Aiden is a 23 year-old aspiring actor. He wants to continue his studies, but for now he’s taking some time to explore his submissive side. He’s played with a lot of tops and doms, but most of them were just into the role, the experiences didn’t seem real. Then one night at a BDSM club, Aiden meets Scott, a dom he’s played with once before, with a reputation for being rough. Scott takes Aiden home and brutalizes him, but for pain-slut Aiden, this seems more ‘real’ that the scenes he’s had with other doms.
Scott offers to train Aiden to be a proper submissive, and Aiden agrees. Scott sets rules that Aiden must follow, and punishes him severely for any infraction. Scott really isn’t a very good dom. He doesn’t care whether Aiden is getting off on his sadism. In truth, he’s nothing more than a bully who needs to brutalize and belittle Aiden to feel better about himself. He ridicules Aiden’s body, which sends the young man down a path of spending too much time in the gym while eating too little. Aiden’s friends soon see how unhealthy he’s looking, but Scott doesn’t see it and continues to berate Aiden, telling him his acting dreams are a complete waste of time. Aiden’s insane attempts to please his dom estrange him from his friends and soon loses him his job.
Aiden finally has some sense knocked into him, literally, when a drunken Scott beats him even worse than ever, and refuses to stop even when Aiden uses his safe word. The young man ends up bruised and bloodied on his friend Hera’s couch. Aiden recovers physically, but refuses to acknowledge the mental trauma he has suffered, and continues to suffer. While Hera and her roommates sympathize with what Aiden has been through, things soon become uncomfortable for everyone, so Hera talks to Keaton about taking Aiden in.
Keaton is an art teacher at a local college. Aiden has seen him in the BDSM clubs, and feels a strong attraction to him. Keaton is not your typical dom. He doesn’t really get excited by typical BDSM play, he’s more interested in a TPE type of relationship, where he guides someone in need of help behaving, and only uses discipline to correct bad behavior rather than a sexual enhancement. In many ways, he’s just what the somewhat out-of-control Aiden needs, but of course Aiden has a very hard time seeing that. Much of the book is devoted to the struggle for Aiden to understand and accept what Keaton has to offer.
None of the main characters in “By His Rules” are completely likable, but that’s only because they’re fully developed, three-dimensional people. Scott is very much the bad guy, but there are signs early on that he actually does care for Aiden, he’s just so messed up that he doesn’t know how to show it properly. Aiden runs the gamut from sexy slutty boy to spoiled brat to full-blown depression. His reactions are all very reasonable, and very real, although he does seem a bit too weepy at times. Keaton is the white knight of the book, but he’s not perfect. He sometimes mishandles or misreads Aiden, and for much of the story he’s not communicative enough to really give Aiden what he needs.
The sex and BDSM in this book runs from the at times very brutal scenes with Scott to some very tender moments between Aiden and Keaton. While Keaton isn’t necessarily into BDSM for pleasure, Aiden nonetheless does manage to coax him into some spankings. Actually, there are a number of spankings for Aiden as Keaton tries to help him get his life back under control, but there’s a definite line drawn between play and punishment in this book.
This is a somewhat difficult book to read, because it’s very realistic in it’s depictions of the people involved, and how they try to come to terms with their situation. The early parts might be a bit too brutal for some people, but the struggle is, in the end, rather affirming. On the whole, it’s quite a good effort and a book you may find is more than simply a one-handed read.