Title: A Russian Bear (A Russian Bear #1)
Author: C.B. Conwy
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary BDSM romance
Length: 356 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
A romantic and engrossing BDSM book which is slightly spoiled by a weak ending.
To Mischa, life is simple. Doms are Doms and subs are for fucking, flogging, and bossing around. Until he meets Tom, that is. Tom is deeply offended when the stranger in the bar takes him for some kind of slave boy. Well, offended and more than a little excited by the thought of surrendering to Mischa. Mischa being Mischa, their meeting results in Tom losing his virginity in a way that’s hotter than even his wildest fantasies.
Mischa is drawn to Tom and makes another appointment. And then another, initiating Tom to every kink Mischa knows. They aren’t scenes, of course, because Mischa has a “one boy, one scene” rule. But then again, Tom isn’t exactly like his usual boys, and Mischa finds himself falling in love, though nowhere near ready to admit it. Luckily, Tom isn’t exactly your stereotypical slave. Life is good — until Tom gets attacked, and Mischa has to fight harder than ever to make Tom realize that he isn’t going anywhere.
A Russian Bear Series
It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a romantic BDSM book. Most times the BDSM romances out there are all about the power play between the Dom and the sub and the rules and regulations within that type of relationship. With this book the BDSM was important, necessary even to the relationship between the men, but there was also a strong emphasis on the development of the non- BDSM part of their relationship too: On love and laughter, quiet evenings together, and just the day to day pleasure of living with someone you love and care for. I found it quite charming and was thoroughly engrossed in watching the progress of the relationship between Tom and Mischa from their first, embarrassed meeting through to the declaration of love and commitment.
The story begins when we meet Mischa. He’s a Dom who’s only really interested in having a night with a willing sub every so often. He’s been set up with meeting a sub by one of his friends and so goes to the bar anticipating an uncomplicated and satisfying night of play. Mischa’s friend has only given him a vague description of the sub and Mischa thinks he’s spotted him so goes over and takes a seat. After a bit of chit-chat, Mischa goes into Dom mode and is horrified to discover that he’s made a mistake and picked out the wrong guy. Fortunately for Mischa, the guy, Tom, is intrigued and agrees to go with Mischa to see if he’ll enjoy that kind of play. Neither men realise that this first night will change them both and set them on a journey of love together.
Both of the heroes in the book are likeable men and the reader gets to see both their third person points of view as the book progresses. Mischa is a Dom and knows what he likes, but he’s also willing to listen to the strong minded Tom. He’s also very human and makes mistakes, gets embarrassed and has a gruff charm along with a wry sense of humour which I found quite endearing. Tom shares Mischa’s sense of humour and isn’t a simpering sub, but stubborn and questioning. Mischa encourages this and likes the difference between Tom and some of the well trained subs he’s used to playing with. They complement each other as a couple and as a result the romance and the permanence of their relationship was realistic. There are a number of hot BDSM sex scenes in the book, some of which made me wince a little in their brutality. Tom gets off on pain, especially during the sexual act, and this might not be to the taste of some readers. The way that Tom is shown to struggle with this, previously unknown, aspect of his sexual taste is sympathetically shown, as is the sensible approach he takes towards his feelings towards Mischa. I liked that, although the relationship surprised both men, they acted maturely towards each other. There’s no huge arguments, fallings out or hysterics, instead the men discuss their feelings calmly with one another in an adult fashion that was quite refreshing.
About 30 pages towards the end of the book, things change for the two men. There is an ‘incident’ which is forced on the men and affects their relationship. It’s at this point that I began to feel a bit disappointed with the book. After setting up such a strong, trusting relationship between the heroes, they start to regress and begin acting like sullen teens. I could partly understand this, given what had happened, but then the book has a sudden resolution and an abrupt ending which was not in keeping with the slow, leisurely pace of the book prior to the incident. I felt that the incident was a little tagged onto the story and that the book would have been much better (and got a higher grade from me) had it ended just prior to the incident, leaving it as a romantic story of the emotional journey between the two men. I don’t see anything wrong with a book that focuses solely on a developing relationship, rather than having a sudden crisis to spoil what had gone before.
Despite my overall disappointment with the way the book ended, this was still a very good, very romantic BDSM book. The writing was good with a lightness of tone which injected humour as well as drama into the story, the sex was sensual as well as scorching, and the characters very well defined. I greatly enjoyed A Russian Bear and would recommend it to those readers who are looking for more than just power play in a BDSM romance.