Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-285-3
Contemporary Erotica, 2015
Harvey Caine thinks he’s Bruce Wayne. His parents died, so he now spends him time brooding in the dark – literally – while being cared for hand and foot by an elderly family retainer. When he’s not planning to seize his family company back from his aunt, he is generally acting like he’s the biggest dope of a mope. One fine day, the retainer’s niece Kelsey Marley shows up, startling him by taking none of his “Ooh, I’m a brooding emo hunk, watch me act like a big jerk and shiver in desire!” nonsense and sassing him back. When she lets on that she’s a Domme and she’d love to play with him… if he’d let her, oh, he is very tempted indeed. Will a proper Mistress be what he needs for Christmas, to beat his head back out of his rear end?
Many mainstream BDSM stories, especially those written just to cater to the erotica market, tend to make me wince because the authors seem to assume that a dominant’s role is to watch like a hawk for any transgressions on the sub’s part in order to start flogging rear ends like an overzealous headmaster of a boarding school. I’m pretty sure there should be more to such a thing than just “Aha! You made a mistake – whack, whack, whack!” drama.
The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain is interesting in that it is just not about physical domination. Kelsey spins her web by slowly reeling in Harvey with erotic mind games, so in many ways, she is kicking off the show with some mental domination as a prelude to the next level of their relationship. The whole thing is fascinating, and raunchy as well. This is subjective, but I like how the author gets down and dirty with words but still manages to come off as a classy kind of raunchy instead of crass or, worse, trying too hard to write sexy. The steamy sexual tension and naughty antics keep me turning the pages, so I guess for the most part, this book is delivering the most where it counts!
The characters are pretty alright. They are rather familiar characters – he’s tortured and angst-ridden, she feels guilty about luring Harvey on under false pretenses (she’s actually getting $50,000 to be a Domme to Harvey over this short period of time) – but these characters are developed well enough to ensure that they are not just cardboard cut-outs going through the motions.
My only issue is the reason behind Kelsey’s hiring and the secrets held by the family retainer – when the whole thing comes out, all the secrets come together for a rather outlandish back story topped with an even more outlandish reason for Harvey to introduced to the submissive lifestyle. I am also not sure what to make of the use of feminine comparisons in scenes and context related to Harvey being a submissive. He’s blushing “like a schoolgirl”, for example, and he is waiting for Kelsey to come to him “just like Rapunzel”. I get this unfortunate implication that being a submissive is inherently a “female” thing, and a macho man like Harvey should feel self-conscious about his masculinity coming under fire for enjoying the submissive lifestyle. Come on, guys can be open and proud submissives too – what is there to feel self-conscious about?
All that aside, this one has been a most entertaining type of steamy read. Just in time for Christmas too!