June 29th, 2010

(Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Secret Circus of Pain and Degradation by Fulani; Pink Flamingo Publications, 2010)

It had started, if not innocently, then with only with a lightly wicked sense of fun.

“Hmm,” Amy mused, covertly admiring the lean, muscled form of a circus-hand as he walked past, checking the guy-ropes. “The last time I was taken to a circus must have been twelve years ago, and I’m sure it was, well, not quite so abandoned.”

Paula looked at her with concern. “But you’d only have been about eight then,” she observed. “And you probably went to an afternoon show. Didn’t you like what we saw?”

Amy smiled, a slight twist of the mouth and a glint of cat-green eyes that didn’t quite reveal her thoughts. “On the contrary, maybe I liked it too much…”

The performance the two women have just attended was titillating; but there are other, darker performances given by this particular circus. Driven by curiosity, Amy and Paula attend the special after-hours show, where they are selected as “volunteers” for the hypnotism demonstration… and come to hours later as the circus’ newest recruits, restrained and forced to submit to the special training required by the sadistic ringmaster and his henchmen. It’s an inversion of the classic dream of running away to join the circus—here is a circus that runs away with you! Well, with them, anyway. But you’re free to imagine yourself in their places…

The Secret Circus is one of male domination and female submission. 113 pages of very well-written prose cover a wide range of power exchange acts—bondage, caning, collaring, flogging, humiliation, objectification, piercing, predicaments, training, wax play, whipping and more (I alphabetized those so as not to give away any plot sequences!); oh, and lots of sex, woven into an engaging plot.

A friend asked me, as I was reading this, if it would be a good book for him to give to his shy and conventional wife, in hopes of opening her up to slightly kinkier sex.

Well… no. There are other books out there that slowly introduce the mindset behind domination and submission—but this is not one of them. The audience for Secret Circus already knows the difference between domination and assault, and understands the mindset of a submissive who finds freedom in the act of surrendering control. Don’t pick up a book called The Secret Circus of Pain and Degradation if you’re not sure if a swat to the behind could ever feel good. But do pick it up if you’d like a mature erotic novel with strong BDSM themes.

A plot device I particularly loathe is the very common one of some character who “lectures” the audience through the means of “explaining” to some other character what is happening. “But before I kill you, Mr. Bond, let me show you exactly how my doomsday machine works.” That sort of thing. I hate that! And the Secret Circus has none of that. The two female protagonists are new to the lifestyle, but Fulani knows the difference between his characters and his readers, and treats both with respect. It’s a tricky thing, really, to show the evolution of a character without talking down to a more knowledgeable audience, and this book does it well, with the emphasis on showing, not telling.

The pacing of the plot is also appropriate. Amy and Paula don’t roll over and submit to new pleasures in five pages. Their training unfolds at a believable pace, with mixed feelings and reactions and inner turmoil described convincingly.

As the two women struggle and change and submit, other plot elements emerge, including a raid against the circus by a disgruntled private client, and the question of whether the traveling circus might be able to adapt to a permanent, stationary position in the city.

A circus theme allows for a variety of characters and types and scenes. I actually know a number of professional circus-type performers, so I was prepared to have to suspend belief a bit and not argue that this juggling act couldn’t be done, that aerialists would never behave like that, etc.; but I didn’t have to. The showmanship was believable as well as interesting. There is, of course, a overtone of exaggeration throughout—it’s fiction—but nothing that jars.

Am I allowed to say this in a review? It’s what my friends all asked me… “Did it pass the ‘wetness test’?”

Yes.

Oh my, yes.

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The Secret Circus of Pain and Degradation is available as a print book and an e-book from Pink Flamingo Publications. Click here to order and to read an excerpt from the first chapter.

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