Tag Archives: BDSM

The Story of O…Oh…Ooooooh

story-of-oCurrently living in France, a French friend recently informed me that Fifty Shades of Grey was child’s play compared to French novels, and that if I wanted to better understand BDSM, novels that try and involve romance alongside it, and the reasons people enter into such relationships, I should read classic French tale ‘The Story of O,’  (L’Histoire d’O).She also gave me Emmanuelle, which I confess,  have not yet dared to open.

Second confession – I haven’t actually finished The Story of O. Nor can I honestly say I intend to. O is a successful, attractive young woman, in love with a man named Rene. She agrees to be taken to a chateau on the outskirts of Paris, where she is aware she will be subjected to the fetishes of Rene’s friends. And of fetishes, they have many. Within moments of arriving there, she is blindfolded, and as far as I can make out, raped, every which way possible. She is kept there, before Rene eventually takes her away, and gives her to his friend, Sir Stephen.

I genuinely think I could be down with this sort of thing, if it wasn’t for the constant reminder that O only did it because she loved Rene. She didn’t express any joy at the things done to her, nor does she consent out of any regard for her own pleasure. I think that was my main barrier here. That, and they kept asking her to consent to something before telling her what it was. This was actually where I stopped reading…a big fat labia piercing with a tag on. It sounded beyond painful, and the squeamish side of me that I try to hide came out in force. No freakin’ way could I read it.

All in all, it was an interesting foray into the world of BDSM. For anyone who thinks they may or may not be inclined that way, it is definitely worth a read, even just to better outline a person’s limits.

As previously said, I must conclude that if at any point O had revealed that she liked, enjoyed or even relished any of the things done to her, I may have gained more from the book. But to me, it seemed clear that these activities are better suited to two people of the same persuasion – both partners should be getting pleasure. It shouldn’t be one, man or woman,  doing whatever they deem necessary to make their partner happy, and their partner making demands that don’t consider the feelings of the submissive. In truth, it will be a while before I adequately brace myself for Emmanuelle.

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Pride and Prejudice to Black and Blue – The Evolution of Desire

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Mr Darcy. Though he never dives in the pond and emerges all wet in the book, you can be forgiven for picturing him so. Christian Grey. The modern symbol of naughty sex. These characters are, as far as I can tell, universally recognisable, and it seems, almost every woman‘s type. Yet they, and the stories they come from, are so different it is staggering – so what can possibly be appealing about both to almost all woman of almost every generation?

The differences are innumerable, yet I shall try to list the few that seem the most important. As this year is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, there are some obvious contextual differences. But what matters is that modern women still find old Fitzwilliam appealing, a veritable paragon amongst men. At no point during the Jane Austen novel do the characters have any physical contact. They dance, yet it should be expected that Lizzie would be wearing gloves. The sparks in their relationship fly from the converstaions, striking on the iron of eachothers’ will. Their relationship is clearly tracked, as they do have conversations and interactions, they see and hear each other in public and private. And they dislike eachother.

Let’s compare this now to E. L. James‘ novella. The characters meet, are attracted to one another, and dive straight in to sex, which it would appear, Mr Grey is extremely proficient at. This is hot, but it does definitely lack the depth, the passion – yes, passion can be more than sex – of the Bennett/Darcy relationship. The literal tongue lashings are aplenty, and yes their relationship has its difficulties, but in the end, they are a sure thing. There is absolutely no ‘will they, won’t they suspense’ and in truth, I am yet to know if Ana and Christian would actually like each other outside of the bedroom – they don’t seem to spend much time elsewhere.

The heroines. Ah the heroines. Although, I confess, my interest tends to be piqued more by the guy in the story, if the heroine is some sort of ninny, I lose interest. Enter, Anastasia Steele. I mean seriously. What. A. Drip. She lacks the wit, the intelligence, the humour and the mettle of Lizzie. And Christian is happy with that, as he seeks a submissive partner. Darcy, however, chooses a challenge. The difference is laudable, and the question is quite simple ladies – would you rather be seen as a challenge, or easily tamed? Do you respect a man who wants a woman he has power over, or one whom he sees as his equal? Well, for those Darcy and Grey fans out there, it would appear you want both.

Now let’s be honest. When Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, women had little power, little education, and were praised for the most trivial accomplishments, scorned for pursuing anything challenging. So Lizzie broke through the barriers as a fiery, proud woman. Now, women have careers, have education, make their own decisions and call the shots – so we read novels about men who swoop in and take over. Could it just be that we want whatever we don’t have? That by desiring Darcy, we want the power, strength and pride that women were denied for so long – but by desiring Grey and his whips and chains, we want to revert back to the previous role, relinquish the power we gained and be taken care of? Women are no longer property that can be legally battered (though it obviously still happens), so we read novels about girls who consent to it? Society has evolved, and it would appear, so has desire. Though whether that desire is actually a devolution of women’s rights remains questionable.

P.S. I’m team Darcy.

P.P.S Here’s a picture of Colin Firth

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Book Review – Naked by Raine Miller (Book 1 of the Blackstone Affair)

ImageI recently read Naked by Raine Miller, and was pleasantly surprised. I can’t honestly rave about it, just because, having read Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You, I’m getting a little bored of the formula – young girl, older guy, instant connection, lots of money, tortured pasts, and BDSM undertones.

The book is set in London, and as a Brit, I was a little disappointed that little research seemed to be done by the American author. Things like Advil and Strip Malls are mentioned, which do not exist in the UK, and she describes him being wealthy and driving a hefty four by four. Housewives and stay at home mums drive those in the city, wealthy guys go for a nifty sports car to get through London’s tiny streets.

However, enough negativity. This is still worth a read. The characters, though predictably flawed and damaged, are actually likable and have an element of depth. Their meeting is interesting and original (he buys a nudey photo of her) and the sex scenes are scorching.

As a leading man, Mr Ethan Blackstone is excellent. He’s the tough guy that’s a softie, the classic male combo of strength and gentleness, a bundle of contradictions, just how women like it. He is based on David Gandy, male model extraordinaire, and when I googled this, I suddenly didn’t mind that he had a goatee. But Ethan is cooler than any model, as he was in the army, and is an actual real life manly man, not a guy that poses as one. (Male models don’t do it for me – stop basing  characters on them please.

As with most contemporary romances, their pasts are twisted, though a unique take is placed on the past of Brynne Bennett, our tale’s heroine. She admits that she dealt with her parents’ divorce badly, and became something of a slut. However, she was totally taken advantage of as a teenager and assaulted (absolutely not her fault) but, refreshingly, though this has had an impact on her life, it doesn’t define her. She has friends, she socializes, she has a great career. There is more to these characters than their past, and the way the plot turns, the blocks in their relationship are almost realistic, and not half as melodramatic as in other contemporary romances.

However, the search is continuing for a novel where the heroine doesn’t ‘come’ on demand….

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Counting Down for Sylvia!

Well, any randy readers out their must be licking their lips and cracking their knuckles in anticipation for the third installment of the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day! The predecessors, Bared to You and Reflected in You were both absolute scorchers and, judging by the snippets Ms Day has released so far, the Entwined with You promises to be just as hot!

The Crossfire series details the relationship between Eva and Gideon. Both are fabulously rich. Both are insanely beautiful. He has more power and money than most people could dream of, and she has connections and friends most twenty something career girls would sell their soul for. But before you hate them – they are also both damaged, almost, but not quite, beyond repair. After suffering abuse throughout their childhoods, the pair are finally acknowledging that they struggle with normal relationships, and so hold nothing back in an attempt to not lose each other. The love and passion in this books is amazing, and although their relationship is highly sexual, Sylvia Day also includes the conversations and every day going on that lead to love, a factor which is often missing. Normally, when I read a romance novel, I tend to find the characters in lust over love, but Sylvia Day manages to throw in that little extra something special to tip the scales.

I’m not going to lie, I did not think that I would like these books. Truly, after having been disappointed with the Fifty Shades trilogy, I kind of expected more of the same. In my opinion, this is so much better – unless you were into fifty shades for the BDSM, which doesn’t feature all that much in Crossfire. For a start, despite all that happened in her childhood, Eva is feisty, ambitious and tens to be pretty sure of her own mind. She wants Gideon, but won’t be used for sex, and is determined about that. Her thought processes are clear, unlike Anastasia of Fifty Shades who didn’t seem to ever really know what was happening, and could barely have a conversation with her boyfriend without dissolving into a quivering mess. And Gideon is as rich and powerful and damaged as Christian Grey – but he doesn’t seem quite so isolated or untouchable. His family are more of a feature than Grey’s, which maybe makes him more human, and he doesn’t dictate every mood and conversation.

Although there is some domination/submissive talk in Crossfire novels, it tends to be more of an emotional thing, rather than physical. I mean, yes, Eva like it better when he’s on top or in control, but that’s about it. This is just personal preference: I just don’t get a guy who takes pleasure in hurting a girl. I understood his issues, the control, the tying up and bondage, even the eye contact thing – but when he caned her, I just lost interest. I didn’t get how that stemmed from control, and it sure as hell turned me off. But that is just me. I prefer Gideon’s attitude, which is probably as controlling – but where he would never even dream of hurting Eva ever. not even a little.

Another thing that surprised me was how well Sylvia Day manages to walk the tightrope between erotic and crude. She uses some pretty vile and explicit language – but it works, and there is nothing vulgar or cheap about the lovemaking scenes in the Crossfire novels. She gets the balance right, which is really hard to do.

Seriously, start rereading the first two books now, and bring on June!

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