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REVIEW: The Submissive by Tara Sue Me

Dear Tara Sue Me:

I picked this book up at Amazon after being somewhat intrigued by the premise. I’ll freely admit that while I disliked 50 Shades of Grey, I was captivated by the “the love of a billionaire” trope. I found out after reading your book that it is also Twific. I found it to be better written and better edited than 50 Shades of Grey, which enhanced my enjoyment of it quite a bit.

Tara Sue Me The SubmissiveSet in New York, The Submissive opens with Abigail King being conducted into Nathaniel West’s office. Nathaniel is widely known to be one of the most powerful men in business. But Abby also knows a lesser known fact about him: he is a Dominant who is seeking a Submissive. Abby desperately wants to fill that role. Nathaniel agrees to allow her to come to his estate for the weekend to see whether they’ll “work”. He’s aware that Abby has no training as a Submissive, so he’s agreed to train her as well.

When Abby arrives at Nathaniel’s home, he has laid out explicit rules for her, which he expects her to follow without complaint or hesitation. Their first few sexual encounters involve training and some light D/s behaviors, but mostly it’s about her understanding his expectations for her. At the end of a weekend that completely overwhelms her, Nathaniel offers her his collar, which she eagerly accepts. They are together on the weekends, and then Nathaniel begins visiting the library where Abby works during the week as well.  The more time with Nathaniel she spends, the more emotionally attached she becomes. He overwhelms her sexually and is meeting every dream or wish she ever had. While she is falling for him, she’s unsure of how he feels about her. He is inscrutable and often distant. But occasionally he shows small signs that his feelings for her might be something more than what she’d originally assumed. As he introduces her farther into his life, she meets his friends and family, and they tell her over and over how much he’s changed. How he smiles more often, talks about her frequently and really seems to be falling for her. This only makes Abby fall more deeply in love with him. Nathaniel has warned her time and again not to fall for him, but Abby can’t seem to help herself. After a night of truly torrid passion where Abby feels they’ve really connected, Nathaniel is distant, preferring to go back to the way they were before. Can Abby make him see that what they have is worth fighting for?

When I started reading this book, I didn’t much like it. I felt that Nathaniel was perfunctory with Abby, almost business-like. Since the story is told first person, only from Abby’s perspective, I found Nathaniel pretty unlikeable, given that it seemed Abby was the only one feeling anything. But as the story unfolded, and Abby meets others in Nathaniel’s life, and we the reader get to know him, it becomes easier to understand why she would fall for him. Nathaniel is definitely a wounded soul, and his defense mechanisms make him distant. As we learn more about his history, I found myself softening towards him. And when he and Abby have their big fight, man does he give good grovel. The sex scenes are very spicy, although the BDSM element is quite tame, and certainly nothing that exercised my comfort or squick level at all.

If I had any quibbles, it’s that Abby is quite the Mary Sue. But then, knowing that the book is TwiFic, and she’s loosely based on Bella Swan makes her behavior more understandable. The book is also clearly derivative of 50 Shades, although the little bit of research I did on Google made me think that perhaps this book came first. My biggest complaint is that I understand that this book is the first of three. The book ended on a definite HFN note, with a resolution that I actually bought, so I was surprised to hear there would be two more featuring this same couple – it feels unnecessary. I found your writing to be strong enough that I’ll probably read the next book, but I guess I’m confused about what more there is to tell about this couple.

Overall, I found The Submissive to be quite well written and certainly entertaining enough to keep my attention. If a reader is looking for a book that offers the same elements as 50 Shades of Grey, but is more strongly written, I’d say The Submissive is up your alley. I give it a B-.

Kind regards,





I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.


  1. Michelle
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 12:26:52

    This story inspired 50 Shades so no way is it derivative. EL James basically saw how popular this fic and another one (The Office) were and cobbled together her own craptacular imitation.

    The second book, if it follows the pattern the fics were first posted in, will be the first story retold from Edward’s point of view. Fine in fanfic form as readers often begged for it, but in a published work? Do people really want to pay money for a rehash? (Given that they’re paying money for something already available for free, then the sad answer is probably yes).

  2. Jane
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 12:34:55

    I don’t understand why the name of the author wasn’t changed. I had never heard of her before and any one who had would have known about the pen name change. To keep the name – it’s beyond ridiculous. I can’t honestly get past that (or frankly the price. Holy crap).

  3. cleo
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 14:46:27

    @Jane: I can’t get past the pen name either – although it did make me laugh.

  4. Ridley
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 16:10:08

    Call me a snob, but isn’t P2P Twific beneath DA’s readership?

  5. Alicia
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 18:09:29

    @Ridley: Beneath everyone’s readership, to be honest, but yes – especially DA’s.

  6. Jane
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 18:19:30

    @Ridley and @Alicia: : We’ve reviewed plenty of Twific. It’s inescapable. We’ll be reviewing Beautiful Bastard and Wallbanger as well so you may want to take a vacation from DA until those reviews are run.

  7. Ridley
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 18:49:21

    Nothing is inescapable. You decide what and what not to post.

    It’s all bad New Adult, Twific and Kristin Ashley as of late, and I don’t understand why. Judging by all the C reviews, even you don’t like reading this stuff, Jane. So why keep spotlighting it?

  8. Jane
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 19:22:30

    @Ridley – probably because that is what I’ve been reading. I really like the New Adult subgenre and am reading quite a bit of it. Unfortunately it’s not all very good. I think that is worth talking about. It’s not like I am hiding books I do like in favor of posting reviews of books that I don’t. Are there books out there that you wish we were reviewing? Are there books you would recommend and that you think should be highlighted?

  9. Estara
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 20:15:22

    If you might enjoy light BDSM and Billionaires with added m/m, Kati, I can recommend Emma Holly’s Billionaire Boys’ Club. And as always, she delivers the hot, consenting sex in every permutation.

  10. Kati
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 21:12:56

    @Estara I just bought Billionaire’s Boy Club. I’ll move it up my reading queue. Thanks for the recommendation!

  11. Alicia
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 04:19:33

    @Jane: I might have to. I agree with @Ridley, with the exception of FSoG I think fanfic posing as books are avoidable. There is so much original fiction out there by authors not taking shortcuts that deserves to be highlighted/ultimately advertised well before anything repurposed fanfic. I just don’t get it.

  12. giselle-lx
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:09:16

    @Alicia and @Ridley They post about it for the same reason everybody does–it riles people up and then it drives blog traffic.

    Which is why you’ll rarely see me comment on one of these posts. I’m not interested in feeding that machine.

    But as to Twific being unavoidable; uh, no. There are three Twific titles published by big six publishers (FIFTY SHADES, GABRIEL’S INFERNO, and BEAUTIFUL BASTARD) and the rest, quite honestly, you have to be looking to find. Even INFERNO, despite its co-op placement, hasn’t had anything like the reception of FIFTY, and the co-op placement faded fast. My store has never done a re-order on the book. We move about four copies a month.

    I would also count the book reviewed here as “have to be looking to find.” It’s expensive, published by a small outfit in Australia, and it’s relatively difficult to get ones’ hands on, or even to hear about, unless you’re inside the circle of published Twific to begin with.

    So it is a deliberate choice to seek out and review these books–it’s not as though there’s a shortage of material being published in erotic romance at the moment. Which isn’t to say DA shouldn’t read what they’d like to read. I’ve got no beef with that. But you’re finding these books because now that you’ve read other Twific, you’ve found yourself in the circle and people are recommending these books to you. Let’s not keep perpetuating the lie that Twific books are everywhere. They’re not. No matter what Anne Jamieson says, Twific is not actually taking over the world. Most of it languishes in obscurity because without “Edward” to hold the role, it doesn’t work any more–and actually *that* is the more interesting phenomenon, in my opinion.

  13. Kati
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 13:18:12

    @giselle-lx: Much as I appreciate the credit for wanting to drive traffic and “rile people up”, I bought this book and read it because I enjoy the “in love with the billionaire” trope. I had no idea this book was TwiFic until I started doing a little research for the review. I review what I like to read. I’m fine with people skipping my reviews or not wanting to read what I’ve reviewed. But I absolutely do not pick books based on what will drive traffic to Dear Author. I just don’t think like that.

  14. Amandine
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 15:11:56

    Just curious, are people’s main problem that it’s Twific or that it is fan fiction? Many really good and even classic stories started out as fanfic of one form or another and in a variety of different genres. If I were stretching I’d say Eloisa James is Shakespeare/fairy tale fan fic quite often but I know that’s stretching ;) (Of course Shakespeare is its own “fanfic” anyway.)

    Is the objection:

    It was originally written was Twilight fan fiction.
    It was adoringly available for free (cheap for some samples maybe) online.
    It was free (super cheap) Twilight fic online.
    It was originally conceived as fanfic.

    Because to me all four of those, and perhaps over permutations, would have different issues perhaps, and different solutions.

    People are often inspired in the creative process by other people’s works; how thin a veneer that becomes is a very subjective thing —

  15. Ann Somerville
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 15:59:14


    “it riles people up and then it drives blog traffic. ”

    Yeah because sites like DA and SBTB are so hard up for traffic they have to buy site hits from Belgium to raise their Alexa ratings.

    Oh wait. They don’t.

    And they aren’t.

  16. giselle-lx
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 19:41:31

    A professional website with professional writers writing content for it should be concerned with traffic and with writing about what’s hot. Professional writing is about writing content that sells, even if sales equate only to eyes on a page.

    Google, after all, employs hundreds, if not thousands of people just in site analytics; I would suggest that’s not because they’re hurting for traffic.

    But if you’d prefer to suggest that DA’s content choices are made for personal gratification or some other reason, feel free. I view this as a professional industry blog and assume content is posted because the content curators know what they’re doing.

    It’s not mercenary; it’s smart.

    @Amandine: And these are the really interesting questions about repurposing fanfic, IMO

  17. Ann Somerville
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 20:10:51


    “you’d prefer to suggest that DA’s content choices are made for personal gratification or some other reason, feel free. ”

    I’d prefer to suggest that you don’t mischaracterise this blog – which is that it’s an amateur effort run by people with real life jobs. It doesn’t exist to make money for anyone. It has no customers.

    “Professional writing is about writing content that sells, even if sales equate only to eyes on a page.”

    Oh, bullshit.

    “Google, after all, employs hundreds, if not thousands of people just in site analytics; I would suggest that’s not because they’re hurting for traffic.”

    And this has anything to do with DA? Which employs no one? Which sells nothing? It’s a hobby. Jane could put up her child’s finger paintings if she wanted to.

    Go find a different barrow to push. The wheel’s fallen off the one you’re using.

  18. Shelley
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 20:19:06

    Reading the Kindle preview just about put me to sleep so there will never be any danger of me reading this and I’m thinking at this point, books with this trope, especially by obscure writers should just be assumed to be twific and God almighty, this shit sucks so bad just like Twilight sucked (still not getting the squee factor).

  19. Sunita
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 22:46:05

    @giselle-lx: I won’t speak for anyone else at DA, but I review here purely for my own pleasure, both in terms of sharing my thoughts about books and in the conversations I get to participate in.

    Is it really that hard to believe that a widely read, high-quality site can be run and staffed by people who have full-time jobs or careers or professions or whatever you want to call them that are completely separate from writing for DA? That we are amateurs in the best sense of the word? Apparently it is. What a shame, because it’s true.

  20. Amandine
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 03:21:42

    @Amandine: @Amandine:

    you know i just came back and i realise that auto correct fixed a word i’d meant ot be originally into adoringly.

    i.. don’t .. even .. know..

  21. Ceilidh
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 16:49:48

    I think reviewing P2P fan-fiction definitely has its purpose and worth in online blogging communities. It’s a complete train-wreck to watch! After all, how many of you predicted that not only would it becoming acceptable, and indeed the new normal, for Twilight fan-fiction to be published as original, but that one of the biggest selling books of all time would be BDSM Twi-fic? 50 Shades may be awful (IMO) but it came in at the right place at the right time, and once again proved that true hype is organic and can’t be manufactured by publishers. Now, as publishers are struggling to stay relevant and profitable in the e-book age, we see them throwing huge advances at P2P Twi-fic, along with this new NA thing I’m still heavily cynical about. Sex is the order of the day, and the craze, in my opinion, deserves as much scrutiny, critique and examination as the post-Twilight PNR YA craze did.

  22. Skye leckie
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 03:40:18

    My question is at what point did she read 50 shades of grey and think that she could model it ? I’m fascinated with her complete plairigsm of the the book – or was she first one – just finished it reading it an, hour ago — is there no better literature that doesent involve being. Controlled – but id like someone to tell me who write it first. Skye

  23. Skye leckie
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 03:43:11

    Ok all whi is Tara sue me !0?

  24. Skye leckie
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 03:46:50

    I have read al your comments can you please answer mine ?

  25. Hits a nerve « Her Hands, My Hands
    Jan 20, 2013 @ 14:19:25

    […] After some thought, I realized what bothers me about that first comment: it’s reminiscent of Ridley’s “aren’t we above these?” […]

  26. kj
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 06:52:29

    I like the submissive and I am looking forward to reading the dominant. I stumbled across this in KMart. I’m not a huge fan of twilight. I have read fifty shades and loved was my introduction to all this hype. I was dubious about the submissive but found it interesting to tell the story of a submissive from her point of view. Like wise I want to know the dominants perspective of it all. I have not read ant twific except fifty shades and didn’t know it was classed as twi fic. I class this book as something slightly different but I can understand peoples frustration as I believe these books were originally wrote as Edward and bella then re written as Nathanial and Abby. Either way having not read the originals I can view these as books unconnected to twilight and fifty shades and sooo I like them :-) perhaps the best idea is not to compare everything to twilight or to attempt to class it as twi fiction. If you think its a rip off don’t read it, you have a choice. I do think there is too much of the same thing being churned out and it should be quality not quantity but saying that are not mills and boon Nora Roberts daniella steele etc all similar. They may vary in the degrees of fiction to romance and romance to erotica but they are not original yet still to many a good read.

  27. eclipsy84
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 04:00:12

    @Skye leckie: Both Fifty Shades and the Submissive started off as Twilight fanfiction (Fifty Shades was called Master of the Universe then). The Submissive was posted online about two years before MotU, so if anything Fifty Shades copied the Submissive, although there’s a huge subgenre of BDSM fanfics out there. They’re both pull to publish, meaning once they got popular among the Twilight fandom, they were removed from the internet, Bella and Edward’s names were replaced with new ones, and they were then sold as original fiction.

  28. Dennis
    May 08, 2013 @ 17:20:10

    Submissive was first written in 2009

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