Danielle Binks

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Smashwords book reviews by Danielle Binks

  • Tender Mercies on May 10, 2011

    Grace Warner has tried to live kink. She has been to clubs and given herself over to BDSM and her perverse fascinations with the lifestyle. But it's not enough; it's too much like `tie-me-up-tie-me-down' play. And then Grace meets Lucas Stone online, and starts chatting to him about the island of Eleu. Populated by the rich and reclusive, Eleu is Private Island inhabited by natives and extreme BDSM participants. There are no embassies on Eleu, and citizenship is revoked the moment you step onto the island - effectively turning a person into a refugee. The little island is made up of large mansions and plantations, owned by rich `Masters' who seek willing masochists to be their slaves and live with them on the island. This is what Grace wants and needs. To give herself fully to Lucas and live with him on Eleu . . . she needs to give herself over to the fantasy, completely and totally. But eight months later and Grace is a broken, bleeding shell of her former self. Lucas is no Master; he is a tyrant intent on pushing Grace until she is beyond repair . . . but before all hope is lost, Grace is sold to a fellow Eleu resident - Asher Collins. There are rumours about what happened to Asher's last slave girl . . . rumours that set Grace's frayed nerves on edge and have her believing she will die in Asher's dungeons. But it is in Asher that Grace finds a true Master. Someone to banish Lucas's nightmares and show her the difference between hurt and harm . . . `Tender Mercies' is the new darkly erotic literary novel from Kitty Thomas, due for release on May 15th. I discovered Kitty Thomas last year with her novel `Comfort Food'. I likened that erotica novel (about extreme Stockholm syndrome) to literary wasabi - sinus clearing and somewhat unsettling, but also incredibly, breathtakingly powerful. So I went into `Tender Mercies' excitedly knowing that Kitty Thomas writes at the extreme-end of the erotica scale. She intrudes upon reader's comfort zones and pulls you (kicking and screaming) into an abrasive and compelling world of fetishism and erotica . . . `Tender Mercies' is actually a very nice complement and follow-up to Thomas's `Comfort Food'. Both novels explore captivity, trust, BDSM and the extremities of that lifestyle. `Comfort Food' was all about a woman accidentally finding love in the most unconventional and disturbing of ways, `Tender Mercies' acts as the complete flipside to that story. Grace Warner is actively seeking an extreme BDSM lifestyle - and she believes she has found her perfect new life on the island of Eleu, which is a refuge for Masters and their slaves. But while Grace signed up for a secluded life of masochism, she was utterly unprepared for the horrors that lay in Lucas Stone's dungeons . . . she is beaten, humiliated and subjected to perverse forms of torture (seriously, I'm talking `American Psycho' levels of disturbing). Lucas Stone is no Master - he is the devil incarnate. It is only when Lucas sells Grace to the island's resident `killer', Asher Collins, that she starts to learn the true BDSM lifestyle . . . for Asher is a kind and intuitive Master. He is still reeling from the accidental death of his last slave (and lover), and is determined to treat Grace with the utmost care while also introducing her to the wicked carnality of the Master/Slave relationship. Together, Grace and Asher learn to trust and love again. Grace comes to accept her fetishes and explore them in the safe and trusting relationship that Asher establishes. Meanwhile, Asher begins to let go of his guilt and rebuild his life, with Grace kneeling by his side. I loved the romance between Grace and Asher. It's partly `white knight syndrome' - that Asher rides in to save Grace from the devilish clutches of Lucas Stone. But it's also the fact that Asher has his own disturbing problems with guilt and forgiveness. He was a very tender and enticing Master, but underneath his firm hand lay a broken heart. His rebuilding of Grace's confidence and love is dramatic and romantic and made for such a compelling storyline. Dare I say . . . Kitty Thomas is fast becoming the erotica novelist du jour. Her books of extremism, BDSM and fetishism are the very best examples of the erotica genre - as she writes smartly sexy books that explore the darkest facets of sexual gratification and perversion while also weaving a marvellously compelling storyline with intense romance. `Tender Mercies' is more bitter brilliance from Kitty Thomas. Yes, there are some very disturbing aspects to the novel - not least of which is an island dedicated to promoting a Master/Slave society where only the death of a slave warrants punishment . . . but Kitty Thomas is, above all else, a literary erotica novelist. In `Tender Mercies' she is exploring the `perversions' of kink and the traumas of captivity, followed by the struggles of post-traumatic stress. I feel it's important to stress that Kitty Thomas doesn't write `smut' - her novels are above all that. She instead writes insanely powerful sex scenes that flip between being sensuous and serious, delicious and disturbing. Her sex scenes make you think, as they lead into the subliminal storyline of trust and captivity, of surrendering yourself to another human being and opening yourself to pain in return. Kitty Thomas is one of the most audaciously brilliant erotica novelists I have ever read. Her second novel, `Tender Mercies', is another example of her brilliance as she weaves a twisted tale of punishment and betrayal, redemption and understanding - all against the kinky backdrop of a BDSM island wonderland.
  • The Auction on June 27, 2011

    Set in an ambiguous future, humanity has left behind the ‘source planet’ and settled in a new and backwards world. Science and technology have regressed, books are artefacts and women are commodities once again. On her eighteenth birthday Annabelle ‘Belle’ Walker, along with other ripe young women, are being auctioned to the highest bidder. Under the pretence of redistributing city funds, nubile young women are put on the block and sold for a price – the lucky ones have family members and lovers who will buy them back and set them free. But for the unlucky sold it’s a life of quiet humiliation . . . or, as Belle is about to discover, something much worse. Belle’s fiery spirit attracts the wrong sort of buyer – a monster from the city outskirts, a dragon-man with red skin and orange eyes, sharp teeth and an impressive wing-span. Belle is taken back to his cave, where she will pleasure both him and his blue-skinned brother, referring to them as ‘Master’ and ‘Sir’ respectively. But will this monster be Belle’s end, or will he help set her free? ‘The Auction’ is a new novella from dark literary erotica author, Kitty Thomas. I love Kitty Thomas. Honestly, she can do no wrong. I haven’t read a novel of hers that I haven’t loved, and ‘The Auction’ is another slice of perfection from her deliciously dark pen. You wouldn’t know it to look at the beautiful front cover, but ‘The Auction’ is actually a sci-fi/dark erotica novelette. Although this gorgeous renaissance-feel cover doesn’t scream ‘sci-fi’, it actually leads into the world-building of ‘The Auction’. In this indeterminate future, humanity has had to relocate from Earth and in the process society has taken a giant leap backwards. Women are property once again – to be traded and sold according to the gavel of the auctioneer. Thomas does swift world-building and orientation for the reader with regards to this new-world/old-world society – almost conjuring the universe of Joss Whedon’s ‘Firelfy’. We see this strangely regressed world through the eyes of Belle Walker. She is a young woman who has found fascination in the books of the past, and has come to articulate the auctioning of women as a barbaric and bizarre – likening it to virginal sacrifice and debutante balls. Belle has been dreading her auction and has been preparing for her day of sale. She has been strategically pleasuring the city’s richest sons; in the meagre hopes of gaining their coin and her freedom upon purchase. But she doesn’t count on an outskirts monster raising his hand for the highest bid. When Belle is taken to the monster Master’s cave and introduced to his brother, ‘Sir’ (her other bed-mate) she is shocked, horrified . . . and aroused. These men are dragon-like, with wings, blue and red-tinged skin and reddened eyes. But they are also thoroughly masculine; lean and muscled to perfection. Belle cannot believe the way she wants them, and is willing to succumb to them. Her obvious arousal in captivity perverts her conscience and she wonders if she is losing a bit of her soul and dignity, bit by bit, every time she wantonly and willingly succumbs to these brothers . . . I loved the world Kitty Thomas created. It’s a little bit sci-fi, with a touch of historic slavery and plenty of dark erotica. I thought the inclusion of ‘monster masters’ was quite ingenious – so often in Kitty’s works the dominant (human) male is bordering on demonic (‘Comfort Food’, being a prime example). But in ‘The Auction’ the heroine’s sexual partners are, literally, monsters – and one of them even has a devilish resemblance. It’s a nice bit of fantasy to play with. And, this being a Kitty Thomas novel(la); the sex scenes are divinely delicious. This is a short story, 20000 words, but she takes the time to write languorous and decadently-detailed sex scenes that will leave readers sizzling. My only complaint about ‘The Auction’ is that it was too short! I wanted more, more, more! I would love to read another novella set in this universe (perhaps revisiting the monster family?) or even a full-length novel set in the same world. ‘The Auction’ was another lovely bit of sexy-sinister writing from the darkly talented erotica author, Kitty Thomas.
  • Awakening on Aug. 30, 2011

    Nerina, a beautiful mermaid, has been caught. Tangled in a net and exposed to the lascivious gazes of fishermen - she is at their mercy, and could end up as a delicacy on their banquet table, or subjected to their monstrous human rutting. But then the captain arrives - a dark and beautiful man called Kyros. He has been fascinated by sea nymphs, sirens and mermaids for a long time ... and has often wondered what he would do if he ever caught one. Now that Nerina is in his clutches, he intends to replace her fin with feet and introduce her to mankind's baser pleasures. `Awakening' is the new novella from dark literary erotica author, Kitty Thomas. I love Kitty Thomas. Everything she writes is a delightfully dark delicacy and `Awakening' is more of the same. In the past, Thomas has written to the extremes of BDSM and fetishism. From captive/torturer plots to an island community dedicated to the master/slave dynamic. By comparison, `Awakening' is tame-Kitty. The 21,500-word novella is sort of Kitty-lite, and would be a great `beginners' novel for those who want to dip their toes in the pool of darker erotica. `Awakening' definitely leans toward the more `literary' end of Thomas's usual literary-erotica genre. The novella is based around the idea of transformation and contradiction - mermaid to human, sea to land, innocence to guiltiness. Thomas explores these concepts through the ancient mythology of mermaids, who are in themselves a contradiction. On the one hand they are sexless - fins instead of genitalia. Yet, sea nymphs and sirens have been written as lurers of men to their watery graves. With the character of Nerina, Thomas takes the traditional mermaid legend and twists it to romance and lust. The dastardly captain, Kyros, decides to force a human metamorphosis on the sea nymph Nerina and have his carnal way with her. `Awakening' is less about domination than Thomas's other works, as it has a far more romantic bent, as both Nerina and Kyros learn something about themselves with her transformation. Kitty Thomas has done it again. She takes what would otherwise be an uncomfortable and squirm-inducing idea and crafts it into a beautiful tale of human dynamics and lust, exploring the many facets of want and craving. Divine.
  • The King's Pleasure on Dec. 28, 2011

    Abigail has just been spared, upon mercy of the King. Caught stealing bread from within the palace walls, punishment should be swift and merciless, an eye for an eye. Abigail’s punishment should be especially severe, since she is part-gypsy. But King Niall has intervened, desperate to show his people he’s not the tyrant his father was. But Niall has big plans for Abigail. Because he’s not sparing her life for nothing; he intends to make her his slave – the first (and quite possibly only) woman in his harem. With Abigail by his side, Niall intends to mend the discrimination against gypsies and set the kingdom of Himeros on a new, peaceful, course. ‘The King’s Pleasure’ is the new novella from literary erotica author, Kitty Thomas. The novella is set in an alternate world that is at once like ours, but with a skewed history. There is limited technology, a feudal system and very different outlooks on sexuality. In the kingdom of Himeros to be one of the King’s slaves is a great honour. Women are groomed for the harem from birth. But the new king, Niall, is uneasy with the customs of the harem. The women are robotic and calculating, they play at love and lust like a masterful game of chess, and Niall can’t help but feel more like the pawn than the king. And then he meets Abigail, in the most unusual of circumstances. True, when Niall first discovers Abigail, stealing from the palace kitchen, he is quick to spare a beggar girl an unnecessarily cruel punishment. But when Niall discovers that she is also part gypsy, an idea forms in his head . . . The Himeros elite expect Niall to treat Abigail and the other gypsies the same way as his father, the former King, did. But although Niall is an expert warrior, he has no wish for such unnecessary cruelty in his kingdom. Through Abigail he has found a way to mend the wrongs of the past, and set his kingdom on a peaceful path. But Niall gets more than he bargained for when he starts to feel for Abigail as more than a political ploy. . . As with all of Kitty Thomas’s erotica novellas, ‘The King’s Pleasure’ is a world unto itself and a succulent little slice of story. There’s so much packed into this little novella; politics, love, romance and a beautifully erotic tale between a king and his ‘slave’ (whose love turns a kingdom on its head). Beautiful, as always, I can’t wait for Thomas’s next novella, ‘The Last Girl’, coming early in 2012.