The Training by Tara Sue Me: Does Talking Change Your Reactions in a Relationship?

The Training

The Submissive Trilogy

Tara Sue Me
PENGUIN GROUP New American Library
E-Book, Paperback, Library Binding, Audio 337 pages
Disclosure: E-Galley provided by publisher — No remuneration exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.



Now, in the enticing conclusion to Tara Sue Me’s Submissive Trilogy, the submissive and her dominant explore just how long they can make the pleasure last…

It started with a hidden desire.

Millionaire CEO Nathaniel West has always played by his own strict set of rules, ones he expects everyone to follow—especially the women he’s dominated in his bedroom. But his newest lover is breaking down all his boundaries and rewriting his rule book.

Abby King never imagined that she would capture the heart of Nathaniel West, one of New York City’s most eligible bachelors—and its most desirable dominant. What began as a weekend arrangement of pleasure has become a passionate romance with a man who knows every inch of her body and her soul – yet remains an enigmatic lover. Though he is tender and caring, his painful past remains a wall between them.

Abby knows the only way to truly earn his trust is to submit to him fully and let go of all of her lingering inhibitions. Because to lead Nathaniel on a path to greater intimacy, she must first let him deeper into her world than anyone has ever gone before…netgalley

My Take! THE TRAINING brought out a wide range of intellectual and emotional responses.  At times I thought it was brilliant and other times I thought it was just dumb.  There were moments and chapters where it felt as if the relationship were being dissected beautifully.  Other moments I felt she made the interactions too artificial. 

This is a book about a couple negotiating a BDSM lifestyle as they fall in love and approach making a lifelong commitment. I thought that was really interestingly done, how things would come up from a scene and then how they would discuss it and it would change the way they behaved towards each other and how they felt.  I’m not sure talking would change the basics of how I react to stimuli: “I see now; you had me crawl because you thought it would help me and not because you’re an egotistical asshat. Oh, well, if you put it that way I’m going to love it from now on.”

I’m sure most of us do negotiate our relationships to some degree, but in a  loving relationship where one person is topping another this process has to be more intense and important. Maybe being part of a successful D/s relationship is being flexible. Do you feel like you and your partner or even just you and a friend negotiate your relationship? Does talking about it change your reactions and feelings?

I really liked how the characters’ complexities and imperfections are shown. Nathanial is this juggernaut of business and in total control in the boardroom and in his playroom.  But, emotionally he is stunted and in some ways like a boy; he sees a therapist to help him deal with issues that nearly destroyed their relationship.   Abigail is almost the opposite; a novice at BDSM, moderately successful in her field, and in some ways more emotionally mature.

I’ve read a lot of books incorporating aspects and degrees of the BDSM lifestyle over the past few years. In THE TRAINING  Tara Sue Me delivers it in a low key, more realistic way where the parties aren’t all orgies, where Doms screw up and are in their own process, where orgasms aren’t explosions rivaling the Big Bang, and where it is recognized that a couple can only have sex so many times a day. 

Also, finding a balance in the relationship between the BDSM time and the “normal” relationship time is thoroughly explored.  What a problem having kids must present to a couple in the lifestyle. Here she talks about it — from leaky breasts to crying babies. 

But, reading all these books has not changed me from being very vanilla.  So, there’s always going to be a large part of this sexual orientation that I won’t understand.

Yeah there’s a certain titillation; a voyeuristic and vicarious thrill to experience through the characters but at times the activities in the playroom just seem silly.  Having one’s head lower than a master’s head, crawling in the playroom, kissing his feet. And, the relationship in THE TRAINING is not based on humiliation and debasement.

I don’t “feel” Abby’s natural submissiveness.  How can it not show in one’s everyday life; how can such an important part of one’s psyche only be evident in matters of sexuality?  Even in books where I really feel that need I still can’t get the need to have the sub sit at “sirs” feet, not sleep in the same bed, be a lower case “sub” to an uppercase Dom.  It just feels like playacting.  And, maybe it’s just because that’s not my thing. But in THE TRAINING at the same time that I thought their journey into a deeper relationship was interesting and well done.

I think the success of a piece of erotic fiction is more about the relationship and how the particular kinks the individual characters are expressed than it is about the kinky action. I don’t understand all the kinks, but unless I find them silly or debasing, they are exciting to read.

The characters are carefully constructed and while I found the process of relationship growth to be a little too pat and academic. I did like that the couple grew in and out of their relationship and the playroom, and I recognize that not being thus inclined certain parts of any D/s relationship will not feel “right” to me. 

I recommend THE TRAINING if you’re interested in stories about the anatomy of relationships with a lot of intimate details and very spicy action.