Precious Jade

Title: Precious Jade
Author: Fyn Alexander
Publisher: Loose Id
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: m/m historical BDSM, D/s romance
Length: Novel Plus
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Jade Swift has always wanted a man to fall madly in love with him and make him his own. He wants to be mastered. When he meets Marcus Wynterbourne, a dominant man with a passion for the whip, it is love at first sight.

Marcus is an MP, gay, and trying to live as freely as he can in 1885 when his sexuality’s not tolerated and his association with the beautiful Jade leads to rampant speculation. Hurt by a past betrayal, and unable to accept Jade’s loyalty because of his flirtatious nature, he casts Jade out of his house.

But Jade loves his Master and wants only to please him. Determined, he will do what he must to win his Master’s trust and restore his reputation amongst others who would ruin him.

THE REVIEW

I seem to have been reading quite a lot of D/s books recently but so far this historical is the first book I’ve read which explores the master/slave relationship.

The story is written in the first person from the point of view of 18 year old Jade. He’s been brought up in the theatre by his singer mother, and was a child star with an angelic singing voice. When his voice broke he found himself out of a job, and eventually his mother persuaded him to leave the theatre world and apply for a job as secretary to MP Marcus Winterbourne. As soon as Jade meets the stern MP he feels the stirrings of attraction which manifests itself as a strong desire to please his master.

Like all books written in the first person, this book’s strength relies on a sympathetic narrator. It was unfortunate then that I never really warmed to Jade. I found him irritating in the extreme as he whines, pouts and cries his way through the book, behaving like a spoiled child rather than the young man he really is. He’s selfish and vain, bursting into tears at the slightest provocation and generally being a complete nuisance. On many occasions in the book other characters refer to his intelligence, but for most of the book he doesn’t act intelligent, quite the opposite in fact, as he behaves in a rash, impetuous, childish manner and doesn’t think his actions through properly. After a while, I began to wonder whether his so-called intelligence sprang only from his ability to read and write, and being a historical where many people of his social class probably wouldn’t be able to read I could understand that.

Another aspect of Jade which I found quite baffling is that he doesn’t appear to have gone through puberty. He often refers to the fact that his voice has broken but then also tells us that he has no pubic hair, nor does he have facial hair. I thought this all rather odd and it reinforced in my mind that he was more like a child than a man, especially when coupled with his behaviour which matched that of a prepubescent boy. Jade’s reactions to Marcus were also very child-like in that he wholly accepts Marcus’ dominance of him and never questions why he should want to submit to Marcus in the way that he does. This made it difficult for me to understand Jade’s motivations as the only explanation he gives for why he obeys Marcus is that he loves him and wants to serve him. I would have expected an intelligent man to be able to articulate better the reasons for wanting to submit to, what would seem on the surface, cruel treatment from Marcus. Instead I was fobbed off with protestations of love when I wanted a deeper analysis of Jade’s emotional state. Marcus himself was a complete enigma – probably deliberately so as Jade cannot work out his moods or wishes half the time. Marcus is one of those Doms who is totally in control and never do any wrong which actually just made him seem a little smug.

Once Jade has been cast out by Marcus, I found myself liking Jade a whole lot better. The way that he deals with his new situation as footman shows that actually he does have intelligence. Much is made of the fact that Jade has grown up in the theatre and so it surprised me that for the first part of the book he seemed so overwhelmingly naive. However, in the second part he begins to show his cunning and a certain wry sense of humour which hadn’t been apparent earlier in the book. It was a shame then when Marcus came back into the book and Jade reverted back to his previous form.

I feel I ought to make some comment about the fact that this is an historical, but I feel rather ill qualified to do so. It seemed accurate and I even looked up some of the references to devices found in Marcus’ dungeon and they were correct for the time the book was written. I liked the scenes where Jade describes his life in the theatre and I also liked the hierarchy of the servants in both of the houses where Jade is employed, as both of these settings are very different to the usual ‘upper class’ settings in historical romance. Perhaps those of you with a greater knowledge of the Victorian period would be able to spot mistakes which passed me by, but I would still recommend this to those who like an historical setting for their books.

In some ways, I’ve found it quite difficult to set out my feelings about this book because I’m very aware that a reader who likes Jade will have a very different view to the book that I have.  My grade is mostly based on that, rather than the quality of the writing – which was very good – and the setting or plot – which was unusual and interesting.  Having said that, the character of Jade does rather dominate the book so I still stand by the grade I’ve decided on.  What I will say is that, if you like historicals and Master/slave books then I would still suggest you read this book, as your feelings for Jade may differ from mine.  In which case you may find this to be a well written and enjoyable book.

11 comments

  • Hi, and thanks to everyone who read Precious Jade. I wanted to make a point about the use of the word queer. It is correct that the word was not in use meaning homosexual until 1922. My publisher is a stickler for correct historical details and we were all well aware that the use of queer would be historically incorrect. But queer is widely used, accepted and liked in the LGBT community now and we thought that using Nancy Boy or Molly all the time might be a bit much, so Loose-id decided that queer would be acceptable in this context. I hope it did not spoil anyones’ enjoyment of the book.
    Yes, Jade is an awful brat, but I loved him.

    All the best, Fyn.

    Reply
    • Hi Fyn
      Thanks for that explanation. I’m not such a complete stickler for historical accuracy (as long as it seems to fit in with the time period, I’m generally happy), but I know it really annoys some readers.

      Reply
  • Great review, Jen. I thought you were very clear about what worked and what didn’t for you. For now, I’ll stick it in the “maybe” pile.

    Reply
  • I read this and really enjoyed this book. I found Jade to be very sheltered,not immature. he seemed to be a very loving person who expected the best from everyone.I would definitely recommend this book, and would consider it for my re-read pile. If I ever had the time.

    Reply
    • Hi Arlene
      Thanks for chipping in with your views. As I said in my review a lot depends on whether you like Jade or not. I’m glad you had more positive feelings towards him than I did.

      Reply
    • Hi Leslie
      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who had mixed thoughts on the book. I can’t say whether this sort of thing happens in RL or not as I have no experience of it myself and nor do I know anyone else who does.
      *
      It’s a shame that there was an anachronism. I thought it seemed accurate that they called themselves ‘nancy boys’.

      Reply
  • Hi Jenre,

    I just finished reading this (and I need to write a review for Speak Its Name) and like you, I am having a hard time putting my finger on it. The first part is *so serious* but then when Jade starts working at the hotel, it becomes much more comedic–and better. I liked it when Jade started poking fun at himself (“Oh, I’m crying again and snot is pouring out of my nose”). The whole book took on a lighter tone.

    Thinking about the BDSM stuff: I am starting to formulate a theory that books like this are written for the “wannabees” and not for the people who actually know/live the lifestyle. There is a titillation factor of “Oh, does that really go on?” and I think much of what is described does not go on and is truly a fantasy, dreamt up by the author to, um, enflame the readers, shall we say?

    I also need to do some research on whether the way the characters used “queer” in this book was anachronistic.

    On the other hand, the writing was very good and I had a few “can’t put this book down” moments while I was reading it.

    L

    Reply
  • Thanks, Wave :).
    *
    This one was so tough to grade. I could see how some readers would get a great deal of enjoyment out of the book, but I couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend it myself.

    Reply
  • Jen
    You articulated quite clearly the reasons why I would not want to read this book. If Jade is as immature at 18 as you describe, how does he even know what love is and what he wants? There are some books where you have to go with your gut in terms of rating and I think this is one of them. I might have been even less charitable.
    *
    You did a great job in telling the readers why you felt that this book and the main protagonist did not come up to what you expected. Sometimes a book just does not work out.

    Reply

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