Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns front cover

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns front cover

By Philip Miller and Molly Devon
Published in 1995 by Mystic Rose Books

A friend is often fond of telling me that he was there at the moment that inspired this book’s title.  While he is generally reliable, I don’t know that there is any way to ever verify the veracity of that claim.

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns is often referred to as the ideal primer for anyone newly interested in exploring an interest in BDSM.  Having read this and numerous introductory BDSM texts, I can only conclude that this book is so often recommended because it has a catchy title.  Compared to all of the other BDSM primers, this is by far the worst of the lot.

While the flow of the book is consistent with others of its type, Screw the Roses is filled with cheesy photographs and even cheesier jokes.  For example, chapter 9, devoted to flogging, is titled, “Philip’s Philosophy of Phlogging Phun.”

While using lighthearted prose to put a nervous beginner at ease with BDSM seems reasonable, rather than making the BDSM seem fun (or should it be “phun”?) the bad jokes interrupt the flow and undercut the authors’ credibility.

If one can wade past the distracting jokes, there really is lots of useful information that everyone new to BDSM play would benefit from knowing, and if this is the only primer you can locate you won’t suffer from reading it.  However, if you are choosing an introductory BDSM book, you will be better served to read Learning the Ropes by Race Bannon or Consensual Sadomasochism by William A. Henkin and Sybil Holiday.