A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Compelling, uncomfortable and unforgettable.
Blurb: Jake Morrison’s position as Dom has been deeply shaken by his unwitting role in the recent death of his sub. When he’s allowed back into Langley’s Pleasure House after a six-month ban, he longs to make amends in any way possible.
Club-owner Langley’s surprising request for an unexpected encounter, however, tests Jake’s sense of purpose to the core. He’s willing to learn, but the lesson might not be one he expects…
Perhaps surprisingly when I read this, I was reminded of some lines by my favourite poet Gerard Hopkins:
O the mind, the mind has mountains, cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no man fathomed.
This was primarily because much of Anne Brooke’s focus here was on the fascinating psychology of her characters. This short story is a carefully crafted piece of work, almost an analysis of the clearly complex concept of power in BDSM. There is a judicial balance between the two sexual encounters described that reinforce the lesson of this BDSM morality tale. It could have been subtitled The Inattentive or Selfish Dom. Jake’s description of how his scene with Andrew fell into painful tragedy is disturbing, not least because of Jake’s inability to realise at that time how much common human empathy he was lacking.
Six months after the event he has some realisation of how much he failed, but his journey has only just started. The scene at the club which is in the nature of a test is as disturbing in its own way as that with Andrew. There are moments which genuinely caught my breath in surprise. This very intimate scene is a combination of “physical and emotional punishment” and is creatively focused. Some moments mirror the original scene but are with a careful precision played so very differently. There is an irony to the scene that cuts like a scalpel.
Jake is not a particularly attractive personality, and indeed that is part of his strength in this work, which is as much about dissection as it is an initial step toward resolution. Early in the story, Jake says to Andrew:
Of course, it’s about sex. Isn’t that what we’re doing? Getting each other off in the most satisfying way we know.
Later Jake realises how much more there is to the emotional power he likes to wield when he more genuinely, not superficially, cares about how his sub feels. Power has it’s responsibilities beyond getting off, however his own quiet and cathartic moment of truth comes when he recognises how he uses feelings and what that means in relation to himself.
Langley’s personality is an intricate counterpoint to Jake’s mixture of cold and hot temperament. His emotional responses are evolved and I found him an intelligent and fascinating character.
I thought this was a compelling piece of writing, which I appreciated perhaps rather than enjoyed. It wasn’t an easy read with perhaps more reality than I usually like. It felt like a real representation of BDSM to me; emotional and sexual complexities displayed with necessary checks and balances.
BDSM — dub con, paddling and exhibitionism