Title: A Cure for Boredom by emmagrant01 (very, very NC-17)
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Pairing: Sherlock/John (essentially)
Categories: BDSM, smut, drama, smut, angst, smut, smut, smut (can't really emphasize the smut too much), favorite
Length: ~81,000 words
Warnings: John has sex with a *lot* of other people (but it's really all about Sherlock)

Review:
Sherlock is bored and John is complaining about a lack of sex. So, Sherlock takes John to a sex club. As you do.

I can't believe I haven't recced this fic before, considering this is quite possibly the best BDSM fic I've read for people who (like me) rarely read BDSM. I'm deeply impressed with the way the author manages to build up an intense sextual relationship between Sherlock and John without actually involving any sexual contact between the two of them. Equally impressive is the way she writes John's gradual understanding of his own submissive desires, without altering his character or making hims suddenly want to be submissive 24/7 (at least no more so than he already is). And I can't forget to mention her skill in writing OCs -- John's sexual partners are an essential part of the story, but at the same time, they don't take the story over. That's a fine line that emmagrant01 handles beautifully.

The slow escalation of the Dom/sub relationship between Sherlock and John, the growing sexual attraction between the two of them, and the emotional impact as all of this drama comes to a head -- all of it comes together for one of the most satisfying fics I've read in years.

A Cure for Boredom
Introducing the '*favorites' tag. Stories with this tag not be the best written or most lauded fics that I recommend (though many of them are both), but they the fics that I come back to again and again, either as comfort reads or if I've hit too many crappy fics in a row and just need something that I know I'll enjoy. Most of these fics have already been recced at Epic Recs, but I'll be posting them here as well, because no recs collection of mine can be complete without my favorite stories. Each one will be getting a whole new review; if you'd like to see what I originally said about them check out the memories section of Epic Recs on LJ.

Title: Cambiare Podentes by Jordan Grant
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Snape
Categories: angst, bonding, romance, action, au, hurt/comfort, virgin, marriage of convenience (sort of), slavery (technically), BDSM (technically), favorite
Length: 600,000 words
Warnings: graphic rape, dubcon (the author adds about a zillion others, but these are the only ones that are actually present enough in the story for me to warn about)

Review:
Another prophecy comes out, this time stating that Voldemort's going to kill Harry on his first post-Hogwarts birthday. The only way to prevent his death is an arcane ritual known as Cambiare Podentes, which will exponentially increase Harry's power. The downside? It would mean becoming Severus Snape's (sex) slave.

I'll be honest, this particular post is about 25% of the reason why I started this community. Cambiare Podentes was originally recommended by meishali over in Epic Recs a few years ago and while I'd resisted the Harry Potter fandom up to that point, her recommendation was good enough for me to give these fics a try.  I was simply blown away. The intricacy of the plot, the depth of the character development and interactions, the sheer *size* of the story (at the time, this fic was about six times longer than my previous long-story record) -- all of them were so much more than I'd ever thought I'd find in the Harry Potter fandom. The novel was an instant favorite for me and I have since reread it more than any other fic. Unfortunately, because it had already been recced at Epic Recs I never had the opportunity to post my own review of the story, which is something I've always regretted. Now's my chance.

First, the premise, which I was hesitant about when I first started reading, but which completely won me over very quickly thanks to the author's deft handling of the matter. The idea of Harry becoming a slave to save the world isn't a unique one, but Jordan does a brilliant job of delving deep into how that slavery would actually play out, without ever skipping past potential emotional minefields or glossing over the unpleasant bits. In the end, I consider this fic to be less of a story of slavery and more of a story about how two people do everything they can to *subvert* that slavery; to me the most fascinating aspect of this fic is how much time and effort Severus (and, to a lesser extent Harry) puts into meeting the technical definition of slavery while at the same time working so very hard to ensure that Harry never actually feels like a slave.

Which brings me to the characterization of Snape, one the most vital parts of the fic. Turning Snape into a decent human being while still keeping him in character is a challenge for any Snape-centric HP story and I think Jordan's Snape is one of the best. On the one hand, he's still acerbic, poor with people, and often cruel. At the same time, he's not a monster and, in the name of enlightened self-interest, can sometimes even be kind. It's a thin line to walk, but is handled so subtly and deftly in this fic that it looks easy.

It helps that Harry's characterization is equally well done. He's still brash and impulsive and at times immature, but at the same time he's someone who has lived a life under siege and who has many times had to behave older than his years. The end result is a consistently inconsistent character who reads very much like a teenager stuck in a crappy position and while there are times that I want to smack him (especially during a section of the novel that cleverly draws a comparison between Harry and Snape's behavior in a specific circumstance), in the end he's deeply sympathetic and his personal growth is fascinating to watch.

It's the relationship between Harry and Severus that is what makes this book so compelling. The plot has enough unexpected twists and turns to keep you reading, but the awkward dance of Harry and Severus learning to cope with each other and with their unwanted bonding is what kept me glued to the page. If you like marriage of convenience type fics with slow building romance, plenty of moments of intense emotion, action and angst, and the occasional flash of melodrama, you should check this one out. If you're like me, you'll find Cambiare Podentes one of the most epic, involved, entertaining stories you've ever read.

Cambiare Podentes: Invocare
Cambiare Podentes: Madurare
Title: Choices by Kethrua
Fandom: Dresden Files
Pairing: Harry Dresden/John Marcone
Categories: angst, bonding, slavery (sort of), AU, hurt/comfort, BDSM (of the Dom/sub variety), favorite
Length: 28,325 words
Warnings: very light dub-con (so light I probably wouldn't have warned for it if the author hadn't done so), extremely vague references to pre-story child molestation

Review:
After the moment in Changes where Harry's neck is broken, he ends up selling himself to Marcone for healing rather than to Mab. Of course, after that fight is over, the slavery relationship remains.

You'll notice that I categorized this as a "sort of" slavery fic, which is what most slavery fics I rec tend to be. I love stories in which slavery is something that is not considered welcome by either party involved and thus both parties (especially the dominant one) throw most of their energy into *not* encouraging the master-slave relationship.

Which is exactly what happens here. The bonding spell that ties Harry to Marcone is cleverly written so that Harry stays in character while becoming subtly more submissive over time and Marcone is not happy with the change. The power play between the two of them as a result of this personality shift is quite intriguing and is well drawn out over the course of a year as Harry and Marcone both try to find their footing the relationship.

Fair warning, there are a few grammatical errors and the flashbacks in the story can get confusing at times. Overall, however, this is an entertaining, well-written story that explores some fascinating character interactions.

Choices
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