I loved this book. Not just as porn, but as a real book. Though I definitely liked it as porn, as well. This author seems to be channeling every fantasy I ever had (and added a few to the list -- I never in a million years thought I could find pony girl stuff that hot.) Unlike some, I thought it had exactly the right amount of prurient detail -- for me it's the story, more than the blow by blow descriptions (well, you know what I mean), that does it.
It should definitely be read after Carrie's Story, to get the full impact of the characters, but I thought Safe Word was even better. Unlike several reviewers, I didn't find it confusing at all, though it takes some doing to follow the time line, as it switches back and forth between the present reunion between Carrie and Jonathan, her former master, and each of their stories concerning the events of their year apart.
I loved each of the characters -- I don't know how it's possible not to adore Carrie, with her sharp insights, her unsparing (but not at all unhappy) self-view, her wit, and her never-ending, insatiable, and constantly entertaining lust. And, while we knew in Carrie's Story that Jonathan was a bit compulsive and neurotic underneath his perfectly in-control, and perfectly dressed, persona, here he really turns into a real person -- flawed, sometimes silly, frequently faking it, and somehow, for all that, quite dear and still very, very hot.
Most of all, having come of age reading books like The Story of O and The Image (both of which, don't get me wrong, I dearly love), it was particularly satisfying to have those lovely mythologies taken apart and put back together in a way that made the heroine, while every bit as riveted by lust and abandon and the longing to obey, remain intact throughout. I won't talk about what actually happens at the end, for those who haven't read the book, though I will say I both hated and loved the ending, and it made me rethink all those myths, and the impact that their beauty and their despair had on my own self-view. I don't know how I can say more about a book than that.