Book Review

REVIEW: The Naughty Bits Series by Joey W. Hill

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Title: The Naughty Bits Series: The Lingerie Shop et al
Author: Joey W. Hill
Publication Info: Intermix April 15th 2014
ISBN: 9780698135963
Genre: Erotica/Erotic Romance

Book The Lingerie Shop

My real problem with 50 Shades of Grey isn’t the bad writing (though it is bad) or the paper-thin boring-as-fuck chracters (though they ARE), or even, in the abstract, the wild popularity (we all get into romance and erotica from somewhere).  My problem with the 50 Shades phenomenon is the completely bullshit and dangerous view of the BDSM lifestyle, and the idea that people are using the relationship of Ana and Christian as a template for an ideal BDSM experience.

When Christian decides that Ana will make an excellent sub for him, he makes her sign a non-disclosure agreement so she cannot talk to anyone else about BDSM, or anything.  He will not allow her to seek out any information other than what he gives her, and after her first scene with him, he leaves without any sort of aftercare.  Her roommate calls him up, demanding to know what the fuck her did to Ana that had her crying hysterically, and he shows up demanding to know what the hell is wrong with her.

This is not an ideal.  This is terrible, and this is dangerous.  This is not safe, this is not sane, and this is barely consensual.

(Plus the idea that one gets in BDSM because of abuse?  Ugh.  NO.  Ugh, ugh, ugh.)

These books, however?  These are so far on the other side of the spectrum I call them the anti-50 Shades.  They’re hot, they’re kinky, and they model a (fairly) realistic relationship as the dom hero slowly introduces the sub heroine to BDSM, models good behavior with another sub, and pays incredible attention to her language- both verbal and body.  He explains everything he’s doing, allows her to ask questions, and lets her set the pace.

Madison has just inherited a lingere and sex toy shop from her sister, Alice. She’s out of yet another failed relationship, her sister has just died after a rocky and somewhat distant relationship with Madison, and she’s basically a mess.  Logan owns the hardware store next door, and knew Alice very well.  Alice decided that Logan and Madison were perfect for each other, and when she was dying, she made Logan promise to help Madison run the store.

Logan is a well-known and well-connected Dom in the local BDSM scene, and he recognizes the core of a sub in Madison.  He doesn’t jump on that right away, but introduces her to Troy, who is working in the hardware store, but is also with Logan for additional training at the request of his Mistress.

As Logan and Madison get to know each other, he carefully makes forays into if she’d be interested in exploring her sub side.  Her first experience involved a dirty tarot set, instructions to think about what she wants, and a pair of handcuffs, alone, in her house, completely safe and under no one’s ultimate control but her own. 

Throughout the first three parts, the idea that Madison is not just bored in her life, but actively floundering is very present.  She had a job that she was good at, but didn’t like, and a string of failed relationships.  Logan is super intuitive, and can tell there’s a lot of pain in her.  Processing through the failed relationships and the messy relationship with her sister is something he wants to help her with, and not just because he really wants to bang her (though he does) and not just because her sister told him that he needs to help Madison.  He genuinely LIKES her, which it seems like her previous boyfriends didn’t, really.  He also is careful to help her sort through the idea of does she just want to dabble, or seriously enter into a BDSM relationship. 

A second experience is watching, and lightly participating in, a scene with Logan and Troy, again with Logan both explaining and demonstrating the kind of communication he’s talking about.  Madison takes a try at dominating Troy, with both Logan and Troy’s Mistress supervising to make sure things remain safe and sane.  So she has a resource to go to, and then, when Troy’s Mistress takes over, Madison sees how it works with a romantic couple, and the little things that are done to protect Troy’s safety. 

Even when Madison and Logan do a scene on their own, it’s carefully orchestrated and involves a lot of communication on both sides.  There’s a point where Madison rubs her lips together, and notes to herself that they’re dry, and Logan immediately goes and gets a damp towel and a cup of water.  He’s paying attention to all of her cues.  Those first sessions don’t involve pain, just control. 

Hill did this all deliberatly.  I’ve read a lot of BDSM erotica that’s straight up fantasy- sure there’s a safeword thrown in here and there, but the power dynamics are usually pretty screwed up and there isn’t a lot of negotiation.  This is framed as not that- this is how it should work.  Physical, mental, and emotional safety is as important as pleasure.  Learning how to learn, and learning how to negotiate, responding to your partner and understanding your own limits is all part of the deal, and Hill covers all of that!  She also talks about Madison's deepest fantasy and has Logan figure out a way to safely and sanely realize it, which is something I've never seen depicted.  Dan Savage talks about figuring out ways to realize fantasies, but it looks like part 4 will realize that.

I also like Madison and Logan as people.  Logan is a bit too good to be true, but he’s so not a dick.  He’s an alpha, but not an alphole, and he never uses that to push Madison any where she doesn’t want to go.  He’s careful to judge if she’s balking because she’s scared, or honestly doesn’t want to.  

Madison is a mess, and as someone who’s been going through a messy patch of life, I can relate.  So hard.  She capable of love, but is scared to be vulnerable again.  She feels like she’s fucked up everything she’s touched, and the idea that Logan wants to be with her is so alien.  Learning to allow herself to be loved and to risk it is scarier to her than anything else Logan represents. 

Look, you can take your 50 Shades and shove them.  These are SO MUCH better in all the ways.  The first two (The Lingerie Shop and The Training Session) are out now.  Part three, Bound to Please, is out in June, and The Highest Bid, is out in July.  


Naughty Bits Part I: The Lingerie Shop is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Naughty Bits Part II: The Training Session is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Naughty Bits Part III: Bound to Please is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Naughty Bits Part IV: The Highest Bid is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Dora says:

    “As Logan and Madison get to know each other, he carefully makes forays into if she’d be interested in exploring her sub side.  Her first experience involved a dirty tarot set, instructions to think about what she wants, and a pair of handcuffs, alone, in her house, completely safe and under no one’s ultimate control but her own. “

    Fo’ real. I’m not into the BDSM lifestyle, but from what I know about it, it’s actually all ABOUT reading and caring about other people, not just domination, so it always bothers and unsettles me that the lion’s share of BDSM heroes usually just immediately “recognize” that the heroine is “meant” to be a sub, and relentlessly go after her until she caves and realizes that he knows what she wants regardless of what SHE says she wants. Often in these books, even if a woman says no or says she isn’t interested, it’s seen as romantic and hot when the guy continues to pursue and dominate her until she gives in… rather than scary as hell.

    I’m curious as to if I’d like this more than Hill’s other book, Nature of Desire. I mean, I enjoyed that, but it felt like it should have been about two-thirds the length it was, and even for a romance novel the characters were TOO perfect, both in physical and every other sense. (Plus, the fact that the mystery that was supposed to be the main plot was ignored for 200+ pages felt a little frustrating.) I’ll give this a shot when/if the series is completed and ever released in one single volume, which is how I prefer to do my reading.

  2. 2
    Carmene says:

    Question, how would you compare this to 50 Shades of Grey?

  3. 3
    astrakhan says:

    I know it’s not the same person (especially since Joey Hill is a woman) but I kept thinking that this was written by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King and the writer of “Locke and Key” and “NOS4A2”. There’s a thought for you: a Stephen King-style take on 50 Shades…

  4. 4

    a Stephen King-style take on 50 Shades…”

    See Gerald’s Game.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    For a variety of reasons, I don’t read a lot of BDSM erotica, but Joey Hill + RHG’s recommendation is making me very curious. I think I have to read this.

  6. 6
    Abby says:

    Sold at the mention of Dan Savage. LOVE the Savage Lovecast and so excited to hear there’s a BDSM series out there based on the realities of communications, negotiation, and mutual pleasure and respect.  YAY!

  7. 7
    redheadedgirl says:

    Carmene, is that a serious question?

  8. 8
    Laura says:

    As far as I am concerned, Joey Hill is the best BDSM fiction writer, hands down.  There are a few others I enjoy, but Ms. Hill manages to combine both romantic fantasy and the realities of BDSM in a believable way. I will say, some of her books work for me more than others)

    @Carmene; I recommended a Joey Hill book to my niece after she finished her 50 Shades book-her response “Aunt Laura, that was just gross”.

  9. 9
    CarrieS says:

    Dirty Tarot, eh?  I wonder…where one picks that up…asking for a friend…whistles nonchalantly…

  10. 10
    Christine says:

    Joey Hill’s plots always intrigue me and then I have to stop and remind myself that they’re still erotica, which isn’t my cuppa… Oh well.

  11. 11
    Cammy says:

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou for commenting on bdsm done wrong in some books. This is the problem I had with one of the Ward books.  It’s scary to think someone might get ideas that 50 shades is healthy bdsm.  I’ve been lucky in my real life experiences with it and learned exactly what it should be.

  12. 12
    Tracy V. Nickels says:

    I read the First Fifty Shades books. Yuck! I still have not read any of the Naughty Bits. Just
    *bits and pieces, excerpts. I always look forward to Joey’s Books. This one is very interesting. Hopefully please? In Print?

  13. 13
    DonnaMarie says:

    Thank you, RHG.  I’m not a big fan of this genre, and yet I adore Joey W. Hill. She walks the walk and talks the talk with so much authenticity and respect for what she’s putting out there.  Her novels have a depth of character and real emotion that is rarely found in BDSM erotica. I just finished one by an author I generally adore, and it still went the one look=tie me up and spank me even though I’ve never even had a real sexual relationship before route.

  14. 14
    Yaara says:

    Instant buy, and not only because I just listened to Goofy reading 50 Shades of Grey for the 10th time. (Yes, it’s just as awesome as you think. For those who haven’t listened: http://pietro-wanda.tumblr.com/post/87790073703/prozdvoices-request-goofy-reads-from-50-shades )

  15. 15
    Tracy V. Nickels says:

    To live vicariously through any authors work. When one has no life.( 62 and single)
    Some times they can hit close to home. Makes you think.

  16. 16
    LeslieB says:

    I have no real life experience with BDSM but I’ve read most of Joey’s books and shake my head when I read other author’s books that try portray a dom/sub relationship in a way that barely scrapes the surface of what Joey shows us. There was only one book where she seriously missed the mark, Mistress of Redemption, where an evil sub is punished for his crimes by rape in order to be redeemed. I deleted that puppy from my kobo library. All the others are keepers.

  17. 17

    It was that awful? How could a sub be evil? Since now I’m not going to get the book.
    What did he do, turn on a Mistress or Master and beat the snot out of them?

  18. 18
    LeslieB says:

    He topped from the bottom (yes Joey taught me what that means) and used the vulnerabilities of his mistress against her, turning her into a quivering wreck of self-doubt and uncertainty with his evil mind games. Only the love of a good artist sub saved her (in another book). In Mistress of Redemption, supernatural forces got involved and put big things up his rear end until he saw the error of his ways.

  19. 19

    Okay….Nuff said then.

  20. 20
    Anon for this post says:

    The major problem I have with BDSM romance/erotica is that so frequently the main characters are semi-pro BDSM people, folks who are significant players in the local BDSM scene, own a BDSM club, have a dungeon in their house, etc. A lot of them also pair BDSM with other kinks, like semi-public sex, groups, etc., and the characters often become part of their local BDSM community. I want stories to acknowledge issues of safety and consent, but boy, any time a description – and this is startlingly common, to me – starts by explaining that the hero is a Dom in the local scene, my incipient book interest just dies! YES, people need safewords and consent and discussion, but I wish there were some middle ground between the very silly 50 Shades knockoffs and the many other BDSM books that are about local tow truck drivers who are Doms or rock stars who own a BDSM club and are Doms. I just can’t connect to those stories. And honestly, I think it’s kind of questionable to represent the people who do things like this in their bedrooms as all being really into the trappings of accessories and multiple partners and BDSM clubs, when I think there are probably large numbers of couples doing things kind of like this in their sexual lives, without ever necessarily saying “We’re a D/s couple now, you’re my sub, let’s go collar-shopping.”

    Cara McKenna is the only writer I’ve found so far who writes emotionally complex things about adults in BDSM-y relationships, without the “he’s a local Dom” thing.

  21. 21
    Brynhild says:

    So I’m reading the first one and am less than enthused, which is disappointing. My problem is that Madison’s sister and Logan are both extremely presumptuous. Maybe it’s because I’m not all that well-versed in the world of BDSM fiction, but I’m getting exactly the opposite impression that RHG did. I feel like Logan is definitely pushing Madison into it. Just because she owns a sex shop (and I’m getting pretty weirded out by Alice’s preoccupation with getting Madison to sub) doesn’t mean she’s automatically interested in talking about sex as soon as she meets someone. I mean, I’ve been reading for an hour and he’s already showing her a cage he made.

    And I get the thing about pros. It would be kind of nice to read about a couple with no previous experience recognizing that it’s something they’d like to try and both of them are starting from scratch, as well as there being flexibility in the power dynamic of the relationship. There are SO MANY books out there with female subs and alpha doms that it starts to feel very black and white- doesn’t anyone ever switch it up?

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