There is a best selling 2007 M/s book that spends an entire chapter talking about how the author likes his submissives to arrange his dinner parties. Thankfully, this is absolutely nothing like that book.
From the get-go, Michael Makai examines the question of whether Dominance & submission (D/s) is who we are, or something that we do. He distinguishes D/s (what happens in your head and heart, how you love and how you express that love) from BDSM (what physically happens between you and your partner or playmates). For many people these overlap, and for some people they don’t, but it gives the book a clear way to separate the two things, and there are chapters in the book that cover both.
Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook is a good-humoured look at who we are, what we do, and why we do it. He dedicates it to “the people who are simply tired of pretending to be something or someone they are not, and are ready for a change”, but he never talks down, and even experienced people in “the lifestyle” are going to find chapters in here that are interesting and expand the horizons.
After looking in detail at different types of dominants, submissives, switches and primals (and how you might tell where you best fit in the spectrum), he gets into some hot-button issues like Gorean culture, polyamory, power exchange, consent, groups, online relationships and religion. Threaded throughout, there’s a wealth of information on forming and keeping D/s relationships (as the title suggests), and a lot of solid information on scenes, toys, fetishes and the things we do.
Along with all the factual information, there are charming asides and personal stories. One of my favourites is the story of a long roadtrip Michael did with his father. With nothing better to do while crossing two states in a car, he took the opportunity to “come out” to his Dad and explain the (D/s and poly) lifestyle he was leading. “Sex slaves?” his Dad asked. “You’re telling me you have sex slaves?”. It’s a hilarious retelling of the story of how he tries to stay reasonable and objective as his hard-of-hearing Dad becomes fixated on the fact that he has “sex slaves”.
At 496 pages, you won’t read this in one sitting, but it’s so well written that it kept me coming back for more and I did read it over the course of a weekend. The writing was so good that I even read the parts I thought I wouldn’t be interested in.
Covering everything from first meetings to breakups, it lives up to its title as a relationship handbook. I wouldn’t use the word “objective” in describing the content, because Michael’s personality shines throughout, but I’ve been involved in discussions on many of the topics covered in this book and I’d certainly call it balanced, well researched, sane and solid. There’s no bad information in here, it’s content you can rely on. It’ll be a welcome addition to your library and I’ll go as far as saying that if you’re looking for a good first book for that library, it would be an ideal place to start.
(reviewed 50 days after purchase)