I have to admit rolling my eyes after reading the title of Alexander Kelly’s latest BDSM-themed novel, Sincerely, A Slave. And when the prologue featured a bound woman escaping from her captors and being chased through the forest at night before being recaptured, raped and mounted on the hood of a Hummer like a fresh deer carcass, I did not have a good feeling about the reading experience ahead of me. Fortunately, it did get better, but I can’t really say I enjoyed this book in its entirety.
After the harrowing prologue, the story mellows out and follows Sloane, a vanilla recently divorced young woman helping her best friend out by acting as a short-term caretaker at a B&B located in mountains relatively close to the greater Los Angeles area. Shortly after starting her temporary job, an unexpected guest shows up. Gradually we learn that Ryan is there to reminisce about good times shared there with his now-deceased wife, who happens to have been the woman that was the prey in the chase featured in the prologue. That’s right; the whole horrific escapade was consensual… mostly.
Well, this is an erotic book, so naturally sparks fly between the grieving dom and the lapsed Catholic girl, who is drawn to the allure of forbidden desires. So this segues into a tale about a newbie sub being introduced to the world of BDSM. Alas, it is not an easy road ahead since Janine’s ghost is present at every turn. Indeed, there is way too much angst in that regard throughout the remainder of the story for my tastes, and it extends to Ryan’s circle of friends as well.
Fortunately, there is also a fair sampling of bondage and impact play, humiliation and intense sex (hetero and lesbian) scenarios to balance that out. Where the story really bogs down for me is the religion-like rituals and rules of the BDSM group Ryan is a member of, and their sensibilities that lean strongly toward sexism and often border on being pro-domestic violence.
There is a point at which corporal punishment is no longer erotic but instead becomes sheer brutality. That point is reached several times in this book, thus diminishing the enjoyment of it considerably, for me at least. Your threshold of pain may differ.