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Real Life Christian Grey Talks BDSM & Fifty Shades

15 Feb

Hello readers!  We have a guest post for you today from A.C. Rose–an interview republished TheThreeTomatoes.com. Find out more about A.C. Rose’s writing and her book about 50 Shades at her website. Check out her facebook group 50 Shades of Grey Fans.unnamed

Shades of Al Daltrey: Talking About BDSM with a Real Life Christian Grey

As “Fifty Shades Darker” plays in theaters around the world women are once again thinking of Christian Grey, BDSM and sexually dominant males. I felt it my journalistic duty to bring you an interview with a man who knows about it all, first hand.

Al Daltrey is a real life Dom who lives the lifestyle and also writes strong BDSM erotica. His books come with a warning label and are not traditional erotic romances, yet he has gained a following of female fans that appreciate his unapologetic peek into the world of BDSM. You might even say it brings some of them to their knees.

By day, Daltrey dons a suit and tie, and works in marketing. In 2014 he opened his laptop and somewhat accidentally launched a second career as an erotica author, penning his first book, Testing the Submissive. He admits it is “more extreme” than anything he would ever consider doing with a real life submissive, yet readers say the story makes them tingle in all the right places.

There is a line in that book that, to my mind, sums up why women love to read about powerful Alphas. “Experienced and mature dominants always have an understated confidence,” he writes. “There is no need to flaunt their power.” There is something very sexy about men, real and fictional, who own their power.

His second novel, A Condo With Two Views, is written from the point-of-view of both the Dom and the Sub. His most recent books are, Pain, Pleasure, and Purpose: Pleasure (Book One) Pleasure) and Pleasure, Pain or Purpose: Pain (Book Two).They tell the story of three best friends who help each other navigate life, loss and love…and lots of kinky sex. “I poured everything I had into this story,” says the author.

It’s not often you get to pull up a chair and talk to a real life, happily married, sexually dominant male, so we appreciate Al taking the time to answer some of our burning questions.

AC ROSE: What exactly is a male dominant?

AL DALTREY: First, let me say: definitions are not always universal.  Ask 25 people the difference between a liberal and a conservative and you will get 25 different answers. All my answers in this interview are my personal opinion based on my personal experiences. Others in the BDSM lifestyle may disagree, and that is fair.  For this question, I assume you mean a sexual dominant. The simple definition is: a person, male or female, who takes control during consensual sex. The submissive of course, relinquishes that control.

And what is exactly vanilla sex?

Vanilla sex is simply regular, normal, healthy non-BDSM sex.  Or, even more simply…non-kinky sex. It is a term that became popular within the BDSM lifestyle to describe sex between those who are not in the lifestyle.

So from your perspective, can a sexually dominant male enjoy both?

Absolutely.  Personally, I have always loved great vanilla sex. I may practice BDSM, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy vanilla sex too. BDSM became the icing on the cake.  In a good healthy sexual relationship, there are nights where a couple wants the lovemaking to be soft, tender and romantic.  Another night, for kinky fun, they might employ bondage and spanking.  The point is, it’s not all or none. There is room for both.

How did you find yourself on this path, personally? And are you currently in a power exchange relationship?

I was born with it. I know that for a fact. Growing up, the fantasies and inclinations were there. That said, for me, consent is key. I do not believe in force, and do not find force arousing in any way.  Today I am very happily married to my beautiful wife.

Female sexual submission is a controversial topic. Some see female submission as a weakness yet many women find role play satisfying and they obviously like reading about it too.

During my lifetime I’ve been lucky enough to meet my fair share of submissive women. And don’t for a minute think these women were weak. Outside the bedroom they were confident, opinionated, gregarious and self-assured. In fact, many of them were successful executives or professionals. At the workplace, they kicked butt. However, inside the bedroom (so to speak) they wanted to feel the strong firm hand of a dominant man taking complete control.

What got you started writing erotic books?

I started writing because of an interest in BDSM, not because of an interest in writing. One day, I flipped open my laptop and starting writing a kinky BDSM story, not really thinking about where it would lead. Soon I had 20 pages, then 40, then 60 and I knew I was on my way to my first novel.  I heard about self-publishing, so cleaned it up and uploaded it onto Amazon. The reaction seemed positive, and soon I had a Street Team on Facebook helping me promote the book.

Erotic romance is a huge now. Do you find as many readers who just want to read about kinky sex for arousal?

In my view, the market for erotic romance novels is far bigger than the “kinky sex for arousal” market.  The latter market scours the internet for sites such as Literotica to get their fix.  There are exceptions of course.  Some novels do well.  But generally, I believe the kinky sex market is remarkably small.

Since you are writing as a sexually dominant male, what do think women hope to learn from your books, and from you?

I worry about that. My books are not intended to “teach” anything about the BDSM lifestyle. They are intended simply as fiction. A story. I worry when people read my books hoping for a glimpse into the real BDSM lifestyle.  My books have a lot of stuff that I don’t condone.  Just like action movies are exaggerated, so are BDSM novels.  People should read my books for fun, not for education.

Is the sex in your novels rough because that is what your readers want?

It’s not that I’m trying to cater to what the reader wants but in storytelling almost everything is exaggerated for dramatic effect. In a cop story we see these wildly spectacular car chases where 10 Police cars chase a car through crowded streets at speeds of 200 mph. In a medical drama the Doctor heroically saves countless lives.  In a sports movie the athlete scores the winning goal with two seconds left.  Think of every single Hollywood movie you know. So, with a BDSM novel, the same applies. The tasks that the submissive must perform are exaggerated for dramatic effect. It’s fantasy. So, in my books, the sex scenes are intensified as is the case in every other genre.

Your reading audience is primarily women. Some would like to turn their vanilla mates into dominant males, or at least get them to experiment. Any advice on getting guys to try new things?

To answer a question like that would take pages, and even then, it varies by person/couple.  I’m not sure I can provide a succinct answer.  There is some information on my blog.  As I say in my blog: not all men are born with a dominant gene. With those men, I’m not sure that there’s any hope.  Those men who have the underlying qualities – at least there’s hope. Someone could probably write an entire book on this, lol.

Do people call you master?

As mentioned, I am happily married and have been for some time. My wife does not call me “Master” no. Nor do we discuss our personal lives in any kind of detail. I can tell you that I have been called “Master,” and it’s actually a lovely feeling. Obviously it is commonly used in a scene, but also it can be a nice endearment among two people who live the lifestyle.  He might say, “Sleep well my little pet,” and she might say, “Goodnight Master.”  Like anything, if terms of endearment are overused they become goofy.  We’ve all been around couples who make us gag because they are so lovey-dovey.  But used properly “Master” can be a great word. I’m not sure if your question was poking fun at the term…but I hold it in high regard.

Learn more about Al Daltrey.

Find Al Daltrey books.

Visit Al Daltrey’s Erotica BDSM virtual community.

A.C. Rose is a love, romance, and entertainment columnist and author of steamy romance books. Her Latest book is AROUSAL

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Only .99. Click to buy.

 

Allison Monroe just got kissed on an elevator.

But she has no time to be distracted by this gorgeous man, with his panty-melting glances and sexy accent. She’s headed to the most important event of her career—a launch party for the new “My Fantasy e-Reader” at Club Kismet, high atop a Manhattan Skyscraper.

She’s determined to forget about the amatory elevator ride.

But Nicolai Petre has other ideas. That kiss confirmed what his grandmother’s vision had already told him—that Allison is his destiny.

He’s determined win her love but has only six days to prove they are meant to be. So he must keep her in a state of… AROUSAL.

We Saw Fifty Shades Darker So You Don’t Have To

11 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur & Madeline Iva

Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night. fifty-shades-darker

Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love.  To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.

Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.

Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning.  I can tell.

Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.

Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?

Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!

All that chest--and no touching it. I would go mad.

All that chest–and no touching it. I would go mad.

Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out.  Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it.  You hear that men? Women are not playing games.  They’re not f**king with you.  They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.

Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—

Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite.  We need t-shirts.  I’ll get my people right on that.

Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.

Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there.  Haters who love romance, confoundingly.

Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?

Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink.  On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different.  They delivered both.  Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.50-shades-darker-teaser-mask

Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?

Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book.  I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it.  I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that.  Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy.  You know?

Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn't getting old.

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn’t getting old.

Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love.  Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie.  FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake.  Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.

Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”

Elizabeth: !

Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick.  Not me, just…people.  #dickparity is a thing, I guess.

Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.

Madeline: I agree.

Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.

Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set.  And the body to go with it.

And it looks even better from the back...

And it looks even better from the back…

Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.

Madeline: I liked the sucking face.  Jamie Dornan sucks face well.

Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

Madeline: I did not need him so buff.  But I am obsessed.  (Posting on that later.)

Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.

Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.

Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.

Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control.  Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”.  Gah.  It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.

In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control.  It’s not about consistency.  It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him.  Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her.  It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)

She's steering the ship now.

She’s steering the ship now.

Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.

Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.

Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!

Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.

Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.

Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain

Elizabeth: Right.  Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.

Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!

Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.

Madeline: Noted.

Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex.  He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.

Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!

Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.

Do not try this at home...

Do not try this at home…

Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.

Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.

Madeline: A retractable spreader bar.  Yeah, that was a new one to me too.

Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.

Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.

Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.

Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing.  And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)

Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.

Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now

Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.

Madeline: Amen to that!

Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.

Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome.  Final comments?

Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.

Madeline: Durh.

Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right.  But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).

Madeline: What is his thing?

Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma.  And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.

Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.

A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control.  If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant.  And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain.  It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.

Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right.  Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him.  A compromise most couples don’t survive.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie--which makes it all very meta.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie–which makes it all very meta.

Elizabeth: Right.  If it was real life.

Madeline: Which it’s not.

Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.50shadesshouldersleeping

And don’t forget out V-Day Giveaway.  Subscribe to Lady Smut — push the pink bottom at the top right of your screen and you’ll be entered to win. 

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Kinky F*ckery in 50 Shades: Interview with Jackie C. Horne

11 Feb

Ladies—Jackie from ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS is here with me today to delve deeply into the core themes of the 50 Shades phenomenon. We focussed on two questions:

Why do women love this fantasy?

Two reasons I love this fantasy--and they're big and blue.

Two reasons why I love this fantasy–they’re big and blue.

Does 50 SHADES represent a step forward in women’s sexual freedom—or a step back?

If you like 50 Shades and smart discussion – you’re in for a treat!

MADELINE IVA: I’m very interested in focusing on what it is that draws women to the 50 Shades fantasy…

JACKIE C. HORNE: To answer that, you first have to answer the question “what is the fantasy” that these books and films hold out to us? And that fantasy may be different for different readers and viewers. As a literary critic, I see three different fantasies at play in books 1 & 2. First, the fantasy that an ordinary girl (ordinary in both looks and intelligence) can catch the attention of a wealthy, handsome man (the cornerstone of much romance writing).

Second, the fantasy that said ordinary girl can rescue/save an emotionally messed-up man (again, a foundational trope in romance).

And finally, the fantasy that indulging in “kinky fuckery” is something to take pleasure in, rather than something to be ashamed of, even for an ordinary girl. The latter fantasy is the most progressive one, the most positive one as far as women’s rights and women’s sexual freedom goes. But the two former ones are what makes it safe, I think, for readers to accept the latter one. It’s the combination of all three that made the books such a phenomenon. Romance tropes as the life preserver, if you will, that allow readers to imagine themselves swimming out into the less familiar waters of sex with a touch of kink.50

MADELINE IVA: I’ve never heard it stated so well, Jackie! We’ve touched upon this topic before: I see the role of BDSM in the romance genre as representing a fundamental evolution in the role of consent.  Women are now asking for the sex they want and negotiating with their partners for sex that they want –or don’t want!–tons more than they used to.  I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts about this after watching the first movie.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I think this depends on the reader’s relationship with BDSM and the BDSM community. In the book 50 Shades Darker, when Ana is talking about Christian’s sexual needs with Christian’s psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn explains that “of course there is such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a non-issue” (412). If you are a reader who is a sexual sadist, or who is familiar with the BDSM community, then you’re probably going to find 50 Shades problematic when it comes to consent. The reason why I didn’t read these books until you asked me to participate in this discussion was because I had heard from romance writers who write erotic & BDSM romance that the books aren’t an accurate depiction of BDSM or of the BDSM community.

MADELINE IVA: True, but there’s a crap-ton of fantasy in BDSM erotic romance already. Inaccuracies abound and many fans want the fantasy—not the reality. (Esp. when it comes to sex clubs.)

JACKIE C. HORNE: If you’re not familiar with BDSM, though, if you read the consent to kinky sex not as a realistic possibility but as a metaphor, then yes, it can definitely be a metaphor for female consent.

It takes Ana a while (all the way to the end of book 1) to figure out what she wants, and doesn’t want, out of her sexual relationship with Christian. She’s up for bondage, up for spanking, up for lighter sexual pain, all things she never would have imagined she’d liked before she met Christian.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! And in the movie — what we see dominates what we hear. What we SEE is Ana enjoying lite kinky play…In the book, which is so much internal, her confusion and ambivalence take center stage.first-kiss-50

JACKIE C. HORNE: But in the book’s climactic scene, she realizes that she is not up for being punished, for being the object upon which Christian takes out his anger. Refusing to consent to the linking of love and male anger, the idea that male anger is always a part of male love—that may be the key shift from Old Skool romance novels to contemporary romances.

MADELINE IVA: This is a great interpretation, and I agree that if the fundamental message is not to accept male anger as a part of male love, that it’s a good one.  But I don’t know….(more on that later.)

What I saw as I watched that final scene in the first movie was her seeing his emotional pain and wanting to take on his pain — like a martyr.

Meanwhile, Cara McKenna is my touchstone for an author who shows consent VERY well without bogging down the plot or making us fall out of the fantasy.  50 Shades maybe does this less well, but it might be interesting to contrast how consent is carried out in the movie vs. the book.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Did you think there were major differences between book and movie in this regard? I didn’t notice any myself, but if you have specific scenes you can point to, I’d be happy to go back and re-watch the film again.

“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, because that’s why I’m here. (50 Shades of Grey, 113) 

MADELINE IVA: I’m thinking of the contract stuff.  In the movie she was actively negotiating with him face to face and crossing out elements she vetoed. It seemed like there was energy to this exchange. To me this showed strong female agency — and have we ever seen a woman in a film before negotiating over sex so thoroughly? (Excepting scenes with sex workers–and even then not so much.)

In the book, meanwhile, the contract seemed (this is my interpretation) a packet of doom.  It seemed to make her cringe, and the details dwelt upon had to do with total control over her as well as painful sex acts.  It dragged her down into a pit of (again my take)  “No, no, no, no, OMG. Am I going to have to do this stuff? Gah!

JACKIE C. HORNE: Oh, yes, the contract scene is so great in the film! It shows Ana being far more empowered, and really enjoying the negotiating with Christian. Many film reviews cite that scene as the best thing in the movie.

In the book, the language of the contract appears not just once, but four times (at least in part). Is it just sloppy writing, that repetition? Or is there something really important in that legal language to James? The idea that this is a business relationship, rather than a personal one, to Christian? Which is an idea that Ana ultimately cannot accept.

MADELINE IVA: I’m interesting in talking about Jamie Dornan as a man/actor who was a kind of reluctant participant himself in the movie.  Yes, he did it for his career, and didn’t have long to think about his choice.  Also he is most definitely NOT a fan of the life style.

Dakota Johnson seems to have adapted a bit more (maybe because it’s the corner stone of her career?)

There are interviews where Dornan apologized profusely to Dakota Johnson before each take.  Do we care as much about male consent as we do about female consent? Is this going to be a problem? (Is it one already? Can men refuse sex without having their sexuality challenged, or facing aggressive repercussions –even if not physical violence?)

JACKIE C. HORNE: Your questions make me think about 15-year-old Christian, at the start of his affair with Elena. Did he consent? He says he did, but Ana is consistently appalled by the mere thought of an adult woman inviting a 15-year-old boy to have (kinky) sex with her. Ana never asks Christian to tell her more about his experience; she instantly assumes that he had no agency, no ability to consent, that he was molested and abused.50-shades-shower

I was disappointed that the books, which initially reserve judgment on this issue (was Christian abused? Or was his relationship with Elena a positive, even life-saving one?) end up coming down hard on the side of abuse by the end of book 2. Rather than presenting Ana’s intense jealousy of Elena as misguided or immature, the end of book 2 reinforces the idea that Ana is right to be wary of Elena. I thought this a very sexist move, complete with bitch-slap for the erring woman (not by Ana, but by Christian’s adopted mother).

I wished we could have heard more about Christian’s experience with Elena, that Ana had been more curious rather than judgmental about it. In some ways, you could say that Ana is infantilizing Christian by refusing to grant that even as a 15-year-old, he might have been capable of making informed decisions about his sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: And this goes back to the core fantasies.  What you saw as the ordinary young woman saving/healing the wounded man I saw as a kind of mothering thing — the power of soothing.  “Let me make the hurt go away” kind of actions.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

JACKIE C. HORNE: The larger issue—about male consent in general—is an interesting one. Yes, a man who turns down a chance to have sex is still likely to have his masculinity, or his heterosexuality, called into question, even in this day and age. But a man who turns down BDSM sex, or feels squicky about it, there’s something different going on there. BDSM sex isn’t as widely accepted, as widely admired, as straight heterosexual sex; there’s a taint attached to it for many people. Wanting to dominate women is a big no-no in our purportedly post-feminist age. So not consenting to participate in Dom/sub sex, or expressing uneasiness or discomfort with having to act as if you enjoy it, can be read by many as a positive thing, an endorsement of more equal power during sex between partners. A women’s rights kind of thing, no?

MADELINE IVA: Well, I actually know men who say “whatever she wants sexually I kinda have to do” and that with one man it’s kinky stuff with his wife. He’s okay with it, because she enjoys it.  With another man it’s about his incredible discomfort playing out semi-rape fantasies with women he’s having sex with…I think part of his discomfort involves reinforcing the perception that in some way he LOOKS predatory, etc.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I haven’t heard similar stories from any of my male friends or acquaintances. But your friends’ experiences do show how men can be subject to (or even victims of) sexual stereotypes. (I’m in the midst of reading a book about a gay asexual man, and he feels quite similarly, that he is surrounded by the imperative “men always want sex”). No man, or woman, should feel like they HAVE to do anything, sex-wise, that they don’t want to do. Ever. I hope your latter friend can find women to date who won’t push him to play the semi-rape game.

MADELINE IVA: Yup, I agree. The singles world of dating, hook-ups, etc, is a jungle—the price we pay for more sexual freedom seems to be more social pressure about sex and displaying sexuality in increasingly artificial ways.

Part of the conundrum of playing up one’s sexuality is that some men I know have that bad boy vibe, but at heart they’re good guys. They draw women to them, but eventually hit an impasse when looks and who he is just doesn’t match her expectations.  In this film the bad boy is gradually revealed as a ‘good boy’ on the inside. So maybe there’s hope for my friends…fifty-shades-ball-1486048963

Moving on! Has Trump ruined billionaire romances? Or put a significant dent in them? I remember thinking: “Consent all you want young woman from a poor family. Once you’re in handcuffs in his home he could do anything he wanted to you and probably get away with it…” and I know this is a direct line of thinking from the news/publicity about Trump during the election…

Yet there’s always one side in the romance world shouting “IT”S JUST A FANTASY!” Is there a problem with saying it’s all just a fantasy? And what are we to do with the constant  demand from women for forbidden sexual fantasy? Should we be pragmatic and accept this?

OR for instance, (as one who grew up watching male fantasies of women in the media), do we understand that this has deeply impacted and harmed our culture?

JACKIE C. HORNE: I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Village Voice, who asked if I thought the billionaire romance trend had contributed to the acceptance of Trump by many women. Rather than ruining billionaire romances, Trump might be the logical outcome of this romance trend. Because billionaire romances paper over the trouble that actual billionaires present, don’t they? Unlike saintly Christian, whom we only ever see engaging in business that is meant to help the powerless (donating food to Darfur; developing solar technology; donating money to the university to develop sustainable food programs), most real-life billionaires make their money through capitalistic competition, competition that often relies on shortchanging the average Joe (or average Ana) worker. To fantasize about a powerful billionaire falling for them, women have to forget or ignore all the other women (and men) upon whom his billions were built, and upon whom his continued wealth still relies.

And they also have to keep imagining that the only path to power is an indirect one, by being in a relationship with a wealthy man, rather than imagining that they could gain power themselves. Those are both fantasies that limit, rather than empower, women.

So I don’t buy the “it’s just a fantasy” explanation/excuse. What is the fantasy, and why are we having it? That’s a far more productive question, and avenue for exploration.

MADELINE IVA: I have no problem with this, only sometimes the liberal peeps can be as judgmental and shaming as conservatives without exploring the needs, frustrations, and context of those who are very different from them in terms of race or class.  If we could explore all of these issues without a dose of shaming, it would be nice.

But you know, scientific research on sexuality seems to indicate that what sexually turns us on seems to be fixed.  Maybe the “Why” of the fantasy and the turn on go back to that slushy mix of our evolution and what we were exposed to in our youth/teens and that’s that…Which takes us right back to your point about Christian’s first sexual experiences…

Let’s turn to talking about the differences between the first book and movie.  Some things just not translate well from book to movie? I don’t recall when in the book he showed up in Savannah that it was as big a deal to me.  But in the movie I had an involuntary “Stalker!” reaction. He seemed so much creepier in the movie.  Or is this just that I’m coming off watching him in THE FALL where he played a serial killer? ; >50shadesbathrobe

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I had just the opposite reaction!

MADELINE IVA: — Okay, I hang my head and accept that I am having a post-The Fall Dornan experience.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I thought he was far creepier in the book than he was in the film. Dornan just smiled too much to feel like the controlling Christian of the books to me! (Must say I’ve never seen The Fall, though). The film cut out many of book-Christian’s more stalker-y/controlling moves—no mention of him moving her to first class on the plane without asking her, and he’s not so insistent about her eating all the time—so he didn’t come across as quite so control-freakish in the film as he does in the book.

MADELINE IVA: The eating thing.  Ugh!  It also made Ana seem SO PASSIVE and waify/victim-y.50-touching-lips

JACKIE C. HORNE: On the other hand, in book 1, when Ana teases Christian in an email “Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?” he tells her (and us) that “I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies” (290). This reassured me; I had thought from what people had told me about the books that they normalized stalkery/über-controlling male behavior. That Christian is actively seeing a psychiatrist about his issues sends the opposite message: that stalkery/über-controlling behavior is psychologically problematic. I was disappointed that Christian’s shrink did not make it into the film.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! Anastasia seemed to enjoy most of what they did a whole lot more in the movie than her internals showed in the book.  And did that tilt the scales of problems some people had with the book?

ana-shirt-2JACKIE C. HORNE: For all that we get so much of her internal thoughts in the books, Anastasia of the novels is a pretty empty character. That’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just a way of telling a story, a way that allows the reader more easily to project herself into the novel than if Ana’s character had more individuality, had been more fully developed. Ironically, though we get little of her internal thoughts in the film, seeing Dakota Johnson up on the screen made her more of a person to me, an individual with thoughts and emotions different from mine, rather than just an empty placeholder for me to project myself onto.

The lack of access to Ana’s thoughts makes her wishy-washy-ness re: the kinky sex less apparent. I agree that in the film, she seems to enjoy the kinky sex more than she does in the books. And that made the story more interesting to me—the story of a woman exploring the boundaries of her own sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: I agree that Dakota Johnson did a great job of seeming vulnerable and kinda raw in her own skin, but also very fluid and interesting in the kinky scenes.  She also just seemed older, which I found reassuring…

Going back to how this series explores typical/conservative romance values side by side with the more progressive idea of a young woman exploring kinky sex—Ultimately, Ana rejects kinky sex.  Do you think that this is on par with the other more conservative values of the book’s romantic tropes and again, makes it more safe for more conservative romance readers to accept it?  (Noting that this move seems to enrage many BDSM erotic romance authors more than anything else.)

Are we back to the “forced seduction” sexual tropes of the 80’s? In those romance novels it was okay for the woman to have sex in those situations because she didn’t ask for it… In the 50 Shades franchise, is it okay for Ana to explore BDSM-lite because ultimately she rejects it and therefore is still ‘a good girl’?

Meanwhile, what are we in the audience doing throughout the movie if not enjoying Ana’s engaging in forbidden kink?

weredoingwhat

We’re doing WHAT? Everyone seems to agree that both actors are much more comfortable filming together now. Not surprising, given the success of the franchise, and the boost to their respective careers.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I was thinking about what title I would give this discussion and came up with “Having your kink and condemning it too”!

I agree with you that Ana’s disgust with and rejection of the punishment aspect of Dom/sub play does dovetail with the more conservative values of the book’s romance tropes. Her rejection gives readers an “out,” a having your cake and eating it too safety valve. Which does undercut the progressive message to a large degree.

But on the other hand, Ana doesn’t rejects ALL kink (at least by the end of book 2). As I noted above, she enjoys being tied up, being restrained, being spanked. And in DARKER the book, she’s bugging Christian all the time to go back to the Red Room of Pain. Which doesn’t seem to me to be just about serving Christian’s needs; it seems to be a deep curiosity of her own about kinky sex.

Ana’s rejection of Christian’s sadism (and the book’s rejection of that label for him) enrages many BDSM erotic romance authors because Ana’s decision at the end of book 1 has a larger ideological weight: it tells the reader that the power dynamics in ALL Dom/sub relationships are both shameful AND are signs of psychological damage that needs to be repaired. Which is exactly the opposite message of current psychological thinking, as Dr. Flynn explains. Someone is a sadist just because he (or she) is one, not because he or she was traumatized as a child.

Perhaps Ana should pay Dr. Flynn (or another qualified psychologist) a visit to talk about her own ambivalences about BDSM?

MADELINE IVA: Perhaps!

Thank you Jackie SO MUCH for chatting with me! And readers, don’t forget our KAMA SUTRA giveaway.  All you have to do is hit our pink subscribe button above and to the right.

kama-sutra-giveaway

This giveaway includes massage oil, candle, soap, and lip balm.  (Continental US only!)

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

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Darker Celebration & Valentine’s Giveaway

9 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Are you going to see FIFTY SHADES DARKER this weekend? We are!fifty-ball

Well, Elizabeth SaFleur and I are. We’ve already got our tickets and we’re taking our spouses.  Not only that–we’re holding a celebration event on Facebook to chat with y’all about the FIFTY SHADES DARKER movie.  We hope you join us!50shadesshouldersleeping

Go to our event on facebook, press the *interested* button, then tell us what you thought about the movie:

  • What did you love? The actors, characters, settings, costumes, plot?
  • How did FIFTY SHADES DARKER compared to the book and the first movie?
  • Do you love billionaire romance themes in general? Or BDSM romances in particular? ; >

We’re also blogging about fascinating aspects of the movie here.  (Don’t worry, we’ll post everything over at the fb event too.)

  • Reasons Why Billionaire Romances Are Never Going Away
  • My obsession with Jamie Dornan
  • 5 Ways In Which Real Life Millionaires Aren’t Like Us
  • Jackie Horne from ROMANCE NOVELS WITH FEMINISTS will stop by. We’re discussing where young women are going with BDSM and how this is or isn’t reflected in the movie.
  • Joey Hill shares with us how to get kinky with her 10 favorite kitchen items.

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Admittedly, not all of us at the blog are 50 Shades lovers.  You might not be either — that’s why we have other smexy Valentine’s Day posts to offer you this month.  pantiesCheck out our posts on:

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

This Valentine’s Day weekend, we’re offering a Kama Sutra giveaway from Lux Aromatica that includes massage oil, soap, a candle, and lip balm.

To enter the giveaway, hit the SUBSCRIBE button on our blog now–it’s the pink button up at the top on the right–and fill out the form.  One random winner will be chosen from central Virginia where Kerensa’s stores are located and one random winner from the nation at large. (Continental US only, please!)

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend, even if you’re just stopping by to say hi. — xoxo

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

 

The Devil Is Back in the Bayou

9 Jan

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Lady Smut favorite Megan Crane is back in the bayou with her Devil’s Keepers motorcycle club in Devil’s Mark. I took a look at the first book in the series, Devil’s Honor, last fall.

Look! A blurb!

Holly Chambless is tired of being the squeaky clean daughter of Lagrange’s holier-than-thou mayor. When her father is charged with corruption, she realizes that her whole life’s been a lie. Now’s her chance to do all the things she never dared, like scoring a job at a bar where reputations go to die, or reconnecting with the biker who sparked a secret hunger in her all those years ago. Holly isn’t a wide-eyed girl anymore—and this time she wants a taste of what has always been denied.

Killian “Uptown” Chenier has no time for stuck-up princesses. He likes fast bikes and wild sex. Sure, he remembers Holly. He sent her running with a wicked smile and a lesson about prying eyes. And sure, she’s grown up smoking-hot, with a body he’d like to personally desecrate. But Devil’s Keepers business is real and intense. Her daddy stole from the club, leaving his pretty blonde daughter a walking target. And when Uptown takes aim at what he wants, he never misses.

There’s a long game being played in this series, a game in which the fabric of the Devil’s Keepers is slowly unraveling. Allies are being outed as having worked against the club for some time. Other allies are dying out, leaving holes where once they served the club in significant ways. Whether the club remains a knotted mess or if these dangling strings can been sewn into something new and stronger on the other side remains to be seen as the series plays out.

Click on image to preorder!

Click on image to buy!

Against this backdrop of dangers club business, club members are having their proverbial hearts ripped up, down, and sideways. First up was Greely’s reunion with the one woman who rooted deep and sliced hard, the daughter of the club’s now dead back-door doctor. In Devil’s Honor, it’s Uptown’s turn as the Lagrange mayor’s pristine daughter in back in town after her father’s humiliating denouement as the righteous community leader secretly in the club’s pocket to lying scumbag with his own nefarious agenda, an agenda that’s put the club in jeopardy.

Holly is facing a life crisis. The entire structure of her house on the bayou mud is wobbly and weak. Everything she thought she new about her father–about herself–has been proven a lie. Sick of her Teflon-coated goody two-shoes reputation in Lagrange, Holly decides to explore her nearly non-existent wild side. First by strutting into the local strip club to ask for a job. And next, to finally indulge the temptation that has taunted her since her teenage years–Killian Chenier.

More than anyone, Uptown hates Mayor Chambless–and he has good reasons too. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a hankering for the mayor’s daughter since she caught him banging a groupie in the graveyard years before. Ravaging Holly and thus destroying her reputation is Uptown’s perfect revenge all wrapped up in a tight, sexy package with a bouncy pony-tail that won’t quit. She has a sweetness that won’t quit even in the face of biker bitches and foul-mouthed degenerates. Holly might want to lose her inhibitions with a bad boy biker, but when it comes down to it, Uptown knows a good girl like her isn’t going to want trailer trash like him long-term. But the more he makes use of her, the more he realizes that while Holly might come from slime like the mayor, she couldn’t be more genuine. And that’s a problem for the man who is planning to break her in order to beat her father into the ground.

All her life Holly has play the role written for her. Now with her family’s reputation in shambles, everything that formed the buttress of her life has collapsed. Now she’s not only confused about who she is, but who she is meant to be. Strutting into a motorcycle club’s strip joint is the first step in her plan to blow up the stultifying expectations that no longer fit her life. Getting Uptown Sinclair to fulfill a dirty temptation from long ago is even better. But as more and more revelations of her father’s duplicity are revealed, Holly wonders if being bad isn’t exactly the best plan for a good girl.

Devil’s Mark is a fast read. It plunges forward with a quick pace that doesn’t allow for things like sleep. As club business gets messier and messier, Uptown’s conflict grows. He’s not going to stop using Holly for his and the club’s ends, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t start to have serious problems with it. He’s never forgotten her, not from the first moment when her wide-eyed shock at his open-air sexcapades made him want to do filthy, delicious things to her. Now she’s a woman at his mercy and as he claims her for his own–inside the club and out of it–for the first time, he wonders what he’ll do if the choice is his brothers or Holly.

Sexy, sweet, endearing, and the right kind of dirty, Devil’s Mark plunges more deeply into the dirty water of the Lagrange bayou. As things in the Devil’s Keepers club race to deadly conclusions, a good girl will find out if her bad boy is worth all his sexy promises…and if she’ll survive taking the risk.

Devil’s Honor and Devil’s Mark are available not and will whet your appetite for the upcoming Devil’s Own coming in May 2017.

Follow Lady Smut. We make great deals with all kinds of sexy devils.

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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, will be available on April 14, 2016. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via  @kierstenkrum.

Do You Dig It In The Dark?

12 Dec

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new TV show Good Behavior, calling it the dark romance you should be watching. Here’s what I said then about the dark romance:

Lately in Romancelandia, the dark romance has become a thing–or a thing again as some form of dark romance has been around since the late eighteenth century. In its current conception, these are romances where the hero is a mobster or something nefarious and comes into the heroine’s orbit through some criminal manner. He proceeds to do some pretty terrible things to the heroine, despite having feelings for her. Often, these terrible things are sexual and there’s a lot of explanation about how the heroine shouldn’t like what she’s doing and oh this is so bad but she can’t stop it or A Bad Thing will happen. Things proceed, bad guys often show up putting lives in danger, feelings grow, behavior is forgiven, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m blasé about this sub genre because to me, it smacks too much of the rapetastic, forced seduction, Great Misunderstanding historicals of the 80s and early 90s only updated from disenfranchised Scottish bandits and English roses to Russian Bratva and the daughters of their mortal enemy. That’s not to say I don’t like romances with heroes and heroines of dubious character and motivation. Done right, I *love* them, but I’ve yet to find a “dark romance” that makes me care enough to send my very best. Even after reading all of the Dark Mafia Prince books and Kresley Cole’s The Master, The Professional, and The Player series, both highly recommend dark romances series, yet I remain unmoved. Though I will add the caveat that the biker romance sub genre could absolutely be seen as dark romances and, as any regular Lady Smut reader will know by now, with those books I am totally on board.

I wanted to talk more about dark romances today, because I’m still doing the facial expression of “da hell?” when I read them. I can’t figure out why it’s not clicking for me. It should be my crack–bad boys struggling with angst about their feelings for the woman who’s making them question everything in their lives plus a bunch of suspense stuff thrown in for shits and giggles.

But it’s not.

First, let’s figure out what we’re talking about when we say ‘dark romance’. A quick Google search brings up a bunch of links to Goodreads list of dark romances, but few clear defining descriptions. I found this analysis of what makes a dark romance from romance writer Roni Loren:

“Now, the definition of ‘dark’ can vary widely from person to person. A really gritty romantic suspense could be considered dark if you focus on the fact that there is violence or murders or serial killers. But that’s not what I’m talking about today. For my purposes, a dark romance is one that has an anti-hero, a villain type as the lead guy, and/or completely mindf*cks you. The usual lines of morality are blurred. These are the guys who you really wouldn’t want to mess with in real life, but who are so interesting to read about…

When I read these, I have that thought–wow, I really shouldn’t be rooting for these people or liking this hero or wanting this person to get the girl. But I do. And I can’t help it…I love when an author can pull that off.”

Now, I dig me an anti-hero, no question. But I fail to see the pleasure in reading about mindf*cks making for relationship exploration. Roni Loren says she shouldn’t be wanting for this person to get the girl or rooting for these kinds of people, but she is anyway.

I very much am not.

dark-mafia-prince

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I read the Mafia Prince series on the strong, strong recommendation of fellow romance writer pal. “Oh my God, how are *you* of all people not reading this yet?!” she said to me when I admitted to never having heard of the series. Soon after, I downloaded Dark Mafia Prince. Russian mobsters, check. Brothers split apart at a young age when their parents were murdered, check. History between the H&H that goes back to childhood, check. A blood feud with another mafia family, check. An actual prophecy, check, check, and mate. Sounds like catnip to me. Honestly, I should *love* this series.

And I don’t. It’s perfectly serviceable. It’s not a *bad* series. It’s actually really well composed and densely plotted. There are a number of aspects I found unique and gutsy–no clichés need apply here. There’s even a thoroughly three-dimensional series villain who reportedly is getting his own book later on (possibly next) and who has a particularly clever quirk that feels wholly original and organic. Even when this series is “out there” it’s believable “out there”. But I didn’t finish the books and want to read them again. I wanted to read the next one because I’m pathologically incapable of not knowing what happens next. But I wasn’t jonesing for a reread and I don’t much remember the particulars of either three books in the series.

My love for certain biker romance series is well-documented on this site, but I’ve read a lot of biker romances I haven’t written about because I didn’t have that same mad, crackalicious love for them as I do for, say, Kristen Ashley’s Chaos men or Megan Crane’s post-apocalyptic Vikings or bayou bikers. There’s an argument to be made that these “heroes” are just as anti-heroic as any dark romance mafioso (there does seem to be a prevalence of made men in these dark romances.)

I felt the same way for Kresley Cole’s erotic, dark romance series, the Game Maker series. Here again we have somewhat estranged, Russian billionaire brothers with variant mafia ties and a serious preference for control. Like, pathological preference. And yet, my general response was meh when not eye-rolling at specifics. Not pain and dominance isn’t my thing, in life or on the page, which makes some of my reading choices odd given their tendency for both these things. (I’m thinking my re-read of the Kit Rocha opus applies here). In my defense, it’s hard to find an erotic romance these days that doesn’t feature such proclivities.

the-player

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One caveat here: I really liked The Player. I think that’s because it was the brother with the least megalomania tendencies, and likely because of the heroine’s modern-day, gypsy thieves family (a sub genre for which I’ve long had an inexplicable fondness, probably due to the Irish Travelers ties), but also for the Big Reveal at the end that, if not 100% a surprise (surely, at least 95%), was absolutely perfectly crafted and seamlessly woven from the start. Actually, like the Dark Prince books, each of the Game Maker novels are perfectly good novels in the dark romance genre. I’m just meh overall. But I don’t have the urge to return for a reread or stay in these worlds.

Which continues to perplex me, because, really, this should be right in my wheelhouse.

I think it’s because I see in these stories resonance of the rape-fantasies of the 80s heyday of historical romance. Perhaps this is simply because I just read the in-depth Jezebel article on the same (which I highly recommend). But, for example, in Dark Mafia Prince, the “hero” holds a gun to the heroine’s head while she gives him a forced blow job (which, eventually, turns her on, of course) while he films it with his phone. This is so he can send it to her father (she’s his hostage against his enemy) as proof of what he’ll do to her if said father doesn’t meet his demands. Hey, it’s better than the original plan, to cut off one of her fingers and send that instead. The guy’s not a total psychopath, obviously. He’s trying to preserve her finger! What a prince!

Guys, this is foreplay for our H&H. No. Just no. When I told my friend who’d recommended the series that I’d read it and didn’t love it, she immediately referenced the blow job scene as being seriously hot. I honestly couldn’t remember the scene until prompted. Guess I wanted to block it from my memory.

But, as I mentioned briefly in that outtake at the start of this post, how is such a scene any different from the forced seductions of those original 80s bodice-rippers? How is being forced to give a blow job at gunpoint to save a digit (and not his favorite digit either) any different? Look, there are a lot of books I’ve read with a lot of highly questionable and often potentially offensive activities that, safe behind the pages of fiction, I’ve found to be seriously hot. My feminism is strong and durable, but not so naïve as to be unable to acknowledge the fact that sometimes the strong attraction is because it’s forbidden. Taboo. That’s hardly new. But there’s taboo and then there’s “oh hell no!” and–sorry, not sorry–blow jobs at gun point are the latter.

Guess I’m not dark enough for the dark romance.

What do you think? Have you dabbled in the dark romance sub genre? Do you dig it in the dark?

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll show you all our dark places.

 

Brutal Game: Sexy Sunday Snippets From Cara McKenna

4 Dec

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

brutal-game

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It’s another installment of Sexy Sunday Snippets, and boy, howdy, are we pulling out the big guns today

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the mind-bogglingly, amazing erotic romance Brutal Game (now on sale), by wunderkind author Cara McKenna. Today, you can get a taste of one of the most deeply layered, complicated, emotional reads of the year.

To jog your memory: Look! A blurb!

The long-awaited sequel to Willing Victim.

Eight months ago, Laurel walked into an underground boxing gym and found herself mesmerized by a stranger named Flynn—a man who fights hard and loves harder. Since then he’s taken her places where fear and curiosity clash in exquisite pleasure, where trust is the price of ecstasy, and in time their brutal games have become her kink as much as his.

But when real life intrudes and hard decisions demand action, will these two whose bond is rooted in fantasy take shelter in each other’s arms, or discover that lust is no substitute for a lasting commitment?

The following excerpt is one of the intensely emotional, almost too-real feeling scenes from Brutal Game. It reveals a major plot point of the story, so SPOILER WARNING.

EXCERPT OF BRUTAL GAME, by Cara McKenna

At long last, a hmm, a yawn. A dozy groan and Laurel turned onto her side, eyes blinking open to find him there.

“Dinner smells good. Is it ready?”

“It is.”

“What time is it?”

Flynn looked to the microwave. “Ten twenty-one.”

“Whoa. What?”

“You were beat.”

She sat up. “Jesus. I napped for three hours?”

“Hungry?”

She looked down at her stomach as though conferring. “Very.”

“Good. Me too.”

Beyond hungry, in Flynn’s case. He’d only eaten a fistful of cheese and a few slices of sausage since before his workout. His gut was packed with butterflies, but they weren’t particularly filling.

Laurel moved to the couch and he loaded a couple bowls with dried-out casserole. He made it a whole minute before the clinking of forks drove him to blurt, “You buy a pregnancy test?”

Pausing mid-chew, she studied him with still-sleepy eyes. She swallowed. “No, I didn’t.”

“Not to sound paranoid, but when’d you get your period last?”

She frowned, thinking. “Oh—it was New Year’s morning. I remember I had a champagne hangover and that showed up on top of it.”

“That was almost two months ago.”

“I know, but like I said, sometimes they don’t come at all on the Pill, or just a mini one.”

That didn’t do much to slow his pulse. “Maybe I should go out and get one now. Just so we can rule it out.”

She nibbled her lip.

“Just ask me to. I don’t mind.” And I’m fucking dying inside. No news was not good news. Whoever’d come up with that saying was so full of shit.

“It’s after ten. And it’s snowing.”

“Someplace’ll be open. Star Market.”

“What, in Dorchester?”

“Wouldn’t you sleep better?” He would. He might sleep at all, in fact. “Seriously, it’s no big deal. I’ll get you some Nyquil while I’m at it, in case it’s the flu. I’ll go right now.”

“Maybe…”

“I’m going,” he announced, setting his bowl on the coffee table and reaching for one of his boots. “And I’ll grab tampons, in case it’s just PMS. And Kettle Chips.”

She smiled, seeming to surrender. “You know, there’s something surpassingly manly about a guy who’ll pick tampons up for you without batting an eye.”

“Your pussy doesn’t scare me, honey.”

“No, I daresay it doesn’t. I could come—”

“Nope, you couldn’t. Eat up. Stay warm. Back soon.”

She smiled and shook her head, watching him lace his boots and pull on a hat, something simultaneously soft and fierce about her expression. Or maybe that was a fever brewing.

Twenty minutes later, Flynn was unloading his basket onto the checkout conveyer belt. The young clerk passed his purchases stoically across the scanner—tampons, Nyquil, potato chips, pregnancy test, plus a bottle of red wine. It wasn’t until he handed over the plastic bag that the kid showed any sign of life, saying flatly, “Party time.”

Flynn was tempted to meet the snark with a verbal backhand, but he didn’t have it in him just now. Instead he muttered, “You know it,” and headed for the door.

Pregnant. Pregnant. The word had grown larger and larger over the course of the drive, thundering now, echoing and huge. He let it tumble around his skull as he started the trip back home, windshield wipers batting harmless fluffy flakes aside.

What if she was pregnant? He’d been preoccupied with the thought all day, but it changed now, with the test in his possession. With an actual answer at hand.

Plus that’s not really the question, is it?

The real question for Flynn was, what would she want to do about it if she was?

It wasn’t his decision, but if she asked what he wanted her to do… Shit, be honest? Or refuse to say so she wouldn’t feel pressured? But refusing to say, was that supporting her choice or was that forcing her to make it completely on her own? He thought he knew what he’d want her to do, but it felt so goddamn delicate, the question of whether or not to say.

She might not be pregnant. Probably isn’t. Some cramps and hot flashes could be anything, and feeling exhausted after waitressing all day was to be expected. The female body was like a car with no manual, a mystery designed to confound and bewitch the simple male brain. A man was lucky to get invited to dick around under the hood and go for a spin, but fuck if any of them knew how to service the thing.

He pulled up behind his building, yellow streetlight making the steadily fattening snowflakes glow like gold. The plastic bag felt monumental in his grip, as though he were lugging a bomb, not a couple pounds of snacks and feminine hygiene products.

Not a bomb, he corrected. A pregnancy was scary and profound and life-altering, but that was a metaphor too far. Still, his hand was shaking unmistakably as he unlocked the door.

“Honey, I’m home. Got you booze and chips and a stick for peeing on. You on the rag yet?”

A laugh answered that crass greeting, loosening his chest, if only by a fraction. “No, I am not.”

He flipped the deadbolt, rummaged in the bag and pitched the box toward the bed where she was lounging. “Best pee on a stick then, woman.”

She’d changed into her pajamas—or rather, her pajama bottoms and one of his tee shirts. Why was that so fucking sexy? Though he was grateful to register any reaction apart from anxiety, he set the thought aside. Answers first, then depravity. We can fuck to celebrate, if it’s negative.

Laurel knelt and picked up the box, studying it. She opened it while Flynn peeled off his layers.

“Thanks for doing this.” She unfolded the instructions. “Going out in that.”

“It was nothing. Go pee on a stick,” he repeated.

“The snow’s picking up,” she said, still reading.

“Go pee on a stick.”

She met his eyes, smiled dryly. “I guess I’ll go pee on a stick, then.”

“What a good idea. How long does it take to get the answer?”

She scanned the paper. “Three minutes. Wow, that sounds really fast and like forever at the same time.”

Well put. “There’s chips and wine, while you wait.”

She smiled. “Classy. If it comes back a plus sign I better spit the booze out, huh?”

There was a joke in there, but he barely heard it, caught too completely on plus sign. Plus sign. How could one shape—two fucking little perpendicular lines—possibly be so powerful?

Then he thought of the cross, that symbol that had dominated his childhood and bullied his psyche, and somehow it made perfect sense.

Fuck you, lines.

At least these lines would bring answers. The other kind had done nothing but torment and confuse and contradict.

Right. Now, to survive the longest three minutes of his entire life.

About Cara McKenna: Since she began writing in 2008, Cara McKenna has published nearly forty romances and erotic novels with a variety of publishers, sometimes under the pen names Meg Maguire and C.M. McKenna. Her stories have been acclaimed for their smart, modern voice and defiance of convention. She was a 2015 RITA Award finalist, a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award winner, a 2012 and 2011 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and a 2010 Golden Heart Award finalist. She lives with her husband and baby son in the Pacific Northwest, though she’ll always be a Boston girl at heart.

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

Not the Romance You Were Expecting: Brutal Game by Cara McKenna

7 Nov

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

It’s no secret that we here at Lady Smut are big–like, HUGE–fans of author Cara McKenna. Do a quick search of our site and you’ll see she practically has her own page here, if we did that sort of thing.

big-huge

There’s good reason for this. McKenna writes complex, out-of-the-box, very sexy stories about a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a man and a woman and a man, that are often deeply emotional and quite surprising. One of the things I like most about her is she seems to come up with pairings and scenarios I would never have imagined. Love in a mental hospital? Check. Love between a prisoner and a teacher? Check. And yet, none of these seems outlandish or disassociated from the real world because she invests her stories and characters with deep authenticity and realness that appears effortless but really, really is not.

Click on image to buy!

Enter Brutal Game, the sequel to McKenna’s popular Willing Victim in which a woman named Laurel enters into a sexual relationship with Flynn, a big, rough, bare-knuckle bruiser with a kink for rape role-play. By the end of Willing Victim, Laurel and Flynn realized they both want more than role-play sexy times and begin their HFN. (For the record, McKenna updated and re-released Willing Victim earlier this year. Lady Smut blogger Alexa Day prefers the original version. I couldn’t tell any real difference, but it’d been a while between readings.)

Brutal Game picks up about nine months after the end of Willing Victim. Laurel and Flynn are still together. “I love yous” have been exchanged and life moves onward apace until something unexpected happens that forces them to deep dive into the depths of their still new relationship and discover whether it can withstand the storm.

Look! A blurb!

Nine months ago Laurel walked into an underground boxing gym and found herself mesmerized by a stranger named Flynn—a man who fights hard and loves harder. Since then he’s taken her places where fear and curiosity clash in exquisite pleasure, where trust is the price of ecstasy, and in time their brutal game has become her kink as much as his.

But when real life intrudes and hard decisions demand action, will these two whose bond is rooted in fantasy take shelter in each other’s arms, or discover that lust is no substitute for a lasting commitment?

Click on image to buy!

Brutal Game is an exceptional story, an emotional tale about what comes after the HFN as a burgeoning relationship is severely tested. It’s the rare romance novel that feels rooted in real life, at times uncomfortably so, where the heroine and hero must confront a life-changing decision with care and grace while discovering whether their relatively new love can endure the outcome. It is emotional, genuine, shocking, gentle, sexy, sweet, and ultimately, truly lovely. A must read.

SPOILER ALERT:

Okay, Imma gonna spoil the holy crap outta this book from here on in because I cannot talk about why this book is so good without revealing key parts of the story. I highlighted the hell outta this story, and you’re gonna hear why. So DO NOT READ FURTHER if you don’t want a MAJOR PLOT POINT ruined for you. And I mean hacked to bloody death ruined. Really. STOP NOW.

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Continue reading

Sexy Sunday Snippet: An Early Taste of SEALed With a Twist

23 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Happy Sunday, Lady Smutters. Are you feeling particularly holy today? Or are you unexpectedly in need of something for which to atone? Well, look no further! As part of our on-going excerpt Sundays, here is a *very* early taste of my upcoming novella, SEALed With a Twist.

A sequel to my debut novel Wild on the Rocks that released earlier this year, SEALed With a Twist features Navy SEAL Grant “Twisted” Sisti and the defrocked debutante he once happily fished out of a pool at the Casa Blanca resort on Barefoot Bay. Six months after the events in Wild on the Rocks, Twist has returned to Barefoot Bay to stand with his best friend and former commander, Jasper, as he remarries his ex-wife, Quinn. But all things are not happy-go-lucky with the man who’s twisted sense of humor earned him his call sign. And they’re about to get even more complicated.

SEALed With a Twist will be available to buy in February. Keep an eye out for the novella’s upcoming smokin’ cover reveal and, in the meantime, enjoy this early taste of Twist.

****

Grant unlocked the villa with the key card and a faint regret for the lack of a hard key in his hand. Hard to defend yourself against some asshole who might shove inside the room right behind you with only a key card.

The default to combat readiness reassured him. Not that he expected to stumble upon violent crime here—recent Russian mob incursions notwithstanding. But it felt good to know his head might be screwed up, but his training looked to be intact.

It was that training that had Grant scanning the villa’s interior as he ambled in. Someone had left a light on in the living area and another over the kitchen sink leaving an ambient haze to hover over the main rooms. He noted the food set up on the island block before breaking off to reconnoiter the bedrooms and baths. Satisfied no one else had breached the perimeter, he was halfway to the patio when his phone chimed with Jasper’s reply.

Even through the flat, emotionless language of a text, Jasper’s words were resolute. NEED YOU TO BRIEF ME ON WHAT THIS SHIT IS ABOUT.

Grant snorted. Like that was gonna happen. He pulled back the wide glass doors that led out to the patio and pool before typing out WHATEVER, MAN. KISS QUINN FOR ME.

This time, the reply came quick: FUCK OFF.

And now they were back on the easy ground where Grant felt most comfortable. It was his job to dig into the emotions of his Team, to make sure their heads were in a place where they could continue to complete their duty.

Hell, if he’d have any of them, even Jasper, do the same to him.

He let Jasper keep the last word and tucked his phone in his back pocket just as his foot tangled in a pair of shorts left in a pile on the pool deck.

The hell?

His gaze tracked along to land on a matching golf shirt. He could just make out the Merry Maids logo in the glow of the pool lights

Shit. A gatecrasher. He was not in the mood to deal with this shit. Feelin’ too much today already. Watching Jasper and Quinn get their happy ending, dealing with Putter, working to keep that devil may care attitude at the forefront so his friends didn’t cotton on to the shit messin’ with his head. He didn’t have it in him to deal with some employee taking advantage of the late-day wedding and plush environs.

The muscle in his jaw clenched when he saw the bra and panties discarded at the edge of the deep end. A soft splash caught his attention and he turned his head in time to catch glimpse of arms cutting through the water with smooth, sharp strokes.

Her body had length, most of it in the legs that kicked rhythmically in time with her arms, calf muscles cut in relief. Her head tilted his way for her to take a breath, eyes shut, the oval shape of her face perfectly bisected by the water like a Carnivàle half mask. Grant’s eyes tracked down to the equally round and, it had to be said, pert shape of her bare ass with tight cheeks he guessed would comfortably fit in each of his hands.

She reached the end of the pool and executed a perfect flip that set her feet in precise location to launch into another lap. The floor lights in the pool illuminated the gleam of her body as she undulated under the surface for near half the pool’s length before breaching the surface with the sharp bob of a breast stroke.

Emphasis on breasts, plural, as both globes were revealed to Grant’s growing admiration. The SEAL in him admired her skill. She was an amateur but a damn good one who knew to move with the water rather than against it. Not many amateurs cottoned on to that trick, instead thought swimming was a battle to tame the water to their forms. All too many of them never learned the truth.

There was no taming the water. Not in any form.

The man in him was impressed by her other intriguing assets. He crossed his arms and settled in at rest to enjoy the show.

She was halfway through the return lap when she finally tagged him. Immediately, she floundered, getting a good swallow of pool water as she did, which led to an epic bout of choking while she got her feet under her.

Fixed on him, her eyes bugged out wide, but the pool light now put her face in shadow, hiding their color. Her once fluid limbs locked with alarm and a shocked embarrassment that grudgingly intrigued him.

‘Cept he wasn’t in the mood to tangle with a moonlit mermaid.

“You’ve got some nerve.”

“You’re not supposed to be here,” she accused between coughs.

“Pretty sure I am given how much I’m paying for it.” His gaze swept over her without a sign of his admiration. “Don’t remember checking off the ‘naked water nymph’ perk on the reservation.”

“It’s –it’s only—” A final harsh gurgle cleared her throat. “It’s only offered to Gold Star members.”

She had the nerve to joke? Her job in his hands and she was jerking his chain?

“I’ll remember to thank management for the upgrade when I report you.”

That took care of her cheek. “You can’t do that,” she whispered.

“Think you’re wrong there, nymph.”

Something odd flashed through the shocked embarrassment in her face. Odd and…familiar.

His vision narrowed to pinpoint on her features. Her wet hair left her face in relief and that whisper of warning teased the back of his neck again. The one that’d saved his life countless times in the field. The one that told him he’d missed something important.

He felt it, but didn’t get it, so he got pissed. For once, Grant let the aggravation show. “Tell me your name”

She started at his bark. “Ska—Skye.” She checked the distance to where she’d left her clothes. It was the new angle of her head that finally clicked.

“You’re the maid who snuck behind me when I was on the phone.”

“I hardly ‘snucked’,” she denied with instinctive insult. “But yes, that was me” She swallowed and he could see her rally right before his eyes. Her shoulders rolled back, chin tilting with an arrogance he’d expect from his Yankee, blue-blooded mother, not a housemaid at a Florida beach resort. “And don’t speak to me like that,” she demanded, all traces of embarrassed guilt gone.

He showed her the edge of her amusement. “Not in the position to make demands, darlin’.”

She turned that rigid shoulder to him, exposing plump side boob and a very nice back whose spine was ramrod straight. She swished her way to the edge of the pool where she’d left her clothes—which were now at his feet.

This seemed not to bother her at all. Once at the side of the pool, she looked up, fingers curling around the rim, and, fuck him, his dick finally dialed in to take acute notice, rousing despite her breasts being out-of-sight crushed to the wall

Her legs kicked idly in the water, muddying his view, but he’d seen enough to know she’d be worth the time and effort—if he was in the mood to make either. Well, parts of him were in the mood, but it’d been a long time since he’d been led around by his dick. One tempting water nymph wasn’t going to make him revert.

“You gonna stand there all night or you gonna report me?”

More cheek. He really didn’t want to like this woman.

“Haven’t decided. Maybe if you were a little nicer, you could talk me out of it.”

Any other woman would’ve cut and run by now, especially when he was deliberately being this much of an outright asshole.

Instead, Skye contemplated him from below and then, shocking the shit outta him, she flattened her hands and hoisted herself out of the pool. A whoosh of water heralded her expulsion and then there she stood, naked and without a hint of shame.

He took her in, half aware of the effort it took not to have his mouth gaping like a mouth-breather. Water dripped down her chest and over her high, pert breasts whose nipples raised to points against the cooler air. Down the concave slope of her belly and over the natural flare of her hips and vee of her exposed sex to pool around her feet on the asphalt.

A surge of lust contorted him. He wanted his hands on those hips, his mouth on those breasts, and those lithe legs wrapped tight and high on his back as he surged inside her. He felt the pull of her expectation and somehow wrenched his eyes from the feast of her body to the no less bounty of her face. When Skye caught his gaze, her lush mouth curved in a Cheshire smile.

“How much nicer do you want me to be?”

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 Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

Insta-Attraction in Romance … and Life: Guest Post by Rebecca Brooks

4 Oct
Rebecca says her heroines *always* get what they want. Click if you're down with that!

Rebecca says her heroines *always* get what they want. Click if you’re down with that!

By Rebecca Brooks

I still remember the moment I laid eyes on my now-husband over eight years ago.

It was in a meeting that was totally unremarkable except for the man sitting across from me. I can picture what he was wearing, the bag he was carrying, the way he held his pen. Most of all, I remember his smile, bright and genuine, the way he lit up when he talked about teaching, research, and writing—the things he cares about most.

If my life were a romance novel, he’d be a billionaire vampire fated to protect clumsy, unassuming little me and we’d have immediately left the meeting to bang against the glass window of a penthouse conference room—as soon as he had me sign a contract dictating when and where I was allowed to come per his commands.

Alas, dear reader, we met for tea. Then beers. Falafel. Shared our favorite chocolate shops. At some point six months later it dawned on me that our marathon hang-out sessions at bookstores and bars were different than the time I spent with friends. I never wanted them to end.

But when I’m reading a romance novel, I don’t want to read about those first six months between spark and follow-through, months in which everyone is busy with work and life and sometimes forgets to text back and who has time for dating, anyway?

I want to read about the moment when the heroine locks eyes with the hero and her mouth goes dry. Her pulse kicks up. She can feel her heart racing, feel the world around her slow. It may not be a good idea. Scratch that—it’s definitely a bad one. But she knows what she wants. And my heroines always get what they want.

I want the hero to think, This is the one. Not the one for forever—it’s way too soon in the story for that. But the one for a night. And then another. As these improbable instances string together, we start to see a relationship grow.

I know some readers don’t like insta-attraction because they think it’s unrealistic. But people meet at clubs, find each other on Tinder, hook up in all sorts of situations that start with a glance, a touch, a moment that can’t be explained. Note that I’m not talking about insta-love, but the sizzling hot attraction characters experience right off the bat. Love, as romance novels teach us, is something different altogether.

Think of Lacey and Hunter in Liberating Lacey (Anne Calhoun). Olivia and Jamie in Bad Boys Do (Victoria Dahl). Katie and Cameron in Instant Attraction (Jill Shalvis). I just watched episode 1 of Luke Cage on Netflix last night and he and Misty Knight make all the eye contact at a bar—and then go home to have all. the. sex. And this is after Luke has turned down another woman, making clear he doesn’t want to take just anyone home. Was I complaining about the unrealistic timeline as Massive Hot Man unzipped her slinky blue dress? No, I most certainly was not.

Austin, the hero in MAKE ME STAY, is an Olympic skier and racing coach. Have you seen those ass-tight racing skins that skiers wear? As the heroine Sam says of herself when she first spies him on the slopes, she’s a red-blooded woman. She’s not falling in love with him on sight alone. But she’s definitely checking him out.

Sam doesn’t expect anything to happen. In fact, it would be a whole lot better for her billion-dollar company if it didn’t. Only that initial attraction leads to more. Flirting. Banter. A kiss in the falling snow. A surprise detour to a shelter on the mountain where things get hot and heavy. The realization that one very delightful afternoon together isn’t going to be enough, and everything both Sam and Austin thought they knew is changing.

That build-up from first glance to full-on romance never fails to make me giddy. It’s why I’m a sucker for insta-attraction, the catalyst that sets the whole story in motion. It sets up a promise I get to spend the whole book looking forward to: when the hero and heroine get their hard-earned HEA.

But first, they have to feel the spark.

Hey, it’s Alexa. Ready to hit the slopes? Me too. Check out the details and grab your copy!

Blurb:

She’s his…for now.

Samantha Kane is about to solidify her father’s legacy by developing sleepy Gold Mountain into the most profitable ski resort in the country. There’s one man standing in her way though. One very sexy, rugged man. When she shows up to convince Austin Reede to sell, she has no intention of hiding her identity. But with a body like his, she’ll take a few risks to get closer.

Austin was the fastest skier on the U.S. Olympic team, until he shattered his knee. Gold Mountain became his refuge—and now Kane Enterprises is threatening that home. When he meets Sam, he has no idea she’s the one to blame, he just knows the attraction between them is one he hasn’t felt in years. A scorching hot one-night stand is just what he needs. Little does he guess that it will change everything…

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stay-Men-Gold-Mountain-ebook/dp/B01LWI5U6W

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/make-me-stay-rebecca-brooks/1124588844

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/make-me-stay-5

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/make-me-stay/id1153572279

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30169610-make-me-stay

Read the first chapter: http://entangledpublishing.com/make-me-stay/

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. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind in order to try something new—and find the passion, excitement, and purpose they didn’t even know they’d been missing.

Find out more at rebeccabrooksromance.com.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebeccabrooksromance

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/beccabooks

 

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