Welcome to the Valentine's Day Gift Hop as we celebrate love, sex, and all things books! Our grand prizes are a Kindle Paperwhite and a digital new adult romance basket. Every comment on every blog in the hop will count as an entry toward either of the grand prizes. Each blogger will also be giving away an individual prize. For information on what you could win from me, read on!
So Skye Warren, the marvelous organizer of this hop, has suggested we discuss something related to love and romance as a way of getting you all in the mood for Friday. When I considered what I personally find most romantic, the answer was easy: dominance and submission.
I'm not a part of the BDSM "scene". I don't practice "lifestyle" BDSM. However, I've experienced one extremely intense, long-term D/s relationship that profoundly changed my world view and that influenced me to begin writing erotica about fourteen years ago. Since then I've written many books that feature elements of dominance and submission, as well as dozens of short stories. (For a categorized list, visit http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books_index.html). With my friend S.F. Mayfair, I also co-edited Sacred Exchange, a collection of stories exploring the spiritual and mystical aspects of dominance and submisssion.
Why do I think love, sex and BDSM go together? For me, the essence of a D/s relationship lies in the emotional bond between the dominant and the submissive. The physical trappings and conventional activities - the riding crop and the gag, the handcuffs and the nipple clamps, the whippings and the binding - are side issues, merely the methods chosen to express, explore, and strengthen the bond. Others may associate BDSM with humiliation, cruelty, abuse, and agony. In my view, BDSM is about devotion, commitment, trust, and ecstasy.
In a true D/s relationship, there is no coercion. The submissive voluntarily gives up control to the dominant. In return, the dominant accepts responsibility for the submissive's well-being and ultimately, for his or her pleasure. The sub surrenders herself to the Dom, in devotion and trust. (For now I'll assume a female submissive. I've written both male- and female-dominant tales, as well as some lesbian D/s, but it gets awkward to keep using multiple pronouns!) The Dom can do whatever he wants with the sub; she has, after all, given her consent. He has the intoxicating knowledge that by taking what he desires, he will also give his sub what she most craves: the satisfaction of pleasing her master and the freedom to experience her most intimate fantasies of ravishment and abuse.
Let me give you an example, from my very first novel Raw Silk.
He carried her over to the bed and laid her down on her back. "Lift your arms above your head," he commanded.
As she complied, her hand brushed against something, dangling from the headboard. She turned to look at the braided ropes of red silk, fastened to the rattan spokes, and suddenly understood why Gregory had disappeared when she first arrived. A few things to attend to, he had said. So he had left her with his lady co-conspirator, trusting his comrade and the performance to inflame Kates senses and imagination, while he came and installed these bonds.
Gregory watched the comprehension dawning in her eyes.
"Yes, Kate. I prepared these for you. Only for you."
He leaned closer. "I want to tie you here, hand and foot, so that you will be more completely at my disposal. I believe that you want that, too. But you must tell me so. I will not do this without your permission."
Kate was silent. She had never been so unsure in her life. Fear, suspicion, shame, and distrust warred with curiosity and desire. In his arms she had felt both sheltered and helpless, and she longed for those feelings again. Yet he was essentially a stranger, she reminded herself, a stranger with a shady profession and an unsavory reputation.
When she looked him, though, she saw concern and attentiveness in his eyes, even though his cock still pulsed hugely from his fly. The sight of his manhood sent a delicious weakness through her limbs. I must be crazy, she thought to herself, as she nodded her assent.
"Do it," she murmured, and did not trust herself to say anymore.
With expert skill, he bound her wrists with the silken braids. "Silk is a marvelous substance," he commented. "So soft, but incredibly strong. Like you, my little Kate. I know that you can endure much, Kate. Much more than you would believe."
But what about the pain? Intense emotional connection, trust, devotion, that all sounds wonderful, but is it worth suffering beneath the lash, enduring the ropes biting into your flesh?
I don't particularly seek out pain (though I understand that some BDSM practitioners do). In any case, pain is a strange thing. It depends on expectations as much as on reality. I have read that native American women did not experience any pain at childbirth because their culture viewed labor and delivery as joyous and easy. (Those of you who are mothers might be skeptical.) In any case, during a D/s scene, when you are unbelievably turned-on, pain does not necessarily feel bad. For one thing, elevated levels of endorphins decrease pain sensitivity levels. Whip strokes and spankings stimulate the senses - it is the mind that translates them as pleasure or pain, or sometimes both at once.
Here's another excerpt, from "Body Electric", in my collection of stories with the same title, that demonstrates this.
My legs were spread wide, my cunt-lips stretched open, baring my throbbing clit to tremble in random air currents. The sheet beneath me was soaked with my secretions. Do something, I thought. Anything.
He returned to his attaché case. There was a strange noise, a kind of hissing or snapping. "I thought we might begin with this little gadget."
The thing in his hands looked like something from a 1940's horror film. It had a handle, topped with a mushroom-shaped globe of glass that glowed with a malevolent purple light. Inside the glass, bright sparks danced. Their images flickered on the wall next to the bed.
Slowly, he brought the bulb closer to my bare flesh. The crackling noise grew more intense. He hovered above my nipple. "Don't move," he whispered.
All at once a rain of sparks shot from the tube to the taut node of flesh. I was being pierced with a thousand needles. I screamed, as much from surprise as from the pain. Ryan pulled the device away, as I tried to catch my breath.
"Sorry, Doctor. I wasn't expecting..." Before I could finish, his mouth was on my recently assaulting nipple, lapping and sucking, soaking my skin with his hot saliva. I felt every movement of his tongue deep in my cunt.
When he brought the glowing globe close again, I thought I was ready. This time, though, the sparks were stronger, hotter, more painful. Electricity crawled over my breast, wherever he had left traces of wetness.
Before I could recover, he was sparking my other nipple. I jumped and squirmed. My cunt contracted with each contact.
He stroked by stomach. "You're all sweaty," he said. The thing sputtered and popped. Miniature bolts of lightning showered down on my navel. "And your thighs are smeared with cunt-juice..." He swept the wand slowly over my body and a long trail of sparks stitched up the sensitive skin toward my gaping sex.
"I've always been fascinated by electricity," he said in a conversational tone as the bulb approached my cunt.
I tensed, waiting for the jolt I knew would come. Nothing could have prepared me for the raw sensations. Sparks danced on my clit and sputtered among my wet folds. I screamed again, overwhelmed, confused as to whether I was in terrible pain or close to climax.
Have I convinced you that dominance and submission can be romantic? If not, perhaps you'd like to read my free story, "An Old-Fashioned Valentine".
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you thinking. That's great but what about the prize?
To make up for having such a long post, I'll give away two prizes:: an autographed print copy of Raw Silk, and an ebook version of Body Electric. Just leave a comment to enter (as well as to enter for your name for the grand prize, of course). I'll draw winners on Sunday the 16th of February.
Happy Hopping! And Happy Valentine's Day!