Book Review - Blue (an erotic novel) by LN Bey - 4 stars
First, you should know I hated “FSOG”. I tell you this early, so if “FSOG” is your idea of BDSM erotica, Blue might not ring your bell. Why? Because Blue is realistic, offering more than someone’s ideal fantasy of an abusive relationship. It shows BDSM’s good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. Most of the people in the book are normal(ish), almost intentionally so. This serves for a slightly disarming experience (Wait...what? My dentist is into whips?), but it works to ground the story in reality.
Few writers concentrating on BDSM do the lifestyle justice or have experience living it. To these writers, it’s a fantasy. And that’s fine if you, the reader, are looking for fluffy sexual exploits. But anyone who has been involved in any type of BDSM relationship, or wants a glimpse into what really goes on, usually wants—demands—more. Because there is so much more to explore than the shallow fantasyland most authors give us.
In Blue, the author does a fine job introducing us to Janet, a recently divorced suburban woman who enjoys the types of BDSM fantasy novels I just described. When she learns a friend belongs to an exclusive club of kinksters (surprisingly, right in the neighborhood), she jumps at the chance to try what she’s only read about before.
At her kinky and demeaning “initiation” into the club, Janet learns reality isn’t fantasy and fluctuates between enjoyment, fear, worry, arousal, and disappointment. Yet, she sees glimpses of what might be, if only she can learn and give herself over in ways she’s never done before but longs to do. She struggles with the unsettling realization that she was turned on despite the humiliation she did not expect and did not enjoy, contrasted with delight as she feels—for the first time in her life—that she belongs. That she may find her place in this strange, new world she’s only dreamed of before.
In some ways, Blue reminded me of The Story of O (if reset in American suburbia), yet the players seem less experienced and not as concerned with Janet’s “shaping” or wellbeing. They are far more focused on their own pleasures. And Janet is much less sure of herself than O as she hops from scene to scene, experience to experience, never quite knowing what to expect. Sometimes enjoying it, sometimes not so much.
Soon, she’s in the thick of things, sometimes in ways that are difficult to read (like the time she’s beaten so badly, she cannot go to work for days) or is treated poorly by a sadistic woman whose only goal seems to be to hurt Janet as much as she can. While these interactions were not pleasant to read, they did show a side to the lifestyle that does exist and serves as a caution for anyone picking play partners.
When Janet meets the mysterious Dimitri, a filmmaker noted for avant-garde BDSM movies, she is intrigued after months of playing with average Joes (at one point staying in a cheap motel with another submissive, awaiting the pleasure of a man who, for the most part, ignores her...far from the romantic portrayals she’s read about and longed for). I admired the author for including many elements like this one—the not-so arousing and glamorous side and people who use the lifestyle and title of Dom/Domme as a lure to get people to have sex with them or for purely psychotic reasons. In Dimitri, Janet sees something more and agrees to star in one of his films. Like most of the book, she isn’t told what will happen, so the reader gets to experience it right along with Janet. A very effective way to keep one reading.
Janet’s interactions with Dimitri were the most satisfying for me. The writer seemed to lose herself in this world of a man I imaged as a David Lynch type of visionary. The descriptions were lush and mind-bending. I longed for more as it was a welcome respite from the sometimes predictable patterns of power exchanges, sex play, and repetitious inner dialog as Janet continues to question and rehash her self-doubt and feelings of non-worth.
There are parallel stories I could have done without, though they do add different viewpoints and enable the book to wrap in a satisfying way. Though there could be a sequel, none is needed. The story stands alone.
Readers should know Blue contains explicit material and very adult situations throughout.
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