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The Romance Reviews (TRR) - Becoming sage

Becoming sage

Kasi Alexander
Becoming sage
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Publisher
Omnific Publishing
Release Date
March 2011
ISBN
1936305712
Series
Book 1 of The Keyhole Series
Genre
BDSM, Erotic Romance, Ménage or more

SUMMARY
With a failed marriage behind her, Jill Marten was looking to start a new chapter in her life. She had no idea that running into her old friend, Jessie, would unlock a whole new world. When she accepts Jessie's invitation to a party, in order to "try something completely different," it awakens a need to discover her place in a new community. Jessie, also known as sunni, is a submissive slave who is in a loving relationship with her Master, Sir Rune. When Rune and sunni ask Jill to be a part of their family, Jill begins her journey into submission, bondage, and polyamory, even as she questions everything that she has been taught about love and relationships. She begins to face her own desires and fears as she struggles with feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and self-worth. Once she opens the door to a life she never imagined, a peek through the keyhole is no longer enough, and she must learn what it means to become sage.

Book Review by Rho (reviewer)
Sep 09, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
255 people found the following review helpful
This book really blew me away. I'm not exactly sure what my expectations were, but BECOMING SAGE certainly exceeded all of them. This realistic view into one woman's introduction and eventual immersion into the BDSM and polyamorous lifestyles was gripping and took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

This story is told from the standpoint of Jill. She's a recently divorced and very unsatisfied woman in her thirties. She is looking for some changes in her life when she met up with her high school friend Jessie and her boyfriend, Rutger, and soon she is immersed in a world of Master/slave relations as well as polyamory. Rutger and Jessie soon ask Jill to be a part of their family and while she readily agrees, she faces problems with adjusting to a world vastly different from the vanilla world she lived in for so long.

So, I think that when I read the description of this book, I was really expecting something different. But I was pleasantly surprised how rich this book actually was. Set in the first person as a kind of journal account of sage's experiences in her new world, it made the story very personal. I felt like I was experiencing everything along with her. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I sulked. It was intense, but I loved every minute of it.

The characters were excellent as well. Jill (sage), Jessie (sunni), and Rutger (Sir Rune) were all very tangible, seeming at the same time larger than life and very flawed as well. I thought that the struggles between them all were extremely realistic and made me enjoy the story all the more. I also sensed the differences in them when they were in their regular names and then in their slave and Master names (those are the names in the parentheses). That transition was quite amazing. It was unbelievable how different they were in those different roles.

The other thing that stood out in this book for me was how informative it was. It was very educational in both BDSM and polyamory. Not all the information was romantic or romanticized, but it was a novel experience for me to get such a fount of knowledge in fiction. Because of this, I think that it would be an excellent choice for those both new to the BDSM romantic genre and those who have more experience with it. I will say that it isn't a romance, but a BDSM novel with romantic elements.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic book, not only because of how well it was written, but also because of how realistic the account was. It possessed not only a fascinating story but also complex and realistic characters. This is the first book by Kasi Alexander, and I can't wait to read more of her work. BECOMING SAGE is the first book in the Keyhole Series, and while I'm not sure where the series will be going from here, I will be waiting anxiously for the next book!
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Book Review by CarolAnn
Sep 09, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
228 people found the following review helpful
When I was given the opportunity to read Kasi Alexander's BECOMING SAGE, her first book in The Keyhole series, I had no idea what to expect because this was my first venture into the world of BDSM and polyamory. What I discovered was an engrossing book I just couldn't put down!

I was struck by how real the characters felt and all the time I had to keep reminding myself that these were only fictional people. Knowing that the author actually lives this alternative lifestyle, I'm sure there must be some autobiographical aspects to the book, which give it such realism. Everything is seen through Jill's eyes and I think this helped me to really connect with her and experience everything with her on her journey to find 'her place in the world'.

What I found really interesting was the complexity of the relationship between Sir (Rutger), sunni (Jessie) and sage (Jill) particularly as it combined both polyamory and BDSM. I accepted the idea that some people may be more suited to a polyamorous relationship rather than the traditional two-person monogamous one but having been in a happy 'vanilla' relationship for nearly forty years, I had a hard job accepting the power exchange aspect. However, seeing things as Jill saw them, I came to understand its appeal for certain people:

I was beginning to see what attracted Jessie to the idea of belonging to someone like him (Sir). It was kind of like being a child again and having a big, strong daddy whose lap you could crawl on to, but I didn't feel like I was giving up any part of being an adult, either. Jessie had said that being a slave didn't entail giving up responsibility for yourself; it just meant that you could feel completely comfortable in knowing what things you were responsible for and what you could expect in return.

I also learned how important trust, commitment and honest communication were when sunni's jealousy threatens their whole relationship.

I admit to feeling uncomfortable when I read some of BDSM related scenes in the book but I did appreciate the honesty with which they were written and the way in which, through her characters, Kasi Alexander explains the significance of the different types of play and the nature of the pleasure derived. For instance, in the wax play scene, Sir explains to sage that what he is doing is not intended to cause sunni pain but intense sensual stimulation. It was a fascinating insight into a very different world.

If you are new to the BDSM romantic genre as I was, then this is an excellent introduction and a book I can highly recommend. I would like to thank Kasi Alexander for allowing me to take a peek through the keyhole. It was both an intensely emotional and enlightening experience and I look forward to reading further books in The Keyhole series. I would probably like to read more books within this genre but I fear BECOMING SAGE will be a hard act to follow!
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Book Review by Belinda Boring (author,reviewer)
Aug 09, 2011
253 people found the following review helpful
I find myself a little speechless and in awe. I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to find this book at RomCon this past weekend and for the chance I had to meet Kasi and her partners. My journey in the romance genre has full of wonderful discoveries and even though it scared me at first, I've found I really enjoy some of the BDSM novels that are out there. Nothing excites me more than to learn something new and watch an old opinion be firmly booted out the door. As much as I love reading romance filled with dashing heroes sporting six pack abs and flowing hair, something has to be said for the power that comes from reading a romance straight from every day life and seeing it transform a relationship. While Becoming sage isn't necessarily the "typical" romance, it definitely is a moving story, one that gripped me so tightly that I went willingly with Jill as she explored her new life, feeling everything right along side her.

One of the things that most impressed me with this story was that I loved the way Jill thought. Written from her point of view, I loved being able to watch how she processed everything and how she reasoned things out. I can only imagine how strange everything must have seemed, going from one lifestyle to another that was very different but I wanted to cheer over the way she embraced it. She knew the Master/slave lifestyle intrigued her but she still asked questions - insightful ones that really gave the reader the opportunity to learn along with her. It was sometimes spooky how I would think of something only to have her question it in the story. I loved how the answers were shared - so simple and straight forward to the point where I found myself agreeing with her. By the end of the story, I appreciated sage and was so grateful for being able to ride along.

This is the first book by author Kasi Alexander and if I could I would want to thank her for writing this book. Not only was it a great story, one that tugged at me constantly, but it was incredibly informative. How many times can you honestly say you've been privy to the inside workings of someone elses relationship? Other than my own, I know I haven't and I loved being able to witness the dynamics of sage, sunni's and Sir's as they negotiated theirs. There was nothing "glamorous" and "fluffy" about it. No swoon moment - just real emotions and reactions and it was intense at times. I think a general misconception is that BDSM is nothing more than deviant sex and abuse of power. This book shows that while the sexual nature of the lifestyle is definitely an important component, there is so much more. It's about trust, commitment and a willingness to communicate so that not only you get what you need but so does your partner. What made this story even more intriguing was including polyamory to it and watching three people navigate the relationship. It looked like a lot of work but judging by sage's reactions, one that was very worth it.

Being that the story involved BDSM, the author did share alot of the different play that is involved. I hadn't known how extensive it was and I loved how she explained through sage why things were done and the significance. I enjoyed learning how pain could be transferred into pleasure and read what it felt like. There was definitely a few things that raised my eye brows but again, I loved how "real" the book was. This would be a great book for those interested in the lifestyle, for those like me with a healthy curiosity because it holds a strong balance between all aspects - the psychology behind BDSM and the emotions attached to it.

After all is said and done, I'm just really grateful that I was given a chance to read Becoming sage. It's one of those books that makes a lasting impression, one that has had me thinking ever since I read the first page and feeling completely inadequate because I still feel like I haven't. I'm excited to know that this is the first in a series and I'm curious to see what aspect Kasi will explore next. This is an amazing debut novel by the author and I encourage all those with an open mind to read Becoming sage. It's a story that will move you and keep you up all night reading. Happy reading!!
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BOOK INTERVIEW on May 2012
Interview by CarolAnn

Kasi, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time to join us at The Romance Reviews today.


Q: BECOMING SAGE was your debut novel. What inspired you to write it? What was the most challenging aspect of writing it?

We were inspired by several different considerations. When my Sir and I entered into an M/s lifestyle, he knew that becoming published was one of my lifelong goals. So we agreed that I would start writing and be accountable for getting a certain amount done each week. It was a natural topic to write about, since we were on the same journey as sage. We also decided that we wanted to write a realistic story about polyamory, BDSM and M/s in order to promote public awareness and acceptance of alternative lifestyles. The biggest challenge in writing the story was that it was based loosely on us and our lives. I didn't want to write it in a way that would imply anything negative about any individuals, but some amount of conflict was of course necessary to make it a good story.

Q: I understand BECOMING SAGE is book one in The Keyhole Series. What is the series all about? What is the common thread linking all the books in the series?

The series (so far) focuses on the triad of Rune, sunni and sage. The second book is told from sunni's point of view and has a slightly different feel than sage's (I think). The third one will be from Rune's perspective. One common thread in all of the books (including the two short stories, It's Only Kinky the First Time and Learning the Ropes, available at http://www.omnificpublishing.com) is that we try to incorporate different aspects of the lifestyle and different styles of play, to make the books as educational as possible, hopefully while remaining entertaining.

Q: How did you feel when you learned that BECOMING SAGE had been accepted for publication?

We were all over the moon. I'm not completely back on earth yet. We considered it a vindication that our M/s experiment was a success. Power exchange can be used as a very effective tool for both personal and professional growth. Recently I was meeting some other authors from Omnific Publishing at a restaurant in Chicago, and one of them came up and said, "Excuse me. Are you Kasi Alexander?" Of course she knew I would be there, but having someone I didn't know recognize me in a public place as an author was a huge thrill. I will also never forget the first time (also at a conference) that I happened to see someone reading my book in public. Those are small things but they really meant a lot to me!

Q: I can understand how thrilling that is! When I read BECOMING SAGE, I was struck by how real your characters felt. How much did you draw on your own experiences of living this alternative lifestyle when writing the book?

I would say that I drew much more heavily on my own emotions of adjusting to the lifestyle than on my actual experiences. We tried to come up with circumstances that would add external conflict to keep it from being too internally-focused (and that is even more true for Saving sunni). It's interesting to come up with situations that a person in an alternative lifestyle might find themselves in, then find a way for them to turn it into a learning and educational opportunity.

Q: Please tell us more about Jill, Jessie and Sir Rune, our main characters from the book. What made Jill accept Jessie's invitation, thus starting her path down something different?

I think that Jill, like many women in our culture, was a little fed up with her "traditional" options in terms of family and marriage. When given the choice to try something radically different, she had to learn to open up to new ways of thinking and looking at life, and she found that her new role in a completely new lifestyle was something that suited her very well.

sunni (Jessie) is a little less inhibited than sage, but she will have some new challenges and growth opportunities in the second book. As for Rune - doesn't every man want two women (or more) who hang on his every word? I see Rune as a very strong, very compassionate and very sweet man who takes the time to listen carefully to his partners and considers their viewpoints closely before making decisions that will affect them.

Q: What is your favorite scene?

It has to be the Mountie scene. I don't want to give too much away, but here is a tiny portion:

I lay as still as I could, trying not to move or breathe, so that I could hear what they were doing and not lose the Kisses that I fervently hoped were not melting with my body heat. I tried not to laugh when the slogan popped into my head: "Melts in your mouth, not on your nipples."

Then Sir was back in the room with another flourish, although sunni was not with him. He had a riding crop in his hand that I eyed nervously, and he began striding briskly up and down next to the platform I was on.

Q: Everything is seen through Jill's eyes in the book. Was there a specific reason why you chose to write using the 1st person POV rather than the 3rd person POV?

I love writing in the first person. I think it allows readers to connect deeply with the character, when all they get is her viewpoint and her reactions. It seemed important to allow sage a lot of internal monologue so we could see her processing all of the new information and deciding if it was for her or not.

Q: One thing that puzzled me was the use of a small letter rather than a capital letter for the names sage and sunni. Can you tell us the particular significance of this?

In the BDSM community, it is a common (although not universal) practice for submissives not to capitalize their own names. This, to them, emphasizes the hierarchy of their relationships and their transfer of authority to their dominants. In reality, of course, the submissive in the relationship has most of the power, since smart dominants who wish to remain in relationships will design the dynamic with the needs and preferences of the submissive at the forefront. Probably some service-oriented submissives would be offended by that statement, since they consider themselves to exist for the pleasure and benefit of their dominant. But any dominant worth his salt will tell you that it's true!

Q: Have there been surprising reactions to your book, particularly from mainstream romance readers like myself?

I had no idea what to expect from mainstream readers. The Master/slave dynamic is a pretty radical idea, after all, and not a very pc concept. So the amount of positive feedback we got was both hugely gratifying and a confirmation that what we wanted to get across--the motivations of people who engage in this lifestyle--was actually successful.

Q: There are a lot of misconceptions about BDSM and I admit to having a few myself. Did you hope your book might go some way to dispelling these false perceptions and promote a better understanding of this lifestyle? What else did you hope to achieve with this book?

We absolutely wanted to dispel some myths and misperceptions of all three subjects--polyamory, BDSM and power exchange. Polyamory is not cheating, BDSM is not abuse, and power exchange is not manipulation. Of course there are terrible examples of all of these, just as there can be abuse, cheating and manipulation in any two-person monogamous marriage. But an alternative lifestyle can be a healthy relationship option. We wanted to show the benefits as well as the amount of communication and personal responsibility they require.

Q: Has the publication of BECOMING SAGE changed your life in any significant way?

Oh, yes. In the first place, I was laid off my job of over 11 years just three months after sage was released. Whether or not the book was a direct cause of that, it gave me the opportunity to write more books (we have two coming out this summer and another is about half done), concentrate on our chainmail jewelry business (www.polyspleasures.com), and go to writing conferences. The conferences have been fantastic. We've met lots of wonderful, wonderful people and gotten a lot of support, advice and encouragement. We have another series coming out from Siren Bookstrand under the name Cassidy Browning. The first of that series, tentatively called Clifftop Fantasies, is due out June 5. So I'd say that was definitely worth it!

Q: Your second book in The Keyhole Series, Saving sunni, is due out in the summer. Please give us a sneak peek.

Saving sunni has some different elements. Secrets from sunni's past come back to haunt her, causing a chain of events that threaten to tear the family apart with personal, legal and immigration issues. Here's an excerpt:

I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Geri was slowly meandering toward us down the length of the opposite wall. She was probably trying to look like she was shopping, or maybe counting inventory or something, but to me she looked more like Elmer Fudd ducking behind bushes hunting wabbits. I hoped Randy wouldn't notice her. I didn't think he was particularly dangerous, but he had hit me a few times when we were married and I couldn't be completely sure. Come to think of it, it was a bit funny that I would divorce someone for hitting me, and then get into a BDSM relationship where I was struck regularly, and quite a bit harder. But of course it was a completely different thing. With Sir it was something I had negotiated and consented to.

Randy was considering the mannequins in the window and didn't seem to notice Geri. When he turned back to me, there was a very serious look on his face. I immediately went into defensive mode and cringed away from him. I knew that look.

"Frankly," he said quietly, "I don't think you're safe here. I heard that you're in an unhealthy relationship and I'm very concerned about you."

That didn't ring true. "Who told you that?" I demanded.

"It doesn't matter. What matters is your safety."

My mother. It had to be my mother. But I hadn't told her anything about my relationship, other than that I was living with an Austrian chemist named Rutger. She hadn't even met him.

"Yes," I agreed. "My safety is important to me, too. I want you to leave now before I get thrown in jail for assault. I don't think jail would be the safest place for me either."

"Jessie—"

Suddenly Geri was standing in front of him, her head coming to the approximate level of his nipples. She looked like a banty rooster about to attack a Great Dane.

"Please get out of my store," she said, her voice shaking with what I presumed was anger, although by the way Randy looked down at her, it was obvious he thought it was fear.

"It's a public place." He smirked at her.

Not a good thing to do. She stood up on her tiptoes and hissed, "It's my store and I have the right to ask you to leave. Now leave before I am forced to do something violent. I hate violence."

In spite of the tenseness of the situation, or maybe because of it, I nearly choked on the giggles that were rising in my throat. I stepped off the raised platform where the mannequins were in case I was going to have to scrape Geri off the floor. Then I noticed the Taser in her hand.


Wow, that's certainly a cliffhanger! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and I am very much looking forward to reading Saving sunni.


Bio:


Kasi Alexander is an author living in the Denver, Colorado area. She is part of the Denver Leather/BDSM/Polyamory communities, and lives the lifestyles she writes about. Her Keyhole Series deals with Rune, sage and sunni, a leather family in a Master/slave dynamic. The stories chronicle the way they came together and how they deal with the realities of being kinky and polyamorous in a world that doesn't understand their lifestyle.

Website and Blog: http://www.kasialexander.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kasi.alexander
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kasialexander


Coming Soon:

Saving sunni – August 2012 (Omnific Publishing)
Clifftop Fantasies by Cassidy Browning – June 5 (Siren Publishing)


GIVEAWAY!

Kasi Alexander is giving away 2 ebook downloads of BECOMING SAGE as well as bookmarks (with chainmail) and a couple of chainmail bracelets! Sounds awesome!

Mechanics:

Simply write a comment or ask a question in the comment box below to be entered into the giveaway!



ADDITIONAL GIVEAWAY!!!

For all Featured Book Interviews, TRR is sponsoring a prize!

Each comment you make in the following interviews:

Invitation to Scandal by Bronwen Evans
Delighting in Your Company by Blair McDowell
Becoming sage by Kasi Alexander
A Wild Night's Bride by Victoria Vane

give you one additional point EACH to win this prize:



LETHAL RIDER by Larissa Ione (paperback) – International winner!


Contest ends May 31.
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