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The Trainer by Laura Antoniou
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The Trainer (1995)

by Laura Antoniou

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The 3rd in Antoniou's Marketplace series, The Trainer takes us to the lives of 2 of my favorite characters in the series, Anderson and Parker. Parker is staying with Anderson on a "break" as he finishes a paper up for the Academy that is coming up, and helpign her with her current projects, 2 specialized slaves who are in for brush ups, and one who comes to visit for the same. Then add in Mike LaGuardia. Mike is a junior trainer from out in California, trained by Nigel, who has a reputation for doing quite shoddy work, and his "modern' slaves, trainers, and owners. Mike comes to Anderson because she is the best of the best. Or so he thinks that is why he came. His constant run-ins with Parker, and his stream of mistakes due to how he views the Marketplace almost do him in and send him packing. But soon he figures out what makes Anderson and Parker different. They are old school, classicly trained. They've done it all, making them ideal for training perfection. The problem is - does Mike want to become a trainer, or something else? Oh, and the reader gets what I call a bonus in this book. Antoniou places this book timeline-wise while Chris' project robin is contracted out in California - from the last book when the earrings were stolen and her masters punished her severely, but unjustifably. In The Trainer, we see things from Parker's perspective - getting the call about the theft, flying to CA to see Robin, and how he gets to the real truth. A very nice addition. ( )
  dbhutch | Aug 10, 2010 |
This is the third book in the Marketplace series of BDSM erotica, following The Marketplace and The Slave.

The focus this time is on Michael, who was introduced to the world of the Marketplace through his uncle, who owns a couple of slaves. Michael doesn't have the wherewithal to purchase a slave of his own, but thinks he's found a shortcut by becoming a trainer. After a disastrous attempt to train a sex partner as a slave and introduce her to the Marketplace, he convinces everyone he wants to do better and secures a place with Anderson, the trainer of trainers.

This is actually all stuff we learn later on in the book--it opens with Michael arriving at Adamson's house and screwing up almost immediately, setting the stage for the rest of his stay there. Not only is Michael not the star pupil he imagined himself, but he's upstaged continuously by Adamson's houseguest, the enigmatic trainer Chris Parker. Even worse, nobody will tell him what to do, or what he's doing wrong.

Normally, I'm not a fan of stories that start in the middle and have flashbacks along the way, but in this case, it starts in the right place, and those flashbacks make a nice contrast with Michael's present journey.

Michael is a very unlikeable character--he's spoiled and impatient, and The Trainer is as much about him learning a few hard lessons as it is about the Marketplace. Most importantly, he learns to value the slaves, the value of servitude, and the true meaning of being a master--not simply someone who gets sex on demand, but someone who's also responsible for the slaves' wellbeing. The implications of his lessons stretch beyond kinky sex into everyday life--parent/child relationships, employer/employee, even general respect due between people of different socioeconomic stations.

Anderson's theory of training likewise applies to parents and bosses--that you must first be able to do before you can teach, as well as the concept that the better you know someone under your command, the better you'll be able to train them. It also has implications for even vanilla sex lives, focusing on respect, caring, and knowing your partner well.

The sex scenes (this is erotica after all) are integral parts of the story--they're not just inventive titillating scenes, but demonstrate turning points in Michael's journey, as he goes from focusing solely on himself to also caring about his partner.

And of course we get a couple more fascinating tidbits of information about Chris Parker. I peeked enough to know that he figures prominently in the next book in the series, The Academy. I'm looking forward to it. ( )
  Darla | Mar 29, 2008 |
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Ben Zoma taught: "Who is wise? He who learns from every man.... Who is a hero? He who controls his passions."

--Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 4:1
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For Kate Bornstein and all of her honorable siblings
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It was the end of another mild winter.
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