Master Cole by Marie Tuhart
Trifecta Publishing House
Released: February 19, 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Full disclosure. I’m no hardcore BDSM enthusiast but I like the stuff and think of myself as reasonably acquainted with the stuff, certainly versed enough to recognize that there is a whole hell of a lot more to being a good Dominant than just telling your sub to sit and wait for you naked every now and then coupled with a few lazy spankings and half-hearted training. Master Cole lacked edge. How can you be erotic BDSM romance and lack edge? I’m not even talking about razor-sharp, serrated edges knife play and blood-letting. I don’t ever want that and I would have settled for far less. I imagine even the most cautious and casually interested BDSM reader is easily left dumbfounded at how much closer to vanilla this novel is. Unfortunately billing itself as a BDSM romance and falling short isn’t where the trouble ended for me with this novel.
Janie Murphy is a recent college grad and is set on exploring her sexuality and sensual interests when she moves back into the home she shares with longtime friend, Cole Daniels. Janie lost her parents early in life and before her father passed away, Cole’s father swore to look after and protect Janie, and once Cole’s father passed on, that responsibility landed squarely upon Cole’s shoulders where he welcomed the obligation with open arms. Years prior to her moving back home, Janie discovered Cole was a Dom, and excited from her memories of walking in on him…dominating in his playroom, she is dead set on Cole being just the master to train her in the sub lifestyle. Only, Cole has serious hang ups with training Janie, largely stemming from some misplaced guilt over his younger sister’s death by BDSM sex gone wrong. Janie forces his hand by making herself available to other dom’s at a club Cole frequents and all at once, in one fell swoop, Cole decides to take over her training, as determined to keep his feelings out of the mix as Janie is to grow closer and bond, the results, a clusterfawk of course!
What I liked about this novel: Not much.
Janie and Cole both made issues out of non issues and there was no relating to either of them. I couldn’t even muster up a good swoon for Cole, because he was so boring. No need to pussyfoot around it, it just didn’t work as a romance or as a BDSM erotic story. It was uninteresting and there were significant issues with character motivations that were distracting and raised little red flags throughout the novel. To start, Janie and Cole were flung at me, face first without context or history, I was immediately supposed to care about either one of them, especially when they were as multidimensional as cardboard?
When we first meet Janie, she is draped over some novice Dom’s knee and Cole is barging in, wrecking the scene. Obviously he is jealous- check. Obviously she wanted to force this guys hand- got it. But why? And as the why’s uncovered, they just didn’t add up. Janie’s father and Cole’s father were both in the BDSM life and had healthy conversations about it and sex and general with their children. Everyone is in on it, The dad’s, the little sister, Cole, Janie…it just seemed an odd angle, especially when Janie decided to major in women’s sexual health in college and…hide it from Cole…because obviously the BDSM Dom is going to have a problem with that?? Also you get a job at a women’s shelter and hide that too because Cole might not like it. Cole wasn’t even a tough Dom, it was ridiculous beyond belief that Janie worked so hard to hide her degree and job from Cole, it wasn’t that serious in the least.
Cole and Janie have a few interesting scenes but he never really felt like a real master. Bossy, handsy roommate, sure, legitimate BDSM dom? Ehhhh he just didn’t pull it off and as a result, every time Janie called him “master,” it made me snark-snort.
Snark-snorting during erotic romance novels means you are doing erotic romance novels wrong.
What did stand out for me in the novel was the description of the tools, toys and lingo. The detail given to the scenes, especially when Cole and Janie were playing were well done. I could clearly imagine just how they were connecting and it was of the more interesting aspects of this novel. Although… imagine how banal things were, that I was getting excited over lingo, dildo and scene descriptions. Yikes.
Setting aside the lame character motivations, lackluster plot, and character disconnect, and agonizing cop outs, there were very steamy sex scenes that fit the bill close enough. I also believe the balance of erotism and romantic nuance was done well. Sometimes erotic fiction novels tend to be nothing more than smut interspersed with characters saying a few words to one another with clothes on- between banging every chapter until someone gets pregnant or pulls a charlie-horse on the way to a lazy HEA. Thankfully, there was more development than that in Master Cole, despite the apparent difficulties I had full on embracing the novel.
I don’t know if this is a series starter or not, there seemed to be some attention pivoted to Janie’s BFF and Cole’s club buddy, but it didn’t scream “they are next.” It might be just as well that this be a one and done, I’m certainly done anyway.