Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top BDSM books of 2010


On the BookSeriesReviews site I restricted myself to books published in 2010, and I'm going to give myself the same restrictions over here. This list comprises the books published in 2010 that I've read and reviewed. Clicking on the numbered titles will take you to my review of that book. Clicking on the book images will take you to Amazon's page for that book (or the publisher's page if it's not available at Amazon).

1. As She's Told by Anneke Jacob

As She's Told wins hands down. Anneke Jacob managed to create an extreme BDSM tale that was an incredible read. It is the story of how far you can take a 24/7 relationship. One where there are no negotiations, no safewords -- consentual non-consent. Ms. Jacob managed to get the emotions and the mental stuff just right. And the physical stuff was... Wow.

2. Deviations: Safe Words (Deviations book 5) by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne

I fell in love with Noah and Tobias from the first book in this series, and I've enjoyed their journey through the five books in the Deviations series. I'm hoping for a sixth book.

If you are interested in this series then you should start with the first book, Deviations: Submission.

3. Owned And Owner by Anneke Jacob

Anneke Jacob gave us consensual-nonconsent total ownership in As She's Told.  In Owned and Owner she explores the same types of things, but this time with non-consent. It's a fantasy, written on another world so we don't have to deal with the legalities of owning humans on this world. And the world-building on this other world is pretty interesting. But it is the ownership, and the level of BDSM attained, that is the story here.

It's almost a hetero version of What Worse Place Can I Beg In Your Love?, without the twist at the end. The key points are there - caged when your owner doesn't have time for you, no understanding of the language being spoken around you, used as a sexual object, never treated as a person. One of the biggest points in both books is that, because it's a different planet and different life form, the "pet" is not just treated as an animal, but is actually seen as an animal... a lesser life form.

Both of Ms. Jacobs' works made it so high in the ratings in part because of mental explorations. Sure, the physical parts are important (and well written), but it's the mental gymnastics, the thought processes involved in these scenarios that engaged me.

4. Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas

Remaining on the non-consent theme, Kitty Thomas gives us the story of a woman kidnapped and then systematically trained to subservience.  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.

This is not a blow-by-blow book. There is very little sex, and very little of the typical BDSM type of activities. There is punishment, but it's not the norm: chicken noodle soup becomes punishment.  Rather than the physical acts being the focus, the psychology of what is happening is the focus.

Comfort Food is a very well written book, enough so that I've wondered if this might be a mainstream author who wanted to stretch her creative wings a bit and chose to do so under a pen name. Wouldn't be the first time it's happened -- Pam Rosenthal gave us Carrie's Story and Safe Word under the pen name Molly Weatherfield. And let us not forget Ann Rice and A.N. Roquelaure.

5. Duck! by Kim Dare

It's no secret that I enjoy a good urban fantasy, and Duck! is in this list because of a mixture of the D/s and the detailed worldbuilding Ms. Dare builds for us.

I loved the descriptions of shifting from human form to bird form and back again. I enjoyed the experience of coming back to human form -- the need to hear words in order for the human part of the brain to come to the forefront again.  Then, later, sex right after coming back from bird form, when the human wasn't entirely in charge just yet, the idea of that hawk brain taking control while in a human body. Yum.

The D/s is pretty complete in the story, and that combined with a retelling of The Ugly Duckling - it's just an all around charming story with a very satisfying ending. I would love for Ms. Dare to explore this world some more, as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Beyond Eden by Kele Moon

6.  Beyond Eden by Kele Moon

Beyond Eden grabs you on the first page and doesn't let up until you reach the end. The depth of the characters, the knowledge of how BDSM relationships can work, there are many reasons why Beyond Eden worked for me.   The BDSM is both tender and harsh. And we see both extremes - extremely tender, and so harsh that blood flows from a whipping.  The Dom is a caring Dom, I would almost go so far as to call him a Service Dom. He does the cooking - he's the nurturer.  Ms. Moon is working on a sequel, entitled Claiming Eden, and I will grab it as soon as it's available.

7. Deep in the Woods by Annabel Joseph

As a side note, If Annabel Joseph's Comfort Object had been released in 2010 it would be pretty high on this list. But, it was released in 2009.

Deep in the Woods is a charming story of healing, growth, and love, all wrapped up in a nice warm D/s relationship that happens to have a Sadist and a Masochist in it.

I enjoyed the physical parts of the book, but I also enjoyed the mental journey. Parts of the book were hard to read, the emotions that were stirred up weren't always pretty. But that's okay, because the ending was very satisfying. And we get to see the couple again, in the future, in Fortune (look down a few spots, it's on the list, too).

8. Master of the Abyss by Cherise Sinclair

Master of the Mountain was released last year, and was an enjoyable book. Master of the Abyss is a stand-alone sequel, and was a very nice read.

I loved that Kallie was this strong woman capable of handling herself in just about any situation, and that she didn't argue too much with herself over her desire to submit to Jake.

And I loved that Jake showed her respect while he Dominated her. He didn't let her get away with anything, he was quick to give punishments when needed... but he didn't expect her to be okay with something just because he said so.

The two characters seemed to be opposites at first glance, but they worked great together once it started happening.   

9. Fortune by Annabel Joseph

We first met Ryan in Deep in the Woods, he was a fun guy and a pretty serious dominant. And a great friend. We get to know him a whole lot better in Fortune.

The whole set up worked for me. The "vanilla" woman who is really submissive and a touch masochistic but never realized it. Authors have to be careful with that or it doesn't work. Annabel Joseph made it work. Quite well.

I appreciated the levels of consent in place throughout the book. I also appreciated the way the BDSM was integrated into real life. And the way the relationship progressed. This is a love story, a romance. Sure, it's between a Dom and a sub. But it's also between a doctor and a translator. A man and a woman.

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

10. Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Willing Victim isn't really BDSM, it's a couple who enjoy rough sex and fantasy rape play.  There is a safe word, and the Top is very careful about staging things so the fantasy is there but it doesn't go too far.

The couple starts out just a little rough and then work their way up to some pretty rough stuff. Nothing that leaves marks, but still, some of it gets intense. 

The nice thing about this particular story and situation is that Flynn is a boxer. Laurel watches him get punched in the face by people who weigh more than twice her weight, so she doesn't have to hold back when she slaps him or hits him -- she can fight back full force without worrying about hurting him, and without worrying about actually getting away from him. And he's strong enough, and in control of himself enough, that it's safe to do that -- he can control her without actually hurting her.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Toy Box: Bondage Mitts by LD Madison, Sean Michael and G.R. Richards

There are three stories in this Toy Box, and I've discovered a new author to keep an eye on.

Here's the blurb:

Sometimes a Dom wants more than just cuffs to keep his lover's hands occupied, and the results can be very sexy indeed! In A Tangled Web by LD Madison, Detective Greg Mallory disobeys a direct order, and Lieutenant Jake West decides to teach him a lesson he won't soon forget. But everything is not what it seems, and in the end, it might be Jake who learns a thing or two.

In This is Naughty Puppy Love by G.R. Richards. When Elio gives up teaching, his colleague Henry is heartbroken. Even more so because Elio is leaving the profession to clean houses for a living! Henry invites Elio to clean his home nonetheless, telling Elio to pay special attention to the bedroom. What does Elio find but a set of stunning leather puppy paw fist mitts? Puppy wants to play! 

Finally, Jim and Marcus from Bent are back in Hands Tied, a Hammer Story by Sean Michael. When Jim lets an former co-worker goad him into working himself into a frenzy and leaving his schedule behind, Marcus devises a way to help Jim not only focus on himself and his master, but to keep from working more than he should as well.

I wasn't terribly impressed with the first story, A Tangled Web.  I have issues with workplace romances where a boss or immediate supervisor feels they can spank someone just because they are the boss. My definition of BDSM includes the word consensual, when you get rid of that element then it becomes abuse. True, it becomes consensual in the story, but it doesn't start out that way. Also, the use of mitts isn't really important to the story, I got the feeling the mitts were added to the story later so it could be used in this anthology.

I don't believe I've ever read anything by G.R. Richards before, but This is Naughty Puppy Love certainly got my attention and I will be paying attention when I see this author's name in the future. The blurb gives the basics, but the story is very well written and does not follow the normal puppy play template. And the use of the mitts is hot.

The last story is by Sean Michael, if you've read Bent then you already know Jim and Marcus, and this story will be pretty familiar to you. It's a nice short, but nothing really new for this pair.

I have a problem rating anthologies, especially when there are good stories and not-so-good stories. I loved the second story, like the last story, and didn't care that much for the first.


The Next Step by Mychael Black


The Next Step follows six months after the events of Onyx (see my review of Onyx here).

I think it would be okay to read The Next Step if you haven't read Onyx, but both are pretty good books so you may as well read the story from the beginning.

Here's the blurb for The Next Step:

Master Ian Vaughn and his sub Kale Daniels are back for more in this sequel to Onyx! Both men are happy together, playing and living like any other Dom and sub. For Kale, though, it goes much deeper than that. He's fallen in love with his Master, but he has no idea how Ian feels about him. When Ian books them a private playroom at a new club, Kale is thrilled to find out all his Master has in store. And Ian has a few surprises that Kale never expects to receive.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Good bondage, no discipline required during the day that this story covers.  2 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: Yes.  3 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: Yum.  2 of 3. 
  • Extra Point: Yes
If you enjoy medical scenes then you will certainly enjoy the play that these two characters engage in. 

As for the writing elements, there isn't much of a plot, the purpose of the story is to show you a day in the life of this couple we met in Onyx. There is plenty of interest though, so it's fine as is. Pacing is well done. Prose and dialogue are fine. Character development is consistent with the previous book and is fine for the parts of their lives that we are privy to.

  • Book Rating: The Next Step: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 8 of 10
  • Heat Level: 5 of 5
It was a fun (and hot) little read, and I was pleased to discover more about this couple beyond what we were given in Onyx.


Making Magic: New Orleans by Jade Falconer

Making Magic: New Orleans by Jade Falconer

Making Magic is a relatively short story at 67 pages, but it has enough length to tell the story with a couple of scenes and some nice details.

The blurb does a good job of explaining the basics, so I'll start there:

When Tommy boasted to his college friends that he could find out their professor's secrets, his only goal was to win a bet. In the sultry heat of New Orleans, the mysterious and eccentric teacher seemed like an easy mark to the precocious young man. But when all Elliott's far-fetched talk of energy and power had an actual physical effect on the college student, his opinion started to change. Was sex magic real? Tommy was about to find out.

This particular brand of sex magic involves the initiate being out of control. In other words - tied up and blindfolded. Which is where the kink comes in.

Making Magic was a fun little story with enough kink to make me happy.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 1 of 3 for bondage.
  • Dominance and Submission: 2 of 3.
  • Sadism and Masochism: No. 
  • Extra Point: No
As for the writing elements, the plot was a bit different and provided interest. Pacing was fine. Prose and dialogue were fine. Character development was sufficient for the story, World-building was nicely done, explaining the way the magic felt and acted.
  • Book Rating: Making Magic: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 3 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5
Thos who prefer the "kinder gentler" form of BDSM should be comfortable with the sex and power play in Making Magic.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Angel (a Hammer story) by Sean Michael


Christmas Angel is a touching story of healing and acceptance. But then, I think most of the books and shorts in Sean Michael's Hammer Series can be described that way. Some have more kink than others, and this is one of the more vanilla of the series. Not that it's vanilla, 'cause it's not. Just that it's more vanilla. There will be kink in the relationship, it just doesn't happen right off the bat.

Here's the blurb:

It’s Christmas Charity Auction time again at the Hammer Club, and this year Oliver has convinced Kein to put a couple of hours of time up for bid. Kein, confidence shattered by his Dom leaving him, is worried that no one will want him, even just for a couple hours of service.

Mac is attending the auction for the first time, and he’s drawn to Kein as soon as the beautiful sub walks onto the stage. His is the winning bid, and he and Kein retire to one of the back rooms to have dinner and get to know each other better.

Will sparks fly between them? Could Mac and Kein be each other’s Christmas angels?

All in all, it was a pretty satisfying little Christmas story. I could have used more kink, but the story just didn't call for it. Yet.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: One scene with some bondage, no discipline needed at this point in the relationship. 1 of 3.
  • Dominance and Submission: Yes. 2 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: No. 
  • Extra Point: No
As for the writing elements: the plot was a good one, even if I do tire of subs who must be "fixed". Pacing was fine. Prose and dialogue were fine. Character development was very well done for such a short story.
  • Book Rating: Christmas Angel: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 3 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naughty: Peppermint Twist by Jeanette Grey

Peppermint Twist by Jeanette Grey

Naughty: Peppermint Twist is a fun little short story with a nice little sexual romp and the promise of more to come. Here's the blurb:

Jonas is a straight-laced executive whose only weaknesses are his peppermint mochas and the barista at his favorite coffee shop. After months of being taunted by the man behind the counter, Jonas finally snaps and calls him out for his naughty behavior. When Jonas threatens to take the barista over his knee, he gets a much more enthusiastic response than he ever would have expected.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: No. There is a spanking, but it's fun, not discipline.
  • Dominance and Submission: 1 of 3. If I could give a half I would. Is submission given with a smirk really submission?
  • Sadism and Masochism: No.
  • Extra Point: No
That makes it sound as if it's not BDSM. But there is clearly a Dom and a sub... or at least a Top and a bottom. A spanker and a spankee.

As for the writing elements -- not much of a plot but it's a short story and that's okay. Pacing had a few stumbles but wasn't horrible. Prose and dialogue were fine.  Character development was sufficient for the length of the story.
  • Book Rating: Peppermint Twist: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 1 of 10
  • Heat Level: 3 of 5
All in all it's a fun little read that takes place during the holidays. It's not vanilla, but the BDSM isn't too intense.

Toy Box: Pine Switches by Mav Anthony, Lee Benoit and Jay Lygon

Toy Box: Pine Switches consists of three stories:
  • The Scent of Pine by Mav Anthony
  • Hamadryad Essence by Jay Lygon
  • Tripod by Lee Benoit

The Scent of Pine takes us back to another time, where clothes are formal, overcoats are a necessity, and there are fireplaces in the bedroom for heat. Pine switches across a bare bottom can also generate some heat, apparently. Halfway through the story I was enjoying it, but the ending wasn't terribly satisfying for me.

I usually adore the writing of Jay Lygon, but Hamadryad Essence appears to be the exception to the rule. It was a good concept, a nice plot, and what could be a fun world to play around in. It just didn't come together for me.

The final story is Tripod, and Lee Benoit came through in shining colors. The characters, the world, and situation, and the sensory information we get... Wow. The blurb explains better than I can what it's about, so I'll put the blurb in for all three while I'm at it.

The pine switch is an old fashioned tool that acts much like a flogger. The men in the three stories in this Toy Box use them to maximum effect! In The Scent of Pine by Mav Anthony, Aaron has been watching his lover Aime at a fine party all evening, hiding and feeling like he doesn't belong. When everyone goes home, Aime proves that Aaron belongs at his side more than anyone.

Jay Lygon brings us Hamadryad Essence. Young agent Hayden Fischer of the Bureau of Alchemy wants to impress his boss, the very macho, handsome Captain Bryer, but when he does get Bryer's notice, it's for screwing up. Bryer believes that discipline is the best cure for a wild young agent who won't obey him. 

And finally, in Tripod by Lee Benoit, a temple whore, a horny slave, and a dungeon's master priest prepare to punish the whore for misbehavior. As the whore faces his ordeal, he must bend or break, like the priest's switches. Whore, slave, priest -- when none prevails, can all three stand strong?

I have trouble rating anthologies. If I were rating the three stories then the first two would get pretty low ratings, and Tripod would get a 9 of 10. So how do I rate the anthology? I think the answer is that I don't try to give it a number rating.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Surrender & Whips by Justus Roux

Surrender & Whips is two stories, the first is titled Surrender, the second is titled Whips.

Here is the blurb:

Surrender - Something is missing from Adam and Liz’s relationship. When Adam represents an unusual client and must observe her lifestyle he finds what his and Liz’s relationship needs.

Whips - Skye and Arnet love their Master beyond words, yet they are finding it harder to deny their growing feelings for each other.

Surrender gives us an all-knowing seemingly omnipotent Domme who knows better than Adam what he needs in bed. I have known Doms who could get it right a good bit of the time, and I've got some Domme friends who also seem to be pretty good at some aspects of this... but surrender stretched the believability factor for me. It was a decent story, but the main plotline just didn't work for me.

The main scenes are told with Adam as voyeur, watching the action and not experiencing it. All of the scenes also seemed to be designed to show the "omnipotent Domme", how she knew better than the men under her what they needed.

Whips had a nice fantasy setting. Not fantasy as in vampires or fairies, but fantasy as in the way the two submissives lived -- submissive to a rich man who had a house full of servants, so all they had to do was be available for his sexual whims. No housework required.  The story had promise, but it stretched out longer than it should have, and the ending didn't feel very satisfying to me. Others may feel differently, but it just didn't work for me.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 2 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 2 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: 1 of 3
  • Extra Point: No
As for the writing elements plot pacing prose dialogue character development world-building
  • Book Rating: Surrender & Whips: 7 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 5 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5


Friday, December 17, 2010

Master of the Abyss by Cherise Sinclair

Master of the Abyss by Cherise Sinclair

Master of the Abyss is a follow up book to Master of the Mountain, where one of the brothers found his perfect submissive. If you haven't read Master of the Mountain then that's okay - you don't need to have read it to understand what's going on.

In Master of the Abyss, it's Jake's turn. But Jake has this "one night only" rule. He's honest about it up front, making it clear before anything happens. It seems to have worked for him so far. That is, until he has a run in with Kallie, the flannel shirt wearing wilderness guide.  Here's the blurb:

On the mountain, the watcher seeks out evil women. And then they die.

Two years ago, when Jake Hunt uncollared his slave, she committed suicide. Guilt-ridden, he will commit to a woman for one night only, devoting his energy to a mountain lodge that caters to a BDSM crowd.

Kallie Masterson is tough. Unwanted as a child, she worked hard to become a wilderness guide. She’s proud of who she is, and hurt that Jake frowns on her for acting like a man.

After rescuing the macho guide from a bar fight, Jake is stunned that the ugly men’s clothing hides a warm, responsive woman. A submissive woman. When guide business brings her to the lodge on BDSM night, and she is obviously aroused by the play, Jake takes the little sub right into his world of pain and pleasure. He warns her: one-night-only. But she responds so beautifully--so joyously--under his command, that one night soon becomes two, then three…

Then a missing hiker reminds Jake of his past lover, and he realizes he’s become too involved. He pulls back.

Meanwhile, the watcher on the mountain has rendered his verdict: Kallie Masterson is evil. The sentence: Death.

The plot that the blurb speaks to is really more of a background plot. The main plot, to my mind, was the progression of the way Kallie and Jake interact with each other.  I really liked Kallie, and I loved that she was this strong woman capable of handling herself in just about any situation, and that she didn't argue too much with herself over her desire to submit to Jake.

And I loved that Jake showed her respect while he Dominated her. He didn't let her get away with anything, he was quick to give punishments when needed... but he didn't expect her to just be okay with something because he said so. And when in group situations he did everything he could to help her be okay with the things he was doing to her, but without backing off of what he was doing.

Jake works hard to be keyed into Kallie's responses, but he's not a mind reader and I appreciate that he didn't get everything exactly right. I could appreciate it because he was quick to take steps to fix things, and because he took responsibility instead of trying to downplay the situation. 

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Nothing extreme, but there is plenty of both, and both are well executed.  3 of 3.  
  • Dominance and Submission: Yes. It's not TPE, he only tops her when sex is involved, but when he goes into Dom mode he doesn't mess around.   3 of 3.
  • Sadism and Masochism: Some, but nothing extreme.  1 of 3.
  • Extra Point: Yes
As for the writing elements:
  • The multiple plots were nicely done and created a lot of interest.
  • Pacing had a few minor issues but was mostly well done.
  • Prose and dialogue were skillfully woven together.
  • Character development was superb. Very well done.
Cherise Sinclair has written a wonderful Dom and a likeable sub, and given them great location and a good plot. The tension is perfect, and the sex is hot. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Kallie and Jake, but I'm guessing that next will be her cousins... especially since she mentioned that one of them likes to bring home two women at a time.
  • Book Rating: Master of the Abyss: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 8 of 10
  • Heat Level: 5 of 5
I'd like to point to that heat level again. Five of Five. I really liked Jake, and his approach to BDSM. Yum.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pink Ribbon by Jude Mason


Pink Ribbon is an F/m book, which is outside of what I normally read. I occasionally enjoy a nice F/m book, Joey W. Hill writes a sexy male sub, for instance.  It's a nice change of pace for me, every once in a while.

Speaking of sexy, considering that the pink ribbon in the story is wrapped around a certain part of the male anatomy... let us just take a look at the cover photo a moment, with our imaginations running rampant.

With Pink Ribbon I find myself conflicted because I enjoyed the main character and the story, but the writing style didn't work for me. Double negatives that ended up saying the opposite of what I think the author intended, and more typos than should ever be in a short story were minor issues. My biggest problem with the writing is that we start near the end, and then the author looks back to what brought him here, which means 95% of the book is written as his memory. And unfortunately, I'm not sure the author knew what to do with the tense much of the time. It was usually written in past tense, but occasionally was written in present tense and the whole thing just kept yanking me out of the fantasy.

Here's the blurb:

Rick, and his lovely wife Cass, have a special relationship: loving, caring and she's the boss. During the day, he's an in control attorney, but come quitting time, he belongs to her, and as it turns out, to her friends as well. One night he spoils dinner and, while waiting for punishment, reflects on how he began his strange and exciting journey into submission. His memories, and the arrival of Cass' friend Sabine, make for an evening to remember.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Yes. 2 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 3 of 3.
  • Sadism and Masochism: The kink here is primarily of control expressed through orgasm denial. 1 of 3 
  • Extra Point: Yes
As for the writing elements -- the plot was just a telling of how the man ended up in a cage - so not really a plot. Pacing was fine. Prose had a lot of problems, and dialogue had minor issues. Character development was sufficient for us to understand why this man was submitting to his wife.
  • Book Rating: Pink Ribbon: 6 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 7 of 10
  • Heat Level: 4 of 5
Again, the story was a good one, the kink was believable, and the mental aspects were explained fairly well. But the writing style in Pink Ribbon spoiled the story for me, personally.

Onyx by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael

Onyx is a story of an experienced Dom and an experienced Sub coming together for their first couple of scenes.
In Onyx, DC's newest fetish club, Ian Vaughan, a Dom returning to the scene, is greatly interested in the crowd favorite: Kale Daniels. After observing a tense, staged whipping, Ian takes Kale for a private session of their own.

Can these two men form a bond that goes beyond the public sphere of Onyx?

It's a short story, and I think that's really too bad, as I'd have loved to see these two further explore their relationship. It was a nice little short, but I enjoyed the characters and wanted to see more.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Some bondage. And I'm sure discipline will come up, but it did not in these scenes. 1 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 2 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: 2 of 3 
  • Extra Point: Yes
As for the writing elements, there wasn't much of a plot, prose and dialogue were well written, character development was decent for a short story.
  • Book Rating: Onyx: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 6 of 10
  • Heat Level: 4 of 5

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Restraint by Teresa Noelle Roberts

Restraint by Teresa Noelle Roberts

Restraint is a very intense short story - seventeen pages that grabbed me, disturbed me, surprised me, sickened me, and made me think.

To say that blood is not my thing would be an understatement. But even at that, the story grabbed me. And then when the twist came, it made what had come before a little easier to deal with. I don't want to spoil, so I'll give the blurb and then talk about it from there:

Luke's a top who loves to dance on the edge of safety with hot men who crave knives and cutting with their kinky sex. Playing such potentially risky games, Luke's control needs to be as steely as his handcuffs, as honed as his blades. Adorable, inexperienced Ethan tests all Luke's self-restraint - but Ethan is more than he appears, and Luke may be the one who's being tested.

If you are into blood play then this is the short story for you. If you are into cutting but not really the blood then it will probably still be okay. If cutting and blood play are a squick for you then unless you get into the psychology of edge play, you'll probably want to skip this one.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: Bondage but no discipline. 1 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: Some. 1 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: Since I can't give a 10 of 3 here, I'll give as high as I can - 3 of 3 
  • Extra Point:  Yes
As for the writing elements, the plot sneaks up on you and is a good one, pacing is fine, prose and dialogue are both well done, character development isn't terribly important in this very short story, but we learn more about our character than we realize while reading the story. 

This is a very well written short, and even though I don't enjoy blood play, I appreciated the story and the descriptions of what was going through Luke's head as he worked.
  • Book Rating: Restraint: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 6 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5
The intensity level is misleading, because this is extreme edge play, where everything is consensual, but safe and sane  aren't part of the equation. The heat level describes how it affected me personally - if you're into cutting and/or blood play then this is probably going to be a 5 of 5 for you.

Restraint is the first piece I've read by Teresa Noelle Roberts, but I will certainly be sure to check out anything else I see written by her to see if I might be interested.


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.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Wishes by Sean Michael

Three Wishes by Sean Michael

Three Wishes looks to me to be the beginning of a new series, and if the next book is as good as this one? I'm sold.

The three fantasies here are:
  1. A man who wants to be forced to accept body mods - tattoos and piercings. He's stipulated a few guidelines, but for the most part he doesn't want to be able to chicken out, so he wants to be forced into it. I loved this fantasy. Great Master, perfect level of D/s... it just flat out worked for me. And I'm not a huge body mod fan.
  2. A couple who are looking for more edge play, so they've come to the island where they've requested experts be brought in for cutting, flogging, breath play, etc. One thing each day, the first day is the sub's fantasy, the next day is the dom's fantasy, then the sub's again, the dom's again, and then something that is for both of them. Everything is done to the sub while the Dom sits in a comfy chair and watches. I liked where the author was taking this, but felt that it was cut short and we missed seeing more than half of the fantasy. I loved the ideas, and was disappointed that we didn't get to see more.
  3. And finally, someone with a medical fantasy who wants to be forced to submit to enemas, speculums, etc. This one had a twist that worked out great, and I enjoyed this fantasy as well.

There is also some drama going on with the three people who own the island, but I'm not going to say much about that. Well, except that I'm looking forward to the next book.

I think I've told you pretty much what the blurb says, but just to be thorough, here's the blurb:
James, Guard, and Damien run an island where your fantasy, no matter how kinky, how perverse, will come true for you. It's a lot of work, but they're dedicated to making it work for their clients. If only they could make their own three-way relationship run as smoothly.

In Three Wishes, the men bring in three different couples for their special services. Handsome model Benji is tired of being perfect, and he wants to make his body his own. Thor, tattoo artist and piercer, as well as Dom, is just the man to do it. Will Benji find what he's looking for?

Meanwhile, Alan and Roman are a long-time sub/Dom couple looking to have a few outside Masters give Alan all the things that Roman can’t. Will their relationship survive Alan's strong reaction to one of the Masters?

The last couple to visit the island are Quinn and Pierce. Quinn has a medical fetishes he’s embarrassed to tell his lover Pierce about even though Pierce is a doctor. So he’s going to get it out of his system in this safe environment. At least that’s the plan...

Don't miss out on these fantasies come true.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 2 of 3.  Nothing too drastic here. Light punishment and some decent bondage when necessary, but neither of of these elements is really the focus.
  • Dominance and Submission: 3 of 3. Yum.
  • Sadism and Masochism:  3 of 3 - though we don't get a blow-by-blow of each thing done, there is a good bit of edge play. And we get Doms who aren't afraid of taking a sub right to the limit of what they are capable of handling.
  • Extra Point: Yes.
As for the writing elements: I enjoyed all of the plots, which are really just the three fantasies. The pacing was great. Prose and dialogue were fine. Character development wasn't terribly in-depth but it was okay as we were given enough so we understood what made each person crave their particular fantasy.
  • Book Rating: Three Wishes: 9 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 9 of 10
  • Heat Level: 5 of 5
I thoroughly enjoyed Three Wishes -- the story idea is a great way to bring in special fantasies and edge play... things that aren't done on a daily basis but that can be done in a safe environment with people who know what they are doing. I'm also intrigued by the drama going on with the island's owners, and while I probably have a good idea of how that's going to end up in the long run, I think I'm going to enjoy seeing it play out.

Burn (A Hammer Novel) by Sean Michael

Burn by Sean Michael

I have loved some of the books in Sean Michael's Hammer series... and then there have been some I haven't cared for as much.

Unfortunately, Burn fits into the latter category.

As the story opens we are introduced to two men who seem to have been friends for a while. Marshall comes to a bar for an annual get-together amongst friends after a really bad day at work (he's a firefighter) and Dave realizes Marshall is not in a good place at the moment, so he takes him home and pretty much offers sex as a way to get him out of his head.

The problem is that Dave is a Dom, and Marshal is not a submissive. In fact, at first it appears Marshall is a bit of a Top. So we have a Dom trying to slowly introduce the lifestyle to someone without actually explaining much of it to him, and without giving him a safeword. He does eventually give him a safeword, but in my opinion, too much happened without one.

Here's the blurb:

Marshall and Dave grew up in the same neighborhood. They’ve mostly lost touch as they've gotten older, getting together just once a year with a bunch of other old friends for a game of football. This year, firefighter Marshall is late, and when he does show up Dave can tell the man has not had a good day. When Dave suggests they leave the gang and go back to Marshall's place for some decompression time, Marshall jumps at the chance and, later, at Dave.

Things don't all go smoothly for the two men, though. Dave is into BDSM, a member of The Hammer Club, and he thinks he could use his skills to help Marshall relieve the stress and guilt the man carries over not being the perfect hero. Marshall thinks needing that kind of help is sick, though, and when he enjoys what Dave does to him, he's convinced there must be something wrong with him.

Can Dave figure out how to convince Marshall that kink is not sick at all, but a way to keep sane as well, or is their relationship doomed?

What we end up with is a close relationship where they occasionally play around with very light BDSM.  I had no problem with the day to day relationship, these men were great together. It just felt as if the way Dave introduced his kink to Marshall was a bit dishonest. I appreciate that the author didn't make everything work out perfectly in some of the middle parts of the book, because I can see all kinds of problems that can result from springing BDSM on your partner without warning them first. Or without giving them a safeword.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 1 of 3 - no discipline at all; one scene where someone is handcuffed to the bed
  • Dominance and Submission: 1 of 3, sort of. When Marshall has a bad day he eventually submits just to see if it will help - but other than that he's pretty adamant about not submitting.
  • Sadism and Masochism: 0 of 3 
  • Extra Point: No
As for the writing elements -- the plot is the movement of the relationship, pacing had some issues, prose and dialogue were Sean Michael's trademark stilted sentence structure, and character development was fine with Marshall but not so much with Dave.

As for the stilted sentence structure... I enjoyed it at first, several dozen of Sean Michael's books ago. But when almost every character of Sean Michael's talks in the same manner... I don't know, I guess it's starting to not work for me anymore. Or maybe it's just that this story didn't work, and when I read one of his stories that I do like it will be okay again.

  • Book Rating: Burn: 6 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 2 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5

More often than not I enjoy Sean Michael's books and stories... but Burn just didn't work for me. If you prefer BDSM lite then the story might work for you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hidden Heart (Tales of Amaranth book 3) by Thom Lane

Hidden Heart by Thom Lane

I find myself conflicted. I enjoyed the telling of the story, I liked the author's voice, which is technically the slave's voice, since it's first person told entirely from the viewpoint of the slave. But I'm not so sure how I feel about the story.

So many of the "true slave" fantasy stories are written to glorify slavery, and the author does not do that here. In this world the animals are treated with more respect than the slaves. In fact, it seems that the animals are worth more than the slaves.

Tiffin works during the day mucking out horse stalls and doing other rather strenuous labor in the barn area. Punishments are swift, and just about every free person carries a whip or crop or switch, and can use it on any slave they see.

I believe that Hidden Heart is the third book in this series, and I have not read the previous books in the series. I'm not sure that I want to, either. It isn't because the book was badly written, because in fact the prose and dialogue were skillfully woven into a nice telling of the story. It's just that the story left me feeling bad about the places humanity has been. And is still in, in some places of the world. The slaves here aren't even treated particularly bad -- they are treated to a hard days' work, but the slave masters, the main people over them, seem to be pretty fair with them. They don't punish just for the sake of showing they can, but only when there is an infraction. There is talk of a whip or strap touching them to remind them, but pain seems to be meted out for a reason in most cases.

Still, being a slave because you choose to be, and being a slave because you have no choice in the matter... those are different fantasies. Also, being an indentured "body slave" who loves his master is still different from being the slave of a castle who must work in the barns every day.

Here's is the blurb:

Tiffin is a slave boy, branded and chained, trained to serve and eager to please. That’s all he knows; his past life is a mystery, wiped from his mind. Sold to a grim fortress and facing a bleak future, he seeks comfort where he can find it, in the arms and at the feet of Sergeant Zander. He’s happy to give over control of his body to that dominant, delightful man -- but someone else keeps stealing into his mind, taking over.

Tiffin doesn’t know how or who. All he knows is how much trouble he’s in, and how much worse it’s going to get...unless Zander can help him discover what's going on, before he literally loses his mind.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Strong BDSM theme and elements, male/male sexual practices, master/slave.

You can see there is another plot working through the story, and it's a pretty good plot. This plot is not the main intention or the main purpose of telling the story, but it does add some interest.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 3 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 3 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: Pain is given for punishment, not for enjoyment. 0 of 3 
  • Extra Point: No. It's true the D/s is a huge part of the story, but this is actual slavery, not really BDSM.
As for the writing elements: the various plots have interest and are well told, there are a few pacing issues but it's not a major problem, prose and dialogue were both skillfully written and weave together nicely, character development was also well done. I'm not quite as sure about world-building - I would think I had a handle on this world and then something would feel like an anachronism in it. However, since this is the third book in the series and I haven't read the other two it's hard for me to say much about it. Some of those apparent inconsistencies would probably make sense if I'd read the previous books in the series.
  • Book Rating: Hidden Heart: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 6 of 10
  • Heat Level: 3 of 5
I would be interested in another book written by this author that takes place in a different series or a different world, but I don't believe I'm interested in reading other books in this particular series. This is a skilled author who apparently understands what it means to be a slave, and does a very good job of explaining it. This particular world just didn't work for me.

The ability to evoke strong feelings about characters and worlds and situations... that shows skill. So this isn't a case of bad writing, just a case of this world and this story not resonating well with me.

1. Healing Heart
2. Dark Heart
3. Hidden Heart


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Emperor’s Wolf by J. C. Owens

Emporor's Wolf by JC Owens

The Emperor’s Wolf starts out with a man in slavery to a woman he is pretty much disgusted by. But years of painful training have taught him to accept her touch, and to kneel before her, and to avert his eyes so she won't see the hatred in them. We thankfully don't see much interaction between these two, and we just get the barest of details to let us know why he is acquiescing to her, and how he went from being a solder to being favorite harem slave.

And then, well, the blurb does a good job of explaining what comes next:

The echoes of a war four years' past still resounds in the minds of those who endured it. Jaden longs to search for his sister, though he is bound in the fetters of slavery. When he is given to the very man who conquered his country, he is caught up in his own hatred, yet fascinated by the mystery of his new master, the Emperor of Tranaden, who all say is demonic, without mercy. Trapped in the snare of his master’s beauty, Jaden begins to realize that there is much more beneath the surface...

Dersai is Emperor to his fingertips, he is used to command and being obeyed. He will sacrifice anything to see his country safe. Beneath, he is well read, highly intelligent and far sighted in how he views others. Yet, Dersai has an inner demon, a demon that kept his kingdom free and safe from conquerors; only in his dreams can he imagine one strong enough to love him. Now his slave may be the only one who can set him free.

Let me be clear that this is not BDSM. It is a slave who is sold and traded and bartered for. And then later, there are elements of fantasy, and the D/s aspects all fade into the background and go away.

I enjoyed the fantasy elements, and I enjoyed a few of the scenes.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline:3 of 3, though it is only for a short period of time
  • Dominance and Submission: 2 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism:0 of 3
  • Extra Point: No
As for the writing elements, the plot was nice, pacing had some issues, prose and dialogue were fine, character development was very well done, and world-building was creative and detailed.
  • Book Rating:The Emperor’s Wolf : 7 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level:5 of 10
  • Heat Level: 2 of 5