Aiden is a submissive. He's looking for a strong top who can teach him to ins and outs of the BDSM lifestyle after realizing that the relationships he's had in past are mostly role playing and not the "real" aspect of BDSM. Aiden hooks up with a man named Scott who has a reputation as a brutal Dom. After a painful yet enjoyable night with Scott, Aiden decides to take Scott up on his invitation to spend three nights a week with him learning how to be a "real" Sub. Learning to be a "real" sub involves abuse, pure and simple. Scott brutalizes Aiden both physically, causing vicious wounds, but it's the mental brutality that takes a real toll on Aiden. Scott calls him "Shithead", he constantly tells Aiden how ugly he is, how stupid, and makes Aiden question everything, his intelligence, his self-confidence, even his talent as an actor. Aiden ends up losing his job because he's so scattered from Scott's nastiness that he can barely think straight. He moves in with his friend, Hera, who along with her partners try to rehabilitate Aiden, who is now at turns angry, frustrated, and terribly sad. After weeks of living with the girls, Hera is at a loss as to how to help Aiden recover. She goes to her art professor, Keaton, who she thinks might be in the life due to some of the art he shows in his classes.
Sure enough, Keaton knows Aiden. And knows of Scott. He's seen Aiden before and even interacted with him after Scott's abuse began. He's worried for the young man, but didn't know how to intervene. He agrees to speak with Aiden, and ends up offering Aiden a place to stay. Aiden, like the beaten down young man (child) that he is, thinks that he owes Keaton sex for his hospitality. Keaton doesn't want that. He does want Aiden, but not for Domination. Keaton wants to have a Domestic Disciplinary relationship with Aiden. What is Domestic Discipline? Here is a definition, as written by Learning Domestic Discipline, a blog:
Domestic Discipline is the practice between two consenting life partners in which the husband (or head of the household) takes the necessary measures to achieve a healthy marriage (or relationship) dynamic; the necessary measures to create a healthy home environment; and the necessary measures to protect all members of the family from dangerous or detrimental outcomes by punishing the contributing, and thus unwanted, behaviors for the greater good of the entire family. In addition to punishing the unwanted behaviors, the husband (or head of the household) is also responsible for rewarding the positive behaviors in an effort to reinforce them for the greater good of the entire family. The husband is ALWAYS to do this in a very safe, loving, healthy, controlled, and composed manner.
Keaton wants he and Aiden to come up with a set of rules that will set boundaries and limitations for their relationship. And he wants Aiden to allow him to enforce those rules by spanking, writing lines, or sitting in the corner, if Aiden breaks them.
Aiden is hesitant about allowing the DD lifestyle to become his own. He yearns for someone to discipline him, but he also is not sure about handing over the running of his life to someone else. Keaton explains to him that they will have a mutually loving relationship, but that Aiden will put his trust in Keaton to make the decisions about when rules are broken, and to take responsibility for enforcing those rules on Aiden.
Aiden, his confidence shattered, agrees to the relationship. And strangely, he finds that when Keaton provides structure for his life, he does better. He needs the discipline, and Keaton forces Aiden to talk to him about how he's feeling, slowly but surely building Aiden's self-worth as a man, and helping him to grow.
I was actually SHOCKED that this book worked for me. I had read a M/F DD book in the past, and was completely outraged by it. I could not for the life of me understand why a woman would hand over the running of her life to a man. But in this case, Aiden came from a brutal relationship where his confidence was shot. He was rudderless and devastated. Keaton's gentle reassurance, and yes, discipline helped Aiden's character grow. He accomplished his goals, and yes, he was disciplined when he screwed up. The dynamic between Keaton and Aiden was paternalistic, but for some reason it worked for me. I think part of the reason was that Aiden was a submissive. Also, embarrassingly for me, another reason was he was a guy. While the discipline scenes were never titillating in any way, I did find the relationship between Keaton and Aiden to be sexy. Even if I found Aiden to be immature and childish a lot of the time.
The beginning of this book started out so violently, which was shocking to me as a reader, but the second half of the book, which built the relationship between Aiden and Keaton were touching in sweet in their juxtaposition from the violence of the first half of the book. While I still have serious reservations about domestic discipline books, this one worked pretty well for me, with likeable characters who really do grow and flourish from the relationship.
Final grade: B