Jessica Seaques kindly gave me the opportunity to read a pre release copy of Mirror Secret Mirror as an early reader in advance of the official publication date in exchange for an honest review here on my Oz Bigdownunder blog.
Honestly, I loved it!
MIRROR SECRET MIRROR is dark, decadent, BDSM erotica. This book is a corrupting force, an evil seduction, a delicious poison… a trap! It’s the story of a young woman being lured, baited, manipulated… hunted, captured, enslaved. The villain is dark-eyed, devilish and dominant. The villainess is sleek, sadistic and sexy. The predators work together to ensnare their prey. This story is offensive, dishonest and depraved. It twists romance, perverts love and mocks morality. Consider yourself warned.
Thanks to Jessica's contributions to Elust, I've followed her work for some time and become a fan.
I read every instalment of The Master Plan as they were released. Fun and sexy depictions of kink. Appealing characters who's motives made sense in the context of a rollicking good caper. The heist aspect of the story had the standard planning, execution and aftermath of a robbery. Dramatic tension from the constant mistrust between double crossing protagonists.
The characters in The Master Plan were undeniably kinky.
The sex scenes contain hot, fun and sometimes hilarious descriptions of pain and humiliation being inflicted.
The full length novel, Mirror Secret Mirror, allows for a more in depth look into the characters and themes explored on the MSM blog.
Jess, an aspiring author of kinky erotica wins a writing competition and gets an offer of employment writing for a mysterious patron who she is not to meet in person but to serve via an intermediary, the formidable Katya.
The character archetypes that appear in Mirror Secret Mirror and similar characters elsewhere on the MSM blog are familiar enough to be recognisable to fans of the kink erotica genre.
There's a sub who's inexperienced, naïve, very enthusiastic and falls madly in love and deeply into sub space with seemingly almost no provocation.
There's a Russian femme fatale who is terrifying and aloof.
Katya embodies the exact image of the subs ideal of a Mistress.
The Dom, also perfect in the eyes of the sub, tall, handsome, rich and mysterious. So inscrutable as to be almost unknowable and yet he's inevitably idolised and becomes an obsession.
Jess, the protagonist herself, refers to these as clichés in the book. Fans of the genre know all these tropes. I actually love how familiar these characters are. It makes the reader feel like you know exactly who you're dealing with.
And then the cracks start to appear in the facades of how we perceive these archetypes. The ideals are twisted. Expectations subverted. Assumptions are challenged.
Jess starts to question who the Mistress and Master really are. What are their motives. What are they really up to? She gradually starts to take control of her own destiny as she investigates, explores, breaks the rules, decides for herself what kind of sub she wants to be and what role she wants the Master and Mistress to play.
Outside of kinky erotica, characters who are cruel, domineering, belittling, demanding and unfair are the baddies. Jess's journey, sleuthing, and espionage is a metaphor for every pervert, like me, who's spent time solving the mystery of why they find the baddies more fun, interesting and exciting than the goodies in conventional stories.
Like all good BDSM erotica, the story Mirrors a voyage of self discovery.
Kinksters can empathise as we've all been on a journey, like Jess, trying to figure out what turns us on and why.
The concept of mirrors as symbolic gateways to self-reflection, serving as a metaphor for personal growth and inner exploration is all very Lewis Carroll. Jess has a twitchy rabbit nose. Again, a hint that we're heading deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole as per Alice. There's even a Cheshire Cat. Baggins. What a legend. He should write a book on philosophy.
Throughout we see clues that we might be dealing with an unreliable narrator.
Is Jess' version of events what is really happening. Is any of it real?
At it's best moments MSM is reminiscent of Philip K Dicks explorations of simulacra, hallucinations, artificial realities. You start to wonder if the Master and Mistress or even the secretary are real.
Power exchange is arguably the most fundamental theme in BDSM erotica and I love the way Mirror Secret Mirror explores the concept.
I don't want to spoil the plot. Read the book and decide for yourself at any given moment in the story who is in control, to what extent, how and why? By the time you reach the thrilling and surreally erotic crescendo, consider where Jess has ended up and how she got there. Does it mirror your own journey into embracing your inner sex maniac?
Do be aware that this is not BDSM. There's no SSC, no RACK, no consent, and no safewords. The goal is to turn readers on and tell them a fun story. Not to provide an instruction manual for ethical BDSM practices. If you hold the heroes and heroines up to the standards you'd expect of your play partners, they're all going to seem clueless and/or abusive. But that's ok. It's intended as a dream world of mythical, fantastical characters doing things that are not BDSM but are what BDSM fantasies are made of.
Read the Mirror Secret Mirror ethics page for more information and links to some excellent educational resources.
I have read other BDSM erotica where the play is all ethical and consensual. That's great too. I don't think there's a right way and a wrong way to write kink. The MSM way does allow Jessica to give free reign to her imagination. And what an imagination!
My favourite line in the book "Her voice was icy, carnivorous and husky enough to pull a sledge."!
That's brilliant. After the multiple forced orgasms inflicted on Charlotte the secretary in the climax her voice will be hoarse enough to ride in the Royal Ascot.