NB: Review originally posted on Amazon and GR @ 25-Jul-2013. Minor edits/clean-up after import to BL.
Length: novel (308 Kindle pgs/estimated)
Heat Level/Content: Erotica (BDSM; anal; e/v)
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Series Info: Surrender #3
Josephine needs a Dom to Top her if she’s going to conquer her issues with men. But when Ted, the frenemy she’s chosen, refuses, Jo needs to take drastic measures. She goes to his resort to find another candidate. Unfortunately, that plan’s a bust.
Headstrong Jo is a Dom’s worst nightmare. So when Ted discovers that a newbie has signed the “Full Monty” release form—an occurrence that has the resident sadists circling—he knows it’s Jo.
What’s a Dom to do? After he thanks her for giving him carte blanche, he hauls her ass up to the rodeo room for a ride. A ride that rapidly becomes a trip of epic proportions with kinky detours galore until they hit a fork in the road. One avenue leads to Jo’s prized independence and the other leads home to Ted. Now, Jo must decide between the two.
* Review copy provided by the author via the BDSM group’s
Sweet BDSM romance (but some quibbles...)
★★½ (rounded up to account for my personal quirks)
THE SHORT: Sweet, well-written BDSM romance about two people coming to terms with their deepest pains and fears. Recommended for those who enjoy a TLC Dom and/or are just getting into this genre.
THE LONG: By all measures, Required Surrender by NTM author Riley Murphy should’ve been a DNF. And at one point, I nearly did stop reading. However, I continued on because Ms. Murphy is a solid writer who managed to weave a coherent romance story with some smokin’ and varied BDSM scenes. So here’s an explanation of my final rating/review:
3-4 ★s for the BDSM scenes (considered separately from the story)
2-3 ★s for the story/writing
1-2 ★s for the BDSM concepts
My starting points and a few reasons why I came close to DNF’ing this book:
- Erroneously thought that I had read an earlier work by Ms. Murphy so didn’t expect such a TLC story. I generally prefer my BDSM reads to be more on the harder side but this, in and of itself, is not a deal breaker.
- I tend to shy away from storylines which involve use of BDSM for emotional/psychological therapy.
- I draw a distinction between D/s and M/s relationships so the unexpected switch mid-story with little foundation didn’t work for me.
- I have a hard line when it comes to the safeword and hard limits, and misuse and/or violations of either usually are deal breakers for me.
Added to the above is the fact that I didn’t find Ted too likeable. My perception of him ranged from “TLC Dom” (not really my preference) to “poseur Master” to simply “coward”. I also had a hard time suspending disbelief re: parts of his backstory, given the stated age frame.
While not out of the realm of possibility, I personally can't see a 16-18yo being sexually aware and/or experienced enough to take his first sub.
As for Jo, I couldn’t relate to her unsupported transition from wanting BDSM exposure therapy (so to deal with past trauma) to being a sub (especially when early in the book, “Jo wasn’t even sure she was a sub”) to being a slave. Furthermore, she was sexually inexperienced but ready to engage in fairly advanced BDSM play. I could swallow this somewhat as “mind over matter” but had a harder time with her going from a bratty sub (which, to me, generally = “immature”—again, not my preference in BDSM reads) to almost needy/desperate because she was in love. IMO, her desire to be Ted's sub—and then later, his slave—seemed to stem more from a willingness to do whatever it took to have him, as opposed to an “awakening” re: her submissive nature and the realisation that he fulfilled her sexual and emotional needs.
Yet despite everything, Ms. Murphy’s storytelling was good enough to keep me interested and reading… until I got to this:
“I expect you to take what I’m going to do to you without complaint. If it proves to be too much for you say your safe word and I’ll let you leave…for good. Understood?”
Um, no. Just “no”, full stop. That right there misrepresents and undermines the general understanding re: the purpose and concept of the safeword. There should be no consequences attached to a person’s use of a safeword other than the immediate cessation of BDSM play. Anything else should be a separate matter for discussion.
So why did I continue and read to the end? Because again, the writing was good and frankly, I was close to the end anyway. Unfortunately, a certain “moment of realisation” was more telling (vs. showing)/info dump and for me, the book sort of ended on a whimper as it relates to Ted and Jo. And the Epilogue is clearly to set up the next book, instead of the more standard “where are the MCs now and how has their relationship changed/gotten better”.
Despite hitting a few of my own personal “hard limits” and the small letdown at the end, I don’t regret choosing to read Required Surrender one bit. It introduced me to Ms. Murphy’s writing and I would definitely consider reading another one of her books. In fact, the Epilogue to this one certainly worked in piquing my interest in David/Lacy. :)
Side note: Given that well-established Ellora’s Cave published Required Surrender, I didn’t take off for repeated technical writing errors (such as run-on sentences and necessary but missing commas) which I found very distracting. I lay those squarely on those involved in the proofing/editing.
NOTE: My deepest apologies to Ms. Murphy for the delay in posting this review. The mod was kind enough to give me a generous extension, which I ended up using to re-evaluate this book and write up a new review. But then recent GR site upgrades/maintenance tweaks posed all kinds of headaches until now.