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.
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.