Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review – Management Skills by January Rowe

After reading January Rowe's Management Skills I'm never going to look at the phrase "dress like a nun" the same way again. In fact there are a lot of things I'm not going to be looking at the same way again. For example my shower head, the pool (lavender scented only, I hope) and the BDSM community. I've spent some time in this community and while I wouldn't say that this book gives and accurate description of the going's on, it does give a small peak into what a relationship, between a master and his sub, could look like.

Grant Edmonds first meets his new employee Allie Fairfax several years prior to her actual hiring at his company. In her previous life she was Silver, an exotic dancer from a fetish club he did work for and her dances did way more than titillate his senses. When he recognizes her on her first day at work he's determined to have her in his bed at all costs.

While I enjoyed the premise of this story, the inconsistencies with Allie's characterization made it difficult to buy into the plot. I kept readings echoes of the Madonna and the Whore within her actions to Grant. She went from being called a prude by her friend in her first week of employment and having her fashion described as nun-like to wearing almost nothing under her suit. The image of her very conservative clothing style was thrown off by how little she actually wore.  Further confusion arose when her very vocal protests of "I'm not a slut," is turned on its head a few short paragraphs later:

"Do you want me to go? No harm, no foul?"
With a cry, her arms shot up to embrace his neck.

Her hesitancy to not have sex with Grant was unrealistic given how quickly she gave in to his seduction.  Furthermore, learning about her vow of chastity and her previous foray into the lifestyle just makes her characterization ring even more false.  How can I believe that she wants to stick to her vows if she drops her panties at the first provocation from a man who shoes interest? 

As a character Grant held up his end of the dominant male perspective, almost to the point of being overbearing, however, given the explanation for the type of relationship he wanted it plays. He establishes the relationship between himself and Allie quickly and proceeds to mold her into the sub he intends for her to be. He is methodical in his training and has laid out his demands clearly…or at least it appears that way.  Until I realize that this is supposed to be the romantic conflict of the story.  Grant wants ownership and expects to control Allie's sexual satisfaction.  Since Allie is no innocent to the lifestyle, she understands what Grant is asking for and she counters. He's adamant about his unwillingness to compromise on this fact when Allie offers to just be lovers, however in the end Allie agrees to this relationship, but she eventually balks at it, which brings us to the "renegotiation" phase and finally the end.

This novella confused me for several reasons. The plot was intriguing, but Allie's emotional teeter totter made it difficult to know where she stood. She claims to prefer an "exacting nature," but when faced with it in Grant, she rebels. And this is even more confusing when played out within the confines of a Master/Sub relationship. January Rowe, shows definite promise with her writing skills, but the consistency of her characters needs work.

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