by Katherine Kingston, contemporary (2007)
Ellora's Cave, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-4199-1087-6
In Katherine Kingston's Nick's Lady, poor heroine Andrea Fasselli's private life as a sub is exposed at her workplace when an undoubtedly demented co-worker handcuffs her at her desk and goes crazy on her. She made the mistake of going out with him and now she's unable to shake Cal Hartman off. Her boss Nick Tysinger comes to the rescue, fortunately, and contrary to Andrea's fears, he doesn't view her as some kind of freak just because she's been outed as a sub. He's cute, which is a given, but to Andrea's surprise, he's into the same brand of kink as she does too. They begin visiting clubs and having all kinds of BDSM fun - which includes flogging so there is more to the kink here than bondage, folks - but Cal isn't going away so easily.
I'm not well-versed in BDSM but I find myself thinking that Nick can sometimes be quite lenient towards Andrea. I've read about some Doms who can be big control freaks when it comes to their pets so I guess this makes Nick a less demanding kind of Dom. Without the fetish gear, Andrea and Nick are likable characters. Nick has the obligatory "I am afraid of commitment" issue to give the relationship some friction but on the whole he's a pretty nice guy. What I like about Nick's Lady is how Ms Kingston makes some effort to show that there is an emotional bond as well as a physical one between her main characters. As a result, the romance has depths.
I'm not too keen on the Cal subplot, however, since it is too over-the-top for me in how cartoonish evil that fellow often comes off.
Nick's Lady isn't as long as I'd like - the story seems to end just when the characters are becoming more fleshed-out and therefore more interesting. For what it is, I find that this book offers something more than most Ellora's Cave books I've read recently. There is a conscious effort to make the story a romance, the characters come off as sane and likable people (who are unfortunately trapped in a cartoonish plot), and for the most part Ms Kingston succeeds in balancing sex and romance most nicely.
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