Control via hypnotism, will power or magic rings lacks a certain visual appeal that bondage has in spades. But hey, c'est la vie! Image source: Christina Carter on Hogtied.com.
I read Dreams of Control: Awakening by Marc Cabot, and it was a good, steamy, fast read that rolled right along. You can buy it here, it costs only $1.99 and it's totally worth it. It's about a fellow who finds box that contains a genie, who must give him a wish in exchange for his freedom. Being a rational fellow, David, our protagonist, figures he is dreaming, but proceeds in accord with the general zeitgeist of the dream to use his legal skills (he's a law student) to draft a wish that the genie can grant and which won't blow up on him.
It's nice to see an old hackneyed theme (man gets wish, regrets it) neatly sidestepped, a sign you're in good hands.
David's wish is to have anyone whom he talks to while wearing a certain ring immediately obey his orders as if they were their own wishes. Figuring he's still dreaming, as soon as the genie vanishes he tests his power on the cute young hotel desk clerk. It works as advertised, and in a short time she's naked and and doing very sexy things in his rooms, and enjoying it thoroughly, because that's the real crux of Awakening, it's a straight-up power fantasy as David uses the ring to have a lot of fun with women.
Cabot tells his story with verve and gusto, the writing is smooth and the scenes flow easily as you read. He also has great skill at putting the erotic in erotica, the sex scenes are steamy and very realistic, with the pleasure that both participants take in them well portrayed. I was kind of surprised at this, I haven't read a lot of power fantasy stories and I kind of expected the women he controls via the ring to be zombie-like and withdrawn. You know, (robot voice) "Your wish is my com-mand, Mas-ter!"
But no, by using commands that drew the women into the erotic acts he gets them to perform, he draws them out as characters and creates a sense of two people sharing sexual escapades rather than a man using women as living blow-up dolls for his sexual pleasure. Instead of saying simply, "Suck my cock," he says, "You find me the most desirable man you have ever seen, you want more intense pleasure..." and lets the female character express how that intensity manifests itself. The women PARTICIPATE in the fantasy, albeit under the compulsion of the ring, and it adds a lot to the story.
There are a lot of moral issues with a power fantasy of this kind, and I figured that Cabot was going to use the old dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream dodge. Well don't want to get too spoilerish, but let me say that his protagonist wrestles with the moral dilemmas inherent in the power he's been given, at least a bit. Not enough to get in the way of the sex scenes, fortunately, but enough to make you feel the book isn't entirely superficial.
I personally would have liked for Cabot to come out with a cleaner way of dealing with the moral dilemmas posed by his power fantasy. I mean, the appeal of the dream-within-a-dream solution is that it does sweep the moral dilemmas out of the way … when the protagonist wakes up to find himself disempowered, no harm has been done, it's just been his subconscious out on a romp. Which many people would say is a good description of erotica.
Point is, Cabot avoids cheap solutions to his dilemmas while keeping the steamy stuff going He's a writer worth watching … and reading!