Domestic Discipline (DD) as a sub-genre is a tricky one for writers. Too often, it’s a subject fraught with controversy, contradiction, and misunderstanding. It’s very easy to get wrong, and even easier to outright offend readers with.
As a reader who happens to enjoy both the concept and the sub-genre it’s based on, too many DD books just miss the mark for me. Either it’s a book with too much philosophizing/theory and little to no sex (or worse, sex that depicts DD practitioners in a less than flattering light), or it’s a book that deemphasizes the fascinating and thought-provoking psychological underpinnings of the concept and instead concentrates on sex that seems divorced from the unique emotional connection that’s inherent in a DD relationship.
But Maggie Ryan’s novel, Treasured Submission, get’s it sooo right.
At first look, this appears to be a novel divided into two books or parts, but as the reader continues deeper into the story, they will discover that there is a reason for this. The first part is a riveting, deeply erotic story that alternates between divorced writer Abigail’s discovery of the very concept of domestic discipline (in a scene that manages to be both amusing and very hot), and the intense D/s soaked domestic discipline marriage of her two friends, Samantha and Ian.
Abigail, a total novice in the world of DD, encounters a man, Dean, who is anything but a novice. Authentic sparks fly, despite Abigail’s understandable shock at discovering an entire sub-culture she had no idea was even a thing. Meanwhile, the reader begins to get hints that the relationship between Samantha and Ian is something much more than we’ve been initially led to believe. And, holy shiznit, do we go down the rabbit hole (in a very GOOD way) when we learn the true extent of that couple’s particular DD dynamic. Ian toes an extremely hard line, and brave Samantha finds herself one very, very sorry girl.
Which is exactly how she wants it.
The second part of the book follows the deepening relationship between Abigail and Dean, and it’s a compelling read indeed, both as an introduction to DD and as an authentic romance. It’s well-written, erotic, and touching. You feel real love between these characters, even as they struggle with self-doubt and the same emotional obstacles any of us can relate to. Ms. Ryan excels at this, at showing how the warmth, and acceptance, and caring, becomes something more, something much more profound. I wish more DD writers would emphasize the importance of acceptance in this particular dynamic.
The only minor issue I had with the book was with the presentation (which is the publisher’s issue, not Ms. Ryan’s); the cover is totally wrong for the book as it implies a light-hearted sexual romp. This story, while full of love, and caring (and very hot sex/punishment scenes), is anything but a fluffy throwaway romp. You’ll actually have to engage your brain with this one, along with your other, um, parts. I almost didn’t buy it because of the cover, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.
As for sexual content, wow, this one brings the heat (especially in the first half). If you like the über stern, but fair (and loving) Head of Household dynamic, then you’re going to eat this thing up. I think even readers whose kryptonite is alpha males will like some of the content in this novel. What I mean by this is that readers who love a strict Maledom/femsub sexual relationship will be right at home here. There is, as you’d expect, lots (and lots) of spanking and several other forms of corporal punishment, and it’s written very, very well. Though a refreshingly unapologetic DD book, this one also includes some D/s content, which is understandable as the concepts do share some commonalities.
The most controversial part of the book is going to be some of the punishments depicted in the raw, graphic, and unflinching depiction of Samantha and Ian’s marriage. This is likely to generate a polarizing reaction in readers, as it includes a sexual act (hint: it involves anal) as “punishment” that many a reader will object to. For this particular reader however, I found it brave, and incredibly erotic. I admire Ms. Ryan for depicting it in a way that pulls zero punches. I loved it, though I will admit I’m a reader who loves the high-octane stuff:) Samantha and Ian’s story is worth the price of admission alone here. It’s thermonuclear hot. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it in the entire DD genre. I won’t say more about them lest I risk giving away the goods, but I am quite confident in saying you will be blown away.
For readers who like dialogue as part of sex and/or punishment — particularly making the spankee recite what she’s done and what she’s about to get as her punishment — you’ve found your mother lode. If you like “dirty talk” in the sense of name-calling during sex, this isn’t the book, but if you like a stern, (very) dominant man giving detailed orders, instructions, and scoldings before, during, and after “festivities,” then you need to one click this book right now.
If you disagree with the entire concept of DD on philosophical or emotional grounds, then this is absolutely not the book for you. If you like gentle sugar kink, do not read this book. Seriously, walk away now. If you don’t particularly like anal play, definitely pick another read. If you are a reader who believes DD shouldn’t involve sex, then you need to keep looking for another book; this book celebrates and enshrines the deeply sexual nature of the entire DD dynamic. (And I was so glad to see it.)
Treasured Submission is really a book for readers who enjoy the different permutations of DD and D/s, and — this is MOST important — truly understand the complex emotional connection that undergirds the entire domestic discipline sexual dynamic. If this sounds like you, then I can say with confidence that this is a novel you’re going to enjoy.
Very highly recommended.
(PS – I really, REALLY want to know more about both Samantha and Ian, and Abigail and Dean. Hint, hint, Ms. Ryan:)