A Summer Siesta of Sorts

28 Jun
Love letters in the sand, anyone?

Love letters in the sand, anyone?

By Alexa Day

We at Lady Smut will be taking this week off to prepare for American Independence Day. We’re just getting to the good part of the summer (Shoe sales! Fireworks! Marriage equality!), and I know I, for one, could use a breather. And a drink.

We’ll be back on Saturday, July 4, with big news: we’re hosting a huge summer reads giveaway! On Saturday, we’ll announce the list of print books and e-books we’ve gathered up for one lucky reader. Stay tuned to find out how to enter, and be on the lookout when we announce the winner on July 10!

Enjoy the summer, and be sure to follow Lady Smut. It just gets hotter from here.

Sexy Saturday Round-Up

27 Jun

By Liz Everly and the Lady Smut Bloggers

Click to buy at Amazon. :)

Click to buy at Amazon. :)

Hello, Sexy! Welcome to your Saturday! As usual the Lady Smut Bloggers have been scouring the Internets to bring you fascinating blog posts.

Enjoy!

From Liz:

Retire the hand job?

Using body language in your writing.

Skinny jeans land a woman in the hospital.

From CMK:
The Dirty Secret of a Legendary Rare Book

Air Sex Championships: Men & Women Simulate Their Favorite Positions

Parents Lose Custody Just for Being Kinky

From Elizabeth Shore

Couples everywhere rejoice! U.S. Supreme Court says same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.

Women reveal their very favorite sex toys – and how to use them.

Get your butt on that treadmill! The couch potato lifestyle is killing us.

From Madeline:

10 Selfies We’re No Longer Allowed to Take

Women in science respond to Nobel prize winning asshat.

Taboo topics women don’t talk about.

That’s Mr. Saldana to you — Zoe Saldana’s husband takes her last name–and he’s just fine with that.

New York Times discusses The Joy of Just the Right Amount of Sex

From Cosmo: What it’s like to free bleed during your period.

Stay Hungry,

Liz

Love, Compassion and the Psychology of Erotic Romance With Best-Selling Author Beth Kery

26 Jun

By Elizabeth SaFleur

If you like your erotic stories on the smart side, you must read a Beth Kery book. I was fortunate enough to meet Beth at the RT Booklovers Convention. She’s as nice as she is prolific with her writing. She has more than thirty books and novellas, in eleven languages and has landed on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists – more than once.

Many of her contemporary novels contain BDSM elements, and you can count on a lot of heart, steamy couplings and very interesting plot lines. Her unique ideas for careers, personality traits and the creative endeavors of her characters are one of my favorite parts of Beth’s work. (BTW, she also has paranormal and historical titles.)

Beth graciously answered some questions for LadySmut (below).

Welcome, Beth! Of all the book genres you could write, why erotic romance?

The seemingly simple answer to that is that although I read in all genres, I thought I could write romance. I think there is something with my voice—which is always hard to define for a writer or reader—which works for romance. As for erotic romance, I like reading it. So it was a matter of liking the genre as a reader, and wanting to try and write it.

One of the many joys I receive when reading your books, are the unique angles, plot points or character traits. In ‘When I’m with You’, heroine Elise had a brilliant idea of a five star, alcohol-free restaurant. In ‘Since I saw You,’ Kam created a luxury watch (before Apple!). The father of heroes Ian & Lucien was “addicted to paternity.” (I’m putting that last one nicely.) Where do you get your ideas?

Thank you! I get my ideas everywhere. Travel. Work history. Reading. The news. My very smart husband, who knows the business world in and out. I was a clinical psychologist in my other life, and I had a specialty in medical/health psychology. So between the business world (thank you, hub), medicine and psychology (which helps so much with characterization, motivation and relational issues), I have a lot of bases covered. :-) So . . . yes, I actually did biofeedback with patients regularly, so I incorporated that idea into Kam’s watch. As a psychologist, I know how people struggle with socialization and going out to nice restaurants when they are recovering substance users, because the triggers are everywhere: thus Elise’s restaurant. And unfortunately, although rare, there is such a thing as serial reproductionists. Ugh.

    When I'm with you cover   Since I saw you cover

Your stories also always have wonderful emotional depth. Does your Ph.D. in behavior sciences help with that? And could you tell us anything about how that’s helped?

I get people pretty well. I like to figure out what makes them tick. I know from experience that we all struggle with issues. None of us is immune. I think maybe one characteristic that I get from my background in psychology that helps me as a writer is that I consider all those flaws or shortcomings, like being emotionally closed off or struggling with intimacy, with a degree of compassion. That’s important, because that’s what essentially happens in a romance: the hero and heroine’s development as individuals, and eventually as a couple, comes from the compassion they have for one another that stems from love. Love and compassion redeems them, in a way. An author has to feel with her characters, just as a psychologist has to empathize with her patients’ struggles.

Where did the idea for your latest release, Glimmer, come from? What is your favorite aspect of Alice and Dylan’s story?

Oh, I can’t answer that about the origin idea without giving away a major plot twist! Suffice it to say my research began with one of the most famous cases in criminal history. I also would have to say I wanted to do a sort of rags to riches, Cinderella story.

My favorite aspect of Alice and Dylan’s story has to be that when you go back and re-read it, so many little clues and hints abound. It’s a richer story on a second read, which I love. There’s a sense of layering and richness to it. You just don’t realize until the second time around how perfect and fated these two people are for each other.

glimmer cover

Did you write this book with a series in your mind? Or did the idea evolve naturally?

Well, it’s really not a series. After Glimmer, there is a sequel: Glow. This story had such a huge arc to it that I knew I’d shortchange the story by trying to cut it down for one book. The good news is that Glimmer doesn’t have a terrible cliffhanger ending, though. It ends at a satisfying point for Dylan and Alice’s relationship, while giving the reader the impression there is more mystery and more of their story to be told.

I can attest to that. I wanted more from Alice and Dylan after finishing Glimmer!

Glow cover

How does a book start for you? A conversation between characters? A plot idea? Or do you just start typing and see what shows up? 

Every book has had a different inspiration. For Sweet Restraint, I remember I had a very vivid vision of a man breaking into a house and finding a woman’s jewelry box. Instead of robbing her, though, he takes what he knows to be a fake emerald and replaces it with the priceless original. Then he leaves without her ever knowing. Why did he do that? I wondered. The ‘why’ is what became the story.

Editorial note: See what I mean by those unique plot lines?

Sometimes, like for Glimmer, it began with a plot idea that I researched extensively. I’m an urbanite, so the inspiration for Wicked Burn was living in high rises, and becoming fascinated by the concept of all these people living separate lives just inches apart from each other. What would happen if they collided one night?

wicked burn cover

I’m working on another serial now called Make Me, which originates from a favorite trope of mine: a couple with some kind of childhood history or shared trauma, making them know one another in intimate ways that eludes other people. So again, every book is different.

Your covers are always so sophisticated. Do you have much input on them?

I always give input, and the Berkley art department and my editor have been great about working with my ideas. I’m not an artist, though, so sometimes my ideas just won’t work either artistically or logistically. Thank you in regard to the sophistication. That is important to me. I want them to be elegant and sexy at once. There have been a few times when I’ve wailed if a piece of jewelry looks especially cheap or gaudy, and I’m like, “This is supposed to represent a billionaire’s rare gift to the love of his life?” :-) But Berkley has actually been great about working with me when possible on those occasions, and making changes. With very few exceptions, I love my covers.

What is your definition of erotic romance versus steamy romance?

Well, it’s been an increasingly hard definition to make. I’d say the use of graphic terms for body parts, longer, more detailed sex scenes, and a focus on sex and the evolving sexual relationship as a major part of the story are major aspects of the definition.

For me, though, it’s not an important definition to make. The reason being, I’ve learned everyone has a different definition. What one person thinks is outrageously erotic another thinks is mild. I’ve had people call my books BDSM themed. Others say it’s hot contemporary romance versus erotic. It all depends upon the reader and her mindset and expectations. I’ve had people blush and say they’d never let their mother read my Harlequin Special Editions, so. . . . point made. :)

Do you have a favorite writing “moment?” Perhaps something just came together or a character you love just appeared (or anything at all)?

Hmm, there are probably several. Recently, I absolutely adored Alice from Glimmer. She’s so rough around the edges and defensive, and yet so earnest, funny and strong. I didn’t have many specifics for her character in mind when I started writing, just the plot. She came alive for me on page one though. She was one of those characters that as an author, you start to become half-convinced really exists out there in some alternate universe. I was just the means by which her story was told.

What is next for you, writing wise? What can we look forward to?

As I mentioned, I’m working on a new serial called Make Me. It’s been really rewarding, but this one has been emotionally taxing on me. It’s about a man and a woman who encounter each other in Lake Tahoe accidentally. He remembers her poignantly, because of a childhood trauma they endured together that changed his life forever, but she doesn’t recall him.

The serials are very challenging for me in general, because I think of each portion episodically, like a small story arc that belongs to a larger whole, but has to stand on its own. Both these characters are very layered and complex. Because of his childhood experience with the heroine, the hero struggles with some of his sexual preferences that he never had to question before, so that’s been some interesting and rich writing territory.

What is exciting you right now?

I would have to say a combination of writing this serial (Make Me) while in the actual setting of the book, beautiful Lake Tahoe. We bought a vacation home, and this is my first summer spent here. It’s breathtaking every day, and wonderful to be able to incorporate what I see and experience here in Tahoe into the book.

Is there anything you’d like to tell readers that I haven’t asked?

I’d tell them thank you for reading. And thanks so much for asking me over to LadySmut! It was a pleasure to meet you at RT this year.

Thank you for stopping by today, Beth!

Find Beth’s books here on her Amazon page. Or click on any of the book covers above.

Find Beth online:  Web site   Facebook  Twitter (@BethKery)

Your Sexy Hot Dream Awaits You…

25 Jun

tonguesby Madeline Iva

“I had the most amazing dream last night…”

When was the last time you said that to your friends? ‘Sexsomnia’ starts off with my heroine having hotter than hot forbidden dreams, but if you haven’t had a sexy dream in a while, here are some tips to try:

1) Sleep on your stomach.  Apparently, research shows that people who sleep on their stomachs have more sexy dreams than the rest of us.

legs2) Boost your serotonin levels.  But what if you never remember your dreams? You may be low in serotonin.  Your body makes serotonin at night, and if your brain is very busy making more of it, then this stimulates interesting, vivid (and sexy?) dreams–as well as helping you retain a memory of them.   Here’s how to boost your serotonin naturally*:

Step one: For six to nine days avoid all processed sugar, caffeine, and white flour products. (I know, I know, but it’s good for you anyway.)

Step two: Consume only one serving of brown carbs a day. Meanwhile, load up on beans (any kind–especially black beans, kidney beans, or garbanzo beans/chick peas–even hummus!), tofu, and leafy greens like kale, or chard.dream embrace

Step three: try to have bfast 1 hour after you wake up, consume all your food in 3 evenly spaced meals, and avoid snacks. Then 3 hours before bed each night eat a small potato or half a banana.

Step four: stand back! Not only will you have more focus and motivation during the day as you ‘prime the pump’ with foods that will increase serotonin levels in your brain–but after a week or so, your brain will start inhibiting REM sleep in the first half of the night while it’s busy making serotonin.  This causes an REM boost in the second part of the night — and you will start having very vivid, exciting dreams.fantasy 1

3) Think about your fav sexual fantasies — right until you fall asleep.  It’s called dream induction. Perseverate on hot forbidden sex right before you go to sleep, and your subconscious mind will often weave an evocative/erotic dream for you.fantasy 2

GOOD LUCK! Feel free to let us know about your smexy dreams below and if you think anything you eat or do influences whether you have them or not.

Follow us at Lady Smut for some nighty-night bliss. :)

*these tips are taking from the book POTATOES NOT PROZAC.

 

 

Oh Noooooo!!!! Killing Off Major Characters

24 Jun

Kit HarringtonBy Elizabeth Shore

“I cried for forty minutes afterward.” That’s what one of my girlfriends told me after we emerged – wide-eyed and in utter disbelief –  after the Game of Thrones season finale a week and a half ago. Honestly, there was no other way we could react. In horrific, brutal, Shakespearean fashion, Jon Snow met his shocking demise, knifed to death by his gang of “brothers.” I’m not sure I’ve yet recovered.

Of course, those who watch the show and/or read his books know that George R.R. Martin‘s got a rep for doing that. “Don’t get too close to any of his characters” those in the know will warn you, “because he kills them off.” And I have to be honest, I hate that. And I sorta love it, too.

There’s nothing like a major character kill-off to shake readers out of complacency. Keep them on their toes. Just as they’ve settled in with one of the characters – they know his likes and dislikes, his quirks, his backstory, how he overcame near impossible odds to get where he is today – just as they’ve started hoping there are lots and lots more books with this or that character,  BLAMO! The rug is pulled out from under them and they’re reeling like an earthquake survivor emerging from the rubble. That character, the one they love, the one they could see themselves having dinner with, is dead. Killed. Game over.

What a f**king betrayal! All that time the reader has invested in the character and suddenly he’s as dead as last season’s cancelled TV shows. The reader is incensed. Outraged! They’ll never read another book by you again. Or will they?

The appeal of killing off a major character is multi-layered for the writer. You maintain your story’s freshness by not keeping the same people around forever. You insert a major plot twist with the character’s demise. You give yourself the opportunity to write hugely emotional scenes, including the death itself and subsequent character portrayals of them dealing with the fallout. Good, meaty stuff! But what about the poor suffering reader? The one who can do nothing but mourn the death? Have they been cheated by you, the writer, doing away with a major protagonist?

Of course they haven’t. What the reader benefits from is a story that’s not mundane, from a plotline that veers like a drunken sailor off the expected course. Authors who throw these monkey wrenches into their stories are making sure their audience never gets too comfortable and stays on the edge of their collective seats when reading those author’s books. That can be a good – and bad –  thing.

A major criticism of traditional romance is that’s it’s the polar opposite from unexpected. Readers are never going to be thrown for a loop by having the author kill off the hero because THAT’S NOT ALLOWED. And you know what? It’s A-OK by me.

Think about it this way. There’s no romance without a hero and heroine, right? It is, after all, why readers bother reading those books. They want romance. So you gotta keep your characters alive in order for them to have a relationship. Insight from Captain Obvious. And killing off a major character is obviously not the sole plot device we romance authors can use in order to keep our readers turning pages. But knowing that we’re forbidden from killing off major characters forces us to exercise creative muscle in order to maintain high reader engagement.

What do you think? Would you kill off a major character if you could? Do we need to allow romance writers more flexibility in making this decision so that our genre as a whole stays fresh? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And remember to enter our Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires giveaway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Men of “Friends”

23 Jun

By Liz Everly

My daughters have recently discovered “Friends”—and we’ve been binge watching the show. We all remember that (now) classic sit-com, right? I’m not a big fan of most sit-coms. I loved “Cheers” and “The Seinfield Show” and very few others. But I did like “Friends.”

Now watching it with my daughters, it’s been an interesting exercise—the show still makes me laugh and my teenaged daughters love it. (But I find myself rolling my eyes a good bit, as well.) Also, now since I’m writing romance, I’m looking harder at the romantic elements of the show. Monica and Richard, then later Chandler. Ross and Rachel. Chandler and Janice. Joey and Phoebe and their romantic escapades with a slew of other characters.

But I’m also thinking about the men of “Friends”and how they represent different male characters.

My 14-year-old daughter thinks that Ross is arrogant and spoiled. I can see that. But if you look deeper at Ross, he’s also sensitive, smart-but-clueless, and awkward. I dig the brainy-awkward in Ross.

images-4

Ross–a very smart guy, who is not-so smart in his personal life.

I think that Joey is both of my daughters favorite character. Joey is one of the best written characters, to my mind. Charming, handsome, and not too bright, he exudes warmth and sexuality. But for me, this only works until he opens his mouth and uses the wrong word, or reveals some other stunning gaff. But Joey isn’t completely stupid, he has a kind of people-smart about him. He’s very much like a big warm puppy dog, right?

5x14_Huggsy

What can you say about a guy who naps with a stuffed penguin?

And then we have Chandler. Both of my girls really like him. And I tend to think this guy is one of the best actors on the show. (Now he’s in another sit-com. I caught a couple of episodes and he’s fabulous.) If Ross is the bumbling intellectual, and Joey is the opposite—the confident not too bright guy—what is Chandler? Chandler is the damaged one. He’s the funniest and wittiest—usually the funniest people have the deepest flaws, right? But his family life as a kid was not exactly stable and it’s left him with some wounds, which he deals with through his humour. I love Chandler. Great character.

images-7

Chandler’s relationship with Monica toward the end of the show was one of the best surprises for me as a viewer.

If I had to pick one, I’m not sure I could. Could you? I can see rolling some of their traits together to create someone I’d have no problem choosing. None at all.

If you’re choosy, don’t forget to choose Lady Smut and follow us. Check out our Goodreads giveaway for the Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires.  

DNFd It

22 Jun

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Everyone has it, that book that they DNFd—Did Not Finish. The story that was so bad, so aggravating, so unbearable, they could make it through to the end.

Much like a movie, or TV show, the number of books I’ve DNFd in all my many years of reading have been few and far between. It’s a stubborn thing, I guess. I have to finish it, even if I don’t like it. I have to know how it ends. Even if it sucks. Even if I want to throw it against the wall for all it’s grievances against the written word, I’ll still finish it.

I read a book this month that I simply could not finish. I set it down and went off and read three or four other books in the same time that it took me to finish this one. I was disappointed–I liked this author long ago–but that happens. And I was determined to finish the damn thing no matter what if only to have one the battle, so to speak

No one sets out to write a DNF-level book. But it happens, sometimes even by the most accomplished writers in a genre.

Have you even had a book you DNFd? What made you throw it against the wall, proverbially or literally? Would you press on reading a book you wanted to DNF? Why?

Follow Lady Smut. We always give a good finish.

Like There’s No Tomorrow: Keeping Things Hot at the End of the World

21 Jun
The apocalypse. When you can hold a katana and check out a dude's ass at the same time.

Welcome to the apocalypse. When you can wield a katana and check out a dude’s ass at the same time, and no one even says anything about it.

By Alexa Day

Something about this time of year makes me mindful of modern conveniences like refrigeration, microwaves, and you know, air conditioning. I’m not sure why summer makes me appreciate civilization more than winter does. Certainly winter is just as inhospitable, but I think it’s easier to make oneself warm than to keep oneself cool. Maybe it’s just easier for me to say so now that it isn’t snowing every few days.

From this place of gratitude, where I sit between two window units straining to keep me cool, I started to contemplate the postapocalyptic romance. How might the breakdown of society change the way we relate to each other? How is that going to change our relationships?

And when that became a bummer (which didn’t take long because I am very attached to civilization right now), I recast the question a little.

How might the breakdown of society affect the way we enjoy the sexytimes with each other?

Yeah. That’s more fun, right?

At the outset, I think we’d see an increase in adrenaline-fueled, we-almost-died sex. After the collapse of society, we’ll probably be spending lots of time with strangers, choosing sides against whatever brought about the end of civilized society. So when we have close scrapes with the zombies or aliens or the computers we’ve been taking for granted, we’ll want to celebrate our survival and life itself by getting down with our hot new allies. There won’t be any time for consequences or a nice, luxuriant environment. It’ll be raw and immediate, an affirmation of what it means to be alive on the most primal level. The sex is hot enough to make you ignore just how unwashed and gritty the apocalypse can make a person. That’s a pretty big deal, right?

I won’t say that the apocalypse will bring on an increase in sex as currency. I’ll just say that after the breakdown, we will all be more honest about it. Let’s be frank: a lot of us are using sex as currency right now, in the comfort and privacy of our air-conditioned homes. We’re just not using the word “currency.” In the great aftermath of society, there won’t be quite as much room for niceties. Sex in exchange for security. Sex traded for little conveniences. Sex to influence decision-making. Seduction for survival can be part of a character’s discovery of her sexual power. Watching two (or more) people grow in a way that civilization would not have permitted — that gets pretty hot pretty fast!

But for couples already together, the apocalypse brings out the real in a relationship. Consider how most of us come together in the first place, in the early stages of courtship. Most of that leans pretty heavily on the cushy trappings of modern society, right? Jobs, phone calls and communication, money, even the little things like restaurants and movies: all of that stuff builds the machine that makes modern courtship work. After the fall of civilization, nothing will be left but the bare essentials of who we are, and who we might become under pressure when there’s nowhere else to hide. How will real love survive when only the truth is left, with our most basic selves constantly exposed? How far would you go to guarantee a partner’s safety? What would you really do to keep that person alive?

In the wake of the apocalypse, we’d all be meeting each other in different ways, hooking up in different ways, and staying together for different reasons. It is — and should be — a playground for fiction! I’m on pins and needles waiting for Fear the Walking Dead, the prequel series to The Walking Dead. Most of the original series takes place after the undead have slowly and relentlessly pushed society off the rails. The new series captures the decline itself, and as an added benefit, it keeps fans like me from having to wait another four months for our TWD fix.

(It is going to be tough waiting that long to see if Rick and Michonne decide to do what’s right for all of us, though. Just saying.)

I’m also leaning on my TBR pile. I’m finally getting into The Pulse Trilogy by Shoshanna Evers; check it out with me if you want to discover just how real and how hot the world can be after an electromagnetic pulse takes down the power grid. In Strange Fruit by Melissa Janine Robinson, the world undergoes more of a socioeconomic collapse, but the story’s all about the toll that can take on a woman’s relationship with her husband and family.

Do you have a favorite story about how it all came down? Post up in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. We make continuity hot.

Sexy Saturday Round-Up

20 Jun

Anth

By Liz Everly and the Lady Smut Bloggers

Happy Saturday! Here’s your weekend reading. Check it out!

From Liz:

Tracking your naughty bits.

Check out these dudes in vintage 70s ads–my favorite is the literate man. (Of course!)

On reading and writing novellas.

From Elizabeth:

Don’t feel uptight if your cup(size) doesn’t runneth over. Here are 12 reasons why small breasts are better than big ones.

The best sex positions for your zodiac sign.

Am I the last person on earth to know that Molly Ringwald is now an advice columnist?

You still haven’t gotten a Father’s Day gift for dad?! Quick, check out these last-minute suggestions.

From CMK:

27 Products that Prove Masculinity is Hanging by a Thread

Can we cool it with the 50 Shades hatin’?

21 Times Sarah Millican Spoke for All Women

Far From The Madding Crowd: Alone Time with Mr. Oat

18 Jun
Mr. Oat, if Carey Mulligan doesn't get it, she's an idiot.

Mr. Oat, if Carey Mulligan doesn’t get it, she’s an idiot.

by Madeline Iva

Here’s my blurb for the movie: Determined young heiress can’t appreciate gentle jewel of a man who’s right under her nose until life beats the stuffing out of her.

Which sounds annoying, doesn’t it? But there’s much to appreciate and much to find annoying together in this movie. I bet you’ll love it — I bet you’ll go see it and think I’m being too picky. But let me snark away for a moment.

First of all, this film is definitely NOT a romance—Though our heroine is aspirational, though three men clearly want her, she says she’s not looking for love.  And I believed her.  Because it would be really annoying, wouldn’t it–if she were looking for love after being soooooo sure she wasn’t? Right.  I actually liked her best when she wasn’t dealing with the men.

SoldierBeset by suitors she doesn’t want, poor thing, and having stated that SO clearly, the movie does nothing after that but shine a spotlight on her dance with these three suitors as they get knocked off her dance card one by one.  It’s one of those period films where perhaps more than once the heroine is forced to smack her own forehead with her fist and say “Oh, I’ve been a terrible fool!” while we in the audience roll our eyes, and silently responding: “Ya think?”

But it’s a feminist story overall.  If by feminist stories you mean a story in which the heroine is not held back by anything except her own idiocy.  Yes, that’s what the film is saying: for women to progress, eventually when all else is even-steven, they’re going to have to make sure not to be ass-hats, like men are.

The costumes! The acting! The baby lamb!

The costumes! The acting! The baby lamb!

Perhaps that is an odd feminist statement.  But since the book the movie is based upon was written by a guy, maybe it’s not so surprising? I know that Thomas Hardy (No, not *that* Tom Hardy) cared about the plight of women in his time, so bonus points to him. He cared deeply about the perfect union of souls and equality.  But a part of him couldn’t quite see the HEA coming so soon.  So first of all, he saddles his heroine with the name Bathsheba (yes that’s her name, and the only thing odder than her name and having no reason for it, is hearing it pronounced with a British accent.) Then he saddles her with the perfect guy right in front of her when she’s young and full of beans and really isn’t ready for the perfect guy just yet.

Meanwhile, I have to say, I don’t blame her for turning down his proposal right off the bat.  You see, it’s all the film-maker’s fault.  They meet.  Next scene: he brings her a lamb.  She’s delighted.

Then, as she’s kissing little lamb-y’s head, he proposes.
What? In the audience we’re like HEY! They *just* met not three seconds ago in film time. They haven’t even had a proper conversation yet–and he’s proposing?  Did it really go down like that back then? Hmmmm.

Yet looking at Mr. Oat, one still is thinking Carey Mulligan/Bathsheba might have done well to say, “You’re really hot, Mr. Oat.  I’m listening.  Tell me more,” instead of a flat rejection.

It's a visual FEAST! Photo by REX_Shutterstock (4271160a)

It’s a visual FEAST! Photo by REX_Shutterstock (4271160a)

The film keeps on in this insta-proposal vein.  I realized that they didn’t cut out parts of the movie–they couldn’t.  Instead they try to telescope time.  But it’s only so successful.  Sure two men we’re seeing together can meet and one talks to the other like they’ve known each other for years.  But at the same time, someone in the film is going to have a baby, and hasn’t yet, and so that means that at the MOST these men have known each other for say four months.  I tell ya, it’s a little strange.

At any rate–Bathesheba rejects suitor number one.  Good for her we think.  Then she rejects suitor number two.  Okay, he was pretty awesome in his own way too, being Michael Sheen and all, but he’s a little older, so whatever.  But as time goes on, we realize that she’s got suitor number one under her nose. He’s not wealthy, but he’s Hawt, gentle, there to support her, there to offer protection if needed, and let her fight her own battles if not.  He wants to be–in the truest sense of the word–her partner.  Meanwhile–talk about your unconditional love! He doesn’t ask for anything back from her.

So of course she goes for someone else entirely – “Oh! I’ve been *such* a fool!”  That’s me, thinking about how I could have seen another film instead.

Warning: this film has more golden, honey dipped light than any visual feast you've seen. Ever.

Warning: this film has more golden, honey dipped light than any visual feast you’ve seen. Ever.

This is where I wonder if Thomas Hardy wasn’t so enlightened after all.  He shows his heroine falling for the oldest trick in the book.  Give some know-it-all woman a little flattery, a little smexy from a redcoat, Hardy says, and in her virginial state she’ll be so overwhelmed by his sexual charisma and animal urges she’ll drop to the ground and spread her legs.  Hmmmm. But after she tumbles into bed with Mr. Soldier guy, we know what that means.  This is 1870, so it means they hafta marry–and quickly.

It has ‘stupid move’ written all over it.  We know it, she knows it, everyone knows it.

But the film was SO beautiful–Talk about your visual feast. The landscape! The lamb!  The relentless gold-y light.  Her “farm”!OMG.  It was to die. Okay, it looked more like a rich person’s house with farm options included, but I’d buy that place in a heartbeat if I had some mad money.

Also the costumes were delectable and Carey Mulligan looked swoony in them.  I was happy every time she walked away from the camera. The long wasp waist light summer dresses and their rucked up, pleated trains were divine.  The best thing this movie had going on, IMO, was showing how democratic we can be with our costume dramas.  It wasn’t a film about the rich people, exactly, but the costumes were layered and interestingly textured all the same–right down to the little tips of men’s shirts, slightly wrinkled, and reeking of period detail.

Helllllllllo Matthais Schoenaerts!

Helllllllllo Matthais Schoenaerts!

Yet there’s really only one reason to see the movie, ladies, and that reason is Mr. Oat.  He was awesome! Played by Matthais Schoenaerts, this Belgian actor–he was the whole reason I didn’t regret the loss of two hours from my life while watching this film. He embodied all those great qualities we want in a man–(gentle, etc, see above) with no alpha bullshit–and yet he never seemed weak or unappealing.

The other excellent acting job was done by Michael Sheen. I’ve talked about him before, HERE.  In this movie, he’s just so good. He played the role perfectly, building maximal sympathy and bringing the crazy all together in a nice neat, oscar-worthy way.

Sniff-sniff.  Is that an Oscar I smell, Michael?

Sniff-sniff. Is that an Oscar I smell, Michael?

As I said, this wasn’t a period film about aristocrats –it was about farmers, some wealthy, some poor, but it still had a luxurious, sensuous feel.  It made you want to put on an apron and go roll around in a hay field somewhere.  Preferably with a baby lamb.  Or Mr. Oat.  Or Michael Sheen.  Or both together.

On the other hand, if you’ve had enough of summer movies, and you’re looking for the book version of a roll in the hay–there’s still a wee bit of time to enter our Goodreads giveaway here:

And follow us at Lady Smut — where we sow our Oats as much as we can. ; >
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