After years of reading BDSM romances, I jumped at the chance to read this memoir (via Edelweiss), written by an author of erotic romance, about her in...moreAfter years of reading BDSM romances, I jumped at the chance to read this memoir (via Edelweiss), written by an author of erotic romance, about her initiation into submission. Uncomfortable. Intriguing. Horrified. Romantic. Sad. Hopeful. These are my adjectives for this book. Note that Erotic is not among them. But that's no reason to turn you off Sarah's story. Uncomfortable and Horrified definitely might be a turn-off, but if you want a dose of realism to balance out the kink you've read, Intriguing is the word. Only if you've read plenty of BDSM romance already, though...this is no place to start.
Middle-aged Sarah lives in England. Divorced from a much-older man, her children are grown and her interest in BDSM results in her seeking a "mentor" online. She connects with Max, and after signing a contract--which includes no intercourse--her initiation begins. Her scenes of submission are raw and scary; Sarah never really explains why pain and humiliation turns her on, but she does describe everything in emotional and physical detail. Reading about a flogging in an erotic romance is not at all the same as the beatings Sarah endures. I can't stress that enough.
The story unfolds in many ways like a romance, even though Sarah initially keeps "sex" off the table and Max intends to keep his relationship strictly impersonal. What I often find confusing in erotic romance I also find confusing here and perhaps it's because of my age. I don't understand why everything but intercourse is not "sex." Frankly, if you're going to let somebody give you screaming orgasms, if you're going to give a man a blow job and swallow...how is that not "sex?"
Anyway, as Sarah gets deeper into the lifestyle and they remove "no sex" from the contract--the scenes related to her desire for actual sex with Max are erotic--she begins to develop feelings for him. Though he fights it, he falls in love with Sarah. But that "other woman" who often crops up in romances also crops up here, and when the compartmentalization of Sarah and Max's BDSM relationship breaks open into the messiness of Max's real life, suddenly the wall between reader and writer breaks wide open. Somehow reading about her BDSM scenes was like following a travelogue for me, but after Max and Sarah flew off for a romantic interlude in Paris and it all went to shit, that this is a true story nearly broke my heart.
I surprised myself in that I liked this book. Memoirs always work better, I think, when they're written by actual writers, and though the writing here isn't brilliant, it kept my interest. Generally when I read kinky scenes, if there are things like canes, hardcore whips, the involvement of fists or backdoor action without lots of loving prep that isn't graphically described, I am immediately turned off. I didn't find scenes like this in Sarah's story erotic in the least, but I was so intrigued by her experiences that I wanted to keep reading, probably because they were a part of her real life and I wanted to know what happened next.
Why does severe pain and humiliation turn some people on? Sarah's book doesn't answer that question for me, but I found her journey from middle-aged mother to BDSM devotee interesting and well told, and the intersection of kink with reality grounded this memoir in a unique fashion. If you've read BDSM romance and want to know what happens when fantasy becomes experiential, give this one a try. I won't give spoilers, but remember that Hopeful was one of my adjectives for this read.(less)
This was a free read and I downloaded and read it because I wanted to see how much more intense a BDSM themed erotic novel was in comparison to a BDSM...moreThis was a free read and I downloaded and read it because I wanted to see how much more intense a BDSM themed erotic novel was in comparison to a BDSM themed erotic romance. The answer? Much...too much...more.
The book's Dom requires that his "slave" trust him unconditionally, yet does nothing to earn this sort of trust. Instead, his submissive is thrown into a very heavy-duty lifestyle change that involves her degradation, humiliation, and pain almost immediately. Even worse is the ending. It serves as a lead-in to a sequel, but left me horrified.
On the one hand I feel as though the author must have some ability because reading the ending put me in the submissive's head--feeling like the rug had been pulled out from under me--but on the other, I did not enjoy finishing this book in such an unsettled fashion.
It's one thing to read literary fiction and feel unsettled. It's another to have that feeling from erotica, as far as I'm concerned.
Perhaps those who read and enjoyed this one aren't romantics at heart. I am, though, and I honestly don't understand the author's intent. I imagine that in a succesful D/s relationship there must be joy and love. None of that comes across here.
Had I been able to give this book zero stars, I would have.(less)