We all know the most popular books for the emerging kinkster. The Story of O, The Beauty trilogy, The Marketplace books, the Gor books...okay, I never said they were all pinnacles of literature.
With that said, long before I picked up The Story of O for the first time, I found kink that called to me right in the pages of mainstream fiction. In some cases, the books, characters, and situations probably weren't meant to be kinky, but to me they were. Here are five books that formed the kinkster inside me even before I picked up that first bonafide BDSM book.
1) Ayn Rand's We The Living.
Most people know Ayn Rand for her Objectivist ideas and her books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. But fewer people know about Rand's first book, We The Living. It's too bad, because aside from all the anti-Soviet undercurrents, We The Living is a really emotional, complex love story between three people. One of those people is Leo Kovalensky, and I can honestly say, Leo was the first "Dom" I can remember perceiving from the page.
Leo is handsome, demanding, sexually voracious, and most of all, tragically proud and independent. I read this when I was barely more than a tween, the same age all the girls read Twilight now. Leo was my Edward, Andrei Taganov was my Jacob. This book turned me inside out by the end, and Leo will always stand as my first literary love -- and my first literary Dom.
2) Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind.
Rhett Butler was so Dom, and he played Scarlett like a fiddle. Ever wonder why I'm always writing those tough, Doms-we-love-to-hate type guys? Enough said.
3) Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon.
This is a massive, lovely Arthurian book. Seriously, set aside a good week or two to get through it, but you will be absorbed in the story every second of the time. This book appealed to my fantasy side for the most part, but one section in particular got my kink motor roaring.
Of course we all know the romantic conflict between Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, and Lancelot. In the last chapter of the second section of this book (The High Queen), this triad of longing and desire takes an unexpected turn, ostensibly due to a charm Gwenhwyfar concocted. I won't spoil the scene for you, but to my young, virginal mind, it was the combination of the most wanton depravity and the most romantic loveliness of all time. I still shiver every time I read it.
4) Alice Hoffman's The Ice Queen.
Here again we have a highly underappreciated offering from an author who is better known for other books. But this book had a strong undercurrent of power exchange when I read it. The man, Lazarus, was struck by lightning and changed by it. The woman (the ice queen of the title) was struck by lightning too. The alchemy they make when they come together is just basely sexual and kinky to me. Strangely, many others who've read this book do not feel it at all and do not feel any affinity for Lazarus or the book's female protagonist, who remains unnamed. But fire, water, and force come together, for me, in a seriously kinky way in this book.
5) Elizabeth Arthur's Bring Deeps.
Again, in Sebastian, we have a Dom for the ages. Aggressive, sexual, demanding...and mysterious. Aside from the overt instances of power exchange in this book -- for instance, when he ties her to the bed with his belt -- there are a hundred little kinky nuances that work for me. By the tragic ending, I was ready to follow Sebastian into the sea. This is a really thinky read, and to be honest, I didn't much care for the female protagonist, Emrys, but Sebastian more than makes up for her annoying personality. If Leo Kovalensky was my first literary Dom, Sebastian is my favorite literary Dom, the Dom of my heart.
If you've read any of these books, I'd love to know if they set off your kink radar too. If you haven't read them, are there other mainstream books you've read that have sent your power exchange indicator pinging?