I took one look at this cover and knew I had to read this new release by Jennifer Leeland.
I can't resist a man on his knees.
It's one of the big reasons I love historicals, paranormal and fantasy. And ballet, too - the men are often kneeling. Gorgeously.
Not too much call for kneeling in the contemporary world. But in societies of yore, there was lots of it. And if you didn't show the proper deference, you could pay for it. Dearly. I get all shivery when a hulking warrior bows and kneels to a superior. So of course Jennifer's cover was a siren call I could not resist.
1 - Before we get to Resisting Command, let's set the tone for the world where Jennifer is about to take us. Her cover boldly states BDSM. For those who may be unfamiliar with that, it stands for Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism.
You may have heard me mention lately how much I love the BBC series Robin Hood. There's a delicious undercurrent of BDSM throughout the series. It takes place at the close of the 12th century, which guarantees master-servant themes, captives in bondage, power struggles between male rivals and between romantic partners. For me, what's not to love? It's all my favorite fictional scenarios.
If you'd like to dip your feet in these waters, have a look at the Domination and Submission relationship between the Sheriff of Nottingham and his lieutenant, Sir Guy of Gisborne.
The Sheriff is clearly sadistic, and Sir Guy shows a masochistic tendency as he remains loyal to the sheriff, subjecting himself to the treatment he knows will continue as long as he's in the sheriff's service.
Sir Guy is involved in another intense relationship with these overtones, this time with Lady Marian. They trade Domination and Submission aspects that seesaw between the two of them, each handing the power position back and forth.
2 - Now, let's make the jump from 12th century England to a 23rd century world, seething with chemical compounds that push humans' sexual natures into overdrive.
Like Robin Hood, the culture and technology of Jennifer's planetary colony lends itself to BDSM elements as a natural extension of its time and place. That's what I want in a BDSM story. It has to flow directly from the dynamics of the setting, as well as from the natures of the main characters. Historicals, fantasy and science fiction offer worlds where the symbolic power struggles and surrender of BDSM are played out not as a game, but as reality for the characters involved.
3 - Jennifer's novel is part of Liquid Silver's Science Fiction category. We meet the heroine, a scientist suddenly at the mercy of her own libido. The Synthetic Endorphin Xstacy found on the colony planet reduces even brilliant minds like hers to a seething mass of sexual fantasies. The hero is a Space Elite Tribunal soldier assigned to track down a Rogue agent - and the focus of her dark fantasies.
4 - Jenia Carstairs' domineering parents drilled their aspirations into their daughter to follow in their scientific footsteps. Her current job focuses on identifying the sex-hormone-inflaming substance on Asberek, a planet that Earth is keen to colonize. If she could keep her mind off her fantasies about Space Elite agent Paul Lestrano, that is.
5 - Paul Lestrano spent his childhood with fists flying, duking it out with anyone who gave him grief over his father, who died leading colonists to a new planet. Harnessing his violence into army service, Paul is now a soldier for the Tribunal, dealer of pain, keeper of secrets. Dr. Carstairs is part of his latest mission - and a hot button in her psych evaluation is Paul himself, object of her sexual craving in her Virtual Fantasy Room sessions.
6 - Jenia and Paul follow widely different career paths. She works tirelessly to uncover the secrets which the universe encrypts. He doggedly ensures that political secrets remain hidden - no matter what that requires of him. Yet Jenia and Paul both keep their personas under rigid control. Paul's decision to infiltrate her Virtual Fantasy Room session, hoping to gain access to Dr. Carstair's unguarded self, serves to introduce Paul to a secret of his own - his buried desire to submit.
7 - A strong suspense element runs through the novel, as Jenia and Paul work with a team of agents and scientists to unravel the cause of a mass killing spree among earlier colonists. Paul has his sights set on the Rogue agent, yet there may be more to it than one homicidal killing machine and his alien sympathizers.
8 - Jennifer has already set one story in this world, Taking Command. I love losing myself in a fictional world big enough to hold as many stories as the writer can explore. She has a third one in the works, Regaining Command.
9 - I really, really love Jennifer's relationship dynamic between Jenia and Paul in their sexual encounters, as well as their regular-life scenes. These characters have double-sided natures, yet both versions of Jenia complement each other, as do Paul's. His desire to be pushed past his implacable Space Elite exterior reaches through the page to touch the reader. Yet his Tribunal soldier skills snap into action as they travel deep into the Asberek jungle interior.
10 - Jennifer really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:
" Once she got to her quarters, however, she wasn’t tired. Restless, she accessed some of the computer security. One of the advantages of having seniority on Asberek was being able to find anyone, any time.
For some reason, she wanted to know what Paul was doing. But she wasn’t obsessed.
Of course not.
The screen clicked through several corridors and found him in front of a Virtual Fantasy Room console. Well, well, well. And he hadn’t been careful either. She tsked and shook her head as she noted the Tribunal hadn’t put on his security codes for his VFR use.
She had easy access to his input.
Her eyes widened as she discovered what the man wanted to do. He wanted to do her. Specifically. Just as she requested him, he had demanded a holographic version of her. A smirk lifted her lips.
Well, we’ll see if two can play your game.
She clicked and tweaked his fantasy and headed for a VFR access door. This was going to be fun."
11 - This is a very steamy novel, dealing with BDSM subject matter. Sweet romance seekers need not apply!
12 - Jennifer also writes and blogs under the name Jennifer McKenzie. Visit her at The Redneck Romance Writer, where she often goes on hilarious rants known as Just Sayin'.
13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!
" 'I’ll have to monitor her VFR use and I’ll keep you updated.' Paul manipulated a few buttons on his hand-held computer which gave him unlimited access to Asberek’s VFR system.
'Have you felt the effects of S.E.X. yet?' His boss’s tone was amused.
'I’ve been staying on the Zenith. I’ll be transferring to the planet tomorrow.'
'I hope you’re prepared.'
'I hope so, too.' Paul rang off. He wondered how he was going to handle the chemical from the planet. More than likely, he’d be like Dr. Carstairs. He didn’t seem to be affected by the space tension as others were, and women were primarily for information.
Repeat previous program, Dr. Carstairs?
The cursor blinked. Yes or no?
She cursed under her breath as she pressed 'yes' and the doors whooshed open. But as she entered the dark, opulent room, her nerves calmed and her muscles relaxed.
It was imperative that everything be in place. She checked the different toys on the rich cherry wood table. The rest of the room was dimly lit by candles. No bed, only a bench and soft carpet. She nodded. Everything was in place. Everything except the man she intended to control.
Her sexual energy grew as she waited. She liked having this short time before he appeared. The energy swirled around her and she gathered it to her like the wind gathered leaves. Her eyes were closed and she allowed her senses to sharpen. The smell of leather, a musk scent from the candles, and the tang of her sweat combined with the force she gathered.
Yes, she needed this. A sound made her open her eyes. In front of her, Paul Lestrano knelt before her in perfect submission.
* * *
It was risky. The alarm had gone off to notify Paul that Dr. Carstairs had accessed the VFR. He’d timed his entrance and now knelt before her as he knew she expected.
A feeling he didn’t want or need grew in his chest. This was what would fill his emptiness. To kneel. To give. To serve.
His gaze remained riveted on her black leather boots. She was in control here. The atmosphere in the room was electric, heavy. His heart thudded in his body. How was that possible? He, who knew no fear, could not control his fear and excitement in this moment.
He peeked from beneath his lashes and noted the tools she used and the dim lighting. The carpet beneath his knees caressed his skin. Even the clothing she’d chosen for him to wear seemed destined to push him to the edge and over it.
Finally, she crossed the room, the heels of her boots making no sound. He did not dare glance up. This was her fantasy and he could only be the submissive she expected or he’d never get the answers he needed.
But when she bent down and her hand gripped his chin to force him to meet her gaze, he forgot which answers he sought.
In real life, Jenia Carstairs had long, golden brown hair with unruly curls that she ruthlessly clipped back from her face. Her eyes were violet blue and usually cold and assessing.
In the VFR, Jenia Carstairs let that glorious hair free and her eyes were so hot they turned black. The tight leather corset and thigh high boots made his mouth water.
He closed his eyes as her scent wrapped around him, seduced him. When he opened them again, she stared at him with a curious expression on her face. 'Tonight, I will make you beg for me.'
Excitement and fear zinged through his blood. Her pert nose and high cheekbones were set in a determined face. She meant it. He was going to have to beg. His mind clouded. He needed to focus on the job.
Then, she stood up and bent over to whisper in his ear which gave him a clear view of her beautiful breasts. Her voice was deep and low as it rumbled through his body. 'You will writhe with need.'
He clenched his jaw. This was going to be difficult.
She went to the table and found a strange contraption he’d never seen before. It resembled handcuffs, but it had long chains and four locks. She gripped one of his wrists and jerked it behind his back. She brought his other wrist behind him and clicked them together with the cuffs. Then, she ran the chain down his spine and clicked his ankles together. The effect was complete helplessness.
His hands were immobilized and so were his feet. All he could do was stay on his knees and watch.
As she stepped in front of him, he glared at her. 'How will I writhe with need if I’m bound like this?'
Her eyes flared and she grabbed a handful of his hair to hold his gaze. 'You will be helpless, unable to do what I know you do best.' There was a tinge of bitterness in her tone.
'Let me show you what I can do,' he rumbled deep in his throat. God, he wanted to please her.
She slapped him with her other hand. The sting didn’t diminish his need one bit.
'You’ll do what I want you to do.' She released her grip on his hair and caressed his cheek.
'Why?' It slipped out before he could stop it.
She stared at him, her violet eyes shone in the candlelight. 'Full of questions tonight, aren’t we?' For a moment, he thought she knew he was no hologram. Then she smiled. 'But that’s nothing new.'
She untied her corset and it dropped to the floor. He swallowed as his throat was suddenly very dry. If desire was beautiful then she was its goddess."
- Jennifer Leeland, 2008
Join me next week when I review Amy Ruttan's Fox's Bride.