Hard Limits By Pascal Scott

Book Review: Hard Limits

A dark and edgy lesbian BDSM thriller.

This story revolves around the disappearance of Mistress Sinestra, a self-styled lesbian dominant who was a key figure in her local BDSM scene. She’s not that popular, having a reputation for taking the punishment aspects of BDSM to a level deemed inappropriate by others on the scene. She also seems to enjoy ‘stealing away’ new submissives from their significant others. So, the list of suspects in her disappearance is therefore not short, but local Deputy Sheriff Wynonna Fletcher thinks she knows someone who might know a lot more about what happened.

Even though it’s not her case, she starts asking questions of various people, centered around a woman she once shared a brief connection. Brett Wolfe is an older, leather dominant whom Wynonna would have liked to have more than just the one night with. Wynonna herself is submissive and was looking for a master. But Brett dumped her for a submissive called Skyler, who then turned up dead in a house Mistress Sinestra shared with three other people heavily involved in BDSM…

This is an intriguing tale that takes us deep into the dynamics and roles of BDSM, but if you think that means it’s full of graphically detailed BDSM scenes, it isn’t. Yes, there are a few scenes, but the main thrust of the story is the psychological drama/mystery that soon evolves from the incident involving Mistress Sinestra. The way the book is written is intriguing too—two first person narratives, one from Wynonna’s point of view, one from Brett’s, alternating continually throughout. It’s more the former to begin with, but Brett’s narrative soon takes over, and it’s an interesting look inside a dominant’s mind and the meaning that life has for her.

The book is dark, make no mistake about that. This is very much a serious read, and although there are moments of humour, those are dark too. There are some behavioural issues that some might find difficult to read, and I should point out that there are passages describing sexual violence and child sexual abuse which may be triggers for some readers. Having said that, it’s intelligently written, without any attempt to glorify or excuse those actions. I think the only issue I had with the plot was the arc given to Brett—while it did make some sense by the end of the book, there were many times earlier on where I struggled to find authenticity in her actions.

But, overall, the book is written well, with good pacing throughout—I read it faster than I thought I would, as it pulled me in from the first chapter. The ending wasn’t to my taste but that’s just personal—I could see how it could have gone a couple of different ways and I respect the author’s choice.

If you’re looking for something very different from the regular lesbian fiction out there, and you don’t mind something a little darker and edgier, I can definitely recommend this debut from Pascal Scott.