In the books that I have read by erotica author Lucy Felthouse, what stands out to me are her unique stories peopled with characters engaging in a version of BDSM that is probably more representative of the majority of real-life practitioners than what is commonly portrayed in books of that genre. They include some aspects of power exchange and moderate to severe corporal punishment, but nothing too extreme. Her latest novella, Testing Tom, is a case in point.
At its core, this is a HEA femdom love story… but with a twist. Katrina, a self-proclaimed domme, is moping around trying to recover from a break-up with her sub Tom, with whom she is still in love many months later. When the doorbell rings one night she assumes it is a door-to-door canvasser, but peeking out the window she discovers it is her ex. Not in the mood for whatever he has to say to her, she doesn’t answer the door. Surprisingly assertive for a submissive, Tom persists and calls out to her through the door telling her he knows she’s in there because her car is in the driveway, and he can see the television is on through the curtains.
To avoid unwanted attention from nosy neighbors, Katrina lets him in to state his case. It turns out that he wants to patch things up with her. Tom admits to Katrina that he had a sort of identity crisis and tried to revert to a vanilla lifestyle, but to no avail — he finally realized his mistake and how much he loves her. Hurt and angry, but still smitten with her errant lover, Katrina instructs him to return the following night and expect to be tasked to prove his worthiness. The remainder of the story primarily involves the testing Tom endures to regain her trust and let Katrina exact a degree of revenge for the hurt she suffered.
When you read a lot of kinky books in which the principal characters engage in some form of power play or sexual activity relatively soon into the story, it almost seems like something is missing when an author chooses to defer instant gratification in favor of developing that element of the story at a more realistic pace. Fortunately, in this case, when Ms. Felthouse finally deems it’s time for the kink to kick in, she does it spectacularly. Only the most jaded and hardcore BDSM junkie would be disappointed by the pleasure-pain and humiliation scenes that grace the latter pages of Testing Tom.
I try not to be too persnickety about inconsequential features of a story that don’t resonate with me because I realize readers’ sensibilities vary greatly. Although I was put off a bit by the narrative’s middle class British tone because my own sensibilities are borderline-effete American, I enjoyed the book despite that minor disconnect. I have no compunction recommending Testing Tom to any fan of femdom, or to any reader who wants to sample the genre.