Men who are dominant. Women who submit. These are common tropes in the erotica-sphere these days. And I think they are even socially acceptable…as long as we’re talking about sex. After all, a woman can be cherished and worshipped and still be strong. There ain’t nothing in the modern feminist code about not getting orgasms.
But what about outside the bedroom? Ironically, that’s where things get sticky. Because we want heroines who are strong and independent… don’t we?
In Giving It Up, Allie has a submissive nature, and we’re not just talking about in the bedroom. However, she’s been hurt in the past, so she covers up her natural inclination with sluttishness, anger—anything at all. That’s the only way she can keep herself safe, body and mind.
Then she meets Colin. He refuses to treat her roughly. He doesn’t want to use her and dump her, no. He wants to know her, better and better.
I’m kidding, of course! Although Allie does feel a bit put out by the whole thing. Because in a way, she’s been controlling men with her body, setting them up to fail by finding guys who fall all over a short skirt. Even if they are the ones to tell her “strip” or “get down on your knees”, she’s the one calling the shots because she put herself there.
But Colin is genuinely dominant; he’s not going to play by her rules.
As Allie begins to heal, those layers are peeled back. Instead of being brash or defiant… or what might conventionally be considered “strong”, she becomes more submissive. She spends more time and effort trying to please him than how to fight. She unfurls beneath his protection.
Thus, Allie’s character arc is the opposite of what is commonly found in romance novels. Often we’ll see an almost doormat heroine who learns to find her strength at the end… in Allie’s case, she learns trust.
So, is it feminist? Is it socially acceptable? Is it okay that she does this!? I think that’s for each person to decide. One of the things I love about discussing books is that each person’s experience and takeaways are different, and that’s fine. Some people may think Allie’s submission is great, others may not.
And some, who aren’t wired to see things in terms of power exchange, may not even notice her submission at all. After all, they don’t use spankings or any of the usual kinky accoutrements. To Allie and Colin, power exchange is not a game; it just is.
Tell me what you think. Is dominance outside the bedroom empowering, sexy or too foreign to contemplate? One commenter will win a Giving It Up swag pack.
Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it’s not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.
He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren’t enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.
But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: dubious consent.
“A ballsy departure from romantic conventions. At once gritty and tender, stark and hopeful.”—Cara McKenna, author of Willing Victim
“Giving It Up is an erotic, compelling story that takes us to the shadowy, lonely places but doesn’t leave us there. Amber Lin shows us that romance isn’t just for the rich and shiny. Love can find its way even into the dark corners of the most damaged hearts.”—Tiffany Reisz, author of The Siren
“Dark, gutsy and deeply emotional; this is a story of two wounded souls finding solace with one another. Ms. Lin deftly handles the intricate psychological aftermath of rape and violence, of betrayal and forgiveness.” —Cheryl, Romance Junkies
“The book is well-written, keeps you guessing, has you on the edge of your seat, and throws in plenty of surprises. I found it really engaging, and was rooting for Allie and Colin throughout.” —Lucy Felthouse, Seattle Post Intelligencer Blog
“This is not your average cute and sweet feel-good book. Rather, it’s a dark and edgy story about flaws, vulnerabilities, hope and real life. To say that I loved Giving It Up would be an understatement.” —Steffi, Swept Away by Romance
We stripped at the same time, both eager. I wanted to see his body, to witness what he offered me, but it was dark in the room. Then he kissed me back onto the bed, and there was no more time to wonder. The cheap bedspread was rough and cool against my skin. His hands stroked over my breasts and then played gently with my nipples.
My body responded, turning liquid, but something was wrong.
I’d had this problem before. Not everyone wanted to play rough, but I was surprised that I’d misread him. His muscles were hard, the pads of his fingers were calloused. I didn’t know how he could touch me so softly. Everything about him screamed that he could hurt me, so why didn’t he?
I wanted him to have his nasty way with me, but every sweet caress destroyed the illusion. My fantasy was to let him do whatever he wanted with me, but not this.
“Harder,” I said. “I need it harder.”
Instead his hands gentled. The one that had been holding my breast traced the curve around and under.
I groaned in frustration. “What’s wrong?”
He reached down, still breathing heavily, and pressed a finger lightly to my cunt, then stroked upward through the moisture. I gasped, rocking my hips to follow his finger.
“You like this,” he said.
Yes, I liked it. I was undeniably aroused but too aware. I needed the emptiness of being taken. “I like it better rough.”
Colin frowned. My eyes widened at the ferocity of his expression.
In one smooth motion he flipped me onto my stomach. I lost my breath from the surprise and impact. His left hand slid under my body between my legs and cupped me. His right hand fisted in my hair, pulling my head back. His erection throbbed beside my ass in promise. I wanted to beg him to fuck me, but all I could do was gasp. He didn’t need to be told, though, and ground against me, using my hair as a handle.
That small pain on my scalp was perfection, sharp and sweet. Numbness spread through me, as did relief.
The pain dimmed. My arousal did too, but that was okay. I was only vaguely aware of him continuing to work my body from behind.
I went somewhere else in my mind. I’d stay that way all night.
At least that’s what usually happened.