Review: Safe Words
Safe Words by Drury Jamison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Femdom stories can go wrong very quickly with a despicable female whose sole goal is to destroy men. It's a pleasure when the woman is one who is exploring her dominance and working to be a better person. Add to this a suspense plot, and it's a winner. Mr. Jamison is a new-to-me author and I'm interested in reading more of his books. If he continues to write erotic suspense with a femdom lead character, I'm hooked.
Detective Eleanor Silver is no stranger to the old boys club thinking that women sleep their way up. Unfortunately for her, despite all her hard work to earn her detective shield, she makes a cardinal sin. She sleeps with a fellow officer and their sex is dirty nasty with kinky gun play. Even though this asshat detective is from another city, her tattered reputation still gets around. Compounding this situation is her latest case which involves women in BDSM who were brutally killed.
The characters in this story are for the most part unappealing. Eleanor is close to making friends with "Bill W". She's sloppy enough at her job that both her boss and partner are questioning her sobriety whilst on the clock. She is going through some kind of downward spiral due to an unclear reason. She's either burned out or carrying some personal baggage that isn't readily apparent. Basically, she's great at self-sabotage. I can't understand this mentality and it does make me think less of her. Perhaps it's because I'm a female who works hard in a male-dominated job and I want to tell Eleanor to put on her big girl panties and suck it up. Honestly, she comes across as a female with Daddy issues. This issue is such a first world problem and makes me a bit disappointed in her.
Fortunately, Eleanor's personal issues works because Mr. Jamison uses this rock bottom point to help grow the character. Normally, I don't like dominants who don't have their shit together because I firmly believe, if one cannot control themselves, they should not be given power over others. Mr. Jamison does an excellent job of showing Eleanor's behaviour and actions spiral out of control and how it negatively impacts her burgeoning kinky lifestyle. With the help of an experienced male submissive, Anderson Wells, Eleanor stops her descent, takes a hard look at herself and decides to make a change. This is best captured in Eleanor's musing.
"An idiot and a coward. I [Eleanor] was afraid. It was my responsibility. That was what I was afraid of. Always in my life, men came to me, and I let them have or do or take until I had enough. But it was never really enough because it was never really what I wanted. Anderson wasn't coming after me. If I wanted him, I had to make it happen. My responsibility. If I want to be happy, it's my choice to make. It's easy to say, but it is not just saying, Today I'm going to be happy. You have to risk what you have this moment for what you want in the next. That's scary, and that's what I was afraid of. " (pg. 107)
Anderson Wells and Tusk, Eleanor's partner, are the two redeeming characters in this book. They aren't perfect themselves and they aren't white knights riding in to the rescue. Instead, they hold a mirror up to Eleanor and force her to see herself clearly. This is done in a manner which worked well for me and I started to like Eleanor better.
From a plot perspective, this book started out very slow. The first four chapters could have been condensed into one chapter for me. Whilst the back history between Eleanor and Brutus, the asshat ex-lover, is needed, it dragged on too long. The story spends a bit too much time with Eleanor's introspection. When the action finally starts happening about 35% into the book, it reads smoother and my interest is peaked. The mystery is well laid out and I thoroughly enjoyed the switch to the killer's perspective as well as figuring out the killer. Mr. Jamison lays it out well so a reader can figure out the killer long before the end.
The BDSM in this book is good. What I liked is how it shows the different types of kinks and how it can be bad or good, depending on the intent and consent. In addition, the scenes are accurate, which tells me either Mr. Jamison is in the lifestyle or he does good research. What I really enjoyed is Eleanor's exploration in her dominance and Anderson's help with it. Eleanor learns a few hard lessons through newbie faux pas and her own hardheadedness. Showing how a scene can go wrong or how trusts can be broken and then slowly repaired is so good to see. There are no perfect dominants in this book which gives it a more realistic feel. Also, Anderson is the kind of male submissive who makes my panty wet. He isn't a doormat. When he decides to yield his power to a woman, it's fantastic. Definitely a drool worthy submissive I'd like to scene with.
I look forward to the next book in this series. I especially look forward to Eleanor's progression in her dominance. Recommended for femdom lovers who enjoy a strong male submissive and a female dominant learning the ropes.
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