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Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism Paperback – 1995
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Philip Miller and Molly Devon think that S/M is fun, and "that reading about it should be fun, too." Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns is definitely fun, not to mention approachable, chatty, and insightful. What makes it truly special, however, is the sheer weight of loving details. There's clear explanations and detailed tutorials for beginners, as general as "safe, sane, and consensual" and as specific as "you will be swinging the whip with your arm pivoting at the shoulder." There's also solid advice, safety measures, steamy suggestions, plenty of black-and-white photographs, useful and humorous drawings, an extensive glossary, and over 900 entries of S/M clothing and equipment vendors, publications, computer bulletin boards, and organizations worldwide. As sadomasochism is a practice that's still taboo for many people, the chapter on finding partners and sharing your fantasies with existing partners can be invaluable.
Screw the Roses enthusiastically covers all the basics and even some of the not-so-basics--bondage, negotiation, sex, endorphins, dominance and submission, toys, safety, S/M community, and beyond. It's written primarily from the point of view of male dominant/female submissive interactions, but it's easily translatable into valuable advice for any relationship configuration. Miller and Devon's explanations of not just the how, but also the why, of sadomasochism are honest, sexy, funny--and a must-have for anyone who wants to learn about sadism, masochism, dominance, submission, or bondage. --Cheryl Trooskin
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Like other authors of introductory BDSM manuals, Philip Miller and Molly Devon emphasize safety, explore a wide variety of BDSM practices with special emphasis on the most common activities, and engage in a bit of speculation as to why exactly people want to do these crazy things in the first place. What makes "Screw the Roses" special is the authors' engaging style - witty, sexy, and personal, rather like a cozy chat with friends. Sections of the book that could have been relatively dry - those dealing with the details of specific bondage techniques, for example - are punctuated with enough humor and warmth to hold the reader's interest.
It's also - to put it bluntly - a very sexy book. There are a few informative illustrations and diagrams here, but far more drawings and photographs that seem to have been included for no other reason than that they're smokin' HOT. If pictures of women in bondage turn you on, you're going to be squirming in your seat just flipping through this book. There are also a few delightful erotic "stories" interspersed throughout for purposes of illustration, either from the authors' own experience or as fictional composites revelatory of actual experience. (Important note: Miller and Devon write from the perspective of their own experience as a male Dom and female sub; though they do attempt to be somewhat inclusive and most of what they write is applicable to other gender/role pairings, the "stories" and most of the pictures will have the greatest erotic appeal to male-dominated heterosexual relationships.)
Unfortunately, the informality that makes this book so engaging can also be a liability at times, when the authors descend into cringeworthy silliness. This is rarely a problem after the first couple of chapters, as the book moves into heavier material, but there were times toward the beginning when the strained, belabored metaphors and heavy-handed authorial presence had me wanting to tear my hair out. (Ironically, the authors' chatty style comes across far better on the printed page than it does when read aloud. A number of passages which I found appealing or amusing when I read them silently to myself came across as terribly awkward and artificial when I read them out loud to my husband.)
Like any authors writing about an intensely personal subject, Miller and Devon have biases. Some, they freely admit and strive to compensate for, while others go utterly unchallenged. They assume that their readers will be carrying around a significant degree of residual guilt about their sexuality; whereas many people undoubtedly are, I couldn't help feeling on occasion that I had fallen into some horrid alternate reality in which a basically healthy, wholesome sexuality is humanly impossible. (If I wanted to go there, I'd be reading Freud.) More problematic for me was the repeated misunderstanding and mockery of relationships based on absolute and literal ownership. Miller and Devon have a notion that the so-called "true slave" "maintains the conviction that decisions made by her Master are never to be questioned," and "has no relevant needs of her own." I know a number of people (myself included) who are, have been in, or are actively working towards relationships of this kind. Not one of the slaves is, or aspires to be, a mindless automaton. Not one of the Masters desires to own such a creature.
I found myself cringing a few times as I read "Screw the Roses," but despite these flaws I found myself much more often amused or aroused. Those who have never before read an informative BDSM book will find it an engaging introduction.
Written in a personable conversational tone Screw the Roses will appeal to anyone who has been or is curious about adding a bit of kink to thier life. This is not a book for only hardcore BDSM lifestylers - it is accessible and readable by anyone who wants to spice up their love life and isn't too shy to try new things.
The chapter organization is quite nice - and lends itself to casual reading that you can put down once you finish a chapter. Although I do have to say the books size makes it not as portable for on the go reading. The information is solid - of course safety concerns are prevalent as they should be but you feel like it's a buddy of yours sitting with you at a coffee shop discussing things. I find the parts where there are snippets from real life folks most interesting. The discussions of the various types of equipment and toys (and can I say how many there are? Surely if you cannot find something here you like..well I don't know where you can LOL)is informative and the drawings and pictures really do make a difference.
For all that I removed a star because sometimes the tone was a bit too humorous so it felt almost forced funny - but I'm a pragmatic chick so I tend to like to stick to just the facts m'am. Er Sir. Oh heck - just buy the book!