There are times when people encounter difficult situations which have a negative effect on them, and have tainted their view of the world. It’s interesting to note that not many authors of erotic romance venture to take on the challenge of creating a character who has wrestled with a problem, which began from childhood, continued well into her teenage years, and threatened to cause her to spiral out of control if she didn’t get her preferred ‘fix,’ all in less than 15K words. However, Ms. Avril Ashton does so in her short story, Bedroom Bully.
In this narrative, El Lively, the tormented heroine, requires one thing from her lovers, that they bully her in the bedroom. She’s not looking for cuddling, or romance, or words of love. All she wants is for them to inflict physical pain on her. This is where Jud Kincaid, a stranger, comes in. El believes he’s the perfect candidate for the job, because she thinks he has the physical strength and the ability to restrain himself from getting too carried away in the bedroom. Previous experience has taught her that not all men can fulfill her requirements without inflicting extreme physical pain and injuries so severe, she has to seek medical attention.
However, Jud is more than what Eliot bargains for because he expects and demands more from her. When he finally discovers what makes her tick, what makes her want to be hurt, he handles her with sensitivity and compassion.
Ms. Ashton takes a bold step in dealing with a grave issue which affects millions of women world-wide, and then weaves an intricate tale of pain, guilt, and redemption, with a good dose of eroticism and romance. It’s not a story for the faint-of-heart, but it’s one which is deeply moving.
However, I wanted to know who Jud really is. How does he know he’s capable of being the type of bully, the type of lover, El needs? Is it something in his past which informs his decision? Is it built into his psyche to help a damsel in distress? In other words, it would have been nice to see his character developed more fully.
What’s more, it is El’s troubled past which makes her the kind of woman she is today, the kind of woman who doesn’t feel fulfilled unless she’s treated in a particular way. Yet, the horror she has endured, and the consequences of her decision to speak up after years of silence and the pain she bottles up, is dealt with in just a few pages. I guess I believed the characters, the plot, the issues and themes are strong enough, and read-worthy enough, to merit a full-length novel.
Then I was reminded that Bedroom Bully is one of Evernight Publishing’s series of short stories, Romance on the Go. This means the plot needs to be tight and fast so readers can indulge in it while they’re on a break, on the commute to or from work, while sitting in the waiting room, or just before going to bed. In that case, Bedroom Bully fits the bill perfectly.
-Reviewed by Roxy