Monday, July 6, 2009

Butterfly Unpinned by Bonnie Dee & Laura Bacchi

TITLE: Butterfly Unpinned
AUTHOR: Bonnie Dee & Laura Bacchi
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 86k)
GENRE: Contemporary BDSM erotic romance
COST: $5.50

When he accepts a job to create four unusual columns for a wealthy photographer, woodworker Bryan Lapahie is stunned to find four submissive women voluntarily enslaved in the house. The fragile Butterfly captivates him, as does the kink potential, but the extent they carry the lifestyle leaves him cold. His presence disrupts Butterfly’s delicate equilibrium, and for the first time in the five years since she entered the contract with her Master, she questions what she really wants. Escape might be possible, but it requires Bryan laying everything on the line for Butterfly. His protective instincts are screaming at him to save her, but there’s no way to be sure he can until it’s too late to stop…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

Heroines don’t come any more damaged than Butterfly, the submissive, exceedingly fragile woman in Butterfly Unpinned. The story begins in her perspective, with a glimpse into her lifestyle as a consensual slave in a Dominant’s household. She is fearful of punishment for a disobedience infraction, as well as losing her status within the household. The latter isn’t necessarily for this mistake, but rather, because of a new slave in the house, a bold woman named Jasmine, who preys on Butterfly’s insecurities as well as Master ever did. There is no sugarcoating here. Though the prose is lovely and evocative, it doesn’t refrain from illustrating the extremes of her lifestyle or the depths of her emotions. She lacks true identity, voluntarily taking on the mantle of this submissive in its place because her previous life overwhelmed her. Then, in the aftermath of this particular disclosure about her mindset, we’re introduced to the outsider, the hero who provides a fresh outlook on the entire arrangement, and there, the story truly begins.

Bryan Lapahie is a tall, striking, talented guy, who’s left the Navajo reservation behind in Arizona for the busier climes of San Diego. Though he’s surprised by what he discovers in the mansion when he takes the job, he takes it all in stride, learning as much as he can without passing judgment. He has his own dominant streak, but it’s not nearly as sadistic as Butterfly’s master, and it’s Butterfly, with her delicate beauty and submissive personality, that absolutely captivates him. While I thought Bryan’s exploration into the BDSM world a tad bumpy with a few leaps that seemed to come out of nowhere, within just a couple chapters, I was head over heels for him. This is a strong, talented, just all around decent guy, with a need-to-save-the-girl streak a mile wide. I was caught up in his desperation for Butterfly almost from the beginning, even as I recognized both that he didn’t really know her all that well and that even if he did rescue her, there was little guarantee it would actually help. I simply didn’t care. I felt for him, for everything that he was going through, and all I wanted was for him to win.

The butterfly metaphor is carried throughout the book, and while it’s an apt one for the heroine in many cases, it has a tendency to get overplayed. Time and time again, the imagery and explanation of a butterfly learning how to fly is elaborated upon, from the specific passages in the heroine’s entrapment within the mansion to individual incidents afterward, like the butterfly landing on Bryan’s dashboard. I got a little tired of it being beat over my head, quite honestly, and would have much preferred a more subtle methodology to making the metaphor rather than the often literal one. It ends up losing much of its meaning for me by the end, and what could have been a true wallop of an emotional payoff ends up being merely satisfactory as a result.

That’s not to say it doesn’t still work. It does. The balance of Butterfly’s fragility and Bryan’s savior complex is a careful one, as is the dark sensuality prevalent in the first half with the deeper, heart-stopping eroticism of the second. I can’t necessarily say the same for the juxtaposition of Butterfly’s two worlds. In this case, it’s another metaphor of the harsh black and white of her damaging relationship with her Master versus the brilliant color of the Arizona desert and her healing relationship with Bryan. The transition between them is stark and jarring, and often creates the feeling of reading two different books. That’s likely a deliberate choice. Again, the contrast is likely done to heighten the romance, to create a real identity for Butterfly so her relationship with Bryan can have some actual hope of working out. It’s a necessary thing. It just didn’t work as effectively for me as other aspects of the book.

Like Bryan. When the end of the year rolls around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on my list of favorite heroes of the year. He is the real heart of this book for me, and pushes this darkly sensual, unrestrained romance into a keeper status regardless of my other misgivings.


9/10 – Sensual, with a vivid palette of descriptions


9/10 – My only bump in the road with just how much I loved Bryan was the unevenness of his introduction to BDSM at the start


7/10 – Fragile and heartbreaking, though I never always believed her growth

Entertainment value

8/10 – Dark and evocative

World building

9/10 – Both worlds – BDSM and Navajo – were painstakingly painted, they just didn’t necessarily feel like the same book



1 comment:

Bonnie Dee said...

Thanks for the great review. Laura and I really appreciate it, and hope others are as moved by the story. We poured a lot into it.