Monday, 19 August 2013
Book Review: Power Play: Resistance by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant
Power Play: Resistance Volume 1
by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant
Review copy from Netgalley
Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he’s ever had. Though it’s been fifteen years since he escaped his father’s abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he’s come to accept being gay, he can’t deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges—the deeply-repressed desire to submit.
Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.
When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon’s deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I’ll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn’t care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan’s offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted—and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.
(Publisher's note: This title contains heavy BDSM play. While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent.)
"While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent."
I thought I knew what I was getting in to when I read that publisher's warning, but I was wrong. This book is intense and not for the faint of heart. There were some scenes I felt pushed way beyond safe, sane and consensual for me. Jonathan tells Brandon he may use a safeword only when he needs to, not just when he wants to and it is Jonathan who will decide which it is, taking the control out of Brandon's hands altogether. He threatens Brandon with a taser and Brandon understandably is absolutely terrified. This is not a fantasy book, it's set in the real world, a real world where you could easily die from being tasered!
I really disliked Jonathan and thought he was into BDSM because he liked inflicting pain on others, and he seemed to have no thought to Brandon's comfort or needs at all. If Brandon was truly submissive, which Jonathan insisted he was, wasn't it Jonathan's job as a good Dominant to help Brandon discover that side of himself for their mutual benefit and gratification? But most of the book was Jonathan wanting something and getting it, and if Brandon didn't agree, even if he used his safeword, he was punished. It didn't matter that Brandon got aroused by the rough treatment, there were even parts where he said he didn't want what Jonathan was doing to him, but Jonathan ignored him. It seems to be very dubious consent the whole way through, sometimes pushing towards non-consent at times.
To me, this read like an abusive relationship, rather than a loving BDSM one. I don't know if that's just me being naïve for this pushed way too many buttons for me, but not in a good way. It was uncomfortable to read and I felt sorry for Bran and Jonathan's treatment of him. I was looking for a spicy love story, but this wasn't it.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby
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