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Candace Blevins is a southern girl who loves to travel the world.
She lives with her husband of 14 years and their two daughters. When not working or driving kids all over the place she can be found reading, writing, meditating, or swimming.
Candace writes romance books about characters who happen to have some extreme kinks. Relationships can be difficult enough without throwing power exchange into the mix, and her books show characters who care enough about each other to fight to make the relationship work.
You can visit her on the web at candaceblevins.com and kinkyeverafter.com
on Sep. 23, 2012 :
I wished I could give this a better rating and a better review. I really do. I was rather hard on myself and it took me several weeks to decide on this review.
The reason I am so reluctant is that I agree with Ms Blevins that we need BDSM novels which are about the real BDSM out there, instead of just some figment of the imagination. She tries hard to achieve this and in some areas she certainly has made the cut.
Unfortunately however there is so much else wrong with this book that it almost entirely outweighs the good.
I'll state the obvious first:
This book needs an editor, a good editor. The editing process is not just about checking for typos and grammar, it's also about cutting out the fillers, the bloat, the surplus. It's about making a story tight and lean, about taking out explanations and too much exposition where not needed, it is about making your prose pleasant to read. All of that is lacking in Safeword Davenport. One could cut out some 30% of the word-count and end up still with way to much chatter.
Editing is also about "voice". Not just that of the author, which is overly loud in it, but also with the voices of the characters, which are non-existant here. No one has a distinct own voice, with the exception of Jacob and he but marginally. The rest is undistinguishable.
These are the more obvious faults. For a romance, BDSM-themed story and a story about love and death I find myself left out there with zero emotion. There is none, again with the minor exception of Jacob. Everyone else was as moved and emoted as much as a block of stone. Yes, the author "said" these people emoted, but she never showed it.
Which leads to the next two purely craft-oriented faults: there is absolutely no "show" in this book, it is all "tell". I've never fully understood this writer's adage until reading Safeword Davenport, because it contained so much incessant, boringly worded telling that it was very slow to read and I had to force myself repeatedly to continue reading. This too is something an editor would catch and try to change, though of this there is so much of it that I doubt it would reach the editing stage with a publisher.
Sometimes fine, funny or interesting dialogue can make up for the lack in prose, but here as well this book fails. The dialogue is robotic, unlikely, contains way too much blunt exposition and is wholly uninteresting.
All put together this means that Safeword Davenport reads, at the craft-level, like a first draft needing many, many revisions before it is presentable.
On to the subject matter and meat of the story. I am in the lifestyle myself, a hard player, so I would expect a story to at least stimulate me a bit, make me have emotions, catch my breath, reminiscence or want to do something myself. Unfortunately this story is lacking here as well.
I could not connect to the characters and I had trouble in even believing their reality as human beings. Things between them did not progress in a believable manner either and I had several WTF-moments where something they said or how they acted to me way out of the story. They felt, again with the exception of Jacob, like soulless dolls played with by a listless puppeteer.
Lastly the BDSM itself. While above I applauded the fact that many times Ms. Blevins tries very hard to represent BDSM as it takes place in real life, she incorporates fragments and insinuations which I do not believe belong here and which can be dangerous for the reader to take for granted.
One of these is meta-consent, especially as given here without at least acknowledging that it makes an already illegal act not just factually illegal, but also depriving the players, especially the dominant, of every mitigating factor they might have in a courtroom. Consent has to be informed, given by an adult in the full possession of their faculties and has to be retractable at any moment in time to be legally valid. In a book trying that hard to be realistic I'd like to see this addressed, and not just as some lip-service, but indeed by showing (not telling!) what is the consequence of such a lack.
The second problem is worse and comes on the heels of meta-consent: punishable safewords. I've no idea whether this is the latest fad, but it shocked me into putting the book aside for days. Punishment of safewords reduces the concept to absurdity. Not just that any and every submissive I have ever met already thinks hard and often far too long to safeword, if they now have to expect something very unpleasant on top of disrupting a scene and potentially upsetting the Dominant, the whole thing becomes very unsafe. Not just for the submissive, also for the Dominant who might continue to play while the partner already goes beyond their health or sanity. This makes consensual BDSM play suddenly ride on the edge of straight abuse, both emotional and physical. To see this so off-handedly proposed is quite shocking.
What also belongs here is the atmosphere of higher, farther, further which pervades the concept of BDSM in this book. Instead of concentrating on pleasuring each other, being emotional, sharing true intimacy, I had--all the time--the impression of competitors in some soulless game, a game played against each other, but also against everyone else. Maybe that's the different culture, because I noticed this a lot in erotica from the USA, but here it really bothered me.
I cannot recommend this book. I'd have liked to, because it tried to be something which is very much needed, and unfortunately the errors and faults overshadowed the positive points far too much for comfort.
All that said I would love to read a well-edited story from Ms. Blevins.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)