February 3, 2011

Review: Club Mephisto by Annabel Joseph

Club Mephisto
Author: Annabel Joseph
Publisher: Scarlet Rose Press
ISBN: 0011964685
Purchase Information:

For more information please visit Annabel Joseph's website.

Molly is a 24/7 slave dedicated to serving her Master. When her Master’s business calls him away on a week long trip, he arranges to leave her in the care of Mephisto, the owner of a thriving local BDSM club. Molly is both excited and scared to be given over to Master Mephisto. His power and mysterious intensity have long compelled her from afar.

Molly finds herself immersed in a world of strict commands, pervasive sex, and creative torments. Over the course of a week, Mephisto strips away privileges Molly took for granted, and forces her to understand and acknowledge the depths to which she can be made to submit. But a surprising conversation the last day threatens Molly’s worldview, as does the strange closeness that develops between them. As the time of Master’s return draws near, Molly finds herself deeply and inexorably changed.

Publisher's Note: this BDSM fantasy novel depicts "total power exchange" relationships that some readers may find objectionable. This work contains acts of sadism, objectification, orgasm denial and speech restriction, caging, anal play and double penetration, BDSM punishment and discipline, M/f, M/m/f, M/m, orgy and group sexual encounters, voyeurism, and limited circumstances of dubious consent.


Club Mephisto is the first novel I've read from BDSM romance author Annabel Joseph and I have to say, she's quite a writer! However, this novel didn't exactly sit easily with me and I found myself struggling a bit to get through it. Not because of the writing, but mainly because of the theme. It was a bit overwhelming and I just couldn't connect with the main character, Molly. Yet, despite my rankling about the main character, this was definitely a highly charged erotic novel and I must admit I am intrigued by Joseph's writing.

The world she creates within Club Mephisto is wonderfully painted with an unexpected cross section of characters in reference to means and wealth. The club itself is more upscale then one would imagine and it had a very 'behind the velvet ropes' sort of feel about it as it's exclusive to the max. But, aside from the club itself, the world of BDSM is also explored illustrating the dynamics between Doms and Slaves, which was quite eye opening to me as I had no idea how intense and how deeply this relationship went.

The characters themselves are nicely explored as I found this novel to be more of a character study then anything else. However, I found myself extremely disconnected from Molly, a 24/7 slave who completely gives both will and body to serve her Master. She's little more then a toy with very childlike thoughts regardless of the fact we come to find that she's very well educated. I would have expected something a bit deeper within her character, but I only found her whiny with her only thoughts being how she could get off. Mephisto, however, was quite a bit more interesting. He was thought provoking in his probing of Molly's slave status by putting her into situations that would incite the memories of her former life before her self inflicted servitude. His character is something of an enigma as we learn very little about his life outside of the club, but we as shown his iron will leaving any questions about his edicts to be unthinkable. Truly, this is one man it would be impossible to refuse do to his domineering personality. And also, one must consider Clayton, Molly's Master and husband. I actually sort of liked him, though we don't see much of him. His obvious love and devotion to his wife and desire to see her happy in both her lifestyle choice and with him was pretty sweet.

Yet, the themes of this novel really struck a chord in me and had me ginding my teeth a bit. Something about giving complete control in such a way as this was beyond disturbing. I kept waiting for Molly to grow the nerve to tell Mephisto to go to Hell, and yet it never came. I suppose it's the complete disregard for her desires that had me so irritated and the sadistic tendencies of the Doms within the story. Pain I understand, but to push well beyond the point where it's pleasurable seems ludicrous and unfathomable. Then again, I suppose if you aren't involved in the world you could never truly understand and I accept that can't pass too much judgement. In the end, everything that Molly experiences and allows to happen was her choice, freely made, to relinquish any claim to what happened to her body within a set of stipulations.

By the end of the novel though, I felt like little was learned by Molly from her time with Mephisto, making this sort of a rhetorical read. Since all of her time with Mephisto was meant to push her boundaries and open her eyes to how coddled she really was, pushing her to question her choices...I was just surprised that she went back to her old life so easily. I really expected more development as one of the goals to her time with Mephisto was to show her how to be much more then just a toy, and yet she never really surpasses that mind set. It was sad that she didn't clutch at the more productive lifestyle that Mephisto was trying to show her, where part of her time could be spent reclaiming a bit of her former self.

Overall, this was a quick read that was indeed eye opening and intense. While lots of the subject matter didn't sit well with me, it was still interesting and well written. Joseph's blunt writing style was refreshing, her unflinching attention to detail not leaving anything to be wondered at. In the end, if you're into hard core BDSM and TPE (total power exchanges) then this is for you, but if you're like me and crave a bit more connection to characters then this is probably one to shy away from.

My Rating: 3 out 5 Scars

Advisory: Graphic sexual content
Contains explicit BDSM themes, m/f/m, m/m, and TPE
May not be suitable for all readers.


MrsRhaw said...


I'm neither Annabel Joseph, nor her publisher, not her PR, but a fan of her, as you put it right, refreshing style. It seems to me that BDSM is the new black in 2011 and the number of BDSM labelled books is getting bigger. Yet and very unfortunatelly, not all authors really know what they’re writing about. Checking Wikipedia and several hardcore BDSM sites where you cannot see subs really enjoying what’s being done to them by their Doms but can only see their tortured faces, is a recipe for a disaster. What will not kinkers learn from those poorly written books (and I’m not referring to the writing style but the message they’re giving): BDSM is evil and anyone who practices it should be put in an asylum. Let me quote something from Deep in the Woods (not as gritty as Firebird, or Comfort Object or Mercy…) "Okay. This is a controversial topic. Maybe it’s best to agree there are no absolutes. What is devotion to one may look like danger to another. For some, setting limits is an important exercise. For others, their only limit is common sense.”

Wenj said...

@ MRS Rhaw - 'Evil' isn't exactly the word I'd use nor do I have feelings one way or another for the sexual proclivities of others. I myself am not a practioner of the lifestyle, but have come to find it an interesting subgenre to read.

As far as the practical applications of fiction? Each novel comes with a disclaimor explaining that the work and actions involved are purely fantasy and that anyone interested in this type of a relationship and the actual lifestyle should consult someone in the know and find out how to safely practice such a potentially dangerous practice.

Like I said, I'm definietly not knowledgable on the topic, but do enjoy a good read and all I can vouch for is the quality of the work. Not the practicality as I feel that fiction is just that ficticous. If anyone wishes to follow through on actually becoming involved in BDSM, I would assume that they'd be intelligent enough to actually ask people who can help introduce them to it.