At the back of this book, author Kate Kinsey says:
“The stereotype that people who embrace BDSM—or indeed, any kink considered outside the mainstream of ‘normal’—are somehow sick or damaged could not be further from the truth. It takes courage and self-awareness to seek out the things that fulfill and satisfy us. People who do what we do are among the healthiest and happiest people I know.”
I can agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. Those members of the BDSM community I’ve personally met are no more damaged by their involvement with the BDSM lifestyle than any other members of a specific community operating outside the realms of perceived ‘normality’. They’re no more damaged than most of those inside the mainstream of perceived normality. However, because BDSM participants are defined by their involvement with sexual relationships characterised by aspects of power-play, it’s easy to see how these misconceptions can arise.
That said, if it was Kate Kinsey’s intention to write a book that shows the comparative normality of relationships in BDSM, she’s taken a very bold route. Red is not a story that tries to show how everyone within a BDSM community gets along together, tolerating differences and accepting their given roles. Red is a tour de force of writing that is one part murder mystery, one part brutal psychological thriller, one part soap opera and all of this driven by a powerful and compelling undercurrent of eroticism.
What was it about rope, Robyn thought, that even the loose slip of it over her bare skin made her nipples hard? Even as a kid, she’d liked being tied up. When the
neighborhood kids played cowboys and Indians, she always made sure she was an Indian. She sure as hell was an Indian, now. She almost giggled at the thought, but the ropes pulled tighter, and her breath caught in her throat.
“You all right?” he whispered, lips brushing her ear.
“A little tighter. Please.”
The ropes grew taut again, pulling wrists and ankles tight against the mattress. The blindfold—cool, slick satin—blocked out everything but the sound of his voice and the feeling of his hands on her body.
Paul’s gentle fingertips traced from cheek to throat to the first curve of her breasts, lightly brushing her hard little nipples.
She moaned and arched her back. Wanting his fingers to linger, but knowing that the teasing had just begun.
He knew her so well, the location of every nerve ending wired directly to her cunt.
To some it might seem strange that Kinsey is trying to show us the normality of the BDSM community by presenting a narrative the focuses on a brutal murder investigation. However, when you consider the usual tropes of contemporary fiction: what could be more normal than the investigation of a brutal murder? At least, in this story, evidence of sadomasochistic practices is not tantamount to damning evidence.
Red is a powerful, complex and thoroughly engaging story. This is more than a mere titillation of BDSM encounters woven within an unrelated narrative. This is a compelling blend of murder mystery, psychological thriller, soap opera and skilfully driven erotic narrative. Highly recommended.