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There are very few books or films in the genre of erotica that have any quality. There are even fewer in erotica’s BDSM subdivision. “Mittens” is the exception that proves the rule. It is the best BDSM themed Novella I have read. What makes it so good, is that it conforms to what all good literature should be. That is that it is first and foremost about the quality of characters portrayed.
In any genre, if an author cannot at least bring his or her protagonist to life, where he or she pops off the page, then everything after that is going to be very limited. The ability to create high quality characterizations, is actually more important in stories relating to sex than most other subjects. That is because the acrobatics that people engage in during sexual activities is hard to make interesting. Erotic writers who spend lots of time recounting them, will only appeal to readers who might find a particularly good looking shadow on the wall “hot”.
So literature in the erotic genre, even more than in films, demands sexual tension which is a book’s foreplay. And that tension comes in the buildup of two or more people who are powerfully attracted to each other, in ways they frequently cannot understand. For any of this to be meaningful and not just another pot boiler, the characters have to not just be well defined, but interesting.
In erotic fiction this almost never happens, which is why most of it is so dreary. Poor character definitions, weak motivations, unrealistic relationships, are supposed to be saved with lots of acrobatics. Readers don’t even get to see pretty bodies or hear moans of pleasure as would happen in film.
“Mittens” could easily be a play for two people. It is the story of a long term close friendship between two young women Nina, and Samantha, (Sam). Nina is the story teller. And in her tale she develops a crush on her engineer, inventor somewhat masculine friend Sam. But because of their close friendship that neither want to ruin by saying something embarrassing and risking rejection, sexual tensions between them, (the foreplay of literature) builds.
But beyond simply having lesbian desires for her friend, Nina also has masochistic fantasies: from the book’s description; “to be scared, bared, smitten, bitten, stripped, whipped, deprived, depraved and degraded – but……..most of all is to be frightened……. serious, bone-deep, fight-or-flight terrified.”.
Admitting fantasies like this to a friend, not only opens one to sexual rejection, but to be thought of as a freak of nature.
But Sam really does love Nina and that is what will separate; “Mittens” from the standard tripe of the genre, where sex either happens without a corresponding relationship, or it seems disengaged from it.
In the real world sex is first and foremost a form of communication. So except in very rare circumstances where strangers meet at a unique place and time, where they can each fulfill a mutual fantasy and then never see each other again, great sex, (BDSM or otherwise) is the result of the flowering of a powerful relationship.
And that is what makes “Mittens” so special. Phoenix Baker draws great characters in Nina and Sam and their relationship seems so real that it leads us to believe that it was drawn from the author’s own experiences, or those of close friends. And Phoenix makes us care about them both. The sex that happens between them is always subordinate to the love and loyalty they have for each other.
The only weakness of “Mittens”, (as happens with most erotica) is that the sex scenes were too long and too freqent. There were scenes that were extremely good and were instructive to non lesbian BDSMers, as to why these people can find pleasure in what they do. But after this point was made, other scenes were unnecessary.
Still the characters of Nina and Sam were so engaging and well done, that the book left readers wondering how their relationship will progress. This is particularly important because as the book draws to a close Nina wants to go beyond sado masochism in bed and become Sam’s real life 24/7 submissive. Nina, (the supposed author) promises that she will continue her tale and tell us how this new phase of their “friendship” works out. As of now however, Phoenix has of yet to write the continuation, much to the consternation of many of her new fans.
If you think that you would like to read this book, you can get it here for just $2.99