This post contains reviews of all the books in the Giving Consent series:
- “Worth the Switch” (Book 0.5)
- Worth the Risk (Book 1)
- Worth the Wait (Book 2)
- Worth the Fight (Book 3)
- Worth the Chance (Book 4)
- Desperately Seeking (supplemental novellas)
Worth the Switch (Book 0.5)
I read this short story immediately after completing the first book in the series. This means I have a very different view of the characters than coming into it fresh. Landon’s heartbreak over losing Greg is fresher here, but this isn’t an angst-filled story. It was fun to meet the full “New York” crew and catch a glimpse of the origin story for Landon and Verity’s dynamic (which is less sexy than it sounds but still adorable).
As the author states, this is not necessary to read before reading the series. However, it did solidify my interest in these characters and make me even more eager to read Verity and Jack’s love stories.
Worth the Risk (Book 1)
Los Angeles may be a big city, but considering how niche the BDSM community can be, I was surprised that it took Landon and Gregory to encounter each other before now. Their reunion is both poignant and heartbreaking because it’s evident that both men have a lot of baggage to sift through before they can reach their happily ever after. The sex and play between them are sexy, but often, that’s the easy part (even considering the amount of trust necessary for their dynamic). It’s everything else that’s hard, especially as they realize that they know each other, but not necessarily every facet of each other anymore. They’re far from being 18 now.
On the other hand, Gregory has grown up far more than Landon. While the romance arc is a traditional “second chance” story, the external conflict is the reality behind why Gregory and Landon didn’t get their happily ever after back in college. I appreciate that Greg takes no shit from Landon, despite his tantrums, and that Verity also ends up on the same page and refuses to coddle Landon any longer. There’s a significant difference between support and enabling. My only major quibble about this book is that Landon has character development thrust upon him rather than figuring things out for himself.
This series won’t be for everyone because integral to the “romance” aspect is the BDSM culture the characters share. The sexy bits in this book are hot, but they are also kinky AF. Nothing extreme, but I understand that “extreme” is entirely relative depending on your familiarity and/or comfort with the scene.
It is evident from this book that the series will feature some overlap in timelines for the connected romances. We’ve met all the major players, and now I can’t wait to dive into their individual stories for the full ride.
Worth the Wait (Book 2)
Elements of this story are apparent from a mile away—primarily, in which the people in an online relationship catch feelings, and the distance becomes more a burden than a gift. Callum shows his age here, I think, in pressuring Jack to visit. Beyond that, however, both men are more than entitled to the pain and confusion that results in Jack’s hospital stay and subsequent decision to up-end his life. Any relationship must recalibrate at that point, regardless of the amount of love involved, and both men make their share of missteps until they get their happily ever after.
Callum and Jack’s dynamic is charming and sexy by turns, both strictly online and then in person. Fortunately, Jack is around in person (not much a spoiler since it happens at the end of the previous book) when the genuinely dark moment occurs. This would have been a very different book had that incident befallen Callum while Jack still lived across the country. Instead, with the support of their friends, both men are able to muddle through yet another shift in their relationship. Luckily, it leads to a truly happy moment despite the pain (physical, mental, and emotional) they wade through to get there.
Hawthorne gets points from me in portraying the realities of how mental health can be as affected as physical after what Callum experiences. The bonus points come in because Jack does what he can to help Callum navigate his new normal rather than pressure Callum to be “fixed.” These two are one of the sweetest pairs I’ve read recently, and I’m glad I get to keep an eye on them through two more books in this series.
Worth the Fight (Book 3)
After seeing bits of the drama from an outside perspective in the previous two books of this series, I was excited to finally get to Justin, Micah, and Keith’s story. The timeline did not backtrack too much, instead picking up soon after Keith is assaulted by his ex-boyfriend in the previous book. Justin and Micah take him in, but they know that the three cannot go back to the flawed relationship they had explored before. Justin, especially, must reconsider how he relates to the younger man differently than with his husband, Micah.
Overall, this was a fascinating look at the different dynamics possible within a menage relationship, especially with the added context of BDSM power dynamics. There are so many ways in which this trio could have self-destructed a second time (though the first time was admittedly due to extenuating circumstances). Instead, a renewed focus on communication allows each of the characters to grow as individuals. Keith, especially, experiences a fascinating character arc that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The dark moment was far darker and more shocking than I expected, but that made the story all the more satisfying. Ultimately, I now believe that these characters will finally get their happily ever after together, especially if they keep working and fighting for it. Real relationships are worth the work (and fight) put into them.
Now, after three novels watching Verity and Aaron circle around each other, I can’t wait for the finale of this series. I am beyond intrigued by this relationship’s full story, based on the hints they have doled out to other characters.
Worth the Chance (Book 4)
Now that Verity and Aaron have circled each other for three books, I was excited to finally read the full arc of their love story. Spoiler alert: Nothing about it is easy. For all Verity’s composure and self-control, there are still elements of their life and identity that have not entirely settled, and Aaron manages to bring all of those questions out full-force. I admire Aaron’s dedication to growing closer to Verity, which never crosses the line from romantic determination to creepy and frustrating.
The shifting dynamic between them was a fascinating read, especially considering Aaron’s ability and willingness to take it in stride without ever compromising his personality and needs. Hawthorne subverts multiple expectations in this novel, walking the edge between conflict and cliché. The author obviously recognizes the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual expression, including how each of these things can be incredibly fluid and individualistic. I especially appreciate Hawthorne’s portrayal of a nonbinary character. While I have no personal experience to judge the author’s accuracy of a concept that is unique to every person, I did enjoy the fact that Hawthorne shares relevant history for the character without ever “confirming or denying” anything beyond what Verity themself is willing to share in their point-of-view narrative.
I’m not sure this story would have worked as a stand-alone, dropped into these characters fresh. However, as the tail end of an enjoyable series in which their full story had only been teased so far, the book made for a satisfying read on multiple levels. Not only did I love Verity and Aaron’s happily ever after, but I also loved knowing that the previous relationships from this series were also going strong. I wouldn’t mind dropping in on any of these characters later to read more about their misadventures (sexy or otherwise).
Desperately Seeking (supplemental novellas)
This book collects three novellas connected to the Giving Consent series by both characters and location. The first story follows up with Verity’s younger brother Chaz as he explores the full extent of his newfound relationship (and life overall). The other two introduce brand-new characters who take advantage of the club founded by Landon and Verity that is featured prominently in the main series.
Even if you enjoyed the main Giving Consent series, heed the warnings before diving into these supplemental offerings. The BDSM elements are much more prevalent and will certainly not be for all readers. For all the sexiness, elements of plot do exist in each of this trio of stories. I’d even be interested in reading more about the dynamics introduced between Kevin/Ronan and Harry/Darren in fuller-length stories.