Vanilla by Megan Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vanilla is a word which conjures up many different emotions for someone in the lifestyle. For Vanilla is what we use for those who are not interested in kink. It's not a bad word, it's word which implies a lot and for those who are happy to let their freak flag fly, it's a not a flavour we thrive on. We can take a bit of a taste here and there, but to live on Vanilla alone may be the death of us. Elise is a women who enjoys sexual power over men. Her past relationship burned her so badly she now has a no dating rule. She can dominate and scene with a man, she just doesn't want a relationship. Yet she yearns for more. Perhaps four years is long enough and she is ready to begin learning how to love again.
This book breaks my heart. It is about a woman who is in tuned with her needs and others either judge or disappoint her. Ms. Hart does an amazingly accurate job of capturing the difficulties of being a female sexual dominant. From the misunderstanding of her kink to dating outside the kink pool - all of it is scarily realistic. At the heart of this journey, is a woman who wants to find a man who understands her. A man who she understands and enjoy an erotic power exchange. Someone who can see and appreciate the sum of all her parts. Elise is tired of only being seen for parts of herself. What woman or man doesn't want this? The difficult for her is the fact that not only is she kinky but she wants to be the one on top. Female dominants are oft maligned as man-hating sadistic bitches ready to cut off men's balls. This is unfortunate because most of the dommes I know in real life are nothing like this. As a switch, I'm not like this and yet I am also painted with the same brush of being a cruel heartless bitch. This is why I connected so well with Elise. I understand her in all levels and my heart cries for her painful rejections.
I'm not going to lie. My heart physically hurt whilst reading this book. I know going into a Ms. Hart book that I need to brace myself for being torn apart and then then slowly be built back together. Even with my preparation, I felt destroyed near the end. I end up gasping for breath as I choke back sobs. This book will touch the softer side of a
strong woman. The part which is hidden from the world because of how often people want to tear down a successful woman who is both strong and soft.
Niall is a great guy. As a love interest character, he's an ideal boyfriend until it gets into the sex part. The things he says are hurtful and he doesn't even understand why. The scene where he thinks it's okay to do what he did, if I had been Elise, no lie, I would have hurt him terribly. I would have cut him down where it hurt the most in the coldest way and walk away with him bleeding his heart out. I would never take him back. He would be dead to me. D.E.A.D.T.O.M.E. DEAD. In that moment in time, all the love would have instantly turned to hate. That's how offensive his actions are to me. I would never trust him again and I wouldn't be able to repair the relationship with him because I will always remember this one defining moment. For Ms. Hart to write this and yet be able to change it into something different, I'm impressed. Now many readers may not get why I consider Niall response such a hurtful act. And that is okay.
For those who don't understand femdom and think it's all about stepping on men's balls and pegging them in the ass, this is a different version of femdom. In this one, Elise shows how she derives pleasure from controlling and pleasing. She shows how her dominance brings strong orgasms and connections. She also shows how it does take trust and negotiation for a D/s relationship to work. Her relationship with Niall is a perfect example of how vanilla and kink can cross paths and end up with heartbreak. With work, there is a possibility for the vanilla person to become spiced vanilla. In all honestly, I don't believe it will happen in real life. I haven't seen nor experienced it. There is no swaying and if a kinky person decides to be with a vanilla, it will end up in heartbreak or dissatisfaction. This story whilst painfully moving, it is still a romantic fictionalization when kinky meets vanilla. Recommended for kinky readers who are hopeless romantics.
*provided by NetGalley
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