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REVIEW: The Private Undoing of a Public Servant by Leoni...

Dear Ms. Martell,

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as I know next to nothing about the dominatrix lifestyle or activities. Sure I have an image of a woman clad in skintight black vinyl or leather wearing wearing killer shoes/boots and wielding a whip but what else would you do with the stereotype and what would I learn? Answer: you don’t go much beyond what I see posted at the few professional dominatrix websites I pulled up via google and yahoo or the descriptions at wikipedia so I’m not really sure if you show us what the vast majority of dominatrices are like or if you just read the same information I did.

Kirsten Caine describes herself as a lifestyle dominant meaning someone who is in control both inside and outside the bedroom. She doesn’t charge any money for her services but will happily accept some luscious La Perla knickers for her time. When she randomly meets Simon Charlesworth in a bar near a Tube Station, he has no idea that his life is about to take a dramatic turn. Simon is just who Kirsten loves to toy with, a middle aged man with repressed tendencies whose shell she can crack, allowing his true self to emerge. With the occasional help of her friends Miko, a Japanese art student truly into bondage, Edwarda and Bronwin, who own a little place in the country devoted to the Dominant lifestyle and a few others into the London fetish scene, Miss Caine will reduce Simon to a knicker wearing doggy allowed to crawl to her bootclad feet to worship them. But what happens when Kirsten learns about one of Simon’s political projects?

In an earlier post which I can’t be arsed to look up right now, I asked if there were any books out there with female doms as I was tired of ebooks with handcuffed naked females on their knees. Well, with this book, I got one. Kirsten likes men and loves them on their knees to her in submission. Don’t piss off Mistress K or she’ll whip you with her dragon quirt or force you to withhold your orgasm. Please her and she’ll f*ck you with her strap on, allow you to pleasure her and if you’re really lucky, give you a golden shower.

You take a great deal of time telling us the reasons why Kirsten is as she is and does what she does. She takes exquisite pleasure in knowing more about art, literature, and fine dining than Simon and often sneers at or despises him. In fact the only people she doesn’t look down on are a few other female Doms and even then she’s not really friends with them. I can’t say I’d want to be friends with her either. And given how she ends her relationship with Simon, I can’t say I’d trust her either. And isn’t that the most important thing in a BDSM relationship: trust? The sub has to trust the Dom not to go too far and to look out for his/her interests. Most of the sites I looked at mention how the Dom and sub need to talk beforehand and work out what each wants/needs from the relationship then stick to those limits. Kirsten and Simon never do this and then Kirsten betrays Simon at the most basic level.

I would guess that if readers are into BDSM, especially female domination, they will probably find the sex scenes exciting but as I discovered while reading the book, I’m not into that and having never read any other Femdom books I can’t say if they’re hawt. I think you create a realistic atmosphere of contemporary London and don’t hold back in describing this lifestyle. It’s not one I’m interested in reading any more about but I’d give this book a B-


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Avaron Dale
    Oct 25, 2006 @ 18:29:28

    Jayne… for good femdom romances, I recommend Joey Hill, she has a couple with Ellora’s Cave that are very good.

    As you said, a BDSM relationship is based on trust, so based on this review, no read for me. :) I’ll go hunting something else. This sounds like a domestic violence thing disguised as a BDSM book.

  2. Jayne
    Oct 25, 2006 @ 19:03:58

    I’ll give you spoilers since you don’t want to read it, then you can tell me if it’s trust or domestic violence.

    Kirsten approaches Simon and initiates the relationship. Since Simon is in a high position in the government, he at first worries that she’s been hired by the opposition to lure him into something sordid which they will then use to humiliate or blackmail him. He also thinks Kirsten might be a professional who wants money from him and who might use their relationship against him at some future time. She spends a lot of time telling him that none of those two scenarios are true and that she would never betray a relationship she was part of. He believes her and the relationship continues. Then some political issue arrises that Kirsten feels passionately about and about which she holds the opposite view than Simon. It’s then that she threatens to release photos of him to the media if he doesn’t agree to stop working on it. To me that was a betrayal of all she told him earlier.

  3. Avaron Dale
    Oct 26, 2006 @ 07:48:13

    Jayne, that’s definitely a violation of trust issue. Which is a violation of one of the basic principals of BDSM, as I learned it when researching for a book of my own. I also believe that’s ’emotional blackmail’ which I consider a form of abuse. That last may just be my opinion though. I based my comment about it being a ‘domestic violence’ thing on this statement by you:

    She takes exquisite pleasure in knowing more about art, literature, and fine dining than Simon and often sneers at or despises him. In fact the only people she doesn't look down on are a few other female Doms and even then she's not really friends with them. I can't say I'd want to be friends with her either.

    As that implies verbal/emotional abuse, now some BDSM relationships do thrive on the humliation factor, but that too is tempered with trust and discussions of what is allowed by the submissive. Sounds to me like the author didn’t do a lot of research on the subhect.

  4. Jane
    Oct 26, 2006 @ 08:39:53

    Hmm. Interesting. I think it is hard to know what is accepted in these types of relationships and what is not. I know when I read equal opportunities, some of the stuff that Mary did seemed very outre and almost cruel but everyone seemed happy about it so I accepted that was the way of those types of relationships.

  5. Jayne
    Oct 26, 2006 @ 16:42:34

    I think almost anything goes in these relationships as long as it’s agreed to by both parties. Kirsten did look down on Simon both inside and outside the sexual relationship. She humiliated him inside the relationship and while he seemed to enjoy that, they’d never discussed this (actually they never discussed any aspect of their relationship) nor agreed to it.

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