Ellora’s Cave, $6.99, ISBN 978-1843608189
Romantic Suspense Erotica, 2004
This review originally appeared on The Naughty Bits, which is sadly no longer around. It’s now here with Teddypig’s permission.
If there was one thing I could point to in a lot of contemporary BDSM romances and say “Enough already, you bitches!” it would have to be the highly suspect “excuses” for the characters actions. You know the “excuses”… The numerous times I have read the love interest wanted to be a bottom only because she was raised by overbearing parents or was abused as a child is staggering. The number of times I have read that the hero wanted to be a alpha fucking top because he was used to having control in his day job as a CEO or he was raised to be this distant emotionally stunted person and this was the only way he could open up… BLAH BLAH BLAH, WAH WAH WAH. Would you people please cut the typical over generalized pop psychology crap about something not well understood.
Thank you Joey W Hill. Thank you for not attempting to make “excuses” or over generalize why some unique people find the BDSM lifestyle to their liking. Thank you for not smacking my intelligence around and destroying the spell your story weaves while allowing romance readers a brief glimpse inside of the emotions and romantic power of a real BDSM relationship.
Natural Law the second book in the Nature of Desire series and takes us to the city of Tampa. A serial killer is on the loose and Mac Nighthorse with his homicide investigations department has figured out the connection. The victims were all male, straight, BDSM bottoms that went to a local BDSM club called The Zone. Mac goes to his boss immediately and convinces her to let him work this case undercover and join the club and place himself in danger to find this monster.
To the shock of Mac Nighthorse’s boss we find out our stud muffin Mac is not the controlling, strong, alpha male, Master, Top she thinks he should be in private but that he enjoys bottoming to service a Dominatrix in the dungeon.
Mac begins his investigation into The Zone and runs into our love interest Violet Siemanski who is just starting out in the scene as a Mistress but she is damn good at it. Mac and Violet end up doing a scene together that first night and from there the sparks fly. They both have dark secrets they are keeping. What will happen if and when Mac gives into Violet’s demand to serve her?
“It doesn’t surprise me to hear that. You like to test yourself. That’s what you’ve used your Mistresses for. They’re just an extension of your workout, testing your skills to resist weakness.” She kept her tone neutral, but he stiffened up under her touch.
“No. It’s not like that.”
“This is like going to the gym for you, Mac,” she continued, ignoring the protest. “Go to the gym, do twenty reps, go to the D/s hangout, get jerked off by some accommodating Mistress. You’re not invested. You’re high-power, so high-power you’ve never been topped. Because nobody sees those shields you maintain in such a charming way. Nobody has tried to go beyond using that beautiful body of yours and reveal what’s underneath. I’m going to make you beg.”
“I don’t beg. I serve.”
“Well, it serves me to have you beg. You won’t use me or survive me, Mackenzie.”
Damn, just damn! The conversations in this book are nothing one would expect to happen in a typical BDSM scene but they are right on the money in giving the reader the feel and the motives and the underlying emotions happening. Joey W. Hill makes dang sure that a dungeon whipping scene is not just another stupid whipping scene. That electro torture is not just another *yawn* over used butt plug stuck in the ass.
Every action has a purpose. Every reaction is planned for a reason. Every character remains firmly set on their internal needs to either serve or dominate.
“Nice try. I should give your ass a good beating, trying to give orders to a Mistress.” She gave his face a light swat with her nails, was not surprised a bit when his eyes shot fire at her.
“No, Mackenzie,” she said, her lips thinning into a straight line. “You don’t want to fuck me for the right reasons. You just want to erode my control, make me lose my senses so I’ll go easier on you next time. But I’m keeping the reins. I’m not giving up a bit of it, and I’m going to keep pushing you until I have all of you, not just the cock you’re so free with. It’s time you start realizing that having a Mistress means everything is hers, as I said before. Your heart, your mind, your soul and your body. Cock, ass, whatever I want of you is what you give me, and if you can’t get that through your thick skull, it’s going to get way rougher before it gets easier.”
Mac is in for a rough ride here. He tests her limits with as much back talk and unwillingness to cooperate as a bottom as she tests his limits with the appropriate punishment as a Top.
There were moments here that may, for a vanilla reader, look like they are overly abusive and maybe even violent. But… not for me, Oh baby!, I kept reading because it warmed my cold cold Gay Leather bottom heart to see a Mistress so concerned about Mac and his needs to serve as a bottom that she would spend the time and the effort to break him. To me every one on one dungeon scene here is romantic and powerful.
I know, I am a sick pig.
The most powerful and romantic scene for me comes about halfway through the book…
She placed a hand on his shoulder, leaned forward to put her parted lips against his ear. “This is going to be a hard ride, Mackenzie,” she whispered. “Everything that happens to you here is my will, for your pleasure and my own. I’m going to fuck you hard, and there’s going to be nothing left for you to hold onto except me. I’m tearing everything away. From this moment forward, you’ll always know who your Mistress is, who holds the bit in your teeth.”
“Give it your best shot, sugar,” he said, that spasmodic quiver rippling through his tense muscles. He was scared, she could tell. Scared that she was right.
She knew she was.
Oh fuck! You go girl! Take him down! Make him or break him it’s all the same.
I love love love, this book (I bought hard copy people!) for this reason alone. It maps out the intensity, the attraction, and the dynamics so well and not one minute, not one second, not one moment of any of these dungeon scenes broke that spell for me or made me question the experience or the understanding of BDSM the author possesses.
Joey W Hill, you rock!
There was one problem though I did have with this story and it’s simply my BDSM experience informing my preference as a reader. Joey, you did so well with the BDSM scenes, why did you have to go back to that detective mystery thingy? Why did you take us out of the dungeon that I was so enjoying and make me feel like you had to re-orient on their relationship outside the scene and it had to be kept separate from their roles in the dungeon? I did not experience BDSM as this separate life. I learned to interweave BDSM (or what I was taught as Leather) and it’s protocols and my role into my day to day life with my Top right there to guide me.
Why did you give both these characters backgrounds that implied they had made good friends and acquaintances in the scene but then seem to isolate them at the end of the book? I felt somewhat cheated that you did not show their buddies supporting them as a couple and responding to their coming together in a positive way and show how they handled the BDSM club scene together as a couple. BDSM is not just a sex scene, it is actually more a social scene. I wanted to see that. Not the negative villains you showed us putting them down for their decisions and trying to… well you know… or the vanilla crowd represented in the story giving us their uninformed opinion which meant nothing to me.
I hope you do write a book that changes some of that some day because I feel like you know me, that you understand sick fucks like me, and you describe this balancing act and these BDSM roles and interactions so well. I will not even point to the parts of this book that told me “you knew”. The old Leather protocols you relayed without much fanfare rocked. Those small indicators of how I was formally trained to act as a bottom were there making this story all the more enjoyable and authentic.
The other things missing are minor but did not get fully described for the readers but I understood you were working in a romance format and had to live by it’s “limitations”.
For those of you wanting to know what “limitations” I am talking about…
Monogamy or non-monogamy, is not strictly defined in BDSM so much. (BDSM protocol is not about relationships or emotions, it is about roles and needs.) Now I am talking from a gay BDSM perspective but I have met a few straight couples and well…
Most people who are in BDSM do not do 24/7 roles. Joey shows this going on but does not explain how rare and difficult it is to find people who need or want to bring this into their day to day life and relationship. Most people play at this stuff, not live it. There is a difference and a defined separation between those considered “Players” and those considered “Real” or a “Valid” part of the BDSM community. It’s not snobbery, it just is.
Anyway, the fact I can talk about these differences and describe them while reviewing this book means to me at least you have hit the nail on the head. You made a fictional story that I think gives a window into a real day to day experience that a few people actually live and that is special to me. Thank you again… Grade A
Now about the other books in the Nature of Desire series… I have read them but they tend to veer off into other directions from the type of story presented in Natural Law, some go paranormal etc etc. Some people may like that but I’ll be honest and say I kept looking for more sexy, quirky and fascinating male characters like Mac Nighthorse and not finding that. I still come back to Natural Law as the very effective balance of Hill’s strengths as a story teller and a fine example of a great new voice in M/F BDSM Romance.