John Preston, for me, was once all about [b:Mr. Benson: A Novel|308937|Mr. Benson A Novel|John Preston|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328748252s/308937.jpg|1096165] It was the book everyone spoke about and referred to, and I enjoyed it (mostly) when I finally laid my hands on it.Yes, it was hot, but it was fantasy.This book should be required reading for everyone who wants to understand the dynamic between Dom and sub, simply because the author shows the different ways it can vary.In his review, Jason Huffman-Black refers to the clinical detached style of writing, and after reading angsty emotional m/m romance it certainly comes across that way, but, again as Jason comments, after a while, you start to see the emotion lying under the surface.Like a Dom who cares deeply for his sub but doesn't let on, John Preston cares about and understands the dynamics that can exist in different relationships.None of these short stories are HEA. They aren't meant to be. The title of the anthology says it all. They are episodes that happen in subs and Doms lives that have meaning. Moments of growth and change.The sex is mentioned more than shown. That's because the sex is not the point of the stories, it's the roles that are taken on and why they work for the people involved.Each story has its own merits and its own lessons if you take the time to look at what is not being said as much as what is being said. Each may strike a different chord at a different time. They are all definitely worth re-reading.Perhaps the story that resonated the most for me was the tale of the sub who, after losing one Master had built himself into the perfect specimen for another should he find one. The man he chose was amazed as he thought himself to be in a totally different league based on the physical beauty of this sub, but as the story goes on, you see the vulnerability beneath this brilliant exterior and the way that the Dom, simply because he understand his needs and is happy to fulfil them is the right man. The use of the word, Daddy, for once felt deserved and appropriate.These stories are all about a man who, by submitting to the right master, grows and gains from the experience no matter how short it is.Sometimes these subs outgrow their Masters, but the lesson is still the same.None of these hook-ups are taken lightly. The story about the grey area between tricking and relating exposes some of the insecurities and vulnerabilities that can be much harder to deal with than the sting of a whip.There is the insecurity of age and of weight. The torment of distance. The ongoing search for connection while at the same time keeping people at arms' length.What makes this all the more fascinating is that it is a collection of stories that Preston admits were based on actual encounters he had along the way. The Master in all these stories is a version of himself. The stories a tribute to different subs he had. Each offering their own unique brand of submission and him gaining something from the experience and changing subtly even if he didn't appreciate it at the time. You can see a kind of search for something I don't think Preston ever found. The perfect ongoing relationship. Why didn't he? Perhaps he saw himself more as the Teacher (as much as a Master) he couldn't resist all these people he met who needed some direction in their life which he could give them.The epilogue is also a fantastic insight into the whole comcept of the meaning and place for pornography.There is no way this book can be seen as such. Doing so would ignore the psychological dynamic that flows throughout. These aren't dolls strutting their stuff, they are real people with all their needs and insecurities even if sometimes dressed up as strengths. Particularly in respect to the narrator himself who senses the gaps in his life, but never expresses these doubts to another. You can't if you're the all-knowing Master.Permeating it all, even if John Preston didn't realize it at the time, is this innocent, although that is probably not the right word, this blissful ignorance about the insidious plague that was to kill him and probably many of these men that he depicts, fictional or real.In those days, they wove around each other in a dance of sex and emotional jousting never realising the real danger was not in being humiliated or hurt by a whip but in being killed by something so small they didn't even see it coming.I'm so glad we've got a record of this past age in his words.