Isabella Martin was born a hundred years after an economic crash, which changed the whole world. Countries fell, and others rose up in their place. Debt is now genetic. There is no escaping one’s family without special dispensation.
With the help of a few patrons, the government began a Program which oversaw private contracts between the rich and the poor, contracts that would pay off chunks of debt, or even allow a person to remove themselves from their family and hold a private debt.
Each contract has very clear terms dictating what is to be expected of those who sign it. Each one has several escape clauses. The government employed private workers to check in on the contracts to prevent abuse of power.
Isabella was a tomboy. She worked as a labourer alongside her father and brothers until she was hurt in a workplace related accident. The other skills she developed in the slums were not exactly marketable, leading her to the Program building in search of a contract to bring her family’s debt down any way she could.
She was presented with a ‘blank slate’ contract. No rules, no guides, no escape.
This is her story.
Targeted Age Group:: +18
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Back in 2015, as NaNoWriMo was approaching, I had no idea what I should write. A friend of mine dared me to get out of my comfort zone, to write this idea that I had been kicking around for three or so years. So, I did.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Like many of my characters from my earlier works, Isabella and Nathaniel simply came with the world. They are not based on anyone I know and share no traits with people I've met in real life. I think that made it easier for me to write this.
My name is Isabella Domme, though I was born Isabella Martin. I changed my name in the twenties when we all started coming out of the playroom. The community as a whole was hesitantly accepted, but I was a well-known face. The public knew about me long before the community came out, but it was like they looked away and thought I simply stopped.
See, in the late tens (teens?) and early twenties, I was an advocate for the rights of poor folk. I was the one who organized the marches. I was the one who stood in the parliamentary building until they allowed poor folk to run for government positions.
Yes, the rumours of that are blown out of proportion. I did not do anything untoward to anyone. I simply attended every meeting, every vote, completely naked. At first they thought it amusing to eye a woman, but eventually, I won them over.
Of course, that all was before my name change.
I’ve been asked by my editor to write this introduction for my first-hand account of a contract in the Program. The whole thing will be included in the national archives along with the accounts of several others who took part in the Program, from both sides of the contracts.
My account was first published in the early twenties, though it was then done through the community as an example of what not to do. In the early days of the community, the founders patched together what they could find from historical records. They had the right idea, but it was wrong in several important ways.
It has had a few updates here and there over the years, to clarify some points.
When the national archives began, the community—which was founded firmly in both sides of the debt and had access to nearly anything within the borders of our country—began a new sort of growth. Our information before the archives was based mainly on literature that had survived. These consisted of a few classics from the middle of the C.E. and a plethora of electronically stored books from shortly before the end of the Common Era.
Basically what I’m trying to say here is: Don’t take this as the way to approach BDSM safely. If you want to dabble, go to the local event on Sunday and remember: always practice safe, sane, and consensual sex.
With that being said, don’t read this expecting a whirlwind romance. For some damned reason the editors insisted on a romantic genre, but I’m pretty certain it would count as erotica, not romance. In the BDSM community? Sure, I could see this as being a romance of some sort, but to the rest of the world, the world that doesn’t understand what it is to surrender will and body, it’s…
It’s kind of creepy.
It’s probably abusive.
And I don’t want to hear any more complaints from vanilla readers who went into this thinking there wasn’t going to be pain involved. I’m not going to list out ahead of time everything that happens. While that might help some readers avoid what they don’t want to read, this is a first-hand account of a Program contract. It’s meant to be educational on some level.
I’ve also had a great deal more people beg me not to include such a list because they found it enticing not to know ahead of time what they would end up encountering. The unknown can be very, very arousing.
Trust me; I’d know.
Over the years I have received several questions as to how this could be so detailed if it was written nearly a decade after the fact. The answer is simple. When my contract began, I was given a journal to record every little thing. The first days I didn’t do so much detailing as I did listing a few things here and there. As the years went on the details became more and more.
I also have pictures and videos. Everything was recorded then, in and out of the slums, so I could go back and view the outside details. If some things appear as if written by an outside observer, it’s because I cannot recall the event at all and have used these videos to fill holes in my memory.
Nathaniel helped a great deal, he also kept a journal and wrote his account of events, which will be submitted to the archives with mine.
Some things were lifted directly from my journal and placed in the book as is, though with a few grammatical and spelling errors corrected. These lines are italicized. I know that in the romance genre, at least in the fiction areas, italicized words are usually the heroine’s inner thought, or inner goddess, or something of that sort.
While the book was written with the journals as the main outline, there will not be dates on any of the chapters. This is not laid out to look like a journal. It is laid out in chapters. It is meant to be past tense, though some of what was lifted straight from the journals have remained in the same tense as when they were written.
As I write this, my editor is sitting down the hall arguing with my agent and publicist as to whether or not the book should be published the final time as one volume, or whether it should be broken up into three. Like most formatting debates, no one stops to ask the author what she thinks.
I suppose the only other thing for me to say is this:
Mother, if you’re reading this, put it down. Nothing is more terrifying to me—and I’ve done some strange and dangerous things in my life—than my mother reading this and then coming for one of her fabled visits. There is no age that I know of wherein a parent learns of the details of their child’s sexual proclivities, and both parties don’t end up embarrassed to no end.
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