Red, Kate Kinsey

RedRating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Kensington Books

Genre: BDSM Thriller

Tags: M/F, Hardcore BDSM, Graphic Violence, Serial Killer, On-Page Graphic Violent Sexual Situations, Mystery, Thriller

Length: 277 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Kensington Books,


This book contains violent sex scenes that could be considered triggers for assault victims. Keep that in mind before reading. Also note that this review contains one spoiler (in regards to the triggers mentioned).


Blurb –

Truly, madly…deadly

A BDSM thriller

Detective Tom Hanson has a string of grotesquely mutilated bodies on his hands and no answers—aside from the fact that the victims were members of an underground sex club catering to singular erotic tastes. Tastes the long, lean detective has sampled himself in the arms of his former lover, a fiery redhead who offered the most erotic, irresistible sex he’d ever encountered. Until the night she’d begged for the one thing he couldn’t give, and he lost her forever.

Gina Larsen is the only one who can guide Hanson through the fringe world of dark fantasy and desire that lies hidden deep beneath the Bible Belt. Lured into her lair by a quest for justice, Hanson discovers his hunger for Gina has only grown stronger and deeper…beyond the edge of control. Soon he’s shedding his last inhibitions in the search for answers, but the more she draws him into her erotic web, the less he can distinguish between passion and duty, pleasure and pain…good and evil.

Red 2Review –

A few days ago I was looking for something dark, edgy. I wasn’t in the mood for a romance, nor did I want a straight up horror book. I wanted a good mystery that would keep me on the edge until I got to the final page. It had to be a bit dark with a few erotic elements thrown in as well. A lot to ask, right?  A quick conversation with my blog partner – who knows my reading tastes almost as much as I do – and I was sent the link for Red with  “What about this one?”  As soon as I read the blurb, I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. Everything starts with a bang on the first page (think naughty as hell sex scene right off the bat) and continues until you get to the last one.

Before I go any further, I must point out that this book really isn’t a romance. I mean, it kinda is, but not in the traditional sense. I didn’t list it as a romance in my tags above because I know that others might interpret this book differently from the way I did. Did I see romance? Absolutely. I saw it between Hanson and Gina, even if it wasn’t what one might consider a real relationship in their minds. Was it different from the norm? Sure it was, but I can’t see it having played out any differently. I loved Gina, by the way. I’ll come back to that.

Another thing I have to point out is that the author (I did my research) actually knows her stuff when it comes to BDSM. This isn’t a book written by someone who only used Google as their resource for the lifestyle. I’m not saying others haven’t gotten it right. I know they have. BUT, I have also read enough BDSM books that didn’t. My lack of love for the Fifty Shades books is fairly known (though I didn’t review them on this site) and there has been another I reviewed here where the lifestyle is portrayed in such an inaccurate way, I couldn’t believe a publisher allowed it to go to print. I’m not naming the book or the author, but I don’t think I have to. So, it was refreshing to read something written by someone who actually has a clue, so to speak.

Red 4The book starts off with a naughty scene between a sub and her Dom.  The scene is down and dirty and erotic as hell. The next chapter introduces new characters and the next even more. I didn’t find this confusing at all because each chapter is quick and leads you to the overall picture of what is to come. People in the BDSM community are being brutally murdered. We’re not talking off-page stuff that is alluded to. What is done to the bodies is described graphically and might make you flinch if you aren’t one for that type of thing. If you’ve followed my reviews, you know I am good with that type of thing.

The reader is introduced to two detectives. The first one is Tom Hanson and the other is Griggs, his partner. I should absolutely hate Griggs. He makes the worst bigoted chauvinists look like nice folks. Seriously, he’s that bad. However, I thought he was hilarious. Sure, the things he said were wrong and he so needed to be slapped, but he cracked me up. Tom was a bit of an enigma. I wasn’t sure what to make of him early on, and I ended the book still unsure. Then there is Gina, Hanson’s former partner. Not only is Gina his former work partner, but she’s his former lover as well. Gina, I loved. She was a take-no-prisoners kind of woman and she went after what she wanted. She was the ultimate strong female and I adored her from her introduction. 

Red 5Gina lost her job as detective in a very public scandal. I won’t spoil that part of the story, but I will say that dear old Hanson didn’t exactly stand up for her. By this point, their sexual relationship had ended already because Hanson wasn’t willing to step out of his vanilla sex box and try new things. This, and other factors, ended their sexual relationship, but not their working one. That is, until that public scandal I just mentioned.

When Hanson discovers a link between two of the murder victims – something he had seen before – he knows he has to contact the woman he once claimed to love for help. Gina is heavily involved in an underground BDSM community. Seeing Gina again gets Hanson hot and bothered all over again, but he has to try to remain professional as more bodies continue to pile up. Each victim had been involved in the BDSM lifestyle, so there’s a major connection between them and the detectives (with a bit of Gina’s help) have to go deep into it in order to finally find the murderer.

The murder mystery is written very well. I admit to figuring out who the bad guy was about midway through, but this didn’t take away from the story for me at all. The reason it didn’t was the fact that I had no idea why this person was doing what he was doing and I was surprised when other details were thrown in in regards to him. Also, the author threw in a pretty amazing twist at the end that I definitely did not see coming. That made the book a winner for me.

So, why 4 stars instead of 5?

Red 7 CroppedOne sex scene. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the last person who would be called a prude in regards to things in books. I can handle the worst of the worst and not bat an eye. It doesn’t matter if it’s graphic killings or the most hardcore of sex acts. However, I had an issue with a sex scene between Gina and Hanson. I don’t want to go into detail and give away something important in the story, but I will say that it bugged me on so many levels. One, it would definitely be a trigger for assault victims, so stay away from this book if violent sex bothers you. Two, while I could see where the author was going with this in the book, I have a major, MAJOR issue with one-half of this particular scene. There’s consensual and there’s what’s written in this story. While it turned out to be something both parties wanted, it still left this reader shaking her head because it was like “Well, she was asking for it and goading him, so it was okay what he did.” It didn’t matter to me if it was what she was “hoping” would happen because she wanted the rough, hard sex. What matters to me is the fact that Hanson did something wrong and it was brushed off as okay because she had goaded him into it and she really did want it. Had it been a consensual scene, I’d get it. It was made clear during the act that it wasn’t something planned ahead, at least by Hanson.

Red 3

If you can get beyond that particular part of the story, the rest of it is outstanding. From the serial killings to the who dunnit to the characters (though I never did get a good feel for Tom Hanson), it’s an excellent book. I loved Gina, as I said above. It’s not often I read books where the women are written like Gina. She did her thing and didn’t give a damn what others thought. She refused to change for anyone – including Hanson. If he wanted her, he had to take her for who she was. I love when female characters are written like Gina. I find it to be very rare and very refreshing.

Overall, a very good book. It’s dark, violent, and in some places sexy as hell. While I wouldn’t call it all-out erotica, it does have quite a few erotic moments in it. The mystery is written well and I loved the ending.

I will definitely be reading more by Kate Kinsey.

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Kazza K

I was looking forward to your review. Terrific review and I looove the pics, Cindi. Isn’t it good when you need a particular type of book and you find it? So glad you enjoyed it. I also understand your reservations re: that particular (potential trigger) scene. I would feel the same.