Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding Sanctuary by DC Juris


I am flabbergasted. In a good way. Finding Sanctuary kept me up much later than I'd planned on staying awake. Just when I thought I had an idea of how things were going to go, an extra kink got thrown into the mix, so to speak.

Towards the beginning of the story I had issues with someone making the kinds of decisions that were being made here, seemingly overnight. Or over a couple of nights. But the more character development we were shown, the more it became apparent that this man had been through years of therapy and was having his 'a-ha moment' sort of all at once. All of that work in therapy leading towards this one weekend where everything falls into place. Even at that, it was probably still a little too much for the short period of time the book spans. But it was written well enough, and convincingly enough, that I was fine with it.

Here's the blurb:

Finding Sanctuary is the story of Vincent, a typical, average guy who has begun to unravel. He has a respectable, mainstream life, with a solid job, nice girlfriend, comfortable house—all the material trappings. What, then, is causing this restlessness, these blackouts? The first revelation is that his best friend Eric is also his heart’s desire. But then Eric invites him to a weekend at a BDSM playhouse ... There Vincent will confront his fears and test the limits of his sexual boundaries. Eric has his needs, too—needs that conflict with Vincent’s. Will their fragile new bond survive the weekend? Will Vincent find the sanctuary he so fervently desires?

Another of my pet peeves is the submissive who is "broken", and who must be fixed. But while it seems so for a short period of time, that's not what is going on here. This is a man who has every reason to be broken, but who is not, he's just finally acknowledging his needs. It's not that he needs to be fixed, it's just that he needs to accept what his body has been trying to tell him for some time. He's worked on his issues, worked to fix himself. Sure, he needs a little help from his friend to figure everything out, but it's not his friend, or some Dom, "fixing" him... they are just helping him figure it out. Helping him deal with and understand his feelings.

There weren't that many editing issues, but the few there were just happened to hit on those things that especially annoy me.  For instance: Dominate is the verb, Dominant is the noun. 

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 2 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 3 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: 3 of 3 
  • Extra Point: Yes
As for the writing elements:
  • The plot was the relationship storyline, and while I had issues with it at first, by the end of the book I was mostly fine with it.  BDSM is such a diverse thing, and everyone has such different things that can turn them on - seeing to it that everyone gets their needs met is a pretty important part of a BDSM relationship, and this one is no different. 
  • Pacing was fine.
  • Prose and dialogue were well done. 
  • Character development was very nice. 

The Intensity Level of 9 of 10 might be a touch misleading, as there are some pretty intense BDSM practices explored in Finding Sanctuary. But these intense experiences aren't treated as "oh, look how extreme we are being". Instead, the author helps us to understand why the submissive wants this done to him, and helps us understand the feelings and sensations. For instance, watersports aren't treated as a way to humiliate, or as something gross.The experience isn't seen as being extreme, just something to experience.

I do take issue with the fact that someone who is flogged until he bleeds can wake up the next morning and have something on his mind besides the part of is body that was flogged. But, again, I'm willing to allow for the fantasy a bit.  I am easily giving Finding Sanctuary a 9 of 10. The character development was well done, the relationship(s) were mostly believable, and the scenes were well written. And Hot. With a capital H.

  • Book Rating: Finding Sanctuary: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 9 of 10  (from BDSM Elements above)
  • Heat Level: 5 of 5

DC Juris is a new author for me, and one I'll be paying attention to in the future. I would love to be able to check back in on these two characters in a few months, to see how they are doing. To see how they are incorporating the lifestyle into their relationship during the week, and to travel with them to the playhouse a few times on the weekend to check in on that situation, as well.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Journey To The Dark Side by Marty Rayne


Journey To The Dark Side is a fun little short story about a male FBI agent and what I think is likely a city or county female detective, chosen for this role because she has experience with the world of BDSM, and the serial killer is targeting male submissives. The FBI agent who is chosen for the role of submissive is selected because he has the body, the profile, that the serial killer seems to be attracted to. He has no experience with the lifestyle, and is certainly not a submissive.

He's got five hours to learn how to be a submissive before his first public appearance.

Here's the blurb:

Serial killer Dante is targeting submissive males who frequent a fetish club, The Dark Side. Detective Monica Street is determined to end the killer's reign on the community and needs help. Enter sexy FBI Agent Jared Keller, who has the looks and ability Monica is looking for. And what's the best way to catch this killer? Draw him out by playing in the world of domination and submission. Only alpha-male Jared gets more than he bargains for as he is engulfed by Mistress Monica, whippings, and the trappings of a psychotic serial killer.

I liked that the author took the time to make the scenario believable. The reason this particular FBI agent was chosen, the personal connections that allowed for the FBI to be called into the case, the reason Monica was so familiar and had such skill with the lifestyle and yet was not a Domme. Sometimes I feel like an author has the idea for the scenes they want, but they can't figure out how to make the setup work for the scene. I didn't feel that with this story, Marty Rayne made the set up work for the story line.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: We are told that punishment spankings happen when they are in the club, but we aren't given descriptions of them. 0 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: All D/s is done for the purpose of appearing undercover in a BDSM club. 0 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: None. Other than what the Serial Killer does, and that's not BDSM, it's just sick. 0 of 3 
  • Extra Point: I'm going to give it the point, because the story happens in a BDSM club, and there is a lot of lifestyle stuff going on around them. And because Jared has to deal with the collar and leash, even if it is only for show.
As for the writing elements -- the plot was interesting and fairly involved for such a short story, pacing was fine, prose and dialogue were fine, character development was well done.
  • Book Rating: Journey to the Dark Side: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 1 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5
Journey To The Dark Side takes place in the world of BDSM, but it isn't really about BDSM. It's about catching a serial killer who is targeting submissives. It's still a nice romance, was well written, and was an enjoyable read.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cruel to be Kind by Stephanie Vaughan


Before beginning the review of Cruel To Be Kind, can we all just pause for a moment to admire the cover? I'm not wired as a Domme, but the idea of topping this particular guy does something for me. To have all of that power at your beck and call? Wow.

Here's the blurb:

Steve Eriksson is a regular guy. He likes basketball and beer. He works hard in his family's construction and restoration business. Steve’s normal life is about to change. Because he's about to meet Megan.

Professional chef Megan Mussina returns to her home town looking for some peace and quiet. A place to put her life back in order after the disaster of a relationship gone publicly wrong. A new man in her life is the last thing she wants. Until she meets Steve.

From the first they share an overpowering physical attraction. Steve is just the sort of powerful, successful submissive man Megan never knew she needed. And Megan knows the one thing Steve never knew he craved. Sometimes, you've got to be Cruel to be Kind.

I love the way Megan seduces Steve into it, the way she takes control, and the care she has for him as she pushes his boundaries. She isn't really cruel, she seduces him with her power, but not with cruelty. It's a catchy title, but not the way she really treats him.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 1 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: He's new to this, so it's the very beginnings of D/s for him. 2 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: None. 0 of 3 
  • Extra Point: Yes. The book is about Steve submitting to a woman for the first time, and realizing that while he's not sure about what Megan is doing, that he needs it.
As for the writing elements -- the plot is a good one, pacing was fine, prose and dialogue were well done, and character development was nicely done and much appreciated. 
  • Book Rating: Cruel to be Kind: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 4 of 10
  • Heat Level: 4 of 5

My biggest complaint? Cruel To Be Kind ended too soon. I wanted to see how far she was going to take him. I wanted to experience a much more intense scene. That's not to say it was a bad ending, it was a perfectly good ending. I enjoyed the characters and story though, so I greedily wanted more.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Ratings at a Glance

I've created a page, linked in the top right hand column, with all of the books I've rated listed in order of the ratings I've given them. I've conventiently named it Ratings at a Glance. Logical and to the point, that's me. If you are looking for your next book to read, I hope that page can help point you in the right direction.

You may have noticed there haven't been any reviews on this blog in about two weeks. I'm participating in NaNoWriMo, and I've already blown past the 50,000 word goal. I'm probably about seventy percent of the way through the book, so reaching the goal doesn't mean I'm through writing.

I haven't stopped reading all together though -- I've read Play of Passion by Nalini Singh (and reviewed it), and I'm currently reading Magic at the Gate, the fifth Allie Beckstrom book by Devon Monk.

In the hopefully near future I have several short stories to review over here, and then I'm probably going to jump back into Roxy Harte's Chronicles of Surrender series. I've read the first couple of books, long long ago. I understand she has re-edited the older books and placed them with a new publisher, and that there are new books in the series as well. I enjoyed the first couple of books, so I'm looking forward to diving into this series again.

So I am still here, and will once again be as active as usual in the near future.