Partners in Power: Living in Kinky Relationships front cover

Front cover for Partners in Power: Living in Kinky Relationships

By Jack Rinella
Published in 2003 by Greenery Press

When Daddy assigned me this book to review, I thought I might get a few interesting kink lifestyle tips that I may or may not ever find the need to apply.  I did not think this book would be really applicable to me since I am already in a solid long-term M/s relationship. Many lifestyle books are fairly shallow –  “Screw the Roses, Give me the Thorns” comes to mind.  Much to my delight, the first few pages  proved my low expectations false.

Jack Rinella has an excellent writing style with what seems to be an authentic voice.  He introduces the leather community in a concise clear way that had me thinking, “Why didn’t anyone give me this book when I first entered the community?”  Things that took me several years to realize were so simply explained that I would make this required Kinky 101 reading if I were in charge of the world.

For example, when I was relatively new in the community I was asked to serve in a few volunteer roles and quickly nominated to run for office in one of the local groups. I thought serving in the leadership was just that, service.  Community service is something my little servant heart enjoys and desires, so I agreed to run for office.  Jack Rinella suggests that while it is good to “…’Volunteer to do grunt work,’ like stuffing envelopes, setting up chairs, and bringing a snack. Be slow to get elected to anything and, if asked, politely decline and profess your ignorance.” (p.89) Heeding his simple advice would have saved me a great deal of aggravation.

As an aside, in case you have not yet had the pleasure of being involved in BDSM politics please consider the following: politics in the leather community is a bit like a PTA without social restraints. Anyone who has ever been involved in a PTA will readily agree that the thin film of social restraint is truly the only thing that keeps those whackos from turning into a cannibalistic mob. Just say “no” to running for office.

Some who knew me when I was naïve would say they tried to warn me off of being elected to anything, but I did not listen.  I think this is true, I didn’t listen.  So why is it that I am so sure this book would have dissuaded me? I believe it is because Rinella takes the time in his book to start at fundamentals and build a foundation of clear advice.  He begins with definitions of terms, guides the reader toward taking time for genuine internal exploration of who they are, and adeptly discusses relationship styles and how they impact the kinky relationships we seek. Within this context, the “slow down a bit Skippy” warning makes much better sense.   Rinella effectively makes a case for the benefits of taking time to develop your own journey into kink at a thoughtful pace.

As I read, I found that I had to stop every few pages and digest.  Often I would talk with Daddy about things that I found challenging or familiar.  Rinella’s discussion of being honest with yourself and others led Daddy and I to have several evenings of conversation about what we had wanted from the lifestyle prior to being together, where we are now with our relationship, and what we hope to try/do/experience before we die.  Self-actualization is heady stuff but Rinella leads the reader there without pomp.

My experience with the ideas he presents has been very personal and moving.  It is rare that I read a book that  changes me.  In fifth grade, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach, in tenth grade the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov , in college, “The Painted Bird” by Jerzy Kosinski, and now “Partners in Power” by Jack Rinella. I really cannot recommend it strongly enough.