On re-reading this I upped the stars. I like the fact that in this story, the trappings of BDSM are discarded in favor of the principles underlying them.This book probably more than any others showed me the reason some people need the pain of BDSM. For many, the rest of their life is full of intangible stresses that they have difficulty dealing with. Any sign of weakness in the face of problems is frowned upon by society, their work environment or even themselves. Yet, when physical pain surmounts that and they have permission or are even encouraged to vent their reactions, they get an outlet for all that suppressed anguish. Then after it finishes they also benefit by realizing they had the strength to deal with this physical pain, and gained by understanding that there is an end to it and the relief that follows when it is over.If only we had safe words in life or knew someone who would ensure we only had as much as they knew we could bear.