Review of Finding Master Right

Finding Master Right by Sparrow Beckett. Read by Samantha Cook. Insatiable Press. 2016.

Content Warnings for the review (in white, highlight to read: 

Discusses consensual sexualized BDSM. Discusses queer tragedy as plot twist without going into details about the tragedy. Discusses a dominant acting in bad faith and doing emotional harm as a result.

Content warnings for the book are at the end of the review. 

Finding Master RightI read this while on the hunt for Halloween themed romances, as there is a meet cute at a Halloween party It’s not as Halloween themed as I hoped it would be, so I need to keep looking for a BDSM Halloween themed romance.

However, this was a compelling contemporary BDSM m/f romance about two stubborn rigid people navigating their very different kinky frameworks to eventually figure out they belong together. (Novice submissive heroine/experienced dominant hero.) If you like your D/s highly sexualized, with elements of discipline and resistance play, this may be up your alley. I found the kink both emotionally compelling and hot; I especially appreciated the deep POV on both sides of the kneel.

It felt like this novel approached BDSM from a place that was both irreverent and genuine, and showed characters stuck in a struggle that I think is more common inside kink communities than we talk about: how there are many different approaches to D/s and the language we use to describe What It Is That We Do (WIITWD) is often not as clear as we imagine it might be. This romance is basically the D/s equivalent to if they just talked openly about it they wouldn’t have these problems, presented in a way where it actually makes sense that they don’t, and keep missing each other and miscommunicating and ending up in a mess. Because, wow, this kind of communication can be hard. So, I really enjoyed seeing them getting all tangled up and trying to figure it out, for much of the book.

The audio performance was quite good, and I could not put the book down, it was that compelling and I was deeply invested in seeing how these characters worked through the awful mess they got themselves into.

Too bad my reading experience was ruined by queer tragedy as an unnecessary and exploitative late plot twist (details in the content warnings). Even though I saw the warning signs it was coming, this plot twist wrecked the emotional arc of the romance for me, because it felt so exploitative. It happens at the height of the romance arc, and I could not recover my investment in the story afterwards, because it felt like I’d been kicked in the face as a queer reader, told very clearly that queer people are just collateral damage to affect allocishet people and shape their lives. It hurt, and was all the more frustrating because it was completely unnecessary and I was really enjoying the book until then.

There were other smaller issues with the story. I was annoyed in small ways at some of the approach to kink (like the moment where its described as undomly for a dom to have a safeword), but these were small moments, generally and didn’t bug me too much as an experienced kinky reader. For all that her feminism was set up as a barrier for the MC, I didn’t really get a sense of what her feminism was, which made it feel a bit like a straw man and not like a struggle I could identify with. And I am a kinky reader who did struggle early on to reconcile my feminism and my kink, particularly D/s. I found the way they were each so careless with each other as they hit up against emotional walls and communication issues rather difficult to read, especially as there was so much care in the way they did kink together, for the most part. I thought Ambrose acted in very bad faith as a dominant, and caused emotional harm by what he did, which he never gets called on. It just gets waved away cuz happy ending, and he is somehow framed as a good guy because of it in a way that felt deeply patriarchal. He is the hero of book two in this series and I am less inclined to read it after the way he acted in this book.

Representation

  • Queer secondary character
  • Secondary character with depression

Content Warnings for the book (in white, highlight to read)

MC is an addiction counselor, had a parent who was an addict. MC whose parent is in a major depression flare, whose father died recently. Casual cissexism and ableism. Internalized fat antagonism. Internalized sexual shame, including the use of the misogyist slur “slut”.

MC’s queer teen brother is being bullied by queer hating peers at school, including threats of outing. MC’s queer teen brother attempts suicide (overdose with medication); this is a central plot twist late in the story (92%) and is a big part of the narrative, is described in detail. It felt like an exploitation of queer tragedy that was about the impact it had on allocishet characters, and felt unnecessary and harmful to me as a queer reader.

Sex on the page. Consensual BDSM including D/s, objectification, offering to others, orgasm control, public play, pain play, punishment/discipline, resistance play, feral play (predator/prey), brat play, Master/slave dynamic including control of speech, behavior, and body position, collar and leash play, owner/property.

Detailed description of sub drop, which the MC doesn’t know about until after she has been experiencing it for a while. A dominant ignores his submissive and barely pays attention to her, acts in bad faith toward her, and is never called on it; instead it is framed as ultimately positive because it had a positive outcome. 

Disclosures

  • Source of the book: I borrowed the eaudiobook from the San Francisco Public Library via hoopla.
  • I have had no contact with the author

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