The Audition by Tara Crescent
Source: Review by Request
Author Provided ARC
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Ever since she was a child, Allie Greenwall has wanted to get into Juilliard. But she hasn’t played the piano in six years, and she is hopelessly rusty. Her only hope of passing her audition rests with reclusive Russian pianist Nikolai Zhednov.
But Nikolai is no longer the man she knew, and in his dungeon, Allie realizes that his help will come at a high cost, one she’s not sure she can pay.
Note: This story contains a Dominant pianist who will use harsh discipline to ensure that Allie reaches her fullest potential, many erotic sexual and BDSM scenes, and a Happy-For-Now ending.
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Romance, and Music, and Kink, Oh My!
…before all this, before the BDSM, before the leash, before the sexual attraction that shimmers in the air, Nikolai and I had one thing that bound us together, and it was the music. When I play, it is, in a way, a homage to that.
Tara Crescent writes beautiful BDSM Romances filled with quality characters and generous amounts of steam. She is a stop-drop-and-read author for me, and I’m always delighted with her stories. The Audition is a fabulous addition to her catalog.
Here we have a couple who practically grew up together.
This is a story of love, loss, music, and the scars they bear…
Their D/s relationship is built on years of trust.
Sex takes a backseat to the discipline.
Discipline takes a backseat to emotional support,
and everything takes a backseat to the music…
…you don’t need a lot to seize on, when you are looking for a lifeline, and god help me, I’m looking for one. Nikolai, with his crop and his insistence on my nakedness, with his leash and with his ruler, has offered me a helping hand, and I’m determined to seize it and start climbing.
Allie’s scars are emotional; she has been drifting in a self-destructive haze since the death of her mother.
She finally begins to emerge from her funk by auditioning for Julliard where her mother once served on the faculty. Her audition is less than stellar, but because of her mother’s legacy, Julliard agrees to give her one week to perfect her playing before returning for a second audition.
There’s only one person that Allie can think of who might be able to improve her playing in seven days. She hasn’t seen Nikolai Zhednov since her mother’s funeral, but she drops everything and shows up unannounced at his front door.
“Perhaps treating you like an animal will help you remember how to survive.”
Nikolai’s scars are physical; he earned them while attempting to save Allie’s mother from the car crash which claimed her life. The burns on his hands robbed him of a promising career as the Principal Pianist of the New York Philharmonic.
Nikolai is nothing short of a musical genius. Allie’s mother pulled him from Russia when he was a young man, and he quickly established himself as a prodigy in the Classical Music community.
Allie isn’t lacking in technical skills. Her music suffers because she refuses to open her emotions and feel the music.
Allie fears that opening herself emotionally will expose all of her loneliness and heartache since the death of her mother…
Nikolai knows she needs structure, discipline, and a safe place to let go. He uses his own brand of disciplinary skills to whip her into shape.
If she won’t lower her walls willingly, he will break them down and build Allie back up again.
The melody stops me in my tracks as I descend down the stairs towards the basement. Mozart’s piano concerto no. 3, played the way it should be. With tenderness and love and feeling.
I’m naked again. The collar is around my neck and the leash trails behind me as I walk down. I took it off to shower, but now, I wear it again, and strangely, it feels good.
Nikolai turns towards me as I enter the dungeon, and he smiles when he sees me. He doesn’t hide his approval. “Very nice,” he says, his talented fingers reaching up to trace the collar. “Very well-behaved. I like that.” He moves over on the piano stool, and pats the space next to him. “Come, sit down. Hands on the keys.”
I can feel every inch of his hard thighs as I sit. He’s so close to me. His woolen pants itch slightly at my skin. I can smell him, a combination of mint and clean freshness and man. I feel the effects of his nearness in the heavy ache of my cunt.
His hands move, and he lifts my right thigh up and places it over his own. “Spread your legs,” he orders. “Play for me.” His fingers take hold of the end of the leash, and he tugs, to punctuate his desire.
Play for me. Such an incredibly erotic line.
I pick the Chopin Piano Concerto No 1, another part of my program. He listens in silence for a few minutes, before he shakes his head. “Stop.” He moves my thigh and gets up, walking to the wall of whips. When he returns, it’s with a riding crop. “I’m looking for emotion,” he says. “For a lowering of your walls. The music should flow through you. You are just a conduit, do you understand? The melody is paramount.”
The walls are for a reason, there in order to protect my heart from further damage. I never wish to relive the day the police knocked on my New York apartment door in the middle of the night. “There’s been an accident,” one of them had said, his eyes sympathetic. And in that moment, I’d gone from being a girl on the cusp of womanhood, safe, secure and loved, to someone who had found herself very, very alone. Nikolai had tried to reach out, but I’d pushed him away with cruel words and bitter reproaches. Finally, he too had retreated.
The snap of the crop on my thigh interrupts my reminiscing. “Allie,” Nikolai’s dark eyes flash. “Play.”
I play, and I can tell that I’m displeasing Nikolai with each note. I can hear why. The melody emerging from my fingers is stilted and wooden. Devoid of feeling.
The crop lands on my nipple, sending a sliver of pain through my body. “There is no emotion in your playing,” he says coolly. “Open yourself up.” Another stroke lands on my ass. “And Allie, it will go poorly for you if you stop at any time. Play through your punishment.”
I resume the concerto. The crop thwacks my skin. I grit my teeth and play, and the pain keeps coming, wave after wave, as Nikolai remains displeased by my performance. Finally, I slam my fingers down on the keys, all ten of them, in a crash of sound. “I can’t, okay?” I yell at him. “I can’t drop my walls. I can’t feel. This is all I have left in me.”
“Put your hands on the keys.” His voice is dangerous. “Resume.”
Tara Crescent has offered to give away a copy of this fabulous book to two lucky Smutsonian Readers! Click here to Enter:
About the Author:
Hello, I’m Tara Crescent. By day, I’m a mild-mannered corporate drone in Toronto, but by night, I’m limited only by my imagination; I sit and I type, and I am a daring writer of BDSM, erotica and romance.
I’m a huge believer in happily-ever-after, but tempered by real life, where happily-ever-after is possible, but takes work. My favorite kind of romance stories are ones that are somewhat believable; I like strong men and women who know what they want out of life, and are driven to get it.
In my spare time, I write of course. I also read, garden, travel, cook, and almost never clean. I just started watching Walking Dead on Netflix (zombie erotica, anyone?), and I’m impatiently awaiting the next episode of Doctor Who. (I would kill for a TARDIS.)
From time to time, I blog about what I’m writing at my blog. The blog is also where I post book excerpts; highlight information about upcoming promotions, and so on and so forth. Follow me there to keep up with all the fun! (Oh, and sign up for my mailing list – I send out free stories every month or so.