My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
I very well remember the free novella The Riding Crop which helped me finding a new author a year or so ago. Since then, I’ve read a few of KG’s stories. I loved that novella and thought there should’ve been a few more chapters to Olivia and Gideon’s story. But I took the end as ‘the end’. Then last month I found that they are getting another novella to wrap things up, so there was NO WAY I wasn’t reading A Riding Crop for Two. Overall, I was content with the story but some things didn’t feel ok and/or rushed (as in most short story/novellas).
If you didn’t already, please start with book 1 since this book is the continuation of Gideon-Olivia’s story. Gideon seemed like a cold, spoiled and really debauched lordling who has nothing better to do but shag around London... well, some of it is actually quite correct and you might not like to hear of his exploits. But inside, Gideon is a cold shell, born and bred without any affection from his parents. We don’t know much in book 1 though, just that Gideon is bored with life and everything else, so he’s into experimenting of different sexual adventures. He goes to the Riding Crop, a brothel he frequents a lot and somehow ends up requesting for ‘Mistress Birch’, who flogs men who are into pleasure-pain... etc.
Then we meet Olivia, and told of her sad backstory. She was raped a few years ago, and then was abandoned by vicar father. He termed her a ‘whore’ and cut all ties with her. Somehow Olivia finds her way into the Riding Crop. The owner, Pan or Sidle, is an understanding man who took to her and looked after her ever since. She has a job here, but she doesn’t sell her body, sex is the last thing on her mind. She finds that flogging men gives her means to battle with her pain, nightmares etc. and so, she’s been doing that ever since.
Olivia and Gideon’s meeting was fast and sort of ended abruptly when Gideon became absorbed in her and they end up talking and then doing some naughty stuff. Olivia feels she can trust her heart which is telling her to take a chance on this man. So she leaves the brothel to go with Gideon.
I know sounds unbelievable but I still liked it because their connection was good for such a short story.
In this story we find Olivia has been in Gideon’s townhouse for a few days now but he has left her to brood over the whole matter. Gideon never takes mistresses or women in his house so this is very much unlike him. Now he’s trying to come to terms with his actions and what that might mean for him... and for Olivia. They know they have fallen in love, but is it really love? After 3 days of brooding and drinking, Gideon decides he wants Olivia and his love for her is real....... Oook! Meanwhile, Olivia is kind of pissed, and I could totally see why she should be. It was kind of callous of Gideon to leave her like this, when his own reputation with women is more than questionable. Olivia once even questions her sanity for leaving Riding Crop in such a haste to be with him.
Anyway, when he’s back he begs forgiveness and they proceed to have some hot BDSM sex; just enough to make you pant but nothing cringe-worthy. Sex is aplenty in this story, and I felt kinda made up for the lack in book 1 lol. But what I had trouble believing was Olivia’s past rape. Given that it’s been 3 yrs., still, was she healed totally to have sex with Gideon so many times over the story? When she hadn’t had real sex ever since her sad ordeal? Umm, this left me hanging because when rape is involved in a story, it’s difficult to judge.
I liked the twists in the story too, because I didn’t know what to expect, really. We meet Gideon’s cold and a$$hole of a father, the Duke, when Gideon travels to country estate to let him know that he’s marrying. Here, we get to know of their scintillating POVs and dialogues. Trust me, daddy and son has no love lost between them. I wish there were more explanations as to why he made Gideon suffer so as a young boy. The man also hated Gideon’s mother, who was alone and depressed, and died while giving birth again. It almost felt like Gideon isn’t his biological son, the way the poor babe was treated. I was actually expecting a turn in that direction... which it didn’t. Anyway, the Duke hates his son, threatens him to marry some suitable Ton miss etc. He also makes sure that Olivia is evicted from Gideon’s house and that the blame lands on his son.
All these were good, but also resolved very easily. Too conveniently for my liking (Gideon suddenly having big business in Canada???). Olivia’s trust faltered a bit too easily, which bugged me, even when I knew she had reasons to do so. I wish that wasn’t the case. Personally, I was really mad at the Duke and wanted to kick his cold ducal ass. Yet, I knew that Olivia and Gideon both needed love and consideration since they never experienced it from their parents. I do think they fulfill each-other in a way that we might not be able to understand or perceive.
Also, I had a feeling that Pan or Sidle might get his own story. I, for one, would love to know more about him!
PS: I wondered why I felt that I’ve read about a prostitute named Mary Kelly somewhere. The author’s note explained it nicely. Poor girl! :(