Book Review: “Real Service”

Consensual and negotiated personal service relationships, making them healthy and effective

The book Real Service, by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny is a book that examines the role of “service” in D/s.  It is a helpful manual, is clearly written, and should deepen one’s knowledge on the subject.


Co-authored by a couple who live a 24/7 Master/slave dynamic, this book is geared towards those who have a lifestyle which lends itself towards a deeper commitment in the D/s dynamic.  I believe that the greatest contribution of this book to the literature on kink is that it illustrates how to make such a lifestyle more possible.  It normalizes negotiated consent and slavery, an invaluable resource for those who wish to pursue this lifestyle.

While the core emphasis of the book is on the practical, there are some important lines that address deeper matters both for the submissive and for the Master.  My personal favourite is a line in the section on what makes a good servant… “S/he is genuinely moved to service because of the emotional happiness it gives, not because s/he feels that it is required for a particular fantasy role…S/he is not looking for a service relationship in order to avoid real-world responsibility or accountability.”

It is a short book, and an easy read.

Some of the key points raised include:

  • The Master/slave dynamic is about getting things done.  It isn’t just about kink, but about being effective, competent people.
  • A distinction between types of Service is made: transactional, devotional, and positional.  Transactional Service is doing something and getting something in return.  Devotional Service occurs when the submissive serves out of love, a desire to please.  Positional Service arises from a submissive who identifies themselves as a service-oriented submissive—they serve because it is who they are.
  • Styles of Service are also delved into: reactive, pro-active, and anticipatory.  Reactive service is about immediate obedience.  Proactive service is more likely to arise in relation to standing orders, “what would Master want?”.  Anticipatory service occurs when a submissive is thinking about what Master would want even before the thought has occurred to Master.  This last type requires a deep understanding and comfort between partners.
  • The book also considers styles of Dominance: Parental and Celebrity.  Parental dominance has high levels of hands-on domination and control, which may extend into the minutiae of a submissive’s life: clothes worn, hairstyle, etc.  Celebrity dominance is when a Master wishes obstacles to be smoothed out of the way, which requires a dynamic of complete service but with very little hands-on control. Celebrity dominance requires closeness and knowledge, and a very sophisticated submissive.
  • The book also addresses such issues as punishment, disobedience and corrective actions.  When dealing with real service, real obedience is required.  When M/s is the cornerstone of a shared life, the /s can be so deeply integrated into the operating heart of an M/’s life, that there is little room for error.  The book delves into correcting behaviour, remedial obedience, but also how to question orders and to disagree with respect.
  • The book looks at the traits and attributes of a good Master and a good slave.  Chief among these are morality, communication, truthfulness and apply to both.  Self-control, discretion, reliability…also apply to both.
  • One topic that is raised that needs to be raised more often is that the infantilization of a submissive is counter-productive—they should be encouraged towards excellence.
  • The book dedicates a substantial section to the types of basic skills that can become part of the M/s dynamic and form the basis of a service relationship, looking at such issues as cleaning, laundry, household management, driving, but also delving deeper into more executive roles, where a submissive might become integrated into a Master’s business.

My favourite passage in the book is the following, and relates to the topic of gender and service.

“What the Master needs to keep in mind is that a servant with a non-traditional gender role may have struggled for much of their life with shame or rejection because of their inability or aversion to performing a socially defined gender role.  When they put themselves in a vulnerable position to someone who they hope respects and values them for who they are, being told to do tasks closely associated with that other rejected gender role is likely to bring up a lot of difficult emotions.  If it is approached mindfully, it can be a real opportunity for growth, but for this to work, the servant usually needs to know that the Master deeply understand and respects both their preferred gender role and their struggle with their originally assigned role.  While a strong identification with traditional gender roles is frequently just habitual, non-traditional gender roles are much more likely to be seen as essential to the core self.”

REal SErvice, Raven Kaldera & Joshua Tenpenny

This book is a good read for those who are interested in the mechanics of service, and who are interested in understanding how service and a Master/slave relationship can be incorporated into real life.  As such, it is a healthy exploration of the topic.

5 thoughts

  1. Great review! I am really enjoying reading this book. While I don’t identify as M/s in either of my dynamics, I do enjoy providing service and this books has lots of great ideas about that.


  2. If you have other sources of learning about service please share them. The Woman I serve in the D/s world introduced me to the 5 love languages, which I am sure you know. Service for me is one of the main ways I have always expressed love, gifting being another, and when I can combine the two, wow, what fun! I can spend days and days working out and thinking through things to do for the people I love. The book itself really emphasises service within the context of day-to-day living. My S.O. cannot stand D/s and doesn’t want any part of it in our lives. I will not be the one to tell her that the reason she loves me so much is that I am utterly and completely devoted to her, and in truth, decided to be her slave the day we exchanged our wedding vows. I have to hide my submission to her from her, and find creative and elaborate ways to show her my love, without revealing to her that my love for her is as unshakeable as faith. One of my outlets is service, not just to her but also to my children. This is delivered through experiences, things that all of us will remember for a lifetime. I delight in planning them, and even more, sharing them. If you come across writings or have thoughts about this kind of service, or even novels that contain threads of this, I would love to hear or read about it.


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