4.5 or 5. I just finished it and I'm really not sure.The book is a surprising twist from the beginning and the excerpt. It is a true romance, love story. In fact, there is a big surprise near the end that really makes the book much stronger and coalesces it into a whole. It contains some serious sadomasochism, but the handling of it and the explanations via the plot make it understandable and touching even if it is not one's particular preference/kink. Joseph makes both protagonists strong and admirable, definitely worthy "heroes" and the reader is elated by the HEA.