“Need,” the second book in Sherri Hayes’ Finding Anna series, continues the story of Brianna and Stephan. Brianna is trying to let go of her life as a slave and embrace the newfound trust and affection that she has for Stephan, while Stephan is trying to help Brianna push through her fear of, well, everything.
Throughout the novel, Brianna learns to touch and be touched. It is a long and grueling process, and there are several setbacks, including running into a childhood friend, being accosted by one of Stephan’s coworkers and her father’s relentless search for his estranged daughter.
Even though these confrontations add a little action and suspense to the story, it is mostly comprised of Brianna’s psychological journey back to normal. Her fears are faced head on, opening up a world that she never imagined. Each incident allows her to feel the full force of the terror caused by the memories of her captivity. Stephan is able to use each incident as a teaching tool, bringing Brianna closer to having a normal life with normal sexual encounters.
In “Need,” just as in “Slave,” nothing really happens. It is just 280 pages of feelings, with a few little skirmishes thrown in to keep it interesting. The story itself is good in its concept, but it seems that it could have been completed in one book, without the constant repetition of emotions. An emotional awakening can be written in such a way that the reader feels satisfaction and pride as the character wins each mental battle. Unfortunately, in “Need,” this is not the case. The story is drawn out to a point that Brianna’s internal struggles become monotonous and lackluster.
Hayes again writes in first person perspective from both Brianna and Stephan’s point of view. In “Need,” it seems to be used as a crutch rather than a tool. Both character’s emotions are spread out on the table rather than revealed in more subtle dialogue or actions.
Overall, “Need” is not bad, but it’s not great, either. The story is intriguing, but never reaches its potential. It seems as though the surface of the BDSM (bondage-discipline/dominance-submission/sadism-masochism) lifestyle is barely scratched, even two books into the series. Hayes has the opportunity to delve deep into the ins and outs of a way of life that is taboo in American culture, but truly misses the mark. If either human trafficking or BDSM were the focus of this series, this could have been phenomenal. Unfortunately, the story was more focused on emotions than issues, and the opportunity was missed.