A Starter Pack of BDSM Romance

Yesterday I was talking with Mia Hopkins about BDSM romance, and how so much of it is rooted in fantasy.

I’m especially entertained by the visions of BDSM clubs that exist in the genre. The secret societies. The corral where you park your submissive to hang with your Dom buddies. The hierarchy where there is the toppiest top of all who is the top of everyone below him at the club. The expectation that you have an advocate present when you negotiate with a new top. The intense background checks run by the folks running the club to ensure everyone’s safety. The training programs. The staff that are there to serve you, or top you, depending on the book. The subs lined up against the wall waiting to be chosen. I get a real kick out of reading these kinds of fantasies of BDSM community, and someday I may write a whole post just about them.

Not to mention the range of other fantasies that abound in BDSM romance, from magical dominants who read your mind to submissives who can spot a “real” dom a mile away. From billionaires to geniuses to inventors all focused on giving you your wildest dreams of a fantasy erotic life where mundane worries melt away and everything from trust issues to sexual shame to PTSD is cured by the right Scene. There are a lot of books that revel in these kinds of fantasies of rescue and certain safety and very little work or negotiation being necessary to the practice of kink. Which makes sense, because those themes are very common in the romance genre.

Mia asked me for recommendations for a different kind of BDSM romance, the kind that’s not focused on presenting a fantasy, but is realistic. A starter pack, if you will, for a reader new to the genre. So, here you have it, in blog post form: my recommendations for BDSM romance that is rooted in realism.

  • The Theory of Attraction, by Del Dryden. Geeks, novice submissive, autistic top, slow burn. Heterosexual pairing. Dominant man, submissive woman. Part of a series that follow a group of friends, all BDSM romance.
  • Sway, by Lauren Dane. Novice submissive character I absolutely adore. Top coming into his own. Heterosexual pairing. Dominant man, submissive woman. Part of a series that follows a group of friends, some are BDSM romance, most are not.
  • Play With Me, by Alisha Rai. Exes coming together. Scorching D/s. Whole trilogy (following the same couple) is worth reading. Heterosexual pairing. Dominant man, submissive woman.
  • For Real, by Alexis Hall. Experienced, bitter older submissive, novice dom. Sweet gay romance. Part of a set of linked books (I haven’t read the others yet). My review on Goodreads.
  • Sated, by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Experienced switch falls for novice switch. Geeky. They actually laugh. Heterosexual pairing. Part of a trilogy following coworkers at a gym, all BDSM romance.
  • Challenge Accepted, by Annabeth Leong. Experienced Dom picks up novice submissive at a laundromat. Heterosexual pairing. Dominant woman, submissive man. Stand alone novella.
  • Dark Secret Love, by Alison Tyler. A submissive coming into her own, based on Tyler’s diaries. Heterosexual pairing. Dominant man, submissive woman. Part of a trilogy that follows the same characters.
  • The Companion Contract, by Solace Ames. Slow burn of D/s complex tale, rooted in  complex realness. Main couple is a heterosexual pairing, the men in the story are queer. Dominant man, submissive woman. Part of a linked series that follows a group of friends, all BDSM romance. My review on Goodreads.
  • Carried Away by David Stein. Jaded bottom falls for dominant, first experience of ownership dynamic. Lots of bondage. Gay pairing. Stand alone novel.

I would be remiss to not also mention Slow Surrender, by Cecilia Tan (part of a trilogy following the same characters), which I think is a lovely introduction to the genre of BDSM romance. It’s not strictly realistic, though the BDSM itself is true to life. (The story is a Cinderella retelling, with a billionaire dominant and a kinky secret society, after all.)

Folks on twitter also recommended the following books that I need to check out:

What books am I missing? What would you recommend? I’m particularly interested in reccs for books centering queer women, and books centering trans characters.

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7 thoughts on “A Starter Pack of BDSM Romance

  1. I keep thinking I should be able to come up with some more to add to this, but you’re right, most of the books I can think of have a fantasy depiction of the secret society or club…

    I’ll be curious to see what you think of the series I’m coming out with next year, where the characters are rich and famous, but I’m trying to be realistic about what a real kink group of people like that would be like. (And thanks for the shoutout!)

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    • Which series is this? The one with Taking The Lead?

      I think there are only a few small pockets of romance that are invested in realism; much of the genre is focused on depicting fantasy of some sort or another, in my experience. A lot of wealth and fame fantasies these days, it seems.

      I’m always glad to give a shoutout to Slow Surrender. I adore that book.

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  2. Lana McGregor’s novella, His Roommate’s Pleasure, is a sweet and filthy story about two guys who room together at college but barely interact, until one stumbles across the other’s porn folder on his computer. It’s all about the two of them figuring out what they like as they go along. It’s delightful.

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  3. Delphine Dryden’s Top to Bottom I found fairly realistic! I think I read it after seeing your rec on Twitter…

    Thanks for this list! I will be checking some of these out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d rec Cara McKenna’s After Hours. The hero and heroine are both lower middle class and work together, and the hero admits he likes to boss women around in the bedroom. Not focused on BDSM only, but definitely a part of their relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

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