Out of the Fire

Title: Out of the Fire
Author: Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M & M/M/M Contemporary BDSM Romance
Length: 281 Pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Evan Nichols likes his nice, quiet life in Boston. An established and respected Dom in the BDSM scene, he isn’t looking for a sub, a slave, or a 24/7 relationship. Then a phone call from his best friend and fellow Dom, Rhys Calhoun, shakes up his comfortable routine. Rhys needs Evan’s help to rehabilitate an abused sub—a sub Rhys has fallen in love with. Evan has misgivings, but he could never say no to Rhys, any more than Rhys would ever refuse to help him.

Before he knows it, Evan finds himself at Rhys’s home in Las Vegas with a sub who can barely stand to be in the same room with him and a Dom whose emotional involvement threatens his control. Add in the sexual attraction that’s always simmered between Evan and Rhys, and it’s a situation that has the potential to go very, very wrong. Determined to heal both Takoda and Rhys, Evan doesn’t realize how many assumptions about his own life will be called into question as he tries to help them find their way forward together.

THE REVIEW

Out of the Fire begins with Evan travelling from Boston to Las Vegas to help his friend, Rhys. Both men are Doms in the BDSM world, but they have also been best friends from childhood. Their close friendship has caused a lot of problems for them in the past with jealous ex-lovers and also because, despite their love for each other (which borders on the fraternal), their similar personalities cause friction between them. However, when one of them is in need of help, the other immediately springs to their aid. In this case, Rhys, who runs a BDSM club, has taken in a young inexperienced sub and ex employee who was kidnapped and brutally raped by a member of Rhys’ club. Takoda is now so traumatised that he can barely function and all Rhys’ efforts to get him to come out of his shell has failed. Rhys is hoping that Evan, as another Dom, will be able to reach Takoda and send him on the road to recovery.

I have to admit, the initial premise is a little unrealistic. Surely when someone has been abused to such an extent that they are too frightened to even function properly, then they will have been hospitalised and be treated by the medical profession rather than have two BDSM Doms rehabilitate them? However, I chose to go with the story and found myself drawn into this curious book which in many ways reads as a BDSM handbook.

Once Evan arrives at Rhys’ house he sees almost immediately that Rhys and Takoda are in love with each other. In fact, it is the strong feelings of guilt and love that Rhys has for Takoda which is preventing him from properly rehabilitating him. Once Evan realises what is happening, it doesn’t take him long to bring Takoda round. Takoda wants to be Rhys’ sub, but he knows little about the BDSM scene, other than what happened to him during the kidnapping. Rhys is so frightened of hurting Takoda that he is unable to initiate Takoda into the scene properly. Evan then offers to show Takoda how to be a sub on the condition that Rhys is in the room and subs too. What follows is a step by step look into the BDSM scene as each stage of the journey that Takoda takes is explained thoroughly beforehand and then acted out in a number of ‘scenes’ which scatter through the book.

I’ve put that this book is a m/m/m and it is, sort of. The main pairing is Rhys and Takoda but the three men perform BDSM scenes together. Having said that, Evan tends to control the scene using Rhys to perform all the acts on Takoda. This is deliberately done, as Evan’s main intention is to get them to work in a D/s relationship, not for him to get involved directly. This meant that, apart from one point in the book where Takoda and Rhys use hands and mouths to get Evan off and another BDSM scene involving just Rhys and Evan, most of the sexual interaction is between Rhys and Takoda only, with Evan either observing or directing. Evan is the third person narrator in the story and so we never get any of the other character’s thoughts. This often meant that I too felt like I was viewing the relationship between Rhys and Takoda from a distance and it isn’t until the introduction of Patrick, the sub who Evan wants to start seeing outside of the BDSM club, that I really felt involved in a romantic subplot.

The book follows a pattern as we progress through the pages. The three men talk for a long time about various aspects of the BDSM scene and how their own ‘scenes’ are going to work out. This is for Takoda’s benefit, so that he knows exactly what is going to happen to him as he’s still very skittish. Then a scene will be performed. Alongside this are several problems which spring up due to Rhys and Takoda’s feelings for one another and it’s then Evan’s job to try and sort out how to resolve these issues. Then the men move on and the whole cycle starts again. Each time the three men have made improvements to their problems until it gets to the stage where Evan is happy to go back to his life in Boston.

This book will not appeal to everyone. There are a lot of points in the book where all the characters do are talk to one another. A lot. This makes the book very static and even the BDSM scenes don’t break that up too much because they always happen in the same place. I personally liked this as I enjoy character based stories and the way that the characters interact with one another was this book’s greatest appeal. The BDSM scenes came over as being more educational rather than sexy at times, but again that fit within the context of the book. Finally, this book is very heavy on angst as it’s about recovery from rape, plus all the characters take themselves very, very seriously – there’s no humour to lighten the intensity of the plot. Occasionally, I found I had to take a break from the heaviness of the plot, but it didn’t take long before I was picking up the book again as I found myself wondering about the characters and how their stories would work out.

Overall, I found this book to be a fascinating insight into the BDSM scene. Every facet of how to live in a D/s relationship was taken out and explored alongside a plot which involved having love, as well as sex, in the life of the characters.  I would recommend Out of the Fire to those readers who may have never read a BDSM book before and may wish to try one and also for those readers who like character based stories.

11 comments

  • Great review! This book was a good picture of choreographed BDSM scenes. It had good characterization. I ended up favoring the secondary characters.

    My intro into BDSM books was through Joey Hill’s Natural Law Series. The M/M book of the series is Rough Canvas, an amazing read.
    Rough Canvas is the first M/M book I ever read. It is not reviewed on this sight but it is on the best of list.
    Happy reading!

    Reply
  • Thank you Jenre. I haven’tr read many BDSM books at all, and I’m thinking perhaps this might be a good place to start? Plus, I like character-driven books…and angst 🙂

    Reply
  • I’ve read another review already and that wasn’t as good as yours, Jenre, so I still have mixed feelings about reading this although the idea of reading some kind of a “D/s relationships 101” book has its appeal.
    I’ve been on the lookout for BDSM stories that include scenes going wrong, like for example in Claire Thompson’s Golden Boy. I always wonder, especially when there’s an abused sub thrown in the mix, why everything works out so smooth. No need of the safe word, no under- or overestimating of limits – well, you get the idea. Or are all Doms and subs so terribly well experienced and trained and sensitive for the other’s needs that nothing ever would go wrong?

    *

    So, does this happen in the story? I’d realy like to read about something like that happening and how those involved would deal with it. (Sorry if I strayed from the topic!)

    Reply
    • Hi Lilli
      I get the impression that this will be a book that you will either like or loathe. I liked it but I can understand why someone may not enjoy it as I did.
      *
      In this book all the rules of a BDSM scene are discussed at length beforehand including things like the necessary use of not just a safe word but an ‘amber’ safe word to allow the Dom to back off a bit but not stop the scene entirely. There isn’t a scene that goes wrong in terms of the sub but at one point Rhys ends the scene early and flees the room because he feels he can’t deal with hurting Takoda in the light of Takoda’s previous abusive experience and is unable to gauge the correct level to give pleasure without going too far and really hurting him.
      *
      Hope this helps :).

      Reply
      • Thanks, Jenre, for giving me such an detailed answer to my question! That all sounds like the story is a good mixture of basic BDSM theory and romance. I’m still not sure about it but I’ll keep your review in mind, definitely. 🙂

        Reply
  • I have mixed feelings about this one. There is a lot of talking going on and I am not sure if I like the way the book is set up. The Takoda /Rhys story takes most of the book (which is very very sweet) while Evan is the narrator. I would have liked to see more from him.
    Another minor thing was the name Takoda, it sounds so Japanese in stead of Indian.

    Reply
    • Hi Ingrid
      I felt a bit like that too at times. This was why I was pleased that the Evan/Patrick dynamic was brought into the book.
      *
      I also thought Takoda was Japanese until they mentioned he was of Native Americal descent.

      Reply

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