Book Review – The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton

by Maryse on September 15, 2011 · 28 comments

in Alternative, My Book Reviews

The Reluctant Dom (Siren Publishing Menage and More)
What!? The Reluctant Dom? Yup. It *is* what you think it is. And yes, I’m reviewing it. Consider me “The Reluctant Reviewer” today, because this is completely out of my comfort zone. But I have to tell you about it. It was recommended to me by a fellow book friend (thank you T!!), and since I had already come across it on Amazon (and it’s amazing reviews), I was already intrigued. Her gentle nudge was all it took.

And I’m going to tell you a secret. I read another one of this *type* last year, that I also loved, but I kept it quiet and hidden in the back of my brain somewhere. But I remember everything about it, and how I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. So I’m out of the “dom-book closet”, and I’m going to review that one soon too. Now don’t get me wrong. There are PLENTY of things in this “alternative” lifestyle that I don’t get and can’t quite relate to. So don’t go and get any crazy ideas about me!! I will reiterate. It is the BOOKS that I am enjoying, not necessarily the reality of it ;)

Okay so now that I have that out of the way… I’m writing about a book that made me, okay yes, cringe A LOT, but also, made me feel A TON. I even cried. Wanted to sob, really, but my husband was in the room and trying to explain that a book of this *subject matter* was tearing my heart out, well. I didn’t want to go there with him, so I suffered in silence. OMG, do you even know how hard it is to sob quietly?

So how does a book about whips, ropes, and other stuff make one cry, other than in pain?

Kaden and Leah have been married for years, living a typical upper-class public lifestyle. Both attractive, friendly, outgoing and social, Kaden is a successful lawyer, and his wife Leah is a volunteer for many fundraisers etc. Their private life, however, differs significantly from what their friends and relatives know of them. Even Kaden’s absolute best friend, Seth, closer to him then a brother, gets the surprise of his life one day, while having a drink with Kaden. Kaden needs him for something extremely important, and reveals some very dramatic truths.

  1. Kaden is dying
  2. Leah requires a certain private *lifestyle* to cope with her traumatic past. One Kaden had to learn through trial and error over their many married years. He is afraid that if he can’t find someone he can trust and teach to take over his “Master” role in her life, that a future downward spiral for her is inevitable.

Now, not only does Seth have to deal with the eventual loss of the one person that he loves more than anyone else in his life, he will need to make a major decision for his future.

Seth felt numb and wondered when the hell he’d wake up. This could not be real. His brain was not accepting that this was really happening. He knew his voice sounded week, emotional shock creeping in.

“What are you asking me dude?”

Taking on a role in a lifestyle that he has never even contemplated. But he loves Leah as much as he does Kaden, and he wants to believe he’d do anything for them. After a few visits with the couple interacting  in their “other” life, he reluctantly accepts to do this for them (despite his discomfort with what he witnessed).

“Leah’s healed because of it. But she needs things, Seth. She’s always going to need certain things. I’m worried that when I’m gone, if she goes looking to others who don’t know her, who don’t care about her, it’ll hurt her and put her back in that bad place emotionally where she could have died. If she doesn’t kill herself to start with.”

I completely connected with Seth. I cringed when he cringed. I gasped when he gasped. It was as if I wasn’t alone, experiencing all these strange, and bizarre moments with this very experienced couple. Seth was right there with me, and we were both confronting something that we could not comprehend. But Seth had it worse than I did. He actually had to learn to use the tools, understand the signs, the language, the rules.

“Can’t I just shoot you in the ass with paintball pellets?”

Tee hee!!! Loved him! Oh boy did he have some issues adjusting. And his learning didn’t stop there. He also had to learn “Leah”.

As sweet and normal as she could appear to be, Leah had deep emotional scars that needed to be released or she’d find very destructive ways of doing so herself. Seth was now forced to learn her emotional voids, her vocal tones, and anticipate her needs before she spiraled too low.

This book definitely touched on issues of control, and… other things (ummm… yeah, the steamier stuff. And again, not quite the norm). In time, I came to *get* it, and at the same time, felt bewildered. But Seth made it easier for me, and brought a sense of “normalcy” to my reading experience, in a world that was beyond my comprehension. And let me tell you, there are plenty, PLENTY of “normal” and sweet, relatable moments for the reader. You won’t be able to help but love them all.

So yes, overall, despite my reluctance, I did love it.

4 stars!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky September 15, 2011 at 6:00 PM

I am going to read this book purely on your recommendation. I am proud of you for reading it and reviewing it.

have you ever read the Vampire Queen series by Joey W Hill? I love that series, have read them all and I highly recommend you at least give it a try!

patricia nesbitt September 15, 2011 at 6:15 PM

I too shall read……though I am nerveous ( not due to potential content teehee I do have alottttttt of kids) because I have recently become a thrill reader in constant search of that…….book……..

Maryse September 15, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Awww thank you Becky, for that wonderful show of support. Joey Hill’s books have been recommended many times, lately and I fully intend on getting to them soon. They sound awesome!

Patricia…. I’m still on the lookout too ;) We’re obsessed aren’t we?

Yvette September 16, 2011 at 7:20 AM

This is a genre that I totally enjoy reading. This book is excellent and brings on so many emotions while you’re reading the story. I did, in fact, cry my eyes out (and I NEVER cry). A word of caution on the Joey Hill vampire series — it is on the darker side, so if you’re new to this genre, I’d suggest starting with Cherise Sinclair’s Shadowlands Series. There are about 5 or 6 books in this series. Its not “too over the top” and I’d suggest for folks just starting to spread their wings in this genre. The romance in the Sinclair series is “off the charts.” Trust me! My 2 cents. Hope this helps.

Lauren September 16, 2011 at 8:38 AM

What a great suggestion. I have read several BDSM books lately and was looking for another good one. I just started reading it after your recommendation and can’t put it down. I have read some good ones and bad ones but this is close to being my favorite in this genre. I agree with previous comments, Shadowlands is great series and so is Joey Hill’s other series Nature of Deries series. Ice Queen and Mirror of my Soul are 2 of my favorites. Kitty Thomas’ books are very good but they are really hard core Master Slave. I think of them as disturbingly good.

Jackie September 17, 2011 at 2:53 AM

Maryse, I could almost feel the heat from your blush as you ‘fessed up to reading this at the start of the review! xxx

Tina September 19, 2011 at 4:54 PM

I don’t usually recommend books but this one made me cry so I had to share it.

Laycie September 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Sobbed my bloody heart out. Didn’t think i was that into Kaden, didn’t really connect. Then that happens and i was devastated! I read the rest of the book with blurry vision!

Maryse September 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM

A very very emotional read… well worth it though, but it tore me up for sure!

patricia nesbitt September 21, 2011 at 7:59 PM

**********warning***************before reading this book make sure you are not in public (like at your kids soccer practice) I couldn’t help it the tears just came. I was shocked that I enjoyed it so much but it was goooooooood. Next time though I will make sure to bring tissues.

Sandie October 23, 2011 at 3:47 PM

I loved this book. As a “subbie” myself. I read these typs of books alot (not as much as vampire books though) I have read all of the Shadowland books as well, but this book reduced me to tears, twice!

Brandy March 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM

just finished the book yesterday and i LOVED it! it was such a sad and heartbreaking story at the same time such a sweet story.. i smiled teared up and then at that ONE particular moment had the ugliest cry going on.. my husband thought something happend then shook his head at me when i told him. no the book is so sad..
I have found myself a little obssesed over BDSM books.. they are SO freakin HOT and have gotten my attention and i dont want to read anything else right now.. lol so i am always on the search for dom/sub books!

jen s July 9, 2012 at 9:28 PM

this was released on amazon this week in kindle edition fyi

Robin July 12, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Ok seriously…out of all books this is the one that choked me up!!! I liked it despite my reluctance too.

Danielle August 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I loved this book. Seth made me laugh in the beginning of the book with his thoughts. I was really LOL, then there I was crying. My husband couldnt believe it, I was crying over a book that was making me laugh at first. The book ends really nice, I even got choked up in one of the letters. I called two of my friends and told them they needed to read it. It was a really nice story and one thing I really liked was the fact it wasnt based on sex. There were times in the book where they just left if off as the couple then went to bed. I really liked that. LOVED IT

Sandra E. August 21, 2012 at 2:20 AM

Where’s my tissue box, dang you Water Works God !!!!!!!! This book for me is one of my top favorite books. I think Seth strikes a chord in all of us when it comes to facing the fear of losing a loved one to an illness they can’t beat. What would we do to honor those wishes? Even though this is fiction, Dalton has opened my eyes to yes there are some people that need BDSM to survive and why to be able too carry on in life. So thank you Maryse for having this book in your 8 books that made me cry because I would never have known about it. And really people, don’t have just a couple of tissue’s handy, you’re gonna need the box.

Megan August 21, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I read this book over the weekend based on your recommendation. Its been 3 days since I finished and I still tear up when talking/writing about it. I absolutely love this book. After finishing it before bed I actually woke up a couple of times during the night feeling a little emotional. You know from the start pretty much how this story will end, but the journey is heartfelt, wrenching, profound, loving… There are moments where I laughed out loud (quite a few times) and times I openly cried (things got a little blurry on several occasions). The bond that Seth and Kaden share as friends is unparalleled. And the deep love that binds Seth, Kaden and Leah is … There are no words. I’ve read plenty of romances and erotic romances and even tripped into BDSM erotica, but this book is so very special. I could go on and on. But instead I’m just going to HIGHLY recommend that others just read it themselves. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Nikki Eddy September 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

I’m surprised I enjoyed this book so much. I wanted something dom/sub after Fifty (my first read of this subject matter) and this fit perfectly, especially because it was kind of an instruction manual to that lifestyle that I never knew was so “normal.” The love between these 3 characters was very powerful. It opened my mind to “the heart wants what the heart wants.” They were devoted to each other, male to male, male to female, female to male in a beautiful loving way. And the sex was pretty hot ;)

Nikki Eddy September 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Ok, i got my reviews confused a little. My comment about “the heart wants what the heart wants” should be intended for Breathless……so many books at once! :)

Sarah G October 20, 2012 at 2:10 PM

I’m very new to the whole romance reading, but after all the hype over 50 Shades I had to check them out, & LOVED them! So I started searching for more like them. I stumbled across your website yesterday(which is now saved in my favorite bookmarks). So based on your suggestion for what to read after 50, I just finished The Reluctant Dom, I loved it! It definitely pulled at my heartstrings. I was wondering if you’d read any other books by Tymber Dalton? If they have the same kind of emotion?

Danielle R September 2, 2013 at 5:16 PM

OMG!!! I had the ugly cry, the loud cry, the “i need to be alone” cry!! I loved, loved, loved this book!!!! THank you so much for the rec!!

Maryse September 2, 2013 at 6:21 PM

YAY!!! I’m glad we got to cry together (even if it was a year or so apart). ;) *hug*

Alfie Gregg March 14, 2014 at 6:46 PM

OMG! You’re not kidding about the teary part. I practically sobbed instantly and mind you it was hard to stop once it’s started rolling. Feels like an idiot crying because of a book. Lucky that I was at home though, otherwise it would definitely be weird crying out on the public. Love, love this book! And thaaaaaank you so much!! Please blog more books similar to this?

Ash May 4, 2015 at 3:37 PM

I’m SOOOO gonna read this one. Thanks for the suggestion. If it makes the reader cringe and cry and sob but it’s also BDSM related it’s right down my alley.

Maryse May 5, 2015 at 11:26 AM

Yay Ash!! Let me know what you think. Not all of ‘em “do it for us” the same, so I get the other one wasn’t affecting you like it did me. Have you read Comfort Food yet? I dunno, maybe you might not like that one, but it’s my favorite “Dark read”. It’s a psych-thriller though, not a love story…

Jade December 22, 2016 at 1:40 PM

I read this book based on your recommendation. It’s definitely heart wrenching… funny thing is now i’ve developed a craving …help please

BTW I love your blog . It’s given me so many lovely books. I have a lot of your recommendations open on separate tabs on my browser for the past 8 months I just go there pick a book and start a new journey. So thank you so much

Maryse December 22, 2016 at 1:48 PM


What a cool message Jade!!! I’m so glad you’re with us and I LOVE that you loved this one, too!!!!

*big hug*

Dee June 10, 2017 at 12:58 PM

Honestly read this book a few days ago and it hit me so HARD! I cried for the first time reading a book, that was how deep it went, I’m not a cryer! Honestly I came to the same conclusion this story was about Seth and Kaden (Platonically) but that love, that love of true friendship, sigh! I hurt for Seth more than Leah I know that sounds weird but I felt like he didn’t get a chance to feel losing this man that was his brother, his pain was there so open to see but he had to be strong. dammit Kaden was perfection, so selfless, so unconditionally giving! I had to mentally switch off after reading this, Looked through my kindle for the most syrupy book I could find to stop my heart twisting in my chest!! A part of me hoped Tymber would take the easy way out and miraculously say tumours are shrinking or something!

Even reading future books in the series especially the holiday one were Seth & Leah host, it still feels incomplete like there’s a huge gap in the picture that’s how well Tymber wrote them for me, I just got to Spank or Treat and Ed gave Seth and Leah Kaden’s last note (This is what made me look for reviews to see if I was being a sappy bitch crying thinking Kaden wouldn’t show up in future books) and Tymber implied Kaden was watching and sigh that made me feel better lol, I’m willing to suspend my wow she’s doing the ghost thing to have that brief glimpse! LOL!

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