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This is one of the more difficult reviews I’ve ever had to write. Training To Pleasure is an extraordinarily impressive story told in an erudite and sophisticated fashion. However, the subject matter is difficult, sometimes disturbing, to those not involved in this particular choice of sexual behavior. And yes, I got a bit distracted by the very nice cover.
In what could be termed “The Story of O – New Millennium Style”, this tale takes an intense look at the relationship between a Master and his Slave, and the often degrading process whereby that relationship is developed. That said, this is also a book that will grab you by the guts and won’t let you look away. The characters have warmth, charm and a personality that I felt the original “Story of O” completely lacked. The heroine, Kate, has concluded that something is lacking in her relationships and finds herself drawn to the idea of submissive sexuality. Her questionings lead her to James, a Master who becomes interested in Kate’s willingness to explore her newfound ideas.
The settings are idyllic and Sir Julian’s literary style is seductive. In short order I was sucked into the growing interaction between Dominant James and Submissive Kate. Fortunately Kate is, at heart, a strong woman. That fact redeems this novel and makes it readable for those of us who find it hard to grasp the concept of total surrender. Even while giving up any semblance of control and handing James her entire existence, she manages to maintain her individuality as a character. I am incredibly impressed with Sir Julian’s ability to present Kate so strongly, given her subordinate role to James.
For those of us who would, if presented with a similar situation, tell the guy to take his nipple clamps and shove them ‘where the sun don’t shine’, this book is an eye-opener. It forces us to realize that surrender such as Kate’s can work, although maybe not for us. It encourages us to look at the nature of sexual relationships, and personal interactions in a new way. It does a lot of stuff that ordinarily I don’t expect from a romantica.
Half of me would like a couple of days to sit down and talk with Sir Julian, aided by several bottles of single malt scotch (which his hero, James, seems to enjoy). The other half is shaking its head and wondering why a woman would go to such lengths to find herself. As you can see, this is one incredible story. I recommend it wholeheartedly, but with a caveat – it requires you to go places you may not have ventured before. Be prepared for what you may find when you get there.