Tara Sue Me
Seduced by Fire: A Partners in Play Novel
NAL Trade / March 4, 2014 / $15.00 print / $9.99 digital
Julie Masterson craves a taste of danger.
Despite being familiar with the different games people play in the bedroom, she’s never given into her curiosity about putting her body in someone else’s power—until a chance meeting with Daniel Covington, the seductive Senior VP of Weston Bank, draws her into a titillating new world of sexual experience, one that she never knew she desperately needed.
Daniel is highly respected within his community, but he hasn’t had an exclusive relationship for over two years. Yet Julie’s eager innocence is driving him to the brink of ecstasy, making him rethink his feelings about commitment.
As their sizzling connection heats up, Daniel is ready to take Julie fully under his command. But when the dangerous side of their play rears its ugly head, Julie will have to decide if she trusts him enough to surrender completely—or if she should escape before she gets burned...
Far too often, much of the plot in romance novels is centered on the utter lack of communication between the romantic hero and heroine, leaving room for misunderstandings galore. Not so in Tara Sue Me's Seduced by Fire; the focus in the book shifts from issues of the partners being unable to articulate their concerns to one of self-discovery and understanding of life inside a BDSM community. Julie is a confident, experienced woman who has always been curious about her friend’s experience as a Submissive, though she hasn’t readily admitted it. As Julie finds her opening to explore, she is well complemented by Daniel, a Dominant willing and very eager to teach her the ropes, with hopes of guiding her to her true potential.
The couple meets at the flower shop co-owned by Julie and her friend, Sasha, and the attraction between Julie and Daniel is immediate. Daniel finds a way to meet up with Julie again through a charitable function, which he invites her not only to supply the flowers for but to be his plus-one, also. Sparks fly, leaving Julie and Daniel excited about what could happen between them.
But Sasha had warned Julie that Daniel may not be a good fit for her. Rather than outright explain why, Sasha encourages Julie to attend a meeting that her BDSM group is having. Julie discovers that Daniel is not only speaking at the meeting, he’s also one of the senior members of the group and a much sought after Dominant. She realizes the dynamics of their relationship will undoubtedly change, if it will even be possible for them to reconcile their different lifestyles. Having the information loosed on Julie this way could easily have backfired on Sasha, threatening their business relationship as well as their friendship. Instead, Julie, a reasonable protagonist, understands the intention behind the action. It also gives her the opportunity to explore something that had held her curiosity for some time.
“Wow,” Sasha said.
“No freak-out? I’m impressed.”
“I spent hours online last night reading up on all this stuff. It’s going to take a bit more than finding out Daniel has his own personal dungeon to freak me out.” [Julie] had no idea there was such a wide variety of kink out there. Her research had definitely been eye-opening. Kind of made her feel like a virgin all over again. “But before we talk more about me, I have a few questions for you. Like how did you find out you were a submissive?”
A big grin covered Sasha’s face and excitement filled her voice. “I’m so happy you’re finally admitting you’re curious. I’ve seen the way you look when I talk about it. I kind of thought you’d come around eventually.”
Daniel is quite happy to bring Julie into his world and opens the lines of communication between them very early on for a number of reasons. The first is to give Julie the confidence to embrace what he believes is her natural affinity for submission. More than that, he makes her understand that the best Dom/Sub relationships are about being able to speak freely (unless in scene, of course) and not allowing the intensity of the feelings/sensations evoked to prevent the use of a safe word at any time. He wants her exploration to be a positive one and if they are able to confide in each other, nothing should be able to hold them back from enjoying the mutual pleasures the lifestyle has to offer.
Julie comes to understand these facets well, anticipating her time in Daniel's playroom. Their romance grows beyond just moments of play and Julie begins to wonder about collaring. Here, the author uses the subtleties of their growing affections to highlight the possible dynamics of a couple in a BDSM community. It isn’t all wanton sex parties (though those aren’t completely out of the question, in a controlled manner); there’s commitment, a deep one, achievable when a submissive agrees to be collared.
This idea begins to bloom larger in both Daniel and Julie’s mind when things go very wrong for someone else in the community. Julie now sees the dangers of being a submissive, particularly when she understands that the trust Daniel has been so adamant about runs the risk of being misplaced or abused by the wrong partner.
Julie felt cold taking in the scene around her. From Peter, hunched and hurting at the front of the room. Sasha troubled and trembling while trying to be strong. Even Daniel, who’d left the room as though the demons of hell were following behind him. Nothing spoke of wholeness or completeness. All of it spoke of danger and darkness.
With so many obstacles suddenly in front of them, Julie and Daniel have to find a way to maintain their open dialogue or face losing what had seemed something akin to destiny. Tara Sue Me uses the romance between a confirmed Dominant and the seeming submissive to illustrate some of the finer points that must be addressed in entering into the BDSM community as well as a healthy relationship with a play partner. The importance not only of being able to fully trust each other but to be able to talk about the highs and lows of what happens inside the playroom (and out) is repeatedly expressed as the best starting point to ensure success. It doesn’t hurt that this might even lead to a little happy ever after, too.
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Jackie Lester imagines a day when she can make a living as a writer. Until then, she reviews eclectic books at My Ever Expanding Library and lives in small-town Ontario with her daughter.