“When I beat off later that night, I wanted to know exactly who I was beating off to.”
-Calloway Owens, male fuck-tagonist
Well! Here we are again! As I predicted, even just clicking on the Buttons and Lace link on Facebook means I now get weekly “Fifty Shades fans love this!” or “So dark! So gripping! If you like Fifty, you’ll love this,” shit on my feed. I recently got recommended another series, the Steel Brothers series by Helen Hardt (yes, Steel, exactly the same as Anaesthesia Steel). That, too, had an extract, but I was too uninspired by its description to write about it – just one more ‘sexy smut’ story. But that tripe isn’t what we’re ripping apart today – no no no! What we’re going to take a gagworty glance at today is
the Black Obsidian series!
That’s its name, Black Obsidian. From the name of the first book of three, it is followed by Black Diamond and then, breaking the stone-chain, Black Promise. Why must these so-called ‘Erotica’ series do this? Why must they cling onto a word or title-construction? Is it because the writer thinks they sound mysterious and intriguing when they do that? I would never think that.
But, let us pass the cover of Black Obsidian and venture into the meat. And that saucy little pun was very much intended, as we are almost immediately thrown into the “meat” area within the first scene. What do I mean by this? Well, the protagonist’s “cock [becomes] hard” on the third page.
I am three pages in, and already disgusted. It is not because I think becoming aroused is deviant, but because the protagonist – one of the two characters I will be stuck with for the next however-many hours – is abhorrent in my head. Instead of visualising what our thrilling writer Victoria Quinn wants me to visualise, which is a man drinking “scotch” in a “black suit,” instead I see only a Neanderthalic, sex-obsessed beast ogling the female protagonist. And, should you be optimistic enough to hope that this man becomes more of a personality as the book goes on, you are drastically wrong. Overuse of phrases like “absolutely fuckable” and “beat off later” shatter any and all hope, as well as making my stomach churn. This is not a suave and sophisticated male character; this is a libido in a suit.
So, already I despise this Calloway Owens guy. Luckily, our female fuck-tagonist Rome slaps him in the first scene. She slaps him hard. And I mean this both ways. Of course, we knew Owens was already sporting a flagpole, but, upon being slapped by Rome in a hilarious misunderstanding, he relates to the reader that it “was better than any blow-job”. And yet somehow he didn’t humiliate himself all down his trousers. But here, we can see another thread of the story emerging – a sadomasochistic one. A similar thread popped up in another infamous erotica novel… what a startling and uninspiring coincidence.
Or… is it that sadomasochistic? Being slapped to the point of orgasm honestly seems like quite softcore masochism. And perhaps this would be okay. Everyone has a turn-on, after all. However, I find this scene ridiculous, when it is revealed that Owens is a regular at a sadomasochism spot called “Ruin.” Within “Ruin”, doms lead their subs around “on leashes”, and Calloway has one already whom he says is “the best sub he’s ever had”. From here, we can understand that Calloway is indeed the “dark, twisted asshole” he claims to be, if his desires go this deeply into hurting and being hurt. However, because of this, I fail to see how he could possibly be pushed to ecstasy by a random woman slapping him. Just because she has “perky tits” does not mean the palms of her hands hitting your face are going to be better than your “best sub” giving you a blow-job.
Most likely, Quinn knows nothing about sadomasochism. It all seems like a painful fairy tale as Calloway expresses his thoughts about Ruin. And something everyone knows about fairy tales is that they are so far removed from truth that they can be laughable. For example, something that made me roll my eyes in annoyance was Calloway’s explanation that he and his sub had a “monogamous relationship” which was “rare” “in their world”. Is this fact supposed to make Calloway likeable in my eyes? Just because he has the much more common “monogamous” relationship? No. No, this is simply here so Quinn does not alienate readers. And besides – if Calloway wasn’t so focused on monogamy, there would be practically no story.
But then again, would that be such a bad thing? I have a word for this story – boring. Black Obsidian is so incredibly boring. It manages to make swear-words boring. The word “fuck” crops up so much in the book that I begin to hate reading it. But another reason it is so dull is because it takes so long for anything ‘erotic’ to actually occur. So much of the book is filled with manufactured conflict and painfully terrible attempts at creating realistic characters.
For example, one of the conflicts, as I just mentioned, is Calloway’s insistence on monogamy. For a man so willing and eager to “come in his slacks” and “fuck [a random woman] into a mattress” it seems increasingly unnatural that he simply has to dump his submissive in order to get with her. With a man like this, it seems more believable that he’d simply have both, if he could.
But Calloway dumps her in order to get with Rome… who he doesn’t get with for ages. That’s right. Calloway dumps “the best sub he’s ever had” for a woman he doesn’t fuck for the first time until near the end. So what the hell is the rest of this so-called “erotica” novel filled with? He’s trying to find her, he’s meeting with her, he’s giving her “rules” and then complaining about the rules, he’s pressurising her, he’s “lusting after her”… but he doesn’t actually have sex with her for a long, long time.
And, when this act does finally come around, what happens? He fucks her vanilla. Nothing special. Nothing sadomasochistic. So…
What was the point of all of the Ruin stuff?!
Calloway was so insistent he was “dark”, that he was into “shit most people wouldn’t dream of” but yet here he is, doing Rome “with clothes on” on a “mattress” and it’s the “best orgasm to date!” “Even hotter than when [he] was with [his sub]”! Vanilla sex, no pain apart from “her nails” digging into his arse, in their clothes!
What was the point of this? From the first page I thought I would be in for an amateur sadomasochistic fuck-ride, but no. Not only does it take chapters and chapters of slogging to get to anything that could be considered sexy, but when it does get there, the entire fucking thread of the book is abandoned. At this point, I am practically furious reading it. Attempts at sadomasochism are made, but Calloway stops himself from being “the dictator” he says he is. In fact, let’s look at that Facebook quote one more time:
No, he does not. He doesn’t! Her presence stops him from being “the DOM” the first time, which is the “best” time, according to the “dom” himself. Again, how is this book supposed to be taken seriously if the majority of it vanishes? This is vanilla shit, the S&M shit is practically a weak side-salad.
I never thought I’d ever say this, but at least Fifty Shades of Grey kept its sadomasochism at the forefront the whole way through. Grey stayed true to his fetish, expressed he could only orgasm if he was “hurting” someone, and turned Anastasia away because of it. But Calloway? Nope. No, he manages just fine – in fact better – without hurting Rome.
There is so much more I detest about this book, so much that makes my intestines scream with fury as my mouth fails to form words, but that’s for another day. All in all, this erotica book, this apparent “sadomasochism” story, is not at all deserving of that title. The male is hugely dislikeable and his hubris is bigger than his cock. The female is hardly anything but a mirror for Calloway’s sexiness to be bounced off and into the mind of the reader.
But don’t become that – don’t become a reader. Do not give this book your time, unless you need something to dislodge your lunch. Not just because Calloway talks about his dick too much, but because I feel physically sick from anger.
God. I need to hurt someone now.