Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank J.A. Rock for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Loose Id BY HIS RUES. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed BY HIS RUES. You can find the review here.
Retro Reads Spotlight with JA Rock
- We are here today to talk about By His Rules. What can you tell us about it?
BY HIS RULES was my first romance novel. Prior to that I wrote mostly horror/SF/genreless creepy stuff. I had a blast writing BHR, even though I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I’d never written explicit sex scenes before, and…yeah. I learned a lot! BHR focuses on a young actor, Aiden, who’s skilled at role-playing other men’s kinky fantasies, but thinks what he’s longing for is a “real” dom. He ends up in an abusive relationship with a man named Scott, and after Scott fucks him up, he develops a friendship, and later a domestic discipline relationship, with a man named Keaton. Through DD, he discovers that what he’s wanted all along isn’t someone to control him, but someone to guide him in ways that extend outside the bedroom.
- Tell us more about Aiden and Keaton?
Aiden’s kind of a secret brat. He’s twenty-three, and has functioned fine on his own as an adult until now, but once he realizes that Keaton will give him a safe space to free fall emotionally, he definitely tests the boundaries and lets himself act out.
Keaton, meanwhile, has a care-taking fantasy he’s never really gotten to explore. He’s got a deep need to be in control, but not in an in-your-face, my way or the highway kind of way. He just loves the idea of being able to support someone emotionally.
- What about By His Rules makes you the proudest?
I think just getting the chance to join writers like Fabian Black and Sean Michael and Rolf & Ranger in representing Team DD in the M/M world.
- If you could change one thing in By His Rules what would it be and why?
I would change so many things! But if I could pick one thing…Hmm. I’d probably give the characters more layers. My favorite thing about writing has always been creating characters you don’t know whether to love or hate. But when I started writing romance, I wasn’t sure how far I was allowed to go in terms of letting heroes exist in moral gray areas. So I’d love to go back and murk them up a bit!
- Why did you choose to focus on domestic discipline?
I figured if I was going to write a smutty book, it might as well be the kind of smut I like best! I think DD is often misunderstood and mislabeled, so I wanted to present it in a way that felt accessible and realistic.
- What research did you do into this lifestyle?
It was a lifestyle I already knew pretty well. There are some DD participants who’d rather not have their discipline relationships labeled BDSM–because BDSM has sexual connotations, and DD, while very intimate, is not intended to be sexually stimulating. But actually most DD people I know have some overlap in their lives between erotic kink and real discipline. So that’s something I’ve tried to capture in my DD books–that struggle to balance the sexual side of BDSM with domestic discipline. To keep actual punishment separate from spanking games. In real life, that balance can be tricky to find. But it’s doable!
- Will we be hearing more from these two in the future?
Possibly. I got about halfway through a sequel a couple of years ago, but then got caught up in other projects. I’d love to get back to it.
- Tell us about some of your other titles.
After BHR, I did the WACKY WEDNESDAY series, which is a comedy series about a body swapping couple in a DD relationship–and I swear it’s not as paranormal as it sounds. Aside from the occasional body swap, it’s pretty grounded in reality. I got New Adult-kinky with CALLING THE SHOW, a college BDSM hula hooping romance. After that I started writing with Lisa Henry, which has been the most wonderful thing. We’ve explored abuse, H/C, and kink themes in THE BOY series and WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS, and NA kink in the PRESCOTT COLLEGE series.
My most recent solo title was TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, a non-BDSM coming of age story, which was a bit of a departure, stylistically and story wise, from my past romances. And I’ve got some more non-kinky stuff coming out this year. It’s been really fun to branch out!
- Rapid Fire Time
- Red Heads or Blondes? Redheads
- Cook or bake? Bake!
- Coke or Pepsi? I’m a loser and don’t drink soda. But…coke?
- Harry or Draco? Draco
- Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed? People fold their underwear?
- Shave or wax? Is going outside looking like a sasquatch an option?
- Summer or Winter? SUMMER.
- Sweet or Sour? Sweet.
- Coffee or tea? TEA 4 LIFE.
- Boxers or Briefs? Brieeeeefs!
- What are you working on? What is next?
Next month I’m releasing THE GRAND BALLAST, a m/m spec suspense about a dangerous mutual obsession between two men who work in a sex circus. And in October I’m pumped for MINOTAUR, a horror/fantasy retelling of the Minotaur legend with mid-twentieth century orphan girls instead of ancient Greek dudes. And somewhere in there Lisa Henry and I have THE PREACHER’S SON, about the gay son of a prominent leader of a homosexual conversion camp and his rocky relationship with the journalist who once betrayed his trust to make a name for himself.
Lisa and I are also working on lots of other stuff, from new books in THE BOY and PRESCOTT COLLEGE series to choose-your-own-adventure tentacle porn.
Title: BY HIS RUES
Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Aiden Cole can be anything men want–naughty schoolboy, palace slave, virgin twink, or slutty secretary. He’s a gifted actor with a gorgeous body who gives legendary head. Aiden could have his pick of any Top in the local leather bar, but is drawn to Scott Runge–a cruel, sexy Dom who pushes Aiden to his limits, allowing Aiden to experience the excitement and danger of the BDSM lifestyle to a degree he never has before. But when Scott goes too far, injuring Aiden, Aiden withdraws from the BDSM scene completely. Until he meets Keaton Hughes.
Keaton’s looking for something he can’t find in any dungeon: A domestic discipline relationship, in which he can provide his partner with guidance, support, and loving discipline. When Keaton takes Aiden in after Aiden’s traumatic encounter with Scott, he vows not to pursue any sort of relationship with the troubled sub. But as Aiden struggles to overcome the damage Scott has done and get his life back on track, Keaton’s rules might be just what he needs.
On the car ride home, they discussed a production Keaton had seen of one of Aiden’s favorite plays. Aiden grilled him about how the lead actor had approached the role–a role Aiden dreamed of playing one day. Keaton enjoyed the discussion so much that he didn’t have the heart to nag Aiden about drinking his shake until they were almost home.
“You’ve barely taken a sip.”
“Look what I did to the straw.” Aiden held up the cup, grinning sheepishly. He’d chewed the end of the green plastic straw completely flat. “I can’t drink out of it.”
“Then take the lid off.”
Aiden shifted in his seat. “I hate drinking out of Styrofoam cups. I can’t do it without a lid.”
Somebody does have a touch of brat in him, Keaton thought, smiling to himself. Maybe more than a touch.
When they got home, Keaton poured Aiden’s smoothie into a tall glass with a straw and set it on the table in front of him. “Drink,” Keaton said.
“Drink,” Keaton repeated in the same calm, certain tone.
Aiden’s face clouded. He took a few sips. Keaton brought up the play again, but Aiden no longer seemed interested in talking. He pushed the glass away, still more than two-thirds full. “I don’t feel well.”
“You’ll feel worse if you don’t get some nutrients in you.”
“You don’t know everything.” Aiden tipped the glass back and forth in his hand, watching the sludgy drink shift.
“I know it won’t hurt you to drink that.”
Aiden glowered. “I wish you’d mind your own business.”
“That’s hard for me.”
“No kidding.” Aiden took another sip, wincing. “No more,” he said, pushing it away.
“At least half.”
“Goddamn it!” Aiden picked up the glass and hurled it. It cracked into several large pieces on the kitchen floor, and chocolate-peanut-butter sludge coated the floor and the nearby wall.
For a second, Aiden looked horrified, as though he couldn’t believe what he’d done. Every muscle in his body tensed, and he stared at the floor. His breathing became shallow, and he closed his eyes.
First things first, thought Keaton. He’d worry about the mess later. He stepped behind Aiden’s chair and placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders. Aiden flinched, and Keaton ignored it. Keaton moved his thumbs firmly, slowly toward the base of Aiden’s neck, where he rubbed small circles, pressing deep into the knotted tissue. “Easy. You’re all right.”
He felt the boy tense, relax, tense, relax–like a flickering lightbulb. Then Aiden slid out of his chair and bolted upstairs. Keaton decided to give him a couple of minutes before he went after him. He knelt on the floor and picked up the large pieces of broken glass, then sopped up the smoothie with paper towels. He headed upstairs.
Aiden was gagging in the hall bathroom. Without knocking, Keaton opened the door and went in. Aiden was hunched over the toilet, bringing up strings of bile. Keaton hooked an arm around him, supporting him, and rubbed his back in slow, soothing circles. Even when there was nothing left to throw up, Aiden continued to gag and choke.
“That’s enough now,” Keaton said.
Aiden gagged again.
“Shh. Deep breath. You’re okay.” Keaton helped Aiden to the sink to rinse his mouth out, speaking soothingly to him. He wet a washcloth and wiped Aiden’s tear-streaked face. He felt how hard Aiden was trying to contain his sobs. “Let it out,” Keaton said. “It’s fine.” But Aiden tensed and fought harder for control. Keaton led him down the hall and into the guest room. He stripped the boy of his shirt and pants and got him into bed, pulling the covers over him. He sat on the edge of the bed, one hand on Aiden’s shoulder. “Breathe,” Keaton said.
Aiden choked, tears still flowing from his red, swollen eyes.
Keaton got up, intending to get the boy a glass of water, and was surprised when Aiden caught his wrist. “Don’t go,” he whispered.
Warmth flooded Keaton. He sat back down on the bed. “I was just going to get you some water.”
Keaton kicked off his shoes and got on the bed, propping himself up slightly with pillows. He shifted Aiden so the boy’s head rested in his lap. Aiden grabbed the fabric of Keaton’s pants with one hand as if to keep Keaton there. Keaton stroked Aiden’s hair, and after a few minutes, the boy quieted. His body stopped shaking, and some of the tension left his muscles. “That’s right,” Keaton said as Aiden drew a deep breath. “Good boy.”
“Don’t worry. Just rest.”
Aiden lifted his head from Keaton’s lap and wriggled until his thin frame was pressed against the length of Keaton’s body, his head on Keaton’s shoulder. He tipped his face up so that his lips were inches from Keaton’s. Then he leaned in, closed his eyes, and kissed Keaton.
The kiss was soft, brief, and chaste, but the contact jolted Keaton, and for an instant all he could think to do was pull Aiden against him and kiss him all night.
Instead he wound an arm around the boy, cradling him, and brushed his lips against his forehead. “Rest,” he repeated.
Aiden stroked Keaton’s chest through his shirt. “I should do something for you.”
Keaton caught his hand gently, lacing his fingers through Aiden’s. “Not right now,” Keaton said, rubbing Aiden’s knuckles with his thumb.
Aiden’s voice became very small. “Why don’t you want me? Am I really that bad now?”
“That bad?” Keaton repeated, confused.
“That ugly.” Aiden’s voice broke. He swiped his free hand over his eyes.
“God no,” Keaton said, brushing the hair back from Aiden’s forehead. “You’re so beautiful, Aiden.”
“Then why don’t you want me? I’m clean, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“It’s not.” Keaton paused. “Do you want me?”
“Do you really want me, or do you just feel you owe me something? That I expect something from you?”
Aiden met his eyes. “I really want you.”
Keaton pulled Aiden closer, tucked the boy’s head under his chin. “I want you too,” he said softly. “But I think you need time to heal.”
“I’m fine,” Aiden insisted. “You can check if you want. Really.”
Keaton winced. “I don’t just mean physically.”
Aiden pulled away from Keaton. “Why does everyone think there’s something wrong with me?” he demanded. “I’m not fucking scarred for life. I knew what I was doing with Scott. Nothing happened that I didn’t ask for!”
“What do you mean when you say ‘ask for’? You actually requested he do what he did to you? Or you feel you deserved it?”
Aiden looked down. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “I said he could do whatever he wanted, and I’d take it. I said he could train me.”
“But when you told him no, that night…”
“He fucking did it anyway.” Aiden’s voice was full of bitter hurt and confusion. “But he had a right to. It was part of the agreement.”
“Look at me.” Keaton waited until he did. “Did you safe word?”
“Did you safe word?”
Aiden swallowed. “Yes.”
“Then he had absolutely no right to continue. None. Do you understand me?”
About the Author
J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. writes LGBTQ erotic romance and suspense. She also writes queer SF and essays under the name Jill Smith. She lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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