The Delicious Torment: A Story of Submission
Cleis Press / January 7, 2014 / $16.95 print
The second in a series of novels by bondage connoisseur Alison Tyler features heroine Samantha progressing with her predilections and exploring the deepest recesses of her master's dungeon and her heart. The Delicious Torment is a Story of O meets 9 1/2 Weeks coming-of-age tale fueled by lust, longing, and based on the author's personal diaries. The Delicious Torment takes readers to Sunset Strip, way up in the sky in a penthouse apartment overlooking Los Angeles with a love affair ensconced in an S&M relationship filled with corsets, crops, and plenty of kink.
There’s a hypnotic quality to the writing style of author Alison Tyler in her BSDM-themed novels Dark Secret Love and its sequel The Delicious Torment: A Story of Submission (the first two of a trilogy). Both feature protagonist and narrator Samantha, a Los Angeles writer inspired by Tyler’s own past, who develops a series of kinky relationships, culminating in Dark Secret Love in a 24/7 Dom/sub life with Jack, who here puts her through her paces in entirely new ways.
Each short chapter is relayed in a style of breathless confession, something Samantha has presumably gotten used to from having to confess everything from the content of her dirty dreams to her daily goings on to her lover. Jack never accepts the surface response from Samantha; instead, he probes as deeply as possible—all the better to use Samantha’s history and fantasies in their scenes.
In the very first chapter, he forces her to tell him the content of her wet dream—in this case, of being caned. Both the dream sequence, Samantha’s nervous anticipation, and the actual caning all combine climactically, each step building toward the next:
The cane slashed through the air, and I cried out, but at the same time, I felt the wetness of my arousal. Felt how turned on I was. Could I come again, solely from being caned and from the way Jack continued to talk to me?
Yet they do not simply slink off into a kinky happily ever after. It’s outsiders who most drastically impact both the sex and the emotion in The Delicious Torment. Alex, Jack’s assistant, is the first to intrude, checking up on Samantha while Jack’s at work. She soon discovers that part of her agreement to be Jack’s sub is to also be at the mercy of whoever he chooses to top her—first Alex, and later, a blonde imposing domme. Samantha isn’t sure how she feels about adding someone else to the mix, but Jack always returns to reassure her—in words and deed. While most of the sex here is of the pretty hardcore BDSM variety, Tyler slips in moments of erotic sweetness that make the pain Samantha craves all the more intense:
Jack stroked me all over with his bare hands. Up and down. Not leaving any part of my body untouched. I’m trained as a masseuse, and yet I’m one of those strange creatures who don’t like to be massaged. In fact, if I don’t know someone well, I don’t like to be touched at all. I don’t hug people on greeting. I don't spontaneously hold hands with my friends. I have a history of being standoffish in this way.
When Jack used his bare hands to stroke the tops of my shoulders down to my feet, he made me purr like a relaxed panther. My body was humming, electrified. He didn’t tickle me. He didn’t touch me too gently. He used firm strokes over and over, until I felt as if I were flying.
Over the course of the novel, Samantha’s explorations extend beyond the home she shares with Jack. Their forays into public scenes are some of the hottest ones in the book, especially a BDSM club in which Samantha must watch Jack punish Alex, before encounters for each of them with the aforementioned blonde. While there are numerous fetishes explored in The Delicious Torment, including anal sex, enemas, forced crossdressing, strap-on play, and assorted bondage implements, including a cage, the story flows smoothly in short, snappy chapters. Even the most outrageous fantasies sound plausible, because in Tyler’s hands, Samantha isn’t an empty-headed overly eager sub willing to do literally anything Jack asks, but rather a fierce equal who gets off on power play and pain. She doesn’t back down from telling Jack when she’s jealous or uncertain, and in turn, he welcomes her questions, though makes it clear he is always in charge, even when he’s not in the room. As the extent of his relationship with Alex becomes explicitly clear, Samantha has to repeatedly ask herself how much of him—and herself—she’s willing to share.
Toward the end, Samantha, while still fulfilling her submissive role to Jack, gets to take on a more dominant one with Alex. This final scene is the most unexpected, yet most thrilling. While they are not exactly co-conspirators, they do work in harmony as Samantha experiences a new twist:
My breath caught. Each time Jack’s hand pumped my cock, he pressed the base of the toy back against my clit. And each time I felt that connection I thought I would come. He didn’t stop. He didn’t turn or say a word. He kept going, pausing only to add a bit more spit to his palm, so that I felt like he was greasing me.
Tyler contrasts Samantha’s troubled high school relationship with a controlling older man, Brock, against the seemingly paradoxical freedom she feels surrendering to Jack, emphasizing that whereas Brock wanted to control her every move for his own purposes, Jack’s intentions line up with Samantha’s. He doesn’t use her desires against her per se, but rather, exploits them to push her toward unlocking aspects of her kinks she hasn’t fully grappled with.
Their relationship is complex and goes beyond a typical love story, as Samantha tries to figure out Jack’s ultimate goal for her, and sort out her own sometimes complex feelings. She knows what it’s like to have a lover treat her as a doormat, while she also knows how it feels to be pushed beyond what she thinks she can bear, only to find exquisite bliss of giving herself fully to Jack—by choice. This is an excellent read for anyone looking to discover the intensity of a full-time kinky relationship that goes beyond the bedroom, beyond the body, even, into the heart and soul of submission.
(ETA 1/8/14: The cover originally posted was for the UK edition of the book and has been replaced with the US cover. Apologies for any confusion!)
Learn more or order a copy of The Delicous Torment by Alison Tyler, out now:
Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) is a freelance and erotica writer, and editor of over 50 anthologies, including The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories; Only You: Erotic Romance for Women; Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission and others. She tweets @raquelita and blogs at Lusty Lady.