[This is the text of the book review from episode 017 of the podcast.]
This episode’s book review is actually three books on Female Led Relationships by Nookie. She goes by NookieNotes on Fetlife. Some of her books are under MsNN.
Before we get started: I received these books for free in exchange for an honest review.
The first book is She Makes the Rules: Create the FLR (Female Led Relationship) of His and Her Dreams, which is the basics of FLRs. What it is, why people would want one—both men and women—and how to go about attaining and building the sort of relationship that will make both people involved happy.
The second book is She’s in Control: A Guide to Finding and Developing Your Lover’s Inner Domme. This one is geared towards D/s relationships with a female in control and a male in the submissive role.
The third is Slave to Her Whim: A Guide to Finding Your Passion and Freedom in Total Power Exchange and is, as the title suggests, aimed at people interested in M/s style relationships with a woman in charge.
So, this topic was both new and not new territory for me. New in terms of strictly heterosexual relationships, as most types of power exchange relationships can be practiced by same sex or opposite sex couples (or groups) but also not new, as many of the concepts apply to any power exchange. Or any healthy relationship between two people who care about one another.
Let’s take it one book at a time.
She Makes the Rules. Create the FLR (Female Led Relationship) of His and Her Dreams
In this one, the author defines an FLR thusly:
Most often, the term refers to a romantic heterosexual relationship arrangement where the woman is in charge.
Then she goes on to say:
As you research FLRs more, you may see them referred to as ‘loving female authority’ relationships, ‘female led marriage’ (FLM), ‘wife led marriage’ (WLM), ‘happy wife, happy life’ (HWHL), and other names.
She talks about different types of FLRs and under the D/s heading is careful to point out:
…an FLR does not require a submissive male. It simply requires a man willing to follow his lady’s lead in the relationship.
She also says:
He is a man who follows, but does not necessarily identify as or act submissive.
This is a concept some people may have a difficult time grasping. Think of it like the military—very nearly everyone in the military is following someone else’s orders but we don’t think of anyone in the armed forces as being submissive. The idea of not needing to be submissive to following the lead of a superior person is echoed and expanded upon much more articulately than I’m doing here Dr Rubel’s essay in Paradigms of Power, which I discuss and reviewed in episode 13.
This was also one of the areas where the books were new to me—all three are good at addressing the specific issues that arise in power exchange relationships where ‘traditional’ or socially sanctioned gender roles are reversed. Both from the point of view of the woman and the man. Because there are significant differences.
She talks about the reasons why either women or men want an FLR and the best ways to make it happen (for either party.) She also addresses fears either party might have—it’s the sort of book a person who wants an FLR might give to someone or would at least help them understand what their partner was frightened of.
One of the ‘negatives’ for women was ‘Everyone Will Tell You What to Do’
Yeah, seems a bit backwards. It is.
Scenario: He asks you to take control, then tries to tell you how, when and where.
This is common.
Simply make it clear that you are open to suggestions and input, but you will run things as you see fit (since he put you in charge), and he can suck it up, or you can stop FLR.
Under a section called ‘I’m just not sure’ for people who are… well… just not sure, she says:
FLR is fully consensual. Both of you choose to practice FLR, and either can end FLR whenever you like.
This is true about any title or activity or role in the kink spectrum. If you choose to try something it doesn’t mean you’re committing to it forevermore. No one is going to say: Well you did that thing that one time so now that’s who and what you are, the end! … Well, some people may do that, but those aren’t the people whose voices you want to listen to, as they are judgmental dickpencils.
The author recommends taking it slowly or having a trial period in the beginning, which are sound ideas. Then she gets into some ethically dubious territory in a sectioned entitled ‘The Sneak Approach’.
This is what you do if, after you’ve hinted, or even outright mentioned it and received no positive response. She does warn that people generally don’t like to be manipulated so to use the techniques at your own risk. Then she goes on to explain how a man wishing to have an FLR might go about sneakily procuring one and then how a female might. As a person who is 1000% on the side of open communication (and who has been in a situation where, after I’d explicitly explained why no means hell fuck no and the other person kept trying to manipulate their way into my life) this section made me want to stab someone in the eye. BUT if it somehow works for you and it’s worth the risk to you, good luck and Godspeed. I mean that, because both techniques require far more work than straight up conversation. Both techniques sounded exhausting, quite frankly, but I could also see how they’d work.
There’s information on how to get started building your FLR once you’re ready to take the plunge. In this section is a list of qualities of a good Dominant that could apply to any D-type not just female Dommes.
One was to be In Control she says:
To lead means to have control over others, and the first level of that control is having control over yourself.
The reason a good leader needs control is to provide a safe place in the relationship for your mate. A place where the rules are clear and understandable and fair.
And those are the reasons I (and probably many others) find power exchange relationships so attractive. Vanilla relationships seem like a game where the rules keep changing. Just tell me the rules—you can even run the game, because I certainly don’t want to—and I’ll let you know if I want to be involved with that game. If so, this will be great! If not, no hard feelings—I wish you all the best in finding someone who’s up for your type of game.
Strike my earlier comment—Vanilla relationships look more like neighboring nations. Some get along splendidly side-by-side, trade agreements are equitable and all that. Others are constantly undermining one another and, eventually, land-mining one another. Relationships are supposed to be enjoyable, where both people get what they need. Like a game! Ha-ha! ‘Yay, I’m so glad I have you in my life!’ Not, ‘See you in hell, muthafucka!’ All is NOT fair in love and war.
Onto the second book—She’s In Control: A Guide to Finding and Developing Your Lover’s Inner Domme.
As stated earlier, this is geared for people looking for a D/s FLR relationship.
Something that the author does well in all of the books is keep people in realityland. Near the start of this one she says:
No matter what you’ve read before, no matter what movies you’ve watched, there is no one-size-fits-all (or one true way) solution to creating the relationships of your dreams. Your relationship will start off messy. It’ll start off disorganized, and it may even stay that way. But more importantly, it’ll be personal, unique, and suited to the two of you.
She’s always careful to stress that, though it’s important to check your fantasies at the door, real life with be much more fulfilling, if you give it a chance.
This book has stories and information from a few different Dominants and one submissive, which I always enjoy. It’s fun and informative to hear how people practice and live their kink.
Like both of the other books, this one has information that is applicable to all power exchange—or even just kinky people. Like:
What feels right for you is what works. Not what anyone else does or says.
And I really appreciated her definition of D/s:
D/s is the part of BDSM that happens in the head.
It’s the ‘other’ complement to bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism, the primarily physical pursuits.
There’s an outstanding section on neurochemicals and how they work during kink play, but it’s too long to quote here. If you’re a science nerd that will make your toes wiggle with glee like mine did.
There’s a glossary of useful terms. Mmmm glossary.
Then two sections on How D/s can improve your relationship and How it can cheapen it. In the latter, there’s this:
Don’t make the mistake of trying to create a D/s relationship dynamic just for you. Doing that just casts the most important person in your life into a living doll role, denying her the chance to grow and become her own person, and your domme.
There’s a section entitled Why Masculine Men Love D/s. It contains this quote:
Pleasing a woman is not a weak thing to do. It requires that you be 100% aware of who you are and your own worth. It takes strength of character to do things you don’t want to do for someone, just because they told you to.
There was a guy interviewed on Passion and Soul—his name escapes me now—he had TWO female Dominants. One was military based—Leather, I think and the other was very feminine. He had a military background and was a beefy, strong dude. That’s a lot of dominance, man. Respect. I couldn’t do that. Anyone who thought he was a wimp would be in for a surprise indeed.
There’s a list of pros for why a woman should consider it, some D/s mythbusting, how to negotiate—including all sorts of things to consider and discuss during negotiation.
This book has a chapter on sneaky stuff, too, like the previous one.
Then she talks about the Vending Machine Mentality. Where men think if they put in certain acts of niceness they get sex out.
Outside of marriage this manifests as Nice Guy Syndrome. You know, Nice Guys. They put in spending time with women they claim to be friends with and insist on buying dinner or whatnot and eventually get angry when the woman doesn’t have sex with them.
Because women are sex vending machines.
Here’s what our author has to say:
We love it when you do things because you love us… When you do it because you think doing it will get you something you want, we resent that. We don’t like to be used for what you can get out of us.
We want to be loved, adored and appreciated for who we are. What you get out of us should be the icing, the bonus on the cake of our relationship, not a transactional affair with the warmth and charm of a pinned beetle collection.
There’s a section on training yourself, as a way of training your woman to be dominant. Meaning, if you start doing as she asks, immediately and cheerfully, she’ll start asking, then telling, more frequently.
You want a dominant woman. You can’t afford to let resentment show when you are asked or told to do something you don’t want to do.
You are training yourself.
Then there’s some more nerdage about the Reticular Activating System, which is why once you buy a certain type of car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. The car was there before, you just didn’t notice because your brain was filtering it out. It’s in reference to looking for new ways to serve and focusing on all the ways your wife is being an excellent Domme. Once your mind is focused on serving, you’ll see ways to do so just, all over the shop.
There’s a section on your first scene with more caution about keep expectations in check and taking it slowly so you don’t scare the poor woman away right off the bat.
Finally, more information on contracts, day-to-day life, how to handle 24/7 if you have kids, safety, and other bits and bobs.
The final book in the trilogy is Slave to Her Whim: A Guide to Finding Your Passion and Freedom in Total Power Exchange, which is currently off of Amazon for editing, but I will add the link (and cover image) once it’s back up.
There is a lot of very useful info here for the male s-type interested in finding a female D-type for an M/s or Total Power Exchange relationship.
I particularly liked this quote early on:
The perfect TPE or M/s relationship, no matter what form it takes, is one that meets the needs of both humans and also supports love and growth in the relationship.
The books tend to be written more towards the male person almost as a sort of, ‘Look, sonny Jim, let’s slow the fantasy bus down a little and be realistic and you can have more than you ever dreamed and it will be amazing!’
This quote explains a bit about what goes into being a Domme (or any D-type):
A good Master cares and wants to make sure that you are being guided correctly, are growing within your role, that you are thriving, that you stay healthy, that you are taken care of, and more.
Not unlike having a puppy or a child. That is a huge responsibility to accept.
So, it’s not just you giving. It is both of you. What you do for She and what she does for you is a mutual exchange, reliant on two humans, just like any other relationship.
There’s a section on how to approach Dominants online, which includes this bit:
The important thing is to keep in mind that no matter how many hundreds of women you may have messaged without a positive response, the next one is still a real, live, human being on the other side of that internet line.
…This may be your 800th message, but it’s her first one from YOU.
Which leads into this section:
Let’s look at some of the “common” phrases Masters and Dominants of all kinds get to receive online, and how we translate them inside our minds…
[I am a slave, but it takes a really strong Master to control me. I haven’t met anyone who really can take control of me yet.] I have no idea what I really want. If the relationship fails, it is because the Master wasn’t Mastery enough. Not because of crappy communication.
[I enjoying serving just for the joy of serving.] A week from now, I’m going to be in the online forums whining about how my Master never plays with me sexually.
[I wish to be a sex slave.] I can’t get laid, so I am trying this website to see if it will be easier here.
[I do love to be forced to dress as a sissy slut.] I think being a woman is humiliating.
[I don’t go to events very often because of my schedule/they are boring/no one there really knows what they are doing.] I am selfish. I am only interested in meeting someone if they can cater to my fetishes. I don’t like being near old/young/fat people. I am only interested in a Dominant if they fit into a 24” waist.
[I don’t do drama.] I am a walking soap opera.
[I will do whatever you want.] I am into some very specific shit. I want you to divine that psychically and if you do not, I will stop talking to you with no explanation.
[I have no limits.] I have never played before, I have no imagination, and so I have no idea what a Dom might do to me, or I’m not going to show up.
After a bit more advice on constructing a worthy introductory message, she says this
That [type of message] helps counteract the feeling many dominant women get from messages from slaves (especially men), of being seen as nothing more than a fetish/fantasy provider, rather than a human being.
There was a recent episode of The People of Kink with AliceinBondageLand that focused on how to approach a Dominant and she spoke about this to some depth. I’ve heard it called viewing Dominant women as P.F.D.S.s or Personal Fetish Delivery Systems. I think it’s a holdover from the vanilla culture of male entitlement to female bodies. So, even though the man is “submissive” he still has a sort of “I want this and this and this and this” attitude. And you owe it to me. The woman says, “Well, what do I get?” “Oh, you get to do all those things to me!”
I mean, I get canned messages from guys telling me what they want in a Domme and I’m listed as a sub and a lesbian. This doesn’t even require reading a bio. Just look to the right of my photo. I can’t imagine what actual Dommes deal with.
Something AliceinBondageLand talked about was that submissive men online are always whinging about the lack of Dominant women, but in real life you see plenty of Dominant females. Online the ladies are, well, “I want this and this and this and you get to do those things to me! Aren’t you lucky!” so they either don’t go online or they pretend to be men.
So, fellas, there are plenty of Dominant women out there, but you’ve scared them away by being impolite. Read this book and pay attention. There’s some excellent advice here.
There’s also information on contracts, negotiating (more reality-checks here).
I have a paperwork fetish, so new information on contracts is always welcome and she recommended this:
Before entering a contract, I suggest that every slave should first define their skill level in each area of service that you wish to enter into, just as if you’re an employee applying for a work position.
By doing this, you will know where you are strong, and where you lack, and will be able to more easily match your needs with the right Miss.
If course, another benefit is that then your Ma’am has a clear and concise self-assessed record of where you should be held to the highest standard.
Another good option would be to create that self-assessment, and work with your Goddess to get her ratings on your skills as well, so you can see where you agree, and where you might be off in your estimates, or too humble in your determination.
There’s an excellent section on qualities desired in slaves that would apply to any slave, not just ones in an FLR.
The section on slave positions included Leather, Gorean and Story of O which was really interesting. I had heard of all of these, but hadn’t read specifics of how they were to be performed. I liked the Gorean nestle, where you’re commanded to cuddle, basically. Yes, please.
There are two sections on the types of Mistresses and slaves, with the note that many people will be a mix of more than one.
Then there’s a section that shows how each combination of Mistress and slave style would work together. It was an excellent source of writing prompts for kinky erotica, really. I particularly liked:
Sadist + Masochist: Giver of pain, meet lover of pain. Enjoy!
Lazy (as in a Lazy Dominant) and Masochist: Not a good match. The masochist needs that pain, and when the lazy Master brings herself to do it, it probably won’t be up to the standard needed.
What will often happen from there is the maso will continue to act out, more and more, trying to bring out the fiery pain delivery you crave, and will probably just end up annoying the lazy Domme.
I get a picture of a guy in a full gimp suit poking a woman in a bathrobe, who has her feet up, with a yard stick or something. Just, poke poke poke poke poke poke poke and all she does is wave it away like a mosquito.
There was all sorts of other practical advice including things service-oriented submissives like myself would find useful.
Near the end she has this to say about service:
The small things are what make a slave a slave. Anyone can ask a man to take out the garbage. Any man can do it. But a slave doing it without being asked and doing it right—cleaning up any rips, reloading the bag, and even more, seeing that the can is dirty and needs to be cleaned…
That is service.
No, no one expects you to read minds. But it is expected of you to observe and look for ways to do whatever your tasks are better.
Better than average. Better than you are told to do. And better than you did six months ago.
The small things matter. And by attending to the small things, you will be a better slave, because the large things will fall into place.
There’s also information about collars and collaring ceremonies, as well as how to handle the dissolution of relationships gracefully.
My only complaint about this one was the number of typos. Most books these days have more typesetting problems than in previous years—even from larger houses—as copy editors are being cut left right and center, but even for an indie, it was a little beyond the pale for me. Content-wise, though, it was quite useful and if you’re not a spelling, punctuation fascist like I am then you’ll be fine. Even if you are, it wasn’t overwhelming, but it was enough to give me an eye twitch. Maybe because I read it in a day. The book has been taken off Amazon for editing and will be back up soon so I’m guessing that’s going to be corrected.
Of the three books, the second and third were better-written than the first, which was a little more casual than what you’d want in an instructional text, but the author has clearly honed her skills. Each of the books was useful for it’s specific group—whichever one it was speaking to—beginners uninterested in kink, people looking for D/s or those interested in M/s.
I’d definitely recommend any of these for people looking for a solid foundation on FLR. 4/5 for the She Makes the Rules, 5/5 for She’s in Control and 4/5 for Slave to her Whim unless they fix the typos then it’s 5/5