BLOG REVIEW: The Real Mason by Julia Devlin

28y.o. first-grade teacher believed things were very promising in her 6-month romance with Hero.  
So, after a wonderful night together, it shocked her to hear demolitions-expert Hero suddenly break up with her.
Her demand for his honest reasons forces him to confess his preference for BDSM. It shocks him when she considers trying it with him, despite his warnings and BDSM-education requirements.

The whole experience gives her mixed feelings, causing her to need some space to evaluate things. What does she decide? 

I enjoyed this quick-paced and steamy novella. As short as it is, it had emotional depth and character growth. It tackled some heavy lifestyle issues that made both characters thing hard about their limits. I’m amazed at how the problem and its resolution was realistically resolved in a good time span in this novella. We get a good grasp of Hero and heroine. Heroine is a sweet and ordinary teacher who’s lived life enough at 28 to know what she wanted. She appreciates her considerate and attractive boyfriend and is content with her life. Hero is a demolitions expert who is in an unusual relationship with heroine because he’s doing the usual dating and romance thing with her that he’s never done with anybody else in his adult life. He wanted to be with her so badly that he was willing to step out of his usual world and immerse himself in hers. But suppressing his sexual preferences the last 6 months taught him that he was compromising himself and his romance with heroine by withholding an important part of himself from her. As difficult as it was, breaking up with her was the only solution he could come up with.  He did it because he loved her and wanted to minimize her hurt. He believed that she couldn’t accept his BDSM preferences and felt bad enough for misleading her about him being this sweet and ‘normal’ boyfriend the last 6 months. He didn’t expect her resistance, much more her willingness to give BDSM a try.  

Heroine wasn’t a pushover. She had a good head on her shoulders and knew what she wanted. She loved Hero and didn’t want to let their relationship go without giving it her best shot. So, her trying out BDSM was her attempt to try to bridge this gap Hero viewed as impossible. Her resolve to save their romance was stronger than any fear Hero tried to instill in her about BDSM. She did the research per Hero’s demand before they tried anything.  I loved how careful and deliberate both were being about this huge potential change in their relationship. I also liked how realistic her initial experiences plus her new knowledge of BDSM were portrayed. They weren’t romanticized. We’re given the good, bad, and awkward of it for her. And I liked that it discomfited her enough to take Hero on his suggestion to really think things through about whether she wanted a future with him.

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It took her 1 whole month to assess things and get back with Hero.  She had to come to grips with what BDSM would mean for her. It wasn’t so much her relationship with Hero but her view of herself that was the harder work.  The domination-submission experience she had with Hero both excited and scared her. And I liked that she carefully assessed what that was about. It became clearer that it was her own beliefs and preferences (both old and new) that rooted her fears. Hero had been explicit about what he wanted and what their boundaries were re: BDSM. And she experienced him to be a considerate and trustworthy man in and out of bed. So his part was clear. She just had to figure out whether she was comfortable accepting what he offered. This meant looking deeply at herself. Her wants, expectations, and limitations. And she gave herself time to get used to the choices she made. She gave herself time to let go of her old beliefs and expectations and start embracing the sexy, darker, and more adventurous side of herself.  She needed the 1 month to do all this.

I liked the incidental power play that her 1-month break did to Hero. Although he set the boundaries and made his case, the ball was on heroine’s court to decide whether she wanted what he offered or not. Even when things seemed hopeless and the temptations for sex with others were available, he stayed true to heroine because he only wanted her and hoped she would come back to him. It made him realize how much he really loved and valued her in his life. And his experiences with her were above what he could find with anyone else.

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Her choice set the new direction for their relationship. I liked that she clarified their relationship and what she was comfortable with. It put them on a more even ground, even with their dominant-submissive sexual roles. It highlighted that it was only one part of their relationship and the main element was that they loved and respected each other. Hero was really a sweetheart who just happened to revel in being a sexual dominant. In some way, it pushed heroine, who was also a sweetheart, to embrace her darker sexual impulses. I wouldn’t be surprised if she turned the table on him sexually at some point in the future and took on the occasional dominatrix role.

Highly recommended.

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