February 27, 2012

Review: His Deep Submission by Kim Acton

If you want a marriage counselor's case study guide to revamping your relationship with femdom, this is for you. If, like me, you want something fun, sexy and well written, this may not be it.

The concept is appealing: Vicki finds out about Mike's femdom porn stash when trying to resurrect their failing marriage, calls him on it and decides to take control. Unfortunately, the author's voice is so loud I can't hear the characters and the whole thing is so... weird. Totally emotionless. I'm not sure I can finish reading it. Each chapter begins with a synopsis - it's like instructions.

1. Get advice from your counselor friend about getting a divorce
2. Explore his porn stash
3. Make him admit he wants to be disciplined
...and on..

(Actually it's 1. Advice from a friend 2. Vicki looks at Mike's Porn 3. Mike admits he wants to be disciplined... etc. all the way to 11. The Envy of friends.)

Even the first sentence sounds like a counseling session:
"It's not unusual for a couple to feel like their marriage has become stale after five or six years."
The story starts with Vicki talking to her friend Carole who patiently draws Vicki out. She says things like:
"Look, it's always a two way street with these things."
"Sit down and talk about what is missing for both of you and what you can do about it."
"Do you know what you want out of your marriage?"
There is also a huge bunch of gender cliches. Vicki's reply to what she wants from her marriage is:
"I want what every woman wants. I want a happy, supportive, stable relationship". 
Ohhhh, so that's what every woman wants. Darn. I guess I didn't get that memo.

Vicki thinks that all Mike wants is more sex and Carole, source of all wisdom, replies, "Guys always say that. They never want less, that's for sure." Vicki is "not always interested" in sex. Porn is Mike's outlet when Vicki isn't receptive and Vicki feels guilty about that. I gave up counting the unfair gender based cliches quite quickly.
Carole advises Vicki to look at Mike's porn - not ask him about it first mind, just to look at it without his permission. (Hello, betrayal of TRUST?) Carole adds:
"If I'm wrong you'll still have the nuclear option of divorce." They laughed.
I'm really not clear how that is funny. Actually, I always understood that divorce is usually messy, upsetting and generally not funny at all. Especially if you're still in love, as Vicki professes to be. Anyhow, we then get some background about Vicki and Mike's socio-economic situation:
"Vicki and Mike lived in a semi-rural area outside the city limits. The homes weren't huge but most of them were on an acre or two of land. It was quiet and there was more privacy than being in a planned neighborhood. With no kids yet - they had both just turned thirty - and two decent incomes they had a comfortable life compared to many people that they knew. Yet with all that, they both felt a lack of fulfillment in their lives."
You know, it's quite impressive to be dull, patronizing and preachy all in one go. Then we get into some sex scenes, featuring phrases such as:
"Her free hand ran up the outside of his shirt and found his left nipple."
"Her orgasm exploded through her and she pulled and twisted Mike's head to sustain the duration."
"Mike screamed out, made a final deep thrust into her and had a long and hard orgasm." 
It's all very, perfunctory.  Then afterwards, they talk about it. For ages. It's very analytical and not at all sexy. A text book question and answer session; it's all tell, not show. The characters say they think this, or that but I can't see any evidence of it. I can't find anything sexy, romantic or emotional in this book. I don't believe in the characters or care about them at all.  To me, this reads like a user manual and is about as entertaining.


February 26, 2012

Evangeline Anderson

I'm going to do something a bit different here and look at an author, rather than a particular book. Evangeline Anderson lends herself to this, as her style in terms of characters and scenarios is quite consistent and distinctive.

I first read one of Anderson's short stories, Masks. I rather hoped from the set up (Chloe's twin sister forces her to moonlight as a Professional Domme) that it would be femdom. In fact Chloe almost immediately loses control to the hero, Mark. However, it was well written and really pretty hot, so I tried other of her books.

They're all erotica with a supernatural, fantasy or sci-fi slant, and definitely romance (all of Anderson's books that I've read are HEA). Some of her heroines are smarter and stronger (Lauren in Found; Kat in Sought) than others (Olivia in Claimed; Shaina in The Pleasure Palace). But what I like about Anderson's books is the male characters. They're not submissive by any stretch of the imagination but they are definitely in the service of their heroine. They put her needs, her pleasure, her safety, way above their own. If you like stories of strong men worshipping their chosen woman, then this author might be for you. Especially if you like reading cunilingus scenes. All of Anderson's books have a lot of cunilingus scenes.

There are a couple of provisos. There's a rather contradictory attitude towards bdsm in Anderson's books. On the one hand, some of the scenes are borderline kinky and although the female characters are universally niave and shocked at the idea of such things, they do come around, as it were. On the other hand, some activities, which in consensual bdsm would be considered just fine, are vilified. For instance, in all of the Brides of the Kindred series, the scourge are considered deviant and evil, in part because they are violently dominant and like to inflict pain on their females. This is considered the antithesis of the reverent treatment of females by the Kindred (they're aliens btw). But then, the Kindred have their own dominance and spanking kink going on too. The result is that the reader is rather confused as to what the 'message' really is.

Another slight issue is that Anderson tends to set up her heroines in situations where they have every opportunity to really take the lead sexually, then has the hero topping from the bottom. For instance, in Deal with the Devil, the hero has the heroine handcuff him to the bed. Hot right? Well, yes, but it doesn't quite deliver. She asks him what to do and he instructs her, while being handcuffed. Similarly, in The Pleasure Palace, the heroine has to pretend to be the dominant Mistress and the hero is her slave. Again, this dynamic could be really interesting but the heroine is portrayed as clearly uncomfortable with taking the lead and the hero directs nearly all her actions.

These two problems come together in The last man on Earth. The set up is awesome: the hero is being held captive in a future world where there are no men. The heroine has been allocated to milk him for his sperm. The normal way to do this is to stick an electric probe up the male subject's ass. The heroine is tentative and the result is that he talks her out of what is portrayed as a barbaric practice. The problem for me is that I think that the probe sounds quite fun. So the heroine cedes power to the hero and lets him call the shots and ultimately, he saves her. Despite him being the one who was restrained most of the time. It's a real pity, because the concept rocks and has an real femdom tinge to it. But the heroine is so weak and spineless I find it a difficult book.

Don't expect complicated and deep plots from Anderson's books, or strong female characters. But if strong men, who enjoy doing anything to protect, service and please their women (including licking her out, pretty much 23/24 hours of the day) are your thing, you might like this author. It's disappointing that Anderson doesn't write femdom but these are fun, hot stories all the same.

If you're looking for recommendations, my favorite of Anderson's books are (in no particular order): Found; Sought; Hunted; Masks. These, imo, suffer the least from the problems mentioned above.

*** Update***

Anderson has a new Kindred series book out, Revealed. I'm sorry to say that I am less enthusiastic about this book. Perhaps I have just reached saturation point for the full-on crazy sauce that amused me in her other books (the Goddess chatting to mortals in bold all the time, cartoon baddies, telepathic links left right and centre and some pretty odd physical mating organs - including fists and wings...).

February 12, 2012

Review: Sweetest Mistress by Skye Warren

This is a book of contrasts. The writing is interesting and engaging and it's written in the first person, from the point of view of the male submissive. On the other hand, while the characterisation of the main character is strong, the female lead is a cardboard cut out, the plot is promising but turns out very weak and chiched and I just can't really believe in the relationship at all. I could probably deal with that but as usual, there is a subtext of a sort of anti-femdom which spoils it for me.

The story starts out with a great premise: Wyle, a male submissive, going on a blind date. Wyle thinks that Melissa is out of his league but she takes him home and invites him to do whatever he wants to her. This is a fun scene where he expresses how he feels the pressure to do what she wants. Everything is going pretty well, he seems pretty into being dominant, then she stops him and says it doesn't feel right. She asks what he really wants and he confesses that he wants to be spanked. I enjoyed this and I was intrigued by the idea that maybe she already knew he was submissive. It set up the potential for a conflict that was something a bit different.

Their relationship progresses quickly, with several hot scenes and a phone sex session that was really nicely done. Then it all goes wrong for me.


He begins to get suspicious when she knows what he likes for breakfast and the friend who set them up lets slip that she asked about him a lot. He convinces himself that she is after his money and shuts her out. When he goes over to confront her, he loses his temper and beats and humilates her as 'punishment'. She takes it meekly and is turned on by it. Then he actually bothers to ask why she asked about him. She is his kid neighbour from back home and she's had a crush on him for years, blah de blah. He feels bad and asks her to punish him as retribution. She does so but by this time I don't know that she likes being dominant or that he likes being submissive. Frankly, it's a bit confusing.

Instead of Melissa being a strong woman who hears about a submissive who could be right for her, she is a tired trope of childhood love. She's not really a dom, she's doing it to please him. Similarly, Wyle defaults to being dominant and inflicting pain and Melissa has so little backbone that she takes it without complaint. She even says at one point,
"Okay Wyle. Whatever you want."
It seems that she lurrves him sooo much that she'll do whatever he wants - be a dom, be a sub, make him breakfast, forgive him. Perhaps some people would enjoy reading this but personally, a sex scene when the woman is just a vessel for playing out the male character's fantasies, whatever they might be, is not for me.

The implication is that actually they're going to 'default' to him being dominant and her being submissive, as that's the roles that they instinctively take on. I have no problem with the female character discovering that she likes being dominant or submissive or both but the suggestion that a woman in love is so pathetic that she will do whatever a man wants in order to obtain/keep him really irritates me.

It bothers me too, when we hear first hand that he is enjoying their first sexual encounter, that she somehow telepathically knows that actually he wants something different. I bought it when I thought she was a dom and already knew he was a submissive, as there was a reason for her to know that he was holding back. With Melissa having a childhood crush on Wyle, the device has no credibility - how on earth would she know? Her saying, "It doesn't feel right", is not enough to convince me when just lines before he is thinking how good it feels.

***End Spoilers***

All in all I'm really quite disappointed with this story. It was promising, really very good and hot in the middle, had a great voice but fell down totally flat for me at the end. It was well written and engaging, both of which are distinctly in its favor. But the characterization of Melissa was so weak and the subtext really quite irritating, so I much as I wanted to, I can't like this book much.


February 8, 2012

Review: Taking her Boss by Alegra Verde

I've picked Taking her Boss as my first review because it's actually a pretty interesting example of some of the things I like and really object to in a book. 

Glory is happily being fucked by a client from work when her boss walks in. Bruce Davies is not especially upset but sees her in a different light and wants her to consider dominating him. Glory doesn't really want to, her internal monologue is unsure and not especially turned on by it,  but she begins to find that life is good when she tells him what to do. When she has a sexual encounter with him, he rewards the whole office with his good mood. When she ignores him, he stomps around like a bear with a sore head.

The relationship is quite interesting and as a submissive, Bruce is clear and unashamed about what he wants. He's a much better character than Glory imo. He wants her to dominate him and he wants to make a relationship of sorts work between them. Glory on the other hand is a strongly opinionated character who is pretty clear that she is uncomfortable but neither stops, nor admits to herself that she likes it.

I really like that this story isn't all about BDSM clubs, pathetic sniveling male submissives and whips. It's a normal kind of guy, who has fixated on a strong, sexual woman. The sex scenes are very hot, without being over the top or completely unrealistic fantasy.

Taking her Boss is written in the first person and has a slightly snarky tone and the suggestion that you are getting a bias view point, which I find enjoyable. But I really struggle with the implication that Glory isn't really enjoying dominating Bruce, that she is "uncomfortable" with it. There is conflict between the fact that she in some ways gets off on dominating him but she will only do it if he demands it. She's doing it because he's demanding it rather than because she likes it. There's a suggestion that she does like being dominant and that she won't admit it to herself - but I'm not sure if I'm really reading that or if I'm hoping that it's the case. This is admittedly an interested dynamic, of a strong woman dominating a man because he is in a position of authority and is making her do it. If that was all, I could deal with that, as it's interesting to explore that power dynamic. However, at one point she speculates:

"I even wondered if his crazy sex habits were the reason he and his wife divorced". 

WTF?? I really have a big problem with that. It suggests that the 'normal' or 'correct' way round is for the man to be dominant. The story line somewhat plays that implication out, with Bruce taking a dominant (or certainly, a leading) role in some of the sex scenes.

All those reservations aside, this is a very hot story with some great femdom type scenes. I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and label it femdom, as I'm hoping that Glory will sort it out and decide that she likes being in charge. It probably just about classifies as a romance, as there is an implication of HFN.

Overall, a good but short B-, with reservations about the sub-text.

February 5, 2012

Hello world

In my on-going attempt to find books that I enjoy which feature F/m relationships, I'm going to start a review blog. We'll see how it goes!

I guess I should state to begin with that I like plenty of romance with my kink. I prefer monogamy and for me, however hot the sex is, if there's no emotional relationship, I'm unlikely to believe it.

Part of the issue is finding books that I want to read. GoodRead's FemDom shelf has some titles I haven't seen before, as well as the Best Domme list.