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There are some universal values in BDSM stories, such as “safe, sane and consensual.” Every author approaches these values differently. As a lawyer, I was intrigued by the notion of a contract to govern the BDSM activities and relationship between two people.
Here’s what law students learn about what makes a contract valid: you need an offer, acceptance, and consideration. Consideration isn’t politeness, by the way, it’s payment or sacrifice. If I offer to give you something and you accept, there’s no contract because you didn’t provide any consideration. (This paragraph, plus another few hundred hours of boring material, a ton of debt and a lot of stressful tests, will earn you a law degree.)
The other way you know if a contract is valid is if you can enforce it in a court of law. BDSM contracts aren’t enforceable because the whole idea of “owning” another human is contrary to public policy. And yet, I’m positive that there are Master/slave contracts in the world and not just in erotica. It’s never a bad thing to write things down—even if it’s only your shopping list. It’s never a bad thing to negotiate what each party wants and keep a copy so that there’s a record of what was agreed. And it’s never a bad thing to bring the clarity of precise language to a murky area…which is why having a lawyer help draw up a contract can be helpful.
Ah, but where are you going to find a lawyer who can help you with that BDSM contract? It has to be someone in the life, or you’ll spend time explaining what the terms mean.
I’ve invented a fictional lawyer, Mackenzie Lyon, to be the “Lawyer to the Doms.” He’s the lawyer you hire when you really need to win your case before the Supreme Court. He’s not the tallest man in the room, but he’s so powerful it’s crazy awesome. And he’s committed to supporting his BDSM community, which means he’ll help negotiate a Master/slave agreement, a will, whatever.
Mac is a “Sherlock Holmes” character. (So is Xavier Greer, the owner of The Aerie, the Denver BDSM club in my first trilogy.) Such characters know everything…except how to manage their own personal lives. I knew all along that the final book in the Lawyer to the Doms series would be what happens when the woman Mac Lyon loves returns. So much easier to deal with the “love of your life” when you have to tell people she’s dead. When she shows up, alive? That’s when the real work starts for Mac.
That romance will be The Appeal, Book 3 in the Lawyer to the Doms series. In Book 1, The Bequest, I considered what would happen if a Master left his slave, Sara, to a vanilla nephew in a will that Mac drew up. Again, such a provision wouldn’t be legally binding. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have weight, though. Mac’s the executor of the estate, so it’s his job to make sure that the deceased’s intents are honored.
That’s the point of BDSM agreements—they have power to affect the way people think and act. In other words, they can help make BDSM “safe, sane and consensual.”