Monday, July 19, 2010

Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas


The types of BDSM books out there are much more numerous than most people understand. One of those types has to do with the capture fantasy, the idea of being captured and then trained into servitude. Trained so well in servitude, taken care of in such a way that you can never be on your own again. So much that you never want to be on your own again. It's the comfort of childhood, of being taken care of... all wrapped up in a sexual fantasy. I've read a number of these types of books -- some of them manage to get you there, most of them don't. I don't want to tell you whether Comfort Food gets you there or not, because I think that would be giving too much away. I will simply say that Comfort Food is a deeply disturbing book -- one I couldn't put down, and one I highly recommend if you enjoy the psychology behind being owned by someone, the psychology of what it takes to get you from independent personality to someone who is completely and totally owned - physically, mentally, emotionally.

Here's the blurb:

Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. He's far too beautiful to be a monster. Combined with his lack of violence toward her, this has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity. Told in the first person from Emily's perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.

The sex in Comfort Food is touched upon, and a few scenes are given in detail.. or at least semi-detail, but the sex is not the focus of the book. The psychology of what is happening is the focus. So the BDSM Breakdown looks like this:
  • Bondage and Discipline: There is discipline, but it's not what you'd expect. As the blurb says, chicken soup becomes punishment. There is bondage of a sort, she's locked into a cell, but she can move around and dance. She is tied up, restrained, later in the book, but it's not a big part of the book.
  • Dominance and Submission: Tons of it. The book is about how to train (or brainwash) someone into being a submissive.. more than a submissive, someone who is totally owned and is accepting of her ownership.
  • Sadism and Masochism: Yes, eventually, but we don't see much of it. A few paragraphs.
The author gives the disclaimer that "This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent", along with a few other words that let you know she's exploring this through fiction, and she has no real desires to see this acted out in reality.

As for the story elements: the plot is genius and very believable. The pacing is perfect. Prose and dialogue are natural, both worked for me. The book is written in first person and it confused me at first when the first sex scene was written in third person, until I realized that it was showing us how she was disassociating herself from it. Character development is exceptionally well done.

Heat Level: 2 of 5
Book Rating: Comfort Food: 10 of 10

Please remember that my Heat Level ratings are in comparison to Erotica in general. Someone who has never read anything more risqué than Sookie Stackhouse's sexual adventures will think Comfort Food a 5 of 5, but someone who is well versed in Erotica will understand why this book gets a 2 of 5 from me, I think. And, really, I think most who read Comfort Food will be well versed in the language of Erotica.

Comfort Food is an exceptional debut novel, and I will be looking for more books from Kitty Thomas.



  1. Thanks for the lovely review! The heat level will most likely be higher for the next book. It wouldn't really work for this one considering all the dynamics involved. Since she's dissociating from the sex and even in third person it's still her telling it, it wouldn't make sense for the sex to be super graphic. I was also afraid that if I made it more graphic it would be too hard to get readers to go along with the story and it might take some of the attention off what it's really about, which is her utter surrender.

    I know you were informing, rather than complaining. I just thought I would explain why the heat level is so low for erotica. And I'm glad you let readers know that because I wouldn't want them going into it expecting something they won't get here.

  2. Yes, informing and not complaining. I agree that too much sexual detail would have taken the focus off of the psychological impact. Completely understood why you wrote it the way you did.

    Thanks for stopping by, and I'm looking forward to seeing any new books you have coming out.