Review: Break Me Down (Loving on the Edge #8.5) by Roni Loren
Released: October 27, 2015
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “You’re a bossy thing.”
“Hello, Kettle, you’re black. Love, Pot.”
“Fine, point taken.”
I like to think that my dabbles into the world of BDSM kink has given me enough background and perspective to appreciate a dirty little dom/sub tale. This was not that tale. It feels almost blasphemous to not enjoy a Loren novel. Have you seen my past reviews, have you read her past novels? She is kind of my obsession she’s so good. However, Break Me Down lived up to its title a little too voraciously as I walked away from this novella feeling battered!
Samantha Dunbar is a newly minted sexual dominant who finds a chink in her BDSM tutor’s armor- he has a sort of repressed sub dormancy that burns in his blood. After a chance encounter exposes his subbing inclinations, fellow dom, Gibson Andrews bolts and avoids facing his submissive nature and Sam, like the plague. You see, Gib is all 100% alpha, brawny male and he is deathly afraid of what will become of him and his reputation should the other patrons at their exclusive BDSM club, The Ranch, find out about his perceived weakness. This novella is the very intense story of how Gibson and Sam overcome their respectively horrid child hoods, navigate their sexual compatibility and ultimately fall in love. It is also the story about how a dom manipulates and marginalizes her reluctant sub in ways that prevented me from rooting for them as a couple, thus making me feel quite uncomfortable during their scenes and vacillate between cool indifference and outright disdain for the heroine. Unfortunately, loathe as I am to admit it. I am unable to wax poetic about the joys to be found in Break Me Down.
Sam is a bitch. Does she have good reason? Sure. Her upbringing rocked me. She has every reason to let her inner bitch come out and play and play often. But just because she had it rough growing up and had a near miss with some ruffians with ill intentions does not give her license to go off the rails and abuse her dom status. There is such a huge lack of respect for Gibson as a sub that I had to pause a few times and remind myself that it was just fiction and a novella and it would be over soon. Gib’s upbringing was no cake walk as well, they had mutual tales of heartache and abuse at the hands of those who were charged with caring for them. I would have appreciated a little more time devoted to their common darkness, especially Gibson with his mom/dad issues. Then maybe…no. Just no. The lack of respect and tolerance Sam genuinely showed him really turned me off. Especially when he made it clear that he was willing to be with her without all the kink, just as man and woman and she shot him down cold.
“You know the price of admission for my bed Gib, You’re not willing to pay it.”
“We don’t have to be in any roles at all. We could just do things the old-fashioned way. Hot skin and cool sheets.”
“Gib, let’s not pretend that either of us would be satisfied with old-fashioned. You don’t pay that exhorbitant fee at the Ranch for nothing.”
I get it. There is a delicate balance between a dom and her sub, but what I do not get is why Sam thought it was okay to chalk his reluctance to come out of the sub closet to his weakness. As if only her needs and her reasons for being the sort of Mistress she was mattered. There is dominance and control in the BDSM subculture, but there is also a very healthy respect that was very lacking in Sam and Gib’s relationship. Though he was reluctant to own any hard limits in his efforts to be anything that Sam needed him to be, Sam should have taken more care and not been so quick to dismiss his fears. She essentially bullied him emotionally into going public when there was certainly room for him to be able to take his time and be comfortable before really letting his freak flag fly. The man had genuine concerns, worries so ingrained that they caused physiological reactions when he was pushed on them. The inequality between the two outside of their BDSM roles, was staggering. For example, on a tear and ready to (literally) beat some ass, Sam has to be forced to comply to the Ranch’s safety rules when she is wreckless and emotional and wants to take out her shit on any sub she can get her hands on. That is a definite no-no!
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do Gib. I’ve had a bad night, and I know what I need. I need a submissive.” Her tone was flinty, her gaze drilling into him. “Preferably one without a lot of limits…. You volunteering?”
People were starting to turn their way, watching the exchange, the petite dom and the guy everyone knew as a dominant. Eyebrows were raising. His neck heated. His body was responding to her hard tone, the challenge in her eye, but he tamped the instinct down. “Sam, you know I don’t-“
“Fine.” She pushed her shoulders back and stepped around him. Be a fucking coward, Gib, I was coming to find Julian anyway.”
Grant stepped in her path instead. “Easy there Mistress…, no can do. I don’t know exactly what you’ve been through tonight, but I can see that you’re not in a safe state of mind to play with anyone tonight. I won’t allow it. You’re upset and angry. Two things that can cloud your judgement and put your partner at risk.”
Gee you think!??! I cringed every time she unmanned him and called him names for not being brave enough to be what she wanted- what SHE needed. Yet when he gets into a fist fight she is in a huff! Seriously lady, you were ready to completely abuse your position, give him a little slack already. If this were role reversal and he was the dom treating her, a reluctant and uneasy sub this way, it would be abhorrent and unacceptable. It still is. my dislike for Sam grew, though I sympathized with her, by about 65% I was too far gone and her hypocrisy just could not be overlooked. Shame- shaming was a recurring theme and even if being true to oneself is at stake and Sam was only trying to bring out what she knew he desired more than anything, how she went about it was not pleasant or enjoyable.
Break Me Down is supremely steamy as there really is no other way to do this genre. The sex scenes were technically supremely sexy and sensual, however, given how uneasy I was with Sam and Gibson as a couple, I really did not find myself into them, more so, surviving them. Also some kind of gross things happened and I realized I had a few hard limits of my own when it comes to the kink in my erotic fiction reads. *shivers…not the good shivers, the heebie jeebie ones.*
I imagine some will love this as it may feed their taste for slightly darker BDSM. I like the stuff, but this did not hit the mark for me. If you are a dom and in a relationship, scene or agreement with a sub, then all bets are off as long as the mutual limits are not breached. But when the sub is reluctant and has deeply seeded reasons why being all “I’m a sub and I’m proud” is not easy, then you have to take it easy, shepherd them within their parameters. Browbeating and shaming them and using their attraction and affection for you against them is cheap. I am still die hard Loren, and look forward to the next anything she writes, but this one was a miss for me, though there was just enough to keep me reading.