Friday, April 2, 2010

Switched by Desiree Holt

TITLE: Switched
AUTHOR: Desiree Holt
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 20k)
GENRE: BDSM erotic romance
COST: $4.45

Attending a mandatory educational conference isn’t attorney Emma Holder’s idea of a good time. Until she accidentally switches suitcases with a man who packed a flogger and other BDSM toys in with his clothes. When they exchange their bags, Luke Borelli asks her out for a drink, then for more, more that opens up a whole new world of pleasure to her…

When it comes to erotica, I have a real soft spot for BDSM. I don’t review everything I read, but that’s because – honestly – some of it is dreck. Others are print titles which don’t fit the parameters of the blog. There isn’t a permutation of the acronym I don’t like, but the vast majority of what seems to be available is what I think of as primers for newbies. It’s the strong female who needs that release, and never even considers submission until the hero comes along and decides to educate her. Sometimes, it works. Others, it doesn’t. This story falls somewhere between those.

The premise is simple. Switched bags afford Emma and Luke a glimpse into the other person’s private life. Emma sees Luke's dominant tendencies; Luke spies Emma’s delicate underwear. He invites her for a drink, and she goes because she’s curious. He spends the next three nights of the conference teaching her what she’s been missing. Now, if this had been the end of the story, and it had been marketed as erotica, my scores would have been a lot higher. Because all the education aside, the story is hot. There’s enough emotion and sensation brought into Emma’s POV to make her new experiences truly scintillating. Luke more than fulfills his part by being the perfect Dom. I was even able to – mostly – overlook the various editorial mistakes (things like, “…Once we get pass that certain spot…” proliferate the text) and the author’s love of the word “rectum” (there’s just nothing sexy about that word).

But this is from Ellora’s Cave, and it’s not part of the Exotika line, which means some kind of romance needs to get shoehorned in there someplace. It happens without any real investment on the part of the characters. They don’t interact at all during the days of the conference, meaning when it’s done, all they’ve really shared is sex. Yet, Luke is thinking by the end of the first night of sex that things are different with this particular woman, even though he’s had more than his share of willing partners before. For some inexplicable reason, he doesn’t want this to end, and foresees a real relationship with her, in spite of the fact that all they have in common is sex and a career choice. I can explain away Emma’s attachment if I try really hard. She might be attached to him because he’s made her feel things she never has before. But it’s all superficial at best, and the attempts to make it any deeper are ridiculously convenient and clichéd.

The sex is hot, though. Look at it purely as erotic fantasy, and it’s definitely worth it.


7/10 – Minor mistakes kept pulling me out of the prose, and the use of “rectum” breaks up the sexual flow


6/10 – Pure fantasy, but a nice fantasy nonetheless


7/10 – Viewed within the construct of an erotic fantasy, smart and consistent. Viewed outside of it, she was just asking for trouble.

Entertainment value

7/10 – If there hadn’t been an attempt for the obvious romance, this would have rated higher.

World building

7/10 – Knowledgeable about the world of BDSM, though the lawyer world didn’t feel believable



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