Grade: B+Read the full review of both booksShit, and shit, and shit again, he thought as Brandon’s arms wrapped around him and dragged them to the floor with the unfettered force of their passion. I’m in love. God help me, I’m in love.Awakening was a completely different reading experience than Resistance, primarily because Bran and Jonathon actually talk to each other. Their encounters FINALLY evolve beyond sadism and sex and frustration.“These are your trappings. To help you find your headspace. You may not understand it now – you may well hate it now – but it’s important you understand none of this is meant to debase you in any way.”[Well, why the HELL didn't you say that in the first place, you selfish evil bastard motherfucker?!?]We get to see behind the veil of pain and fear that Jonathan uses as armor, and we learn why breaching Bran’s control was so important to both men.“Not to break you, but to crack you, do you understand? To…learn all that’s inside you, what drive you, what troubles you so. To bring you peace, with yourself and with the world. I think I’ve wanted that from the moment you opened that sharp-tongued mouth of yours. And that’s why you.”[Dammit, you evil selfish motherfucking bastard, don't make me start to like you. Asshole.]After finishing the second book, I kept wondering why it was two separate books. Surely the editors could have trimmed a little of the “OMFG NOOOO” out of the first part and spliced in a transition. And then Dumbass Me realized once again that they knew exactly what they were doing. If it was a single book, I seriously doubt I could have finished – it was just too exhausting. But the abrupt ending of Resistance kept me wondering and obsessing until I decided I trusted the authors enough to hold my hand the rest of the way.Was it worth it?Yes. These books changed the way I will read (and rate) BDSM erotica. The alternating, stream-of-consciousness POVs were executed so well I never had any confusion over whose head I was in. The dungeon scenes were utterly claustrophobic (omfg, the sarcophagus, nooooo *whimper*). I found myself floating along with Bran when he finally “found his headspace.”But ultimately, my grades of B- and B+ are more a reflection of the extreme subject matter than the writing. I’ve only read one or two “complete power exchange” stories, and each time I’m deeply conflicted about the infallibility of the dominant/master – especially when the rationales begin to sound like a cult leader’s brainwashing:“Do you remember,” he asked, “how we talked about tearing down barriers and walls? About trusting me? About breaking you of all the destructive thoughts and habits that prevent you from realizing your true potential?”Ahhh, no. Thanks, but no. I’ll just keep taking my Happy Pills for that.I reserve my A grades for books I know I’ll read again. Once was definitely enough for this level of kink.NOTE: I read a digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.