Review: Pup by S.J.D. Peterson … “Its only fiction” is no excuse.

Pup (Guards of Folsom, #1)Pup by S.J.D. Peterson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was looking for a BDSM centric book and this one was on a list somewhere so I gave it a shot. Nebulous lists with no added information are never a good place for solid recommendations but that doesn’t stop anyone so why should it stop me. Pup did indeed scratch that bdsm itch I had for a book but it left me vaguely irritated and annoyed with the book as well. I think the concept is ok but the execution just couldn’t pull it off. Instead it can only succeed if a reader wants fantasy-based bdsm that has no resemblance to reality or responsible, healthy, mature BDSM relationships. As soon as I have to start forgiving a book with the tired cliché of “it’s only fiction” then it’s lost me as a reader. Instead a book should engage me to the point that I don’t need to make excuses for poor choices.

Here the plot is actually a pretty familiar one with a hyper, jittery, cocky sub that can’t seem to focus or have a long-term relationship. In this case Micah is waiting for Tackett, the well-respected dom having a mid-life crisis about his age. Tackett decides that taking on a sub half his age will be just the thing to give his life some purpose and focus. Sadly focus is the exactly the thing that Micah has the most trouble with unfortunately. He has ADHD (or ADD, yanno the book is vague) and wants a strong dominant that can cure his attention deficit problem with some badass domination. Match made in heaven.

Ok let’s get the bad out of the way as there’s more bad than I would have liked. First the story is totally unrealistic and borderline irresponsible with the way the ADHD is portrayed. Tackett is repeatedly disappointed and frustrated with Micah’s lack of focus and usually punishes him for the failing; as if Micah’s problem is simply because he doesn’t want to focus or isn’t properly motivated. That’s like saying a depressed person will be happy if only they want it enough. Or a person with Parkinson’s can stop shaking if they try really hard. It’s ridiculous and somewhat insulting to make that connection. The story would have been much better served simply saying that Micah is hyperactive without adding the actual diagnosis. ADD is not something that can be cured with two weeks of intense domination. Sure rituals, rules and reminders can help someone but punishing and disciplining him for the symptoms of ADD is simply cruel.

Which is my second problem with the story. Tackett sets Micah up to fail several times and then actively punishes him for his failure. The art fair scene where Micah’s ADD is in total overdrive, something even Tackett internally acknowledges, yet Micah is still severely punished for his inability to focus. Tackett states that he expected Micah to fail and in fact Micah had done better than he expected but he still had to pretend to be mad and punish Micah severely because it was for Micah’s own good. Um, excuse me? That’s nearly abuse when it’s related to a neurological condition that Micah is suffering. Great domination and care taking there.

So clearly this story doesn’t resemble a healthy, mature, or responsible BDSM relationship in any way despite all the contracts, safe words, and expensive clubs mentioned. Likewise the story goes to great lengths to push Micah into trusting Tackett completely within two weeks. Because everyone can give over their entire mind, body, and soul with no reservations or hesitations in just two weeks. Just like any sub that truly wants submission should be able to blow through two hard limits in the same amount of time just because the dom says so. Hopefully you’re getting the point that this book is pure fantasy and nothing more.

So on the fantasy scale…eh it’s ok. The sex scenes are hot and pretty BDSMy and the characters do seem to really love each other. Tackett’s not an evil person or even a bad person, he’s simply utterly clueless what ADD really means. All the punishment in the world won’t make Micah focus 100% and it’s not because he isn’t serious about being Tackett’s sub. I think the story made a grave error in trying to push domination as a cure to ADD and furthermore trying to suggest it can happen within a mere two weeks between near strangers. Instant love is one thing but instant complete trust? I actually will never buy that. I don’t think the book is horribly written and it has some humor, warmth and real affection between the characters in between hot sex scenes. It’s just pure fantasy and I don’t want to make excuses for books. If it’s fantasy, at least make it one I can believe and escape into please.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Pup by S.J.D. Peterson … “Its only fiction” is no excuse.

  1. Tam says:

    I had the same issues. It’s not something you can “fix” if you just try hard enough. It left me ununcomfortable, even with the fantasy aspect.

    • I almost feel as if I should give it 1 star and a huge warning that everything is all wrong! Why do authors do that? It sparks of extreme laziness to me but whatever. I actually read your review about the follow up book in the series with the 2 doms and weird PTSD sub and decided to just avoid this series entirely. Disappointing.

      • Tam says:

        Huh, I don’t even remember reading book 2. I looked at my review. No memory. And I think I over-rated this one. I’ve been more “honest” lately. Obviously the second didn’t leave a mark (literally from what I said about the lack of BDSM in book 2 – ha!) and I’ve no intention of carrying on with the series. Seems lots of people love it though.

  2. Cody says:

    Okay, glad I wasn’t the only one who was pretty bothered by the relationship in this book. I read it because it had a bunch of positive reviews and the story sounded good on paper, but had all of the same reactions while reading it that you mention here. The relationship felt really unhealthy and uninformed throughout. It’s one thing to portray a BDSM relationship that isn’t, as you put it, “healthy, mature, or responsible” when you’re acknowledging that fact and maybe have the characters working towards those goals, and another when you set one character up as apparently being completely experienced and an expert on the subject and still don’t even try to reach that point.

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