Title: Double Six
Author: Brenda Murphy
Publisher: NineStar Press
Publication Date: November 18, 2019
Shelves: Female-author, female-fronted, female-led
Wow. Double Six was, in a word, exquisite. As a newcomer to Rowan House, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this is an erotic lesbian romance that is full of emotional depth, not to mention one of the best explorations of the psychology of the power exchange that I have ever read. It’s a story of strong women, a story of dominant women, but what’s really interesting is the way it explores the strength of submission.
Brenda Murphy has a flair for characters, personalities, and relationships that is just brilliant. I have always been someone who struggles with emotional conflict in others, who finds observing that tension to be very uncomfortable. So, with the powerful emotions laid bare here, I had an early fear that this would this wouldn’t be the book for me. Much to my surprise, however, in making the emotional relationships so understandable, so relatable, and so compelling, Murphy empowered me to empathize with those conflicts, and that made this a better, stronger, deeper book.
This is the story of a relationship triangle between three women, two of whom are dominant, and one of whom is submissive. There is so much history between Elaine and Robin, a backstory that has both brought them together and kept them apart. Entangled between them are questions of love versus duty, of professional domination versus personal submission, as well as the seeming dichotomy of needing the freedom to be collared. It is the pain of past betrayals by lost lovers that looms heaviest between them, particularly for Mistress Elaine, and it is her emotional conflict that weighs heaviest on the story.
It is Petra’s introduction as a potential new Mistress of Rowan House that provides the catalyst for the Elaine and Robin to confront their feelings, and it is through her that the most interesting issues of dominance and submission are explored. As an equal to Elaine, she can really challenge the other woman, force her to admit to and confront her feelings, and to demand answers that Robin never could. At the same time, in exploring a bratty sort of submission to her, she begins a conversation of fluid, dynamic relationships, one that ultimately leads Elaine to a self-awareness that is as emotionally powerful as it is powerfully erotic.
As for the power exchange aspect itself, there is so much passion and intensity in the scenes of bondage and domination, of punishment and pleasure, that the read threatens to become blissfully exhausting at times. Murphy has a way with words that matches her talent for staging a scene, allowing her to explore the exchange from all angles. She interweaves emotion, thought, and feeling in a way that is seemingly effortless, making the kiss of a crop as meaningful and appreciated as kisses of a more intimate nature.
The one and only concern I have about Double Six is that I am now compelled to read the first four Rowan House books . . . but that’s hardly a complaint.
Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀
My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.