The Secret Life of a Submissive
HarperCollins (UK: 6th December 2012; AU: 1st March 2013; US: 26th March 2013; CA: 23rd April 2013)
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It’s weird reviewing memoirs. You can say they’re plotless and you don’t like the characters, but they’re real, and it’s for that very reason that a memoir is plotless and you don’t like the characters. So I can understand why memoir writers might take reviews of their memoirs personally.
The Secret Life of a Submissive charts Sarah K’s (what, she couldn’t make up a surname?) relationship with Max: how they meet, what they do, and the outside factors that eventually break them up. Yes, spoiler: this is not a romance. Or is it? The book ends on a phone call between Sarah and Alex, and the sequel memoir (due out August 2013) will chart their relationship.
Max is like many fictional Doms: good-looking, charming, and wealthy. He funds their dinners, buys Sarah clothes, pays for them to spend five days in luxury in Paris…
But he has a young daughter, and an “ill” ex who’s clingy and needy, keeps ringing Sarah’s mobile and her home…and shows up in Paris with her daughter to win back Max. She’s not quite psychotic, but she is the story’s “villain”.
The book doesn’t pass the Bechdel test: two or more named characters don’t have a conversation that’s not about men. The closest that comes is Sarah’s chat with charity shop staff who help her choose tarty clothes. But the staff thinks it’s for a tarts-and-vicars party, not a hotel date with her boyfriend. Max specifically requested Sarah wear something tarty, so whether the staff knew it or not, the conversation was still about a man, in a way.
For most of the story, it’s all very ho-hum with some melodrama at the end. But there is one rather perhaps unintentionally funny scene: “Dog’s dinner”, shall we put it – you’ll know it when you read it 😉 There’s also talk of the reality of creating a DIY dungeon. It helps to have a carpenter who’s in on the lifestyle, apparently.
But the book has icky stuff: talk of using a daughter’s skipping rope in bondage sessions. This is early on. Later on, Max’s daughter’s teddy bear is found in the car’s boot, where his BDSM stuff is. I’m totally not okay with kids’ stuff and adult stuff touching. Ew.
Sarah K’s The Secret Life of a Submissive beats Sophie Morgan’s The Diary of a Submissive, and I think I’ll tune in for the sequel.