Alphabet Soup (A Russian Bean #3)

Title: Alphabet Soup
Author: CB Conwy
Publisher: Self Published
Genre:  contemporary BDSM m/m romance
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Length: 212 pages/ 58900 words
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

A Guest Review by Feliz

Summary Review: This book showed a different take at BDSM with a caring,  gentle Dom and a confused sub who had to overcome a past trauma in order to find his place in life.

The Blurb: Andy knows exactly what he needs: scenes hard enough to take him out of himself. Then he meets CK, and everything is turned upside down. CK is relaxed and gentle and nothing like what Andy’s looking for. Despite that, or maybe because of it, Andy’s still attracted to the stranger.

CK is new to the city and the club, but definitely not to the scene. Andy’s ideas of BDSM are very different from CK’s, but there’s still something about the man that draws CK. Something fascinating and completely unpredictable. The results can be amazing scenes or complete disasters. Andy is difficult to get to know, and CK has to work hard to find the reason for Andy’s erratic behavior. CK is nothing if not stubborn, though. He’s very determined to help Andy, and Andy’s ready for it, but there’s so much Andy’s trying to forget.

Like the conscientious Dom he is, CK guides Andy’s recovery, one scene at a time. Very much against his principles, CK finds himself falling in love with the man he’s trying to help. Now he has to fight not only Andy’s past, but his own conscience as well.

A Russian Bear Series

The Review: This book is set in the same universe as A Russian Bear, reviewed by Jenre here. The main character, Andy, made a short appearance in A Russian Bear, while in turn Mischa and Tom take a short visit here. Except from this, and except from being both surprisingly romantic stories despite the BDSM premise, these two books have not much in common.

Alphabet Soup focuses  on the psychological side of BDSM. The actual scenes between Andy and his Dom, CK, are mostly physically low-level, “only” some spanking, bondage and toys. This doesn’t do any harm to the dynamics between Dom and sub, though, which were amazing, and neither were the scenes less hard work for both men. Not to mention that they were scorching hot.

A warning in advance:  Those who don’t like to see the heroes have sexual interactions outside the main pairing might give this one a pass, since there is an on-page scenes with Andy and someone else, where CK is present and agreeable to, but doesn’t take part in.

Andy knows that he’s a sub, and he knows that he needs hard scenes with enough pain that he can get away from himself. Or so he thinks, until he meets CK and the new Dom manages to make Andy almost forget his own name with only one kiss. Now Andy is completely out of his depth. How can something so simple make him feel so good? How can CK take him to such heights using minor pain, gentle touches, or sometimes without touching him at all?

This book surprised me in many ways since it featured a new-to-me aspect of the BDSM lifestyle. CK is mostly about the psychology, the balance of powers. He doesn’t force, but seduces  his subs into surrender. Often enough, his scenes with Andy  turn into something very alike to psychotherapy sessions, leaving the sub shaken to the very core.  (CK is responsible enough to point out that scenes can’t take the place of therapy, though, he even suggests Andy talk to a professional.) CK takes his role very seriously, even takes time off work to tend to Andy.

The caretaker/ nurturer aspect of his Dom personality was in fact CK’s strongest trait, something that carried over into his everyday persona. He is even a bit overbearing at times; in Andy’s place, CK’s mother – henning would most probably have driven me nuts. However, it’s just what Andy needs, even though he teases CK about it once or twice.

We don’t learn much about CK’s background. What he does for a living remains some nebulous corporate job, his age isn’t revealed until late in the story, even his real name remains a secret to the very end. (Actually, I found him being called by his initials a witty referral to the book’s title.) I’d have loved to get to know him a little better in this aspect.

Andy’s everyday life was much more elaborated, from his personal history to his present job in construction. I enjoyed meeting Jeff, Andy’s boss and friend, who is a great guy if there ever was one, and I particulary enjoyed watching Jeff give CK a most amusing ticking-off about Andy.

I really liked Andy, who was well-drawn and multilayered. He’s a physically strong man, courageous enough to own up to his need for submission. Even though he had to endure abuse, masked as BDSM play, Andy is stubborn enough to return to the scene, trying over and over again to find someone who can meet his needs. Still, Andy isn’t above reconsidering what he always took for his personal truth, although it takes someone of CK’s insight,  compassion and persistence to make Andy see the light.

CK, on the other hand, was a bit over the top for me. Yes, he made mistakes, misjudged Andy at first, but once they started working together in earnest, CK almost turned into Andy’s larger-than-life, all-knowing savior. He was perfect for Andy, though, and the chemistry between them was as sizzling hot as their emotional connection was palpable. They made for a wonderful, believable couple, and I was happy to see them finding their HEA.

I can really recommend this book.

The title, Alphabet Soup, by the way, refers to the letters B-D-S-M, which through CK, gain a new significance for Andy.



  • Thanks Feliz! I was reading the review when you mentioned a warning about some readers not agreeing with a certain scene, so it saved me from wanting to read this book and then having my hopes dashed because I don’t agree with it. Sometimes reviewers forget to mention it, even if it is a small scene, so I appreciate you took the time to do so!

  • I am not reading your review because I don’t want to be spoiled by it. 😀

    This book has been on my to-buy list along with another CB Conway; I chose the other one to buy this weekend and just peeking at your review (and the rating you’ve given it) I’m kicking myself. Ah well, this one will be mine shortly, no doubt.

  • I loved A Russian Bear and have this one in my TBR pile. Looking forward to reading it even more now!

  • I bought the book on your recommendation, and all I can say is that, so far (page 33), I’m regetting it. I’m always looking for insights into the psychology of doms and subs, and there’s so damned little out there that I’ll grab at anything that seems to hold promise. If the insights don’t make up for the really offputting clumsy writing, I’ll be fairly pissed. Even if the author does come through, and I’m beginning to doubt that possibility, this book won’t rate any more than a three from me. Sorry not to be able to join the cheerleading squad.

    • Catana,
      I’m sorry to hear that this one seems not to work for you. It’s certainly not a “classical” D/s relationship that’s depicted here. Thank you for commenting with a differing opinion.

  • Feliz
    Thank you for this wonderful insightful review. I will definitely read Alphabet Soup based on your recommendation. I do love BDSM books that depart from the usual trite formula.

  • Thanks Feliz, I’m going to get this before I read your review, now I’ve seen your rating, I loved A Russian Bear.

    • Hi Raine,

      I’d love to learn what you think. This is very different from A Russian Bear and yet just as…. well… sweet, in a way.

      • Really enjoyed the review and the book. You were right about the sweetness. Interestingly I liked CK a little more than Andy, but both were original characters. My only peeve was why did Andy have to be more than a carpenter ? I felt his education was an unnecessary gilding of the lily! Thanks Feliz

        • Thanks for commenting, Raine! I didn’t mind that he was more than a carpenter – it bothered me a little that he didn’t want to stay one. All his reasons for leaving his studies were still there. Oh well, this is fiction, isn’t it?

  • Thanks for this very helpful review. I enjoy BDSM books which have a strong psychological element. I shall certainly go looking for this one.

    • Hi Rachel
      this one certainly has that strong psychology. CK is all about finding out what Andy needs and giving it to him, only to realize that Andy can give him just as much in turn… totally romantic.

  • BIG Conwy fan and I didn’t even reailize this book was out!! Many thanks for th inadvertent heads up! Squee! :biglove: :bravo:


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Aside from owls, I love all kinds of birds, particularly the odd ones. Also dogs, Queen (the band), motorbikes and books.
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