June 30, 2012

Review: Pleasure Bound by Kat Black

Adam has it all planned - he's going to whisk his girlfriend Sam off for a fabulous, romantic weekend and indulge his possessive side by asking her to marry him and giving her a huge rock as a sign of his ownership love. But an impulsive text saying that he will give her anything she wants, that is within his power to give her, is his downfall. Because Sam wants to scratch an itch that has been bothering her. Sam wants to be in control in bed.

Her image of the weekend:
Adam's big body spread-eagle beneath her, trembling and helpless under her touch while his blue eyes bored into hers, desperate, hot and pleading. 
His image of the weekend:
...the perfect chance to fulfill his deepest desire and at last get Sam just where he wanted her - bound to him, physically, emotionally and legally, for as long as they both shall live. 
Adam has always taken the dominant role in the relationship, so this sets up an exciting conflict: he wants to control her by tying her down in marriage; she has a more physical tying down in mind for him. This is hugely promising: a battle of wills between two strong characters. It's a frequent complaint that submissive men in books aren't alpha and manly, and here we have Adam:
Successful, powerful and wealthy, he didn't get where he was today without also being touch and ruthless and, frankly, bossy as hell. 
Dangerously close to being an alpha-hole, I would say. Sam loves him, but wants to even things up a bit by having him submit to her for a change. So far, so good.

The problem with this novella is not what is in it, so much as what isn't in it.  The gaps in the emotional plot are, for me, large and annoying. There's a really brilliant, complex negotiation of two people's needs and desires set up and then we don't see how it is resolved, we're just told that it is.

I vacillated all the way through reading this novella. One moment I'm disappointed, the next I'm on edge, with a big grin. Let me give you an example:

When they meet up, the first thing that happens is that Adam comes over all dominant and makes a protesting Sam come in the back of his car on the way to the airport. So Sam submits to Adam and Adam is all rich and manly. <Sigh> Then, on the plane, Sam comes straight out and says that she wants to dominate him and tie him up. <Yay!> Adam just blank says no, and they begin to argue <Okay, this is interesting.> Then instead of a continuation of the argument, we get this:
He continued to argue, of course, accusing her of seeking to objectify him, of cheapening their relationship for the sake of titillation, but Sam persevered, making sure he understood that this was about deeper thing like trust and equality, and letting her have her own way for once, damn it!
Seeking to objectify him, of cheapening their relationship for the sake of titillation. This is the man, who, the previous chapter, was wondering if he could interest her in a bit of mile-high fellatio on the plane, who internally refers to his marriage proposal as the most exciting acquisition he'd ever contemplated, gropes Sam in the back of the car while his driver could watch, and who, when she thanks him for arranging a weekend away, says:
 "You're welcome. But be warned. Once I've got you all alone and at my mercy, I'm going to tie you down and make you thank me again. Properly."
To recap - she wants to tie him down and she's objectifying him and cheapening their relationship. He wants to tie her down and that's normal. So he's being a hypocritical idiot. That would possibly be okay if it was part of a conversation where we saw that Adam was grasping as straws because he's scared to let go of control (as we discover later). But, instead Sam doesn't call him on his hypocrisy and we have a throw-away half a paragraph on a potentially interesting and key conflict. That theme of terse half paragraphs which summarize conversations where really you want to see the whole conversation recurs in this novella, and it's very unsatisfying.


Adam sulks for the rest of the journey. When they arrive at the most amazing, luxurious place ever, they discuss Sam being dominant again and Adam goes off into another sulk when Sam says that it's important to her. They arrive at their room and Sam leaves Adam with the cuffs, rope and blindfold she has brought while she goes to the bathroom. When Sam emerges, she finds Adam in the cuffs, with an erection. Welcome as this scene is in so many ways, I couldn't help feeling that I really couldn't understand his sudden change of heart, as we see all of this from Sam's point of view.

The scene that follows, where Sam ties up and then teases Adam while Adam struggles to allow her and tries to regain control, is beautifully written, arousing and sensuous. It's great. I'm even okay with it when after Sam unties him, Adam snaps and pounds into her roughly, claiming back his dominance. It seems totally in character, and not in an hypocritical alpha-male way, but in a scared of his own feelings way which I can sympathize with.

But the next morning, Adam makes unnecessary conflict. He's soooo guilty about how brutal and mean and out of control he was. He must have hurt her unforgivably. Sam protests that she's fine and he totally ignores her, won't touch her and sulks with her for the rest of the day. A rational response to this sort of silliness would be to want to beat Adam around the head with a tree trunk, but again, Sam is so patient. He's being really unreasonable and uncommunicative, so she gives him a blow job to smooth things over. But even after that, and some cunnilingus, Adam continues to be grumpy through their romantic dinner under the stars. Afterwards, they finally get around to talking about it and we get this breakthrough:
"The submitting, the bondage, the helplessness-" He paused to give an uncomfortable shrug. "It excited me, Sam. Against everything I'd thought and said, I found myself liking it. And that realization made me so angry, so fucking furious with myself I couldn't see straight. How could I? How could someone like me enjoy the act of surrender, of leaving myself weak and powerless?"
<Yay!> He asks if she can still love him, she reassures him, he proposes and there's still enough of the book left to have another scene where she takes advantage of her new found knowledge. Great, yeh?

So next we get a scene where Adam pours champagne over Sam's clit and generally teases her. It's disappointing. In the post orgasm pillow talk, there's a bit to hold up the cliches about male submissives:
"Adam, even if you turn out to be the most pitiful wimp of a submissive ever, I'll still love you."
As happy as he was to hear that, Adam snorted. "Like that's ever going to happen." In a flash he had her on her back.
And then the next day, he ties her up. Of course.  <Yawn>

In the epilogue, after their wedding, there's a nice bit about how Adam has discovered that surrender can make you stronger. It's mentioned in passing that they've experimented. I wanted so much to see that emotional and erotic journey, rather than be told about it in the epilogue.

The end is a short, sweet moment of surrender for Adam. It was a good and appropriate ending and I was happy that it ended on a high.

***End Spoilers***

All in all, it's a very mixed story. In some places, elegantly and wonderfully executed. In other places, reminiscent of a Harlequin Presents, with its silly, uncommunicative hero and unrealistically understanding heroine. I didn't realize when I saw that this was a Ellora's Cave Moderne title that it was going to be like a Mills and Boon Modern. It should have had a title like Tying down the Billionaire Tycoon, and I would have realized what I was getting myself in to. The Adam that is worried that Sam won't love him because he likes being dominated and who loves and lusts after Sam to distraction, I can like. The cardboard cutout of a Alpha-Male Greek Billionaire Tycoon that he hides behind has no attraction to me at all. Actually, it repulses me.

TL,DR: Quite good in the middle when the blurb's premise is realized, otherwise prone to gender cliches and skipping over the interesting conflict in favor of alpha male 3-year-old posturing. 

For all my snark and annoyance about a lot of this novella, the middle bit where Sam gets her domme on was great. The tension was palpable, the conflict was brilliant and the whole scenario was really very hot, even Adam's trying to wrest back control. The concept is inspired. Sam and Adam are good characters when they're being human. The rest of it. Meh.


June 27, 2012

Femdom Fifty Shades of Grey?

I've noticed a steady stream recently of searches for "fifty shades of grey femdom" or some variant, landing on this site. In case you have been hiding under a rock and not heard about this phenomenon, the Fifty Shades of Grey series is a trilogy which follows the developing relationship between an overbearing man who self identifies as a dominant, and a younger woman who is too inexperienced to self identify as anything (so by default she is vanilla (?) ). He pursues her and introduces her to sex and bdsm (with a full time slave contract - no shades of grey there then...).

I'm sure that searchers for "50 shades of grey femdom" have so far left this site unsatisfied, as the post I mention the series in is a moan about not being able to find femdom books. I ignored these searches for as long as I could, but it's gotten to me eventually and I think I can do better.

The question is though, what are people searching for femdom and fifty shades of grey really looking for? I don't know for sure, but here are some of my ideas:

Is there a book like Fifty shades of Grey, but the other way around - with a female dominant rather than a male dominant?

This is the most obvious interpretation, but also the most difficult. What did you like about it? If you simply want an erotic book with explicit bdsm femdom, then Natural Law by Joey Hill is for you. Both characters indentify as Mistress and submissive from the beginning and it's wonderfully erotic, well written, with enough kink to satisfy as well as a strong romantic relationship.

If you liked the concept of an older, authoritative dom introducing a younger vanilla protégée to bdsm, maybe you would like Rebecca's Way by Rynna Cress, where an experienced Mistress introduces a wayward man to being submissive.

Did you like the student and authority figure dynamic? Maybe The Cruel Dr Fox by SM Calor would be your thing. That features a college professor who takes her student in hand in a servant submissive relationship.

My wife/girlfriend read Fifty Shades and liked it. I want to introduce femdom to her. Maybe I could find an equivalent fifty shades book with femdom and she would like that too?

There are lots of good options here, depending on what her normal reading matter is. If she likes historical books, then A Lady Awakened is the one. A subtle femdom book, the heroine is very controlling and controlled and likes sex only on her terms.

If she normally likes other modern/contemporary novels, then try This is What I Want, or Taking Care of Business, both by Megan Hart. Taking Care of Business is a dual story line book, with a femdom relationship which sizzles and a maledom relationship which isn't so good. This is What I Want is less explicitly femdom and more about a woman sharing her fantasies, both ones where she is in and not in control (though mainly the former).

For a book where a woman discovers her dominant side after being submissive, then Power Play by Charlotte Stein is the hottest example of this. Switch, again by Megan Hart, is a tamer example with only subtle bdsm undertones.

For a woman discovering her dominant side from being vanilla, Taking Her Boss by Alegra Verde is worth a look. Giving by Charlotte Stein features a woman introduced to femdom bdsm by her boyfriend's confessed fantasies.

If she likes the purple prose and hyperbole of Fifty Shades, then she might like Evangeline Anderson erotic sci-fi books. There's a lot of male service elements in these books, which are otherwise mainly maledom.

Does Fifty Shades of Grey feature any femdom?

I haven't read the books, but nothing that I've read about them gives me any hope, no.  

Is there a 'mainstream' femdom book, similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, that I can buy at the store? With a tasteful grey cover perhaps?

Not really, no. Natural Law is the only straight femdom book I know of at the moment that really justifies general consumption. But then, it's not really about a book being good, is it? It's a right place, right time thing and we're not there yet for femdom. And no femdom book can have a tasteful cover. Ever. 

So that's it. If you reached this page through a search, let me know in the comments if I answered your question. If I didn't, do ask.

June 16, 2012

Review: A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant

A Gentleman Undone is the follow up to A Lady Awakened, which I raved about. A Lady Awakened has some delicious femdom undertones which made me give it a place on the blog. A Gentleman Undone doesn't have the same sort of femdom feel, but is a great read as a straight romance and the portrayal of sex has an emotional intensity and purpose which is reminiscent of BDSM. The sex is vanilla, but the feelings are rather sadomasochism. If you liked A Lady Awakened, or other romances with very strong heroines or subtle femdom that I've reviewed, then it's pretty likely that you will like A Gentleman Undone. There aren't any major plot spoilers in this review, but there are plenty of 'emotional spoilers', if such a thing exists. You've been warned.

Will Blackshear is back from war with £800 and a tonne of guilt. He meets Lydia Slaughter in a gaming den when trying to win money to assuage his guilt by providing for a widow. So far, so historical romance conventional. Lydia fleeces him. She doesn't exactly cheat at cards, but she's a mathematical genius and she knows when the odds are in her favor. She's also the mistress (in the kept woman sense, not the femdom sense) of another man, 'work' which she actively enjoys. Will is immediately attracted to her and Lydia gets to that a little later.

Lydia and Will come to an uneasy alliance: they both need money and they are willing to work as a team to get it. Lydia has the mental alacrity to count cards, but lacks the gender and the capital needed to gamble successfully. Will isn't so smart, but can manage to follow directions. So they begin a chaste (though hardly virtuous) relationship, gambling together and fighting together quite a bit too.

It takes until over half way through the book for them even to kiss. And when they do finally fuck, it is just that. It isn't a beautiful, inspiring act, totally different from anything either of them have either known. Oh no. They are both too messed up for that. Lydia is a masochist and uses sex violently to calm her demons. She's a very active and demanding masochist though - a dominant masochist? Or perhaps just manipulative and goading. Take for instance this exchange, where Lydia wants Will to fuck her harder:
"Harder. Hurt me." Her voice was a feral snarl and her face half contorted with loathing.
"I can't. I don't want to." There was a way to ask for such things, and it wasn't the way she'd just done. He'd tell her so afterward, if she was still inclined to speak to him then. At the moment he couldn't spare the breath.
She writhed underneath him and took a new grip on his arms. "You said you'd do what I wanted. My way first, your way after. We agreed."
 So Lydia's not really the tepid or pathetic sort of masochist.  I'm not convinced either that she's submissive; she offers to beg at one point but she really likes to give orders. I feel too, that her masochism could switch to sadism very easily. If anything, she uses men to work out her kink. And she uses kink to work out her guilt. Lydia took up prostitution with the idea of using it as a fun form of suicide and is surprised to find that not only does it not kill her, it reveals a strong core of her which very much wants to live.

I like Lydia best when she's strong and triumphant: When she calmly collects her winnings from the table with a little smile. Or when she is angrily frustrated with Will because he can't understand that three-eights is greater than five-fourteenths (I know, what an idiot eh. ;)  ). And her success in sex too: 
I did this. I gave him what he thought I couldn't. His seed and his cock and his climax are mine. 
I'm not keen on her masochist side, though in a way the quote above shows that it's a powerful tool in this particular relationship - a foil to the tenderness and togetherness that Will wants. And in a funny sort of way, they both get what they need, rather than what they think they want. Will, whose guilt makes him crave a tender forgiveness, gets this from Lydia when he tells her the story:
"You're not a good man, Blackshear," she whispered.
"I know." It felt like a pound of flesh given up. He closed his eyes.
"You break your promises and you fuck other men's women and you haven't even a soul to your name."
A shaft of hot, grief-tainted pleasure stabbed through him. "I know." He jerked his chin in a nod.
That's love from Lydia, which perhaps says everything about her contradictions as a character. She recognizes when being punished would heal, because that's what she has done to herself. She also perhaps finds her own salvation in punishing Will - a rather sadistic sort of completion really. When Lydia confesses her misdeed, she gets a more tender sort of love, but it's the action of condemning Will in his guilt that seems to free Lydia to love him.

I'm not sure if any of that makes sense really, or even if I've correctly interpreted the emotional story in the book. It's complicated, as real people are, and I enjoyed that. It's just one way that this is an unusual book for its genre - I won't list for you all the amusing and brilliant ways that Grant has subverted cliches of historical romance. If you don't know them already, you won't appreciate them any more for me saying what they are and if you do, I won't spoil for you all the fun of finding out.

I love Lydia's bold and uncompromising personality. Will on the other hand never quite worked for me and I'm having a lot of trouble articulating why. I think it's that we never quite see him trust Lydia and allow her to make the decisions and I think that he should. He keeps things on an even-ish footing between them and I wish that he would accept her as his female authority and have done.

TL,DR: Compulsively readable story of two complicated characters, with a strong emotional BDSM sort of feeling. A determined and ruthless heroine who teeters on the edge of being dominant, but never quite makes it.

I won't re-read A Gentleman Undone with the frequency or enjoyment that I do A Lady Awakened, but I'm really pleased that I read it. It's excellent, with the intensity and elegant phrasing which is being revealed as Grant's style. I don't really engage with either Lydia or Will's pain, but that's to do with me, not the book I think. The plot (I know, I've barely mentioned that) is well paced and gripping and the watching these two work around each other and finally together, in every sense, is compulsive. Overall, it's a B+ I think.

June 9, 2012

Review: Rebecca's Way by Rynna Cress

Rebecca is an assistant to a movie agent, dealing with the bratty authors managed by her boss. Her day is spoiled by Mackenzie Bell, a man-child who, when she turns up at his apartment to demand his manuscript, is with a woman who he can't remember the name of. Mackenzie has wanted Rebecca and her cold poise forever, and when she gives him a tiny opening, he follows her home, drunk and drink driving. He tells he would do anything to have her. Taking him at his word, Rebecca wakes Mackenzie tied up on the sofa with restraints and a ball gag.

So follows a day of debauchery where Rebecca pegs, whips, humiliates and keeps Mackenzie in chastity. She even sends Mackenzie food shopping with a remote controlled electric ball in his butt (I was slightly concerned about that - if it's just a ball, how do they get it out?) Mackenzie submits to all this willingly and finds that he likes Rebecca's way of life. He certainly takes to BDSM remarkably quickly.

All this is achieved in just 13k words. With all that hotness, necessarily there isn't as much characterization as I would like. I think Mackenzie's drink driving and following Rebecca home is supposed to juxtaposition against his confession that he doesn't really like the person that he has become and his subsequent complete submission. Still, I find that drink driving is a hard limit for me. I strongly dislike facetious portrayals of drink driving; Mackenzie says that it's okay, because he drank first and then drove. I guess that's to show what an arrogant, heartlessness, inconsiderate bastard he is in his 'before' persona, and it works, because that's exactly what I think. I'm not keen on his following her home either. Rather pushy/stalker ish. Then overnight (literally) Mackenzie becomes a willing and obedient toy, which is rather a quick turn around. That being said, I did have a fair sense of Rebecca as a strong willed, controlling character and I was pretty disappointed when the story came to an abrupt halt. The set up takes about a third of the story, followed by wall to wall action of the good sexy type, then the story just ends.


At the end of their day together Rebecca sends him home with his chastity device in place to cool off for a week. I eagerly turned the page to see how they get on, and found an epilogue. They are in a cafe, a year later, and Mackenzie gives Rebecca a short story about, yes, you guessed it: their story, that you just read. I irrationally loathe this device. It's difficult to explain why I dislike it so much (thoughts on this welcomed below). I think for me it's a combination of the fact that I feel like it's a cop out of an ending, like 'and then she woke up'. Also, being reminded of the author in a story jerks me right out of the story - I like to get wrapped up in the characters and the story and I don't want to be reminded that a real person wrote it. (Sorry. I said that my dislike was irrational.)

I was also a bit irritated by the another aspect of the ending. Rebecca suddenly has had a promotion and is now a successful agent and has been "fast tracked for glamorous promotion" and has a "substantial pay rise". Not only that:
She had taken to the position almost immediately, quickly amassing an impressive list of clients and showing a keen eye for emerging young talent. Her deceptively assertive business demeanor caught many off guard, and gave her a distinct edge during high-stakes negotiations. With a natural affinity for the business and with much hard work, she had, in just under a year on the job, established herself as a true asset to the firm.
I feel like I'm being hit around the head with it. She's [hit] really [thwack] successful [bam] and [pow] happy [bosh] and [punch] talented. Okayokayokay. I get it.

Rebecca and Mackenzie also have a HFN, but it all feels very quick and too neat. Mackenzie has gone straight from being a feckless drunk, to being a perfect slave. Yes, alright we get a line about how there were tears and tantrums in the epilogue, but it's tell, not show and thus lacking the emotion that would make it feel real. From that point of view, this story, though not really a very romantic romance, falls into the classic romance trap of tying everything up in a perfect bow at the end.

***End Spoilers***

Rebecca's Way is written in the third person, but switches between being in the hero and heroine's head, giving a disconcerting feeling that you're never quite sure whose eyes you are looking through. The whole story is a bit heavy handed at times - the writing is a little prone to cliche and hyperbole, the characters are a bit 'too much' to be believable. Mackenzie's character arc (a sort of bad boy come good) is a nice idea, but it isn't fleshed out enough to really work. But then, it's a short story so there isn't a lot of time for subtlety. Ultimately, the concept is really good and the hot bits are hot, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more femdom from Cress. It probably helps that I was sooooo happy to see chastity and pegging and this is a fun and sexy portrayal of both.

TL,DR: a hot, short read featuring pegging and chastity, which I'd've liked to be a bit longer, with a rather abrupt ending and lots of fun in the middle. Flawed, but completely readable.

If Rebecca's Way was longer and therefore more developed, I think it could be B or B+ territory. As it is, it's a B- from me.

June 2, 2012

The Underworld Series by Kelley Armstrong

I completely loved these books and I found some femdom in them. Not an erotic kind of femdom but just a strong female character kicking ass in a patriarchal world, with her pet boy by her side (kind of literally in this case). This is another of those reviews that frankly, I'm not sure if you'll be interested since it isn't full on erotic femdom. But I kind of think it deserves a place here, in the subtle femdom category.

This review is completely riddled with spoilers which are necessary to explain why this series is that subtle femdom which can be soooo good. I will flag up the spoilers that will significantly affect your enjoyment of the series. I should add, I'm only really talking here about the werewolf books of this series, specifically: Bitten, Stolen, Broken, Frostbitten, Hidden, Beginnings from Tales of the Underworld and the free online graphic short story Becoming.

Elena is a reluctant werewolf, has been a werewolf for 10 years and is living in Toronto. A crisis calls her back to Stonehaven, the pack's home with the pack leader Jeremy and Elena's ex lover/best friend/adversary/worst nightmare, Clayton. They're part of a small pack of werewolves, keeping a low profile and protecting humanity from the rogue idiot werewolves who think it's fun to kill people. The major part of the story for all the books is how the pack neutralize these threats. That is to say - the major part of the books is paranormal suspense thriller. The thread through all the books is the relationship between Elena and Clayton. Elena and Clayton have a difficult fucked up relationship with a complicated history.

All the books are first person narratives from the pov of Elena and don't shy away from letting her solve her own and other peoples, problems. That I think is one of the things I like about these books. Elena has support, is part of a team, but she also strikes out independently (sometimes unwisely, but never TSTL) and does things. She has agency and power and courage and she uses them.

These books don't pull punches on people dying or being hurt on both sides of the them/us divide. There are numerous fight and hunting scenes, with somewhat dispassionate descriptions of the 'gore'. Elena is not a shocked girl who faints at the sight of blood. Actually, she revels in it. Again, I rather like that. It's refreshingly honest somehow that a (were)wolf, a predator, is unabashedly a predator and not just a big dog who runs around.

One of the most interesting things about this series is that in some ways it's all about Elena's journey to accept her anger, her violence, her strength and power and the agency that this gives her. She is concerned in Bitten about being 'normal' and comes to accept what she is and accept Clay's adoration too. Elena struggles against Clay because he relishes her excitement at that part of their life. For Elena, he comes to represent 'not normal'. She feels unlovable and unfeminine because of her liking of violence. I think that there will be dommes out there who have been through, or are currently going through, the same sort of emotional conflicts that Elena has (though probably they don't have the added challenge of changing regularly into a wolf).

Most of the main issues are resolved at the end of Bitten, but there are lingering problems, which are then resolved through the next books. All the books are really about Elena's coming of age (yeah, even 30 somethings can come of age).

One of the issues that although Elena for the most part solves her own problems, she's essentially still an underling in a male patriarchal system. Much of the 'action' is actually Elena on her own - not with Clay, or the rest of the pack. The obvious solution? Elena becomes the pack Alpha. It's the last step in the journey really - from denying who and what she is, to being the leader of the pack in the last book.

Elena's relationship with Clay mirrors the journey that Elena has. At the end of Bitten, their relationship is still tentative - Elena has admitted that she loves Clay, but he is still the one pushing towards a relationship and she's holding back. Clay is always pulling Elena with him in terms of commitment - he proposes apropos of nothing, (this is a big spoiler, you might want to skip over it) then he bites her committing her without her knowledge to life as a werewolf, then tries everything to get her to stay with him, wears a wedding ring even though they aren't actually married, wants to have children, etc. etc. Elena is wary at every stage and it is Clay who is pushing the emotional intimacy as well as the physical intimacy. In Frostbitten, they have this exchange:
"...we're making little steps. Saying you love me. Saying you want to be with me. Saying you trust me. And now saying you miss me. The next big hurdle is saying you like your life the way it is."
"I love my life."

That really sums up Elena's journey with Clay. It's a journey to acceptance and happiness (even though that sounds really naff, it's not written like that at all.) Part of that acceptance is accepting that she likes being a werewolf and the strength and violence that comes with that. Clay is the foil to Elena's convoluted and complicated nature. Clay has long accepted who he is and is in some ways Elena's mentor, helping her to be the leader that he needs.

Clay is such an unusual and brilliant character. Not only is he a werewolf who is NOT an 'Alpha', doesn't want to be and is happy following Jeremy and then Elena. He's always in the supporting role rather than 'White Knight'. In several of the books, Elena saves Clay. In Stolen Clay spends most of the book sedated by Jeremy because he's going so mental that Elena is missing. He's Elena's henchman, backup - in short, her husband. In Hidden, Elena describes Clay as:
..the ideal beta-second-in-command, Pack enforcer, Alpha's bodyguard.
And this dynamic works perfectly for Elena and Clay as she likes to be in charge. As she says in Broken
Put Clay with a werewolf of roughly the same hierarchical position, whose judgement he trusted, and he preferred to follow orders...  which was fine because I preferred to give them. 
Clay does take the lead in their sex to some extent, but they fight for control and that is incredibly hot. They destroy hotel bedrooms and the naked rolling around 'play' fighting in forest is oh-so-hot. There is also development in this aspect of the story too. In the first book Bitten (and several others) Clay ties Elena up (for reasons that are major spoilers, so I won't go into) but by the last book Hidden, Elena ties Clay down to the bed - and Clay is happy about it. So Elena takes the lead in their lives and Clay is content in his beta/protector role.

So what else is unusual about Clay as a hero? He's a virgin when he and Elena get together and basically never been interested in or with any woman but Elena.  Clay might be antisocial, but his loyalty is never in question. He is fanatically loyal.

***End Spoilers***

TL,DR:  Werewolf thriller books, written from the first person perspective of the female protagonist who is awesome. A sexy sidekick hero. Lots of violence and sex in forests.

If I haven't convinced you by now, I don't think I will be able to. If you're not sure try Bitten, which is in some ways the most interesting of the series, and see if you get hooked.