In real life, people who expect their mates or spouses to fulfill their every need are doomed to disappointment. But even today, romances that reject the "you complete me" trope are far less common than those that embrace it. Perhaps that's why I found Solace Ames' The Submission Gift such a treat. For Ames' erotic romance (the second in her LA Doms series) insists that one can be happily married, even if one's partner can't meet all one's sexual desires.
Adriana and Jay, a Mexican-American couple, have had a difficult start to their married life. A car accident a little over a year ago seriously injured Jay, and Adriana has spent the subsequent months splitting her time between caring for her husband and working grueling hours as a sous chef. But now Jay's almost completely recovered, and ready to resume his life, including his sex life with his wife.
Jay loves Adriana so much, he'd do anything for her. Or, at least, almost everything. Adrianna's into being dominated in bed, but Jay's just not that into playing that role. Because he cares for her, Jay can sometimes get into such scenes: "Even though he wasn't much into controlling—he played these games for her sake, not his own—sometimes he'd sink far enough into her feelings that he'd genuinely enjoy this easiest, most playful level of teasing, denying, restraining" (Kindle Loc 162). But he doesn't enjoy it enough to fully satisfy Adrianna: "If he gripped her wrists and held her down... She wanted that. Such a small thing, and he couldn't do it, couldn't take that step. Because she only wanted it if he wanted it. And he didn't, not really" (187).
All too soon, though, the extra settlement money is gone, and Jay and Adrianna can no longer afford Paul's services. But before they can tell Paul, Paul announces he's firing them as clients. Not because they've done anything wrong, but because he wants to "see you, both of you, on a non-paying relationship basis.... Dating. Or free sex. Whichever way you want to look at it. I'm easy. I'm very easy" (1915).
Ames gives us the point of view of all three members of this unusual threesome: Adrianna, tough and competent on the job and in everyday life, who gets off on sexual domination and pain, but not discipline or punishment; Jay, a "bi guy on the femme side," a social worker who counsels abused women (2867); and Paul, who enjoys his sex work but imagines leaving it behind someday, after he's earned his architecture degree. Each continually questions his or her own motives, his or her desires, wondering if they are wrong, if they are hurting one another, or themselves: for example, Jay thinks "Maybe there was something wrong with his mind, or his heart, for him to not feel particularly torn or jealous. But he just couldn't bring himself to care about whatever flaw it was. As long as she was happy, the whole issue was academic. Boring, even" (1159). They key is to find a proper balance, one that allows each member of this threesome the chance to have his or her needs met. Their sex together, as a threesome or in pairs, is hot, but it's not just there to titillate the reader; it's there to convey and develop a fascinating set of characters.
In typical romance novel fashion, secrets from Paul's past throw a huge monkey wrench of a black moment into the burgeoning relationship of this threesome. Add in some work angst, some overblown tempers, and, ultimately, some straight talk, and you have all the emotional lows and highs of a traditional monogamous romance story. It's a tribute to Ames' skills as a writer that she had this reader, with her own personal investment in monogamy, rooting for this unconventional threesome to overcome their differences and hurts and make their relationship work.
Feet in bed: Advertolog
The Submission Gift
LA Doms Book 2