A guest review by Jenre
When Sterling Baker discovers the wonderful world of BDSM, he’s ready to literally throw himself at the feet of the spectacular Owen Sawyer, but Owen is unwilling to take on someone so new to the scene—or so he says. Determined to get what he wants, Sterling sets out to convince the doubting Owen that he can be the best sub in the world, the fastest learning, the most obedient.
It’s not as easy as he thinks it will be, and things get even more complicated when Sterling realizes that he’s fallen in love with Owen. With the stakes that much higher, Sterling’s more determined than ever to win Owen over. But now he’ll have to convince Owen they can have more than a teacher/student relationship, more than just good kink.
Bound and Determined is one of those books that other readers kept recommending to me. I’d review a book by Jane Davitt or a book with a BDSM or D/s theme and nearly every time someone would mention this book as a great book to read. Having now read the book I can see exactly why those others readers recommended it to me because it is an excellent book.
The story begins with Sterling, a college student in his final year, attending a BDSM club with his friend Alex. A few weeks earlier Sterling had stumbled upon Alex having sex with a Dom and it lit all sorts of fires in him that he had never considered before. Alex has taken Sterling to the club to get an idea of the BDSM scene and whilst there he meets one of his old professors, Owen, with whom he had an antagonistic relationship in class. Sterling finds himself yearning to be taken on by Owen and introduced to the lifestyle, but there are many obstacles in the way such as the age gap and the fact that Owen used to be Sterling’s teacher.
One thing I found most interesting about this book is that for once I could really see how submitting to another person is beneficial for the sub character in a BDSM story. Sterling is a strong, forceful man who has spent years fighting to get the upper hand over his domineering father. His natural reaction to authority is to push and rebel, so he automatically assumes he is a Dom. After meeting Owen, Sterling realises that what he actually needs is someone to submit to, to have the power taken away from him and allow another to dominate him. This frees Sterling from the struggles in his life, especially those to do with his father. The scenes where Owen teaches this to Sterling, showing how liberating it is to allow another to take over, were extremely well done, especially as we get to see the slow changes in feelings that the men have from BDSM teacher/pupil towards lovers.
Another thing I liked about the book is that it was so much more than just the sex, which again made it different from some other BDSM books that I have read. Although the many BDSM scenes in the book have sexual undertones, the men do not actually engage in sex with each other until quite late on in the book. This meant that many of the scenes where Owen is teaching Sterling about being a sub were more emotion led than overtly sexual. Sterling has many needs and problems and they all have to be dealt with by Owen one by one before he can move onto the next stage. During this time Owen makes just as many mistakes as Sterling and this was another aspect I liked. All too often the Dom is portrayed as a god-like figure who knows all the answers, but in this book Owen doesn’t have the answers, lets his feelings get in the way and occasionally messes up. He seemed, in fact, like a human being who is doing his best to help the man he is falling in love with. I think it helped that we see both men’s points of view, because that means that I was able to understand Owen’s motivations just as much as Sterling’s.
As far as BDSM stories go, this one was very tame in terms of the type of BDSM used in the book. It’s mostly kept to spankings, some scenes where Owen is tied up, a little wax play and the occasional use of paddles and crops. This means that the book will probably be accessible to most readers. As the book is basically following Owen as he teaches Sterling about how to be a sub, there were many times when Owen explains what he is doing and why, as well as how to keep their playing safe. Because of this, I think this would possibly be a good book for someone who thinks they may like BDSM romance and needs a gentle introduction to it. It also helps that the book has a strong romantic theme and I found it interesting that Sterling is the one to teach Owen about that side of their relationship.
There were a couple of niggles about the book. Sterling seemed incredibly isolated for a young man at college. He only seems to have one friend, Alex, and they’ve only met recently. I couldn’t understand why Sterling didn’t have a circle of friends his own age and it was never really explained why he was so much on his own. Another slight niggle is that Sterling’s father is so much of a monster that he tipped slightly too much into overly dramatic in my opinion. We are never told why he treats Sterling so badly, or the motivations behind his deep hatred for his son. As a result he came across as two dimensional and stereotyped.
Despite these niggles, Bound and Determined is still a terrific book. I was glued to it the whole time I was reading and didn’t want to put it down. If you are looking for a BDSM book with genuine, sympathetic protagonists, who are more than just your typical Dom and sub who are defined only by those roles, then this would be the book for you. Highly recommended.