Those of you who have been visiting my blog for a while will I’m sure remember the name Stanley Jeffries from previous reviews. His ‘Journey Into Chastity’ trilogy nearly ruined my eyesight, not quite in the way you might imagine though… I was sent a PDF which I could only read in tiny writing on my Nexus 7 and as much as it hurt my eyes I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened.
To me, Stanley’s true talent lies in the characters he creates and his new book ‘The Apprentice Dominatrix’ is no different in this regard. Indeed, as Stanley told me himself he fell in love with the main character (Alina) and you can see why that wouldn’t be hard to do.
I guess I should confess to a slight vested interest before I go any further, since Stanley did send me parts of this novel for my feedback during the creative process. I wouldn’t wish to claim any great input or anything, I think he just wanted to know which bits I thought worked, which was pretty much all of it to be honest, I do remember giving him some thoughts which I hope were helpful, though I can’t honestly remember what they were…
The one thing that I do remember saying to Stanley right off the bat was that I didn’t like the whole ‘Eastern European/Russian’ thing, only because it’s a bit of a cliche to have a Russian Dominatrix (with that accent, you know what I mean)… however, now that I’ve read the whole story, it makes a lot more sense, and on the second time of reading it really didn’t bother me at all. Besides for the story to work it does need this element of the poor girl from a poor background and it works well. Maybe other people won’t think of this as an issue anyway, it just a personal pet hate, but when the story is of this quality then I think it’s perfectly fine.
Anyway, to get to the point…
Alina’s life in Romania isn’t exactly a bed of roses and when a local recruitment drive for models hits her town she goes along to see if she can improve her lot. While she’s waiting to be seen Alina is approached by a couple of slightly shady looking characters who take her aside and offer her a way out of poverty and an opportunity to not only help her family (including her alcoholic mother) but also to attend her dream business school in Oxford and finish her studies while living a life of luxury.
Of course there’s a catch, which comes in the form of one Charles Waddingtron, a sexually submissive inventor who is willing to fund Alina’s studies (and more) while she lives with him as man and wife, while privately being his full time Mistress. Needless to say Alina is less than over the moon when she gets to meet Charles as far as physical attraction goes but shows herself to have a good heart and applies herself to the task she has accepted (with a little help and persuasion from her mentor ‘Zelda’).
As ever Stanley’s book is a joy to read, I must admit I was surprised how excited I was to read it again and once I got started I ripped through it at a fair pace. It strikes a very good balance between being a well told and structured story and hitting the ‘horny’ button. Film critic Mark Kermode says that for a comedy to pass his test it needs to make you laugh out loud at least six times over it’s duration, I can tell you I was throbbing hard at least twice during the first 100 pages, and considering Charles and Alina don’t even meet until page 86, that’s pretty good going if you ask me!
If I do have a complaint, it’s that Stanley sometimes comes up with a great idea but then skims over it without really exploiting it fully, in particular the scene where Charles is sodomized. Perhaps Stanley was concerned about some of his readers being put off by this particular element and decided to play safe by keeping the description to a minimum, but knowing the conversations I’ve had with Stanley about needing to put a bit more actual ‘sex’ into his sex books I’m not 100% convinced.
Stanley does seem to write lesbian scenes and female-female interaction in general very well, I wouldn’t mind betting that lesbians are his ‘thing’, and there’s plenty of girl on girl in this book. Stanley’s depiction of Charles’ ex-wife Linda and her descent into submission read very well, although it’s a shame a certain alluded-to scene never actually comes to fruition. Actually I found the book finished well, but lacked a certain ‘crescendo’ moment, as again there’s a lack of actual ‘sex’ in the last few chapters.
As ever with Stanley Jeffries, there is an undercurrent of nastiness which occasionally colours the mood, it’s not as prevalent here as in the Journey Into Chastity trilogy and I’m not sure if I’m imagining it or if there has been some mild winding back done since the original drafts I was shown, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad as I remember. That said, I’m sure a lot of people who read these kind of books would think I’m making a fuss about nothing, and it certainly isn’t as nasty as the Salome Verdad book I reviewed last year, I guess I’m really not used to reading sex stories that encompass violence (or even threats of violence) and the like, to be honest I don’t even read fiction and from what I’ve been told something like ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ is probably much worse than this in that regard.
For me ‘Journey Into Chastity’ remains as Stanley’s masterpiece, but this book was still very, very enjoyable and as ever I was rather disappointed that it eventually had to come to an end. Incidentally, Stanley offers a epilogue and invites you to continue reading on his website, which I haven’t actually done yet myself, so that could be interesting…
I’m already looking forward to Stanley’s next novel, I’m sure it will maintain the very high standards and huge readability of his superb back catalogue, if I can just persuade him to ‘up’ the amount of sex in there then we could be onto a real winner!
Stanley Jeffries website is HERE
And finally as a present from Stanley, he has sent me 28 of his captions to pass on to you, which you can view by clicking HERE