by Jennifer Leeland, futuristic (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-464-3
Poor Dr Jenia Carstairs. A scientist on a field research on a planet called Asbarek, she knows firsthand that there is something, maybe some kind of chemical in the air or water, that causes humans to behave like randy creatures permanently in heat. No one knows what that something is, although a name has been coined for it. Synthetic Endorphin Xtasy or SEX. The poor dear is too busy using her vibrator on herself to get off her back and do actual research so we're stuck with that name for a while longer, alas.
Of course, since our poor dear has an ice queen image to maintain - every researcher heroine needs to have one, after all - she didn't shag her colleagues silly even as everyone did everyone else earlier so she's still as randy as ever as a result. Instead, she finds herself using very frequently the Virtual Fantasy Room until the computer actually prepared a print out that pretty much tells everyone who reads it that Dr Jenia has to get laid for the love of everybody.
The object of her sexual fantasies is Paul Lestrano. Paul isn't just a dumb sex toy though. He's actually a soldier with a mission: to take down a Rogue and to keep Jenia safe and alive in the meantime. I won't get into details here, let's just say that Jenia has an important role to play as the colonization of Asbarek is a vital part of the humans' plan in dealing with the threat of invasion by a hostile alien species. Therefore the powers that be need her to stay alive. As a result, the fate of mankind rests heavily on the tip of Paul's... shoulders as he submits to Jenia and lets her play with him at will.
I'm not sure how authentic the whole dynamic between Paul as a sub and Jenia as a Domme is since I don't have first-hand familiarity with the lifestyle, but I feel that, from comparing to the dynamics in other books with BDSM elements that I've read, Paul here does come off as rather rebellious, often talking without being given permission to and even asking to be given relief. Is that allowed in such a session? Then again, Jenia is an untrained Domme so she can't be expected to be like those experienced Doms, I suppose. The last love scene in the story sees Paul being more obedient than he normally was in previous love scenes, so I suppose these two are learning.
Aside from that, the characters are fine. Characterization isn't too deep, but at least they are likable types. Resisting Command actually has a story, believe it or not, and in this instance, the emphasis is more on the story and the action than on character development. In other words, this is more like an action adventure with romance rather than a romantic drama. It's a pretty fun one, mind you, as I feel that Ms Leeland has actually succeeded very well in combining over-the-top sexual elements with an alien conspiracy plot to come up with a campy and very raunchy action space opera.
Resisting Command is surprisingly well-balanced in the sense that the characters are likable and even human types and, even as the more sexual elements in the story are at its strongest, these characters still remain recognizably human. As campy as the whole shag-for-the-sake-of-us-all theme can be, there are ample emotions and human drama to make the story still feel rooted minimally in reality. Therefore, when they say that they are in love, well, I think I can believe them. Needless to say, I have a good time reading this one.
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