One of my big lessons from releasing The Locked Heart is that everyone has an opinion, and they’re entitled. (Another thing I learned is that it’s better to have people disagreeing with you than ignoring you, but that’s a different post.)
I’ve kept that in mind as I’ve geared up for the release of The Frozen Heart. Because, if a reader is expecting another book just like The Locked Heart, I can think of things that might disappoint them. For example, Master Kai and Jenna end up having a very different sort of BDSM relationship than Damien and Darby had. Some might say it’s not BDSM at all.
I don’t have a problem with that. Sex, by its very nature, is personal and messy and slippery. Both Master Kai and Jenna are a lot more adept at BDSM protocol when the book starts than, say, Darby was. What interested me as an author was how they’d change their styles of BDSM as they got more involved with each other. So whether it’s disappointing or delightful to a reader, the ending is what it is: Jenna and Kai settle on the “kinder, gentler” end of the BDSM spectrum.
Another point of possible contention is going to be Jenna’s masochism. I’d happily march with a banner that read, “BDSM: We’re Not Freaks” to protest misguided assumptions about a perfectly valid sexual preference. And I understand the insistence that there’s hardly a monolithic reality for Doms or subs. But it’s undeniable that there are people in the clubs whose masochism is connected in some way to childhood trauma. Who cares what percentage that might be; I’m only writing about one masochist.
The point I wanted to make with Jenna is that sexual masochism can actually be an improvement over other, more destructive ways of coping with trauma. And that it was hardly the responsibility of The Aerie to deal with Jenna’s reasons for engaging in masochism. She signals when she’s ready to try a different path.
But the book isn’t about degrees of BDSM or childhood trauma. It’s about the importance of communication. Characters can surprise their author. In this case, Jenna and Kai surprised me by being really bad at talking. I know it’s a reviled plot point when a conversation could clear up the Big Misunderstanding and allow the lovers to be together. But in Kai and Jenna’s case, they have conversations…they’re just lame conversations that leave things unclear, unspoken, or misunderstood.
And people say there’s no realism in romance…