Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Screwing the System by Josephine Myles

Josephine Myles
Screwing the System
Samhain Publishing, February 12, 2013 | 280 pages

Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here

He’s nobody’s bitch. Until he gets a ride on the bitch seat.

Forced to apply for a job he doesn’t want, Cosmo Rawlins has only one aim in mind: fail the interview and get back to making music. Except his attempt to shock the older, sharp-suited Alasdair Grant doesn’t have the desired effect.
Instead of getting thrown out of the office by flaunting an interest in BDSM, Cosmo finds himself on his knees, apologizing to the sexy, good-looking Top.
Alasdair has more important things on his mind than training a novice sub, especially a rebellious bad boy like Cosmo. But there’s something beneath the younger man’s defiant attitude that’s too intriguing to ignore.

As Alasdair takes Cosmo in hand—and for a wild ride on his Harley—he becomes obsessed with bending the young rocker to his will, both in and out of bed. Until he goes one demand too far, and Cosmo is gone in a cloud of dust. Forcing Alasdair to admit that earning Cosmo’s loyalty—and love—will involve the toughest challenge he’s ever faced.

Product Warnings
This title contains an overbearing Top with a less-than-glamorous job, a rebellious brat who refuses to call him sir, and a total lack of high-end BDSM clubs or playrooms. Expect floggings over the kitchen table instead.

Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, light BDSM, Discipline, Spanking, Twink, Biker, Leather, Musician, British

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3 flames

Screwing the System has many elements to love. First of all, the D/s pairing which stays on the light side of the BDSM spectrum. This comes along with a bratty sub and an overbearing Dom, who both are more than just a cliche of those circumscriptions. Both characters are delightfully flawed, have an interesting backstory as well as traits to like ánd dislike. Additionally, the story has humor, a British feel to it, and plenty of screen melting moments and hot scenes. And of course, it has a happy ending too.

The main characters, Cosmo and Alasdair, are opposites in many ways, but despite their age difference and divergent interests and take on life, they turn out to be a perfect match. Not in the last place because of their D/s dynamics, which makes for very sexy and scorching hot scenes, but their personalities complement each other as well. Screwing the System is par excellence a character driven story. Most of the tension in the plot is caused by the heroes' clashing character traits, although it never takes them long to find a solution or make a concession.
Therefore their relationship building is almost angst free. This is sort of refreshing, especially the way the men work through their problems very realistically and in a non-cliché manner, but I personally was also left a bit searching for a deeper emotional connection with the protags. Maybe it's me, but without the angst it's somehow more difficult to find that, if that makes sense. But I'm sure that there are many readers who will find the lack of angst a relief, as well as the sense of realism it contains, because there's no 'big misunderstanding' or any of the fairly common lack of communication between fictional dominants and subs here either.

The relationship development takes a central role in this novel, but not without the main characters having a life outside of the relationship as well. Their back stories are introduced to the reader right from the opening scene, in which Cosmo and Alasdair meet. Cosmo is applying for a job he doesn't want at Alasdair's company and he tries to fail the interview so he can get back to making music. This is a great scene in which their opposite roles become clear, while their instant connection shows itself already as well. Alasdair is the self made, smart suited, older and dominant man. Cosmo is the somewhat irresponsible, young but cute, submissive guy who lives from benefits. He wasn't aware of his submissive side until he met Alasdair, but the man makes him curious enough to agree to a date.
Especially in the beginning of their relationship, outside the bedroom, Alasdair comes off as a bit of an arrogant prick who thinks he knows what's best for Cosmo. But the younger man doesn't want to give up his own life just like that and rebels against him. As poor as Cosmo is, he wants to stay independent and his defiant attitude drives Alasdair nuts but attracts him wildly as well. It's the same the other way around, Cosmo finds Alasdair an overbearing, arrogant bastard but loves his bossy side at the same time too. It's easy to see why they are attracted to one another. Myles did a good job of letting that attraction build slowly but gradually into something more. I liked that a lot and found their growing feelings realistically portrayed.

Yet, while I loved the pace of the relationship building very much, I was waiting for some sort of climax but it never really came. However, the characters kept facing enough dilemmas to keep the story interesting. I also liked that secondary characters were included in these dilemmas. Also the author’s insight into her main characters and her staying true to them, makes their story totally irresistible. So, strong storytelling and good pacing compensated the lack of a climax somewhat for me.
I’m sure that Myles’ humorous and skillful portrayal of this unique and authentic couple will please a lot of her fans immensely and will warm up new readers for her other excellent work. She shows with Alasdair and Cosmo’s tale how utterly fun and satisfyingly hot falling in love can be, even when it has the potential to turn your life upside down. And she also proves once again that she’s capable of creating an unforgettable couple with an electrifying chemistry.


  1. Lovely review! You had me sold with this:

    Screwing the System is par excellence a character driven story.

    I love character-driven stories!


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