Tag Archives: bdsm

Review of The Subs Club (The Subs Club #1), by J.A. Rock

The Subs ClubI received a copy of J. A. Rock‘s The Subs Club from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
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.

—Dave

Review:
Sorry, this is a little bit of a discombobulated review, but I can’t decide how to rate this book. In some ways I really liked it (it was funny and witty and subversive) but in others it fell flat for me. And I’m not certain how much of that is the book and how much is that a lot of it just isn’t my kink. I get the pain aspect and thought some of it was hot, though it surpassed my comfort margins. But I can’t blame the book for that; it’s a subjective complaint. As is the fact that I don’t really care for the discipline kink.

[Slight spoiler] But I think the book also felt a little heavy on the BDSM safety lectures and negotiations. This was problematic for me because I kind of thought it was a bit of a ripple in the plot. David started The Subs Club to keep subs safe, instead of going to the existing panel discussions, because the people who come to the discussions were the same-old, same-old and the people who were problematic don’t come. But the happy conclusion to this was that he got to lead a regular panel discussion. OK, yeah, there was the new reporting path created too, but I have a hard time thinking the owners of the club hadn’t been open to that to start with. So, it seemed like an unfortunate concession in the end, which it may have been, but it still left me less than satisfied. But again, am I just being overly critical because that aspect of the book didn’t grab me enough to stop over-thinking it? I don’t know.

Having said that, outside of David’s ‘this is how it should work’ mental mastication (which, though heavy, was much less didactic than a lot of such books), I enjoyed Dave’s insistence on his right to safe words, hard limits and to be treated as a person with agency even as a submissive. Really, in some ways this is what the book is about. How to maintain the passion and spontaneity and danger while also remaining safe, especially when your confidence has been shaken.

I’ve seen a number of reviews refer to David (Pornstash-David) as Ron Swanson. I’ve never even seen the show, but I’ve seen enough memes to get the picture and I couldn’t help but picture him that way. It worked and I liked him a lot. I thought he and sub-David were funny together. I enjoyed the side characters and look forward to reading their books in the future. I loved sub-David’s inner monologue and, though I’m not at all familiar with real life BDSM, I liked that mistakes were made, mold existed, toys had to be sterilized, negotiations happened, etc., etc., etc. I liked that this felt like less of a fantasy BDSM book than most. Though, that’s just as likely to be the effect of a talented writer that can hide the fantasy element of the story as anything else.

Review of Stalked (The Slayers #2), by H.C. Brown

StalkedI received a copy of Stalked, by H. C. Brown, from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Who’s more dangerous – a stripper, an assassin, or a serial killer?

The Stripper Ripper is stalking the streets of New York City, preying on male strippers, and the press is making mincemeat of a helpless police force.

In desperation, the police refer the serial killer’s case to the Slayers, a team of enhanced, undercover super soldiers. The commander of the Slayers puts his team on the streets to watch over the Ripper’s favorite targets.

One of these targets is Micah, a twink stripper and a desirable sub. Micah’s baby sitter is one of the newest members of the Slayers, Sorren, as cold-blooded an assassin as they come, and the last person you’d expect to harbor feelings for his charge.

True to form, Sorren is as surprised as anyone at his new infatuation, but Micah is hiding something. Will Micah learn to trust his protector, or is he destined to be the next victim on the Stripper Ripper’s list?

Review:
When I finished this book and went to Goodreads, to write this review,  I discovered that this is a second in a series. I wouldn’t have picked it up if I had known that. I like to read series in order. But I don’t think having read the first book would have made me like it any more. But I am always baffled why publishers don’t put that information on book covers. It’s freakin’ important!

Anyhow, this book was a fail for me. My overall impression was of overpowering, almost unbearable cheesiness. Everything about The Slayers was too perfect. Sorren flashed cash constantly, bought Micah new clothes, pampered his cat, had an easy solution for everything, etc. As an example, at one point Micah demands $1,000 a night as a fee in order to accept a job. This is apparently the going rate for a skilled dancer. (I don’t know.) The counter offer was an apartment in the five star building, food, living expenses (hair cuts, clothes, massages, sex are listed as examples), and $5,000 a show. Um….too good to be true and painfully unbelievable. But pretty par for the course of a book trying too hard to be like a fairy tale.

But my main complaint was with the characters. There was no depth at all, no history, no development. And as much as I like the occasional growly alpha a-hole, Sorren was just a dick. Here’s a quote: “No! I refuse to discuss limitations, or contracts. I am a Dom and in my dungeon, we go by my rules. I will push you to the edge and you will trust me to give you pleasure.” That pretty much sums the book up. That’s the level of trust and communication presented as the norm. Keep in mind that these men have known each-other less than a day and this is his response to Micah’s request for boundaries.

There’s an earlier scene, in which they had known each-other less than an hour and Micah asks Sorren if he’s into edge play, ’cause for Sorren Micah claimed to be willing to learn it. Micah had never done more than be spanked and they were no discussing kink, but hey let’s throw this random one out as an invitation. No matter that less than an hour earlier he’d watched his best friend get his throat slit and been stabbed himself. Of course knife play is gonna be exactly what the reader expects him to be fantasizing about. WTF? What the actual f*ck?

Basically, I found the plot anemic, the use of “I’m a Dom” to excuse and explain almost everything in life irritating and artificially highlighted, the cheesy ‘Dom-speak’ like sandpaper, the villain cliche beyond words, the events predictable, Micah was TSTL, there are a number of inconsistencies/contradictions, and the whole thing (almost every aspect of it) rushed and underdeveloped. The actual writing itself was fine. The book is easy enough to read, but not much of what was written actually appealed to me personally.

Light a Candle (Club Velvet Ice #4), by V. J. Summers

Light a CandleI received a copy of Light a candle, by V. J. Summers from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Will broke Dusty’s heart their senior year. One unexpected moment of passion between them, and Will freaked out. Not only wasn’t he gay, but he wasn’t kinky either—or so he insisted to Dusty. Their long friendship ended, and Dusty was left with only bittersweet memories of their last movie night together.

Ten years later, out as gay and a Dom, Will auditions for membership at Club Deviant, only to find that he’s been assigned an all-too-familiar submissive. His scene with Dustin feels like fate, and he’s determined to get back what they once had—and more.

Dustin had buried the pain of rejection deep, but playing with Will conjures all his memories of that one electric moment they shared and the friendship it destroyed. He’s built walls around his heart high enough to keep out the Trojan Army, but together, he and Will may find the courage to move beyond their past and face their future together.

Review:
OK, to start with, until I sat down to write this review I didn’t realize this was a fourth book in a series. I would never have picked it up if I had. I generally avoid latter books in a series, even if they are stand alone. But it’s read now and, who knows, maybe I would have liked it better if I’d read the previous three books. Maybe not, because I don’t know that my complaints resulted from anything related to the series itself.

Now, I don’t want to infer that I didn’t like the book, just that I had complaints. First, the characters are paper thin. Seriously, with the exception of the flashbacks, over the several weeks of the book, we don’t get a single scene outside the club. So, the book is wholly focused on Will’s pursuit of Dusty and Dusty’s avoidance of giving in. Meh.

Second, I didn’t think what happened between the two as teenagers deserved all that much angst. It just wasn’t that big a deal. They certainly never had a relationship, so claiming Dusty’s heart was broken seems a little extreme. We’re told they’d been friends for years, but we’re given one scene in which Dusty awkwardly invites WIll over to his house, as if they’re just becoming friends. I didn’t buy it.

Third, I get that wax play was supposed to be a big part of this, thus the title. But almost every single sex scene was a wax play scene. For an elite BDSM club they seem to have a very limited repertoire. The thing is, even if I found it super sexy, I’d have been bored with it. But really I thought it was pretty bland, especially Will and Dusty’s big climax scene. Meh.

I hated the Dom-talk. Why do all Doms in these sorts of books have to talk in stiff, complete sentence, call every one ‘boy’ (which just squinks me out, like something that should be uttered only in Deliverance) and never use contractions. Meh.

So, in conclusion, while this was an ok book and some people might be thrilled with it, I remained only mildly interested throughout.