Bound and Determined

Title: Bound and Determined
Author: Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow
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Genre: m/m contemporary BDSM romance
Length: Novel Plus
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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.


  • Great review—this sounds just right for me. I recently read Out of the Fire and loved it, for some of the reasons you seemed to like this one (logical in-story explaining things, imperfect Doms, teaching, etc.).

    The niggles you had sound like reasonable complaints, but ones I’ll be able to overlook. (They sound so easy to address in editing, too!)

    I’m reading a bit more BDSM stuff than I used to (don’t tell my hubby 😉 and this sounds like a great read for me. Another purchase I’ll blame on this site, LOL. Thanks!

  • I really liked the book, and the review closely mirrors my own opinion. Including the fact that Sterling seemed to have very few friends – though there’s an indication near the end (“somewhere to entertain his friends”) that Alex is not Sterling’s only friend. I also agree that Sterling’s father seems a little like a cardboard monster, but I think part of that stems from the fact that most (though not all) of the time we only see him through Sterling’s eyes.

    • Hi Liade
      I remember that reference too at the end of the book. It made me scratch my head a little and think “what friends?”.
      You are probably right about the POV being limiting in terms of Sterling’s father. I was hoping that in the section when Stirling went home for a while that I would see that there was actually two sides to the man – after all why did his wife love him so much if he was just so hateful? But if anything, he became even more overblown. It was a missed opportunity perhaps to show how Sterling’s youth and antagonism towards his father was blinding him towards some of his father’s better qualities.

  • I was a bit interested about BDSM so I thought about reading something with it in…. I picked up ‘uneven’ and have yet to read another book about the subject. I still don’t know if I liked the book as my mind closes down everytime I even utter the title… I am such a wuss!
    Maybe this might ease me back into reading some BDSM


    • Tish
      Even for the seasoned BDSM reader Uneven is tough to take. I read it almost a year ago and I still remember some of the more violent scenes. If you are a wuss as you say you probably need a book with training wheels like this one. 😀

      • Hi Tish
        I’m with Wave on this one. Uneven isn’t really the place to start if you are at all new to BDSM or squeamish about such matters. It’s on my TBR pile and I’m still working my way up to reading it having only read some reviews of it :)!
        I think you will find this a much gentler read if you decide to be courageous enough to try another BDSM book.

  • I read this book and expected more. I liked it, but I couldn’t get quite into like with other stories. This is probably and mostly due to the fact that the writing style of these authors doesn’t really work for me. It’s the same with other books.
    Despite that, it wasn’t that bad a read.

    • Hi Larissa
      I completely understand your reasons why you didn’t like this book so much. Sometimes there are authors whose written style just doesn’t work for me either – and yet they are very popular authors. I happened to like the writing in this book and although it was my first book by this collaboration, I intend to read more by them.

  • Jen
    I’m like Ingrid – I have read so many BDSM books over the years (just today I reviewed another one), that having everything explained in detail might become boring and repetitive. Also the father who is such a monster would grate as well.

    I’ll put it on my TBR pile. Having both the Dom and sub feeling their way in the dark is certainly not new and is reminiscent of Golden Boy/Golden Man which I should review at some point.

    Excellent review of why it worked for you.

    • Hi Wave
      Perhaps one reason why this book worked so well for me is that I haven’t read so many BDSM books, so haven’t had time to be wearied by some of things that may seem overly familiar to someone who has read a lot.
      I haven’t read Golden Boy/Golden Man. I shall look forward to your review of it :).

  • Thanks for the review. I bought this book a few weeks ago, but haven’t read it yet. I will make sure to get to it soon.

  • Thanks for the great review, Jenre, I’ll put this into my TBR pile.
    What caught my interest above all else is your mention about the Dom not being perfect for a change. I’m getting tired about all those unfallible, mind-reading Doms. The only time I read about a Dom misjudging the limits of his sub (in a serious way) was a Claire Thompson story, “Golden Boy”. Finally a safe word could be put to good use.
    I’d love to encounter more of this in BDSM stories. After all it makes sense that both persons involved have to learn to read each other first and test out their reactions.
    I’m not sure if things get this far in this story but it doesn’t matter. The learning process shown sounds quite realistic and intriguing, even if the explanations are sometimes a bit too much.

    • Hi Lilli
      I hope I’m not being too spoilerish when I say that the safe words are used in this book too. Sterling’s journey involves him finding his own limits as well as Owen taking him to those limits. Owen is definitely not one of those Doms who seems infallible. I find those types of characters extremely smug and unsympathetic.

      • I agree, Jenre, sometimes they are just smug and unsympathetic.
        Still, more often than not, I like them just fine but the whole “perfect Dom” thing strucks me as unrealistic and fairytale-like. Maybe I’m wrong but BDSM stories seem to offer so vast a playing ground (pun intended I guess) for all kinds of conflicts, challenges and drama in a relationship, especially when a novice is involved, that I’m often rather disappointed when it all goes down so terribly smooth.
        But maybe that’s just me. I just like me some good drama and angst in an edgy story once in a while, especially in BDSM stories.
        Thanks for providing the details, Jenre! 🙂

        • “BDSM stories seem to offer so vast a playing ground (pun intended I guess) for all kinds of conflicts, challenges and drama in a relationship”
          That’s so true, Lilli. I’m like you in that I like to see that taken to its limits on occasion and show what can happen when things don’t go to plan.

  • I liked this book too. Although all the explaining was a bit too much for me as I have read more BDSM themed books and don´t really need all the explainations. They took me out of the story sometimes.
    But I can see what you mean with it being a good story for beginning BDSM readers.

    • Hi Ingrid
      It’s a fine line, isn’t it, between keeping those experienced readers happy and yet not losing new readers because nothing is explained sufficiently.
      I found that I didn’t mind the explanation as it fitted with the story of Sterling’s realisation of his own needs and initialisation into the BDSM lifestyle. Then again I can see why you may have found that part a little dull.

  • I have had this for a while and heard nothing but good things. Guess I’ll have to get cracking and read it soon. Great review explaining why it worked. I’m not into hardcore BDSM but I don’t mind it in a more general sense.

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