“Exploited” Bikini Babes Serving Coffee?

22 Mar

By Elizabeth Shore

If you ever find yourself in Kent, Washington and are hankering for a cuppa joe, you could head over to the local Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee. They’re as tried and true as the day is long. Coffee and a pastry and you’re good to go. But what if the same ol same ol isn’t your style? What if, for example, you like cleavage with your coffee? Some pasties with your pastries? Well, fear not, friends. There’s a place for that, too. Introducing Bikini Beans Espresso. As their logo states, “Coffee’s never been this HOT!”

Bikini Beans, as you’ll see from their Instagram page, is far from a normal coffee shop. To start, even the name is a bit of a misnomer. Bikinis? Not entirely. Pasties are the preferred form of “on top” adornment for the servers, with bikinis strictly relegated to the nether lands. Male baristas? Fuhgeddaboudit! Babes only, please. And those babes include owner, Carlie Jo, who isn’t shy about splashing pics of herself all over social media.

In addition to promoting the shop, Carlie Jo stated in an article in The Sun that being a Bikini Beans barista is empowering. “We have the right to work with grace, confidence and dignity,” she states, “regardless if it’s in a business suit, scrubs, or a bikini.” Right on, Carlie Jo. Not everyone, however, shares her views. A councilman in Spokane, Washington has been trying to push forward legislation around limits at bikini coffee stands popping up around the state. Just what exactly those “limits” are isn’t clear, but one can surmise they’re related to puttin’ on some more clothes. Some moms in the area, as shown in this ABC news report, share the councilman’s views.

The councilman states that his proposed legislation is “for the children,” as well as trying to curb the exploitation of women. However, a female barista at Bare Beans Espresso, another bikini coffee stand in the Spokane area, states emphatically that she feels neither demeaned nor exploited. In a YouTube video about the controversy surrounding these risqué coffee stands, store manager and barista Allison seems to share Carlie Jo’s views in feeling “empowered” by working in little more than pasties and a string bikini bottom. And she adds, “No one is forcing me to work here. I choose to.”

That, perhaps, is the rub. By definition, exploitation occurs when someone uses or takes advantage of another person without regard for that person’s interests. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it this way: “to use someone unfairly for your own advantage.” In that vein, can it accurately be said that women working at the bikini coffee shops are victims of exploitation? How about waitresses at Hooters? Beautiful women on magazine covers? The unifying feature is that they’re willing participants. Making the argument that someone is being exploited becomes problematic when the person wants and chooses to do what he or she is doing.

The other primary concern around the coffee bikini shops is from some who feel it’s inappropriate for kids to see scantily dressed baristas. Yet I wonder if those same concerned parents keep their kids safely hidden from the beach? The community pool? Lots of skin in those places. Is this protecting kids, or is it reinforcing the same tired message that the human body is shameful and best covered up.

For the record, there was a male-staffed bikini coffee stand in Washington called Banana Hammock. Hot beefcake dudes either shirtless or clad only in suspenders were serving up hot brews and awesome views to what appeared to be a primarily female clientele. Did the male baristas feel exploited? Demeaned? Apparently, we’ll never know. Yelp is reporting that the Banana Hammock went bust. Same with another place called Hot Cup of Joe. Women went there, according to the posted reviews, but not enough of them. Hot Cup of Joe has been rebranded Whip It A-Latte and is now staffed with…you guessed it…bikini-clad female baristas.

So prevalent are the bikini barista coffee shops in Washington and surrounding area that there’s even an online guide so you know where to go for sizzle with your steamed milk. But if cleavage and coffee isn’t your thing, there’s always Starbucks.

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything and Everything We Want: Rebecca Brooks Examines Surprising Desires in Make Me Beg

21 Mar

No need to beg for it. Click right here and buy it!

By Rebecca Brooks

When it comes to desire, books and movies can make it look easy. You see the one, and you know.

Unless you have no idea.

Or you know what you want, sometimes, but then other times it’s not so clear. Or part of you wants something and the other part says, “No way.” Who wins the battle of head versus heart? Should you listen to the voice that’s shouting, “You can’t have that!” Or is it better to lock Lady Responsible in the basement for the night? And why do we say no to ourselves so much, anyway?

In Make Me Beg, bartender Mackenzie swears up and down that she’s never going to fall for the ripped and rugged chef she’s worked with for three years. Connor may be gorgeous, funny, and smart as a whip, but he’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em type, and Mack’s got her reasons for staying away. She sticks to her guns—until the two are given the opportunity to design their dream bar/restaurant, and late nights working together make it hard to remember why she’s so determined to say no.

Early on, an explosive argument leads to some of the hottest sex of their lives. In the morning, they both decide their transgression can be chalked up to stress, hormones, and too many hours at work. It’s never going to happen again.

But then Connor proceeds to blindfold Mack, bind her wrists, and feed her a picnic. Yeah, I know, that’s not where you thought that sentence was going. But the scene really does start off—I won’t say innocent, because everything between these two is crackling with sexual tension. But the point is to get Mack to taste his proposed menu for their new bar/restaurant without letting other distractions get in the way.

But it turns out that no matter what they tell themselves, desire doesn’t fit into neat little boxes, easily compartmentalized and pushed to the side. It’s not long before Connor moves from feeding Mack to putting…other things in her mouth. Mack, blindfolded and bound, hears him undo his belt buckle. Then the sound of him unzipping his pants. She licks her lips, and that makes Connor lose it. He commands her to get on her knees. Mack hears the edge in his voice and thinks:

Oh, fuck, that was hot. Was she allowed to find that hot?

Could she be independent, wear shut-the-fuck-up boots behind the bar, and still be slayed by such a command?

It’s a question I’ve asked before, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Mack is strong, independent, capable, and not at all passive. She certainly doesn’t hesitate to give Connor a piece of her mind the rest of the time, which is why he has to hogtie her for a picnic in the first place. So is it “okay” for her to be turned on by Connor’s command?

In other words, can she be strong, independent, capable, and sexual? Is she allowed to be excited by something that could be thought of as passive or degrading, i.e. being commanded to get on her knees? Could that be empowering instead? And is it okay if she likes it, no matter what the answer is?

I wish I could say exactly where these questions come from, so I’d have a better idea of how to move past the limitations they stick us with. But it’s hard to discount a lifetime of social pressure women face to be good but not too good (a prude), and to please men but not too much (a slut). We’re supposed to make ourselves sexually available, but we have to be careful not to act like we like it too much. Really, are women allowed to enjoy anything guilt-free? (According to television, the answer is salads, non-fat yogurt, and doing laundry. Thanks, but I’ll pass.)

Mack has to work twice as hard to make it in a male-dominated field like bartending. She practically raises herself after her mother dies, finds her own way in the world, and has now worked her way up to become a co-owner of her own bar/restaurant. Mack survives by being smart and always staying one step ahead. She’s pretty much kicking patriarchy’s ass in her killer black boots.

So no wonder it throws her off to get on her knees for this man. She’s not just worried about the usual BS that she’ll be judged or denigrated by society, her friends, and most importantly, herself, if she winds up another notch on Connor’s belt. She’s wondering whether she’ll still be the same powerful woman she aspires to be if she submits to him and likes it.

Anne Calhoun’s Liberating Lacey is a great book, but Lacey’s genuinely upset after she and Hunter role play a forced-sex scene that she specifically asks for. It’s totally okay to want to try something and then decide it’s not for you! But what would happen if Lacey actually loved living out a taboo fantasy? And why does good girl librarian Sophie in Victoria Dahl’s Taking the Heat feel her naughty side has to be secret? Sure, it’s fun and sexy to have such a prim little lady be full of surprises. But the whole reason that storyline works is because everyone expects her to be proper and prudish in the first place. Can you think of a high-heat romance novel where the fun and surprise is that the strong, sexy hero turns out to also have a naughty side? Of course not, because it’s already assumed!

Mack is ready, though, to take charge of her sexuality and own what she wants. She has a very inspiring man to work with, and she goes on to make it very, very clear how much she wants him. Being bound and told what to do paradoxically winds up unshackling her. It gives her permission to let go and do what she wants—not what she thinks she’s supposed to do or has convinced herself she’s not allowed to have. By pausing and having that gut-check, she allows that sex and sexuality can be complicated and gives herself permission to break a few rules and discover what she enjoys. Especially since those rules aren’t necessarily ones she deep down agrees with in the first place.

And she’s not a different person because of it. What we do in the bedroom (or in this case, by a lake) doesn’t have to translate into the rest of our lives; it doesn’t even have to mean anything outside of the particular pleasures of the moment. Mack can consent to one command, now, but that doesn’t mean Connor gets to tell her what to do the rest of the time. Or even at the picnic—the whole time, he’s still very clearly reading her body language, checking in with her, and making sure that sex is something they’re doing together. Mack may be on her knees, but she’s by no means powerless.

Mack isn’t less of a badass because she’s turned on by Connor’s command. She can absolutely wear her shut-the-fuck-up boots behind the bar—and when she’s kneeling in the grass. She’s not a different person for doing it, and she’s not giving anything up. She’s complex, and multifaceted, and human. And isn’t that a good thing?

I like that Mack asks herself whether she’s allowed to want what she does. I’m also glad she decides the answer is yes. She’s all the better for listening to her desires and allowing herself to go for it, even—or especially—when those desires surprise her. I think it’s a good lesson for the rest of us, too.

More about Make Me Beg:

“Intensely sexy and packs and emotional punch!” – #1 New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Blakely

He’ll bring her to her knees.

Bartender Mackenzie Ellinsworth has always gone it alone. So when she has a chance to open her own bar and restaurant, she’s got a plan for how it should go. Not in that plan: a ripped and rugged playboy stepping in to take over. Mack doesn’t do players, and she doesn’t do one-night stands. If Connor wants to work with Mack, he’s going to have to keep his strong, sexy hands to himself.

Connor Branding is determined to prove he’s not the directionless playboy Mack thinks. But opening a place together causes more problems than it solves. The two of them can’t agree on anything—except how scorching hot their chemistry is. Connor may be ready to indulge every desire Mack’s been denying herself…but turning business into pleasure is likely to get him burned.

 

Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Sign up for Rebecca’s newsletter at www.rebeccabrooksromance.com/newsletter to get a free novelette and a monthly email about Rebecca’s adventures.

 

The Enduring Romance of Beauty and the Beast

20 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

I remember the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast in 1991. It was in the Berkeley Heights movie theater. Thursday nights were buy one, get one, but I went with my friends for a matinée. Funny, I can’t remember who I was with, but I distinctly remember that first moment when the curtain drew back (yes, it had a curtain across the screen) and the first image of the movie filled the frame.

I gasped. For real. I spent the first 90 seconds wavering back and forth between thinking it was real and believing it was a cartoon. The colors were so bright, the images so crisp, it was breathtaking, as in it literally took my breath away. Minutes later, the opening number “Belle” began and I was officially enraptured. The complexity of the song, the brilliance of the lyrics, the timing of the animation. This was revolutionary. It was pre-motion captured, when digital was only just becoming part of our vocabulary. There were no DVDs yet, CDs were only just becoming known, laser disks were still the premiere idea of home movies. The Little Mermaid had taken the world by storm barely a year earlier. But Beauty and the Beast was a wunderkind of animation never seen before. Its music was fresh and exciting. Its story took a well-known tale and infused it anew with adventure and romance.

And don’t even get me started on the ballroom scene.

A few days later, I took my sister to see it before I went back to college, and after she had to endure me going on and on about it. Within the first few minutes, she turned to me and whispered, “You were absolutely right.”

Last Friday, I saw the new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, not another retelling of the story, but the same 1991 animated film remade with live people as opposed to cartoons. I’ve been anticipating this movie but at the same time, had little expectation as to what it might turn out to be. Like looking forward to seeing a favorite book brought to the screen, there was bound to be new interpretations to the story that would tick me off (I’m a purist, I confess), but as I was coming off a long convalescence from surgery, I went to a matinée solo simply to enjoy seeing an old friend given new life.

It was, in a word, perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Was it flawless? No. That’s an impossibility. But as Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the Disney logo was replaced by the Beast’s enchanted castle and the familiar words of the prologue filled the air now in a female’s voice, I knew this was going to be the rare film that met the demands of its source material. Perhaps even exceeded it.

I’m not going to go over the particulars of the new movie as it’s enough to say it’s a near perfect match to its animated doppelgänger. OK, scratch that idea. A few quick thoughts: the new movie does address a few loopholes the animated film skipped over that have plague fans for years–or maybe that’s just me. Things like, why does no one in the village see the honking huge palace in the forest? Why is it beautiful autumn in the village and winter around the castle? How come no one seems to remember there was ever a prince in residence nearby? How the hell does wee Belle manage to get huge Beast up on Philippe the horse after Beast collapses following the wolf attack? Answers are finally found. Also, where I often loathe new music added to an established libretto (Phantom of the Opera, I’m looking at you), the new songs added to this version of Beauty and the Beast fit in perfectly. Oh and Luke Evans nearly steals the show as pitch-perfect Gaston. Finally, visually, it is a masterpiece. I don’t even want to know how it was done, which part is motion capture and which part is actual people, or where the animation begins or which pieces are on a set and which are in a proper 18th-century palace. It’s a sumptuous feast on par with the magnitude of its counterpart for its time. You will not be disappointed.

But what struck me as I teared up over the ending (and yea, I did sniffle, and applaud while the credits rolled) was how this well-known and beloved story still had the power to move me. Women are weened on romantic fantasy and Disney has made a killing exploiting that deeply ingrained expectation. But archetype stories like Beauty and the Beast endure because they resonate with truth that is better than any fantasy.

In both films, the key is that Belle must fall in love with a “hideous” beast in order to break the curse. But the prince’s outward beast is merely the reflection of the inner asshole that was hiding beneath his human pretty face. As he learns not only to love, but to be lovable, the core good person who yet lives beneath both beastly versions comes back to life. This is another aspect this film has the time and means to address. Mrs. Potts informs Belle of how the prince was warped by his cruel father after his mother’s death when the prince was but a boy. Adding the somewhat rout psychological element adds layers to the prince’s repulsive behavior prior to his beastliness being made manifest, which also explains why the staff remains so loyal to one who appeared to be so horrible in both guises.

Beast also learns the sacrificial aspect to love, that truly loving someone means putting their needs first and that sometimes can cause great agony for the lover. In the new film, when Beast releases Belle to go to her father, he watches her flee through the maze, her gold dress a beacon, and sings the beautiful, new, heart-wrenching song “Evermore”.

Sidebar: Holy cats, can Dan Stevens sing. Strewth.

In “Evermore,” Beast sings about how Belle has changed his life and how he knows he’ll now be haunted by her for the rest of his days. But even as he despairs over this and the expectation that he’ll never see her again, especially since, in this film, there is a very real threat to his and the others existence, (outside of Gaston and the mob, that is), Beast knows he’s forever been changed by falling in love with her. Whatever the future brings him, he will not be the same person, man or beast, because of Belle.

Now I know she’ll never leave me
Even as she runs away
She will still torment me, calm me, hurt me
Move me, come what may

Now I know she’ll never leave me
Even as she fades from view
She will still inspire me, be a part of
Everything I do

Wasting in my lonely tower
Waiting by an open door
I’ll fool myself she’ll walk right in
And as the long, long nights begin
I’ll think of all that might have been
Waiting here for evermore!

– “Evermorefrom Beauty and the Beast 2017 ©Disney

Poor Beastie. Fortunately, we know he’s not meant to waste away in his lonely tower without his Belle, but still! Sob.

In this live-action version of the story, as Belle and her prince dance through the final moments, she makes a cheeky request of him that makes it clear she actually prefers or at least misses his hairier visage, a request that makes the prince laugh because he knows exactly what she’s saying. She doesn’t love him more or less for now being human; she loves him period. But having fallen in love with his beastly component, she’s not adverse to his human self sporting a sartorial reminder. (And I think, for those of us who may know, there was a sly sexual component to her request as well.)

But it’s not only the Beast/Prince who is loved for himself. Belle too doesn’t fit in her environment. She’s thought to be odd and out-of-place because she reads and longs for a life far beyond that of a provincial village. In the original film, when Belle has her Sound of Music moment running up the hill while she sings “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand, to have someone understand. I want so much more than they’ve got planned…” my young heart swelled and I got chills. When Emma Watson did the same move and sang the same words in the live-action film, my battered, weary heart swelled and I got chills as I smiled and sang along.

So many of us were that girl, nose in a book, dreaming of more, maybe a prince or at least that one person who “got” us, who didn’t think we were weird because of who we are or what we like to do. Who wanted to be with us because of what others thought made us odd, not in spite of them. Who wanted us for us. Now, as women, some of us have been fortunate to have found that person. Some of us are still looking but remain hopeful. Meanwhile, we read and, in my case, write romances to keep that hope alive. Not because we’re entrenched in romantic fantasy, but because we know the truth that fantasy exploits: happily ever after isn’t just for fiction.

This is why Beauty and the Beast is such an enduring romance. And it’s why those of us who write romance continue to believe. Be it romantic suspense or epic fantasy or erotic romance or BDSM romance or Amish romance, whatever the genre or subgenre, whether we write about hot alpha heroes or handsome beta heroes or gorgeous women who’ve got it going on or ladies in search of their own kind of special who are the heroines of their own stories, at the core, we’re spinning relationships where the parties involved find the one who loves them for themselves, for who they are at the best and worst of times (thank you Victor Hugo), who love those moments when we’re all a unique beauty and more, when we show our inner beasts.

Women may be weened on romantic fantasy, but stories like Beauty and the Beast remind us that true love sees and loves all.

And that is no fantasy.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Erotic romance excerpt from The Discipline by Jade A. Waters

19 Mar

by Jade A. Waters

Today’s excerpt is from BDSM erotic romance The Discipline by Jade A. Waters, the second in her Lessons in Control series from Carina Press, following The Assignment. Also be sure to check out our Lady Smut Q&A with Jade.

Here’s the official blurb for The Discipline:

How far would you go to fulfill a fantasy?

Maya Clery has taken risks before. Her relationship with Dean Sova started out as a risk—a series of sexual assignments, each hotter, wilder, more intense than the last. Exploring her submissive side with a powerful, trustworthy Dominant has been everything she hoped for, everything she needed.  

Dean pushes Maya to her limits—it’s one of the things she loves most about him. But as they push the boundaries outside their sex life, meeting friends and family members, Maya realizes there’s still much she doesn’t know about the man with whom she’s sharing her bed.

And when a fantasy simmering between them becomes their latest challenge, past secrets begin to reveal weaknesses in their relationship that neither is ready to face.

Excerpt from The Discipline by Jade A. Waters:

A chill blared through me having left the bathwater. It was almost as sharp as the curiosity tripping from my head to my toes. I stepped out and padded across the carpet to the bed, where I spun to face Dean. I made a show of leisurely slipping the towel off my body and tossing it to the floor, but he stayed unfazed and motionless in the water.

Fine, tough guy.

But who was I kidding?

I loved this.

Eager for the game to commence, I lay back on the bed, my toes barely touching the floor and an uncanny ripple of excitement shooting through my limbs. At Dean’s rise from the tub, I saw how hard he’d grown. The bulbous head of his cock stuck out from his pelvis, those beautiful dark veins running from root to tip. He dried off, the view forming a heavy cloud in my lungs, and I lifted my hands to my stomach to spread them over my goose bumped flesh.

How the hell had the mere act of walking over here and seeing him watch me get me this aroused?

Dean discarded his towel. He bent to dig his fingers into the pile of my robe on the floor, and I tried to make out what he was doing. It wasn’t until he stood upright and held the tie in his hand that I clenched my knees together. He curled the fabric around both his palms and walked in my direction at an excruciating pace, then stood against my knees, naked and hard before me. He smelled of the lavender salt we’d sprinkled in the tub, and him. Sexy, masculine him.

“Give me your hands,” he said.

I stretched them out. Dean wound the fabric around my wrists, close to my skin but not too tight. My groin flexed at the scent of his body and the swell of his cock not quite reaching my needy flesh. 

After he tied a loose knot, he gave my wrists a shove to indicate I should lay them above my head. “Spread your legs.”

I did. Dean stared down at my sex, his eyes glazed. His mouth formed that O I adored, and I couldn’t believe how much I was shaking, how fucking riled I’d gotten before he started stroking my slit. I could hear how wet I was in the gentle slicks of his finger. “Oh, fuck.”

“You’re so excited. Wetter than I imagined. I love how our conversation has done this to you.” 

I closed my eyes at the slide of his fingers inside my entrance, pulsing in and out to tease the rim of my pussy. Once I rocked my hips up for more, Dean withdrew his touch, resting one hand above each of my knees.

My eyelids popped open and I pouted, tortured by his naked body between my legs and his faint touch across my thighs.

“Are you ready to hear your test?” That devil of a grin played on his face when he pitched forward to lick one of my nipples, and every fiber of my being screamed for satisfaction.

“Yes. Please.”

“If we’re going to live that fantasy,” Dean said, inching one finger along the inside of my thigh in a dare, “then we’ll need it to be perfect. Safe. I need you to tell me what you want from it. How you want it to happen. What you want to happen.” His finger returned to my cunt, but his stroke was there and gone before he held back. “And if you tell me well, I’ll touch you more.”

Oh, yes.

I tongued my lip. “Why are you such a tease?”

Dean slipped his finger inside enough to make me whimper, then he took it away. “Because you crave it.” He sucked his finger into his mouth, and I groaned before he dropped it back to my thigh with a smack. I gasped and jerked on the bed. “Start talking, sexy.”

“Okay,” I said. He didn’t move, the outside of his thighs against the inside of mine, his cock fucking hard and tempting. I was going to lose my mind. “We start in a room after we’ve made sure all are on board.” To this, Dean curved both hands around my thighs and held them in place. My pulse hammered as I tried to envision how it might go. I rolled my head against my arm, keeping my wrists high above my head. “But we’ll be at a hotel, because it has to be neutral ground.”

Dean slid his hands higher and stopped. “What are you wearing?”

“Something sexy. Dressy. We both are.”

Dean shifted higher. “I know you like dressing up. Feeling sexy, though you always are.” He shifted higher still, his fingers almost reaching the creases between my sex and my thighs. “But get to the good parts.”

I giggled. “Fine. You’ll overwhelm me. He’ll overwhelm me.”

“That’s all you have to say?” He took another swat of my thigh. “No, no. Be explicit.”

I shivered as his thumbs resumed their sway across my skin. “You’ll strip me down for him. I’m yours, but you’re letting him in…” The grip of Dean’s hands crept up. “I’m not sure of everything that will happen.” Dean shook his head, dissatisfied and smacking the inside of my other thigh. My eyelids fluttered and I spoke swiftly. “There will be kissing. Touching.”

“And? What do you really desire with us? You’ll have two men. What is it about the idea that truly revs you up? How do you want us to overpower you?” He ticked his fingers back and forth, his use of my word making me blush. When Dean crouched to the floor and breathed hot air over my sex, I jumped. “What’s in that head of yours that’s got you glistening right now? Because you are…” He shoved my legs farther apart and leaned closer until I gasped.

Opening my mouth, I tasted the words, and when I spoke, I nearly purred. “I want to kiss him while you watch. But while you touch me.” Speaking it amplified the crash of my pulse and shot a bolt of arousal out to my toes. The image alone had me wet, but saying it to the promise of Dean’s fingers? Yes.

“There we go,” he said, strumming me with his fingers, parting my pussy lips with his thumbs. I moaned, and he tongued my hole for one enticing moment. “You taste delicious. Keep talking, naughty girl.”  

The Discipline is available for purchase for KindleNookGoogle PlayiBooks and Kobo.

BDSM Newbies and Erotic Romance: Q&A with The Discipline author Jade A. Waters

17 Mar

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Author Jade A. Waters has made a name for herself with her sexy approach to erotica writing. I have published her work in several of my anthologies and have always been impressed with the way it draws the reader in, whether she’s writing about a flogger (in The Big Book of Orgasms) or Shakespeare and theater and love (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1).

After publishing numerous short stories, the San Francisco Bay Area-based author landed a three-book deal with Carina Press for her Lessons in Control trilogy, which follows Maya and Dean, both relative newcomers to the world of BDSM, on an exciting erotic journey. The series started with The Assignment, which featured the pair starting to date, with Dean giving Maya a series of increasingly risqué assignments, involving everything from public sex to bondage to sex clubs. Now, it continues with newly published The Discipline, as they take their sexual fantasies to a new level,  and the third book in the series, The Reward, will be published on June 12.

What especially drew me to her series is that while many kinky erotic novels are set in the world of dungeons with confirmed Masters and submissives, everyone fully aware of their BDSM identities from the start, both Maya and Dean are navigating those exciting but often confusing paths together. She has to figure out how much she can share with him about her past, which includes an abusive ex, and he has to figure out how far he can go with his kinky fantasies, especially as they ease into becoming reality. In Maya, Waters has created a heroine who is starting to tiptoe out from the shadow of her troubling history and into a future where she can crave roughness and tenderness from the same person. In our interview, I asked her about her writing career, choosing ebooks over print, BDSM and consent and what we can expect from this exciting literary love affair.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: How and why did you get started writing erotica and erotic romance?

Well, I’ve been writing fiction and poetry since I was a young girl, but I was also on the precocious side growing up…which eventually translated into a thing for provocatively reading synonyms from a thesaurus to my high school sweetheart over the phone. (For some reason, me reading the word “smoldering” often resulted in his squeaky voiced “Can you come over, maybe?”) Around the same time I discovered Anaïs Nin and The Best American Erotica 1993, and I realized I wanted to give sexy fiction a try. My first attempt was a story about a Russian princess trapped in a tower; her king father was attempting to marry her off to a bunch of disappointing courters, and she was supposed to be saved by a seductive stranger…but I never did finish that story. After that, I penned the occasional ditty every few years. The truth is that I fought the idea of writing erotica for a long time for too many reasons, but once I finally decided to up and go for it, it was on. I wrote two stories that I tried to submit to a small call (one of which ended up appearing later in Coming Together: Among the Stars), and then when I decided I was really serious in early 2013, I submitted “The Flogger” to you. That ended up being my first publication in The Big Book of Orgasms later that year!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: When did you first get the idea for the romance between Maya and Dean, and was there a specific inspiration for it? Did you always plan for it to be three books?

JADE A. WATERS: Maya and Dean’s story was one part my own experience, and about three parts “what if?” The initial idea was sparked because I had a short-lived relationship with a man who playfully gave me an assignment on date one. I thought it was fun (my turn-ons are “playing” and “trying things”), but it wasn’t my thing in the long run, nor would we have ever worked out in a serious way. Pair with that my own history of having been in an abusive relationship in college, and the “what if” arose as I toyed with the idea of how the assignments and power dynamic would play out long term for someone who liked the submission, but who had only experienced it in a negative context. Maya’s independence is a mix of sass and survival—safety and control are imperative to her daily life, so I wanted to explore how that would work if she desired something considerably contrary. When I started book 1 I had some faint ideas of what could happen as they explored and their relationship continued to develop—so I imagined it could be a series, but I didn’t have much beyond an overall arc when I wrote The Assignment.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: There are some very vivid descriptions of things like sex clubs and rope bondage. Did you do any research for the books?

JADE A. WATERS: I do like to do my research. 🙂 It was a mix of memories of a few trips to sex clubs in the past, knowledge from a friend who studied shibari, and a lot of scouring the internet for alternate ideas. Also, reading is key. You pick up a lot from other stories and supplement with research as needed.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Can you tell me about your writing process? For the trilogy, did you write at a set time every day? Did you outline?

JADE A. WATERS: My “process” has morphed like crazy throughout this series. Book 1 was a breeze; it just popped right out. Book 2 had a lot of life and health issues throwing everything off, and required significant time and rewrites. Book 3 happened pretty quickly but needed a solid tweak between the manuscript turned in and what readers will see. The one thing that definitely held true throughout was that I’m a morning writer. It’s my most creative, calm time. I get up at 4 most days to get an hour or so of work in before I go to my day job. Weekends, I’ll start at 6 or so and go until the lunch hour.

I’m pretty simple when it comes to the how—it’s just me and a Word doc—but I like my coconut milk lattes and water in hand and to just go at it. Editing I seem to be able to do later into the day, which is helpful—but any big overhauls need morning light. As for outlining, that’s a big yes for novels. I use a combination of the Hero’s Journey, a 9-step outline process I picked up at a conference a while back, and then a method posted by Glen C. Strathy that I love. I merge these three styles together in a giant document that I print and keep on hand complete with character sketches and floor plans of characters’ houses as I work.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: How did you decide on e-publisher Carina Press, an imprint of Harlequin, as the publisher for your series?

JADE A. WATERS: My agent, Jessica Alvarez, and I shopped The Assignment around for a few months. Some publishers weren’t sure on a series. When the offer came in, we had two—one was for print for a single book, and the other was for the whole series with Carina. While I loved the idea of print, I’ve been fortunate to have been in print in several anthologies and I knew there was time for a print novel later. Carina was enthusiastic about the whole series, which excited me! So, after talking it around with Jessica, it was an easy yes.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Both Maya and Dean are intrigued by BDSM, but are both new at exploring it. Why did you decide to have them both be inexperienced? What was it like to write about a dom who has to act in control but is also, at times, unsure of what he’s doing when it comes to their power dynamics?

JADE A. WATERS: Ultimately, everyone has to be new at BDSM before they’re into BDSM. The desires can be part instinct, but we don’t just wake up one day knowing we like to be spanked or whatever without giving it a whirl. There are a bounty of books out there right now with a super experienced dom and inexperienced (and oft virginal) sub, and it drives me nuts. I wanted to explore two people who had a little exposure and interest in trying more, so that they could develop and cater to their own needs, but together. I find that exploration concept really sexy, which is why it was such an integral part of Maya and Dean’s relationship. However, it definitely posed some challenges in portraying Dean. He had to be in control, and yet he had to make rookie mistakes (he does in The Assignment, after all). It’s maddening to read and watch, but life is all about learning, and that’s what they do. Maya and Dean’s flubs allow them to figure out how to communicate and negotiate their boundaries—something I don’t think ever stops, in reality, in BDSM or any relationship. So they continue navigating that throughout the series.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Maya is intrigued by BDSM and submitting to Dean, but very wary based on abuse in a past relationship that had included some elements of BDSM, and she is also works with abused women at her job, which complicates her perspective. Was it challenging to incorporate the subject of domestic violence into a book of kinky erotic romance?

JADE A. WATERS: In some ways, yes, but not completely. I remember that when I told a non-erotica writer pal about Maya’s background early on, as well as some of what happens in the book, she’d said, “Wait, you’re basically giving her PTSD and having her trigger in an erotic romance book?” I’d found the question rather curious. I think we as a society have a tendency to gloss over the fact that real people have real histories and that can impact one’s choices and experiences. Maya is a fictional character, sure, but I like my characters to be real people. As someone who actually lives with PTSD—which does flare for most PTSD sufferers randomly throughout life—and yet someone who is also extremely sexual, I didn’t find the combination all that strange; I know what that feels like. It doesn’t saturate every moment but there are periods when it’s active. In the same way, making sure that past experience didn’t oversaturate the relationship was a challenge I enjoyed. To me, Maya’s story is about finally coming to terms with her past throughout the course of the series while she finds not only love and lust but herself in her relationship with Dean.

 One of the biggest themes of The Assignment is safety, which is what allows Maya to indulge the side of her that wants to have sexual adventures ranging from bondage to public sex to visiting a sex club. What about Dean makes her feel safe, and what, if anything, about Dean makes her feel unsafe?

JADE A. WATERS: Dean is naturally dominant, but he’s also a playful, compassionate guy. Maya is playful too, which is why they respond so well to one another. His openness allows her to feel safe, as does all his checking in—he may be giving assignments, but they really cater their dynamic together, and flesh it out through the series. We learn more about Dean in The Discipline, and some of his experiences have given him his own reticence that he [foolishly] tries to cover up. But as their relationship grows, it’s got to come out. I’m really into the pieces unfolding in time with people much like peeling back an onion, and yet, that lends to the challenges these two face. Maya’s questioning of safety comes from her background, pure and simple. It’s hard for her to place her trust entirely in someone else’s hands, but she wants to with Dean. Later, when she’s found her confidence in submission, she’s able to use that to call Dean out when he’s holding back. I wouldn’t say she feels unsafe then; in fact she feels safe enough to make the call and draw him out to meet her, too.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: If Maya had not met Dean, do you think she would have found other ways to explore her interest in BDSM?

JADE A. WATERS: Maybe? Frankly, I think she was too busy avoiding. If—and I mean if—she did find it later, I think it would have taken her a long time, because she was mighty happy with her fancy free love and sex life. There’s something about Dean that pushes that button for her in the perfect combo of dominant, charming, and sweet.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: The San Francisco Bay Area, the setting for the series and your home, is very prominent in the series. What’s so sexy about the area? Do you think people are more open to exploring BDSM there than in other parts of the United States?

JADE A. WATERS: I didn’t realize how into the area I was until I started writing erotica, honestly. Someone pointed out that I had a water motif and I had to pause before I realized, um, hello, I’ve been writing watery motifs for a while. I lived in Nevada until I was a teen, and from there I was in Sonoma, Marin, all over the East Bay…this place is just so incredibly lovely. (A 12-year-old me protested becoming a California girl and I now proudly tote that badge.) There’s water everywhere, be it moderate rains or on the coast. And waves…they’re so sexy to me. It’s that soothing but rhythmic one-two punch. I’d read a few erotica books set in other highly populated areas and none seemed to be here, so I felt like it was high time the Bay Area got some quality love! As for BDSM here…San Francisco is such a far cry from many places in our country. There’s a lot of open-mindedness (never mind several BDSM and sex club options), so, if there aren’t more people exploring it here there are at least more aware of and open to it here, I think. 

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Was your focus on safety and consent a response to the perceptions in popular culture of BDSM? Were you trying to address any cultural myths about kinky relationships?

JADE A. WATERS: YES!!! (Sorry, was I shouting?) I have read and heard about far too many misconceptions that BDSM is actually abuse. This is dead wrong. A consensual BDSM relationship is a beautiful thing. A nonconsensual relationship of any type is abuse. But BDSM is not a synonym for abuse, and many people still believe this is the case because unfortunately in real life and in fiction some do treat it as an excuse to abuse. That’s a no-no. Also, I think consent is an extremely important topic. I need to preface this with the fact that I under no circumstances believe it is a fiction writer’s job to educate the public on consent or to only write consensual scenes—and it drives me crazy that people say otherwise. However, if one is writing a BDSM story and they don’t intend for the dom to be an abusive character, then one does have to be a responsible writer and make sure the consent, communication, and negation is there in a healthy way. For Maya and Dean’s story, consent and safety was imperative, both because I wanted them to have a real and healthy BDSM relationship, and because Maya’s backstory requires safety in her relationships. Period.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: What were your favorite and least favorite parts of writing this trilogy?

JADE A. WATERS: This is strangely the hardest question you’ve given me, Rachel! 🙂 Favorite…man, all of it? The way the story morphed over time, and at the same time challenged me and exorcised some of my own demons. I really loved Maya’s growth throughout the series (just you wait until book 3), and it felt good to watch her develop. Same for Dean. Hardest? Mmmm…my life, like, completely blew up at the start of drafting book 2. So I think it would be cool to try writing a series not under so much life stress! (You hear that, Universe? Eh-hm.) Part of that was the pace, and part was just all that was going on. But, I think it worked out all right!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Can you give us a hint at what happens in The Discipline, which was just published, and the third book, The Reward?

Jade A. Waters: Happy to! The Discipline sees Maya and Dean learning the discipline of having a serious relationship while also exploring more sexual discipline, which means more play, and several really hot fantasies that will definitely challenge them. A. Lot. By The Reward, they’re not only more stable but stronger…however, some past challenges will confront them, hard. We will see tremendous growth in both characters…as well as in their relationship. It’s a mighty reward!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: What have the responses been like from readers to the series?

JADE A. WATERS: Fairly positive, I think! Some people seemed to really like their dynamic and the story, which is amazing to hear. Some wanted more Dean in book 1, which I knew would show up in book 2 because The Assignment was more about Maya’s growth…so I’m hoping they find what they’re seeking when they read on. I try not to read reviews too closely and when I do I just figure to each her own, but so far it seems people are enjoying, which is such a compliment.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Anything else to add?

JADE A. WATERS: Yes…a giant thank you for having me over!!

Click here to read a sexy free excerpt from The Discipline, which is available for purchase for Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Alternative Endings to the Bachelor

16 Mar

Huzzah! Rachel Lindsay–The first POC bachelorette.

by Madeline Iva

I saw the very first season of the Bachlorette while packing for a Big Move to the South.  I made it through a few seasons after that because I was fascinated by watching grown women aggressively fight for the attention of one man–while pretending not to. So deliciously perverse! Alexa Day posted about the announcement of the latest bachelorette on Tuesday, and the rest below is just one long riff about The Bachelor and other thoughts her post inspired.

I loved how the most interesting women (to me) on The Bachelor in the end ultimately had to be–I mean HAD TO BE–there for the money. (Student loans, I’m guessing.) Top ways to tell:

  1. They were very popular with the other women in the house. This, I think, is a key sign. But at the same time, they didn’t seem to have a secret boyfriend at home, or were there for some kind of acting career –and thus could dodge the “you’re not here for the right reasons” attack.   (BTW has anyone ever gone up and attacked a contestant saying “You’re just here to pay off your student loans—aren’t you, bitch?”)
  2. Often they would acknowledge being on the fence about their feelings for the guy. Why? Because they weren’t that into Mr. Available.  This only helps them not seem like a threat to the other women, of course.
  3. The fact that they weren’t so into the bachelor often seemed to make the bachelor far more into them.  Like he wanted to chase them hard.  After all, for most men, chasing is their comfort zone.  (Some of us are challenged when it comes to being adored.) Logically, enlightened men *know* it’s okay for a girl to chase a guy.  But they’re not actually comfortable with it.  It’s not their usual pattern–and sometimes breaking patterns feels odd.
  4. Because these women were just “passing time” to earn their paycheck, they could neatly avoid conflict in the house with the rest of the women–and work on soothing things out.  This is where their attention was.  It’s like they reguard the other women in the house as their fellow co-workers and wanted to be team players more than they were actually vying for the heart of one man.
  5. There’s almost an instant, quick and quiet break up following the conclusion of the show when one of these women was chosen.  The fact that a break up would immediately follow seemed like wonderful karma to me.  That’s what you get, you bachelor guy, for going for the girl that’s “not that into you” and ignoring the ones who were good people and desperate for your man-love.

At any rate — I’m glad that the show chose a POC bachelorette.

But I gotta wonder: how is this show going to continue to appeal to any but the most conservative audience? Because with polyamory becoming an accepted thing amongst all the hipsters and millenials, doesn’t the idea of picking ‘the one’ seem just a wee bit old fashioned?

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being a monogamous type of person (I’m one myself). I’m just saying that when the Batchelor says “OMG, I’m in love with BOTH of these women” is this still the shockingly upsetting drama that it used to be?  Aren’t twenty and thirty somethings across the land saying “And? This is a problem why?”

Or–a more radical theory still–was the repetition of season after season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette actually paving the way for widespread polyamory across our heartland over these last ***seventeen*** years by making TV America overly familiar with the idea that one person can easily fall in love with two (or more) people at the same time?  I mean, think back to when polyamory started becoming a thing–right? Amiright?

I’m just waiting for the season when the Bachelor/Bachelorette decides to propose to *both* women or accept a proposal from *both* guys.  Now that would be a ratings booster.

Maybe if this this new bachelorette says yes to a black man AND a white man we can all have our cake and eat it too.

MEANWHILE — Idris Elba for Bond.  Seriously.  Accept no other substitutes.  Unless it’s Tom Hiddleston.  Then we’ll have to talk.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

Spank Me! Pull My Hair! But He Says, “No.”

15 Mar

By Elizabeth Shore

In Madison, Wisconsin there’s a great hard rock radio station, WJJO, which, thanks to the internet, I can still listen to despite no longer living in the midwest. What I like about JJO, apart from the music, are the morning DJs.

Johnny, Greg, and Biatch (hey, I didn’t make it up) are unapologetically raunchy and laugh-out-loud funny. Their morning show includes everything from topical commentary on whatever’s in the news to the daily “fake at 8,” in which a woman calls in to fake an orgasm and win concert tickets if her “performance” gets a thumbs up from listeners. Every Monday morning, Mr. Skin gives his update on nude celebrities in TV and film, and every Tuesday and Thursday morning is the “Sex Fix.” A listener calls in to discuss a sexual conundrum he or she is dealing with and the morning crew lends their best advice.

Last week a female listener called in because she’s stressing over a compatibility issue with her boyfriend. His definition of “rough sex,” which is what she wants, is to land a few polite slaps on her bum and increase his pace. Her definition is to be choked, have her hair pulled, her ass smacked, and even, she said, “maybe draw a little blood” from biting. Just a little bit different.

The morning crew’s advice was for her to ease him into her kinky world by taking the bull by the horns and doing to him what she wants done to her. Start out slowly, they advised. Maybe tie him up and gently tease him with a flogger before venturing into the more intense territory she really wants. That said, they did caution that if he just doesn’t get turned on by her BDSM ways she may have to decide whether the relationship will ultimately work. A conundrum indeed.

If you do a web search on “sexual incompatibility” there are, as with most searches, an endless amount of information on the topic – good, bad, or nothin’ but fake news. Plenty of therapists offer their advice, but one of the best articles I’ve come across was one from a few years ago from dating advisor/coach and blogger Dr. NerdLove, who – as he clearly states – isn’t a real doctor. However, if you don’t know him, check out his blog. His sound advice is sprinkled with compassion and he’s amassed quite a following.

In a post he wrote back in 2014 about sexual compatibility he raised some excellent points, beginning with the culture that shapes our sexual views in the first place.

Even in the 21st century, we live in a profoundly sex-negative culture – just one that likes to think that it’s progressive. Our sexual education system is at best a glorified anatomy lesson; at worst, it’s a collection of lies and deliberate misinformation designed to (theoretically) keep children from having sex ever. We tell women to be sexy but not sexual – to be desirable but to not feel desire – while men are told that their worth depends upon as much sex as possible, setting men and women up for an inevitable conflict. Even the concept of making sure everybody is an eager participant is a new and radical concept.

…When we complain about being dissatisfied with our sex-lives then you risk plunging head-first into a wall of razor-sharp judgment from just about everyone around you. If the sexual dissatisfaction doesn’t conform to a very specific narrative… well, you’re really being selfish at best and a perv at worst.

Faced with the potential of harsh judgment, many couples choose to stay silent. Who wants to risk being viewed as a perv by one’s spouse if said perviness is deemed an undesireable trait? Better just to STFU, be thankful for what you do have and suffer in silence. Right?

Wrong. As NerdLove points out, “sex is a part of the relationship. It’s not something that can be excised when it’s inconvenient.” Having your needs in the bedroom unfulfilled will affect the relationship as a whole. Sexual incompatibility is one of the most common reasons why relationships end. No surprise that it’s an issue rarely tackled in romance novels. Who wants to read about that icky reality? Better to have your H&H happily f**king like bunnies whenever and wherever the mood (mutually) strikes.

But in the real world, as Dr. NerdLove reminds us, compromise is key. No one’s going to be a perfect sexual match. You may differ on drive, desire, or even views on fidelity and monogamy. Working out how to deal with those differences is what’ll get you to that mutual happy place.

And speaking of happy places, join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! A raffle will be held for a big basket of books for all. Event: Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/ event/never-have-you-ever- ever-ever

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

 

 

 

Half Past Time: Rachel Lindsay as the Next Bachelorette

14 Mar

Not sure what lies ahead for Rachel, but she seems to have done pretty well so far, no?

By Alexa Day

Her name is Rachel Lindsay, she’s 31 years old, and she’s an attorney working for a very supportive law firm.

She’s the next Bachelorette. And she’s black.

Some of you can’t be bothered to care, and that’s fine. I will defend to the death your right to apathy. Just understand that this is a really big deal for a great many people.

I’ve never really watched the Bachelor; I could only watch so many grown women burst into real tears on camera over some dude they just met. By the time, I stopped paying attention years ago, the show’s few black cast members were usually on the show long enough to make the network look good. Then they were gone before anyone started to think that the Bachelor, usually a white man, would actually choose a black woman as a romantic partner and potential spouse.

Gradually, black women garnered longer stays on the Bachelor. But before Nick Viall, whose run as the Bachelor will end tonight, none had cracked the final three. Indeed, Nick had a more diverse selection of women than many Bachelors. In the history of the franchise, going back 21 years, the Bachelor and Bachelorette have had only 43 black cast members, and eight of them were with Nick this season.

Rachel left the Bachelor last week, leaving Vanessa and Raven to vie for the final rose. This is about the time I found out that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette, and after I shook my head in wonder that it only took ABC thirteen years to make a black woman the show’s lead, I started to pick through the press coverage.

I liked Rachel immediately. She said her law firm is holding her job open while she films the show, something she knows to be an anomaly in the legal industry. She said she had no desire to know what her dad and Nick talked about, when the two of them apparently had their suitor-parent conference. And then, in The New York Times, she said, “Even though I’m an African-American woman, it’s not different from any other bachelorette.”

You might be asking, at this point, what the big deal is. She says she’s going to be just like any other bachelorette.

That’s the big deal. That’s a huge deal.

I’ve got a few years on Rachel, and so my experience with popular culture’s expectations of black women is probably a little different. Today, we have Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead, who have moved beyond being the zombie apocalypse’s most dangerous couple and become its most adorable couple as well. On Scandal, Fitz’s adulterous relationship with Olivia might be a thing of the past, but he’s involved in another, similarly complicated interracial relationship with Angela, the director of the FBI … and his ex-wife, Mellie, is flirting across racial lines with her aide, Marcus. Not that long ago, I was delighted to spread the news about the immense but understated magnetism of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in Loving.

My point here is that we’re seeing black women with white men in the popular culture. We’re seeing it frequently. What’s so different about this?

The headline that sent me down this Bachelorette rabbit hole was this one, from The Hollywood Reporter: “History-Making ‘Bachelorette’ Opens Up About Pressure to Pick a Black Man.”

Rachel hasn’t even started production yet. And she knows there’s going to be some pressure for her to pick a black man, because to some person or persons out there, it’s okay for her romantic options to be limited by her skin color.
In short, she knows that a lot of people think that black people should be with other black people, to the exclusion of all other people. Whether this view is espoused by enough people to affect her pool of suitors remains to be seen. But she knows the truth about people’s perceptions, and she is willing to tell The Hollywood Reporter about it. In spite of this, she’s determined to pursue her reality-TV romance just like any other woman, of any other race.

“It’s my journey in finding love,” she said. “And whether that person is black, white, red, whatever — it’s my journey. I’m not choosing a man for America, I’m choosing a man for me.”

I hope the network is prepared to support her in this mission.

If Zack and Lisa mattered to you back in the day, then Rachel probably ought to matter to you now.

Because I’m older than Rachel, I remember how many a television show would bring on a completely random black character for the sole purpose of being an appropriate, but temporary, love interest for a more permanent black character. I’m also aware of the longstanding TV trope of pairing the black character with the least romantically desirable character on the show. We’ve made progress, sure. But let’s be honest. Popular culture is still very comfortable with black romance (interracial and otherwise) on the sidelines, leaving black characters with societally appropriate partners who have no chemistry with them, with some grand mission to assist other characters at the expense of their own love lives, or with no partners at all. Honestly, I’m still a bit annoyed with Magic Mike XXL for pushing Rome into the corner. I’m enjoying the rise of Richonne because part of me is afraid it’s going to be taken away soon. Please don’t start me talking about Sleepy Hollow again.

I’m not going to sit here with you and suggest that the Bachelorette is the flagship of romance. I did just say I couldn’t bear to watch grown women devastated to discover that they wouldn’t be marrying some dude they just met a little while ago. But Ali Barthwell from Vulture says it best in “Why a Black Bachelorette is a Big Deal.”

“Celebrating black womanhood in the context of marriage and motherhood might seem reductive to some, but because they’ve so often been denied those roles in pop culture, it’s in fact, revolutionary,” she writes. “Seeing a black woman as the woman pursued, riding off into the sunset, would do so much to diversify the narratives of black romance.”

Will I tune in for Rachel? Well, just last night, one of her future suitors apparently greeted her, on international television, with the promise that he was “ready to go black and never go back.” I have to support a woman who could hear a man say that and not punch him in the face, cameras be damned.

In the meantime, let me present two tales of reality TV romance where black women take center stage.

In The One, by Danielle Allen, heroine Zoe is a reality-TV skeptic who suddenly finds herself on a Bachelor-style show. And Bridget Midway’s Love series, starting with Love My Way, features a reality TV show that pairs Doms with their submissives.

Still looking for excitement? Try this on for size.

Let the Confessional Games Begin!

Have you ever had mad monkey love on a motorcycle? A three-way in an alley? Been roped, tied and pleasured? Have you never, ever, never done any of this? Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past and win crowns, toys, books and more at the Lady Smut special reader event, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention.

Follow Lady Smut. This is where the fun starts.

 

 

Waiting for Godot: Living Through Series Delay

13 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Recently, an author for whom I am a big fan–in fact, I think it’s safe to say I am a superfan–released the first book in her new series. Cue the confetti. Strike up the band. Huz-freaking-zah. Right?

This new novel is in a new genre for said author and is the start of a three-book series, the remainder of which will come out throughout the rest of the year. Goodness abounds, yeah? Well, no, not really.

The author is rightly super excited about her new foray, a genre into which she has long been noodling on her own, ramping herself up to finally go for it. She also values her readers and is enough in tune with them to know not all of her dedicated flock are going to happily trot along behind this new venture. To this end, she’s taken great pains to explain the long path that’s brought her to write this series. She’s posted blogs on her web site and on social media patiently laying out, not her argument, because she needs make no defense for following her heart into writing the stories that have been weighing on her or so long, but an explanation as to what led her to make the decision to pursue this series. No author or any creative force, is obligated to take this sort of effort to, essentially, state her case. She’s done this with grace and care, and I have a lot of respect for her, or rather, even more respect for her, for doing so. And I’ve read enough of her books (over and over and over again) to feel confident that she has hit it out of the park.

That said, I’m unlikely to read this series because its genre is not in my wheelhouse. Like I said, I’m a superfan and have deep dived into this author’s extensive back list. That said, there’s a dozen or more of her novels I haven’t read, or ones where I’ve read the first in the series and the genre and situation didn’t/doesn’t appeal to me.

But, I’m woman enough to admit, this time, I’m a little miffed.

This is not because this author has written a series in a genre I don’t like, which leaves me going nearly a year without new goodness from a favorite (my choice, admittedly). Okay, it’s not only because of that. Mainly though, I’m miffed because this author has at least two unfinished series for which I am rabid and another series that readers (including moi) have been greatly anticipating for years, all of which are being denied for something new. Instead of working on what is already in play, she’s taken a new creative direction and thus created another new series.

I don’t want a new series. I want the books that have been explicitly or implicitly promised for existing series I’m on which I’m already thoroughly hooked. I want the series installments for which I have been (im)patiently waiting.

And yes, I would like some cheese to go along with that whine, thank you very much.

Look, I’m miffed, I won’t lie. That’s the reader side of me. I want my jones for those existing series to be fed. I got hooked on one of them fast and deep only to have the brakes slammed on the three or four books yet waiting to be written. Now I hafta wait out this unwelcomed series and hope that maybe next year there might be a hint of these upcoming books being in the works much less the break off series that has been promised for years.

But the writer side of me gets it. Sure, you have to sit and write whether the Muse or the spirit or whatever floats your boat gets your butt in the chair and your hands of the keyboard or not. Especially if you’re a full-time writer making a living off your words. You have to produce pages in order to get paid. It’s much easier to do this when you’re passionate for the project, when you’re driven to get that story out of your system. A writer can’t always pick and choose what story grabs her and when. In order to be true to reader expectations of the quality of your work, you have to make sure your commitment to that work is on par. That doesn’t always mean giving them the story they think they want. I know enough to know it doesn’t always work that way. Added to that, when an opportunity presents itself to do something different, something you’ve been somewhat secretly working on or leaning toward for some time, you don’t say no. You pursue that opportunity with prejudice if necessary. No author jumps off into the deep end of something new, knowing you might be risking a portion of your readership and therefore your livelihood by making a drastic turn in what you’re writing. Don’t get me wrong, I totally support this writing and admire her for having the guts to pursue this direction for which she clearly feels substantial compulsion.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want those upcoming books that I’m keenly anticipating to suffer from a rush job either. If the author isn’t feeling those stories, isn’t prepared to live in the heads of those characters, I sure don’t want her to force herself to write them simply to appease her readers’ desires when she’s not prepared to tell those stories. That disappoints everyone.

Look, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve waited on a series. Diana Gabaldon cranked out Lord John novels and novellas in-between her Outlander tomes. We all know the pain and suffering G.R.R. Martin fans have been going through for decades. Cripes, Godot shows up more often than new Game of Thrones novels.

Maybe I’m feeling this one so keenly because to me, it feels like a waste because I have no desire to read this series. This means I now have to wait for it to burn out so she can get back to writing what I want, because I’m a selfish superfan in need of her jones. God forbid she come out with an announcement later this year that she’s writing more installments in this new series. I may just plotz.

It’s a weird line to walk. I support the author’s new endeavor because I like her and I dig her work hard. I’ll probably read it too at some point, despite my dislike of the genre, because I’m curious to see how her voice comes through in that situation. What her unique take on the genre turns out to be. But I also resent it because it just means more and more delays until she writes the stories I’m waiting for with ever so-much-less patience.

The writer/reader relationship can be so wonky.  There’s an ownership a superfan feels when they’ve invested time and emotion and dollars into a writer, or any content producer really, and then something happens that makes the reader feel as though they’ve been gypped. It’s not just in books either. Lord knows, I’ve railed and fumed when TV shows and movies don’t fulfill the promise of relationships or story lines. It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to invest in a TV series until I can wait out the will they/won’t they of the primary ‘ship. (Do *not* get me started on Arrow’s abysmal treatment of the Olicity ‘ship, which has made me stop watching the show altogether.) This resentment I’m feeling now is along the same lines, the continued disappointment of not getting what I want, no matter what the motivations or desires of the content provider. And yet, as a content provider myself, I understand the creative and marketplace demands that may take precedent over one reader’s (or a thousand readers’) preference.

Have you been disappointed by a writer or other content provider’s creative decisions? Are you waiting for a book that feels like it might never come? Have you had a favorite author go in a direction you don’t like? Tell me your experiences in the comments!

Lady Smut is out and about in the wild again. We have a hot and spicy event at the upcoming RT convention in May. Share your sexy secrets at the “Never Have I Ever, Ever, Ever” game with in-person Lady Smut bloggers Elisabeth SaFleur and Isabelle Drake. We’ll have more information on the event in the upcoming weeks so be sure to follow Lady Smut so you don’t miss a trick!

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

 

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Sexy Sunday Short: Phở for Two by Thien-Kim Lam

12 Mar Big bowl of pho. Photo by Thien-Kim Lam

by Thien-Kim Lam

As if food isn’t sensual enough, what happens when two Vietnamese lovers get busy in the kitchen?

Today’s Sexy Sunday Snippet is actually a short story. I’m obsessed with food: cooking it, eating it, and creating new recipes. I also love sex and sex toys. It’s no surprise that both subjects play heavily in my erotic and romance writing. I hope you enjoy my short story.

Phở for Two

The cold hard metal chair would not stay warm, no matter how often she wiggled her bare ass. Wiggling was all she could manage. Her hands were tied behind the back of her chair while red rope coils kept her legs parallel to the chair’s legs. The red anklets spread her knees wide while her thighs beckoned.

Her lover puttered in the kitchen behind her, out of sight but never out of mind. Scents of cinnamon, star anise, and clove from his cooking assaulted her nose but she barely noticed them, though her mouth watered in response. Her thoughts were focused lower. Much lower. A small vibrator was taped to her chair. Its pulsing tip focused right on her clit. All she could do was wiggle forward and backwards. Her hard nipples pointed upwards as her back arched against her restraints. Just a little bit more and she could feel the full force of the stupid thing. Unfortunately, her lover was skilled with knots.

“Are you hungry, babe?” Her lover set down a large bowl of noodles topped with rare, thinly sliced beef and scallions. Slowly, he poured the cinnamon and star anise infused broth over the noodles. The broth cooked the slices of beef until it was the same flushed pink as her wet pussy.

Big bowl of pho. Photo by Thien-Kim Lam

Photo credit: Thien-Kim Lam

“Looks about right, don’t you think?” as he peered between her thighs to compare. She was nowhere close to well-done.

“Mmmmfffppph,” she managed to respond behind the gag in her mouth. The bowl of pho sitting between them made her stomach growl. She was hungry. She wasn’t sure what she wanted more: hot noodles or that damned vibrator to move closer.

“No?” Her lover grinned. “More for me, I guess.” He moved his chair–his had a cushion– to sit beside her.

She sighed through her nose. She had brought this onto herself.

Two weeks ago, she’d made fun of his cooking. There was no way his phở would even compare to her mother’s recipe, which had been honed and perfected throughout her childhood. Every Sunday, after her family returned from their church’s service, they broke fast together with large, steaming bowls of phở. Sunday brunch was their weekly family reunion as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins slurped hot noodles and dipped their tender slices of medium-rare beef into small saucers of hoisin. Younger cousins chased each other around the tables while the adults caught up on gossip.

Now she realized that it was the memories of her weekly phở bowl that couldn’t compare to her lover’s noodles and broth. It was too late to take back her words, even if her mouth wasn’t filled with the red ball gag. She secretly ordered it from the internet late one night after an unsuccessful masturbatory attempt. She’d forgotten about it until a nondescript brown box arrived a few days later. Embarrassed that some random website knew her secret yearning, she hid it in the back of the closet unopened.

A loud squirt brought her back to her present predicament. Her breasts were covered with cold hoisin sauce.

“Oops! Sorry about the misfire. Here, let me clean you up.” Her lover deftly picked up a slippery white noodle with his chopsticks. With the deft moves of his chopsticks, he created a nest of noodles on her right nipple. The hot noodles shocked her cold skin, making her nipple grow even harder, making it ache from pleasure. Using just the two melamine chopsticks, he circle her nipples with the noodle until it was coated in hoisin sauce. Her eyes were glued to those thin sticks. This was new territory for her. She wasn’t brave enough to tell him her deepest desires, yet somehow he knew. The box in the back of her closet confirmed it for him.

Chopsticks and dried noodles. Photo by Thien-Kim Lam

Photo credit: Thien-Kim Lam

She wanted more than those noodles sliding on her breast. She wanted his mouth, his hands, his–she wanted him to devour her until she could only gasp for air. Between his noodle swirling and the pesky vibration between her thighs, she couldn’t complete any of her thoughts. Her growls of frustration made him smirk.

“Should I give you what you want? Even though you insulted my cooking?”

She nodded furiously. Languidly, his tongue reached out and slurped the warm noodle off her nipple. He sipped some of the sweet broth from his bowl and took her nipple into his now hot mouth. Even the gag couldn’t hold back her moans as her body betrayed her. Her back arched and her thighs shook. He took his time licking the sticky sweet sauce off her breasts, taking a break only to warm his mouth with more broth. Her moans grew as her wetness pooled on her chair.

She tried to lean forward and push her nipples deeper into his hot mouth but the ropes around her arms and body wouldn’t allow it. Her moans of pleasure turned to whimpers.. She was right on the edge and needed just push to reach her peak. Yet, she had no control over her orgasm; her lover would decide when she could reach her pinnacle. Her clit pulsed rapidly at this realization. This was what she had fantasized about but afraid to say out loud. He could withhold her release. No matter how her pussy ached to be filled, she was his. She moaned into her red gag as she grew wetter.

Pho noodles on chopsticks

Photo credit: Thien-Kim Lam

Suddenly, he pulled away.

” All this cleaning is making me hungry. We don’t want my phở to get cold, do we?”

He turned his attention to the still steaming bowl. She shook her head, her eyes pleading him to return to his prior activities. He reached between her glistening thighs. She nodded vigorously. Finally, he would give her release. Instead, he turned the vibrator up a little higher, but no closer to her swollen clit than it was before. She cried into her gag, but her body betrayed her. Her back arched as she desperately tried to press herself closer to the vibrator.

As she worked herself into a frenzy that offered no sweet release, she heard her lover slurping his noodles.

She would never see a bowl of phở in the same way again.

Craving phở ? Here’s my recipe for easy chicken phở.

Thien-Kim Lam is currently writing romances about Asian American women who have mega hot sex. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries included. Check her Pleasure Pairings guide with buzzy recommendations for the adventurous reader

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