SWAT commander Jack Burnside is haunted by his craving to kneel before another man. Of all the things he hates about himself – his overtly masculine size and strength, his blue eyes, his insecurities – it is the need to submit that he fears will destroy him. Doctor Isaac Bard is close to achieving his perfect life. He has a great job with the Coroner’s Office and an open marriage to a loving wife who understands his needs better than he does. The only thing he is missing is a handsome young man to dominate, spoil rotten, and love. Jack and Isaac might be a perfect match in the back rooms of the exclusive Windsor Club, but will the outside pressures of perception and duty tear them apart?
Dear Ada Maria Soto,
When I saw your book on Kindle Unlimited, I was very pleased. I loved your novella “His Quiet Agent”. The novella did not have any explicit sex scenes, but in theory I very much enjoy BDSM themed romances, so “Tactical Submission” sounded as very much my cup of tea. What can I say? It was very hard to grade this book because it ended up being a strange reading experience for me.
Some reviews mentioned too much sex, but in the books with BDSM in it I am willing to tolerate more sex than I usually do if I like the execution and I mostly did like it in this story. Although this is definitely an erotic romance, I thought there was a lot of sex indeed, but for this book it made sense to me.
Where BDSM is concerned, I cannot stand Psychic!Dom trope. I am sure you know that one. There we have arrogant Dom, who of course knows best what his Sub needs and he will make sure that Sub will like whatever Dom wants to inflicts on him , darn it, even if initially Sub thinks he hates it.
It is also important for me in BDSM themed romances to be not just in Dom’s head but in Sub’s head as well, because I want to see that Sub is enjoying the activities and not just enduring them.
I was beyond pleased to find out that Isaac was a kind Dom, someone who wanted to please Jack very much and not just indulge his own desires. Someone who took time to find out what kind of specific things Jack may have liked in the scene and not what Isaac assumed Jack might like. I also thought it was not done in the didactic way, but integrated in the characterization. I liked that Isaac had no desire to “set Jack up for a fall” and even though he offered the parameters for punishment when they negotiated (no, I am not complaining about punishments in the scene!), he then realized that Jack responded much better to positive reinforcement and pretty much stuck to the positive reinforcement.
I liked that Isaac very much respected Jack’s limits in the scene. To make a long story short, I have almost no gripes with the portrayal of BDSM aspect of the story. Although take my opinion for what its worth because I am only discussing fictional portrayal of it and have no experience with real life BDSM.
Jack has some self-esteem issues and some issue which relates to one of his limits in the scene and he does realize that seeing a therapist will probably help him. I get really grumpy when BDSM is used as a substitute for therapy in some romances. I do not believe that this is what this book did. I think the narrative was pretty clear that Jack wants to play because he was wired this way and this brings him peace but in addition to just make “his brain less loud”, he does realize that he may benefit from the actual therapy. I hesitated initially because one of the issues Jack needs help with is very specific and about what he does not like in the scene, but it ended up being okay for me.
What I did not like? I am not asking you to disregard all that I wrote prior to this sentence, but I felt like every other aspect of their building relationship was grossly underrepresented. As much as I enjoyed them playing and having sex, I missed seeing them doing something else. I understood they attempted to go out couple of times, but it was not enough for me. I mean, the only conversation they were having where they exchanged important information about themselves was in the last pages of the book.
I also have to call the mandatory separation moment inconsistent with everything we learned about Isaac so far. I understand that it was briefly mentioned that he could have been a jerk to his past liasons, but him just letting Jack go and not talking to him for months to me was inconsistent with the guy who as blurb tells you has a successful open relationship with his wife Amelie/Amalie (there is a reason I call her that – would be nice if text stuck to one variation of her name but it did not). This open relationship requires a lot of talking and a lot of negotiating and we *see* Isaac doing all of this.
Amalie has a female long term lover on the side, and when I say on the side, I mean that Lydia has an “almond milk in their fridge and power suits in their closet” and the only reason she did not move in with them was because Lydia is not out at work and she did not want even accidental publicity.
So when Amalie and Lydia want to have sex at her and Isaac’s house, Isaac leaves them to this and when Isaac wants to do the same with other people , they do the same. They also go to other places. When Isaac wants to bring Jack home he tells his wife, in fact he tells his wife after the first night he met Jack because he liked Jack a lot and they have a rule if somebody wants to or thinking about bringing somebody home long term, these two talk to each other.
And the author wanted to sell the idea that the guy like Isaac who successfully negotiated an open relationship would let somebody whom he almost fell in love without a fight? Actually forget about a “fight”, that Isaac would not ask questions, especially knowing how nervous Jack could become? I am sorry I am not buying it.
In fact as one of my book buddies said, the real strong love connection that we get to *see* was between Isaac and Amalie and do not get me wrong, I enjoyed that relationship, but I wanted much more than I got out of Isaac/Jack relationship.
I also thought that the ending was very rushed and the line editing could have been stronger.