This week, we’ll be featuring romances that are all about the daddy’s. (Plus one book that is not daddy kink but does have some daddy energy.) To get us started, we chatted about paternalistic heroes and kinky sex.
So, how do we feel about daddy kink?
Erin: It’s one of those things that I’m totally willing to let an author sell to me. I totally get why it would work for people.
Holly: I mean, it’s not my kink, but I’m not yucked out by it either. Basically, it just takes paternalistic heroes to their natural conclusion – and if your fantasy is about having a big strong man care for all your needs, then this would tick all the boxes. (I say this having read very little daddy kink.)
Ingrid: It’s honestly not my preferred cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean I’d write the whole trope off.
What criteria would a book have to have for you to count it as “daddy kink”?
Holly: So Erin found this (very helpful to me) article written about practicing daddy kink in real life. I’m paraphrasing here, but the author states that daddy kink for her is a balancing act between dominance and playfulness, with a touch of taboo. A daddy is the boss in the bedroom – but not necessarily bossy, with a strong helping of praise thrown in.
When we’re talking about books, there are books that are straight-up marketed as daddy kink (like Your Dad Will Do, which we’ll be talking about tomorrow), but then there are other books where they never use the word “daddy” (at least in the bedroom), but where there’s what I would call “daddy energy.” For example, in the DILF anthology (which I’ll be reviewing this Friday), I would say that two of the stories have daddy energy, where the hero is both dominant and gentle, and where there’s a touch of taboo (fiancé’s uncle in Sierra Simone’s story and dad’s best friend in Joanna Shupe’s story). Are these novellas daddy kink? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t tap into some of the same fantasies in a more roundabout way.
Erin: I’d argue that for a book to really be daddy kink, it needs to include the protagonists engaging in the daddy role play. One protagonist calling the other protagonist “daddy” and both of them getting off on that is required. Probably many readers would go one step further and expect it to extend into the more taboo areas of age gap and/or discipline play (a daddy/brat dynamic), which is fine, and I understand why readers would want that. But limiting daddy kink to that narrow field doesn’t seem to me to differentiate it enough from other BDSM.
If all the author is doing is having a dom discipline a sub but adding “Yes, daddy!”, I don’t think that fully embraces the other aspects of the daddy character. Everything a daddy (like, an actual father) notionally is – stern, sure, disciplining, sure, but also supportive, loving, encouraging, praising, caregiving – should come through in a daddy. A daddy might sweep all the problems away and provide lavish gifts a la Knight Sebring in Knight by Kristen Ashley, which we will not be reviewing this week. Or maybe he’ll provide some structured emotional support and guidance and encouragement a la Jericho McAslan in Permanent Ink, which we’ll review on Sunday (also, come on, his name is Aslan). Or maybe you’ll get big daddy vibes when he does work around her house, like your dad might very well do (if he’s handy) when you move into a new place, as Karl McCoy does in Daddy Crush, which we’ll review on Wednesday. All of this occurs outside the bedroom, but I’d argue that it forms an essential component of the daddy characterization in ways that differentiate a daddy from any other dom.
Holly: Clearly, Erin has read and thought about waaaaaay more daddy kink than I have.
Ingrid: I’m okay with letting Erin speak for me, here.
What do you think is fun about daddy kink?
Erin: As Holly said above, it takes a paternalistic hero to a natural conclusion, and we know I love a paternalistic hero. So there’s that. But also I like that it celebrates these protagonists acknowledging this desire on both sides and then having a really awesome time playing it out and getting emotional as well as sexual satisfaction from having these needs met. Society sees daddy kink as taboo, and it’s probably really hard to find a match when it’s hard to bring up in conversation, but these protagonists do find the match and do get to enjoy the HEA that comes with getting everything.
Ingrid: I mean, in theory the whole “paternalistic” aspect speaks to a deep sense of safety and trust, plus care. So I think that this is something anyone would want in a relationship, but in this case it’s just demonstrated in a very…different way.
Holly: I want to talk about the taboo aspect a little bit more, because I think that that could be a big draw. Like this is a safe space to explore fantasies that might be a bit taboo or embarrassing to talk about with a partner in real life.
What do you think is problematic about daddy kink?
Erin: As with so much kinky reading material, often the fantasy bypasses the conversations that make it clear that everyone is consenting and enjoying what’s happening, and that there’s a way to stop it if it gets to be too much. But also with daddy kink in particular, we often stray into a DDlg (dominant daddy/little girl) kink fantasy that includes no consent conversation combined with age gap, and the younger partner is 18-23 years old. Which means that the older partner, who’s usually 30+, is straying closer to predator status than to safe sexual partner status. And then on top of that add the discipline kink that so many people expect with daddy kink. It’s possible to write this in a non-creepy way, and having the fantasy on page is not the same as engaging in it in real life, but if that’s the first exposure a person has to daddy kink, I can totally understand why they might be leery of the whole thing.
Ingrid: I think that what Erin said really hits the nail on the head. The grey area that is supposed to be sexy and fun can very easily shift into something predatory and unsafe without clear cut boundaries.
Holly: I would argue that sometimes the lack of clear-cut boundaries is a feature, not a bug. These questions about power and fantasy and what we want from our “problematic” romances is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. But, uh, I don’t really have clear answers yet.
Is it possible to have a “daddy” dynamic between partners without an age gap?
Erin: ABSOLUTELY! While it’s easy to let an age gap be the superficial thing that creates the obvious power dynamic, and while I can see how age becomes a desirable characteristic when seeking a partner in this arena, what really makes the dynamic is the desire both parties have to engage in the kink. He’s not a daddy because he’s older, he’s a daddy because he’s filling the dom role (in a specific way) and both parties are getting off on that.
Holly: I’m sure it’s possible, but I haven’t heard of one (that was M/F, M/M daddy kink seems to lean less into the age gap aspect of it).
What’s one book you loved that features this trope? What’s so great about this book and the way it handles the trope?
Holly: So this is not exactly a “daddy” book, but I really liked Priest by Sierra Simone and it had many elements of daddy kink. Stern but caregiving hero. Taboo relationship. And she calls him “Father.”
I rest my case.
Erin: Well I do like to get into some deep dives when I take on a discussion piece like this, but honestly I probably haven’t read enough actual daddy kink to make a great recommendation. So I’ll say that for this conversation, I appreciated that Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn felt really well-rounded, delving a little bit into a lot of places. Taboo but not running all the way out into the taboo field and with good consideration of the relationship and how the relationship worked in the bigger picture of the protagonists’ lives.
Books we mentioned in this discussion: