After working too hard for too long, Natalie’s two best friends promise her a night on the town. Much to Natalie’s surprise, they end up at Le Club d'Esclavage, the local BDSM club everyone is talking about. Shortly after arriving, both of Natalie’s friends abandon her for their own fun, and before she has a chance to escape, Natalie’s coworker, Max, shows up. Natalie has longed for Max for a while, but never made a move because he always seemed uninterested. However, before she has the chance to possibly initiate something, Max excuses himself and instead of his return, a mysterious hooded man approaches Natalie and will not let her leave.
The premise behind At the Dungeon Master’s Hand, although not entirely original, is solid and exciting. We may not know a lot about Natalie, but we learn quickly that she has certain unfulfilled fantasies, especially ones involving hunky coworker, Max. And since the novella shifts between character POVs, we find out that Max feels much the same way.
2.5 stars: Finished it - take it or leave it (C)
The story had many sensual and erotic scenes. The sex acts are pretty explicit, including some bondage and toy play. The initial chemistry between Natalie and Max played well in the story. Although the story is written to make Natalie wonder who her masked lover is, based on the shifting POVs, it’s very obvious the author intends the mystery man to be Max.
Although there are some entertaining parts in the story, I found too many little issues that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the novella. For example, when Max first approaches Natalie, her inner dialogue told us that she knew who Max was just from his voice, and she was overwhelmed by his “the scent of his fresh, clean cologne.” However, later when he comes to her has the hooded man, she no longer recognizes his voice and smell. Another example is that the bar is full of near naked, sweating, sexually aroused bodies, with the alcohol is flowing freely, yet Max notes that he can smell the fragrance of Natalie’s "subtle" perfume across the bar. It’s little details like this that when occur too often, can detract from a good story.
Additionally, as I read the novella, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things, which caused distraction from the storyline. First, why doesn't Natalie wonder what happened to Max? She had the hots for him, and then she just abandoned him to go have sex with the mystery man. Another was that the hooded man NEVER asked for consent and never offered Natalie a way to stop if she was uncomfortable. And what about the unprotected sex with a stranger? Unfortunately, there were even more small issues like this throughout the story, which continually distracted me from any emotional connection that the author may have attempted to build between the two main characters.
Overall, At the Dungeon Master’s Hand was a decent story. If you want erotic, hot sex... you've got it! But I felt the emotional reality and depth of the coupling was lacking. There were too many distractions and flaws, keeping me from truly connecting with the story. I wanted more from the couple, and this story just didn’t have it.