I have read almost the entire Hammer series of books and this one is possibly my favorite. The Hammer is a high end, expensive BDSM club which is exclusive and governed by a set of strict rules. Every Sub has to have a safe word, and if it is uttered, whatever is happening, whether on stage or in a private room the activity has to stop immediately. Doms are prohibited from engaging in BDSM activies if they are drunk or angry. While not required, it is recommended that each Dom and their Sub enter into a written agreement setting forth the limits of what can be done, and whether or not the arrangement is meant to be 24/7 or only when a "scene" is in progress. Some couples engage in extreme activies such as paddling, whipping,etc and some limit themselves to kinky sex employing a variety of sex toys. Some couples are in a master/slave relationship, others are in a true lover/partership relationship. All of this is explained to Eric when he is invited to visit the club by Oliver who is a founding member and who works at the same company as Eric. What I particularly like about this Hammer book is that the two people involved are not in the typical situation of an established Dom trying to enter into a BDSM relationship with a Sub who often does not realize that he has the makings of a good Sub. Eric and his partner (lover) Kendall are an established couple of 10 years and have gone through the grief of Eric having to fight and win a battle with severe cancer. Now that Eric is past his illness, he has a desire to do more adventurous things while Kendall remains staid. So Eric spends a lot of time with friends doing things like skydiving while Kendall stays home and fears that they are drifting apart, which neither of them really want to happen since they remain very much in love with each other.Read more ›
Warning: This review might contain what some people consider SPOILERS.
PROS: - I loved reading about a couple who are both discovering their kinky sides at the same time. - Several characters from other Hammer novels appear in this book, and I enjoyed seeing them befriend and mentor Eric and Kendall. The relationship in this novel is not as hardcore as any of the others referenced (Billy and Tanny from Found, Marcus and Jim from Bent, etc.), but none of the other characters look down on Eric and Kendall's dynamic. - Most of Sean Michael's D/s characters fit into certain molds: the subs are uncertain and flighty, and the Doms are incredibly confident and suave. Much as I enjoy those molds, it was nice to read a story in which the characters seem a bit more original.
CONS: - There's probably too much sex for a lot of readers. I like Michael's sex-heavy writing style, and even I have to put his stories down now and then and take a breather because the monotony gets to me. - The editing is pitiful. Not as bad as it is in this writer's more recent works, but still quite sad.
Overall comments: Usually, BDSM stories involve people who are both/all already in the lifestyle or one who's being lovingly introduced by his more experienced partner(s). I loved seeing the awkward fumbling that occurs periodically as these two characters forge into kinkdom together. This isn't the best written of Michael's Hammer books, but these are two of my favorite Hammer characters.
I agree with one of the other reviewers that this was my favorite couples of the hammer series. After some initial misunderstandings, the MCs explore their kinkier side together. Kendall is a compelling protagonist and my favorite Sean Michael sub. I like that he doesn't blindly submit to his Dom. He is a sexual submissive but has enough self awareness to recognize his limits and unlike many Sean Michael subs, he is articulate and firm even when he is scared that his refusal to submit in other (non sexual) ways will endanger his relationship. Eric's developing comittment to Kendall's happiness is also endearing and I thoroughly enjoyed their scenes together. The sex was as expected for a Hammer book - hot. The editing was also as expected - pitiful.
I would like to note - One of the secondary couples, Marcus and Jim, appear again in this book. Although I find their sexual encounters in Bent and Control very hot, I get frustrated by the way Jim is portrayed in Spoken. This is an educated former university professor and every scene he is in has him acting like a child. He is repetitively described by Marcus (in bent, control and this book) as intelligent but the author needs to do less telling and more showing because if I had no background on Jim, I would have assumed he was a loveable idiot.
Overall, this was an entertaining and hot book. I have already read it twice.