Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission. She had big dreams and aspirations, none of which included a man by her side. She knew better than that – at least until she met Alexander Stone, the New York billionaire real estate tycoon. She saw the way that he looked at her, and the dark promises in his eyes. She was curious about his world and all that it entailed. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her afraid to explore possibilities that she could never before have imagined…
Alexander Stone was a man who knew how to get what he wanted. He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He was successful and wealthy, relying on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life. But a chance run in with Krystina Cole quickly turned his world upside down. Her quick wit and firecracker attitude was the complete opposite of what he wanted in a woman, and his instincts failed him at every turn…
However, both Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets in their past, and neither of them are willing to compromise. Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit. But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.
This summary actually does a good job of nailing down the premise of the book. It’s to the point, capturing the essence of Krystina and Alexander’s story. If only the book had been the same.
At 430 pages and a cliffhanger ending, Heart of Stone takes too long to tell what could have been a compelling, heart stopping romance. Krystina has all the makings of a strong heroine, but she gets lost in the drawn out “will she or won’t she” plot. Alexander is drawn to her fiery, independent nature, which stems from her father’s abandonment and a previous relationship with a controlling boyfriend. As a man who prides himself on controlling everything around him, the prospect of Alex falling in love with Krystina held promises of a sizzling hot romance. Instead, Krystina became too shrewish for my tastes, leaving me wondering why Alex continued to pursue her. Sure, as her secrets are revealed I understood her anger and armored heart, but the revelation came too late for me to connect with her.
Alex, however, opens up quickly to the idea of a relationship and works hard to change who he is, to become a man who Krystina could open up to. While his character demonstrates constant emotional growth, Krystina’s growth is only physical, taking place in the bedroom as Alex introduces her to the world of BDSM.
Author Dakota Willink bravely takes on the world of BDSM in Heart of Stone, her début novel. As Krystina knows nothing of this world, Willink uses Krystina’s introduction to the Dom/sub relationship as a primer for readers new to the BDSM lifestyle. She doesn’t do a bad job, familiarizing readers with both the physical and emotional aspects of it. But, just like with Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey, Krystina is not a true sub…and the similarities to FSoG don’t end there.
From their cute meet (Krystina falls in front of Alex) to Alex’s billionaire status at a young age, Heart of Stone is so much like FSoG that it was hard to ignore. And, just like with FSoG, we have to read through at least one more book to get to Krystina and Alex’s HEA.
2.5 stars for Heart of Stone as I thought it was okay. Heat level: 4.5
I received this book from the author in exchange for honest feedback.
Heart of Stone was published in December 2015 by Dakota Willink, LLC.
Dakota Willink is a self employed writer and editor, and the author of Heart of Stone, a contemporary romance novel. She is an associate member of Romance Writers of America.
She has always had a passion for reading and writing. From the time she was an adolescent, she enjoyed curling up with a good paperback, reading genres that ranged from thriller and fantasy, to mystery and romance. She always dreamed of one day writing her own book, but had put her aspirations on hold to focus on her family and a career that would pay the bills.
Although she earned a degree in business and had built a solid reputation in retail sales, her heart continued to be with fictional characters – whether they belonged to a favorite author or if they were just stories that she made up in her own head.
In 2013, Dakota gathered enough courage to turn her dreams into a reality. In between playing chauffeur to two very busy children and working her job during the day, Dakota began to put words on paper. Eventually, she began to describe her life as a book. Everything she saw or heard throughout the day, intertwined with her imagination for the creation of future writings. By 2014, with the support of her husband and two children, she gave up the security of a steady paycheck and began working on her first novel full time.
Dakota Willink is a lover of music, and appreciates the power and stimulating effect it can have on the brain. She often uses lyrics and melodies to help her through bouts of writers block. At the end of her novel, you can find an authors note that recognizes and thanks the artists that gave her inspiration.
Dakota resides in the Western New York area, where she enjoys spending time with family, her two Labrador Retrievers, and her spoiled rotten cat. During the summer months, she can often be found on a boat, soaking up the sun on the Great Lakes with her family.
Visit www.dakotawillink.com for news about upcoming events and her future work.