Cole Riann's Reviews > Once a Brat

Once a Brat by Kim Dare
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Feb 20, 2013

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bookshelves: armchair-reviews, m-m, m-m-bdsm-fetish, m-m-contemporary, m-m-series, netgalley
Read on February 07, 2013

Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

3.5 stars

It's been a while since I've read anything by Ms. Dare, and though I usually know what to expect with her novellas, I was interested to see what she'd publish with Riptide. It was an enjoyable read, not much different than what I'm used to reading by her -- a short D/s novella, extra sexy with a solid and rather sweet HEA -- but I found the addition of unexpected humor made this a surprisingly fresh read.

Marcus is an experienced Dom who has a stalker. His Dom buddies tease him about his shadow every night they see each other at the Spread Eagle, a rather pretty but bratty and seemingly completely inexperienced submissive. And the boy is very persistent. It's obvious he's inexperienced, he doesn't seem to understand any of the typical rules of conduct of the club and the BDSM scene, which leads to his friends joking about how bratty he is. But despite Marcus' outward reactions to his friends and his stalwart disregard of the kid, he feels excited by his persistence. When he can no longer disregard the red-hot stare into his back, Marcus confronts him and leads him through a public spanking scene at the club. He can't seem to forget Bret, though, and he is saddened by his expectation that Bret will have had enough now that his curiosity is sated. Bret, however, made up his mind the moment he saw Marcus on his first exploration into the club, and one scene won't discourage him from making his true feelings known to the Dom -- that he's the man meant to collar him.

To be honest, I was nervous about reading this story because even with the added benefit of really great editing at Riptide and knowing this would be solidly written, I was nervous that it would be just another of the same, tired BDSM club story. I've read enough of those from Ms. Dare, and though they're enjoyable, I was hoping for something different. I think this story works well with that same pattern and typical plot, but I found the characters in this story rather refreshing. Marcus is a typical Dom, but the duality of the point of view in this novella allows us to see Marcus and his real reactions to Bret, which paints a picture past the respectful and trustworthy Dom and of a rather lonely man full of self-doubt. More emphasis is placed on Marcus' doubts while projecting a calm, steady and built-of-stone facade than on his sexual mastery (though we get that as well… in spades). Likewise, Bret is a rather unique submissive. Usually, we see one of two types of subs -- the shy, needy and inexperienced sub, or the sassy sub that has been around the block a few times and the Dom just loves because they pose more of a challenge. Sometimes those two archetypes are intertwined just a bit. What I and Marcus really liked about Bret, however, is his earnestness combined with is inexperience. He's green and not just fresh to the scene, but his sincerity and impassioned belief that Marcus is the only Dom for him means that he cares little for rules that don't directly come from Marcus himself. I really loved watching Marcus' Dom friends rendered speechless when he gave them cheek, because the whole point is that he doesn't even care that he's talking back to them, he doesn't even mean to, he just doesn't care. The two together made for a rather refreshing combination.

So I would definitely recommend this one to readers. It has a little bit for everyone who is a BDSM fan and likes a sweet story just in time for Valentine's Day. Not only is the plot comfortably familiar as the two get to know one another through scenes at the club and in private, but the characters come through strongly and in just enough of a fashion to give the reader something a little bit new. On the other hand, I would have felt a bit more assured by the Happily Ever After if we knew a little more about Marcus' history. He's at first sincerely afraid to collar a sub, or at least Bret specifically, and we never really learn why or if there was something in his past that made him commitment-shy. Still, the tone of the story is perfectly themed to Valentine's Day, on the sweet and sexy side without too much angsty interference in the feel-good mood.
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