Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Firebird by Annabel Joseph


I've had major issues with most of the workplace-BDSM-romance/relationship stories I've read this year, so when I realized Firebird is the story of a BDSM relationship between choreographer and ballerina, I was a bit hesitant. It turns out my concerns were unwarranted, as the Dom did not take advantage of the sub at work, and in fact did pretty much everything he could to keep the relationship away from the theater. Also, without giving spoilers, the relationship doesn't actually begin at work, but outside of work, and that helped with the whole professionalism thing as well.

Here's the blurb:

Prosper is thrilled to be plucked from the corps de ballet to dance the lead role in The Firebird. Jackson, the guest choreographer, is as sexy as he is demanding. Prosper soon finds herself flustered by his closeness and his unforgiving gaze. She gets caught up in kinky fantasies that make it difficult for her to concentrate on his steps. She imagines him as her Dominant, turning her over his knee for flubs in rehearsal. Just as sensual tension at work builds to an impossible level, a surprise encounter outside the studio results in Prosper's fantasies being realized. Jackson takes his protégée home and ties her to his bed. Soon Prosper is receiving the discipline and domination she craves -- and much, much more.

The pair maintain a secret off-stage relationship -- scorchingly intimate encounters several evenings a week. But Prosper feels the burden of carrying the Firebird ballet on her back, and Jackson knows that his time in New York will draw to an end all too soon. Will Prosper crack under the pressure of pleasing her lover and bringing his vision to life, or will Jackson find a way to help his Firebird take flight?

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Yes and yes. 3 of 3.
  • Dominance and Submission: Oh, my. Yes. 3 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism:  Some, but nothing really out of the ordinary, and no edge play. I've wavered back and forth from a 1 and 2 and I'm going to settle on a 1 of 3.
  • Extra Point: Yes.
As for the writing elements:
  • The main plot is the journey of the relationship, but there is also some theater drama and politics creating smaller plots. All were good, if predictable.
  • Pacing was fine.
  • Prose and dialogue were fine.
  • Character development was well done for Prosper, but I wanted to know more about Jackson. I liked what we learned of Jackson, but I didn't really feel he was fully developed.

I've debated back and forth on a rating, and I'm going to settle on an 8 of 10. As a one time ballerina myself, and as the mom of two young ballerinas (now in the midst of The Nutcracker performances), I guess I was hoping for more flowery prose about dancing, as well as more realism about how bad your body (and your feet) hurt after days on end of dancing. By definition, all dancers who go that far have to be at least a touch masochistic -- they have a relationship with pain, pain is a cost that must be paid in order to express themselves through dance. They learn which pain can be ignored and which pain they must pay attention to -- in other words, which pain flags injury and damage and which just hurts but doesn't mean serious damage is occurring. They may not enjoy the pain, but they almost certainly have learned how to integrate it into their life.

I was also expecting more dance oriented BDSM - choreographers are artistic and creative and... I feel greedy saying I wanted more, but there it is. Don't get me wrong - it's a good story with a very likable Dom.  I enjoyed Prosper's journey from moderate experience to a lot of experience, and I enjoyed having an eagle eye view to watching Jackson train her.
  • Book Rating: Firebird: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 8 of 10
  • Heat Level: 4 of 5
This is not BDSM lite -- we see the use of a belt, a crop, a leather paddle, and plugs. And the D/s is serious, with punishments when a rule or order is not followed.  However, I think that those who prefer the "kinder gentler" variety of BDSM will probably be okay with the events of the book. 

Also, Firebird hit on one of my pet peeves. This falls into spoiler territory so select the text to view it.
Why is it always the submissive who has to move? Why can't the Dom be the one to take a hit to his career and move to another city? Everything had settled down at the theater and Prosper's career would have been much better served to stay put instead of moving to another city. I get why she followed him, it just bugs me that it is the submissive who is expected to pick up and follow the Dom, so that his career can continue on without detour.


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