For One Night Only

Title:For One Night Only
Author: Anne Brooke
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M BDSM
Length: 10k
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Raine

Summary Review: Compelling, uncomfortable and unforgettable.

Blurb: Jake Morrison’s position as Dom has been deeply shaken by his unwitting role in the recent death of his sub. When he’s allowed back into Langley’s Pleasure House after a six-month ban, he longs to make amends in any way possible.

Club-owner Langley’s surprising request for an unexpected encounter, however, tests Jake’s sense of purpose to the core. He’s willing to learn, but the lesson might not be one he expects…

Review:

Perhaps surprisingly when I read this, I was reminded of some lines by my favourite poet Gerard Hopkins:

O the mind, the mind has mountains, cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no man fathomed.

This was primarily because much of Anne Brooke’s focus here was on the fascinating psychology of her characters. This short story is a carefully crafted piece of work, almost an analysis of the clearly complex concept of power in BDSM. There is a judicial balance between the two sexual encounters described that reinforce the lesson of this BDSM morality tale. It could have been subtitled The Inattentive or Selfish Dom. Jake’s description of how his scene with Andrew fell into painful tragedy is disturbing, not least because of Jake’s inability to realise at that time how much common human empathy he was lacking.

Six months after the event he has some realisation of how much he failed, but his journey has only just started. The scene at the club which is in the nature of a test is as disturbing in its own way as that with Andrew. There are moments which genuinely caught my breath in surprise. This very intimate scene is a combination of  “physical and emotional punishment” and is creatively focused. Some moments mirror the original scene but are with a careful precision played so very differently. There is an irony to the scene that cuts like a scalpel.

Jake is not a particularly attractive personality, and indeed that is part of his strength in this work, which is as much about dissection as it is an initial step toward resolution. Early in the story, Jake says to Andrew:

Of course, it’s about sex. Isn’t that what we’re doing? Getting each other off in the most satisfying way we know.

Later Jake realises how much more there is to the emotional power he likes to wield when he more genuinely, not superficially, cares about how his sub feels. Power has it’s responsibilities beyond getting off, however his own quiet and cathartic moment of truth comes when he recognises how he uses feelings and what that means in relation to himself.

Langley’s personality is an intricate counterpoint to Jake’s mixture of cold and hot temperament. His emotional responses are evolved and I found him an intelligent and fascinating character.

I thought this was a compelling piece of writing, which I appreciated perhaps rather than enjoyed. It wasn’t an easy read with perhaps more reality than I usually like. It felt like a real representation of BDSM to me; emotional and sexual complexities displayed with necessary checks and balances.

Recommended

BDSM — dub con, paddling and exhibitionism

14 comments

  • I’m glad you’re going to read A Dangerous Man. But beware. It’s heavy going, with no HEA.

    Everybody has different requirements for their reading. Mine is psychological depth. That’s why A Dangerous Man worked for me and For One Night Only didn’t. I felt as if I was expected to accept Jake’s changes without being given much insight into how they happened.

    Reply
    • Yeah Raine, personally (it is of course your decision) I highly recommend that you read Maloney’s Law and Bones of Summer first and see if it is not too heavy for you. A dangerous man is heavier :). I also felt that Bones of Summer at least offer hope ahead for Paul and Greg. I am not sure that A dangerous man offers anything to that effect. It is a great psychological portrayal of the main character though, really good.

      Reply
      • Thanks Sirius,

        you know my limitations and that weakness for a HEA or at least a HFN. 🙂 I’ll work my way through the books in that order.

        Reply
    • I don’t think Jake has changed much yet. He has felt empathy and remorse, but has only just started on the self knowledge from that
      one scene with Langley. He has a way to go before real change sets in. The deeper psychological change – for Jake – is in the future.

      Ok I’ll shut up now. Thanks Catana I’ve enjoyed this.

      Reply
  • Did buy it. Read it. Was somewhat disappointed. Doesn’t have the depth of A Dangerous Man. It’s a short story, of course, but it did feel somewhat superficial as far as getting into Jake’s head. A few hundred more words would have done it nicely without dragging it out.

    Reply
    • Hi Catana

      for me I liked that it didn’t spell out what was going on inside Jake’s head. It was all about being in the absolute moment of the physical scene and the mental self knowledge that came just after – which was quite tentative as he is only at the beginning of learning about himself.

      I read it three times for the review and I found it became richer each time.

      It is so interesting that what for me was a plus for you is a minus! 😕 I will be getting A Dangerous Man. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Reply
  • Thank you for helping me decide to read this story. Other reviews have left me ambivalent about it. But having recently read A Dangerous Man, I’m now sure that this isn’t just another of those superficial BDSM attempts to turn readers on. I think I’m becoming a Brooke fan.

    Reply
    • Absolutely not superficial in any way, Catana. Having read other stuff recently I’m sure of that. I’m with you on becoming a fan.

      Hope you find it as interesting as I did. 🙂

      Reply
  • You should! 🙂 It may leave you with unsettled feeling, but she is portraying characters in such depth, even if they are too damaged to have perfect HEA yet. But you believe in her characters (at least I did) and it does not feel as piling on lots and lots of angst (at least it did not to me ;)).

    Reply
  • Great review Raine, I really liked this one for all the reason you described. I usually enjoy Anne Brooke’s works a lot. Have you read Maloney’s law and Bones of summer?

    Reply
    • This was the first work by Anne Brooke that I’d read and I have Wave to thank for the introduction. I have now also read The Delaneys and Me which was so different to this and a real kick, but so so so short.

      I haven’t read the two you mentioned, I’m guessing I should?
      Oh have just reread The Elegant Corpse…..gets better each time I read it.

      Thanks Sirius 🙂

      Reply

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