Title: The Subs Club (The Subs Club, #1)
Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: Dec 7th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 297 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.
A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.
But…not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.
Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.
I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.
I feel like I have to confess to a few things:
1. I know only the most peripherally available information about the BDSM, D/s scenes, and domestic discipline. I don’t usually read a lot of books with it as the main storyline, because it’s just not my bag. Not in any judgmental way, but more in a, “I don’t roll that way myself, but you have fun and be safe!” kind of way.
That being said, I thought the story handled what could go wrong and why, trust, privacy and the whole Safe, Sane, and Consensual pretty well.
2. I don’t kink shame. Ever. I don’t care what it is you’re into. If you’re into it and you’re safe about it, I am 100% “It’s your life!” and believe it has absolutely nothing to do with me or is any of my business.
So I didn’t understand David’s penchant or inner monologuing of kink shaming he did, especially with the furries and ponies. I kept waiting for an explanation of why he was so against it, but nothing ever really came from it.
3. I absolutely loved and spent the entire book picturing David (AKA The Disciplinarian, AKA PORNSTACHE!) like a younger Burt Reynolds.
Told entirely from the POV of twenty-six year old David who works in a tea store in the mall, loves his friends fiercely and would do anything for them, and enjoys being dominated and disciplined (except sometimes when he doesn’t). David was, to me, a study in contradictions. He was a complete dichotomy. He advocates for safer BDSM but regularly played in an unsafe manner before the death of his friend (and still not very safe after, truth be told). David wants to be a hair stylist, but can’t focus long enough to fill out the forms to sign up for cosmetology school. He wants to be disciplined, but does whatever he can to trigger and run off potential Doms. The list goes on and on and on.
David is also snarky, bitchy, and hysterically funny, which is like a spoonful of sugar for me. It helps everything else go down really smoothly.
The story begins with David returning to Riddle – one of two BDSM clubs in the city, with his three best friends, Miles, Kamen, Gould for an event for the first time since their friend Hal was killed during a scene gone very wrong. David has got a lot of residual guilt about Hal’s death (he was there with him the night it happened, but had been arguing with Hal, stepped outside for a cigarette, and ultimately not been there when Hal was killed during breath play with an incompetent Dom).
In the club, David immediately spots, and is inexplicably drawn to, a man sporting an epic PORNSTACHE! at the bar drinking a root beer.
Big-boned, a little paunchy even. Fucking pornstache, which normally would have been a deal breaker, but his was combined with some additional rugged facial hair that mitigated the situation. And he was mountain man-ish enough that the ’stache seemed not only right, but also necessary.
David wants him, but doesn’t…
Come on, Pornstache. I know you want to spank me.
And then marry me and become my forever companion—except don’t, because relationships are doomed and marriage is an outdated and restrictive institution and hope is futile.
…and is disappointed when Pornstache disappears.
Pornstache vanished into the crowd without so much as burying his face in my ass and giving me mustache burns on my taint. Life was cruel.
Just before the event starts though David spots Bill Henson, the Dom responsible for Hal’s death. When he confronts the club’s owners, Kel and GK, he’s told they’ve reinstated Bill’s membership because “He wants a chance to be part of the community again.”
“Aren’t you afraid he’ll hurt someone again?” I demanded.
“Bill has made a huge effort over the past few months.” Kel was intensely interested in her mug. “We’re keeping an extra-close eye on him to make sure he plays safely and responsibly.”
“Hal’s death was tragic,” GK said. “But it was an accident.”
“I know. I can’t count how many times I’ve accidentally strangled someone during a sex game.” I looked around and offered an air high-five to several people in the café who were staring at me. “Amiright?”
David’s rage over this perceived injustice ends up sparking the idea that eventually turns into The Subs Club, a website David creates for the sole purpose, at first, of allowing Subs to communicate in a private environment the concerns and issues that face Subs in their communities, but evolves into Subs rating their Doms.
David finds Pornstache’s FetLife profile; known as “The Disciplinarian” Pornstache ironically requests only those in good shape under 30 need apply when he is obviously neither of those things. When David first contacts him with what he thinks The Disciplinarian wants to hear, David’s blown off. When he responds being more honest and open he’s given an opportunity to meet with The Disciplinarian for coffee. He finds out The Disciplinarian is thirty-eight, also named David (so he gets the nickname of D) and basically snarks his way into getting to scene with D.
This book has basically two sides: first, David’s scenes and time spent with D and second, the handling of the BDSM scene, with all the communication and trust issues, and the privacy issues with creating a website that basically rates Doms like they’re items for sale on Amazon.
I loved David and wanted him to find the tethering he needed to be the man we really wants to be. But he’s also childish and spiteful and a mess.
The whole situation was ridiculous.
I’d let Hal get hurt. Because of this part of me. The part that was childish and spiteful and needed to push back when someone pushed me. Hal had wanted to annoy me by playing with Bill, and he had, so I’d left him.
I’d left him, and he’d died alone, and maybe he’d been scared. I’d never fucking know.
I grabbed the paper out from under me, un-balled it, and wrote at the bottom I’M SORRY.
I loved how patient D was with David, even at David’s most obstreperous and recalcitrant.
I loved D and how he interacted with David and David’s friends and am not ashamed to say I was hoping for a better ending. I definitely got the glimmer of a HFN, but was hoping for a HEA. That’s really just my romantic’s heart speaking, because the way it ends with their burgeoning relationship is actually pretty perfect for the story. Also pretty perfect for the story, but which also made me sad, was that the heat level is pretty low. I was expecting quite a bit more, but with the exception of one sex scene and a few discipline scenes…there was nada.
I didn’t love the BDSM portion, mostly because it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. There are two overt occasions when David deliberately disobeys D, but instead of being disciplined then (for an actual wrongdoing) D is gentle with him and sends David on his way. It confused me. I was also confused why the club didn’t have monitors in the scene rooms. I mean, the whole reason for the story is because a member was killed during a scene gone wrong, and the owners are all about “keeping an eye” on things, but I didn’t see anything that showed that was happening.
In the end, I enjoyed the story overall. I highlighted a good portion of this book and while most of it is hysterical, it also got me to think about consequences, discipline, and communication. The Subs Club has made me that much more excited for the other stories in the series. I’m really looking forward to them!