Thursday, September 13, 2012


Recently I got this review for my story The Scheming Miss Sinclair:

"i really like a story where the husband has to discipline his wife for bratty behavior but this was a little to over the top. yes she did trick him to have to marry her but she loved him and wanted to be a good wife to him and she did deserve punishment but the last punishment really was cruel and undeserved."

I reread the ending, and I could see where this comment came from.  It got me thinking.

I'm someone who goes for a happy ending in pretty much every story I write, including Miss Sinclair.  But is there a point where the hero has been so harsh that a happy ending is impossible?  Is there a place where there's no going back to romantic feelings? 

One of the reasons that I often switch back and forth between the male and female point of view is that I think it can help in situations where the hero might be coming off as, if not cruel, then unfeeling, because it can show that he cares deeply about the heroine.  And when I move into the heroine's point of view, it can show thoughts and feelings, especially about being spanked, that she isn't ready to share with the hero.

Are there stories that have stopped working for you because the punishment didn't feel as if it fit the crime or because you felt like the hero was way out of line?


  1. Interesting question and good for you for giving some thought to reader reviews. It is certainly a fine line to walk between punishment and cruelty and where that line falls probably varies from reader to reader. For as many reviews that say 'too many spankings" you'll get one that says "not enough". As a writer, I sometimes find myself thinking that I need to continue to up the ante to keep it interesting for me since I might want to change things up a bit, but maybe that doesn't always fit the story. Does that make sense?

  2. I certainly crossed that line into too harsh in Loving Lucia. I think it's part of what's tricky with spanking fiction - what turns us on can sometimes be over the top. I think I have that problem going with the new medieval I'm working on too. I can't decide if I should tone it down or not...

  3. How much is too much? It varies by book, by author, and by reader. For me it boils down to: Does it make sense? Is it realistic with the context of the story.

    I was worried in False Pretenses that readers might find the idea of an ORGANIZATION subjecting a woman to a spanking to be too severe, but I had one reader/reviewer say it wasn't harsh enough for what the heroine had done!LOL.

    Often what makes a spanking seem cruel is the fantasy element. Some spankings are "real," i.e. occur as they would within a real life domestic discipline relationship, and others are fantasy -- over the top and more BDSM oriented. Mixing the two within a story -- or even from book to book -- is what causes trouble I think. Readers want to know what to expect. Are they going to read about a pleasant spanking or a severe one?

    I find the hard part is coming up with spankable offenses and still keep both the hero and heroine likable. If the crime is too minor, readers dislike the hero. If the crime is really bad, they dislike the heroine.

    I don't think some readers know what to expect from the genre, i.e. that the heroine WILL be spanked.

  4. I know what you mean about upping the ante, Celeste. Sometimes I think I rely too much on increasing the severity of the spankings to move the story along.

  5. Cara's right: does it make sense, and are the characters likable. Also, has the hero 'earned' the right to do this? If the answer is yes in the reader's mind, then (I feel) he can get away with a mistake or two, i.e. jumping the gun, or spanking too hard. I've been criticized for Val Rios in The Point of it All spanking in anger. Well, I find it near impossible for one of MY heroes to calmly spank like it's routine. To me, there has to be some passion in it, or it's dull. Em, I have given myself ulcers over some of my reviews. Bottom line is you write what you write, and you can't second guess or apologize for it...or explain yourself. Lessons I've yet to fully learn, but I'm getting there.