13 April 2015

The Ivy Lessons by SK. Quinn

Hey everyone,

I had absolutely no intention of reviewing this book, but about half-way through reading The Ivy Lessons events in the book started happening that made it impossible for me not to review it. I’m talking about the difference between good BDSM and bad BDSM. In my opinion The Ivy Lessons is bad BDSM and below I want to outline why.

The book:

Teacher, plus student, equals a passion forbidden

When Sophia wins a post-graduate place at Ivy Drama College, she can't believe her luck. The college is owned by one of the most well-respected young actors in London, Marc Blackwell – who not only founded the college, but teaches the students.

Known for his strict classes and belief in discipline, Marc has a reputation for being arrogant and aloof, yet Sophia soon finds herself drawn to this cold, fascinating young man. 

Soon, Sophia is embarking on a journey of sexual discovery that promises to explore all that is forbidden between teacher and student.

My thoughts:

Perhaps I should have known from the premise that this wouldn’t be the book for me. Its the typical older more sexually experienced male with the young naive female, in the style of Fifty Shades of Grey, cause you know, duh! Yet I was drawn in because when written correctly I have no problem with teacher/student or BDSM. However, when I see scenes like this I start to have my doubts:

He slides off my panties and throws them to the floor. I see the shape growing in his trousers, and I can’t help but stare. He spreads my legs apart and takes out his iPhone.

“What are you dong?” I ask.

“Taking photographs of my star pupil,” he says directing the phone between my legs, and snapping a few shots. The flash lights everything, and I feel more naked than I’ve ever felt in my life. “I’ll use them later, for my own amusement”.

This raised a number of red flags. Firstly the context of this scene was an issue for me. Sophia is in hospital having just overdosed/reacted badly from a drink spiking. I just didn’t feel it was an appropriate moment. Secondly Marc doesn’t discuss the idea of nude photographs or videos with Sophia, he hasn’t asked previously if this is something she interested in exploring. Instead he just spreads her legs and takes a photos of her downstairs area. That is not okay. That is not in my book consent. True she hasn’t explicitly said no but she also hasn’t said yes.

For me I started to question whether she was interested in the BDSM lifestyle or if she was just willing to do anything to keep Marc happy and interested in her. Thirdly I disliked the tone of Marc’s voice in this scene. I imagine SK. Quinn was aiming for sexy dominant but in my head it came across as creepy old-pervert with a camera phone.

Am I alone in this view? Honestly I don’t know, but I doubt it.

Yet I continued reading and in fact finished The Ivy Lessons a day after starting it. Partly because by this point I was hate reading the book. I couldn’t imagine it getting any worst but like a bad car crash I couldn’t look away just in case it did.

In my opinion in got worse, a lot worse. There is a scene later in the book where Sophia is talking to her childhood friend Jen. Naturally Jen is concerned about the relationship between Sophia and Marc because he’s rumoured to enjoy BDSM and he is her teacher.

“I know he’s hot,” she says. ‘But... well, morally speaking he shouldn’t be messing around with his students.

“I know,” I say. “But he didn’t want to. He tried to walk away. He’d leave the college if I let him. It’s me. I can’t bear the thought of walking away from him. Just being near him feels amazing.”

When reading this speech from Sophia I was so angry! Marc basically tells her I’m leaving the college or we’re having a full-on sexual relationship. No let’s get to know each other platonically while we’re still teacher and student, or let’s become friends and see what happens. The fact that Sophia then defends his actions claiming that she is the one insisting he stay just felt ridiculous. Whether he continues to provide you, and the rest of your class, with an education should be completely separate from your relationship. You shouldn’t be forced to choose between having no teacher or having sex with your teacher.

Again I have no problem with the premise of a teacher/student relationship but in this instant I felt like Marc was blackmailing Sophia into having a relationship with him. In many ways I had an issue with Marc has a character, he was too controlling and the way he chose to exert his control over Sophia felt wrong to me.

He never asked her if she was comfortable with what was happening. If she wanted to explore spanking, exhibitionism, bondage, anal play etc he just did it to her and then told her off when she mentions feeling uncomfortable. The one time Sophia calls Marc out on his behaviour she is quickly shot down.

“I felt tricked. You manipulated me. Telling me that when I was so vulnerable.”

“Vulnerable?” Marc raises an eyebrow. “Is that what you call it?

“You could have said no,” says Marc. “At any time. But you didn’t want to. If you don’t have any self control, perhaps we need another lesson in that area”.

So Sophia objecting to Marc’s style of ‘domination’ is just a sign of her issues with control... Give me a break! A good dominant is focused on his submissive’s pleasure, health and happiness. That includes how mentally they are feeling, not just if they’re having an orgasm.

There were a couple of other issues I had with The Ivy Lessons but the dubious consent involved in the BDSM was the main one. If, like me, you enjoy the BDSM in your romance to be consensual then please PLEASE don’t read this book.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!