Reviewed by Elise Logan
Title: A Rose of Any Colour: Book 2: Maledom
Author: Canice Brown-Porter, Miranda Heart, Kayleigh Jamison, Emily Ryan-Davis, Katrina Strauss, and Joe Wilson
Publisher: Freya’s Bower
Genre: Male Dom anthology
Publication Date: 2007
Rating: 4 of 5
As we’ve previously discussed here, reviewing anthologies can be a tricky business. There always seems to be some unevenness in the stories – one that shines brighter than the others, one that doesn’t seem to hold its own. In this case, I am pleased to say that I didn’t think any of the stories detracted from the anthology, which is a rare thing in any anthology and a nearly unheard of thing in an anthology about BDSM. Generally, I can’t call a single story my favorite, because I have more than one. All of the stories were worth reading, and they varied enough to have a little taste of many different types of domination.
I’m going to go through these individually, so each story gets a little mini-review.
The first story in the anthology is Canice Brown-Porter’s On Bended Knees. The vignette opens with Morgan having just completed her training with Evan. The story which follows is an exploration of the power exchange of a submission. The issues of trust, limits, and communication are all explored with honesty and a good dose of reality. The lifestyle perspective (not just a little role play) is strong and clear, and makes for a balanced examination of the situation. However, so much emphasis is put on the situation that the characters are not as fully developed as I would like to see. The dialogue is quite formal – even stilted in some places. This, combined with the surface nature of the characters, very nearly overrides the connection between the Dom and sub. Even so, the story is well-executed and it is clear that the author is well-acquainted with the lifestyle. There is an extremely hot masturbatory scene, and a lovely description of the Ceremony of Roses. Overall, I’d say this was a solid, well-done glimpse into the most important aspect of dominance – the power exchange.
The second story is Miranda Heart’s Little Book of Fantasies. Here we find Kaitlyn at the mercy of her new boyfriend, Steven. They haven’t been together long, and Kaitlyn is stunned when he kidnaps her. Over the course of the story, the importance of communication and trust is key. Kaitlyn must learn to trust Steven, and Steven must learn to trust himself. This is not the more formal, ritualized exchange of power described in Ms. Brown-Porter’s story, but the raw, edgy exchange of power of two people drawn to each other and driven to satisfy their individual cravings. From that standpoint, Ms. Heart is right on the money in her characterization of the difficulty and importance of getting the balance just right. The story is a little flat for me because I found it difficult to identify with Kaitlyn. The intensity of the scenes and the uncertainty in the power exchange makes for an interesting tale.
The third offering is A Scandalous Arrangement by Kayleigh Jamison. In this historical short story, Anna, a virgin of the aristocracy, finds herself given to a brothel to cover her brother’s debts. Lord Vere Fane purchases her from the brothel and proceeds to introduce her to the pleasure of pain and the appeal of submission. Vere is an interesting character in that we don’t see him outside his interactions with Anna, so our entire perception of him must come through her. Anna herself is very open-minded and blasé about her situation, much more accepting than I would be! Still, her acceptance of the situation lends her a certain grace that is appealing. There are several blips that distracted me from the story at hand – small historical details and problems with the internal logic of the story. However, these were relatively small and easily overlooked. The major problem, for me, was the lack of sensory or emotional input into the intimate scenes between Anna and Vere. I found myself distracted from these scenes by questions about what was going on – physically and emotionally – with Anna. It’s a nice fantasy piece for those who prefer a harsh taskmaster.
Next is Emily Ryan-Davis’ Unwrapping Amy, a nice present for the reader. Mac and Amy give us a beautiful love story about finding each other again after years of marriage. Amy has always held back, afraid that her darker desires will drive Mac away. Mac, on the other hand, is frustrated at Amy’s distance, even while he struggles with his concerns over his ability to keep himself in check. I’d just like to say, at this point, that I adore Mac. He is an excellent Dom, and his love for his wife shines through in his actions and words. Their relationship is drawn so well, so poignantly, that it is nearly painful to read in spots, but the characters are so finely crafted that you feel you know these people, and you just have to find out what happens. All in all, an engaging and satisfying read that leaves you feeling a little rough around the edges – in a good way.
The fifth story is Efflorescence by Katrina Strauss. Ms. Strauss does several interesting things in telling us about the romance of Hannah and Pavel. First, the setting is early 20th century
The final story, Touching Down by Joe Wilson, veers into what seems to be autobiographical territory. The prose and writing style are a bit choppy, with a good bit of head-hopping to throw the reader off. On the other hand, there is a strong element of realism to the exchanges, which make them more powerful. The head-hopping can make following the thread of the story a little confusing, but the descriptions of some of the techniques – visualization, particularly – make it worth the effort. In all, an interesting study of the dynamics of a relationship between a Dom and his sub.