The Submission Challenge

Jennifer Denys
The Submission Challenge
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Siren Publishing
Release Date
November 2011
BDSM, Erotic Romance

When independent Rebecca derides her best friend's brother for being a Dominant, he scoffs. She could never understand the lifestyle, but Jon challenges her to be his submissive for twenty-four hours anyway, demanding all that being a submissive entails. Not one to back down from a challenge, Rebecca agrees, determined to show him she can be submissive yet remain emotionally detached.

During the challenge, Jon works all his Dom tricks to try to make her lose, including insisting she be naked constantly, touching her intimately, and using various BDSM techniques, like bondage.

Some tricks Rebecca finds harder to accept than others, but as the weekend continues, they realize they are attracted to each other. But just as Rebecca comes to enjoy giving control to someone else, Jon learns to enjoy having someone who doesn't submit easily. But things aren't that simple.

Book Review by BookAddict (reviewer)
May 21, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
113 people found the following review helpful
"I dare you!" "No, I dare YOU!" Game on between Rebecca and Jon to see who will win the dare. I love a good challenge between two headstrong people. Jon is a dominant who is going to show the very vanilla best friend of his sister how good BDSM can be. Rebecca derides BDSM and disparages women in the BDSM lifestyle who enjoy submission. She finds these women as "ones who are easily controlled by others who would take advantage of their submissive" and are foolish to boot. Rebecca is manipulated to submit for 24 hours to Jon so she can see what submission is all about. Jon is determined to tame this hot tamale that he has secretly lusted after for years.

I must commend Ms. Denys at how accurately she captures what many vanilla people think of submissives, especially submissive women. There is quite a bit of misunderstanding about the BDSM subculture mostly perpetuated by the popular media and those who are vocal yet aren't practicing the lifestyle. As the BDSM elements are picking up in the erotic novel genre, more authors who know very little about BDSM only worsen the misunderstanding. It is to my disappointment; Ms. Denys's book perpetuates the bad. It's actually a good book to use as an example of what not to do for introducing a person into BDSM and how to identify an inadequate Dom.

The concept of this book was something I was interested in and wanted to read. The main characters have known each other for years and finally come together after they realize their sexual preferences aren't so different. Unfortunately, this is not what happens. Instead, we are given a clear example of why those who prefer the BDSM lifestyle should avoid those who are vanilla and manipulative. Make no mistakes. Jon is not a good Dom. Rebecca is not a sub nor will she ever be a sub. She tops from the bottom which is just loathsome to me. It violates the essence of a D/s relationship and turns it into a joke.

I have noticed a trend where Safe Sane Consensual (SSC) is bandied around as the one and only rule. Authors throw this in as if it will lend BDSM credibility in a book. It's not the main rule and it only tells me the author needs some more practical experience and better research. I'm here to tell you, most people who swear up and down that everyone in BDSM lifestyle lives by this tenant is probably a fringe player. If you ask those who actually live the lifestyle, they may warn people who are vanilla and want to get their kink on to be SSC. The lifestylers, however, live a different tenant – the more realistic one – RACK. This is risk aware consensual kink. Because if we really come down to the heart of BDSM, it can be risky, nothing we do is completely safe and sane is debatable. I will now leave my soapbox and explain what I would have liked to see.

Jon never fully explains to Rebecca what BDSM stands for nor does he understand the first rule between a dominant and a submissive. The only way for the power exchange or play to work is if there is trust. There is no trust between Jon and Rebecca. Jon is expecting Rebecca to fold and scream "red" so she can lose the challenge. Rebecca plans to last through the challenge through deceit. Basically, I felt as though this made a mockery of what could have been a very pleasurable experience between two consenting adults who are attracted to each other.

I do not expect Ms. Denys to be a teacher of BDSM and give a BDSM 101 course. Since this is a book with one person learning about BDSM and unlearning the myths of it, I would have at least expected to see a better negotiation scene. I would prefer Jon not to smirk or laugh at Rebecca when she feels uncomfortable and humiliated. How does this build the trust? Jon violates trust again when he lies to Rebecca about what is expected by all Doms from a sub. The fact that he tells himself it is a lie and to his advantage is disappointing. It is one thing to mind fuck an experienced consensual player, and another thing to do it to someone who already has a bad impression of BDSM.

The last item which made it clear Jon was an inexperienced or inadequate Dom was how he viewed submissives. The ones he had before just did what he told them and that is what he expected. In addition, he too looked down upon them because they never analyzed a scene with him. A good Dom is the one who ensures their submissive writes journal analyzing and detailing how the scenes went and about life as a submissive in general. This helps the Dom to adjust and understand what is going on in the mind of a sub. It is no surprise to me that Jon has never been able to have a lasting relationship with a submissive. He is just a play Dom.

The ending to this story is predictable and I'm glad they were able to come together. I still think they are going to end up with a messed up sexual relationship. I don't believe Rebecca will ever meet Jon's needs. I think this story is more for people who like a bit of fantasy kink sex and do not need to understand or care about BDSM.
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