Hello lovelies! Please bear with me while I make the transition back from WordPress to Blogger. I need to go through and insert images and do some more tweaks.

Guest Post/Giveaway: Re/Bound by Michele Zurlo


The role of communication in a BDSM relationship

Communication should be the cornerstone of every relationship. It's often the difference between a relationship working or falling apart. This is true no matter what kind of relationship we're talking about, whether it's romantic, platonic, or professional. We communicate when we state our preference for mustard over ketchup, purple over red, or vibrator over dildo.
Nonverbal communication is hugely important, especially for women. I think that's what attracts us to the concept of a Dom in the first place. They're always portrayed as hyper in-tune with the submissive's wants and needs. They're driven by a need to make sure she gets what she wants. [I'm using Dom as masculine and sub as feminine, fully recognizing that the opposite is just as common.] Women like to know their partner is paying attention, that he can figure out why she's upset so she doesn't have to explain something that seems so obvious. [Another side note: Even the best of Doms need you to explain it. Nobody is a mind reader.]
But that's still the romantic ideal, the thing we all want, and it's something Malcolm/Theo possesses...most of the time. Here's an early example where he's asking about Scott, her missing-presumed-dead Master. It's both interrogation on his part and a touching move that opens her up to falling for him.
Theo leaned closer. “Is this your first time with someone else?”
The verbal answer she attempted didn’t make it out of her mouth. She nodded instead.
He twirled the stem of his wineglass with one hand, caressing the smooth glass the same way he had caressed her palm. His warm brown eyes never left her face. The shades of understanding and the depth of his patience floored her. He reached for her hand, and she gave it to him.
“It’s just a drink. Nothing will happen between us that you don’t want to happen. Ever. If I kiss you tonight, it’s because you want me to. I respect your boundaries and any refusal that should cross your lips. It’s always your choice. Remember that.”
Romantic and reassuring. He's setting the bar high because he has to earn her trust, both because he needs to milk her for information and because he's aware that he's starting to fall for her, which brings up a whole different set of problems.
The dynamic of a D/s relationship, especially one that includes bondage and/or S&M, requires open and honest communication. That's something it takes most couples years to master, and sadly, some never quite get there. Negotiation in any kind of BDSM relationship isn't very different than in a vanilla relationship. In this scene, Darcy has playfully smacked Theo/Malcolm on the chest after he went for an obvious pun. In a vanilla relationship, he might just tell her that he doesn't like that kind of physicality. In a D/s relationship, even though they just met the night before and they aren't even officially dating, things play out a little differently. 
He nodded briefly. “Darcy, you hit me. I know you meant it playfully, so I’m going to warn you this once. That kind of behavior will earn you a punishment. You can roll your eyes at my jokes or push me away, but I can’t compromise on that kind of insubordination. Each Dom is different, and that’s one of my rules.”
The image of her naked bottom on the receiving end of his hard palm caused moisture to rush to her pussy, and a shudder rocked through her body. It had been so long since she’d had the pleasure of a punishment. Theo might be in for a rude shock if he tried to discipline her that way. She was more likely to orgasm than to learn the lesson he sought to teach.
He blinked at her and took a step back. “Did you just come?”
She shook her head.
The critical squint to one of his eyes and the way his head tilted meant he didn’t quite believe her. “You’re a masochist?”
That question required a respectful response. She dropped her gaze accordingly. “Yes, Sir.”
“You do realize a punishment doesn’t include completion, don’t you?”
“Yes, Sir.” She raised her eyes and boldly challenged him. “You do realize you aren’t my Master, don’t you?”
Negotiation in a beginning relationship is always a delicate dance. It includes the what-kind-of-music-do-you-like conversation, but it also includes the I-love-to-be-spanked discussion. A vanilla guy might bring her roses, but Theo/Malcolm is going to offer a spanking (and roses.)
I think sometimes when people hear about negotiation, they think it's one conversation before the couple heads into the bedroom (and that might be the difference between erotica and romance, and I definitely prefer to write romance.) Or they think it's more cut and dried, a checklist of do's and don'ts, like a contract or something involving lawyers. In a real relationship, it's part of the flirting phase, the discovery of similarities and differences that you evaluate slowly, deciding at each stage whether that new piece of information is something you can live with or something you can't. 
When Darcy and Malcolm/Theo come up against this barrier, they talk about it and reach a tentative compromise. They recognize that their strategy might not work, they it might need to be adjusted later. In the backs of their minds, you know they're both thinking that it might end up being a dealbreaker, though we're all hoping it's not!
In this scene, Theo has just given Darcy an erotic spanking, and while they were making out, he pinned her wrists down. She doesn't like bondage at all, and it's his number one trigger. You'll notice they've already established safe words.
The dull edge of panic beat back the tide of passion. He raised her arms above her head and held them there with one hand around her wrists. His teeth grazed her earlobe. That dull edge turned sharp, cutting through the haze and suspending her need.
Darcy fought the fear, but it didn’t subside. “Yellow.”
Immediately he stopped and lifted his torso away. His gaze roamed her body, no doubt noting the way her breasts strained and heaved. A hint of confusion clouded his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t…I don’t…Theo, you can’t…” She closed her eyes and tugged at her hands, but he didn’t release them. Yellow signaled a pause, not an end.
He leaned his weight on his free elbow and smoothed his thumb over her brow and lip. “Darcy, talk to me. Tell me what’s bothering you.”
That pattern of sensation triggered a flood of strength and calm. She opened her eyes. “You can’t restrain me. That’s a hard limit. I should have told you before, but we haven’t really talked about those things yet. I’m sorry, Sir. I understand if you want to stop.”
Doms didn’t, as a rule, like to be told they couldn’t engage in bondage. Darcy had never liked being tied up, and Scott had never forced the issue. Instead he’d trained her to stay still at his command.
Theo released her wrists. She didn’t move them.
“If you want my hands in a certain place, just tell me and I’ll keep them there, Sir.”
He studied her face. Other than a slight frown, he displayed no discernible emotion. She wondered if he thought about the way she’d stayed perfectly still to receive those few blows in the hotel room. “You’re a masochist and you don’t like being tied up. Do you realize that bondage is often used for your safety and not for control?”
Yes, she understood those kinds of details. Being bound and unable to move meant she couldn’t suddenly shift and cause the tail of the whip to land somewhere it shouldn’t. It immobilized the target and kept the Dom’s aim true.
She nodded. “Either way, I don’t like it, Sir.”
He threaded his fingers through hers, holding her hand in an affectionate gesture that buoyed her spirits, and pressed a kiss to the sensitive skin on the back of her hand. She knew this wasn’t easy for him to take.
“I propose a compromise.”
Her rising spirits stalled.
“I’m going to hold your hand like this. I’m not going to let go no matter what happens.” He pressed her hand against the sofa cushion just above her head. “Put your other hand on my shoulder and don’t move it until I give permission.”
Hesitantly Darcy brought her other hand down until she felt the ripple of his muscles under her palm. They stayed like that for almost a full minute. Her nerves didn’t calm, but they didn’t get worse, either.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this.”
“I know, honey. I’m asking you to trust me and to give this a chance.” He smoothed his thumb over her brow and lip again.
If it didn’t work, then she would call red and make him some coffee and she would not feel at all bad about failing. Removing some of the pressure she usually put on herself helped her to relax. She was doing this for him, not for her. “Green, Sir.”
Clear, honest statements are what made that negotiation possible. He clearly stated what he wanted and what he intended to do. She responded in a similar manner. They listened to one another and they arrived at a compromise that worked in that situation. It built a foundation of trust and a pattern of open, honest communication that continues throughout their relationship. Of course, the fact that he's an undercover agent and she's part of his mission does cause serious problems.
Re/Bound is about the ways in which many different kinds of communication affect a relationship. Some of it is very good for both our hero and heroine, and some of it is positively heartbreaking. At the end of the day, it's important to recognize that communication is an ongoing part of any healthy relationship. Clearly state your wants and needs, and listen to your partner. It doesn't matter if they're asking you to tie them up or take out the trash when it gets full. Talk, listen, then carry out the plan you've devised. BDSM is no different from a vanilla relationship in that respect. 

Places to find out more about my BDSM, paranormal, and mainstream titles:

**One lucky winner will win a $5 gift card. Please leave a comment with your email. Giveaway ends 11:59pm 8/16.**


Losing her master ripped Darcy's world apart. Falling in love put it back together. Malcolm is an undercover agent, and she's his unwitting asset. Can a relationship built on lies survive the truth?
Picking herself up after the devastating loss of her master is more difficult than Darcy anticipated. Just when she needs someone the most, a handsome Dom steps in and helps her out. Theo is thoughtful, dominant, and demanding -- everything she needs. He pushes her boundaries, tests her limits, and takes her to new heights. With him, she remembers what it is to feel joy and love and a firm hand on her ass.

Agent Malcolm Legato is after a corrupt businessman, and Darcy is his ticket into the upper echelon of Snyder Corp. As "Theo," he makes contact with her and cultivates her as an asset. Since she's also a suspect in her master's disappearance, he can't reveal himself to her, even when he realizes she's another of Snyder's victims. He falls hard for this feisty submissive, and he knows he'll break her heart the moment she finds out he's been lying to her all along.

When it all falls apart, will Darcy be able to find the strength to forgive Malcolm so they can build a life together and the courage to bring justice to the man she loved and lost?

Tour Schedule

8/12 - Guilty Pleasures Book Review
8/13 - Redheads Review It Better
8/14 - Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books
8/15 - Harlie's Books
8/16 - Reader's Confession
8/17 - AJ's Reading Nook
8/20 - My Secret Romance
8/21 - Black Raven's Erotic Cafe


  1. I loved the excerpt! Communication is important in any relationship.

  2. Sounds really good! Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  3. This sounds like a really good book. I do think communications is crucial in any relationship, especially so in one with BDSM. How can a person know what you like and what you need if you don't communicate to them. After all, no one is able to read minds, no matter what some books make it seem like, lol.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  4. Nice excerpt and advice.


  5. Thanks for the advice! Communication is vital in any relationship, especially in a BDSM one.


  6. Please enter me in your contest.

  7. Terrific excerpt and post. Thank you.

  8. Great post-- communication is so needed in EVERy part of life!

  9. Looks like another fun read! Loved the Awakenings series.

  10. Great contest! Thanks!

  11. Great post. Very well said.

    kesummer69 at gmail dot com