REVIEW: Equal Opportunities by Mathilde Madden
Dear Ms. Madden:
I confess that my only experience with Black Lace has been Emma Holly and at the time, she took me places I had never been. It was a bit of an eye opener for this girl. Since then, I’ve read, it seems, reams of erotic fiction and erotic romance but I admit to having never read what you wrote about. Laura Kinsale is tired of political correctness. She should read this book because politically correct it is not. This book is provocative, challenging and not a little disturbing.
Mary is a grad student, a seemingly perpetual grad student. In the library stacks she finds the man of her dreams. He is a beautiful, built young man who happens to be in a wheelchair. Mary is a devo, a person who is turned on by people with functional disabilities. A man’s disability that renders him physically helpless is a complete turn on to Mary.
Before his accident two years ago, David was a hot young stud who had his pick of college coeds. He enjoyed cherry picking amongst the freshman. His type was young, nubile and generally inexperienced. Since his accident, he hasn’t had a nibble. When Mary comes on to him, he knows what she is. He knows that she has a sick fetish but he doesn’t care.
I don’t care about anything except the fact that I am absolutely, definitely, going to get a shag. In a matter of hours. what can I say? It’s been a long time.
David probably makes the story for me. He is such a believable character. He’s fairly honest with himself and not a little self deprecating. For example, he’s involved in a cybersex relationship in which he pretends to be dominant. He’s chatting with this person (who he believes may or may not be a man but doesn’t really care) and is supposed to punish her but he really doesn’t know what to do because he is not a dom. He allows her to suggest her own punishment. She suggests her “large buttplug.”
And I have to ask, because the truth is, even though I have the full resources of Google at my disposal and it’s the work of a few clicks to discover what a buttplug is and what one looks like, I really have no idea whether it would feel pleasant or not. It doesn’t sound very pleasant, but with this girl you never know.
David is always making this hysterical asides. You feel sorry for him but you also appreciate that he hasn’t completely lost the fight to self pity which would also be understandable. I also began to understand how much of a light Mary was for him when David goes to a party and is mistaken for a eunich. I began to believe, over the course of the story, that maybe being with a devo is better than being alone. You showed me in the time and attention that Mary gave to planning David’s punishments how much she cared for him. David himself recognized that Mary’s sexual attention was wholehearted and that he was the center of her focus.
What was even more interesting is what you didn’t write. The story was never about the sexual organs but the people embodying the sexual organs. The sex was an important part of the story because it defined Mary and David’s connection but the sexual organs were never animated as in so many other erotica and erotic romances. I guess I began to realize what well written erotica was during the course of this book. Many things bothered me in this book: the devo storyline; the way Mary makes her men abase themselves to her; the way she trends toward violence and sometimes cruel acts. Some of the sex scenes were very uncomfortable for me to read because they are so beyond what I define as normal.
Trouble comes in the form of whether Mary and David really have an emotional relationship or whether they have some sick co dependent sexual connection. It particularly comes to head in questioning whether Mary could be with David if he were no longer in his wheelchair. This story, in its seemingly lighthearted way, asks some tough questions. Is beauty or lack of it, its own disability? David and Mary both realize that if David was walking, he would never have looked twice at a woman like Mary. Too old, not attractive enough. Did the accident make David into the ultimate submissive or did he have these latent emotions that were ferreted out by Mary. If two people find happiness in their own kink who I am to judge? It’s hard to grade this book, but if a book is challenging; if it makes you think; if it moves you beyond your normal course of thinking, it has to be a well written book, right? B.