Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews is pleased to have author Joey W. Hill with us today to share her thoughts on writing a paraplegic DOM hero. We hope you enjoy not only her story, but Shadow’s review of In His Arms.
Strength is inthe Will, Not the Body –and So Is Dominance
by Joey W. Hill
When In His Arms was released in September 2020, it was a book I’d been looking forward to writing for well over a decade. A BDSM romance with a paraplegic Dom hero. One who could be believably sexy, hot and demanding of his submissive, just like my able-bodied Masters in other books.
The seed for the character (if not for the BDSM side of things, lol) was planted way before my adult years, though. In1978, when I was ten years old, my mother took me to see The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2. We’d seen the first one together and loved it, but Part 2 focused on the love story between Olympic skier Jill Kinmont and her eventual husband, John Booth. It is very romantic and, though somewhat idealized, it didn’t gloss over the hard issues a person in a wheelchair faces – they were integrated realistically into the love story itself.
Which makes for a better story anyway, right? Bringingthose challenges into the love story lets them become elements that deepen the relationship and enhance the romance.
It took a while for me to work up to In His Arms, though. My first attempt with a disabled character was the heroine inHonor Bound. Army Sergeant Dana Smith was blinded by an IED. She also lost a good bit of her hearing. This was an anthology contribution, and much earlier in my career, so there was only enough room to hit the surface of her challenges. My readers liked it, though, which encouraged my muse, such that a few years later, I wroteUnrestrained, where my Dom hero, retired SEAL Dale Rousseau, had a prosthetic leg. Since he was fifty, there was the dual pleasure of presenting a hero who wasn’t a 20-something.
I’m glad Rory’s story happened when it did, because back when I first had the thought, we didn’t have anywhere near the library of online resources we do now. Videos made by people in wheelchairs became invaluable to bringing this story to life. Anytime I get into research for a book, it’s a lot like starting up the trunk of a tree, and then finding there are a million branches that are a part of that tree, from the big stuff down to the most slender tips. Rory’s thoughts here matched my own:
* * *
Before his accident, like anyone else, he’d only seen the mobility issue when it came to people in wheelchairs. Being in the chair required a much more aware and intimate relationship with his health, his bodily functions, his diet. Circulation, heart issues, skin checks, bowel programs, catheters…things that didn’t come up too often in movies about people in wheelchairs.
Even the mobility stuff only hit the surface. He’d had to learn to do so many things differently in a world structured around people being able to stand and walk. Doors, stairs, countertops. Dropping your keys on the floor, getting up and down, in and out. Traveling, driving. Opening the door for a woman.
* * *
That last note, “Opening the door for a woman” was key, becausemaking those challenges part of the romance/love focus of the story became even easier with this research. Rory had to think about things differently. Taking Daralyn on something as straightforward as a dinner date required additional planning, from opening the car door for her, to getting an optimal table in a nice restaurant, and overall ensuring there were as few snags as possible, while still making it special for her. And then there was the actual sex.
For a while, I played with the idea of him having a spinal cord injury that had impacted his ability to walk, but his sexual function would be the same as anyone else’s. But that wasn’t where the muse wanted to go with this. The very first sex scene between Rory and Daralyn revealed how dealing with his disability in that context could actually strengthen the emotional bond between them and yes, heighten the Dom/sub erotic quotient. Nothing so intimate as intimacy, right? Here’s a snippet from it:
* * *
“When I decide it’s time to be inside you,” Rory said, “there’s a little more to it. There are things I have to do before sex to make sure it’s good for both of us.”
“Can I help with any of it?”
Why was he not surprised that was her first question? “I love that you asked that, but they’re things I can handle. They just require a little bit of time beforehand. To keep an erection good enough for sex, I take a pill, which requires about fifteen minutes to kick in.” He moved his hand to her neck and shoulder, caressed with purpose. “There are a lot of ways to occupy those fifteen minutes.”
Daralyn’s chin lifted, reacting to his touch, but he thought the way she pressed into it was also a reaction to the edge he put into his words, a sensual threat.
Once hard enough, he’d slide a well-lubricated, flexible silicone ring on the base of his cock, over a condom, to maintain his erection. He told her that, and lifted her hand, kissing her fingers. “That’s something you can help me do, especially if I tell you to do it. Right?”
“Yes.” Her pulse bumped up a notch under his grip.
* * *
The Dom/sub part of things was actually one of the easiest parts of the book to write. When I look at why this story idea stayed with me so long, I think it’s because my favorite BDSM romances demonstrate that the hottest scenes start above the neck. The way a Dom addresses a sub, the sub’s reaction to a command, the subtleties of the power exchange, that’s what captivates me as a reader. I’ll swat at anyone like a fly if they interrupt me while reading those scenes, lol.
For instance, in the movie 365 Days (still waiting impatiently for sequel), there’s a scene where Massimo chains Laura spread-eagle on the bed and then sits down in her full view to stroke himself, all while watching her reaction to it. Yeah, the marathon boat sex that happens later was great, but that scene is what held my attention, because there was so much going on without words, in the way they were looking at one another, and everything that had led up to that moment. [Oh, total side bar – funniest ever review of this movie comes from comedian Josh Pray, particularly in the first minute when he’s addressing the blatant consent issues. Warning: do NOT have a mouthful of soda when listening to this, or you WILL baptize your computer –https://www.facebook.com/joshpraycomedy/videos/311948576481749/]
Back to my point (that is, if you didn’t get lost looking at pictures of Massimo). Writing Dominant/submissive relationships is all about tapping into the mind, because that’s where the true chemistry happens. There’s a reason that our heart rates accelerate when the subtle stuff happens. Just like it does for Daralyn when Rory talks to her as a Master would. Her pulse increased merely when he hints at thecommands he intends to give her. When a Dom gives a sub a certain look, or puts a firm hand on her to help center her, it not only increases that intensity between them; it lets her know he’s there and has her back.
Rory also has a unique understanding of helplessness that makes him more sensitive to power exchange and consent issues, at the most subtle levels. For instance, at one point, Daralyn is dodging an issue with him, and he considers pulling off on the side of the road to have the discussion, so that she can’t just dash into her house to avoid him. But then he recalls how, not long after his accident, his friends took him out for a Saturday night cruise to try and help him feel normal. When he wasn’t having a good time, his friends, not realizing where he was in his head, teased him:
* * *
“Not much you can do about it, can you? Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”
He’d completely lost it. Opened the door and flung himself out of the fortunately parked vehicle. He had some insane idea that he was going to crawl around the back and open the trunk to get his folded-up chair. He barely had the strength to drag himself across the ground. When his buddies gathered over him, trying to figure out what was going on, he felt suffocated and started fighting them. Punching, screaming, telling them to take him home. A fucked-up reaction somewhere between PTSD and a kid having the worst tantrum of his life.
Take me home, take me home… Take me the fuck home.
It had been a serious setback on his physical therapy, because his still far too weak upper body hadn’t been up for that kind of volatile reaction. But the mental setback had been worse. He’d been a simple guy, the kind who scoffed at psychobabble about depression and triggers. He still thought most people had the ability to pull themselves out of their own heads if they put effort into finding the handholds to do so. However, after coming face to face with what being in a pit of true, helpless despair felt like, he didn’t scoff anymore. Pulling out of that feeling made climbing Mount Everest look easy in comparison.
He wouldn’t be taking Daralyn anywhere she felt trapped.
* * *
Though I write romance and indulge in those fantasy moments we all love in the genre, I believe the best romance straddles the line between enjoyable fantasy and emotional reality. I know that’s how I best connect to a character, as a reader and an author. For instance, I just started Bridgerton, after countless reader recommendations for the series. I’m only up to Episode 4, but there’s an excellent meshing between romantic fantasy and the characters’ emotional ups and downs we all understand, like Simon’s anger at his father, or Daphne’s struggle to define her own self-worth. And of course the root of that brilliant storytelling comes from the blissful meshing of Julia Quinn’s brilliant writing of the original books and Shonda Rimes’ understanding of how best to bring relationships to the screen.
Anyhow, I expect In His Arms won’t be my last story with a disabled character. While I don’t purposefully seek out characters who don’t fit traditional hero/heroine molds, it’s so darn fun writing them, I’m not surprised the muse keeps throwing them my way.
Thanks for reading my post. I’d like to give you all the chance to win a free signed print copy of Rory and Daralyn’s story, OR an ebook copy plus a $15 Amazon gift certificate, available to both domestic and international entries. The only thing you have to do is interact with me in the comments. Give me an opinion about the post content, ask a question if you have one for me, or tell me about another romance with a character(s) facing a unique physical challenge. I just read a young adult one, a m/m story actually, Every Time I Think of Youby Jim Provenzano, where one of the boys ends up in a wheelchair. Even though YA isn’t my usual fare, it was a very worthwhile read.
If you want buy links for In His Arms, or to read the first three chaptersfree, via easy BookFunnel download, you can find all that here: https://storywitch.com/book-nod-iha.
And here’s where you can find out more about me and my writing:
Facebook Fan site: JWHMembersOnly
Thanks so much to Guilty Pleasures Reviews for letting me be a guest today!
Rory has grown up in a small North Carolina town. In high school, he was the popular football player. When he graduated, he saw himself running the general store his father started. Maybe eventually getting married to one of the pretty cheerleaders who liked him in school, having kids. His siblings can live big lives in big cities. He’s not that complicated.
Then an accident puts him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. And Daralyn, a neighbor with a horrific past, comes to live with his family. Everything is suddenly a lot less simple. Because the way Rory wants her is keeping him up at night.
He wants her to belong to him. He wants to command her, protect her. Hell, he can barely say it to himself. He wants to dominate her. The craving is a primal drumbeat in the center of his soul.
How does he deal with that? Especially when her need to trust is so desperate, and her eyes are so full of hunger for what love should be. But he’ll figure it out. He’s going to make sure Daralyn finds everything she needs in his arms.
This was a life-affirming book with an intriguing premise, incredible, but totally human characters and a deceptively simple plot. It is also a book that may trigger anyone with a history of abuse-approach with caution.
It is the story of Rory and Daralyn, and while it is a love story, it is also a lot more. Rory has been in love with Daralyn for several years and wants her to be all she can be. Even though he has no experience as a Dom, he realizes that it comes naturally for him, as being submissive comes naturally to Daralyn-but there are complications…Rory is a paraplegic, confined to a wheel chair since an accident with a tractor when he was just out of high school. And Daralyn-what a strong, loving, funny and delightful person she is in spite of her past. Kept as a sexual slave by her father and his half-brother from the time she was six until she was 15, she is learning the joys of being an independent person, but the scars from her past keep her from being fully functional away from her “adopted” family-Rory, his brother, Thomas, sister, Les, and their mother, Elaine. She is in love with Rory-and in his arms is her safe place. I was awed by the fact that the family took in a girl who was so damaged she was unable to answer direct questions or tell people what she wanted. They became her family and if Thomas and Les saw her as a sister, Rory had no such thoughts.
With some setbacks and crises, Rory leads Daralyn into the world of Dominance and Submission, and things look promising for the young couple. But issues from both the present and the past threaten not only their relationship but their lives. Can they accept how much they really do need each other?
I have avoided many of this author’s books both because I’m not into vampires, Dommes, and because the intensity of her BDSM books can be overwhelming. But this book shatters all expectations. The challenges of a paraplegic and the horrors facing someone who was abused for years are explored compassionately and completely. We are brought into the life of the town where they live, and a little further afield and are rooting for these two people to overcome the past. This isn’t a book to forget easily.