Review: The Companion
The Companion by Michelle Knight
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Susan is an overwhelmed office slave typing up reports and helping everyone out with their work. When a chance encounter brings her into the kinky lifestyle, she decides to embark on an exploration into her submission. Ms. Knight is a new to me author who wants to show those curious about the lifestyle, what a newbie can experience. She is a professed member of this lifestyle who incorporates pieces of her own participation into Susan's journey. The concept is sound. Since the characters didn't work for me, I didn't enjoy this book. Perhaps it is because this story is originally designed to be told in a screenplay medium versus a book which makes the characters bland and disengaging.
From a BDSM scene standpoint, it is a mediocre portrayal of D/s. Susan meets Mark through a friend. Mark is a dominant who is just starting to open up into having another submissive. He lost his last submissive to a terminal illness and he's not sure if he can be vulnerable again to take on a new submissive. Here's where it becomes a problem for me. Mark is incessantly harping about trust. How Susan is supposed to trust him to do what is best for her. This book doesn't show how Susan is encouraged to trust him and furthermore, for a D/s dynamic to work well, it takes trust from both sides and open communication. Without communication, how does one trust? Mark's first conversation with Susan is to let her know she is not to speak unless she's spoken to and Mark will run the show, without discussing with Susan first.
Mark kept his cool and maintained a level, non-threatening voice. His eyes remained on the papers. “First, you were told not to speak. Second, I just told you to strip. Do it. Put your clothes on the wooden bench under the window.”
“But, what...” [Susan]
“But what... what? You have been ordered to take your clothes off. Do you have a problem with that?” [Mark]
“Well, I thought that at least we’d ... um ...” [Susan]
“Get a chance to know each other? No.” [Mark]
Mark finally looked up from the report and looked Susan straight in the eyes. “Our relationship is based on me say, you do. If we get to know each other before we start, then you'll know my buttons. If you know those then you can undermine me and that won't help us a bit. The goal here is for you to lose control and trust me to guide you. If you can work me from behind the scenes, then what does that do for my authority?” (pg. 58)
Base on my time in the lifestyle, I'd have dragged Susan out the door and found another dominant who knows how to communicate. Keep in mind, this is her first contact with Mark. Mark is an asshole and doesn't deserve any trust. From the get go, he comes across as arrogant and disinterested. Is this an accurate portrayal of dominants in the lifestyle? Sure. Ones that I have nothing to do with and not the type I associate with in the community. Is it wrong? No. He's just underwhelming and not how I was mentored to be a dominant. He is a different style which does nothing for me. What this little scene tells me is that he is insecure in his dominance and he believes submissives are manipulative little cunts. Because any information they learn about Mark is going to be used just to undermine his authority. I pity Mark and his relationships which have taught him this lesson. Sounds like power struggles are what he is used to which means he is unable to build a solid foundation of trust. Then again, renaming a person by a letter to denote the number of submissives he's fucked regularly is pretty clear about how he views a submissive under his control. Susan is the honoured number twelve which translates into the letter K.
What confuses me about Mark is his desire to have Susan converse intelligently with him. He expects her to be well read and shares his vast library. He rips on her trashy books and pushes her to real literature. Nothing wrong with a snob. What does amuse me is apparent good business sense yet he rips on the Art of War and indicates it's really only for warfare so it is irrelevant for current times. Seriously, I nearly dropped the kindle when I read this part. I figured this is supposed to be sarcasm. When Susan has a hard time comprehending the book here is Mark's answer in how the book is applicable in modern times.
“To you; it isn't.” [Mark]
“I mean, to anyone.” [Susan]
“Well, there could be a nuclear disaster and we might end up fighting each other for resources and survival. Knowledge like that might be useful should it happen.” “But what are the chances of that?” (pg. 94)
As a Chinese reader who has read the Art of War as mandatory reading for applications in the real world, I find his answer disappointing. I could continue on with all the things I don't like about Mark but it would be nitpicky and useless. The point is made; I dislike Mark and have no respect for him. How this ends up being a romance with a happily ever after is beyond my comprehension. Susan comes across as a browbeaten drone. Mark is domineering and expects Susan to guess all his motives and do everything exactly as he says. Susan may as well be one of the new Japanese sex doll robot companions.
What would have been nice is to show more rather than tell. Show how Mark builds trust with Susan. Show acts giving Susan a good feeling of trust and wanting to submit her will to Mark. At one point, Mark says he knows all about Susan and it's time for her to learn more about him. Where in this book did he learn about her? Perhaps it was in scenes cut out because as far as I could tell, all he did was spank her ass and treat her to bondage. The personal interactions between the two would help build sensual tension and give the reader a taste of their chemistry. As it turns out, the two have very little chemistry and it comes across as Susan finding her sugar daddy and never needing to work another day in her life to pay the bills. Instead she needs only to supply her ass, cunt and mouth for fucking at any time and she's golden. As long as the two of them are fine with this, it's all good.
The writing itself is fine. The story pace is a bit slow. Ms. Knight does bring all the lose threads to closure and she does resolve all conflicts neatly. The world building is fine as it is contemporary and everything is plausible. The wedding at the end is erotic and ends this book on a lovely note. For a realistic representation of a D/s relationship flaws and all, this book does the job.
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