased wife, but Evan never realized that. It was like he refused to see Claire for herself. In turn, he was denying himself what he really wanted. If her recognized Claire as a true submissive, he was doing her a great disservice by treating her the way he did. I'm happy they finally admitted what they both needed. I liked that this book was not just about the BSDM lifestyle but about the dynamics of the relationship.
Bitten-By-Love-Reviews More than 1 year ago
What a great book. I have to give props to Elene Sallinger this book was beautifully written and was very hard to put down. The characters were explained well and there were things that everyone can relate to in the story line. I would highly recommend this book to all readers. I enjoyed a many parts of this book. I loved that Claire was true to her heart and would not be with Evan without a chance of having a relationship. I love that Evan was so true to his feelings for his wife and that in the end was able to realize that he could love both Marianne and Claire for themselves. Bridget was such a great character being a friend to not only Marianne and Evan but also a great friend to Claire. I love that Claire meet Evan in a bookstore that he owned while going to a book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marianna-ALustForReading More than 1 year ago
Claire Ryan has recently gotten out of a 10 year abusive relationship. The twist is that she is the abuser. Her body and mind crave physical pain so she would push her former lover to the point that he would hurt her. Not out of passion but out of anger. Now that they have finally parted ways, she needs to delve into that side of her and find out what it is that she needs. When she joins a book club at the local book store owned by Evan Lang, she is drawn to the erotica section and more specifically BDSM themed books. Evan is still mourning the death of his wife and submissive, even many years after the fact. He refuses to let her go and move on with his own life. When Claire walks into his store, her vulnerability wakes the dominant in him, which pisses him off. He doesn't want to be attracted to another woman and he certainly doesn't want another submissive. Or so he keeps telling himself but his body has a mind of its own. When Evan overhears Claire discussing her past relationship with their mutual friend Bridget, he realizes she needs some guidance into the BDSM world. Still refusing to be the Dom to instruct her, he continues to ignore her and instead he leaves appropriate books out where she will see them in his store. But how long can he keep lying to himself? How long until he gives in and gives them what they both need. I have read a decent amount of BDSM romances since I first read Fifty Shades of Grey over a year and a half ago and Awakening is definitely different than the others. And that is what I liked most about it. While in many books the heroine is a BDSM virgin that accidentally discovers it thanks to her hero, in this our heroine Claire is seeking to learn about it. Though she may not understand it fully, she realizes that on some level she needs the pain and after a decade in a miserable relationship, she is finally ready to discover that side of herself. Even though she is ready, she is also hesitant and shy about it, which to me is a very real reaction. Evan is older and sexy and an experienced Dominant, but he was also extremely frustrating. While it was sad that he lost his wife to cancer and I understand not wanting to forget her, I was annoyed that he basically stopped living too. He refused to see what was right in front of him. Stubborn, stubborn man. Ultimately, he knows he is the perfect man to introduce BDSM impact play, once he gets out of his own head. I really liked the premise of this story as well as the characters. However, I would have liked more interaction and dialogue between Claire and Evan as I felt like the majority of the book was Evan scowling at her and it caused the story to move along a little slowly at times.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
Confounded and baffled on so many levels, it’s hard to state rather emphatically how I truly feel about this read. On the one hand, I rather liked Claire Ryan, Bridget (no last name), and Evan Lane to the point that I considered them good acquaintances by the end of this tale. In some ways, Claire reminded me of…well me. If I were female, that is. Shy, but definitely not quiet, her stronger, talkative self was just bursting at the seam of her jeans. She tentatively explored the BDSM world through a series of engorging reads, becoming more aroused with each tale, and her high pain tolerance helped her out immensely in this new universe. Bridget with her bubbly personality and stunning good looks reminded of a cheerleader who hasn’t exceeded her expiration date. Evan, on the other hand, confounded me a bit with his overemphasis on past guilt and unwillingness to embrace the present. While his actions and motivations become clear, it’s hard not to be a bit frustrated with his constant clinginess to previous wrongs. Steamy scenes and passionate embraces filled the pages, but not to the point that it ever exceeded my threshold. The peek behind the bedroom curtain left me hot and heavy and bothered and squirming in my chair, while the downtime allowed me to catch my breath, reevaluate the purpose of my life, and study long division. Elene Sallinger knows how to turn up the heat and strike your pleasure points with a fine leather flogger. But…the first half of AWAKENING reminded me of a high school crush not yet realized, and the buildup proved an exercise in self-control to continue to flip the pages. Sure, there’s character development and story, but there’s a whole lot of dancing around in Claire’s and Evan’s heads. Had more external conflict been presented here, instead of massive amounts of the internal variety, this would have been easier to sludge through. Instead, I probably needed a larger pair of boots. But possibly even worse than that was the moment the mental tango turned into a physical one for our dynamic duo. *BEGIN SPOILER* With very little preamble and no real buildup whatsoever, in the middle of Bibliophile and during normal business hours, Evan yanked away Claire’s black silk thong and gets her off, and then he shoves his penis in her mouth. Excuse me…what? That rattled me a bit, worse than being shoved against the book stacks by some leather bound hellion with a whip and a pair of handcuffs. *END SPOILER* But once I shook my head and wormed my way back into the story, all was right with the world. The suspect beginnings, though, left my world with a tainted haze that never completely went away. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
RipeForReader More than 1 year ago
My rating: 5 of 5 ¿¿ It's been fifteen years since Claire Ryan has engaged socially without her ex-husband by her side. A year since he finally gave up on her. A year she spent mostly shielded from the world, only accompanied by her one trusted companion, her dog Chester. Scared as she is, Claire is ready to start living again. She is thirty-five years old and without direction, without fulfillment. Having spent most of the past year reading, a book club seemed like the least threatening way to venture out among people again, without exposing herself too much. 'Bibliophile' was a dream Evan Lang realized after his years in the military. A comfortable and somewhat eclectic bookstore, where one could quietly browse through the shelves, sit in a comfortable chair and read or join in one of the book clubs hosted there. Evan's life is content. After losing his wife years ago he doesn't expect anything more, since he hasn't stopped loving her. So when a small fragile woman walks into his store and suddenly stirs up his long dormant Dominant instincts, Evan is not pleased with the disruption. Oblivious to Evan's response to her proximity, Claire is greeted by a very handsome but surly man, who seems to have focused his foul temper on her. Almost enough to make her turn tail and not return to the book club. But the store holds some interesting books Claire would like a closer look at. Erotic books about BDSM that have her body responding in a way a she is not used to. In a way she has always craved. And when she imagines herself in such scenarios, it is the grumpy Evan she sees dominating her. Evan has observed Claire's response to the book on BDSM and it confirms his suspicion that she likely is submissive. He is concerned however, for her to start experimenting on her own and decides to try and 'guide' her education. At first he does this by leaving appropriate books for her to find around the store, but eventually it becomes too difficult to keep his distance and he reluctantly offers to train her as  a submissive. He makes it very clear that there will be no emotional relationship, nor will there be intercourse.  Claire, already half in love with Evan, despite his attitude toward him, trusts him and is excited to be shown down this path. On the other hand, Evan is barely holding on to his control, with his body threatening to betray his heart at every step. With every liberating step Claire takes on this new path, Evan loses the ability to resist. **** Oh wow......... This book gave me a real buzz.  Not just because of the incredibly sensual writing, but because of the self-discovery taking place. Whenever I read books about characters stuck somewhere in their life, for whatever reason; be it pain, grief, fear or complacency, and then I see them struggle their way out of their immobility and start searching and finding, it motivates me. In the past two days I have read two books that have been a kick in the pants for me, and this is one of them. Claire deals with a childhood that was filled with denigration and verbal cruelty, leaving her feeling unworthy and causing her to lower herself to the standards imposed by others. This leaves her filled with self-loathing for what she has allowed herself to become and the damage she has inflicted on the way. So uncomfortable with and untrusting of her value, she is in a constant battle to hide inner self, only able to release that part of her when pain and/or pleasure strip all of her defenses away leaving her exposed and open. Evan has shut himself down emotionally after his wife passed away. As a Dominant it was against his very grain to sit by and watch his wife wither away at the hands of cancer, unable to keep her safe, rendering him impotent in his role as her Dom. Symbolically, in the years since her death, although physically able, he has mentally shut down his dominant and sexual instincts to a point where his body no longer had natural sexual urges. In his mind, he was not over the love he felt for his wife, when in fact he had never dealt with the failure he personally felt at her passing.  A beautiful emotionally complex story, which challenges you to broaden your mind. Encourages you to think about the deep emotional implications a Dominant/submissive interaction or relationship might have. What one might see as the total giving up of control, might actually be the grabbing of the ultimate freedom to think, say, feel and be who you really are, knowing that sharing all of you will only be treasured, not judged. Pretty heady stuff, when you think about it. Powerful. I'm a sucker for stories of people who fight to live instead of be satisfied with existing. AWAKENING gave me two such heroes.  ¿Haunting, erotic, compelling and fiercely provocative!¿ **ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca in return for an honest review.**
Momof4IN More than 1 year ago
Although I did like that this book explained BDSM better than most something was missing for me. I really liked how Evan left out books for Claire, but his attitude (being rude and obnoxious) through most of the book was a huge turn off for me. I just did not connect with the characters and the chemistry was just eh... Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for this ARC.
Missy_Lou More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a soft core BDSM book this would be a good book to start off with. I was thinking it might be a little more like Fifty Shades, but it wasn't. It was an OK read, but I wouldn't buy it. I actually borrowed it from the library for my nook.
Mie More than 1 year ago
this is one you will share.
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Stressed_Rach More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Awakening, I love romance novels with an extra added spice and this was perfect for me. Both Claire and Evan were grieving, Claire from her relationship break-up and Evan due to his wife dying. Evan really fell for Claire but refuses to get over his dead wife, there was a lot of emotional baggage on both sides. I liked that Claire and Evan got to know each other a lot first and that for those contemplating BDSM, with trust building too. I would imagine if you do not trust the other person completely that the whole scene would be very scary. I liked that Awakening was written with compassion and there is a good story to it and not just about sex, Obviously there was some BDSM and sex in the book but not too much to detract from the main story. This is the first book I have read from the author Elene Sallinger and I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look out for more of her work. She is a fantastic author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago