Author ~ J.A. Rock
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 7 December 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary BDSM Romance
A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.
A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.
But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.
Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.
I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.
David is lonely, looking for someone to give him a good spanking, and maybe some meaningless sex to forget for a little while. He’d love to go to hair stylist school, but keeps putting off filling out his applications. He is an incredible brat and an incredibly loyal and loving friend. The death of his friend, Hal, during a scene has taken the shine off of his trips to the club and his approach to finding someone to scene with. David no longer feels he can put his trust in the doms at the club and when the owners decide that since Bill was acquitted of murder, he can return David is horrified. Along with his friends, Miles, Kamen and Gould, he forms the Subs Club, intended to be a website for subs to discuss problems with doms and improve safety in the community.
David decides that one of the first doms he’s going to rate is the Disciplinarian (also David, so he’ll be referred to as “D” to avoid confusion), the man with the pornstache that he spotted at the club. The man who looked at him and basically dismissed him, leaving the club without giving him any further notice. Their first meeting doesn’t go well as David puts on his best bratty performance, but David is drawn to D and begs his way into another session. He is torn between wanting to be obedient and wanting to annoy D as much as possible and so the battle of wills begins. D is not one to be ruffled easily. He talks like a wise old grandpa, when he talks at all, looks like the Brawny paper towel man and is the exact opposite of what David imagined he wanted, but David is drawn to him more with every meeting. While this is going on, David’s friends all are dealing with their grief and problems and the Subs Club has gotten out of control, with the doms catching wind of their reviews and growing angry.
There is a lot going on in this book and running through the book and touching on all the other parts of the story is the theme of how can these subs open up and make themselves vulnerable, without putting their safety at risk unnecessarily. Miles likes knife play and has a frightening experience, Hal died as a result of a breath play scene, Gould goes off with an unknown dom without telling anyone – all things raising even more concern for them now and giving them more reason to lobby for a forum for subs to be open about safety risks associated with specific doms.
There are two relationships that get a lot of time in the book: David and his friends and David and D. I’m going to start with David and his friends (who will be the subjects of the upcoming books in the series) which, along with David’s sarcastic and witty narration, brings a lot of comic relief to the heavier parts of the story. Each of the friends is very distinct and different, but they are a close family. I loved their interactions and their times together were some of my favorite parts of the book. David felt the need to hold them all together after Hal’s death, which they are all handling differently, even as he drowns in his own guilt. His bond with Gould, his roommate and Hal’s sometimes lover, is especially touching. I could really feel the love between these men as they work on the Subs Club, go out together or just sit around watch TV and listen to Kamen sing perversely reworked cover songs. They each have a different kink and each have their own secrets, some of which come out in this story and some of which we still have to wait to find out about, but they are all fiercely loyal, loving and protective of each other.
I had a bit more of a tough time with the relationship between David and D. While they worked well for me as Dom and sub, and even unlikely friends, I didn’t really feel the attraction or heat between them. David knows what he wants, but is very bad at articulating it, so he acts bratty. He wants D to force him to obey, but doesn’t want D to be angry. David’s emotions are all over the place and though D is seemingly quiet and controlled, David manages to push him to his limits as well. It’s a constant push-pull between the two and J.A. Rock did a good job at showing them work their way from their disastrous early sessions to an understanding of what works for the two of them. The kink is obviously discipline, with spankings, humiliation, creative use of everyday items you’d find in the medicine cabinet and writing lists of infractions and essays of apology. The steam factor, for me, was low and the romantic relationship really was never fully realized.
J.A. Rock’s writing has never disappointed me and here again she offers a blend of heavy kink, biting humor and emotional ups and downs. There is a HFN ending, but I expect that David and D will reappear and continue forward in the upcoming three books that will focus on Miles, Kamen and Gould, and the continuing attempts of the men to regain the balance between exploring their kinks to the fullest while ensuring their safety.
Connect with J.A. Rock
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