This is something that I had heard referenced over and over again on tv and the internet, "this that or the other is like fifty shades of grey", and I actually had to look it up to find out what the Hell it was. Kind of like with Ayn Rand I was the very last to the party, and by the time I had found out what everyone was talking about it had already had a huge success. I see it costs next to nothing on amazon, so I figured why not? Lets tack it onto the list and see what its like. All I can say is.... shmieh.
Here's the thing with sexy novels, you have to actually like the characters. While the female character is alright, albeit extremely judgmental, slut-shame-y and sex-negative (though through my irritation I could forgive it seeing as she's extremely inexperienced), the male character turned me off from the start.
I need to preface this by saying that I have no involvement in the BDSM community and know little about it, it's just really not my scene. Despite this, I still feel like it was really poorly represented in this novel. I feel like for a healthy Dom/Sub relationship, it starts from a place of mutual respect. This guy is a fucking condescending prick. Saying that if one of "his" made the mistake of getting sick on their first time being drunk he'd beat them so badly they couldn't sit for a week? Yea, fuck yourself asshole.
While I'm not personally into BDSM, I get the allure of the Dom/Sub relationship in the bedroom. The relinquishing of control can be hot in the right context. However, this book is representing the 24/7 Dom/Sub relationship as if it were the norm for the community, when it is a very small extreme. It's one thing to take control in the bedroom, tie up your partner etc, it's entirely another to say that any straying from this extreme set of rules, like snacking between meals or making a mistake, will result in a beating. Sometimes I can be into the whole game, and other times I feel sick and unsexy and I want to curl up on the couch with a pint of ice cream and watch bad tv, and for that I have to be scared I'm going to get beat up?! It brings what is a normal, healthy aspect of sexuality to something bordering dangerously on the makeup of an abusive relationship. What's worse, the psyche of the male character is set up like he's "like this" because he was abused, and is continuing the cycle of abuse by becoming a Dominant and not being able to change. This isn't to say that you can't have a fucked up character in your novel, but I feel like they're unfairly shitting all over the entire BDSM community with the way they marry his fucked-up-ness with his Dominant sexuality. Please feel free to call me out on my utter naivete if you're in the BDSM community and feel that this criticism is unfair.
I kept reading sex scene after sex scene, realizing that I was getting very close to the end and the story wasn't developing in the slightest. There were plenty of excuses to go back to yet another sex scene, but nothing was actually happening. When I reached the end I saw that somehow they had managed to turn this masturbatory aid into a trilogy, no wonder the story wasn't going anywhere.
Will I read the other two? I really don't know if they're worth my time. The thing is I didn't like the male character for the majority of the book, so the sex scenes really didn't do it for me. Without those, this book is worth nothing. I have no idea if the characters will actually develop in the other two books, but unless someone convinces me that they get better I doubt I'll get around to reading them.