Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: "Savannah's Surrender" by Lillyanna Rose

Book review: “Savannah's Surrender” By Lillyanna Rose

Available at Blushing Books and Amazon.

“Savannah's Surrender” is an excellent book with a strong “DD” emphasis and conflict. This is the first book featuring these characters, which I always enjoy, because once I get to know characters, it's nice to read their continuing stories in subsequent novels.

In general, I think the premise is one that many can relate to – Hilton and Savannah are a married couple with a rocky marriage, and as a “last ditch effort” they've decided that they are going to attempt a DD dynamic to try to save their marriage. I was intrigued by this premise, and discovered later that their story is based on a true story. One thing I dislike about some DD books or stories I've read is when there's an unrealistic portrayal of initiating DD with a couple. I think there needs to be a very good balance between what is entertaining, and what is realistic. I think Lillyanna Rose does this wonderfully.

The book reads a bit more like a dual journal than a story, which makes it fairly unique. It's somewhat informal, there is little dialogue, and aspects that are outside of the focus of this particular conflict (such as secondary characters) take a backseat in favor of simply telling this one couple's story. I enjoyed that, as it was quite different from the typical work of fiction, and it also gave plenty of room for discussing the main characters' thoughts and feelings. This is one thing lacking in many DD books, but again, it was done well here. I also enjoyed that it's told from both the perspective of the wife and husband. 

There is a decided Christian flavor, as the person who suggests the DD arrangement to them is the couple's pastor. Aspects such as a wife's duty to obey her husband and his headship in their marriage do come up, which I found interesting. That said, it is not a “CDD” book, and I wouldn't classify it as such. There are decided Christian elements, but I didn't find it preachy or "squeaky clean" (and, I must confess, I like neither preachy nor squeaky clean.). 

I found the story engaging enough that I wanted to keep reading, curious as to how things would play out. Often in DD books there is a fair amount of “gratuitous spanking” and the girl is getting tossed over the guy's knee in the opening chapter. While that's all well and good if you're looking for a good spanking scene, personally I prefer a real story with established trust. I loved how Lillyanna gives us a real story. Yes, spanking is mentioned, but the book is about the couple, not gratuitous spanking. That was very well done – a good balance for those who want a good story and a good spanking.

At first I had to struggle a bit with my own personal prejudices while reading. The form of DD this couple eventually follows is a “prescribed method,” complete with a handbook from the pastor, and I have a hard time distinguishing between my own personal feelings on "textbook DD" and the fact that this is merely a plot device in a work of fiction. As an experienced “taken in hand,” I find that prescriptive DD is often a recipe for disaster, and don't recommend that approach. However, in this particular story, it works, as how the couple explores the prescribed method of beginning DD did advance the central conflict. I haven't read the sequel, but it left me, as a reader, wondering how the prescribed method would develop over time. Would the couple find their own brand of DD works better for them? Do they have challenges as a result of trying to adhere to a “one size fits all” approach?

I liked the tension that was kept at an even keel, but not over-the-top and frustrating for the readers. The couple encountered and dealt with very real challenges, and as a reader, I was eager to see them resolve their differences and be reunited. 

I felt this book was very well done, especially for those who want a realistic, engaging, fast-paced DD story. 

Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Femininity, Masculinity, and the D/S Lifestyle

Dear blog readers, 
My apologies for having fallen off recently, here. I've been busy with some personal projects, we had a bit of a mini-vacation, and we've had some family issues come up that required my focus. I've set three blog post goals for the rest of the month, and do plan on getting those up. Thanks for all who replied to my last post. I've really enjoyed your contributions to our discussions in the D/S realm. 

Today, I want to address a concept that's come up in many different ways, and I almost cringe in opening this one up for discussion, because it seems inevitable that this particular topic will draw the lurking naysayers out of hiding. But I've decided I'm going to carry on and continue to welcome comments. I'd just like to please urge any commenters to please, play nice.

There are some misconceptions about submissives. Many think that it is a weak person who submits to another. Why would one willingly relinquish authority? Why on earth would I do what someone else tells me to?

Women fought long and hard to be considered equals, and still today, chauvinism and prejudice exists. It surprises me, at times, when I encounter blatant prejudice against females. Some still believe that women shouldn't be in the workforce, and that a woman's place is in the home. I respect that belief, but hold to the fact that each couple needs to decide what works best for them. 

The kids and I recently read a book of historical fiction together, and one of the male characters expressed shock and surprise that the female main character was educated. My kids were amused, because they thought he was joking. I had to explain to them that no, it wasn't a joke, that during certain time periods, men, such as the main character in the book we were reading, truly thought women were intellectually inferior. Today, still, there are those who still hold this prejudice. 

Even in blogland, I've come across some opinions regarding men and women at times that surprise me. Let's just say, misogyny is alive and well. I've been a bit insulated in my perception of the way people thought, and assumed that most now believe that women are of equal worth, intellect, and capability as men. But no, not everyone believes that way. 

So first, before I get into the main point of my post here, in my own corner of blogland here, I wanted to clarify my own beliefs.

It's my personal belief that men and women are not equals in all ways. We are simply wired differently. Biologically, there are differences, and I heartily embrace my own femininity, as Jason embraces his own masculinity. How one defines femininity and masculinity will vary greatly, and I won't attempt to do that here. But to me, there is a beauty in embracing my feminine nature, and I find Jason's masculine nature highly attractive. (In fact – quick aside – he has this aftershave he wears, and when I smell it, I find myself instantly feeling, “I'm in the presence of a man.” Isn't that funny? I feel attracted to it almost instinctively. Here's a list of old-fashioned aftershaves you may find interesting. Jason uses the “Pinaud.”). But I digress. 

There are some basic attributes to being both male and female, and I think those of us who embrace the d/s lifestyle naturally become aware of our feminine and masculine natures. Hoh's will often begin requiring their submissives to wear skirts; she may find she likes painting her nails or wearing lipstick; he's suddenly taking out the garbage or motivated to cut the lawn more regularly. I throw these examples out there not because any of those things are requirements for being dominant or submissive. They're not. Certainly there are submissives that cut lawns and wear jeans. We all have individual preferences, and we all likely have ways we don't “fit the mold.” I'm simply asserting my belief that there are distinct differences between being male and female, and often, embracing a D/S lifestyle helps us understand and appreciate those differences. 

I believe there is a great deal of truth in the title of the book that has now almost become an adage, “Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus.” Men cannot mother children. Women cannot father babies. We are by our very natures different, and dare I say, created to be complementary. I find while embracing my own feminine nature, who I am as a woman dovetails beautifully with who Jason is as a man. 

That said, there have been philosophies and schools of thought that maintained that some of the defining characteristics of female and male dealt in intellect, worth, and ability. I do believe we've now proven that women are not inferior intellectually (though at times, we were less educated because we weren't given the opportunity to be schooled). So who we are as people – if we define our ability to succeed, learn, achieve goals, make advances in science, write, paint, and the list goes on – is on equal footing. Most would agree that it's a misogynistic view to maintain that women are intellectually and artistically inferior. And it's simply ignorant to maintain that women haven't contributed to society in monumental ways. We have. 

A few months ago I wrote about equality and respect, and I explained my position that although Jason and I are not equals in authority, it's not because of our worth but because of our both agreeing to a distinct power exchange in our relationship. I relinquish authority to Jason. He willingly leads me. Thus, consent is the linchpin to our arrangement. 

So I have two main points I've explained thus far. Men and women are qualitatively different in our natures, yet equals in worth, intellect, and ability. 

How does that play out in the d/s world? Why would a strong, educated, independent woman submit to her husband? Why would I consent to be disciplined by him? I maintain that it is my very femininity, and Jason's masculinity, that makes a consensual d/s dynamic so very effective for us. 

Recently, I read this post about “ten traits men need to handle strong women. It resonated strongly with me and I saw so much of Jason in that article. When I was done, I said to Jason, “Do you believe that I'm strong and independent?” Without batting an eyelash he said, “Absolutely.” And I wondered to myself, how can we submissives be both strong and independent, yet submissive?  

I believe the answer is because submission takes great strength. 

Submission requires honesty, and at times, that honesty is mortifying. To humble oneself and admit to wrongdoing is something that many full-grown adults fail to do on a regular basis. Yet it's necessary for a submissive. 

Maintaining self-composure and grace is often necessary when one submits. It's usually not acceptable to raise one's voice, lose one's temper, or give way to snarky or rude comments. It takes great strength to maintain composure and act with grace. 

I've mentioned before that submitting to discipline, laying myself over his knee, is something I find so difficult to do that sometimes I pace the floor before I can muster up the courage. Sometimes I rail within myself at the thought of having to confess to him. Sometimes submitting dredges up feelings that I find difficult to deal with. 

It takes fortitude to relinquish control. It means we sometimes need to deny what we want, if we are to embrace the leadership of another. 

Submissives serve. We kneel. We prepare meals. We say, “Yes, sir.” We quell the desire to talk back, to commandeer a situation, or control things. We go to bed when we're told to. We force honesty when being honest hurts. We obey, even when we want to say no. 

But it is because submission is intrinsically woven into the nature of being feminine that it works so very well for those of us who desire it. And it is because dominance is intrinsically woven into the nature of being masculine that it works so very well for those who embrace it. 

And that, I believe, is why many of us find that a lifestyle of dominance and submission is so utterly fulfilling. I am able to maintain my strength as a woman – indeed, my very submission takes greater strength than I ever though possible – but I'm also free to be who I was created to be. Loved. Protected. Cared for. Cherished. And it is by embracing my inner submissive that I'm truly able to grow into who I've always wanted to be. 

What do you say, readers? Do you agree that it takes great strength to submit? Do you believe that d/s works for many of us because of our feminine and masculine natures? Have you, too, found that embracing d/s has fulfilled a part of who you've longed to be?