Never the Face: A Story of Desire - Ariel Sands 'tis the season...


despite being marketed as an erotic novel about a "power exchange", this really seems to be more about an emotionally and physically abusive situation that is disguised as a power exchange. the dominant is a sociopath; he is surprisingly well-developed, although the author overcompensates a bit much in the depiction of his need for ownership. the submissive is psychotically submissive; she is also surprisingly well-developed, although again the author overcompensates a bit much by making her such an amazingly successful person with such a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle. i think both characters need lots of very expensive therapy. there is an extremely disturbing passage on the guy's unrealized fantasies. and there is an equally upsetting flashback of the gal's loss of virginity. and of course tons of especially brutal rough sex (NOT bdsm). an interesting thing to me was how the two were always switching back and forth between their abusive scenarios and various supportive, chatty, empathetic conversations - a bizarre, ongoing occurrence.

the bleak, undramatic ending is surprisingly downbeat and actually felt rather realistic. the last few pages are very effective but certainly not remotely erotic.

this is the kind of novel in which our hero, a childhood friend of the narrator, first announces his intentions by casually mentioning that he'll make her bark like a dog. gosh, who wouldn't be won over by that opening salvo?