This is my review of Kasi Alexander‘s book Becoming Sage, the first in her Keyhole series. This series is interesting — it is published by a more traditional romance novel company, but also contains more erotica than an average romance novel, and covers BDSM and polyamory; two topics VERY rarely discussed in romance novels. Kasi is one member of a kinky, poly triad that just so happens to reside here in Colorado, and I’ve been meaning to get to this review forever, to support both a local author, as well as a member of my community.
I have to say, when I finally got around to reading the book, I just picked it up to read in bed until I fell asleep. I kind of romance-noveled myself out in High School – my two friends and I would buy them at used book stores, read them, exchange them, discuss them, etc. By the time I hit college and grad school, I was much more into pure erotic (ie; just the sexy times) than I was romance novels. My concern was reading through this whole book, and thought I was going to have to take a chapter at a time. Boy, was I wrong; I powered through the whole book in one sitting.
To be honest, the first thing that really grabbed me, as a educator of kink and poly communities, was the attention to both detail, and to safety. I cannot discuss how much it annoys me to read stranger erotic (or romance, for that matter) and not have any discussion of safer sex, consent, etc. Kasi makes sure that SSC (safe, sane and consensual) is covered, as well as discussions about becoming fluid bound, not using the same toys on non-fluid bound people, negotiation, etc. While that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this was the hook that got me; a sexy and romantic story that also covered the realism of communication and safer sex. Moreover, it was built into the story, rather than added in later as an after thought.
M/s relationships don’t really get me going, but I could see how this writing could certainly lend itself to one handed reading for those who are attracted to male dominant, female submissive relationships, and Kasi does a great job of discussing the feminist and potentially sexists aspects of them. I do wish that when they were out and about, they had chatted up, or at least seen more female dominant, male submissive, or male/male or female/female relationships, because I do feel as though the stereotype of both the kink and poly communities is a male dominated relationship, when actually, at least in the community here in Colorado (which is what the Keyhole series is based on), there are about 50/50 for male dominants and female dominants.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed the discussion between the two slaves, and the fact that their Sir messed up sometimes. I will say, that as a reader (and this drives me over the edge within the community and on FetLife as well), that the lower case spelling of sunni and sage made it VERY hard for me to read. Having been a proofreader, I kept wanting to take a pen and make three little lines under the s’s. That being said, I get that this is popular affection within the community, and my grammar fetish will do nothing to change it.
Whether you are within the community already, or looking to explore, this is a fabulous book to learn about the dynamics in this type of M/s relationship, as well as learn about negotiation, safewords, etc. Being part of the Denver community, and having met Kasi and her Sir and their third partner, I can definitely see many autobiographical elements in the Becoming Sage book, and felt as though I recognized pieces of the Keyhole club, of Mistress Tonya’s pain processing class, etc, which I really liked. That being said, you don’t need to have played in the Colorado kink community to understand what Kasi is describing, and again, I think this is a great step in the right direction for helping BDSM gain some positive visibility in the more mainstream world…in this case, the world of romance. I eagerly look forward to the publication of the second book in the series, Saving Sunni, to come out this spring!