Talia Benson has always been independent, unafraid to go after what she wants, regardless of setback, injury, or failure. But between her father’s conditional tuition payments and her mother’s nagging concern over her emotional state, Talia’s suffocating.
So when Talia meets doctoral student Sean Poole, she can’t figure out why she wants him to control her. Why she wants him to boss her around. Why she wants him to hurt her.
Talia learns the hard way that not all control is created equal, and sometimes submitting is the most empowering thing in the world.
I discovered this book after some glowing reviews on Twitter, and am really glad that I picked it up! A slight departure from my usual fare, but as you have have noticed by now, I really do enjoy reading far and wide. On Goodreads, Hold Me Down is categorised as romance, erotica, and new adult respectively, so if you have any interest in these genres, support an indie author.
The book features strong female friendship, a focus on the importance of communication (in all aspects of one’s life, not just in le bedroom), character growth, and great banter.
“Your social acumen never fails to astonish me.”
“I spend way more time socialising than you do,” she said. “Doing it through an internet connection doesn’t invalidate it as a social experience.”
“I feel like you’ve been waiting to use that line on me for a long time.”
There are two main elements to this book that make it stand out from its contemporaries.
Firstly, the much-needed discussion of BDSM, specifically those who enjoy it, and the lingering feeling, either by those who participate or those look in from outside and judge, that there is something psychologically ‘wrong’ with them.
“I think telling me my tastes are dysfunctional because they’re not yours is overly simplistic.”
There’s a lot of discussion with a not particularly-understanding therapist, family members, Talia’s best friend, and her love interest Sean, working through the intricacies and implications of those who gain pleasure from pain.
Secondly, Talia comes from a Jewish background, and her religious traditions are entrenched in the story. Not in a forced way, like Judaism 101, but rather in a way that feels organic. And this makes such a change, a fantastic part of the growing movement of readers and writers demanding more diverse stories.
This is what I believe: I believe in strength through faith. I believe in compassion and freedom. I believe in the lessons of history, and I believe in learning from mistakes, and I believe in not ignoring what’s right in front of you. I believe in deliverance and second chances. I believe some wonders are undeniable, no matter how hard you try to deny them.
By the end of the book though, Talia seems to be in a much more settled place, having made peace with her inner self, set boundaries between herself and the judgement of her family, and learnt how to express herself when needed with Sean, instead of keeping silent or running away.
“Always talk to me,” he said. “Always be honest with me. Tell me what you’re thinking, what you’re worried about. It’s never an imposition or a burden. I want to be here for you, and I want to support you, and help you where I can, but I can’t do any of that if you won’t talk to me. I’m good, but I’m not a mind-reader.”