Oh My Shelves welcomes author Evelyn Elliott to the blog to talk about her latest release in the Spell Slave Series, Feather Fall – out today, April 22, 2016 from Dreamspinner Press – and talk frankly about why submission does not equal being weak.
* * * * * *
Strength and Submission: Why Subs Aren’t Weak
People have a lot of misconceptions about BDSM. This is one of them.
A character of mine—Crow Belcane—is a masochist. When I was writing Feather Fall, a friend of mine told me that Crow was too strong to be submissive. He’s a very strong character, she said, and he doesn’t trust anyone. I don’t see how he could submit.
Pull up a chair and listen, folks, because we’re about to get personal.
I myself am controlling. I’m a perfectionist. I’m ambitious. I have a planner where I write down everything I do. I make schedules and backup plans. I cope with my anxiety by creating structure.
And guess what? I’m a sub. In fact, I’m a submissive masochist.
People have a lot of misconceptions about BDSM, and this is one of them. The traditional idea of a submissive is a beautiful, obedient woman. But that’s not realistic. We come in a variety of bodies: we’re women, we’re men, we’re bossy, we’re sweet, we’re smart, we’re mean, we’re independent. We can be anything.
Submission is only one aspect of a person’s life.
Why would a controlling person give up control?
Personally, I find submission relaxing. My life is exhausting. I want to rest for a little while and let someone else be in charge. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true. People who are “alpha” in real life can be submissive in the bedroom.
And because I’m controlling, giving control to another person is deeply intimate for me. Make no mistake: my partner is the only person I submit to. I am still a strong and independent person outside of the bedroom. That, I think, is part of what makes a sub so valuable. Obedience is a gift. My partner enjoys my submission because I am strong.
Love is learning to be vulnerable.
Giving another person the power to hurt you is a sign of deep trust. And that’s what love does: it gives someone else the power to hurt you.
That’s why Crow’s submission is so important. Most of my characters have faced some sort of trauma in their lives. Crow is no different. He grew up alone and neglected, and as a result, he’s slow to trust. Although he wants to trust Jonathan, he denies his feelings… both his romantic feelings and his desire to submit.
But ultimately, he embraces who he is.
And acceptance makes him strong.
Crow followed Jonathan to the lodging house. Jonathan looked like he was going to explode with rage the entire walk home. Crow prayed they didn’t come across anyone looking for a fight.
When they strode in, the woman at the counter scowled. “Your boy’s only been gone two days,” she said to Jonathan. “Already bringing whores home?”
Jonathan waved her away. “He’s a friend, Marta.”
“Friend,” she muttered. “Yeah, all right.” She sniffed. “Long as you send him on his way when you’re done with him. Don’t want him harassing my patrons.” She bustled down the hall. Crow stared after her in shock.
“She thought you were a prostitute,” Jonathan said helpfully. He opened the door, then locked it behind Crow. Immediately, he went to the back door and swept it open. He went into the garden and hugged Chartreuse around her neck. His grip was white, and his entire body was rigid. “Fucking slavers,” he muttered. “Fucking disgusting.”
Crow leaned against the doorway, arms folded. “Why did the innkeeper think I was a prostitute? Do you often pick up whores?”
Jonathan rolled his eyes at the joke. But he relaxed a little, and he went back inside with Crow. He shut the door. His fingers rested on the knob. “So,” he said.
“So,” Crow said.
Jonathan looked away, hands clenched. “I need a favor.”
“Will you teach me how to—” Jonathan grimaced. “How to be charming.”
“Charming,” Jonathan said, like his teeth were being pulled. “It’s just this—this thing you do. I mean, let’s be honest with each other for a moment. You’re a terrible person, and yet every single person that meets you instantly likes you. How do you do that? Show me. I need to improve my acting skills.”
Crow didn’t want to teach Jonathan anything. But they were in this mess together, and if Jonathan slipped up and ruined his disguise, then they would both be in terrible danger. Crow saw on the bed. “Fine. Come here.”
Jonathan circled the bed like a wary animal. He sat far away from Crow.
“First lesson,” Crow said. “Body language.”
“What? Why does that matter?”
“You need to relax. If you look nervous, everyone else will become nervous, too.”
“I don’t feel relaxed,” Jonathan groaned.
“You don’t have to feel relaxed. You have to look relaxed.” Crow leaned against the headboard and splayed his legs. “See? Like this.”
“I can’t fake it the way you can.” Jonathan popped his fingers, then cracked his neck. He stretched his legs out, then touched his toes. Finally, he rolled his shoulders and let out a breath. He did seem a little less tense now.
“Good,” Crow said. “Now. Lesson two. Just be nice. Observe people. Give them compliments. Listen to what they say. It’s easy.”
“Of course. I mean, that’s how I seduced you the night I met you.”
And the room became weirdly silent.
The night they’d met. Right. The night Crow had waltzed in, spent a few minutes talking to Jonathan, and then stripped his pants off. Crow winced. It was probably a raw wound for Jonathan, considering the fact Crow had—at the time—been part of a plot to kill him. He shifted to the middle of the bed. He crossed his legs. “Look at me.”
“I want to teach you about sexual tension. It’s important. We need to investigate the House of Red Silk, but if we stall too long, Madam Karis might realize we’re up to no good. You must keep her attention. If she becomes impatient, pretend to be interested in a slave.”
“Interested? How do I do that?”
“Like this.” Crow leaned in. He lowered his eyelashes and tilted his head a little. His gaze slowly went from Jonathan’s hands, to his chest, then—ever so slowly—he met Jonathan’s eyes and held them. The air between them felt thin as paper, as though if he moved one inch closer, the barrier between them would tear.
Jonathan jerked back.
His face was unreadable, but his eyes were wide, pupils blown. Crow put his hand on Jonathan’s arm, and Jonathan jerked. “Tension is a sense of anticipation,” Crow said. “Stretch out that moment. Make it clear you want him.”
“I keep thinking about that time you threatened to skin me,” Jonathan snapped.
“That happened once.”
The light outside had faded. Twilight lit the garden. Crow felt exhausted from his façade. He got up to draw the curtains.
“No, wait,” Jonathan said. “I….”
Crow glanced back.
Jonathan had a painfully awkward look on his face. He blew out his breath. “Sorry. You’re right.” He got up. He rubbed his face. When his hand moved away, his expression was cool again. He scanned Crow’s face, then—hesitantly—touched Crow’s jaw, then his collarbone. He crowded Crow against the wall. Their chests didn’t touch, not quite.
Heat flickered through Crow’s body, and he was aware, powerfully aware, of how long it had been since he’d trusted someone to touch him. He shuddered.
Then Jonathan pulled away. “Like that?”
“Yeah,” Crow said. “Like that.”
Jonathan shut up and went to bed. He lay fully clothed on the mattress, alone by himself. Crow swept up a pile of blankets and dumped them on the floor by the wall. He burrowed into his little nest and closed his eyes. He didn’t sleep. Where was Regis? Locked in a cage somewhere? Sold?
Feather Fall by Evelyn Elliott
Series: Spell Slave
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Pages: 206 • Cover Artist: Christine Griffin
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspinner • Amazon • ARe
Spell Slave: Book Two
Hero and criminal. Brute force and subtle charm. Jonathan White and Crow Belcane are polar opposites, but if they want to rescue the man they both love, they’ll have to work together.
After visiting his former lover, Crow knows only one thing: he loves Regis and he will do anything to reclaim him. But before his very eyes, Regis is abducted. Kidnapped by high-end slavers. Only Regis’s infuriating partner, Jonathan—a dangerous vigilante—is willing to help.
To infiltrate the slave ring, Jonathan and Crow disguise themselves as master and pet. As a slave, Crow is pushed to his limit. He’s chained, branded, whipped, and forced to obey Jonathan’s every order. But the longer he spends at Jonathan’s feet, the more natural his disguise begins to feel—and the more he likes it. As much as he hates Jonathan, they make a good team.
Both of them are devoted to Regis. Despite the overwhelming attraction between them, Jonathan is unwilling to betray his partner, and Crow is unwilling to come between them. But once the three of them are together again, all bets are off. With the world against them, they have only each other to cling to.
Tour Dates & Stops:
28-Apr: Alpha Book Club
4-May: Love Bytes