Jennifer Bene likes to play in the deep, dark end of the pool, and I love to go swimming with her. Many of her stories have heavy themes like non-consent, D/s, and BDSM. Some of them are incredibly intense. They don’t all have happy endings. I’m looking right at you, Monster. Spoiler, there’s going to be more about that story in Thursday’s post. It makes my Top Ten, in fact, it’s in the top three.
I love her stories and have read almost everything she’s written. I’m working my way through the last three or four. I’m lucky enough to be on her ARC team, which means that I get to read her books early. On top of that, Jennifer is an all-around nifty person.
Today we’re talking about her Thalia series, Security Binds Her, Striking a Balance, Salvaged By Love, and Tying the Knot. There is also a companion novella, Christmas at Purgatory. They are all available on Kindle Unlimited so you can read them all for free. SBH is currently free to purchase, until 7/15.
Security Binds Her can be triggering to people because it is heavily non-consensual. Terrible, terrible things happen to Thalia. She is stolen by a security guard named Marcus so that he can train her to be submissive and sold as a sex slave. The man who stole her said that he recognized that she was a natural submissive, so he had to take her. The things that he does to her are terrible. What his partner does is even worse. Let’s just say that I will never think of electricity in quite the same way. Sadistic psychopaths are always fun. That’s only partly sarcasm.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Thalia. She is able to get away from her “Master”, Marcus. She is purchased and rescued by James, who is truly a good man, and helps her to heal and realize who she is. One thing that I really like about James is that he admits that he makes mistakes and he does what he can to fix them. He’s also willing to be held accountable by outside forces for some of the mistakes he made.
James gets help from his friend Kalen, his wife Maggie, and his sister Ailsa, when they visit Purgatory. Purgatory isn’t a bad place, it’s a BDSM training school. Thalia makes friends with other submissives, which really helps her to find a healthy place and her own voice.
Marcus turns obsessive and thinks that he and Thalia should be together forever, which leads to some nice conflict in Salvaged when he manages to grab her again. Thalia uses the feistiness that got her through SBH and uses it again here.
The stories are really good. There are good examples of bad Dominants, worse Dominants, and really good Dominants. There are also examples of good submissives and bad submissives. There is also a lot of discussion about submission. These books show a lot of examples of healthy D/s relationships, which seem to be missing in a lot of pop culture.
I really like Jennifer’s descriptions of women who are realizing that they like submission and punishment or that they are masochists. They don’t just magically realize oh, hey, this is what I am, awesome! There is some internal struggle to accept who they are and that they aren’t “wrong” for liking what they like or being who they are. Thalia really struggles here, mostly because she has to figure out how to go from a horrific 24/7 non-consensual experience to a healthy relationship with a balance of submissive and non-submissive behavior, especially since her first submissive experience was with Marcus, who was a sadist, and not in a fun way.
Anyway, this is a really good series to read, especially if you like dark erotica, a large helping of romance, and kink since there is a lot of it. The last book just came out on Monday, so this is a good time to read them.