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Book Review: ‘Black Widow’ By Lena Austin

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Black WidowA common storyline in BDSM literature involves some variation of the entrée into the lifestyle by an individual with a natural predisposition to become either a dominant or a submissive. While the theme of Lena Austin’s Black Widow definitely incorporates this basic scenario, her take on it is certainly unique.

A freelance writer with a background in law enforcement, sociology and psychology is presented with a lucrative proposal to write a somewhat scholarly article about the BDSM culture for a prestigious psychology journal. He accepts the challenge and cajoles his roommate from college, who is active in the local scene, to help him go undercover as a potential participant in order to observe the lifestyle in action unfiltered. Things are going well with his research until Calder realizes that the D/s dynamic appeals to him, as does Kelly, a beautiful domme who goes by the name Black Widow.

Unfortunately, Calder’s attraction to Kelly is problematic since he is in no way interested in becoming a submissive. As the reader is to learn, Calder is definitely dom material, and Kelly’s D/s radar detects it. But by good fortune, she has been seeking someone like him to be her equal partner, so at this point the story morphs into a BDSM romance progressing at lightening speed – but not without a few bumps along the way!

Within the context of Calder’s research, this book functions as a sort of BDSM primer for outsiders and newbies. In addition to showcasing basic protocols and conventions, some representative “scenes” are also highlighted. Since the Black Widow is a part-time pro domme, the author carefully differentiates lifestyle and play-for-pay activities and sensibilities.

Whereas I mostly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to new and long term readers of this genre, it has some issues that should be acknowledged. First of all, if lots of kinky sex scenes are on your wish list, you will be disappointed by this book. Virtually all the kinky stuff is devoid of sex, and the really steamy scenes between Kelly and Calder are hot but fairly normal – equal partners, remember?

In many respects the romance has a kind of high school giddiness to it, which seems at odds with the strong personalities of both lovers. Kelly transforms into a domestic goddess to bake a truly decadent cake as dessert for their first dinner date at her house. And within weeks of meeting her, Calder presents Kelly with his mother’s wedding ring and asks her to marry him.

Soon afterward Kelly discovers that Calder is a member of the press club – a fact that he failed to mention – and a major tiff ensues that temporarily scuttles the walk down the isle. After they patch things up and seal the deal with some naughty make-up sex, the story segues to an epilogue that primarily chronicles a slightly schmaltzy idealistic BDSM wedding ceremony in which the bride and groom and all the guests are decked out in fetish-wear while the “official” iterates the meaning of “the bond” and punctuates the occasion by reciting a version of the Apache Wedding Blessing. HEA then fade to black.

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About Jim Lyon

Jim Lyon began writing erotica in the mid 1990s and served as story editor for the now-defunct Ownme.com before his first femdom-themed erotic novellas, Uncharted Territory and The Accidental Domme, were published as e-books by Sizzler Editions. Jim is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He left high school in his senior year to live the bohemian life in New York City's Greenwich Village and Lower East Side. Not being a big fan of cold weather and crowded tenements, Jim returned to the West Coast within six months and lived in Berkeley during the tumultuous mid to late 1960s and early 1970s. While there, his claims to fame include being folksinger Malvina Reynolds' neighbor/tenant and part owner of the Northside Theater, a repertory cinema of considerable renown. After leaving Berkeley, Jim put himself through college and earned a B.A. in Journalism from USC. His eclectic career since then has encompassed editing, writing, business management, social work, teaching, and web publishing, with stops in northern and southern California, Hawaii, Florida and Oregon.