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Bliss by Lisa Henry
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Bliss

by Lisa Henry

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Free review copy. Warning: A lot of non-con. Beulah is a perfect community, safe from the violence and privation of the outside world. Rory is an outsider whose application to join Beulah has, against all odds, been approved; Tate is an outsider who broke in to steal and ends up assaulting Rory on his way out. When Tate is caught, he accepts a sentence of performing restitutionary service to Rory, but he doesn’t know that the sentence comes with a chip that, when implanted, makes him a willing slave, desperate to please Rory. Okay, so this is kink of a sex pollen-ish variety: Rory doesn’t understand that Tate doesn’t have a choice, and thinks that Tate legitimately wants him (even as he recognizes the power imbalance). I couldn’t ultimately get into it because it fell into the kink uncanny valley for me: Rory got over his suspicions about how eager Tate was to please way too quickly. Given how Tate actually begged to be given orders, I wasn’t persuaded by Rory’s willing suspension of disbelief, though I think I could’ve gotten there with a few more tweaks—people are indeed eager to convince themselves of things that make them more comfortable. I also had trouble with Rory “falling in love” with Tate, because again, he had no idea who Tate was according to the rules established by the narrative about the chip. On the good side: once Rory twigs, he immediately understands that what he did was rape and works to fix it, letting Tate's reactions guide him. I do wonder to what extent narratives like this have a structural similarity to classic Hollywood film: we spend most of the storytime indulging in the kink/watching the evil woman get away with being evil, and then at the end moral order is restored; but what do we remember? What part really gave us pleasure, the setup or the resolution? (To be clear, I’m totally okay with it being the setup! Otherwise I wouldn’t have read this.) ( )
1 vote rivkat | Sep 24, 2014 |
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