Not Your Typical BDSM Romance Author
by Rhiannon Ayers
As a romance author, there is a question I get asked more than any other: why do I write about BDSM that doesn’t include whips and chains and pain for pleasure? The Blogger Girls have been kind enough to host me today, so I’d like to take a moment to answer that question once and for all. Here goes nothing.
When I sat down to write my books, one of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish was to help people realize that D/s doesn’t have to be about pain. At its core, it is only about control. Everything else, all the trappings and drama, are secondary and depend on the individual needs of those who are participating. Therefore, to assume that all practitioners of the lifestyle always do the same things is erroneous. No two Doms are the same, just as no two subs have the same needs.
How do I know all this? Because I am a practicing Domme. My husband and I have been together for fourteen years, ever since I claimed him as mine. We live the D/s lifestyle 24/7. Notice, though, I said D/s, not BDSM. That’s because, in our relationship, there is no bondage and there is no masochism. We practice the purely psychological D/s.
What are the differences, you might ask? In my latest book, ANGEL WITHOUT, two of my MC’s have a poignant conversation that really sums it up. The story follows Amber Whitman, a young woman who got involved with a man who claimed he was Dom, and who promised that he would teach her the BDSM lifestyle. But instead of treating her like a true Dom would, he abused her, destroying her faith in her instincts and terrorizing her to the point where she refused to even consider being with a Dominant man again. This conversation takes place after she meets Maddox Henley, a Dom with a dark past of his own. As the two of them get to know each other, Maddox gets her to tell him about her previous Dom—and proceeds to explain why he wasn’t a Dom at all.
About Angel Without
When Amber Whitman’s fiance suddenly turns violent, she flees back home—only to be told she has no choice but to marry the bastard. Refusing to live her life as an abused woman, Amber takes off in the dead of night. But now she’s out of money, out of options, and out of ideas. She has no place to turn…or does she?
All these years, Amber thought her beloved adopted brother, Allen, was dead. When she discovers he’s not only alive, but living in the same city, she runs to him for help. Fortunately, Allen and his lovers have a plan to keep Amber safe. Allen brings his little sister to stay with Maddox Henley, a Dom with a dark past, and Riley Jones, an ex-soldier with a dark secret. Together, these two strapping construction workers have the balls and ability to keep a young woman safe from all outside threats.
But can they keep her safe from the threat they pose to her heart?
Available at: Siren Bookstrand
An Excerpt from Angel Without
“I can teach you, if you truly want to learn,” he told her honestly. “But, there are a few things I need you to promise me first.”
Fear flashed in her beautiful blue eyes. Maddox schooled himself to patience, forcing himself to wait for her answer, despite the overwhelming urge to take her in his arms. This was the first step toward building trust—she needed to know her decisions counted, right from the beginning. Otherwise, she would never trust his intentions, never trust him when he said he cared about her thoughts and feelings. It was a fine line, the very line that defined Dominant from submissive, and it was a line that was far, far too easy to mistake for something else entirely. So he waited, keeping his expression open and welcoming, praying she would find the courage to trust him, just a little bit more.
Amber licked her lips again, swallowed hard. Then she whispered, “What promises?”
Maddox kept up his slow massage of her hand, never taking his eyes off hers. “First, you will promise never to lie to me. Even if it hurts, even if the answer embarrasses you, you must tell me the truth at all times. In return, I promise to do the same. There can be no trust between us if we’re both wondering what the other is hiding. Can you do that?”
She was silent for a moment, considering. When she finally nodded, Maddox’s heart soared. He let out a silent sigh and continued. “Good. Second, I need you to promise me you will never do something against your own desires just because you think it’s something I want from you.”
She cocked her head, obviously confused. “What? But I thought…”
He interrupted her immediately. “Wrong. You thought wrong, Amber. You and Brandon both got it wrong, right from the start. Being submissive doesn’t mean giving up your dignity, angel. And being Dominant doesn’t mean you want to control your submissive’s every thought and action. In point of fact, it’s the exact opposite.”
She shook her head. “I don’t understand. I thought…I thought that’s what it meant, to be a sub. What it meant to be a Dom.”
“Not even close.”
“Then…what does it mean?”
He sighed. “I’ll explain it to you the same way Sidri explained it to me.” He paused for a smile. “That woman has a way with words,” he said with a chuckle, earning a soft smile from Amber that hit him right in the balls. He bit back a curse, reaching under the table to adjust himself before continuing.
“There are a million different ways to express submission or Dominance. So many, in fact, that it is very rare to find two submissives with the same needs, or even two Doms. Every person is unique. That said, there is a core understanding that does apply to every single one of us, and it comes down to physical motion.”
At her curious look, he gave her a soft smile. “Being Dominant means needing to be in control of the motion during sex.” He paused, noting the shiver that washed down her spine as he said the word. He bit back a groan. “Understand, I saidneeding to be in control—not wanting.”
“What’s the difference?”
He met her gaze squarely. “Exactly what it sounds like. I’m a Dom, Amber. For me, that means that in order to find satisfaction, in order to reach orgasm, I need to be in control of the motion. I can’t get relief unless and until I am in control of the physical motion—how fast, how hard, how deep.” He watched the blush staining her cheeks, desperately wanted to lick and suck his way down her chest, just to see if the skin was as hot as it looked. He cleared his throat, but his next words still came out loaded with lust.
“It means you could ride me all night long, angel. You could be on top of me all night long, riding for all you were worth, and I still wouldn’t be able to come. I just can’t. I have to be on top, have to be in control of the actual physical motion, in order to find release. It’s how I’m built. How Sidri and Tatum are both built. And that is, at the very core of its definition, what it means to be a Dom. Everything else is secondary.”
She licked those lips again, her blue eyes shining impossibly bright. “So…what does it mean for a sub, then?”
“The exact opposite,” he replied quietly. “For a true submissive, it means you can’t be in control of the motion. In order to reach orgasm, you need to have your partner take care of that part. Otherwise, if you find yourself having to worry about the mechanics of things, the whens and whys and hows, you can’t let go enough to release. Which means that even if you did ride me all night long, you wouldn’t be able to come, either.”
She shivered again, and he bit back yet another groan. Christ, this woman was going to be the death of him. Time to spice things up a bit more.
“Of course, that doesn’t apply to self-stimulation,” he rumbled, allowing his gaze to sweep over her. Amber’s cheeks turned bright pink. “It only applies to being with a partner. In point of fact, a sub who ends up with a man who isn’t Dominant enough is more likely to prefer masturbation. You can always get yourself off, right?”
Amber’s mouth worked up and down, her eyes darkening with desire. Maddox cursed himself, knowing he’d be fantasizing about her touching herself all night long.
“So, those are the basic definitions,” he went on, throat raspy. “For most people, there really isn’t that much of a separation between the two—they can be either in control or not, as the situation calls for it. It’s only for those of us who find they actually need control—or truly need their partner to take it from them—that the true demarcation begins. After that, it depends on the individual, what each wants and needs. And, for a Dom, that means meeting the sub’s wants and needs on every level possible.” He stopped and made sure he had her complete attention. “Do you understand what I’m saying, angel?”
She shook her head, and his heart went out to her for the umpteenth time that day. He reached up a hand, slowly smoothed her bangs away from her forehead. She shuddered under his touch, but didn’t pull away.
“For a Dom, the sub’s needs transcend all else,” he explained quietly, projecting as much confidence and sincerity as he possessed into his voice. “When a true Dom chooses a submissive, he does so because that sub needs something from him, which he in turn knows he can give. Everything a Dom is, everything a Dom does, is for the sub’s benefit—not his own.
“That’s why Brandon wasn’t a Dom, angel. He couldn’t be, and still do what he did to you. Tying you up simply to have more power over you, hurting you for his own pleasure, goes against everything that makes a Dom what he is.”
“Help me understand,” she whispered hoarsely. Her gorgeous blue eyes had darkened even more as she looked up at him through her lashes, making them almost purple. He used his thumb to trace her cheek, her lower lip, as he continued his sensual explanation.
“The submissive’s needs transcend all else,” he said again. “That means a Dom does nothing, nothing, without knowing for absolute certain it is what the sub actually wants. A Dom doesn’t whip a sub because the Dom likes pain, or wants to hurt the sub physically, he does it because the sub needs the pain to find release, to let go. It isn’t done for the Dom’s benefit, it’s done for the sub. A man who whips a woman because he likes hurting her isn’t a Dom—he’s a sadist, pure and simple. And any man calling himself a Dom who went into a club like the one where I met Sidri and Tatum would quickly find himself kicked out, if not outright arrested, for displaying such behavior in that environment. It goes against everything we are, period. No exceptions.”
He rubbed the back of her hand while she thought about his explanation. “I guess that makes sense…for pain,” she said after a pause. “But what about…restraints? Why would you tie someone up unless you wanted to have more control over them?”
He immediately sobered. If he didn’t explain this right, if he bumbled through it and confused her, he’d only end up convincing her he didn’t understand his own beliefs. Worse, what he was about to try and explain was actually part of her nature, not his. He knew what he knew because of experience dealing with subs, and because of Sidri and Tatum being so thorough in his education. That said, because he was a Dom and not a sub, he couldn’t personally understand what it truly meant to be submissive. He was nothing more than a walking, talking dictionary, about to give a clinical definition to someone who needed the emotional understanding to comprehend it.
Maddox licked his bottom lip as he gathered his thoughts. “First and foremost, you need to remember—to accept—that a true Dom does nothing without knowing it’s what the sub wants. So if being restrained wasn’t something you wanted for yourself, no true Dom would ever make you go through it. Please, angel, trust me on this, okay?”
She gave him a halting nod, eyes still wary. Aching for her, Maddox cleared his throat and went on.
“That said, you are right about there being an exchange of power—but it’s the other way around. The Dom doesn’t tie the sub up so he can have more power over her. He does it so the sub knows he’s in control.”
“How is that different?”
“Semantics,” he said with a tiny grin. She rolled her eyes, making him laugh. “I’m serious. You say the Dom restrains a sub because he wants control, which is true on the surface. But he doesn’t want control for himself—he wants it because his sub needs him to be in control in order to find release. By both definitions, the Dom is in control. But the underlying meaning, the part that actually matters to someone like you or me, is that the sub is the one choosing to be restrained, because that sub wants to give control to her Dom. If she didn’t, then she wouldn’t be submissive.”
Amber smoothed the hair behind her ear with her free hand and regarded him thoughtfully. “So, what you’re saying is, I’m looking at it from the angle of it being a bad thing—the Dom wants control for himself, to feel powerful. But in reality, in a true D/s situation, it’s actually the sub who made the original decision, who chose to be restrained in order to hand control to her Dom.”
He beamed. “Exactly. Does that make sense? Can you see the difference?”
She nodded slowly. “Mostly. But…why would a sub want to be restrained at all?”
“Remember what I just said, about a submissive’s nature being tied to physical motion? How a sub can’t be in control if they want to experience orgasm? There are a million different ways to express that need. For some, it may just be needing to be on the bottom, to be able to lie back and let your partner do most of the work. But for others, it goes deeper. And there are levels, degrees that apply to different kinds of submissives.”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Are you comfortable talking about your brother’s sex life? Because he’s a perfect example.”
Her blush made his balls draw up. “As long as you don’t, you know, describe them having sex in crazy detail, I should be okay.”
“Fair enough. You know your brother is a sub. He has particular needs, which led him to Sidri and Tatum. They are both Dominant, and both of them fall into the category of psychological Domination.” He caught her gaze. “That means they exert their control with words and emotions, not physical means. Your brother does not want to be restrained, does not want pain with his pleasure. Therefore, Sidri and Tatum will sometimes give him the illusion of restraints to force his mind to make the choice to follow their orders, but they will never restrain him in truth. That’s not what he wants, not what he needs, so they will never, ever ask it of him.”
“How do you give the illusion of restraints?” she asked in a breathy whisper, her eyes flashing with sudden lust.
“Will you trust me for a moment?”
Her blue eyes widened, filling with shadows again, but she nodded. Maddox choked back the urge to kiss her, make her forget her fears by force of sheer sensual overload. She wasn’t ready. Not yet. Not until she could bring herself to believe, body and soul, that he had no intention of harming her.
That thought in mind, Maddox rose from his barstool and circled the island. When he stood behind her chair, he carefully, slowly danced his fingers down both shoulders, down both arms, until he reached her wrists. Gently, letting her know she could pull away at any time, Maddox pulled her hands out and back, finally wrapping her small fingers around the vertical slats that supported the stool’s short backrest. He brought the heat of his body right up behind her, knowing her hands were tantalizingly close to his throbbing erection, but forced himself to focus. He left his fingers circled around her wrists, forming loose manacles.
“Hypothetical situation,” he said in a soft rumble. “Say I ordered you to put your hands behind your back, grip the back of the barstool, just as I have you doing now. I could use true restraints to keep you in the position I’ve commanded. Some submissives require the real thing, because they want to be able to pull against those restraints. They want to know down to their toes that their Dom is totally in control because the restraints are there, keeping them from disobeying his orders. The physical restraints reinforce their desire to have their choices taken away for the duration of the encounter, allowing them to let go and stop worrying about mechanics. Restraining that kind of submissive isn’t done so the Dom feels more powerful. It’s done so the sub can feel free enough to let go.”
She was trembling in his hold, obviously heavily identifying with his words. God, she was going to make him explode. Clearing his throat roughly, Maddox fought for control and went on.
“Or, I could simply give you the order,” he told her in a soft, sexy whisper. He leaned down, put his lips next to her ear. “Put your hands behind your back, grip the back of the barstool. Don’t let go, or everything stops.” Then he removed his hands from around her wrists and took a half step back, so there was no chance of her accidentally touching him. Standing behind her, out of her sight while he spoke, would drive her wild.
“My command is the illusion, Amber. There’s nothing holding you back but your own will. You have to choose, to make the choice to obey me, and not just once—throughout our time together, you would need to make that choice, over and over again. You’d have to constantly remember my command, be forced to consider it and decide whether or not to obey, again and again.
“As Sidri is fond of saying, it’s actually much, much harder to keep still when you know nothing is holding you back but your own mind. A sub who prefers physical restraints wants to be able to pull against them, to feel the physical evidence of their Dom’s control. But a sub like your brother”—like you—“prefers the illusion, so that he has no doubt whatsoever that everything that is happening to him is by his choice and his choice alone. A sub who wants to be restrained physically wants their choices taken away. A sub who prefers the illusion wants to make certain he has all his choices, at all times.”
He watched Amber’s shoulders tighten, her knuckles going white around the slats. After a moment, he stepped forward, carefully pulled her fingers away. He walked around in front of her, gathered her hands again, and brought both to his lips for a gentle kiss. Smiling softly at her stunned look, Maddox drew the closest stool over and sat down next to her, keeping possession of one of her hands.
“The biggest thing I need you to understand,” he said quietly, “is that you’re the one with all the power, angel. Nothing happens without your say-so. You have a choice, every time, no matter what. I never want to take your choices away—I want you to make the choice to be with me, over and over again. If you don’t want me to have control, then I won’t have it. It’s all up to you.
“That’s why I asked for that second promise,” he said after a time. “I don’t want you to agree to do things simply because you think it’s what I want from you. So if I were to ask you to do something you truly did not want to experience, I would expect—no, demand—that you say no. I have no desire to force you into something that makes you uncomfortable, angel. No desire to force my will onto yours. All I want, all I need, is to know that you’re finding pleasure in what we do together.”
Her eyes flashed with lust. “You’re so certain…we’ll be doing things together?” she said in a breathy voice.
About Rhiannon Ayers
Rhiannon Ayers has lived in many cities over the years, having grown up the daughter of parents who suffered from wanderlust. Currently, she and her husband reside near the Gulf of Mexico with their children, both the two- and four-legged variety. An artist to the bone, Rhiannon spends her days dreaming up snappy headlines and creating eye-catching artwork for clients all over the world, though telling stories has always been her first love. After writing her first epic adventure series at the tender age of eight, she went on to garner several creative writing awards, including the prestigious Vanderbilt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. Becoming a published author is her single greatest achievement to date.
Rhiannon loves getting feedback from readers. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find her at her Website, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
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Don’t forget to check out JustJen’s review of Angel Without to see what she thought of it!