yet another post about my forthcoming kinky book

So, um, I’ve still got a kinky book coming out on the 1st of June.

You’ll notice there’s a kind of a theme to my Wonko posts lately but this stuff is kind of on my mind at the moment.

Something I’ve noticed when reading people’s responses to BDSM-themed romances and erotica is that a lot of readers get very put off a text if they feel that the dominant character is insufficiently dommy. “[X] doesn’t work for me a dom(me)” is a phrase I’ve seen a lot. And, obviously, it’s fine for people to like what they like and if something doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work for you. Nevertheless I am, and I know I say this a lot, troubled by the implication that a dom(me) has to be a particular sort of person or behave in a particular sort of way.

At the risk of over-generalising, there’s a strong tendency for romdoms to replicate their sexual proclivities in all areas of their life. Even the ones who aren’t billionaires are usually highly conventionally successful: if they’re not running their own company, they’re pursuing some other archetypically forceful and masculine career, usually in some branch of law enforcement or the military. They’re reserved, yet dynamic, and in control of everything, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

And while this perfectly understandable as a fantasy, it’s fantasy that only works if you take as read that you’re not expected to identify with this character in any way, shape or form. That they only exist as a catalyst for the desires of the viewpoint character—who, by contrast, tends to be aggressively normal. It presents dominance as the natural mode of a certain, very special type of person and submission as the natural mode of reaction to that person. In so doing, it tacitly denies that dominance and submission can exist within a dynamic between two perfectly ordinary people, simply because that’s what they’re into.

A big part of what I’ve tried to do with my forthcoming kinky book (FOR REAL, by the way, I should really get used to calling it by its name) is to … and I acknowledge this isn’t a word, nor should it be because it sounds awful … de-exclusive-ify the role of the dominant.  A quick recap for those who aren’t as familiar with my work as, well, me: FOR REAL is a story about Laurie, a jaded 37-year-old sub and Toby, an inexperienced 19-year-old dom.  It was really important to me to show that doms, like subs, like everybody else, can basically be anyone. That sexual dominance isn’t something you can only be into if you’re 39 and rich. And that submission is a choice based on who you want to submit to, not a validation of another person’s superiority.

Toby spends a large part of the book internally wrangling his own uncertainties and he never shows the absolute poise and control that romdoms are supposed to have. He’s excitable and passionate and occasionally quite overwhelmed by the things Laurie allows him to do. But—to my mind and, perhaps most importantly, to Laurie’s—none of that makes him less of a dom. I’d even go so far as to say that, to me at least, there’s something pretty fragile about the notion that dominance can admit no uncertainty, humanity or passion.

But, don’t get me wrong, there will always be room for tenaciously self-controlled billionaires with bespoke sex dungeons. I just like to think there’s room for the rest of us as well.

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10 Responses to yet another post about my forthcoming kinky book

  1. Cecilia Tan says:

    OMG cannot wait to read it! That sounds brilliant and touches on a lot of what I’ve been wanting to see in BDSM romance. I’m eager to see what you do with the age gap, too. In my experience it doesn’t matter what real life inequalities might exist, like age or income difference, once you go into the dungeon that all ceases to hold sway.

  2. Pam/Peejakers says:

    There you go again *shakes head* What *is* it with you, anyway, and all this the thinking outside the box?! I mean, my gosh, where would we be if *everyone* thought like that?! 8-O

    . . . Oh . . . Oh yeah . . . Like, maybe, better off?*

    *Disclaimer: Criticism of those who are happy in their boxes is neither expressed nor implied ;-)

    All joking aside, wonderful post, as always. Aaand counting down the days until I get to finally read this book!!!

  3. Great post. Mirrors lots of stuff I’ve been thinking and writing about lately. I like dom(me)s who show a little uncertainty, who don’t always know their subs body down to the millisecond they’re going to orgasm! Ultimately I think flaws are more interesting than perfection. Your new book sounds great, I’ll look out for it. Thanks :)

  4. Beverley Jansen says:

    Good grief you always talk such sense. For Real is not just a BDSM themed novel, it is an Alexis Hall BDSM themed novel. ;)

  5. All of which why I’m eager to read this book. The only other Bdsm story I can think I’ve read with an inexperienced dom is Josephine Myles’ How to Train Your Dom book ( think I may have got the title slightly wrong there). She refreshingly shows the dom getting stuff wrong.

    • Beverley Jansen says:

      I read Jo Myles BDSM novel to How to Train your Dom in Five easy lessons(?) so very funny and very tender.

    • Beverley Jansen says:

      I read Jo Myles BDSM novel to How to Train your Dom in Five easy lessons(?) so very funny and very tender.

  6. MM Jaye says:

    Disclaimer: Although I read lots of dark and kinky romances, I don’t read BDSM books because I do not enjoy the D/s trope. But I can offer my two cents from an avid reviewer’s viewpoint.

    Readers (especially of kinky books) usually go for very specific tropes or characters. If they don’t end up getting what they wanted, they’ll vent off in their review. Inevitably, what creates expectations is the blurb. And because creating a stellar blurb most of the times cannot include all the “tags” the reader needs to know of, writers tend to resort to the addition of “Warnings” at the end of the synopsis. Honesty is the name of the game here.

    I recently one-starred a dark romance (my first one star, mind you, since I’m a writer myself, and I review to help out, not bury a book) that included a warning about dealing with dubious consent, but it was rape galore. (Unless screaming “no” from start to finish and enduring extreme physical pain has become “dubious consent”.) Yeah, “selling” rape under a different tag blew my top of.

    So, from where I stand, if your blurb gives a heads-up to the reader, showing that it veers off the dom(me) stereotype, offering a fresh perspective, you won’t get any grief whatsoever.

    Good luck with FOR REAL!

  7. Alexis, I’m eager to read this book. It sounds so spot-on! (I’m also halfway through my first cup of coffee so forgive me if I’m not making a ton of sense.) In my experience–and I have rather a lot of it–some of the best Dominants are those who don’t come off as “alpha” types at all. Not because they aren’t strong, but because they don’t care if random people KNOW they’re strong/in control/whatever. They’re living their lives, doing their thing…and their thing happens to include some seriously kinky sex.

    On the other hand, I’d argue the point that it’s entirely possible to identify with a character who always appears strong and in control if you know that’s the character’s coping method. Not in a badly handled Christian Gray “I play a Dom because deep down I’m an injured child with mommy issues” way but because for whatever reason the person has a need to order their environment more than the average person. And those reasons could feed their particular kinks or subvert them…

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