So, my first negative review ever was about the only book I’ve published that has been a commercial success. The reviewer criticized the BDSM in my M/M romance, Lover, Destroyer, as being “borderline hardcore” and violent with “a frail veneer of consent.”
What hurt most about these comments, once I was able to separate my bruised writer feelings and set them aside, was the fact that it felt like an attack on my lifestyle. I don’t read about BDSM in books. The BDSM in my story might be a bit edgy because that’s how I like it. I’ve been a practitioner for about twenty-five years.
In the Dark Ages, when the Internet was in its infancy and few people had access to it, people who didn’t live in a city with a BDSM club–or who simply didn’t want to be part of a club–couldn’t just google ‘BDSM etiquette.’ They had to explore and discover things on their own. That was part of the fun.
Even in an age where such things are codified and catalogued, accidents happen. Scenes go wrong. Feelings–and sometimes flesh–get hurt. One time my husband had to see the doctor because I bruised his spleen. He’s a wonderful sub, we’re closely bonded, and he was ready to go the next weekend. (Although I limited myself to flogging his bottom.)
Sometimes BDSM, like life, is messy and chaotic. Maybe some people like to conduct their BDSM like Vulcans in surgery–and more power to them–but I don’t. It’s not fair to say that my way is bad simply because you don’t like it or don’t understand it. In Lover, Destroyer, which is set in a pre-industrialized world, Elarhe, a budding dom, is trying to understand what masochistic Kite wants. They are learning what works for them and discovering each other’s boundaries. They’re learning about each other.
I wanted to include a snippet from one of my sex scenes, but couldn’t find a piece tame enough. So, here’s Elarhe learning about after care following his first session with Kite.
When they were done, Elarhe removed the clamps from Kite’s nipples and sprawled on the floor, panting. Kite thudded next to him. He lifted his bandage, revealing his eyes. Elarhe stared at the high ceiling. Kite stared at him. After a moment, Kite asked, “Will you hold me?”
Elarhe couldn’t help himself and laughed at him. He stopped laughing when he saw the sincerity on Kite’s face. “I guess. I’m all sweaty.”
“So am I.” He looked rather childlike. “It’s just—it’s like I’ve been on a long journey. I need help coming home.”
Elarhe pulled Kite into his arms. Kite snuggled against his chest in a quiet, fragile way that took Elarhe by surprise.
Elarhe kissed the top of Kite’s head. “I didn’t realize there was this part. I would have done it sooner if I had known.”
“This part is just as important as the rest,” Kite said quietly, tracing one of the lean muscles in Elarhe’s arm. “You didn’t know because I failed to tell you. It’s not your fault. You performed splendidly.”
As they embraced, Elarhe realized that he needed the cuddle, too. It closed the door on their game and returned them to their normal lives. It reassured him that Kite bore him no ill will, carried no grudges. The dungeon was its own world.