Reviews

If you write, you should be reading. If you read, it’s polite to post reviews. I do all three. This is not all the stuff I’ve reviewed but rather the books I really want to promote. Some other reviews I’ve done are posted on Christina Harding’s blog.

I do write reviews on request, but there are a few caveats you should be aware of. As a professional journalist who has published quite a few mainstream book reviews, I have high standards for writing quality and a low tolerance for grammatical and spelling errors. Also, between my day job, my family, and my own writing, my time for reviewing is limited, so I am fairly selective about what I review. I am more likely to review your book if you don’t already have 50+ reviews. I’m especially likely to take a look if you have no reviews at all.

Right now, I am only reviewing erotica, but as far as that goes, I am willing to review just about anything. That being said, there are some genres, such as the more niche m/m stuff, that I am probably not the best reviewer for because I have done relatively little reading in them. Anything that sounds like what I’ve written myself (see my books), is fair game.

I view my reviews as recommendations of things I think other people might enjoy reading, so I don’t post bad reviews. If I don’t care for something, I just won’t review the book in the first place.

If you’re interested in having me review your book, I require either a review copy or a reciprocal review of one of my books. If that works for you, email me and let’s talk (i.e., please don’t send unsolicited book files before I’ve agreed to do a review—these are likely to be ignored).


 

Thorne: Rose’s Dark Contract by R.B O’Brien

If you read the author’s “Natalie’s Edge” series, which I enjoyed immensely, you may be expecting another tormented romance between two deeply flawed and confused people. That’s what we get here, but with some new twists.

Thorne is not the Michael of Natalie’s Edge. He’s darker, more cryptic, with more secrets. He’s spent his life using women and throwing them away, and not in a figurative sense—his preferred relationship is what he calls his “personal assistant,” a woman who agrees to serve him under the terms of the titular dark contract. Thorne is not a nice guy. He doesn’t want anyone close to him, and he thinks nothing of cruelly pushing away anyone who tries. He’s hiding something that needs to be hidden, and though we get hints of this secret throughout, it doesn’t come until a delicious twist at the end.

Victoria Rose is a lost, desperate young woman who falls under Thorne’s spell. But she’s not like his other assistants. She’s too young, too inexperienced, too trusting. She wants to be with him but has no idea what she’s getting into even when he tries to make her understand.

But Victoria gets under Thorne’s skin in a way no other woman has. He doesn’t know why, and he doesn’t like it. As their relationship grows more dysfunctional, both of them are forced to face up to what is bringing them together, and what is driving them apart.

A great start to a series I’m ready to see more of.


 

Butterface by Callie Press

If the cover alone doesn’t put you on notice that this isn’t your everyday piece of erotica, rest assured, you likely have no idea what you’re getting into here. Imagine an X-rated Stephen King when he’s on his game and you’re getting close.

Tommy Joe, JimBob, and Bobby Joe are three adolescent boys on the cusp of adulthood. All virgins, they’re more than ready to become men, but have yet to have the chance. It’s especially tough for Tommy Joe, whose beautiful but pious girlfriend Janie has kept him steadfastly above the waist until they can get married. One afternoon, an elderly neighbor named Old Pap tells them a story about the legend of Butterface, a succubus-like demon who seduces virgin boys but then destroys their minds. Like the title, she has a perfect body but a face so hideous it can kill.

The boys don’t believe him, but Old Pap is telling the truth—and Butterface is coming for them.

There’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye, and the author expertly weaves the threads of the plot as we see the doom approaching Bobby Joe, JimBob, and finally Tommy Joe. Old Pap is not what he seems, nor is Butterface, and how it all unfolds is equal to some of King’s best short stories. It’s howlingly funny, thrilling, scary, and sexy all at once.

The author has a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and a wicked imagination. There’s also plenty of red-hot (and quite dark) sex to top it all off.

This is one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read this year, and more than worth the cover price.


 

Good Pussy Bad Pussy: Rachel’s Tale by A. Aimee

Rachel’s story is a fairly familiar one in erotica: Trapped in a loveless marriage with a boorish, boring man she no longer cares about, she falls for a handsome stranger who whisks her off into a whirlwind of sex and excitement. The story opens with her already on the loose but unsure of what she’s gotten herself into. For the man she initially falls for, Stefan, has some unexplained connection with another man, Albert, who may or may not be a gangster. Through the book, Rachel bounces between these two men and her estranged husband trying to decide what it is she really wants.

This is one of those stories you will either love or hate depending on your reaction to Rachel. Good Pussy Bad Pussy is the sort of raw narrative that pours out of the main character’s head in an unfiltered torrent of emotions and self-reflection (the title refers to her inability to control her sex drive). Since Rachel has no clue what she’s doing with her life, neither do we. If you can hang on for the ride, and don’t find yourself hating Rachel’s indecision and sometimes ill-advised choices (I wavered over this in spots), it’s an enjoyable read. The sex is hot, but it does get a bit rough at times and certainly doesn’t fit the usual romantic tropes. You’ll probably know within the first chapter whether you want to keep going; I did.

 

Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captivity by A. Aimee [Spoilers if you haven’t read Book 1!]

I’ll be honest, I had some issues with the first book in this series. The story was engaging and the writing was good, but Rachel’s indecision and irrationality drove me bananas in spots. In this book, we get a fuller picture of her, and her maddening behavior in Book 1 comes into clearer focus. This is a bigger, darker, more well-rounded story that is well worth the read, assuming you’ve got the stomach to get through the dark spots.

Rachel and Albert have settled into their life in Cap Ferrat with their new baby. They’re blissfully happy and discussing marriage. Then Albert goes on a trip to Jordan where he’s kidnapped by terrorists. Overnight, Rachel’s life goes from bliss to horror as Albert’s kidnappers first demand a huge ransom, then disappear. Worse, Albert’s partner Victor moves to exploit the situation, threatening to abandon Albert to his captors unless Rachel sleeps with him. Unlike the first book, the story is also told from Albert’s perspective, both retelling parts of Book 1 and the trauma of his kidnapping.

The dark sections here, as Rachel is forced into a relationship with Victor, are likely to be too much for anyone not into dark erotica, but the author spins them with care, expertly describing the horrors from Rachel’s perspective as Victor demands not just Rachel’s body but her mind as well. But through this, we get a deeper understanding of who Rachel is and how she’s ended up where she is in life. More than that would be a spoiler, but there’s some surprising depth in this work and a highly satisfying ending.


 

Peeper by S.J. Smith

Erotica is a funny genre. Though it purports to live outside conventional mores, it carries with it conventions of its own—conventions that authors ignore at their peril. Erotic romance must always end with Happily Ever After. BDSM can never touch real-life partner abuse. Interracial cuckoldry can never examine its inherent racism. And so on. Authors who breach these conventions may produce superior work, but also risk blowback from outraged readers.

So it’s refreshing to come across a book that dares to throw several genres—erotica, humor, and detective fiction—into a blender and yet still produce a tasty smoothie instead of a confused mishmash.

Peeper is the story of Adam “Jenks” Jenkins, a would-be private eye who lives and works in a sleepy North Wales village. Jenks has done little real private investigating and isn’t quite sure how it works, but he isn’t deterred. One day, though, a real case lands on his meagre desk. A married client is being blackmailed by woman with whom he had a tryst, and he wants Jenks to recover the photographs. In exchange, he offers to pay half the requested ransom: £25,000.

As with any good detective yarn, little here is as it first appears. Is his client who he purports to be? Is this mysterious woman villain or victim? The plot is complicated by Jenks’ lusty wife Kate, who takes an increasing interest in things, especially once the woman takes an interest in her husband. Without giving any spoilers, the twists and turns in the last few chapters are enough to give you whiplash.

Jenks, Kate, and Veronica (our femme fatale) are interesting, well-drawn characters who drew me into the story. The pacing is good, picking up nicely as things develop. The sex is delightfully kinky and well-integrated into the story, as Jenks’ predilections are an ongoing complication for his attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Of course, when one begins mixing genres, it becomes that much harder to hit a home run with any of them. While Peeper is neither a truly gripping mystery nor a soul-stirring piece of erotica, it is an entertaining story that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next, and that’s really all you can ask for.

 


 

A Dark Place by Arnica Butler

This is not your typical interracial cuckolding story, not by a mile. This is a genre that is unfortunately larded up with tired cliches and cookie-cutter characters who almost never break out of their stereotypes, not to mention quite a lot of overt racism.

A Dark Place is not one of these stories.

On the surface, we have the usual cast: an uncertain husband, an unfulfilled wife, and a dangerous black man. But Butler takes us on a deep dive into their character and motivations to a degree that is very impressive in a relatively short (novella-length) work.

Andrew Walters is an American lawyer posted to Lagos, Nigeria. He’s had an easy life up to now, and is not prepared for the rough edges and hard men he has to deal with, men who have gotten where they are by clawing up a far more difficult path. These men don’t respect him; he knows this, and knows they’re right not to.

Charlotte Walters is a once-idealistic British journalist who has succumbed to the comforts of being a successful lawyer’s wife. But arriving in Lagos awakens something in her—it’s a rawer, more hard-edged world than she’s used to, and it excites her in ways she’s not prepared for.

Most stories like this would end the characterization there. But Butler also takes us inside the mind of Clement Ambode, a “fixer” who solves problems for the foreign men and women who have come to milk the wealth from his country. He disdains them even as he knows he—and Nigeria—need them. Clement has fought his way up from the slums by being reliable and careful. He knows mistakes will send him back where he came from, because there are 100 other harder, more careful men ready to take his place.

When Charlotte decides to resuscitate her career with a book about Lagos, Andrew hires Clement to serve as her bodyguard and guide. The attraction between the two of them is immediate, but there are of course complications. “Fucking a client’s wife was not reliable. Not even in Nigeria.” What is Clement to do?

Butler’s writing is lyrical and engaging, and her descriptions of Lagos are vivid and detailed. If I have a quibble, it’s that the story ended a bit too soon for me. There’s certainly room for a Book 2.

 


 

A Bedtime Story by L.C. Moon

This book is not what it purports to be. Reading the blurb and promo material around this work might lead you to believe you’re getting a conventional dark erotic romance with the seductively evil-but-vulnerable protagonist and the abducted heroine who falls in love with him against her will. And while we start out with such familiar tropes, just when you think you’re getting comfortable, this book takes those tropes and whacks you across the back of the head with them.

Laura Spencer is a woman with a difficult past. Kayne Malkin is the prince of a Russian crime family whose primary activity is sex trafficking. Kayne is not a Bad Boy with a capital B. No, he’s just a bad guy—not sexily dangerous, not cute, just plain evil. The two share one thing in common: Both grew up with abusive fathers—Laura’s was a garden-variety abuser, while Kayne’s father brutally trains his son to assume control of the family—and this provides a link they fight against for almost the entire book.

Laura’s brother Peter has gotten caught up with Kayne’s organization, and steals something important. This betrayal must be avenged, but Peter has disappeared. So Kayne tracks down Laura and uses her to find her brother. That’s the set-up, but a great deal more happens even after Peter in found.

Much more than that would constitute spoilers, but one thing to note is that this book is far more dark than erotic. There are about as many murders as sex scenes. Supporting characters we grow to like or at least sympathize with are abruptly killed. We get to see the inside of the sex trafficking business in ways that are decidedly not arousing. And unlike most heroines in dark erotica, Laura never goes through the usual Stockholm Syndrome routine. She evolves, but not in ways we expect.

This is a book I enjoyed, but it is a work that is not for everyone. If you prefer your dark erotica to color carefully within the lines, I would avoid it. But if you like books that make you keep reading even as they make you cringe, it’s worth the effort.

 


 

A Perfect Fit (Belle Short #1) by Celeste Monroe

Every now and then as a reader, you stumble across something that proceeds to blow you away out of the blue. Such it was with this piece. Basically, a woman is shopping for lingerie and makes a connection with the lingerie salesgirl. A set-up you’ve no doubt seen more than once before, no? But the pacing and energy of this story set it apart. As simple as the setting is, the author builds the heat and intensity to a fever pitch as Belle and Ariana tentatively explore their attraction to each other. All of it feels real, not rushed or forced. This is one of those stories you can imagine the author having to repeatedly pause in writing in order to relieve the tension she’s built up.

There’s a nice twist at the end, and a promise of more to come. I definitely want to read what happens next.


 

The Claiming of Angelica, The Supernatural Sleuth series by Bella Swann

Imagine a hugely endowed, secretly submissive Buffy who has gone to work for a perverted Richard Branson clone, and you’ve got some idea of what you’re in for here. In book 1, Angelica is ostensibly headed into the jungle to track down one of her employer’s lost employees, but naturally gets thoroughly used and abused long before getting anything done.

Unfortunately, when she does get to the jungle, she unwisely wanders into a dangerous zone of amorous fish, lecherous vines, and a horny tribe of Bigfoots, who take over where her employer left off. Will she ever find what she’s looking for? Does it matter? One way or another, Angelica will get what she needs (and deserves).

As Book 2 opens, we find Angelica enjoying herself in the shower in preparation for a hard nights’ work investigating a new mystery: A haunted house where nubile young women have entered only to disappear without a trace. Naturally, our over-sexed, over-endowed heroine must put all her blessings to work in satisfying her carnal urges–sorry, unraveling the enigma.

Angelica has scarcely entered the house before she falls under the spell of a horny ghost, and things only get more perverse from there as she finds herself repeatedly used and abused, not quite unwillingly. Yet the ghost’s attentions are only the beginning, as far darker things lurk in the house waiting to possess Angelica and make her their sex slave for all eternity.

There are tentacles. And a lot of black goo. Angelica survives to sleuth another day, but I won’t say any more.


 

Temptation (Natalie’s Edge, Book 1) by R.B. O’Brien

I found this a difficult book to read because Michael, at least initially, comes off as such a manipulative, self-centered prick. You wonder at first why Natalie is so attached to him, beyond what he can make her feel. But … just here and there … you sense that there’s more going on here. And there is.

This is an expertly crafted work that the author clearly put a great deal of thought into, not just the plot and narrative structure, but also the two main characters, who are complex, deeply imperfect people with a lot of emotional baggage. You care about Natalie and want her find her way through this, yet at the same time find yourself raging against what seems to be a dangerous situation she’s getting into. I wanted to punch Michael in the face more than once, but I kept feeling that there had to be more to him, that this person I had begun to hate had to be a shell he put up against the world.

I’ve probably said too much and I don’t want to say anymore about the plot for fear of giving away any spoilers. But I was unable to stop reading this book after the first page. It grabbed a hold of me and refused to let go, as difficult as some spots of it were. I’m eager to read the rest of it.

Fall (Natalie’s Edge, Book 2) [Spoilers if you haven’t read Book 1!]

The first book ends with Michael’s declaration of love, but don’t think it’s smooth sailing from there. As much as Natalie and Michael are drawn to each other, they can’t seem to get past their complicated emotional issues. Love alone isn’t enough.

This book starts a bit slow, but the pace picks up bit by bit as a well-intentioned mistake on Natalie’s part sends things rapidly spinning out of control. We end this one with a bombshell of a cliffhanger that finally gives us a clear view of who Michael is, but will this revelation draw them even closer together or blow things apart?

As with the first book, the sex is hot and drawn out as Michael expertly teases Natalie with things she resists, yet can’t stop coming back for. I’m eagerly awaiting Book 3.

Redemption (Natalie’s Edge, Book 3) [Spoilers if you haven’t read Books 1 & 2!]

Part 2 left us hanging, wondering if Michael and Natalie could ever navigate a way to get past their emotional wounds and find true love. They do love each other, but they can’t seem to find a way to live together without tripping over one issue after another. We understand Michael now, but he’s as maddening as ever, never quite letting Natalie all the way into his life even though he acknowledges that she’s The One. Natalie, for her part, continues to be jerked around by Michael’s indecision to the point that she’s not sure which way is up.

Even as this seems like it’s coasting to a conclusion, the author throws one twist after another at us, with the final one making it look as if Michael and Natalie are doomed after all. Will they get past this final hurdle? Can they possibly manage it?

I really enjoyed how this series subverts a raft of BDSM romance conventions, with a submissive heroine who is also a independent businesswoman possessed of a strong spine and a dominant hero who gets himself so tied up in emotional knots at times that it’s a wonder he can tie his own shoes. Yet the two of them are clearly meant to be together despite all this, and the author deftly wraps it all up in the end.

A fine set of books I would strongly recommend.


 

The Boxed Set by Marketa Giovanni

There’s a fair amount of erotica out there in which it’s clear the author is lacking a certain confidence–s/he is afraid to let the story be what it’s meant to be. So rather than writing a hot little short, you get a few sex scenes larded up with plot, backstory and scene descriptions that don’t add anything of substance. Such authors want to write the sex scenes, but they’re afraid that only doing that will mean they only write about sex. Or something. Writing really hot, entertaining short erotica is harder than most people realize.

But that’s what we’ve got here. There’s relatively little backstory and scene setting in these stories, just enough to set the stage effectively and get to the sex. And that’s all we need, because the sex is hot and imaginative, and more than enough to hold our attention. If you’re into public sex and exhibitionism, you should love all of these stories, but they’re entertaining and enjoyable even if that’s not one of your fetishes.


 

Suzy and the Alien series by Tara Crescent

This is one of those books that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and if you aren’t easily offended and like your kink with a side of snark, this should be right up your alley.

Virginal Suzie has been dating a jerk of doctor named Larry who who has somehow come into possession of an artifact allowing him to control a telepathic, doubly-endowed alien named Bob. Larry attempts to force himself on Suzie, but things rapidly go haywire, and Suzie is soon gallivanting around the galaxy enjoying one twisted sexual experience after another with Bob as her mentor.

There’s basically just enough story here to hold the sex scenes together, but it’s a good, creative, entertaining story that kept me turning the pages. Larry gets his comeuppance, Suzie gets to fulfill all her twisted fantasies, and Bob gets to preserve his lifeforce (trust me on that last one; you’ll understand when you read it).


 

Underneath the Gargoyle, Part 2 by Christina Harding

The first installment in this series is what got me started on reviewing with Christina, and my only complaint was that it ended much too abruptly. This was certainly one of those stories that cries out for a sequel, and Christina has finally delivered.

The story picks up right where we left off, with naughty Catholic schoolgirl Trisha carried off into the catacombs. Her boyfriend Kyle and best friend Olivia are searching for her, though it’s not clear she even wants to be rescued: A new series of stone creatures is keeping her very busy. What will they find when they finally locate her?

Go pick this one up, you won’t regret it.


 

The Everyone Loves Lucy series by Connie Cliff

If there’s one thing the Oswald Group clearly doesn’t have, it’s a sexual harassment policy—and that’s a good thing.

Hot young college grad Lucy arrives for her first day of work to discover her responsibilities are quite a bit more than the usual admin assistant position. Between the group principals and the office’s female staff, Lucy is kept quite busy in all sorts of other positions. As the series proceeds, Lucy is called to apply her talents to counsel co-workers and close important deals. This is a girl with her priorities straight. But Eric, the head of the company, has plans for Lucy. Will she succumb to his charms or find her own way?

These stories are a quick, hot reads that Connie milks for all they’re worth. Where do I apply?


 

The Dr. Dom Series by Tara Crescent

If you’ve been following any of my ongoing posts on writing erotica, you’ll have seen that I have more than once railed against characters who don’t act or talk like real people. This is a particular problem with a lot of BDSM fiction. Either it’s clear the author has no idea about how BDSM works in real life, or the characters, regardless of how they got into the situation, immediately begin behaving as if they’ve been dominant or submissive their entire lives. It’s fairly rare to get a view of how real people who are into this stuff find their way into a fulfilling relationship.

What we’ve got with this series is just such a relationship in the making. Patrick is a divorced doctor with a dominant past; Lisa is a deeply submissive woman who has been struggling with balancing her needs against her previous bad experiences with an abusive man. Both of them have a ton of emotional baggage they haven’t really dealt with.

What I was particularly struck with in this series of stories is how much these two come across as real people trying to deal with an intense mutual attraction while still respecting themselves. They want what the other can offer them, but at the same time they know better than to completely let go right off the bat. They’re real people with careers, feelings, and thoughts; they don’t go into 24/7 as soon as the sex starts. It’s not something I’ve ever really come across in BDSM fiction.

If you’re into realistic (as opposed to La-La Land) BDSM, you should really enjoy these stories. I haven’t given much of a summary of the plot because you’re going to want to follow along with what happens on your own.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten into the doctor-patient role-playing that forms the core of the sex scenes. That alone, if you’re into that sort of stuff, is worth the price of admission.

Tara reached out to me about reviewing her stuff after reading The Hunt, but don’t let that predispose you to discount this review; this is intense, well-done stuff that is better than 95% of what I’ve read in the genre.


 

Tristan’s Secret Life by Connie Cliff

This is hot. I don’t just mean hot, it-will-turn-you-on, I mean, I needed to fan myself when I got to the end of it, hot. This story mixes step-sibling pseudoincest, lesbian sex, and attack fantasies into one short but dense story.

Basically, Tristan and his adoptive sister Posey hate each other until they hit adulthood, at which point they both realize they’ve really got the serious hots for each other. After one hot night in which they consummate their mutual lust, Posey realizes she’s really into girls and Tristan realizes he can’t get off with anyone who doesn’t look like his stepsister. This leads him into fulfilling “attack” (fill in the replacement for this euphemism Amazon forces us to use) fantasies of random women who look like Posey.

My only complaint about this story is that it ended way too soon. However, it appears to be only the first installment of a series, so I’m eager to see the next one.


 

Overruled by Connie Cliff

I was given a copy of this short story by the author, who requested a review. Avery is a hardworking young woman who dreams of becoming a lawyer, but lacking the funds for her college education, puts herself through school by working as a Las Vegas stripper and, eventually, escort. On her last night as a working girl, just before she starts law school, she services a client who pushes her limits in a number of ways, then convinces her to let him take a few pictures. This client turns out to be the new dean of the law school, who isn’t about to let go of the leverage he now has over Avery.

Connie describes herself as “a budding erotica writer,” but judging from this story, she’s off to a good start. If you like stories with dubious consent, punishment, and women who get themselves into difficult situations with dominant men, you should enjoy this one.


 

Underneath the Gargoyle by Christina Harding

If you have a fetish for naughty Catholic schoolgirls (and if not, what’s the matter with you?) this one definitely belongs on your to-read list.

Trisha is about as naughty a Catholic schoolgirl as they come. She pleasures herself during choir practice, sleeps with her boyfriend in the church cemetary, and, not content with this sacrilege, proceeds to seduce the parish priest during confession. Roused from their slumber by this unrepentant blasphemy, the church gargoyles are forced to take matters into their own hands.

This is a solid, well-written story that ends much too soon, and is indeed crying out for a sequel. Christina, if you’re paying any attention to the reviews on this thing, you need to get on it now.


 

The Claiming of Sabrina by Bella Swann

Another Bella Swann review? Well, yes. Once you get hooked on something, there it is. I’m a sucker for twisted fairy tales.

For starters, this one is not for everyone. If your idea of mermaids is Ariel, Hans Christian Andersen, and Daryl Hannah, this may not be your thing. But as someone who’s written his share of mermaid erotica (see The Needle and the Dungeon and some of my older stuff) and spent a chunk of his adolescence trying to parse out Daryl Hannah’s boobs behind her hair in Splash, there’s just something about beautiful women with fish tails.

So here we have a blonde, busty, beautiful mermaid named Sabrina, who like all mermaids (as near as I’ve been able to tell) yearns for human men, not that it deters her from frolicing with her aquatic mammal companions. She has been forbidden to interact with humans, but fortunately for her, she encounters two scuba divers exploring a wreck, and if you’ve read any of Bella Swann before, you can pretty much figure what happens next.

Sabrina is captured and taken to the human world, where she becomes the test subject of the nefarious Dr. Diablo, who naturally subjects her to a wide variety of indignities.

The only problem I had with any of this was all the conversation going on underwater, which as a Navy vet and an experienced diver/snorkeler, was a bit discordant. But this being erotica, we can let it go.


 

The Claiming of Rapunzel in Xanadu by Bella Swann

If you’ve read Bella Swann before, you know what you’re getting, and she does not disappoint with this story. The sex starts up on page 1 and does not let up until the very end.

If you haven’t read Bella Swann before, you should not expect anything in the same universe as Tangled or the traditional fairy tale. This Rapunzel is an oversexed strumpet enslaved to her overactive sex drive, and consequently she falls repeatedly into not-entirely-unwilling encounters with a variety of partners as she attempts to save her kingdom from the evil King Roderick and avoid an arranged marriage with the mysterious King Geryon. Naturally, she fails, but you’ll have to read it to see why.


 

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Bella Swann

I’ve long been a fan of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series, but I’ve always felt that, as explicit as they were, they seemed just a bit short on the actual sex. I suspect Bella Swann felt the same way, because she seems intent on making up for all of that here.

This story is what you would get if Rice had thrown all caution to the wind and written the most deranged, sex-soaked fairy tale you could possibly imagine.

This version is actually set before Beauty falls into her 100-year sleep. Far from being the innocent, naive princess of the fairy tale, Swann’s Beauty is a lusty, impatient virgin who is intent on satisfying her every possible desire short of actually losing her virginity. For if she does lose it before her coronation, her kingdom will be condemned to disaster.

Unfortunately, even three days short of her coronation and wedding, Beauty’s urges get the best of her, and the court mage must take things into his own hands to save the kingdom. Any more would constitute a spoiler, but rest assured that Beauty spends that 100 years doing quite a bit more than just sleeping.

If all this seems a bit silly, well, clearly Swann saw that as well, because there were parts of this that were as funny as the rest of it was arousing. This is as much a clever satire as it is a scorching adult fairy tale.

Definitely worth the read.


Corrupted Desires: A Dark Erotic Anthology by multiple authors

This is a nice little collection of Halloween-themed erotica. The pieces range from fairly tame but sexy romances to some dangerously dark stories that are definitely not for everyone. Thankfully, the editors have coded each piece with a 1-3 star rating reflecting how far each one goes.

Horror erotica can be tricky, because the genres differ quite a bit in their conventions. Mixing the two requires a careful balance to keep both themes working. These pieces naturally vary in quality, with a couple of them getting the sex right but falling short on the scare, or vice versa.

Still, I found most of them engaging, though only a couple really stuck with me. My favorites were probably “His Wicked Way” by Felicity Brandon and “Broomswick Island” by Pen Name K. I also liked “The Sanitorium” by Sarah Greyson, though it ended much too quickly for me. (Note: these three comprise a 2-star and both 3-star stories, so tread carefully here.)

Definitely a collection worth downloading if you’re into this sort of stuff.


 

The Gentlemen’s Club by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

This is a superior, engaging piece of work that kept me guessing right up until the last page. The author has made a determined effort to create a vivid, detailed setting peopled with interesting characters you want to learn more about.

The story is set in fin de siècle London, and our purported main character, Lord MacCaulay, is a member of a discreet club devoted to pleasures of the flesh. One night a new grand dame of the club arrives to direct the ceremonies: a mysterious auburn-haired woman named Mademoiselle Noire. Though Mademoiselle is the mistress of a hundred perversions, guiding her staff through one scene after another of creative debauchery, Lord MacCaulay has eyes only for her. Who is she? Will she yield to him?

Lord MacCaulay instantly falls under her spell despite her refusal to be courted in any sort of respectable fashion. He is forced to accept her for who she is, yet that identity remains a mystery until the very end. The twists and turns of the plot are considerable despite this story’s modest length, and the author pulls them off with sheer panache.

An excellent start to a series I want to read more of.

 

5 comments

  1. Hi. Just read your “Dr. Dom Series Review”. Great job on the review. I’ve just started my own book blog. It’s kinda a ghost town at the moment. Hope I can up my traffic in two months time.

    Like

  2. Just read your submissions policy, and this statement stood out:

    “I view my reviews as recommendations of things I think other people might enjoy reading, so I don’t post bad reviews. If I don’t care for something, I just won’t review the book in the first place.”

    Kudos to you! This is exactly how I feel about reviews on my own site, but I’ve not been able to find a way to word it quite right. With your permission, I’d like to paraphrase your statement and use it.

    Like

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