A grudging two stars, based mostly on technical writing and comparison to "that other book."This book, like many others these days in the post-Fifty Shades of Grey world, started out as Twilight fanfiction. This book actually inspired FSOG, so it came first. The similarities between the two works are obvious, both in the set-up, the various relations of each of the characters, and the progression of the story. It’s almost impossible for me to read this book after reading FSOG and not compare the two.This book circumvents a lot of the problems many people had with FSOG by being vague. Where the other book failed by attempting to show the negotiation process and bungling it terribly, The Submissive allows that all to happen off-page, before the story even starts, so one can assume that all parties were properly informed and all issues properly discussed. Abby shows up in the book already knowing about the kinky proclivities of her beaux, already curious about them, and already eager for them. In many respects, it’s a well done form of fantasy: a man who knows all your desires instinctively, who can circumvent awkward and difficult conversations by just knowing what you want before you even know it yourself. Bad news if something like that happens in real life, but a nice escapist fantasy now and then. It was set up just vague enough to work.That’s not to say it was without problems, however, and the problems were doozies. Such as when Nathanial completely ignores Abby’s “soft” limits and treating them as mere suggestions that he can dismiss. The fact that he admittedly uses safeword blackmail, telling her that using her safeword will put a halt to the relationship entirely and not just the scene. The treatment of safewords in this book in general is pretty sketchy, such as when Nathanial claims he’s never had a sub use one before, as if having that happen would count as some sort of personal failing on his part. (Word to the wise: leg cramps exist, safewords aren’t just used for when you decide you don’t like BDSM anymore, and any Dom that views safewords as a personal failing is not a Dom you want to play with.) Also, also, they weren’t roleplaying; there’s never a point in any of their scenes where “no” or “hold up a tick, these shackles are cutting off my circulation” would be taken at anything other than face-value. It’s like the whole safeword issue was stuck in for drama’s sake, not because of any of the reasons people actually use safewords.The biggest red flag, for me, came when they were renegotiating their relationship and discussing how often Abby would wear her collar.“if I want to have sex on a [non-collar day] and you’re not in the mood, I want you to feel free to say so.”Implying that she can’t say so on their weekend, scene-having days? Not what I would call Safe, Sane, and Consensual. On the whole, the BDSM was presented…better than average, but still a fantasy more than realistic and not without its red flags.On every other level, however, the book failed pretty hard. The first sex scene came on page 15. 15! It’s like having your partner ask if you want a sexy evening together, and as soon as you say yes, he’s trying to pork through your pants. I did not have enough time in this book to get teased, titillated, seduced, or even interested. Then the sex scenes simply didn’t stop coming. I didn’t have a chance to get to know anyone involved, because they were too busy boinking on every available surface, leaving little page time for any relationships to be set up. Now, I like sex. I like reading about sex. Otherwise I wouldn’t have picked up an erotica. But if I just wanted to experience flat, soulless, nearly nameless characters bumping uglies over and over, I can easily find that visual on the internet. I expect my written porn to get me a bit more emotionally invested.The ‘romance’ aspect of the book failed pretty hard as well. I didn’t get the feeling that Nathanial was ‘damaged’ or ‘broken’ or anything of the sort, because he was too blunt and robotic to display any personality at all. I didn’t understand how Abby was supposed to be ‘breaking down his walls’ because she didn’t do anything around him except spread her legs, and they barely had any conversations at all until the end. After the complication and subsequent turning point, things did a complete 180. Nathanial didn’t just realize his issues and promise to be better; he turned into a different character. It was like a switch was flipped, and suddenly they were in a (mostly) healthy relationship. A pretty cute one, at that. Still, it was disappointing to not get to see some actual drama in this story.