Title: Blue Ruin 1 – Some Kind of Stranger
Author: Katrina Strauss
Cover Artist: P.L. Nunn
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary M/M, BDSM, YAOI, Interracial
Length: Novella, 130 PDF pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review summary: A wonderful BDSM romance. You will root for Blue as he tops his master Derek.
Derek Graves’s desire for the perfect sexual “prisoner” has left him with a dark reputation and a string of jilted lovers. He needs a partner who wants the pleasure and the pain he can give. After his search lands him on the wrong end of the fantasy at the hands of ruthless predator, Derek returns to his accustomed hunting ground of Blue Ruin with one purpose in mind: revenge.
He gets it, but he also ends up rescuing the predator’s next intended victim, a homeless blue-haired waif who is just Derek’s type. He brings the incoherent young man home, needing to find out what he saw, and ensure he won’t tell anyone. The scenario couldn’t be more perfect to service Derek’s dominant fantasies —
Shane “Blue” McGowan wakes up groggy, blindfolded, and chained to a stranger’s bed. Upon finding himself in luxurious surroundings, the cunning Blue realizes two things: he has no desire to return to a life on the streets, and his handsome captor stirs strange and unfulfilled longings in him.
Manipulating the terms of his own “imprisonment,” Blue swings a place to stay in exchange for his silence about a second stranger left beaten and unconscious behind Blue Ruin. To sweeten the deal, Blue agrees to become Derek’s submissive. But as their relationship progresses, Derek finds himself wondering whether Blue is truly at Derek’s mercy, or is Derek at his?
I read this book around the time I interviewed the author 2 years ago but never reviewed it or the other books in this series so I have the pleasure of doing so now.
If you’ve ever wanted to read a western style YAOI romance where the protagonists are authentic and adhere to the principles of Japanese YAOI (seme/uke archetypes) without the emphasis on rules, you don’t have to look any further than Katrina Strauss’s delightful Blue Ruin series.
In BR 1, Some Kind of Stranger, we’re introduced to Blue, a submissive who wreaks havoc on his Dom, Derek. The author is faithful to the YAOI tradition regarding the age difference and appearance as both characters are “bishie” (pretty) with 29 year old Derek as the seme and Blue at eighteen is the uke. But there the similarities end as Blue’s submission is only on the surface – he’s naughty, feisty and cunning, and tops from the bottom. He reminds me a lot of Beauty in Anne Rice’s wonderful Sleeping Beauty series published in 1983
This story opens with Derek meeting Blue in Blue Ruin a local bar where he busses tables. They have a mild flirtation as Derek tries to figure out if Blue is of age for what he has in mind, a night of sex with a submissive. However, before Derek can close the deal with Blue, someone else whom Derek recognized had his own plan, and drugged Blue so that he could take him to another location to rape him. This man had done the same thing to Derek a few weeks before so he was out for revenge as soon as he realized what had happened. Derek went after them, found Blue just in time and beat the man so severely he was barely alive after he was finished with him.
When Blue woke up the next day he was almost naked, blindfolded and tied to Derek’s bed as he took care of him and helped him recover from the drug he had been given by his attacker. Derek found out that Blue had been living on the streets for a few weeks because his homophobic father had kicked him out after he found out he was gay. Despite still feeling sick Blue had the presence of mind to demand that Derek let him stay with him in return for keeping quiet about the man that he had beaten almost to death, since he didn’t have a home and staying with Derek was the obvious solution to their burgeoning attraction.
The relationship between Derek and Blue was complicated because Derek had always controlled his emotions, and the way that the author made him into such a nuanced character was one of the keys to my enjoyment of the story. The electricity between them crackled throughout and the prose and dialogue were vintage Katrina Strauss. The BDSM scenes between Derek and Blue were typical, with spanking and some bondage and a few scenes where the pain made me wince, except Derek’s dominance was tempered by his feelings for Blue and the power shifted between them intermittently. Blue was very responsive to punishment and such a pain slut he loved to admire Derek’s marks on his body and would give him sly flirty glances whenever he was being flogged. Derek was so much under his sub’s spell that other than a few token attempts to master Blue, who played him like a violin, he was tender and loving and I could feel the emotional ties squeezing his heart.
Both characters were fully three dimensional and Derek’s Asian roots and dark history gave the D/s relationship credibility. Derek’s mother was Asian but there was no information about his father and neither was in the picture. It seems that when Derek’s mother got married he was practically ignored while she focused on her new family, which may have had something to do with his need for control and lack of emotion in his life. He had always been dominant in his sexual relationships and Blue seemed to be the ideal candidate, but he soon realized that his sub had turned the tables on him. Blue on the other hand had faced the usual bullying that most gay teenagers encounter and at times the bullying was very cruel. The conflict between Blue and his father which resulted in him being kicked out from his home was realistically portrayed and Blue’s feelings of rejection were integrated into the story.
My favourite MC was Blue who was so vulnerable despite being able to control Derek. As for the sex – it was incredibly hot.
Blue Ruin 1 – Some Kind of Stranger began and ended with violence so there’s lots of high drama and a take down, but the best part of the book is the emotion between the protagonists as Blue gets what he wants, the love of his man Derek.
The P.L. Nunn cover is icing on the cake as it captures the mood of the characters and the series.
This book contains scenes of rape, attempted rape and dub con.