Training the Receptionist by Juniper Bell
Samhain Publishing 2010
Dana Arthur may be a native of Lowlife, Long Island, but she's nobody's fool. When she applies for the job of receptionist at the upscale consulting firm of Cowell & Dirk, she figures out pretty quickly that this is not your usual entry-level position. Simon Dirk, junior partner of the firm, requires more of his new employee than just answering phones and handling mail. Her new boss demands that she obey even his most outrageous commands and administers swift punishment when she errs in the slightest. Dana is surprised to discover that she's addicted to both the pleasure and the punishment Simon provides, largely because of the powerful yet sensitive man administering them.
Simon quickly comes to find his new receptionist indispensable. For a long time, he and his mentor Ethan Cowell have been seeking a worthy partner to join their kinky games. Dana's intelligence, daring and passion make her perfect for the role. As the two of them grow close, though, Simon realizes that he's not willing to share Dana, even with the man to whom he owes his life. He's ready to quit his job and abandon his commitments to Ethan, rather than be forced to let Cowell have her. Dana, however, has other ideas.
Let me get straight to the point. I loved this book! Of course, I'm a huge fan of stories with D/s themes, but I read lots of BDSM novels that do not get to me the way this one did. One reason for my enthusiasm is Ms. Bell's breezy, literate style. She gives Dana a highly distinctive voice: clever, funny, irreverent, and convincingly horny. Dana's the sort of woman I'd love to have as a friend (though she's a bit patronizing toward her best bud Brandi). You can't help but identify with her quest for an exit strategy that will get her out of her dead-end existence - as well as her constant state of arousal in the presence of her hunky, demanding boss.
The submissive secretary theme has been done a hundred times, but Juniper Bell manages to make it fresh. For one thing, Simon is ingenious and creative when it comes to the tests he sets for his trainee. Being forced to answer the phones while bound half-naked to a desk chair or having remotely-controlled vibrating balls in her sex is just the beginning. Also, Simon's approach to the trainee process makes him the perfect Dom. He always asks Dana if she's willing to comply, confident that her curiosity and desire to please will make her agree.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way it demolishes the notion that submissive women are wimpy, needy, cringing creatures without a will of their own. Dana Arthur proves that it takes courage and intelligence to submit - and that any dominant worth his whip will recognize that fact.
I highly recommend this sexy, tightly-written romance novella. I'm only sorry that it sat on my To-Be-Read list for such a long time. I didn't realize what I was missing.