Begging For It continues Vivienne and Jonah's story, which began in Asking For It. The two were initially drawn together by their mutual interest in role playing forceful, violent sexual fantasies. In the beginning they wanted to know as little as possible about each other to make the role playing seem more realistic. But eventually emotions developed, and now Vivienne and Jonah are more than just strangers with benefits. They are making a go of it as a couple.
Complications arise. Vivienne and Jonah reveal their past tragedies to one another and Jonah has a difficult time being with Vivienne when he learns her story. Things get even more difficult when what was a fantasy becomes reality when a real rapist starts terrorizing the city of Austin. An ex-girlfriend with whom Jonah shared his fantasies suggests that the the police add him to their suspect list. Jonah's stepfather uses the scandal to try to take control of the family fortune. With trouble swirling around him, Jonah pulls away from Vivienne with the idea that he is "protecting" her.
One of the things I like most about this book and its predecessor is how concepts like agency, consent, and freedom of choice are handled. There is a point when Jonah insists that they give up their fantasies because he worries that they are harmful to Vivienne. She bristles at his protection, telling him that it is like he stopped seeing her and now only sees (and treats) her as a victim. She tells him,
"But what I've had with you is the one honest sexual relationship of my entire life, and if giving up that honesty is the price of getting you back, it's too high." (page 30)
But it isn't all about Vivienne and her feelings. When the situation with his stepfather presses his emotional buttons and Jonah decides he can no longer handle the dark places he goes to during their role play. Vivienne is unhappy with his decision but her therapist Doreen reminds Vivienne that Jonah has the right to say no too. Jonah gets to have his limits.
I really liked this short series and would recommend them, with the caveat to those with trigger concerns. It was eye opening and unlike anything I've read before. I wonder what Lilah Pace will come up with next.