Archive by Author

Why You Should Read More Romances Written by #OwnVoices

3 Feb Interracial couple holding hands

Interracial couple holding hands

by Thien-Kim Lam

Earlier this week, my fellow Lady Smutter Alexa Day challenged you to read more diverse books and spread the word about them.

I’m going to up the ante and challenge you to choose diverse romances written by #OwnVoices.

The basic own voices concept is to read and promote books with diverse main characters written by authors from that same diverse group. For me diversity means any community or group that is not the mainstream. It can mean race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and/or mental illness (and more). The #OwnVoices hashtag was originally coined to highlight diverse books in children’s publishing, but the philosophy is important for all genres, even romance and erotica.

In the last few years, diversity has been a buzzword in publishing. I hate that people talk about it like a trend. My experiences as a Vietnamese American is not a fad or a trend. Reading about an Asian American woman who falls in love and has mega hot sex shouldn’t be a trend. It should be just be something normal that happens–as in real life. (Now you know that I have mega hot sex.)

2 women in wedding gown

While the heroines and heroes in the romance industry catch up with real life, it’s also very important that we choose to read #ownvoices. (And spread the word about the ones we like.) When you read a love story about a Black, Asian, Latinx, or queer woman that is also written by someone from that culture, you’re getting an inside look from someone who has experienced the feelings, stereotypes, and family expectations from that culture or background. They’ve walked in those shoes and felt similar feelings as their characters. Someone who is not of that same diverse group can only give readers an outsider’s perspective of their character’s life.

When we only read diverse characters written by outside voices, we risk reading a singular story. Stereotypes are more common: Asian American men who are nerds or geeks; African American men who are sports jocks or preachers; and so on. While stereotypes and tropes are common in romances, why limit our alphahole billionaires to white guys?

South Asian couple in love

Romances that stick with me are ones that defy stereotypes or put a fun twist on a common tropes. Why not have a Black computer nerd who falls in love with a Latinx woman gamer? How about successful Latina woman realtor who secretly meets her bisexual landscaper for trysts? (If any of these exist, please leave the title in the comments so I can read them!)

If you’re not sure where to look for #OwnVoices romances, read Alexa Day’s books. Then check out these blogs and indie presses for more recommendations:

I’m not saying you should only read own voices books. There’s plenty of good romances out there that do not fit this category. I’m challenging you to seek out ones that are #ownvoices and read them.

Two men in love

After you read them, support the author. Leave reviews, tell your friends to buy the book,and spread the word. More importantly, call out the diversity and own voices in your reviews so that those of us who are searching for them can find them. Give the books good Google juice so when I type in “sexy romances with Hispanic SEALs,” they’ll show up on the first page of results.

Will you join me and take the pledge to read and review more #OwnVoices romances?

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

Why I Have a Soft Spot for Period Movies

6 Jan Image via Warner Bros

by Thien-Kim Lam

Image via Warner Bros

Image via Warner Bros

I’m late to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them party, but I finally saw the movie this week. Even though I was a huge Harry Potter fan, I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for Newt Scamander and his magical creatures. I’d grown to love Harry, Ron, and the sassy, brilliant Hermione. Since our only other family friendly movie option was Sing, the adults voted for Fantastic Beasts instead.

The movie was fun and the perfect post New Year’s day escape. The story was cute. I loved all the main characters. But I can’t stop thinking about the 1920s costumes.

For me, Colleen Atwood’s costumes were also stars of the movie.

Long before I sat down to write romance books, I professionally designed and constructed costumes for theatre productions. After doing that for so many years, I can tell when a designer takes extra care with her costume choices. Let me show you what I mean.

The Goldstein Sisters

Let’s talk about the two main female characters from the film. They were inherently more interesting and complex than Newt.

Image via Warner Bros

Image via Warner Bros

Tina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) was demoted from her Auror position after her unauthorized used of magic. She’s desperate to reclaim her status within the Magical Congress. Tina is strong, serious, and very responsible. She wants to do what’s right.

Image via Warner Bros

Image via Warner Bros

Except for one scene, Tina almost always wears pants and sensible shoes, which are perfect for chasing down the bad guys. Even her night clothes belay her practicality, an adorable but comfortable wide leg jumper. Just because she’s practical doesn’t mean that she can’t embrace her femininity with her v-neck blouses or don a flapper style dress for undercover work. No matter what she’s wearing, it’s usually black or blue with a hint of white or light blue (even in the night club). She’s serious but knows how to have fun.

Image via Warner Bros

Image via Warner Bros

Her younger sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) doesn’t have a physically demanding job like Tina. She prefers dresses that hug and accentuate her body. She knows that men are distracted by her beauty and uses that to her advantage when she needs to. Don’t let her fool you. She may have a big heart and look innocent, but she’s very smart and has the power to read your mind.

Image via Warner Bros

Image via Warner Bros

Queenie exudes femininity. She wears more “luxurious” fabrics: satin, silk, velvet, and lace. Textures that are soft and feel good against the skin. Soothing, like her voice and personality. To further contrast from her sister, Queenie wears pink in almost every scene. Also, I want that pink coat!

A good costume designer is able to make these choices and integrate them into the director’s vision, while creating a cohesive look among all the characters. Don’t forget that this is also a period piece, so there’s an expectation that the costumes look like they’re from 1926. It’s not an easy task, but when you’re a mega-award winning designer like Colleen Atwood, it probably comes naturally.

Costumes are one the reasons I love reading historical romances. The big ball gowns (or modest muslin ones) can tell the reader so many things about the characters’ personality and social class. Little details that add up to build one complex heroine.

I adored both Tina and Queenie. And I want all of their clothes. Of, maybe not Tina’s scuffed brown shoes.

What’s your favorite period costume film?

Thien-Kim Lam cut her teeth on historical romances and they will always have a special place in her heart. 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

What I REALLY Want for Christmas

2 Dec No, not this kind of rabbit. Even if it is cute

Hi! I’m Thien-Kim Lam, and I’m the new kid here at Lady Smut. Instead of being hazed by my fellow authors, I’ve been tasked to write about vibrators–one of my favorite topics. Enjoy!

I’ve been told that I’m hard to shop for.

It’s true.

My family members lament about this challenge every holiday. My mother sends me more coffee–which is never a bad thing. My sister demands a wish list from me. My husband doesn’t even ask what I want anymore. I don’t really need or want more stuff cluttering my apartment. I usually suggest we purchase something practical, like new tires for our old, but trusty car. Totally boring and domestic, but much needed.

Wish lists are supposed to things you really want but never give yourself permission to purchase. Extravagant. Decadent. Impractical. Not tires.

As I navigated my inbox during Thanksgiving weekend, I attempted to make a wish list to share with my friends and family. Turns out my neverending search for a smoking hot red dress is not wish list material. I didn’t need more books. (Blasphemous, but true.) I hoard most of my books on my e-reader anyway, which takes away from the Christmas day unwrapping tradition.

Then I hit the jackpot.

Sort of.

I figured out the one item that I really wanted but never made an effort to purchase. Make that multiple items: sex toys.

Confession: I don’t need any more vibrators. Or lube. Or clit cream.

As a former sex toy sales consultant and an owner of a romance book-sex toy pairing subscription box, I have a very healthy collection. As in so many, I have to purge our pleasure pantry every so often.

Sex toys are like books. I can never have enough. Each one has its specialities. Each one serves a very orgasmic purpose. They’re the gift that keeps on giving–as long as you don’t misplace the charger.

Obviously, this isn’t the type of wish list I could send to just anyone. Definitely not my parents.

Ryan Reynolds Shudder gifimage via giphy

This is your call to gift that sexy someone in your life with a sex toy. Don’t make them ask.

You’ll benefit too, even if they use it for solo play. Though I’m pretty sure if you’re close enough that you can gift them a silicone rabbit vibe or pair of wrist cuffs, they’ll want to use them with you.

No, not this kind of rabbit. Even if it is cute

No, not this kind of rabbit. Even if it is cute

Let’s pretend I have an unlimited budget and unlimited storage space. What bedroom accessory would I put on my wish list? If I hadn’t already purchased this sex toy advent calendar, it would be first on my list. I’d want a badass vibrating wand. Some high quality leather handcuffs. The kind of the leather that smells so good, you just beg to be bound in them. And a steel boned corset.

Make your list, check it twice, and hand it over to your love. Because all we really want for Christmas are orgasms. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve got some recommendations:

If you had to make a sex toy wish list, what items would you put on it?

Would You Like Me To Ravage You?

23 Sep
Click to buy.

Click to buy.

by Madeline Iva

She’s baaaaaaack! You liked her Madame X post so much that we’ve asked Thien-Kim Lam to come back for another guest post.  Happy Friday!

A couple of months ago, my husband interrupted my animated retelling of the sex scenes in Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do. (The scenes are quite creative, and the power dynamics between the main characters heighten every movement.)

“It sounds like a fun book. Can we read it together?”

I was shocked. He had never expressed interest in reading any of my romance books.

We’ve read books together before, in audiobook form. Most of the books we’ve listened to have been thrillers: Girl on the Train, The Girl with All the Gifts, and The 500. Books with action and adventure that move quickly. Books that mirror his favorite kind of movies. Coincidentally, those three books are being made into movies.

For the past year or so, we’ve been listening to the same audiobook in tandem. Even though I listen at faster speeds, we try to stay within a chapter of each other. He has more time during his commute and work day to listen so I’m usually the one playing catch-up. After the kids go to bed, we talk about what’s happened so far in the book. It’s become our couples book club.

Reading together has given us something to talk about that isn’t related to work or our children. Our television habits are different, save for handful of shows. We didn’t use to read the same books. I read widely across genres, while he gravitated towards graphic novels, his magazines, and Neil Labute plays.

After my shock wore off, we agreed to read Dare’s first Spindle Cove book A Night to Surrender since I was almost done listening to Any Duchess Will Do. I still couldn’t believe he wanted to read a historical romance book with me!

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

I was nervous the first day we started A Night to Surrender. Outside of the a couple of scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey that I read aloud to him, he’s a newbie to romance and erotica. Would he like it or hate it? What would I do if he hated one of my favorite sub genres?

Earbuds in hand, he kissed me goodbye and left for work. Time to queue up the audiobook. As I listened to the first chapters, I analyzed each scene. Would my husband think the main characters’ meet cute too contrived? Would he understand the nuances of clothing in this period? How could he react to the arrogant alpha male hero?

As soon as my husband stepped through the door that evening, I attacked him. No, not that way. I asked him what he thought about Tessa Dare’s book. “It’s cute. I like it.” He was actually grinning! I was relieved.

Over dinner we discussed the attraction between feisty, independent Susanna and arrogant but adorably clueless Lord Rycliff. He compared the novel to the romantic comedy movies we love to watch. Over the next several nights we discussed the comedy of errors of the couple’s first kiss and the first time super sexytimes. He even quoted seductive lines from the book–partly in jest, but partly to try get in my pants. Try keeping a straight face when your husband gives you a seductive look and says in a British accent, “Would you like me to ravage you?”

Ladies, my husband has still got it. And he’s all mine.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Since then, we’ve listened to other romance books, most recently Maya Banks’ Forged in Steele. Her KGI series contains everything we like: suspense, action, explosions with plenty of romance and sex. Forged in Steele’s high drama and cheesy dirty talk has elicited a flurry of texts between us throughout the day. Mostly us cracking up over the dirty talk.

After fourteen years of marriage, I’m glad that we can find new mutual interests. I should not have assumed that he wouldn’t be interested in reading romances. The past year I’ve forced him to listen to me as I debate on which sex toy I should pair with certain erotic romances when I curate my Bawdy Bookworm Boxes. I guess I finally made him curious enough to jump into the romance world.

Now we need to pick our next romance audiobooks. Please share your recommendations!

Do you read romances with your partner?

Thien-Kim Lam cut her teeth on historical romances and they will always have a special place in her heart. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries included. Check 5 Steamy Book & Sex Toy Pairings for Your Pleasure Chest for buzzy recommendations.

 

 

Madame X & My Book Hangover: Guest Post by Thien-Kim Lam

2 Sep
Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Hello Dear Readers! Madeline here.  I am exceptionally excited to have Thien-Kim Lam guest post on our blog today. 🙂  Alexa Day was bemoaning declawed alpha males earlier this week, but I think Thien-Kim has found a ringer here—check it out, Alexa!

When I first pick up a romance, it’s the heroine I fall in love with first.

It doesn’t matter who she is, I root for her. Sometimes she’s funny or ambitious (or both!). She doesn’t need a man in her life, but she’ll glad take him for a hard ride. (Maybe more than once.) I love her because she chooses her own path and expects to be treated equal to others. I adore that romance authors give my (our?) heroines agency in their lives.

Agency is what makes all romance heroines feminists.

Then I met X. That’s Madame X to you.

In opening pages of Jasinda Wilder’s Madame X, our heroine is calculating and demanding. Her confident tone would be heralded if she had a penis between her legs. Despite her expertise, the recipient of her reprimand refuses to accept her instructions. She’s unwavering in her demands and he eventually accepts his reality: Madame X won’t take shit from her man-child client.

I loved Madame X mere paragraphs into the novel.

Who is Madame X? It might be easier to define who she is not. She’s not a prostitute. Nor is she a dominatrix. She teaches spoiled, affluent clients how to exude confidence and control inside the boardroom and out. She uses great skill to force these young men into (psychological) submission. Madame X always succeeds. Thus, her services are in high demand.

She is one badass woman who’s not afraid to take control. I want a friend like X. Someone I could drink some 12-year-old single malt scotch with and talk about everything: men, work, sex, and definitely orgasms.

My heart stopped when Caleb entered X’s apartment. Suddenly her personality changed. Around him she spoke softly, acted demurely, and instantly responded to his command to strip. He takes what he needs from her: her mouth, her breasts, her sex. She feels she has no choice but to give Caleb what he demands. He saved her when she had no one else to take care of her. He’s given every material thing she touches and every memory she has. Even if her heart and mind tries to stand up to him,her body responds to his touch. 7e7bd95b7d149c15b55241f1f5d75dd3She never fails to reach her peak under his hands.

Madame X submits to Caleb’s dark eyes and roving hands while wishing for the freedom to choose what she wants. A freedom that Jasinda Wilder’s opening pages led me to believe that X had. A freedom that I wish for X as badly as she wishes for herself.

As a reader, I expect an emotional roller coaster ride, but Jasinda’s novel was more like Space Mountain than the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. I had no idea where she would take me but I blindly–and happily–hung on for dear life. She had me hooked. I was determined to keep my eyes open during the thrill ride, even if I could only see tiny little lights ahead.

It’s been almost a month since I finished Madame X and I cannot stop thinking about this book.

Did she fit into my idea of a feminist heroine? Her lack of freedom, the options available to her, and the choices she made said no. More confounding to me was the desire she had for Caleb. How could a strong woman like X need approval and affection from cold, calculating Caleb?

I relive X’s journey in my head over and over. Why did she make the choices she did? Caleb held the key to her gilded cage, but surely she could have stood up to him the way she stood up to her clients. Maybe he wouldn’t give her complete freedom. Maybe she could ask him to let her decide when and if she would submit to his sexual demands. Why didn’t she just ask?

Then it hit me. I’m projecting what *I* would do onto Madame X.

c666b4943fc8ee0ee370f1b4b6a93198X makes the best decision based on the information she has. Even though the novel is written in first-person, I–the reader–feel omniscient. I see how Caleb is gaslighting X. I see the cyclical signs of emotional and verbal abuse followed by remorse. X’s circumstances have not given her the knowledge bank to realize Caleb may not have her best interests at heart.My knowledge and background are different from hers so my choices are different from hers.

Madame X may not be the feminist heroine that I envisioned when I first met her, but I never got the impression that she was weak. I had to have faith that Madame X would choose what she felt was best for herself even if I didn’t like her decision.

I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but it fits for this dark romance. Just like my personal journey, X’s intense emotional journey can’t be told in just one book. I’ve fallen in love with X, and I want her to be happy. I’m not ready to let her go. Madame X caught me tightly in its web. I’m ready to take deep breaths and buckle in for the next two books in the series.

If you haven’t read Madame X yet, be forewarned that you’ll have the biggest book hangover ever.

Just make sure you’re buckled in for the Jasinda Wilder roller coaster ride.

Thien-Kim Lam is a feminist who loves erotica and romance. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries are always included. Check 5 Steamy Book & Sex Toy Pairings for Your Pleasure Chest for buzzy recommendations.

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