Book Review: Safe Word by Teresa Mummert

A chance meeting with a stranger can turn your entire world upside down.

When Colton ‘Colt’ Bishop enters a bar in New York City, he has a plan. His job is to find an easy target and take her back to his place for a few days. He is working his way up the crime ladder doing a job he never wanted.

Lily Hilton has it all, but is hiding from a troublesome past. When she enters a bar downtown, and runs into her old high school crush, her entire world is turned upside down. She is determined to make him notice her, but that plan may work better than she expects.

Colton does not hesitate to take Lily home and use her as his new pawn, but their past begins to catch up with them as their secrets unravel and he must decide what is more important to him, protecting Lily or himself.
3.5 / 4 STARS

After reading my first Teresa Mummert book, I was craving for another dark, edgy read...and Safe Word was thoroughly beckoning me with its sexy cover and promise of trouble. The book's anti-hero, Colton Bishop, is from the wrong side of the tracks, and he's on the prowl for a new target. His mark? A woman he can seduce, kidnap, and get a ransom payment out of. But why? How did his life reach this point? And why is Lily suddenly different from the rest of his targets? Well, that story is told through Colton's eyes. 
"If I had the luxury to view the world through rose-colored glasses, I wouldn't hesitate. Instead, my lenses are fractured. I've seen the world at it's ugliest." 
There were really two halves to this story for me. In the beginning, I loved the grittiness and the tense build-up between captor and captive. Colt was fierce and harsh...and I found myself hanging on every word he growled out.
"When I want to kiss you, I'll fucking kiss you...And when I want to fuck you." I ground my hips into hers and she let out a soft moan. "I will." I slid against her again and her hips pushed back against mine. "But not before you beg me to."
This wasn't a typical case of Stockholm Syndrome, though. Lily wasn't exactly a victim falling for a complete stranger. Flashbacks offered poignant glimpses into both of their pasts, and I kept wondering how deep and grim their connection would go...

For the second half of the story, though, I didn't feel that same pull. Once the "darkness" wore off and their relationship didn't quite measure up to the intense vibe that I liked in the beginning. And while the mob ties maintained the suspense, I also reached a point where I got a little confused by certain details and plot developments. I was never completely lost, but I did pause to clarify a few times. Ultimately, I also couldn't help but feel like the finale was a little too abrupt. The last few scenes did give me a good adrenaline rush...Then, I hit the epilogue...and was very, "Oh. Just like that..."

I don't usually do split-ratings, but I was definitely split while reading this book! 4 star-good when I started, 3.5 star-satisfying when I finished. However, the flashbacks were such a great way to show what brought these two damaged people together, giving depth to their characters, and the author just has that way of storytelling that makes the bad seem so, so tempting. Safe Word was an enticing, fast-paced read, and I look forward to reading more from Teresa Mummert!