NSFW Book Review: The Story of Simon by Rachel Loewen

Title: The Story of Simon

Author: Rachel Loewen

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publication Date: Sept. 25 2020

Genres: Erotica

Shelves: Female-authored, Female-dominant

There are four aspects of The Story of Simon that stood out for me and, together, they make this essential reading for anybody with even a passing curiosity about the world of BDSM.

The first thing that Rachel Loewen does – and does very well – is to isolate submission from sex. So much erotica treats the power exchange of BDSM as sexual foreplay, as something that inevitably leads to an orgasm, but anybody who has been immersed in a deep, proper scene knows that submission, restraint, and pain are a release all on their own. I love how she keeps that distance playful here, with Mistress Alannah teasing Simon about his arousal even as she sometimes becomes exasperated with it, but he comes to learn that lesson.

Realistically putting us inside the head of a newbie submissive is the second thing The Story of Simon does well, and it’s a wonderful change of pace from erotica where such characters become seasoned kinksters too easily and too quickly. Simon spends so much of the story trapped between fear and desire, wanting to run but needing to stay. The total immersion in his fantasy is too much for him at times, and his use of the green/orange/red safeword scale is explored perfectly, especially in scenes where he blurts out “Red!” only to backpedal moments later, changing it to “Orange,” and admitting he doesn’t know what he wants, just what he’s feeling. There’s no simple linear progression of experience, just fits and starts and loops of anxious submission that feel absolutely genuine.

The third thing Loewen does so well here is to contrast the submissive with the Dominant, putting us inside Mistress Alannah’s head as much as Simon’s. I loved how she allowed Simon to wonder what a Mistress gets out of the power exchange, and I adored how we got to be a part of Mistress Alannah’s appreciation for things like sensual touching, the moans of her submissive, and the artistry of delivering pain. She talks honestly of the amount of work required of a dominant, of the focus and the responsibility required, and the story explores some very dark corners of the human psyche as she imagines the bloodlust of seizing total control even as she works to responsibly break Simon and earn his trust.

Finally, in contrasting the power exchange fantasy scene of Simon with the 24/7 slavery of Sarah and Danny, we get to experience two very different extremes of BDSM. I freely admit, I cringed at some of what the slaves endure (and enjoy), and I wondered more than once if Loewen was touching too deeply on themes of dubious consent and physical scarring, but there’s a scene between Mistress Alannah and Simon that says it all. She reminds him it’s about other people’s preferences, it’s about consent, and “when your fear is gone, it’s easier to watch others draw pleasures from their kinks.”

The one area where I felt the book fell a bit short, where I wish more time had been spent exploring certain plot points, is with the deeper story of Master Richard and Danny. There’s something sad there, something in need of medication and therapy, and it leads to a flash-forward epilogue that feels like too much is being said after the fact, but I love that these characters had lives and cares outside of the power exchange itself – I just wanted more. That aside, The Story of Simon is a wonderful read, genuine and exciting without ever feeling safe or predictable.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

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