Published by: Riptide Publishing
Genre: BDSM Erotic Romance
Reviewed by: Erin
What to expect: This club has everything: floggers,enemas, BDSM Ron Swanson, a SyFy Original movie, heartwarming tales of friendship, a Mos Def lookalike, and kink politics galore
Plot and Review: First of all, I’m going to start this review by saying that I don’t know a lot about the kink community, the politics of said community, etc. I just want to declare my ignorance right from the start, that I’m reviewing this book from an outsider perspective. If you’re in the community, I’d love to hear your feedback on this book. (This is a ploy to get more people talking to me about books, is it working?)
I’m going to let the blurb sum this one up:
A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.
A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.
But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.
Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.
I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.
I am a sucker for books with an obviously unreliable narrator, and Dave can be pretty darn unreliable. He’s hurting from the death of his best friend, he feels responsible for keeping his friends together, and he’s carrying a lot of anger toward the kink scene in general and the club, Riddle, where Hal’s death happened. He’s frustrated with the lack of direction in his own life, and when we meet him, he’s a seething ball of energy and snark, ready to lash out at all those inadequate, unsafe Doms out there.
That’s when he meets “The Disciplinarian,” (also named David, but let’s not go there for the sake of clarity) a red-blooded, meat-loving, dad jeans-wearing, all-American Ron Swanson type. He’s older, he’s serious, and he has a reputation for being a real hardass to his Subs. Dave is immediately drawn to him, and fills out an application to be his Sub, just to expose him as an unsafe asshole. Of course, this all backfires when he starts falling for The Disciplinarian, who is teaching him what caring and responsibility look like.
There is so much happening in this book, it’s hard to discuss everything in detail; there are the frenetic, snappy conversations between Dave and his friends, the intense and charming relationship between Dave and the Disciplinarian, there is the ongoing plot of The Subs Club, an online forum Dave starts to discuss and rate Doms, the question and resolution of what really happened to Hal that night, lots of discussions of kink politics, and your occasional detour into pop culture. It’s a lot, and the book does at times suffer from having too many balls in the air. It’s also the beginning of a series, setting up a cast of characters for future books, which also increases the noise to signal ratio.
The Subs Club works best when it’s focused on the relationship between Dave and The Disciplinarian and when it’s examining the questions brought up by the Subs Club site. This is a funny, charming, utterly unique book. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read it, and I had to keep stopping myself from rereading the whole thing as I was writing this review. This is a book that is way outside my comfort zone, kink-wise, and I’m so glad I decided to pick it up and give it a try.
Things you may not like: This book has a lot of kink. Lots and lots of it. Enemas, domestic discipline, and other scenes that are beyond what your average vanilla person like me might casually encounter in erotic fiction. If it’s not your bag, then this book might not be your bag.
Things I loved: The sweet, developing central romance, the laugh-out-loud funny dialogue, the discussions of kink politics from a jaded veteran’s POV, and did I mention the funny dialogue? This book is hilarious.