Safe Word - erotic fiction by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Lara

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Safe Word

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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Safe Word review

Like Carrie’s Story, Safe Word is an extraordinarily well-written, engaging work of erotic fiction. The story itself invites skepticism, but the way in which it’s told pulls the reader in to the extent that the unbelievable becomes plausible.
Published:
Pros:
well-written, engaging
Cons:
none
Rating by reviewer:
4
useful review
As its sequel, Safe Word picks up where Carrie’s Story left off. When we last saw Carrie, she had been sold into slavery to Mr. Constant - a financier living on a Greek island with a penchant for severe punishment and human pony races. Carrie has entered a world structured entirely on her submission - her sexual submission to any and every person who demands it, her emotional submission to the myriad of punishments and humiliations that she encounters on the island, and her physical submission to the rigors of human pony training.

With her year of service to Mr. Constant behind her, Carrie meets Jonathan in Avignon - the ancestral home of the Marquis de Sade and his family. Over the course of five days, the two recount their experiences since the slave auction in a series of interwoven stories that hint at the complexity of social, physical, and sexual power in all of its emotionally-charged forms.

Despite all of its layers, let’s not forget that this is a book that revolves around sex - kinky, smart, dirty sex. Any reader who is looking for raw erotica won’t be disappointed. The sex in Safe Word|Safe Word is much hotter than anything offered in Carrie’s Story primarily because the story is so much bigger and broader the second time around.

The sequel expands the character’s narrative. Instead of being a story focused on Carrie alone, Safe Word creates a bigger, more complex world. Carrie tells her story from her perspective, but Jonathan has his own voice as well. In becoming a narrator, Jonathan is no longer a dominant in abstract, but a man equally caught up in the power networks he values.

We see Jonathan attempting to navigate between his feelings towards Carrie and his deeply-ingrained love of order which structures his dominant/submissive relationships. Jonathan’s lover Kate returns to the story as well with her struggles to reconcile her devotion to Jonathan, her attraction to Carrie, and her need to maintain control.

Just like its characters are dancing along the edge of self-immolation, the book comes dangerously close to being over the top. Sex parties, pony races, debauchery - Safe Word has it all. Descending into Safe Word’s narrative requires a much more substantial suspension of disbelief than Carrie’s Story did. The pony races and slave actions we saw in Carrie’s Story may have been unfamiliar to most readers, but they were secondary to the relationship between Carrie and Jonathan. They provided context without dominating the novel. In Safe Word, the oddities are an integral part of that relationship. To understand the ties that bond these two characters together, you have to understand the rituals, humiliations, and training that Carrie’s submission involved. What keeps it from being ridiculous is the writing itself.

Like Carrie’s Story, Safe Word is an extraordinarily well-written, engaging work of erotic fiction|Erotic Fiction. The story itself invites skepticism, but the way in which it’s told pulls the reader in to the extent that the unbelievable becomes plausible.
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Comments
  • Nashville
    Nashville  
    Just a question, if you didn't find cons with the book why did you only rate it 4 stars?
  • Lara
    Lara  
    For me, a 5 star review means that the item is a classic - something that I would recommend everyone have in their closet (or shelf or whatever). This was a really good book, but it wasn't The Story of O or the Hitachi Magic Wand.

    Thanks for pointing that out. It makes me think it might be useful for me to put some more information on my profile about my own internal sense of what the star ratings mean.
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