This week I’ve decided to compose some blogs about BDSM and romance, because, well, I’m a BDSM romance author. So I have more than a few opinions on the matter. With that said, my opinions won’t be everyone’s opinions, so no one get mad at me, please.
What do you think adds up to a great BDSM romance? For me, it all starts with the characters. You don’t just need a hero and heroine, you also need a “top” and “bottom.” Of course, your top might be a Master, Mistress, Sir, Lord, Dominant, Dominatrix, or any of those things, and your bottom might be a slave, submissive, toy, boi, or even property. Or maybe your characters are switches. It gets complicated fast! But no matter how your top and bottom identify, they need to play their roles in a way that makes sense to the reader and turns them on. For me, there is nothing worse than a wishy-washy top. I want tops who are absolutely alpha, at least when in “role.” And, as a personal preference, I want the bottom to be submissive. I’m not really into bratty subs, so you won’t find that in my books, although I’m sure there are many great books out there with brats and the Masters who bring them into line. But even more important than roles and titles, I want both characters to be interesting and complex. I want to know much more than hair and eye color and build. I want to know what makes them tick.
Which brings us to the next topic...plot! I want a plot that affects me not just physically, but emotionally. Sure, I want to get hot--but I’ll get hotter if the plot is lending excitement above and beyond the sensual interaction. With my books, I always try really hard to create a plot that gives the sex scenes that little added punch. With my book Comfort Object, there was a lot of psychological tension and a stalker on the loose. With Firebird, there was a ballet production going on in the background, with all the ups and downs that entails. With Deep in the Woods, the heroine was struggling to overcome an abusive past relationship. One of the reasons I love to write and read BDSM romance as opposed to straight BDSM erotica, is that I need that emotional connection between the characters, and it’s great to find a book with a plot that draws you in.
One last thing to bring up about BDSM romance...kink level. I think this aspect has the greatest probability of sending an author and reader off course. If you are into light, playful spanking and you pick up a novel with chains, muzzles and hoods, singletail whips and latex all over the place, chances are you’re not going to connect with that particular story. On the other hand, if you need more intense sado-masochism and a lot of bondage gear to get excited, then a romantic over-the-knee spanking scene is probably going to leave you cold. So, as far as what kink level is “right”--that’s an impossible question to answer except for the reader and writer themselves. I try to mix up the level of intensity in my books, so if one scene doesn’t quite work for someone, another scene might. And to be honest, I love when an author manages to entice me into something I was never into before. That might be something I try to do with my readers...heh heh. To me, the best BDSM writing is writing that challenges you, involves you emotionally, AND turns you on.