So I took the phone off the hook, settled down with a nice glass of vino and worked my way through the stories in Total-e-bound’s Master Me anthology. And boy, was that time well spent!
Lisabet Sarai’s tale of dark, decadent passion set against the performances of a summer stock theatre company, The Understudy, kicks off the collection in fine style. Charismatic Broadway star Geoffrey Hart arrives at the Berks Hills Playhouse to swell audience numbers and set the hearts of the female cast members fluttering. In chorus player Sarah Gladstone he instinctively recognises a woman whose submissive side is waiting to be explored, and soon he’s introducing her to the delights of spanking, bondage and rough play. She can’t help falling for him and the delicious feelings of being owned he arouses in her, but is Geoffrey looking for any more than a summer fling, and can Sarah ever compete with the attractions of his long-time lover and slave, Anne Merrill?
Lisabet has long been adept at describing the psychological side of a D/s relationship, as well as the physical side, and The Understudy is no exception. It’s easy to see why Sarah would respond so readily to Geoff’s commands, and why she finds it so hard to entertain the possibility that their relationship might not mean as much to him as it does to her. And as you’d expect, the punishment scenes, featuring crops, butt-plugs and nipple clamps among other toy box staples, are sizzling hot.
Trina Lane’s Paradise Of Pleasure introduces us to Elaina, who has a fantasy about being told what to do by a dominant man. When she broaches the idea with boyfriend Mike, he knows he can’t make it happen. In search of someone who can, she books into an exclusive island resort that caters for couples into the BDSM lifestyle. Elaina has no master, while resort owner Derrick has no sub. Drawn to her beauty and her quiet demeanour, he presents Elaina with an ultimatum – leave immediately for breaking the rules by arriving here alone, or submit to him for the duration of her stay…
Paradise Of Pleasure is a slice of pure escapist romance, set against a lush tropical background and spiced up with deliciously described scenes of exhibitionism and shibari bondage. Derrick is probably the most conventional ‘alpha male’ type in the whole collection, but that doesn’t make his fears of what might happen if Elaina chooses to return to her normal life when her holiday is over any the less convincing.
In contrast, Charlotte Stein’s Ever Unknown takes place in a humdrum office setting, but what happens there is anything but ordinary. When Molly starts receiving e-mails from someone who signs himself ‘Ever Unknown’, she begins a cheeky correspondence that gradually reveals her interest in discipline and punishment games. Her anonymous would-be master. is only too happy to push her along a path that begins with her turning up in the office without underwear and gradually submitting to his increasingly kinky demands. Molly thinks she knows his identity, despite his efforts to keep it concealed, but is she right, and as the stakes are raised, how far is she prepared to go along the path to total submission?
Charlotte Stein’s fresh, distinctive writing style breathes saucy life into what, in other hands, might otherwise be a fairly straightforward tale of erotic mind games. There are some twists along the way, but the ending is as sweet and uplifting as you could wish for.
Helen, in Jane Davitt’s Fresh Start, is the one heroine in the collection who is already in a long-term BDSM relationship when the story begins. However, six months down the line, she still isn’t fully in tune with her master’s desires, even though she’s pretty happy with what she’s getting out of the arrangement. When Connor has to go away on business, it’s a chance for him to tell her what he really needs – and that involves Helen taking her submission seriously, rather than just picking and choosing when she wants to obey him. Will this signal the end of their relationship – or will Helen accede to his requests and learn the true meaning of submission?
Exploring the difference between playing at BDSM and immersing yourself in it fully, Fresh Start is probably the most thought-provoking story in the anthology and one that offers plenty of insight into why a couple might choose, if circumstances permitted, to live a lifestyle where one partner truly becomes a 24/7 submissive.
Rounding off Master Me is Justine Elyot’s A Very Personal Trainer. Lara’s life is a mess. She’s so disorganised her flat looks like a tip, she never meets a deadline and she’s always late paying her bills. On a friend’s recommendation, she hires life coach Dexter to sort her out. Dexter’s methods are far from orthodox, and Lara finds herself falling for her icily controlled personal trainer and his promises of punishment. But Lara’s determination to mix business with pleasure sees her crossing a line, as the one thing guaranteed to drive Dexter away is any intrusion into his private life…
Justine wrings plenty of humour from Lara’s attempts at self-improvement, and while the truth about Dexter’s tangled circumstances and his need to keep his distance may seem a little improbable, by that time you’re so wrapped up in the story and Lara’s quest for a happy ending you really don’t care.
As for my own story in the collection, Neil And Obey, I’ll leave that for you to discover. But if you love stories about women learning to submit to a stern but loving dominant, whether just for now or for a lifetime, Master Me is bound to tap into a few favourite fantasies – and maybe leave you with some new ones, too…
Check it out at Total-e-bound.