Disclaimer: I downloaded this book because it was free and the book description intrigued me, but not like say, the description for a classic like Pride and Prejudice would intrigue me. No, this intrigued me the way car accidents intrigue certain people. I decided to download and read it because if the writing in the book is anything like the quality of writing used in the book description, the possibility of good cheese is too difficult to resist. The MST3K Gene has been activated. (These are not affiliate links.)
I subscribe to several email lists that let me know when there are free or bargain Kindle books available. One book caught my attention the day. It was called Masters at Arms (Intro to Military & BDSM for Adults)(Rescue Me).
As someone who writes and edits for a living, I tend to be very particular about the books I read. I’m not against reading lighter fare from time to time, as long as it follows my rule of thumb.
My rule of thumb is that if I begin editing a published book in my head, I stop reading the damn book. Because if someone publishes a book, no person should be mentally editing it in their head. That part should have been done before the book was even uploaded. And this editing my head? It’s actually a compulsion and I may have OCD because once I start doing this, it’s hard to stop.
But that title! What’s up with that? Did the author try to kill two birds with one stone and write a primer on both the BDSM lifestyle and the military? Because this title confuses me. It’s like certain hip-hop songs where the artist credit goes something like “Lil Stinker with Dirty Old Fartknocker featuring Randi Ratchet guest starring Big Skeezy”.
Wouldn’t it be easier just to form a band and give it one name than list everyone individually so it takes up 3/4 of my TV screen? I mean, if it was good enough for Run-DMC and Public Enemy, it’s good enough for you kids.
Then I read the book description, and I was even more confused. Here’s the first paragraph:
ADULT CONTENT WARNING: There are some intense themes in this book, including surviving the death of a spouse, dealing with the horrors of incest and being tortured as a sex slave, and dealing with the aftermath of war (including a wounded warrior with PTSD and an amputation injury). These are the sometimes ugly details of their pasts but are told in real time to help readers appreciate how far the characters have come as the series progresses. The sex scenes in the books are not ones you can skip over and be able to follow the story (nope, not gratuitous), so if you don’t like hot, graphic sex where sometimes people get tied up or flogged (that’s what BDSM means, more or less), you’ve been warned.
First, “adult content warning” should be changed to SPOILER ALERT. I think the author just gave away the plot of the book. And if you tell me that I can’t skim over the sex scenes, that’s a red flag right there. You’re practically admitting that your book sucks and you find that you have to beg me to read the damn thing.
Oh and about this particular line:
if you don’t like hot, graphic sex where sometimes people get tied up or flogged (that’s what BDSM means, more or less)
Um, no it doesn’t. Another author whose knowledge of a certain topic comes from not going past Page 1 in the Google search results!
This book already sounds like a hot mess and not in a good way.
Wait, it gets better!
But if you can go into reading with an open mind, you might just be surprised by what a beautiful thing hot military men with gigantic hearts who enjoy graphic, kinky sex (with and without BDSM), and who use love and BDSM to right the wrongs in their world, then this might just be the series you’ve been looking for! (Emphasis mine)
I “just might be surprised by what a beautiful thing hot military men with gigantic hearts who enjoy, graphic, kinky sex…”?
How does one right the wrongs in the world by ball gags, whips, and anal beads? Really? How does someone do this? Seriously, I want to know. How does one use ben-wah balls to end poverty? Is there some way to use a dildo to end this government shut down? Because if there is, then we should be descending on DC with our phalli in hand and ready to let these out-of-touch members of Congress know what we think of them.
The Panic of 1893 had Coxey’s Armies. The Great Government Clusterfuck Shutdown of 2013 should have Dildo’s Battalions.
Or is this actually gay porn? Because that’s what this books sounds like. That or some sort of perverted alternate Justice League fan fiction universe written by some mouth-breathing morbidly obese virgin stereotype who lives in Mom’s basement.
But wait! There’s more!
Masters at Arms is an introduction to the Rescue Me series, which needs to be read first. The book begins the journey of three men, each on a quest for honor, acceptance, and to ease his unspoken pain. Their paths cross at one of the darkest points in their lives.
Speaking as a writer and an editor, if you have to set up your books series with its own book to explain the series, you fail at writing. I don’t care how many books you’ve sold. You fail at writing.
You also fail at writing because the first sentence confuses me. Am I supposed to read Masters at Arms first or the entire Rescue Me series first? Either you’re being redundant or you like to dangle participles for your own twisted enjoyment. I’m not sure what the participle ever did to this writer, but I don’t think it deserves to be tortured like that.
It gets better:
As they try to come to terms with the aftermath of Iraq–forging an unbreakable bond–they band together to start their own BDSM club. But will they ever truly become masters of their own fates? Or would fate become masters of them? (Book One in the Rescue Me series.)
Most people who have suffered a traumatic event form an unbreakable bond and usually end up doing something altruistic as a way to help ease their pain and to give back.
These guys? They form a BDSM club.
Seriously? I mean when you’ve been emotionally traumatized by seeing combat or whatever, is starting a sex club for bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism really a wise thing to do? Especially if you’ve been a POW? Wouldn’t psychotherapy be a better way to handle this?
Then there’s that hook that is meant to get you to read this. “Will they ever become masters of their own fates or will their fates become masters of them?”
Ms. Author Person, do you even know what you just said? Because it was really, really, really stupid and what is their fates, exactly? They become nasty-ass abusive psychos who like to hurt people because they have unresolved issues relating to the emotional trauma they experienced while in a combat situation and some one-dimensional archetype of the Woman (or Man) who saves him refuses to give up on Mr. Traumatized Soldier until they save him (which they can’t do in real life) and they, their collection of butt plugs and their ball gag live happily ever after.
Oh, and this whole “person is damaged so they get into kinky sex and BDSM thing” is wrong, wrong, wrong! I don’t know much about the world of BDSM, but I know a stigma and a false stereotype when I see one. And this just plain reeks like raw chicken when it’s left out at room temperature for too long.
Oh, but it gets better:
NOTE FROM AUTHOR: This is an introduction only showing how three men came together in Iraq and forged a bond no one can break. The Happily Ever After endings and much hotter scenes come in the Romance novels to follow in the series. These characters can’t be contained to a single book, so you need to read the books in order to follow the men in their complete life and romantic journeys. (The author tries not to rehash what has come before in the series so the books are not stand-alone novels. And problems don’t end at HEA, so the characters continue to work on their relationships even after their happy endings. Therefore, you’ll get to see them again in more than cameo appearances as the series progresses in the coming years.)
Men form bonds for many reasons, especially if they are involved in work where they face danger. Like soldering or first-responders. They refer to themselves as brothers and/or sisters. THEY DON’T FORM A SEX CLUB!! My husband says that MEN JUST DON’T DO THIS and he’s a man, so I trust that what he says is true.
Here’s what I think of this:
If you have to explain all this stuff in a book description for the book that explains the book series, you really should consider taking a writing class and getting actual, helpful feedback from someone besides your BFF’s. Your BFF’s will always tell you that your writing skills rank up there with Tolstoy or Dickens and they will never be honest with you no matter how much your book sucks.
Another word of advice, from one writer to another, STOP OVERTHINKING YOUR BOOK SERIES.
It’s romance novel. Boy meets girl, they are attracted to each other (and probably hate each other), they have sex. Then they have more sex. And somewhere in between the sex the man has to save the woman from something or vice versa because one of them has a secret, usually a shameful one. Then there’s more sex and they end up getting married at the end.
Or maybe your target audience is the coveted painfully stupid demographic.
And then you promised people hot, kinky (possibly gay) sex and now you’re telling us that there is none in this book, and even though earlier in the first paragraph or therabouts, you told us that we couldn’t skip the dirty parts?
Isn’t this “bait and switch”? I thought bait and switch was illegal?
And now after you’ve given this lengthy and confusing note and all, is there really any point in me reading the damn thing (other than that it’s free and if it sucks harder than a Dyson, I can delete it and I’m only out the time I spent reading; time that I will never get back.)
I am a bit curious if the actual story is as convoluted as the book description.
And I feel a lot better about my difficulty with writing my summaries of my own work.
Stay tuned, kids. (Because I won’t stop reading the book I’m currently reading just to read this and write a review.)