First let me say that I'm not an expert on psychology or impact play. What follows are just my thoughts and opinions on the topic. Some people might disagree with me, and that's fine. Everybody's entitled to their perspective, which brings me to my main point: Pain is all about perspective.
It's commonly said (at least it is in my circles) that pain is the brain's interpretation of a sensation. Everybody interprets it differently. When I stub my toe, bang my knee on the pull for my desk drawer, or walk into a doorframe (all of which happens entirely too often to me) I am the BIGGEST baby. I do the sharp inhale, squeeze my eyes shut, and depending on who's around, I might cry. If I can't cry, I just hold my breath until the pain passes. Which is funny because I know that it passes a lot faster if I breathe through it.
However, show me my favorite flogger and I get weak for a different reason. I'll qualify here for those of you who've read Re/Bound -- I'm not a severe masochist. I have friends who are, one of whom answered a lot of questions for me about Painsluts, which is a special class of masochist. Now, I might not be anything approaching a Painslut, but I do love to be under our rubber flogger. It has round falls that can band together or fan out, depending on the way it's swung, so it's very versatile.
The biggest sex organ, and I don't care how well hung the hero is supposed to be, is the brain. The interpretation of pain is located there, but so is the interpretation of pleasure. If you look at something and decide it's going to hurt, you've closed your mind to the possibility of deriving pleasure from it. Similarly if you look at something and decide it's going to heighten the experience, then it usually does. (I say "usually" because I have kids and pets. You never know when they're going to derail a scene.)
Now that we've figured out the determination aspect, let's talk about the mind games inherent in the D/s relationship. I think bondage best exemplifies this. The sub is tied down, unable to move, completely at the mercy of a trusted Dom/me. That Dom/me can do anything they want, and the sub can't stop them. (Well, that's not exactly true. The couple should have established the parameters of the scene beforehand, and a safe word should be used. Ours is "Stop" because we don't play protest games.)
Some people find the position of powerlessness completely arousing. In that state, they're more open to impact play and they're more open to interpreting pain as pleasure. Also, a knowledgeable Dom/me will know 1) what they're doing and 2) your preferences. They'll probably start light and increase the force of the blows.
If you find that concept scary, try this: Find a fleshy piece of your bare arm and hit it lightly with your palm. Increase the force until the sensation becomes unpleasant. If you're up for it, keep going for a little longer or try it again on the inner part of your arm or thigh (start lightly!) I bet it hurts your palm before it hurts your arm. After you've stopped and a few seconds pass, you'll notice heat rising to the skin. You might still feel the sting, but I bet you're also feeling a little something else too. It's even better when you're just on the receiving end. Oh, and this works on any fleshy parts. Remember to not hit the places where the bone is close to the skin.
This kind of play also takes into account your entire body. It's not a quickie focused on what's going on between everybody's legs with a kiss or grope thrown in for foreplay. BDSM concentrates on the foreplay, which makes for much better orgasms. It prepares the mind and the body, and I can't see anything unappealing about that!
I know everybody is different. When I write my characters, I keep that in mind. You'll find that Darcy (from Re/Bound) is the only Painslut. The others like varying degrees of impact play. Marcella (from By My Side) doesn’t like the flogger at all, and Katrina (Re/Paired) finds the bliss in a flogging session so soothing that almost puts her to sleep. I include it in most of my BDSM titles because it’s something I like. In all of my books, I focus primarily on the development of the relationship between the main characters. I want to show you the romantic side of a BDSM relationship. After all, love heightens all experiences.
Places to find out more about my BDSM, paranormal, and mainstream titles: