A bit of background: I freely admit to enjoying reading smut and I like my smut kinky. I tend to avoid reading published versions of it, because often the framing devices are boring as hell and the sex is either damn vanilla or not really BDSM – think 50 Shades of Gray where the author pretends to know about it but actually Misses the Point entirely.
I gave this book a chance because I got a copy from a friend whose friend also enjoys kink and she was giving it rave reviews and wanting our mutual friend to read it to RP. I borrowed it to give it the once over because she asked for my opinion on it.
At first…I was bored. There plot, such as it is, is that Nora is an erotic novelist (and part-time professional Dominatrix) trying to write her first Real Novel. A stuffy English editor agrees to work on the book with her to make it salable. The subplot is she has a 19 year old Methodist college boy living with her as kind of an assistant. She loves him, but knows she can’t be with him because her lifestyle would ruin all that she cherishes about him. It’s all pretty romance-novel standard stuff and it’s competent. Not complex or all that interesting, but competent.
Things improved when we started getting the first passages of sex, in the form of scenes from the book that she’s writing. These are done incredibly well. They capture what BDSM is both emotionally and physically really well and there’s no doubt in my mind that the author knows her stuff. I was actually willing to go with the basic plot just to get to them.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Then everything derailed. There’s this scene where Nora deflowers who she thinks is an 18 year old boy. A bit young for my taste…but fine. The scene itself is well done and the author goes to great strides to show that this scene is fully consented to by the boy. It’s after the fact that gets me, when it’s revealed that, in fact, he’s only 15 that the book loses me utterly as I discovered a squick I previously didn’t know I had.
Nora is around 30. Soren, her former Master and active priest in the Catholic Church, the one who arranged it is in his late 40s. Just. No.
I’m not against using the lifestyle to aid someone who is lost, but I don’t think a 15 year old is mature enough to really be able to decide that this is what he needs. It’s also said that Nora started this young and that left me unsettled too. There’s just too much room for emotional manipulation in my mind for this scenario to work and honestly, I don’t get how a 30 year old, very experienced woman, would really find a boy (and yes, a 15 year old is a boy, not a man) that attractive, even if he’s acting as a stand in for the one that she does want to sleep with.
The scene is small and doesn’t have much consequence in the novel, but the second novel picks up with a year later when he’s 17 and he’s starting training to become her submissive. It kind of feels like the cycle beginning anew and that just doesn’t work for me.
If you don’t like kink, you won’t like this book because there’s very little that’s truly vanilla in here. If you do like kink, whether or not you’ll like the book is whether you can get around Michael’s age.
If you don’t mind the above – borrow it.
If you do – skip it.
I will say that the series has a large following so it’s either not bothering people or people are willing to overlook it because of the derth of good kink that’s out there. It’s kind of hard to say. They don’t dwell on the age too much so it may be easy for you to just mentally age him up and then be fine with it. For me though, I just can’t. I’ll stick to the internet instead.