I have no idea how to rate it and I am not exactly writing a review. I'll content myself with trying to gather my thoughts and make some sense of them.
So, Eden is in Wyoming. The authors wrote some kind of perfect fantasy in a perfect setting where perfect Tops live with perfect Brats and perfect horses. Everybody is kind, gentle, perceptive, understanding, competent, strong. Perfect. Even the horses. Well, except Belle; but then again, she is the perfect brat.
The ranch is a haven of safety and harmony, a sort of naturalistic cocoon out of time. I get it, it's a fantasy and they made it as safe and undisturbing as they could. There is no sex, no hard conflict, no scary stuff, no misstep. Well, none that is presented as a misstep, I mean. It must be what this serie's readership is looking for : something safe to fantasize about and not deal with how scary it must be for real. But it had the opposite effect on me. I thought in the beginning that it helped, but I changed my mind very quickly and found it infuriating and disturbing.
First, there is this behavioral therapy that isn't a therapy because they only use their common sense and their guts. Some natural approach fits better in the landscape, i guess. Except that common sense is all relative, has blurred rules and strange methods that imply tricking people into the program in the first place and tricking them into failure for their own good at some point. Except, especially, that it is in facts a behavioral therapy with ethical liberties, which reminds me awfully of sectarian conditioning. Where is the difference? In the intent?
It made me all kinds of confused about the domestic discipline and the top/brat relationship. Where exactly does consent lie? In the fact that they feel safe and protected? In the fact that they feel comforted? But didn't they learn that hurt = comfort?
So, the fact that we're spared conflicts stronger than a tantrum, that sexuality is overlooked and barely hinted at didn't help me because a whole side of the dynamics was missing and all this stuff about them being 'naturals' at dealing with people's minds didn't help either. Yes, Flynn is qualified but it's almost worse.
That's not all that there is to it, though. It is an interesting story : Dale is learning to rein his perfectionism in and giving up being a perfect CEO only to find out that he is a brat and can't help trying to be a perfect one. I liked this story line, the psychological inputs are solid and Dale's journey is anything but boring.
And you know what? I've complained a lot and it sounds like I hated it. I did sometimes, but I am seriously ogling book #2 and considering reading it right now. I'll edit my rambling once I've figured out why.