Category: 2 out of 5 Paddles

Convenient Strangers by Cara McKenna


2 out of 5 paddles

As Convenient Strangers opens, Stephen is breaking up with his boyfriend of more than two years. They had met in London, and Stephan had emigrated to a small Tennessee town to be with him. But Ethan is deeply closeted. He won’t acknowledge Stephen in public or even make love with the lights on. For the out and proud Stephen, it’s all very insulting and he’s had enough. He tries to get Ethan to understand his feelings but the man refuses to budge. Frustrated, Stephen stalks out, vowing to spend the night out and return the next day for his things.

Adam broke up with his boyfriend three weeks ago, but tonight is the first night he has screwed up the courage to go out and try to meet some new people. He visits the town’s only gay bar, where he spots Stephen playing pool by himself. Unlike his former boyfriend, the construction foreman Stephen is exactly Adam’s type. At first he’s rebuffed by the gruff Stephen, but soon they’re kissing in the corner.

This is essentially the story of a one night stand, two men on the rebound who need a night of just sex to wipe away the unhappy memories of their failed relationships. The author manages to draw things out amazing well, with a very extended session of foreplay, occasionally interrupted by periods of commiseration over their pasts. The two agree that they don’t do anal on the first date, but as things progress, their old rules seem less and less important, and eventually they do have hot sex.

The two men seem to have incredible chemistry, but the author doesn’t tie things up in a happily ever after bow. She doesn’t leave you hanging either, but leaves it open as to whether the two will get back together after their one night of passion. For such a short story, the characters are extremely well drawn and engaging.

While the sex in Convenient Strangers is hot, there’s really zero BDSM content. Stephen could be described as a power top, but he’s no dom. In fact, after the repressed and passive Ethan, Stephen revels in having a lover like Adam who will tell him what he likes, and even demand satisfaction. While the sex is rough at times, it’s mutual and never strays into kink territory.

The lack of kink is why I’ve only given the story two paddles. If I were rating it purely on the story and the writing, I would give it four stars out of five.

Discovering Pleasure
Marie Haynes
Total E Bound [link to buy]
ISBN 978-0-85715-883-3

Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles

Rose had it rough as a child, and found her happiness came best with rules. As an adult she especially enjoys those rules imposed b y her Dom, Nathan. One day a letter comes from lawyers working for the father she never knew she had. He recently learned about her and has decided he wants to meet her.

Nathan convinces Rose to go to her father’s winery to meet him and suggests they make it a road trip with friends. The road trip and Rose’s reconciliation with her father sum up the plot of this very choppy story. The best thing about this book is the description of various kinds of wine found at the beginning of each chapter which link them all together. The scenes include spanking, some bondage, female on female, swapping and figging. While graphic, all scenes weren’t particularly hot and in some cases, the chapter ended before the sex.

This book was mediocre at best, although there were some terms I had not encountered before, so I did learn something.

Reviewed by Karen

Forced Fantasies
Cassandre Dayne
[link to buy]
ASIN B006K5363W

Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles

Devlin works at a prestigious conservative company, doing what we’re never told, but once freed from the confines of the office he fancies himself a bad boy, with desires he keeps hidden. He fancies another man in his office, Lucas, but isn’t sure the man could deal with Devlin’s kinky needs. Devlin spends time on a fetish web site, whose owner Granger has taken an interest in him. Granger thinks Devlin might be just the boy he’s looking for, although Granger already has a partner, Tanner, about whom there’s a dark secret.

Actually, just about everybody in this book has ‘dark’ secrets, and the author never misses an opportunity to remind us of that at every turn. The amateurish attempts to create a sense of foreboding were so numerous that they got really annoying. Tanner’s secret is so blatantly telegraphed it isn’t much of surprise. Devlin’s secret desires are supposedly so extreme that they would make even hard-core kinksters blanch. I don’t think of myself as a real hard-core kinkster, but when Devlin’s ‘forced fantasy’ is played out towards the end, I had to think, “Pfft, that’s it?” The scene is hard core to be sure, but it’s fairly average as BDSM fantasies go. Lucas is the only one for whom his ‘complication’, as he put it, is something of a surprise, but he’s the least developed of the main characters.

There is plenty of good kinky sex in “Forced Fantasies”. We get a glimpse of Granger and Tanner together in their well-equipped playroom, and the scene where Devlin gets his forced fantasy is ‘interesting’ to say the least. In addition to the BDSM scenes, where whipping plays a major part, there’s also a couple of kinky public sex depictions. Unfortunately, a complete lack of proofing or editing really gets in the way of the story. There are an incredible number of typos and missing words, yet there’s no indication that this is a pre-press review copy. Even then, the number of errors is far more than I’ve ever seen. In addition to all the typos, there are places where the author appears to have mixed up the characters. After reading some paragraphs several times, I had to conclude that they only made sense if they were actually about the other character in the scene rather than the one named.

In addition to the just-plain-errors, I found the storytelling in the book to be a major turn-off. The issue is that it’s more ‘telling’ than anything else. We’re told that Tanner’s motivations are complicated, but we’re never shown that. The characters never really get a chance to develop as real people. They seem interesting enough, except for the one female main character, the owner of the sex club and Devlin’s mistress, who is a total caricature. There’s a rather good plot to this book, and a few scenes that work well, but it’s all ruined by what comes off as very amateurish writing for an accomplished author and a complete lack of any editing. I probably would have rated the book much higher were it not completely let down by the writing and proofing.

Reviewed by Michael Joseph

Crimes of Passion: When Love Breaks the Law
edited by Miranda Forbes
Xcite Books [link to buy]
ISBN-10: 1907761802
ISBN-13: 978-1907761805

Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles

Miranda Forbes has edited a collection called Crimes of Passion. Anthologies always present a problem for the reviewer, especially anthologies by “various authors”. The major issue is the wildly divergent qualities found in the book. It gets worse when the anthology grows in size; it seems like the extra padding is just that, desperate attempts to fill the page count. I’m sorry to say, this anthology doesn’t break the mold.

Technically, all the stories are okay. There are no glaring typos or formatting issues that distract the reader from the stories. That says a lot about Ms. Forbes’ editorial abilities; she either rejected stories with poor technical quality or demanded that they be fixed. It’s the stories we’re not distracted from that are the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good stories here, some hot stories here, and a few that are both. But…there are some stinkers. Angel Propps’ Rough Justice is a gem, with a great story, hot sex and intense BDSM, everything the book promises. Landon Dixon’s Sex Rides the Bus is hot, but BDSM free. But we’re also subjected to things like The Fire Triangle by Mia Lovejoy which, in addition to having no BDSM, actually skips over the sex for the most part; I’ve seen steamier sex scenes in mainstream works (Laurell Hamilton comes to mind). It’s too bad that Lovejoy’s story is more typical of the bulk of the stories than Propps’.

Overall, I’m forced to give Crimes of Passion 2 paddles. If you can find it cheap, the few good stories would be worth it, but only just.

Reviewed by David

Playful, Dirty, and Free
Peter Birch
House of Erotica [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 Paddles

This book starts by asking a series of questions to the reader about the ideals and reasoning behind the concept of monogamous relationships.The beginning chapters are confrontational giving the reader a sense of being thrown into a social and culture battle between the kinky, monogamous and non monogamous . The author explores kink and the BDSM lifestyle through drawing on his own personal experiences. There are some interesting statistics cited within the book regarding the apparent increase of same sex and multi sex partnerships as of late. However, the book discusses the BDSM lifestyle in a manner that excludes the reader rather then include them and uses abrasive and shocking wording that is initially confronting to the reader, in my opinion. This book often uses shock tactics to get the readers addition.

Overall, Playful, Dirty, and Free is an interesting read. The book is thought provoking and a very short collection of ideas and opinions that could be very enjoyable to a reader who is looking to challenge and widen their perspective of kink ,but this book is definitely not for everyone.

Reviewed by Catherine

Megan Slayer
Total E Bound [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 Paddles

River Cortland is severely damaged goods. As “Permanent” opens, he’s shivering in the cold outside a sex club, beaten, bruised and bloodied. The story of what happened only comes out in bits and pieces as the book unfolds. It seems that River has suffered under the attentions of a very bad domme. She wanted him to be a pain slut, which he’s not, but she thought she could make him one. She didn’t respect his boundaries, and when he tried to safe-word she gagged him. Then she let her friends at the club where they played do whatever they wanted to inflict the maximum amount of pain and humiliation. River is not only physically beaten, he’s also terrified. He was barebacked by he doesn’t know how many men, while others pissed and ejaculated on the open whip wounds on his back. He has no idea what kind of STDs he may have picked up.

To the rescue comes Tory, River’s roommate. He answers River’s panicked call to come to the club and take him home. River refuses to go to the hospital, so Tory helps him wash and holds him together through the night. The gay-identified River has always had a crush on his roommate, who he thinks is straight, and quite a player as well.

Tory, a sportscaster for a local television station, is a player alright, only he plays for both teams. He’s had his eye on River since the day he moved in. Once River recovers physically from his ordeal, Tory makes his move on the surprised River. The two start an intense physical relationship, but for River there’s a problem: Despite his bad experience, he’s still a man who needs to submit. He has to find out if Tory can dominate him before he can know if the relationship can go anywhere. So, he brings Tory to another club to meet his friend Griffin and his sub Tina.

Griffin and Tina introduce Tory to the D/s scene, and Tory turns out to have a strong dominant streak, which surprises him as much as it pleases River. The rest of the book is mostly consumed with a drawn-out will-they / won’t-they story line. Both men have reasons to hold back. River is still traumatized by what his domme did to him. Although he’s tested free of any diseases, he still feels tainted by the experience, unworthy of being loved and unable to open up to Tory about what was done to him. Tory is a man with real commitment issues. He’s never been in a long term relationship, with a man or a woman, and things with River are obviously complicated. He also has concerns about what coming out might do to his career.

While the scene in which River is brutalized was obviously intense, it’s never described in any detail. We get only brief glimpses of it through occasional flashbacks. The only BDSM actually described in the story is the light D/s scene with Griffin and Tina. There is lots of sex between Tory and River, and as a one-handed read “Permanent” isn’t bad. However, the author seemed to be going for romance, and on that score the book isn’t very successful. The storytelling is rather muddled. At times it’s hard to tell who is talking, or even telling the story, since the point of view switches back and forth between the two main characters. The story is drawn out mainly by having one of the characters undergo a major mood swing. This happens so much that it got rather annoying. The writer needed to find another plot device.

Reviewed by Michael Joseph

Recipe for Submission
Sindra Van Yssel
Ellora’s Cave [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles

Kyra is an author who’s writing about BDSM so she decides to go to a local BDSM club for research. Plots similar to this one, where a total innocent but ultimately submissive girl wanders into a club, are pretty common. However, I am always looking for new authors to put their own style into the story. I did find a new twist in this story, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a good one.

See, Kyra thinks that all Doms are sadists and that all sadists are psychotic abusers. She also thinks submissives are all meek, battered women with mental issues. This is the extent of her knowledge about BDSM, gleaned from a newspaper clipping months ago, and why she decided to make the villain of her book a Dom. Because her book is missing that extra something, she visits the club where she is a little surprised to see submissives and Doms who appear sane and even nice.

There she meets Drew, who is an experienced Dom with a catch-and-release approach to his submissives. He teaches her about BDSM, which is the high point of the book. He talks to her about pain play and switches, etc. Kyra says to him, “You’re trying to convince me that I shouldn’t make the Dom the villain.” And Drew responds, “No. I’m trying to convince you that the villain isn’t really a Dom.”

Their relationship progresses from there in a pretty straight-forward manner. They both have their hesitation, her prejudice about BDSM and his prejudice against commitment, but those barriers come down fairly quickly as this is a short novella.

Unfortunately I could never get past the premise of the book. Kyra was extremely unlikable in my opinion. Not only is she extremely prejudices against BDSM but we see her make snap judgments, often negative ones, based on looks all throughout the book. Her character arc in the book is to learn that BDSM is not inherently evil, and she does that, but she remains the same shallow person who would judge and condemn someone for something she doesn’t understand.

Also, we are told that she is a writer devoted to research that she once picked up and lived in London for a month just to assimilate the details. And yet when she goes to the BDSM club she knows nothing at all about the life, not even counting her prejudices, but not even the terms “vanilla” or “slave” or any of the equipment, etc. I am left to believe that she is only a diligent researcher in her mind.

Reviewed by Cleo Patra

Alien Salvation
Tracy St. John
New Concepts Publishing [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 Paddles

Alien Salvation is Tracy St’ John’s fourth novel in the Clans of Kalquor series. The Kalquorians are threatened by extinction. In the past, something happened that either eliminated all their females or rendered them incapable of breeding. Their only hope is Earth; by some quirk of genetics, they can breed with human females. The oppressive religious theocracy, however, views sex with aliens are a deadly sin. That human woman willingly mated with the imperial clan (a bonded trio of males) did not go over well, to say the least. Rather than lose the war with Kalquor, they nuked the entire planet, rendering it soon to be uninhabitable.

That’s where our story starts. Kalquor has sent ships to Earth to try to rescue as many humans (as well as native fauna and flora) as possible, as well as search for the Empress’ family. Bacoj, Japohn and Vax, clanmates, end up out of the search area due to a piloting error, where they meet Lindsey and her parents. Lindsey, at first, offers to have sex with them for food, but the feelings of love aren’t far behind. But Lindsey has a secret; she is the Empress’ sister, and keeping the secret could have dire consequences. Will this budding love survive secrets, long ingrained prejudices and Trangoon (scavenger barbarians) attack?

This book has lots of potential. Once you accept the ability of aliens and humans to breed successfully (not a stretch since Star Trek’s Spock), one can see the well thought out design of the story universe. Unfortunately, there are problems. Technically, things could have been improved. There are many places where word choice and punctuation could have been improved. For example, “Lindsey’s stomach flopped at the possessive look he gave her then it tumbled a few times over when she saw identical expressions on the other two.” A comma or two would have been nice.

Even harder on the reader is the uneven spacing of paragraphs. I’ve long gotten used to the idea that paragraphs can be delineated by either indentations of spacing between them. There are places, however, where the amount of space between two paragraphs is two or three times what it is elsewhere, leading the reader into thinking perhaps there was a section break or a scene change when there wasn’t. It almost looks like page breaks from another document type that were inadvertently preserved in the pdf book.

There were problems for me with the erotic content as well. Don’t get me wrong; there was plenty and it was suitably explicit. It was just too…flowery. I was reminded of the language of old romance novels in places, where sex was described in such flowery language as to be rendered acceptable for mainstream publishers back in the day (yes, I know I’m dating myself). Tracy, this is BDSM erotica, and I, at least, want to see terminology vastly more explicit than “her sheath” and “his rod.” This is especially true when your BDSM is of the milder variety.

Lastly, as religious person myself, I’m finding it a bit tiring for sexually repressive societies to always be coming from religion. There has been sexual repression stemming from non-religious reasons and it would be nice if authors would at least explore some of those. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that only the anti-religious read erotica. Religiously repressed sexuality is fast becoming a tired chestnut (and for me, already is one).

Over all, I give Alien Salvation 2 paddles, and that only because of the well thought out universe. For those who want flowery erotica, you might bump that up by one.

Robert’s Story
Kissa Starling
Red Rose Publishing [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 Paddles


Robert owns Nicole by mutual consent. She would do absolutely anything to please him-except for the one thing he really wants. His submissive’s aversion to needles is worrisome in more ways than he cares to admit. Bringing others into the relationship proves to be only a temporary fix. Not even the love of his sweet submissive can break down the barrier that’s come between them.

Trust and patience can only last so long… can he push this limit and force her to face her fear before it’s too late?


Okay, first I have to say this is the worst typo in a BDSM themed book and when it happens on page one, it is such a turn off –“…even practiced with another Dominate on his submissive…” Okay, I see enough of this on other sites and it is irritating!

I have to say that to me this story wasn’t even really a turn on. It is another quick story (about 30 pages) and is mostly one night within Robert and Nicole’s relationship. They have a committed D/s relationship and she surprises him with another woman to play with one night. She also gives him a gift of needles to use on this woman since Nicole has a limit with them.

I don’t see enough stories with a male dominant and two female submissives, but this one really didn’t do anything for me. I am very curious about needle play and haven’t experienced much myself but this didn’t make me want to go out and try it.

I hope someone else gets more from Robert’s Story than I did. Other than the first typo I mentioned, the writing is okay. It flows well but didn’t feel descriptive enough for me. The story includes needles, bondage, spanking, f/f, M/f/f, and M/f interactions.

Reviewed by Star

Shinobi, Book One – Concealed in Shadows by Sessha Batto
Pfoxmoor Publishing, PfoxChase [link to buy]

Rating: 2 out of 5 paddles

Yoshi Takahashi is his ninja clan’s most powerful assassin, the feared “Shadow Wolf”. Only he hasn’t been practicing his art much in recent years. The clan leader finds it more profitable – for her – to pimp him out as a sex toy to other clans and Yakuza crime lords to pay for her gambling and opium habits.

Early on in the book, we’re given a rather lengthy description of the sexual tortures to which Yoshi is subjected when he is sent on assignment to ‘serve’ a Yakuza boss. It’s hard to label this BDSM, it’s non-consensual and there is no safe word. Yoshi is bound, mutilated, bled and subjected to whatever humiliations his captors can think of. I can get into a good master/slave story, but Yoshi is already broken when the story begins, and not in a ‘good’ way. He receives no pleasure from his tortures, nor does he attempt to give any. He simply endures the ordeals out of misplaced loyalty to his clan.

Fortunately for Yoshi, the clan’s chief interrogator, Makoto, has discovered what the clan leader has been doing, and informs the elders. They remove the clan leader and send Makoto to rescue Yoshi, which he does with brutal efficiency. The two men form a sort of bond over the ordeal, but this isn’t the end of the story, which takes several twists and turns before Yoshi finally finds peace with the man he learns to love.

The story-telling in this book leaves a lot to be desired. The author introduces a lot of characters, none of whom are well developed. Even Yoshi’s clearly damaged emotions are a bit of a mystery. The author has insisted on using all the myriad variations of names that formal Japanese encompasses, so a single character might be referred to by their first name, family name, family name with honorific, and so on and so forth. The author even put a glossary at the back to help you out. Obviously, she did her research, but to me it came off as being clever at the expense of readability.

Reviewed by Michael Joseph