Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Review Tuesday: Coaching Rayna #2 by Pebbles Lacasse - #BDSM #negotiation #ReviewTuesday

Bound Hearts cover
Coaching Rayna #2: Bound Hearts by Pebbles Lacasse
Self-published, 2019

Single mother Rayna is ten years older than her lover Coach. She’s working hard to raise her two teens as well as to move from being a mere dental hygienist to having her own practice. Fitting the dominant gym owner into her life isn’t easy, despite the bonds of both lust and love that draw them together.

Coach has had a lot of sex partners, but he has never loved a woman before Rayna. He adores her, and will do anything to keep her safe and happy. Intelligent and intuitive, he understands the importance of honesty in a serious relationship. Still, he hasn’t let her see the full ferocity of his sadistic desires, the alter-ego he calls Demon. Though Rayna enjoys submitting to him and seems to find their rough sex games supremely satisfying, he’s worried that he’ll scare her away, or lose control to the point that he actually hurts her.

Coach decides to introduce Rayna gradually to the S&M club that was formerly his domain, to his old friends both dominant and submissive, and to the extreme sexual practices he still craves. His beloved is nervous, but eager to expand her horizons. Then she plunges into an erotic relationship with Sara, one of Coach’s former slaves. Coach worries that Rayna will reject him when she sees how brutally he uses Sara and understands the true depths of his depravity.

Bound Hearts is the sizzling sequel to Pebbles Lacasse’s 2018 release Coaching Rayna. Like the first book, it does an impressive job portraying the complexities of a real world BDSM relationship. In the fantasy-influenced BDSM romances that are currently popular, heroines tend to be “natural submissives” who never question either themselves or their Dominants. There’s little uncertainty and few misunderstandings to mar the D/s scenes. In contrast, Rayna and Coach both have doubts about themselves and about one another. They don’t always tell the truth. They get annoyed, even angry. Rayna is sometimes aggressive, bossy or distant. Coach can be truly cruel. The point of view tends to alternate between Rayna and Coach, from one chapter to the next, so readers really have the chance to get inside both their heads.

This makes the story much more engaging and unpredictable than is usually the case in BDSM romance. I really didn’t know whether Coach would push Rayna too far, or whether she’d ultimately rebel. In reality, D/s involves a lot of negotiation and adjustment; this novel manages to capture this truth.

That being said, I felt that in some cases Rayna found it too easy to accept what she was doing (or what was being done to her). She might have misgivings before the fact, but in the heat of the moment she throws herself into the scene without hesitation. In particular, I thought her initial sexual encounter with Sara went too smoothly (and too far) to be believable. Although she’s already admitted to herself that she finds Sara attractive, going from there to mutual fisting in the space of an hour seems a bit much.

Balancing this occasional lack of plausibility are some of the most original and intense BDSM sex scenes I’ve read in a long time. I particularly loved the descriptions of bondage and suspension. Many BDSM books gloss over the erotic and aesthetic aspects of being tied up. Bondage (as Ms. Lacasse makes clear) is more than just a practical expedient for immobilizing a submissive. It can profoundly affect the emotions of both the sub and the Dom.

I also enjoyed the bisexual nature of the later encounters. Many romance authors shy away from portraying FF intimacy, because there’s a segment of the readership who find this “icky”. (This is a quote from one survey I did myself.) There’s no hint of same-sex interest in the first Coach book; I was delighted to find Ms. Lacasse expanding her horizons (and those of her characters) this way.

Like its predecessor, Bound Hearts suffers from some editing issues: grammar errors, particularly in the use of pronouns, and the occasional incorrect word choice (e.g. “reign” instead of “rein”). I found this a bit distracting, but the mistakes were not frequent enough to spoil my enjoyment.

Overall, I recommend Bound Hearts to anyone who likes their BDSM romance to be both hot and real.

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