Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BDSM in Mainstream Books

I recently read Frost Moon and Blood Rock by Anthony Francis -- books one and two of the Skindancer series. Dakota Frost is your typical kick ass Urban Fantasy heroine, and while she appears to be pretty vanilla sexually, there are people around her who are not. Add in that the author mentions a few spots in Atlanta that cater to the BDSM crowd, and I'm wondering just how into the scene Mr. Francis might be. Not that it is any of my business, of course.  Back to the story -- Dakota's ex-girlfriend is an ex because she and Dakota broke up when the girlfriend decided to be turned into a vampire. The ex-girlfriend is now the (sort of) head vampire of Atlanta. I say sort of because with vampire politics things are never that simple. But the point here is that this uber-powerful vampire is submissive to her new not-powerful girlfriend -- but only in private, of course. Or when Dakota comes on official business and really doesn't care to see it. Still, it shows the new couple as a loving couple who trust and understand each other. Their D/s play adds to their relationship - it's shown as a positive. Dakota is happy for them, I was happy for them.

This got me to thinking about other mainstream books with BDSM in them in a mostly positive way. The Anita Blake series comes immediately to mind, though I'm not sure we can call anything after Obsidian Butterfly a truly mainstream book. The BDSM is mostly negative (and non-consensual) in the first dozen or so books, but eventually comes around to something that can bring people closer to each other and form bonds of trust.

In her Night Huntress series Jeanine Frost hints around that Bones has enjoyed such things in his past, but there are no fun and games in the present tense with Cat. Though there was one scene that came dangerously close to S&M, where Bones used the pain of his vampire venom on her delicate bits to give her a pleasure/pain experience. Mmmmm.  He also has to chain Cat up a few times (for non-sexual reasons), and he seems to enjoy it a touch more than he should. It's not BDSM though, just a hint that Bones has enjoyed it, and we get to know Bones well enough to understand he would have made sure his partner enjoyed it, too.

I've been told the Stieg Larsson trilogy has elements of BDSM, but I haven't read it yet.

And that's all I can come up with. I know there are plenty of books about BDSM that are sort of in the mainstream -- Nine and a Half Weeks, Story of O, Exit to Eden. And there are plenty of books that deal with it negatively, as LKH does with her Meredith Gentry series, where the BDSM is beyond brutal and not at all consensual. But I'm having trouble coming up with mainstream books that do not focus on BDSM, but have it included, and that show it in a positive light.

There are some books and series that have elements of D/s strictly because of the hierarchy involved. Werewolf Kitty Norville has to be submissive to her Alpha couple at the beginning of the series, for instance. And Nalinia Singh's Psy-Changelings have layers of Dominants and "those who must be protected" in both the leopard and wolf structures. It's not a good kind of sexual in the Kitty Norville series, but it works out nicely with the wolves and leopards in the Psy-Changelings series. But those are not BDSM, not even close.

Have you read a mainstream book that handled BDSM in a positive way?

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