Author: J.A. Rock
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/07/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: BDSM, Bisexual, Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction
A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.
A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.
But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.
Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.
I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.
The focus of this book is the BDSM community in which these characters live, work, and play. It’s on the friendships and relationships, and these experiences they share, for better or for worse. It’s about change and growth and the struggles that accompany both. This is BDSM fiction. It is not your “typical” BDSM story, no unfortunate clichés here. This is full of heart, loss, reality, hope, uncertainty, and beauty. Oh and, of course, humor.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Page three and I was already relating to Dave, our host and heartbeat throughout this book:
I felt responsible for how the night went, like an enthusiastic dad overseeing a lame family vacation.
Yes, yes, and yes. I understand, Dave, I understand. And this is actually what proves to be a large key to Dave, his personality, how he deals with loss, and the decisions he makes, the things he does for his friends. He often puts others before himself (even if he doesn’t quite recognize that’s what he’s doing) and has forgotten how not to be the cheerleader, the entertainer, filling a particular role, one that now feels restrictive and prohibitive.
As usual, at least it feels that way for me, Rock creates characters and gives them a story by which they make me feel a part. There’s no separation between me and these characters and what they’re feeling and why, and the influence those feelings have on them and their ways of coping with their lives. It doesn’t take long for me to curl up with this story near the proverbial fireplace, cuddled under blankets, the rest of the world slipping away.
Dave and his friends – Miles, Kamen, Gould and, to a lesser extent but weighted importance, Ricky – are a very close-knit group, of different ages and points in their lives, and therefore dealing with various changes. They’re imperfect, playful, grieving and yet joyful, and all of this takes place amidst their local BDSM community. What’s frankly cool about this book is just that: the community plays a role just as much as the individual relationships or acts that occur within them related to BDSM activities. In other words, we get a complete picture. I haven’t come across too many stories that fit this description.
One of my favorite things in any story is when characters put each other off-kilter, causing unexpected reactions and emotions. Ya know, like us regular human folk do:
”One last warning. Lose the attitude.”
“I’m not playing anymore.”
“Neither am I…”
We glared at each other.
This is Dave. This is Dave not expecting things to go the way they’re going. What will Dave be like as this continues? Hmmmmm! This is a small but significant jumping off point for this entire journey that is Dave.
This is also Rock and her abilities to relay and evoke emotion, pulling it from me, holding my undivided attention. This also feels like Rock is experiencing the same kind of transition in her storytelling as Dave is in his life: mid-phase, moving from one level to the next, experimenting, shifting ideas and trying on new combinations to see what works, what feels right. It shouldn’t be, but it often feels like a surprise when life tosses several new puzzle pieces our way and then we have to work to find where and when and how they slide into place.
Dave and his group of friends, and their personalities, are organically revealed through conversation, bits and pieces of their lives being shared. There’s a catch-22 in utilizing this way of introducing so many characters all at once and early on. Several times I chose to re-read passages to make sure I didn’t miss something, as well as in an attempt to get a better feel for Gould, Kamen and Miles. It might have been worth it, and read just fine, to somehow incorporate more detail about each of them, giving me something more substantial on which to imprint.
Interestingly, this approach succeeds when it comes to the interactions between Dave and D, or Sir, from the beginning. I could go on for pages about the arc of this storyline – which is one of several – in examining the meaning of, the ways these two can and do help each other, what their futures might hold. Really. Pages and pages.
Remember what I said in my intro about this being BDSM fiction? That holds true for the specific scenes and some of the conversations between these characters. The physical acts, the implements used, the emotional impact and importance many of them carry, they’re all here and unmistakably so.
There was always an inner battle after a punishment. I felt too embarrassed to want to be comforted, but I craved contact so badly.
Lest I forget, lest you all think me utterly remiss, I shall address the humor contained within this book. Part of Rock’s fabulocity in telling stories is her keen sense of humor, which is wide-ranging and works to inform us about her characters. Those awkward moments we’ve all experienced, or the seemingly mundane activities that somehow manage to spark a connection, or the snappy flow of dialogue that demonstrates the closeness of those participating. Guess of which this is an example?
I sucked until I dislodged a cookie piece from my straw.
Yes! I too have battled with a determined cookie or candy bit daring to impede my enjoyment of said treat. I too have done so while in conversation with friends or “deep” thought with myself, both a gleeful contrast to my puckered mouth imbibing what some would call the nectar of the gods. Well, one of them anyway. A single sentence like this can, and does, bring me immediately into the scene. Ice cream headache, be damned.
I also own a copy of this book.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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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