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A Simple Misunderstanding (Corbin’s Bend 7) by Kathryn R Blake (RE-POST)

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Review by Etta Stark

Some spanking fiction is pure fantasy. And I’m not just talking about the sort of thing set on the far-off planet of Padlor where the Ancient Al-Faas insist on the young, female and invariably nubile members of their kingdom obey the sacred spanking rituals of their people. Although that does sound pretty great. Nobody steal that.

Spanking romance stories can be set in what is seemingly the real world and still be pretty fantastical by nature. You know the sort of thing – where the hero can lay a hundred lashes on his lady’s backside and by the next morning all traces of his handiworks will have disappeared leaving an unblemished canvas for the next day’s spanking. Where no-one ever needs to worry about condoms or lube or whether it might be the heroine’s time of the month.

A Simple Misunderstanding is not one of those kinds of books.

In fact, for a completely fictional spanking community, Corbin’s Bend stories are all set very squarely in the real world. The series certainly doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult subjects.

Tara Finnegan’s Exile to Unity (reviewed on Spanking Romance Reviews a couple of days ago by Rayanna Jamison) dealt with a whole host of real-world issues including job loss, marital difficulties and the problems of having a premature baby. But it was Finnegan’s eloquently written words on coping (and, in fact, failing to cope) with depression that had me crying in the bath. Kate Richards’s For Ben also reduced me to tears. This time I was sitting at Waterloo train station trying to sob discreetly as I read about a woman trying to come to terms with the death of her twin sister while supporting her suddenly orphaned four year-old nephew.

And much like those two books, Kathryn R Blake’s A Simple Misunderstanding, the seventh book in the hugely successful Corbin’s Bend series – will put you through the emotional wringer.

The book deals with the issue of domestic abuse. It’s a difficult subject to tackle within the context of a BDSM novel. I am sure that plenty of people who embrace a healthy domestic discipline lifestyle have had to deal with people who are unable or unwilling to see a difference between domestic discipline and domestic abuse.

There is a difference of course. A huge one. And it is a difference that Kathryn R Blake tackles head-on here.

The story’s hero, Jerry Douglas often sees Corbin’s Bend newcomer, Elly Benson when she walks her dog near his veterinary practice. He has his suspicions that the relationship Elly has with her husband, Arthur, may not be a healthy one but is trying to resist interfering in another couple’s marriage. Elly denies there is any problem insisting as she does that the bruises she is trying to hide are down to a ‘simple misunderstanding’ between her husband and her.

However, we discover that Elly has become increasingly withdrawn and frightened since her marriage to Arthur. Although he chose to move them to the spanking-friendly community of Corbin’s Bend, Arthur discourages Elly from talking to the other residents or making friends, telling her that she cannot be trusted not to embarrass them both with her behavior. Her self-confidence has been eroded to the point where she is unable to see how dangerous and unhealthy the marriage has become. Finally, Arthur’s violence escalates to the point where he puts Elly’s life in danger. Tellingly even then, Elly only seeks out Jerry’s help because of the injuries her husband has

caused to her beloved dog, not because of her own broken ribs and bleeding internal organs.

Jerry, who already knew that his feeling for Elly were more than platonic, puts everything on hold in order to rescue Elly and help repair the damage Arthur has caused not just to her body but to her hugely damaged sense of worth. The relationship quickly develops into a romance. And, this being Corbin’s Bend, a romance that includes spankings.

It’s a brilliantly written book and Kathryn R Blake manages to tell Elly’s story in particular in a believable and sympathetic manner. It can be very easy for people to assume that those who remain in abusive relationships must be weak or stupid when in fact the truth is far more nuanced than that. Elly may be damaged but she’s also funny, stroppy, clever, generous and loving. And Jerry’s love – and loving discipline – helps her to see it.

This is another excellent story in the consistently brilliant Corbin’s Bend seriesA Simple Misunderstanding is thought-provoking, powerful and beautifully, life-affirmingly romantic. Kathryn R Blake takes us on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster before we reach Elly and Jerry’s Happily Ever After but it is certainly worth the journey.

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