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Donald Glover: TV’s Most Interesting Man

21 Sep

by Madeline Iva

Hola Chicas! I’m baaaaaaaack! and here today to talk to you about Donald Glover, TV’s most interesting man.  Yeah, I didn’t see him coming either.

But you gotta admit, he’s quietly provocative and thoughtful.  Put those two qualities together and I’m thinking he’s kinda sexy, you know? It wasn’t until THE MARTIAN when I really noticed him for the first time.  Every time he walked on screen the movie became three times more interesting.  His intelligence and understated persona plucked him out of the realm of character actors and presented us with something understated, yet compelling. (Also I’m a sucker for interesting genius geek types.)

Did you see SOLO — in which Glover played Lando Calrissian.  Did he have the Billy Dee magic? Eh. There’s only one Billy Dee. But who cares? Glover’s got his own something something going on.

He is an actor who’s at his best playing off other excellent actors. His role thrilled me and chilled me when it became clear (to all people over the age of twelve at least) that Lando was having a sexual relationship with his robot, L3-37.  She’s not even an android, technically. Yet Lando is *clearly* having great Robot Sex with her. This is a sub-plot worthy of it’s own blog post–I’ll get to it in the weeks ahead.Lando and L3

Then I saw Glover’s video in his alternative rap star persona: Childish Gambino.  Should I just assume you’ve all seen this video and found it interesting and kind of looked up stuff on the internet about it like I have? (I always feel so late to the party.) — Anyway, in case you haven’t — here it is:

Okay — so at this point I’m a solid Donald Glover fan.  Whatever he’s saying–I want to hear it.

Meanwhile, his TV show ALTANTA is edgy, rumpled, and nonchalantly cool.  His character, Earn is a man of different facets.  He’s certainly flawed–Earn sometimes lets his frustrations paint him into a corner he can’t get out of. At the same time he’s adroit, loyal, and solution-minded.  The show has an edge of humor, and a swirl of racism that forms the backdrop of the world he lives in. I liiiiiiiiike him.  I mean, bonus points and gold stars all around for representing a complex, multi-dimensional character and a world I haven’t seen before.  The fact that the show was created, written and directed by him has lifted his reputation up by about twelve notches.  And the show? I never know really what’s going to happen next, which can offset the wince-y pain of watching the lives of black folk exposed to the pervasive racism in America.

So WHAT THE HECK Emmys? Seriously? Not even best actor this year? At least last year he won for best actor and best director.  I was not surprised to see that the casting director was up for an award–for the cast is fabu.  Zazie Beetz, btw, plays his love interest on the show. She is also one of the best, most interesting actresses kicking around these days. (You might have also seen her in Deadpool 2.)

ATLANTA is frequently humorous in terms of juxtaposed contexts. The characters walk their own crooked path trying to get somewhere when they see an opportunity.  Along the way they make pit-stops to survey the swampy landscape studded with family members stuck in the muck.  The show has a so-funny-it’s-awful tone that I slurp up with relish.

I also found the editing from episode to episode interesting across the season.  Characters plop down into being, go away, come back. The show raises issues, end unresolved, and then leap onto another pathway in the next episode.  One could argue that form follows content–the show jumps in the same way that Glover’s character Earn experiences his fortunes rise and fall as his client and cousin finds bits of success on the path to leave drug dealing for the rap world.  Even his name — Earn — short for Earnest, no doubt, has it’s own Dickensian poke in the viewers gut invoking rap myth-making, the music industry, and money.

The best part of the show is how it reveals issues or complex situations for us to chew upon, but never tries to tell us how to think or feel about them.  Glover is the anti-Sorkin of TV.  Check it out — and check out below the way Glover showed up to the Emmy’s as a creepy character from his show….

You can watch Season One of ATLANTA on:

AMAZON (May be the cheapest price right now)

YOU TUBE

REDBOX *

or via HULU subscription

Redbox is still in beta with streaming TV shows.  Be aware that sometimes your viewing can be interrupted.

—-And continue to check out Lady Smut where we will always share with you our edgy obsessions.

Madeline Iva enjoys penning stories about reclusive guys with dark secrets in mouldering castles.  If you like your gothic gloom with a fantasy or paranormal twist join her cult following newsletter.

Merger and Acquisition: An Excerpt from Passing Through

5 May

RT-18-Reno-Banner-V3

By Alexa Day

Ten days to Reno.

Ten days to the RT Booklovers Convention and days of splendiferous fun with loads and loads of romance authors and readers and books and parties and happy hours and general abundant good times. If you’re going, be sure to make a space on your calendar for the second coming of Never Have I Ever, Ever, hosted by my learned colleagues.

If you’re not going, hey, don’t sweat it. I’m not going, either. I expect to have my hands full right here.

Last year, I had some friends drop by to hang out on a fainting couch that wasn’t big enough for all five of us. If I were at RT with my friends and the couch, you and I would have had to have The Chat about how I’m not sharing and you need to bring your own friends. All that is easier to navigate if we’re each at home with our own couches, away from prying eyes.

But certainly it won’t take you all of ten days to get your calendar done or to get your own couch with your own friends. Honestly, some of you overachievers might manage to do both in ten days. What are you going to do with the extra time?

passing through cover

How about a trip to the beach? I can get you there and back in no time. You won’t even have to park. And this time you won’t have to bring your own friends. In my novella, Passing Through, you’ll get a whole summer with a very hot, very obedient Army Ranger, and you’ll be home in time for dinner.

You want to see a blurb?

The summer’s brought two surprises to bar owner Gigi Dean: the former Army Ranger she hired is the perfect barback, and he takes orders in bed as well as he does on the job. She swore long ago never to let a man come between her and her business, so pursuing the powerful attraction to her employee is a definite no-no. But how long can she resist the desire to put this alpha male on his knees?

Noah Monroe’s told his boss that he’s just passing through on the way to a more permanent job. He hasn’t told her that his hunger for her keeps him awake at night. He won’t have more than this summer with the gorgeous woman who is his perfect match. Can he coax her into his arms for a summer fling? Or will acting on instinct cost him everything he’s begun to love?

Sound inappropriate? Good. That’s my specialty. But don’t worry. Ever the responsible boss, Gigi has a conversation with her best employee right after their first night together. When Noah drives her home that night, she takes the opportunity to have that conversation again. Just so everyone knows where they stand. Or sit. Or lie down.

Check it out.

***

Driving home after work bothered Noah for reasons he used to have trouble naming. The traffic-clotted madness that marked his drive to the bar didn’t faze him. At rush hour, he was surrounded by people on their own missions, trying to get home or stop for groceries or meet friends for the evening. Late at night, he had the road to himself.

Not having all those people to pay attention to should have made things easier, but the empty streets pushed his senses to high alert. After a few weeks of making that late-night drive, he realized that part of him was looking for people. That side of him wasn’t nearly as hypervigilant as it used to be, but the quiet still bothered him.

Tonight, his boss’s directions provided just the right distraction. She led him deeper and deeper into the suburbs, away from the water and the highways lined with strip malls and hotels. Trees gave shelter to narrow drives, and petite houses lay in darkness. People envisioned this sort of place when they talked about settling down with a family.

“Nice neighborhood,” he said.

“This is where I grew up. Used to ride a bike up this very street.” She pointed out the open window. “Fell out of that oak tree once. Next right.”
As he made the turn, he caught her wistful grin. She had more stories to tell about growing up here. This had been the place she’d learned to drive a car. This was where she’d done homework. Daydreamed about a boy who would one day take her to prom. Her parents had left her with more than a business. She had a history in this neighborhood. She had a whole life with roots growing down deep in this place.

She had a home. Something stable to protect from transient barbacks passing through town.

Something inside him twisted painfully, but he willed the ache away. Whose fault was it that he didn’t have what she needed in her life? His whole history fit in the back of the truck with room to spare. He chose that for himself, connecting only with what lay inside his arm’s reach. Able to move and start over whenever he liked.

Her home and history still called to him, and the need to answer pulsed in his veins. When the time came, it would take all his strength to go.
She pointed at a farmhouse on the right. “There it is.”

He pulled into her driveway and coasted beneath the boughs of a tree to her carport. The ancient transmission clunked when he put the truck in park, and they turned to face each other as the engine gurgled.

They watched each other in silence for a few seconds. Years ago, a teenage Gigi would have looked across the front seat at some hormone-plagued boy, wondering if he would kiss her.

Noah chuckled. Who was he kidding? If this woman wanted to be kissed, no way she was going to sit there with her fingers crossed, waiting for it.

“Something funny, Monroe?”

“Just thinking, boss.”

She rooted deep inside her purse before pulling out her keys with a jingling flourish. “I’ll call Heather in the morning, I guess.” She glanced down at his lap briefly before her gaze skittered to the gearshift.

Damn if he was going to make this easy for her.

“I can pick you up if you want. You know, if you want to make a run on the way in.”

Her tempting lips pursed as she shook her head. “No, no. Heather has to be up early anyway, and she has the supply list.”

He tried without success to keep from smiling. Was she even going to thank him? “If you say so, boss.”

A breeze tickled the branches overhead, making them sigh. She’d probably sit here all night rather than ask him for anything. But she wanted to. She wouldn’t still be sitting here, her knee up on the bench seat, if she didn’t want something.

“You have a second to come in?” Her voice lacked a little of the steel she used at work, and for an instant, he wondered if he was wrong about the teenage Gigi, waiting on the passenger seat.

He turned off the engine and the truck shuddered to rest. “Yeah, I have a second.”

* * *

Gigi shut the door behind them and leaned against it. Noah waited for her in the living room. The hodgepodge of furniture, most of which her parents had left behind on their way to retirement, looked small and insubstantial around him. He towered over the coffee table like a giant.

Her giant.

She shook off the thought and jerked a thumb over her shoulder at the kitchen. “Want anything?”

He smiled and sat down on her couch. “I’m good,” he said.

She opened her refrigerator and stood in the chilly air, acutely aware of the heat of his gaze on her back. She’d invited him in to ask about their conversation from the other night, to be certain that there were no awkward aftereffects from the Fourth of July. She had no reason not to take him at his word, of course; Noah was a straight shooter through and through. But at work, he could be such a closed book, even when they were alone after last call. He’d never let on that there was more between them than work and one hot night on the patio. And the cab of the truck—that was where kids made out.

If they were going to have an adult conversation, they’d have it in the living room like adults.

She finally closed the fridge empty handed, cutting off the spill of light into the darkened room. When she turned back to the living room, she found Noah holding the hefty glass ashtray that weighed down the coffee table. He turned the unwieldy thing over and over, his thick fingers moving in the grooves cut for cigarettes.

Gigi grinned and joined him on the couch. “It’s an ashtray,” she explained.

He nodded, smiling. “Yeah, I know. My uncle had one like this. I haven’t seen one in years.”

“Home décor secrets of the Seventies,” she said, watching as he set the ashtray back on the coffee table. “This is your uncle who was in Vietnam?”
He nodded. “My Uncle Tim.”

“You really loved him, didn’t you?” The question was out into the air between them before she could stop it, more personal than anything that had yet happened when they were alone.

In the soft light of streetlamps, his gaze found hers. “Yeah. He was my favorite uncle.” He leaned back on the couch. “My dad’s oldest brother. He was old enough to be drafted to go to Vietnam like a bunch of other guys. Dad worshiped my Uncle Tim when they were kids.” He smiled at her. “He said when people asked him what he wanted to be, he used to say he wanted to be Uncle Tim.”

Gigi laughed, and Noah shifted on the couch. His smile slowly faded into something harder.

“Anyway, he went to Vietnam and came back home. When he got off the plane, this gorgeous woman came up to him. My uncle thinks, hey, this is great, this woman wants to flirt with the man in uniform. He opens his mouth to say something to this girl. And she spits in his face and then turns around and walks off.”

Gigi felt her mouth drop open, weightless. He glanced up at her, sorrow darkening his features.

“Dad said Uncle Tim wasn’t the same after that. It was like someone had taken whatever he used to be and shattered it, and then he wasn’t able to find all the pieces.” He sighed. “When we went to visit him and my Aunt Joanie, they were always happy enough to see us. I could kind of see what my dad saw in him. But sometimes I’d look over at him when we were watching TV, and he’d be staring at the floor, almost like he was wondering what happened to him.” He laced his fingers and set them on his knee. “You know, we’re doing all this stuff for veterans now. Free drinks and all that. College girls who want to climb you like a tree. Which is great. All that is great. But no one wants to remember that, a little while ago, people would wait for soldiers to get off the plane so they could spit in their faces.”

The silence stretched and grew thick between them. In the dark, she could all but hear him breathing.

“You learn a lot in the Army, boss. You learn that everyone’s there, willing to put it all on the line, for a different reason.” He looked up to meet her gaze. “And I never met one person who went all the way to Afghanistan for free beer. But little things like that matter anyway.”

“You didn’t have to tell me all that,” she said.

He shrugged. “Your ashtray just reminded me.” A long sigh slid out of him. “I guess it’s been trapped in there for a while.”

She had to reach to pat his knee. Resisting this need to make contact with him proved harder than simply giving in.

His hand covered hers, setting her heart on a jig. More than the excitement she’d been trying to fight for so long, she ached with a new emotion. She felt safe. Like he’d opened this part of himself to her now and wanted to welcome her inside.

She stared at their joined hands, long enough for her skin to tingle. She knew he was watching her with the same intensity he reserved for potential trouble on the job, for anything that might not go as planned.

Yeah, this qualifies.

He shifted again on the couch, and she forced her eyes to meet his. His fingers twined with hers. A whirlwind pushed at her insides, fear and need and this forbidden excitement chasing each other around her heart.

He reached for her slowly, cupping her face in his large palm. His rough thumb stroked her cheek.

“What do you need right now, boss?”

Gigi found her breath. “You said this was whatever we said it was.”

He nodded. “Right.”

“So what are we saying it is?” she whispered.

He closed most of the distance between them, stopping just inches away from her. “What do you need it to be?”

She tried to yank her hand out of his but he tightened his grip. Frustrated beyond endurance, she turned her gaze up to the ceiling. “Jesus, Monroe.” She looked back at him and wanted to pull that smirk off his face. “Can you really not answer a simple question like that?”

He slid his fingertips up to her chin, gently tugged her toward him. Their knees touched when they kissed. His mouth coaxed hers, teasing her, making the spark she was trying to suppress into a hungry flame.

He pulled away from her and pressed his forehead to hers. “I want you like I want air to breathe.” The rough caress of his whisper made her catch her breath. “But Gigi, you make the rules.” He kissed the corner of her mouth, his lips lingering there. “You tell me. You tell me what you want.”

She wanted him. She wanted to see all of him and hear every sound he could make, and even if it never happened again, with him or anyone else, she wanted him tonight.

“The bedroom is at the end of the hall.” She pulled back and away from his embrace. “Go down there and strip.”

Without a word, he rose and headed down the hallway, peeling off his shirt as he went. She stood up on suddenly uncertain legs and slowly followed him.

***

Don’t you love it when work meetings go a little long? Click and find out how Gigi evaluates her best employee.

And in the meantime, follow Lady Smut.

Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and licensed attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

 

 

The Ghost of Hot Relationships That Never Were

9 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Watching a scene in a movie, or an episode of a TV show I’m like that kid from the Sixth Sense–but instead of dead poeple I see whole story lines that aren’t actually there.  It haunts me day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong. We’re lucky to have so many interesting stories out on TV and in movies.  I’m enjoying them; I’m reveling in them.  Yet I also see a lot of hot-boinking-that-should-be-there-but-isn’t.  To you they’re invisible–but they haunt me. Is this a blessing? Or is it a curse? <Cue the spooky music.>

There are just so many good shows in which the hotness factor between characters should be invoked.  Let’s seance with this sad spectre–the Ghost of Hot Relationships That Never Were as it wanders down the corridors of Untold Passion & Secret Scandalous Hook Ups.

MASSIVE MASSIVE MASSIVE SPOILERS!!!!!!! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!

Black Panther:

Michael B. Jordan played Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Out of all the villains in Marvel Universe why did they kill off this one? Whyyyyyyyy? WHAT ON EARTH WERE THEY THINKING? Don’t they see the Loki potential here? With his ripped body, damned attractive face, and awwwwww story of heartbreak and loss as a young boy–it’s killing me. (Pun intended.)

The hint of dimples is what truly slays me.

Eric Killmonger is that Loki-ish anti-hero we lurv, no matter how many times he’s got “Kill Whitey” tattooed all over his body. (He doesn’t really. Just kidding. But you get the idea.) His character would draw everyone back movie after movie, sequel after sequel.  Someone go to the bottom of that waterfall and fish him out. Revive and rehabilitate that bad boy STAT!

While Hollywood is at it, I think you’ll agree hands down that Erik needs to get together with Okoye, AKA Danai Gurira AKA Michonne from Walking Dead.  Erik is hotness on a stick.  Okoye is the woman all humans bow down to.  I mean–did you see the movie? Yeah? Then you get it.  The movie would have been more realistic to me if Okoye had straightened Erik’s sh*t out in about ten minutes. Danai

Okoye needs to become Queen of Wakanda too, btw.  Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett may be worthy of ruling as well, and I didn’t have any problems with our super-hero, Black Panther. He was cute–incredibly cute.  He has a real “goodness to the core” super-hero vibe.  It’s just that clearly he needs to be out and about in the world.  His job is international.  But back home in Wakanda, Okoye is queen material.  She’s the f**king bad ass leader of all leaders.  Just calling it like it is, people.  As for Ramonda–well, see below.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: AKA Heather-Heather-Heather AKA Vella Lovell

I mean, I really like CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND overall.  Rebecca Bunch obsessively crushes out on a former flame named Josh, and goes to cray-cray stalker extremes often urged onward by our twisted societal values about a women’s worth.  But Heather, Rebecca’s neighbor-then-roommate is her polar opposite.  Tall, goy, hot and slacker-ish, Heather is instantly compelling to watch. With her vocal fry, colored hair extensions, and community college scholar wisdom she is the one I obsess over in this show.  Yes, I have a massive girl crush on Heather — and the actress who plays her recently expanded her career to movies.  She was probably the best thing in THE BIG SICK.  (And the writers of the BIG SICK should make a follow up about her character story. Can you say another Smart Indian Girl Rom-Com? Squeeeeee! Hasn’t anyone in Hollywood watched Bend It Like Beckam?)

Anyway Heather and Hector are now together in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.   Hector always was cute, if a bit oedipal, but he doesn’t get much face time on the show. We all know the two of them hooking up is really just an excuse to give us more Heather.

Though White Josh and Josh in the stripper scene were giving Nathaniel a run for his money,  Nathaniel’s character is pretty appealing.  The more he was into Rebekah, the more I was into him.  But clearly, he and Heather should be together.  They both are seemingly shallow but really good people with unexpected depths. They are both extremely sane despite recognizing their perverse impulses.  They are both vulnerable to romantic situations in which they’re being used.  I’m asking nicely— could they PLEAAAAAASE get together? Pretty please? And I mean really get together in a complicated, sweaty, guilty, dirty way — the way that Rebecca tends to get together with men on the show?

She’s just using you, Nathaniel. Can’t you see that?

If they can’t, I will totally accept Father Brah, played by Rene Gube as a Heather-Love-Interest substitute.  That guy is totally under-utilized in terms of hotness. Wasted actually.

BTW — did you expect Crazy-Ex to really go there with serious mental health issues? I didn’t. I’m pretty impressed. And making Rebecca the poster girl for BPD — whoa.  That mental disorder does not get a lot of sympathetic play.  So thumb’s up Crazy-Ex Girlfriend for going there, staying there, and then doing a song and dance number there.

The Good Place — This show is not for everyone, but I get off on weighing utilitarian counterfactuals against Kantian ethical theory.  The show is about someone mistakenly sent to heaven.  My version of heaven is Jianyu played by Manny Jacinto. Manny is divine. Manny and Kristen Bell would be too cute together as a couple.  Manny and Tiya Sircar would be too cute too.  I mean, can Jianyu just have his own spin off show next year? Something where yes, we see his cuteness factor, but also the other hot never-see-him-coming facets as well?

Meanwhile, I very much appreciate Elinor’s girl crush Tahani played by Jameela Jamil.  Tahani with her Amazonian posh presence gains a wonderful edge from Elinor’s girl-lust-crush.  If the creators of the show wanted to take relationships in that direction, I, as a fan, would happily follow.  Just sayin’.

Before I sign off though, let’s talk steam heat in terms of romance with age difference —

First of all, I would like to advocate for Angela Basset’s character Ramonda having a thing with M’Baku when she gets dropped off at M’Baku’s land.  M’Baku is played by Winston Duke, a 6′ 4″ drink of beef water.  He’s a wee bit Alpha for my taste — but even so…even so. His character has an unexpected sense of humor that slays.M'Baku

And I don’t care who you are, if Ramonda gets dropped off in your kingdom and you’re made to promise to protect her and make sure she’s “taken care of” –I mean, seriously, how could your mind not go there? It’s Angela Bassett, people. It doesn’t matter how old she gets. I think I spent the next fifteen minutes of the movie not hearing or seeing anything on the screen.  Instead I was still back at the toothy gorilla lair with M’Baku and Ramonda imagining how their forbidden sexual tryst would come about.  These moments are so obvious to me–am I the only one? Is anyone else seeing the possibilities here?

Back at The Good Place I also noticed that Tahani has fabulous chemistry with Michael, played by Ted Danson.  Yes, he’s like in his seventies or something, but still–they’re both dapper dressers.  In fact, they are too attractively tall together not to have hot sex/romance.   Maybe they seem to connect because they’re the only two tall enough to look each other in the eye.  Maybe it’s something more.  But I think they should work it.  Torture Tahani with the tantalizing promise of a ‘daddy’ relationship figure that goes to a naughty places.  Let us live a little.The Good Place

The Upshot: Hollywood is having outstanding success with greater casting diversity.  At last.  Finally! Bravo. (The horror that’s going on behind the screens –that’s another blog post). Let’s all urge them to keep heading further in this direction.  Despite hot (and I mean that in more ways than one)  new talent, the boink factor is suffering.

There’s chemistry going on here, people!  My mind is a-buzz with all the variations and combinations to explore — I want jealousy and lust.  I want tenderness and taut sexual tension.  I also want some light kinky elements–is this too much to ask? I don’t think it is.

What relationships do you wish you were seeing in movies/tv shows that you love? Please sound off below.

Madeline Iva enjoys penning stories about reclusive guys with dark secrets in mouldering castles.  If you like your gothic gloom with a perverse twist join her cult following newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

Romance in the Time of Black Panther

6 Apr

Okoye and Nakia are done with the benefit of the doubt.

By Alexa Day

I missed you all last month. I’m not going to offer you any excuses. Let’s just say that a lot of things went off the rails at the same time, and that I would much rather have been here with you, and we can leave it at that.

My plan last month was to present you with a post about the phenomenon that is Black Panther. I was going to give you a thumbnail review — short version: IT IS INCREDIBLE — and then I was going to ask some hard questions about why traditional romance publishing can’t be bothered with compelling stories by black creators about black characters. Then, like I said, things went a little crazy and I wasn’t able to get to you last month.

As March went by, I thought I’d have to write a new post. I thought the post I had in mind would certainly be outdated by April.

And I’m wrong. As it happens, the thrust of my post is even more relevant today than it would have been last month.

Let’s begin with the good news.

Black Panther is incredible. Created by black people, featuring a predominantly black cast, and set firmly in the Marvel Universe, it presents an easily accessible story. You don’t need to know anything about superheroes to get into it. The sibling relationships speak to people with siblings. The female characters speak to women who don’t need to be rescued, who have to make a place for their identities in a world that’s constantly changing around them, who have relationships that challenge the traditions they might have grown up with. Things get blown up. Sterling K. Brown will make you cry. No film is perfect, but this one is mighty close.

The New York Times captures the importance of Black Panther’s success — and the essence of my joy surrounding it — in this article. Black Panther is a wildly successful story, featuring black characters, set largely in Africa, that is not about ‘black poverty, black pain, or black suffering,’ the ingredients that typically spell box office billions for movies with predominantly black casts. No slavery. No Jim Crow. No drug abuse. The closest we get to rap music is Klaue, one of the film’s two white characters. I haven’t even said anything about natural hair. Or representation for darker-skinned black women in these powerful, beautiful roles.

When I first wrote this post a month ago, Black Panther was closing in on $800 million dollars in international box office receipts. Today, it’s at $1.3 billion worldwide. It was released about six weeks ago.

People worldwide wanted this story. They loved it. They told their friends and went back for seconds.

At about this time, The Ripped Bodice released the 2017 results of its survey on diversity in romance publishing. This is the romance-only bookstore’s second year asking romance publishers how many of their releases were created by authors of color.

This year’s numbers are worse than last year’s. Last year’s numbers were not good. Here’s a highlight: the imprint with the highest number of romances produced by authors of color in 2017 was Crimson Romance with just over 29%, up from around 12% in 2016. Simon and Schuster shut the imprint down without fanfare within days of the report’s release.

The news gets worse.

In the month since I wrote the first version of this column, Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the RITA award, which recognizes excellence in romance fiction. RWA noted that there were no black finalists this year. RWA further noted that no black author has ever won the award. The organization recognizes this as a serious problem. I do, too, but I think of it as a symptom of an even larger problem.

I’m damned impressed by the phenomenon that is Black Panther. Don’t get me wrong. But black creators have been producing stories with black characters for decades. Stories that don’t center on poverty, slavery, racism and pain. Stories with loving family relationships and with families facing the same kind of troubles families face all over the world. Stories with heroines who don’t need to be rescued. Women who find love while saving the world or just handling their business or looking the other way.

These stories are everywhere. Sure, some publishers are hiding them (yeah, I said it) in their own separate lines and imprints where readers of other races will have trouble locating them. But they do exist. Indeed, The Ripped Bodice can’t keep some of them on the shelves — some of their best-selling books are romances by black authors.

So if the stories exist, and they are selling, what’s the problem?

Perhaps romance publishing is fully aware of what Black Panther is doing for Hollywood (i.e., stuffing everyone’s pockets full of money) and does not want to risk that happening for them. That seems an odd business model, but hey, I’m just a writer.

Alternately, romance publishing thinks that you, the reader who pays the bills at romance publishing, are too racist to read those books. I do not believe that is true for most of you. I know that describes some people with photographic perfection, but I don’t think that’s most readers.

The obvious answer, of course, is that romance publishing itself is so racist that they will deny access to black authors and will resort to any available excuse to avoid giving black authors access to the marketplace. I will not address this issue further here. I will instead refer you to The Ripped Bodice’s Twitter account. The proprietresses are calling publishers to account for their embarrassing numbers, and I will allow them to speak for themselves.

Not all superheroes wear capes.

Let us proceed with the presumption that you, the non-black reader, want to address the problem black romance authors are facing. What can you do?

Start by finding some books.

So where do you find romances by black authors? A couple of easy answers come to mind. First, find a black author. You already know me, and everyone knows Beverly Jenkins, and this is probably the last time you’ll ever see the two of us in the same sentence because I’m not worthy. But if you’re wondering who else is out there, well, can I introduce you to Google? When I wanted to know where the nearest auto parts store was, I went to Google for answers. When I wanted to know if my cat would eat me if she were large enough to do so, I went to Google for answers. (She would.) Try Google. Just put in ‘black romance authors.’

I don’t want to fall into the very, very popular trap of making Beverly Jenkins the first and last stop in the world of black romance, and you should avoid that trap, too. Go see WOCinRomance.  There are more black romances than you can shake a stick at, and it’s run by a black author, Rebekah Witherspoon. Joyfully Reviewed presents another list of authors of color, complete with Twitter links. So you have a lot of black authors, and an extensive reading list.

Now you have to actually read the books. I wrote about this before. It is not enough for you to spend the money and then pat yourself on the back.

Well … what are the books going to be … about? This is an easy question. I’m glad you brought it to me because I like you all, and I want to make sure you hear this the right way.

The black author’s romance is going to be a romance novel. It will be about the same things any other romance would be about. My friends-to-lovers romance, Illicit Impulse, is at its core much like any other friends-to-lovers romance. There’s another dude in it, and a sex pill, but the center of it is two people wondering if it would be weird to sleep with each other. (Little plug: If you’re interested in Illicit Impulse, you should click that link today. It will be out of print in a few weeks when its publisher closes its doors.)

The sports romances are sports romances. The paranormals are paranormals. The snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Honey, you’re not going to catch anything from a black author’s romance novel. Find one you think is interesting and read it. If you cannot find a single book on WOCinRomance that you think is interesting, you may be a bigger part of the problem than you realize.

How did you find the last book you read? Word of mouth? Amazon also-boughts? A trusted, romance-only bookstore’s list of bestsellers? This really is the same process.

I’m not trying to be small.

Look, when I was a girl taking the stagecoach to school, I learned very quickly that if I wanted to read about kids having adventures, rescuing racehorses, traveling into the frontier, exploring space, or living in the world outside my small hometown, that meant reading outside my race. I say “kids” because in the era of the stagecoach, it was hard to find books about girls, let alone black girls like me. So while I’ve been reading outside my race forever, I recognize that this was not a requirement for everyone. Let’s be frank. If you’re white, you may have gotten all your fictional needs met without having to read outside your race. You didn’t have to build that habit as a kid, and all habits are harder to build as an adult.

I know it’s hard. Start building now. Ask questions. If people are perhaps a little sharp with you when they answer, ask someone else. But don’t stop reading. Don’t stop discovering.

Twitter has had a lot to say about race and romance in the last few days. I want to leave you with this tweet from a completely different discussion. It’s from a librarian, about one of her young patrons.

Doesn’t that make you tear up, the thought of a girl learning that there are shelves and shelves of new books to discover?

That magical, hand-on-heart, oh-my-gosh feeling is here for you, too. I promise.

Google. Go to WOCinRomance. Hit Joyfully Reviewed’s Twitter list. Enjoy that moment of joy as all those covers appear in front of you.

Then get to reading.

The world is waiting. Climb inside.

Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and licensed attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

Ingrid Goes West & Discovers O’Shea

31 Aug

O’Shea Jackson Jr. Yowza!

by Madeline Iva 

I loved this movie! It’s a satire, and send up of social media crazy.   Let’s talk about the juicy acting before tearing into the bloody guts of the film.

WARNING: vague spoilers litter this entire post.

THE CAST OF INGRID GOES WEST IS FAB:

First – O’Shea Jackson Jr. – HELLO!!!!!!

He came into a scene and I just kept watching him – OMG. Cute. Damn. I kept thinking of him as a less cranked Ice Cube – (Who I kind of obsessed over when he was a kangaroo mutant in TANK GIRL, btw.)

From the moment he was on screen kept thinking: Hey! Look at him. Ingrid? Why are you not paying attention to this guy! Go for him, Ingrid. Look!

I loved that he was playing a geeky screenwriter/batman obsessive. It is my opinion that aside from movies, TV, and romances needing hot POC guys in general, that we especially need more cute/hot/black/geeky men. (Like Echo Kellum!)

O’Shea knows how to flirt with the camera, is all I’m saying.  And –well, what do you know? I get home from watching the movie, check IMDB, and O’Shea is Ice Cube’s son.

No way! Yes, truly.

In a just world we’ll O’Shea Jackson Jr. rise to super-stardom.

Side note for Billy Mangusson: I saw him in Damsels in Distress.  Do I like his ken-doll good looks? No. Ken dolls have never done it for me.  So I don’t feel obliged to mention him here because of his hotness factor—for me he registers a zero on that scale. But his manic energy made an impression. He was good – perfect even, in his loathsome movie role. He’s a character actor in the body of a Ken Doll (which he can’t help of course–) and I first saw him in Damsels in Distress—which is a great daffy movie, btw, check it out.

Finally: Aubrey Plaza. She’s so good it hurts. She’s doing the crazy-manic thing well, of course, as the role calls for. But Plaza is also going through hip moves like a gymnast nailing the landing. She’s so on it when it comes to social tracking.  It’s like she knows how to rate social currencies up and down like she’s the Tokyo stock exchange.

But that’s when her character is barely in control. When her character spins out of control, then we are watching straight up humiliation humor of the kind we’ve long been familiar with when it comes to comedic actors like Jerry Lewis (R.I.P.) and Ben Stiller, but that we see far less in women (with the genius exception of Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL). My sweetie had to hide his eyes during these parts of the film. “I can’t watch.” But I was rejoicing in Ingrid’s social belly flops.

Aubrey Plaza has her own unique persona going on, with a misanthropic attitude and deadpan voice.  We think we’d quickly get tired of this one note, but Plaza will surprise you.  She has no fear of taking her audience to other dimensions of her comedic range. She also reached into emotional points you didn’t think she’d necessarily be able to handle, giving her stiffly uninflected comedic axe. But this is what we know of Aubrey Plaza – she works it and she works it hard as an actress. She pushes higher, deeper, and lower than one would have thought she could go. I’ve noticed in movies and in TV that Plaza is always better than you think she’s going to be.  She’s one to watch.

Here are two other great movies she was in—be sure to check them out:  SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and LIFE AFTER BETH.  She also had a small role in DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (Hey! Maybe that’s where she met Billy…)

BUT LET’S MOVE ON TO THE MOVIES INNARDS:

STYLING: First of all, the movie, appropriately enough, it was beautifully directed, in a totally classic instagram style. You know what I mean – that understated boho thing (and by understated we do NOT mean inexpensive or second hand.) At the same time ‘the look’ invokes color drenched quirkiness, it also should invoke the clean look of big open spaces:  sort of like a fresh ocean breeze off the Malibu shore as it wafts across the bodies of billionaires meditating on the beach.  The movie did this very well — well done, movie!

BUT WHAT IS THE MOVIE ACTUALLY SAAAAAAAAAAAYING?

CLAIM ONE: The obvious message: If you’re mistaking social media connections for real relationships—you’re cray-cray!

And yes, we (I) need reminding that:

  1. there is a life beyond social media (I know, so hard for you youngins who’ve never experienced anything but.)
  2. You need a few real people to have relationships with in your life–at least.
  3. It’s okay to have thousands of great acquaintances on social media –just remember they’re acquaintances.
  4. Social media is a reflection of our lives—not our actual lives.

Even so, some might say that social media is a more insidious evil. I had a friend who once gave a critique of the TV show Friends by saying: The problem is that they’re all so funny, so gorgeous, and well dressed. They make me dissatisfied with my real friends. I take her point.

Do all the pretty people on social media ruin us for “real life”? Hmmmm. I want to say I don’t think so – but you have to be strong about limiting your social media intake.  And this is where I feel the movie plays an important role in inviting us to examine our lives vis-a-vis social media.  For instance, looking back on it, I would say that yes, my Sweetie and I do socialize in person a bit less than we used to in the years before we joined fb.

Which brings us to claim #2 that INGRID GOES WEST makes:

People who are on the other end of the selfie stick – the “influencers” on social media — look down upon their followers/worshipers and, when you meet them in person, they are shallow and inauthentic.  My response to this is twofold:

One: Maybe some do — (I’m looking at you, Kim Kardashian) but I don’t.  I also don’t think I’m an influencer.  So.

Two: The world is chock full of people who were shallow and inauthentic and yet popular and somewhat famous L-O-N-G before social media came along.  So what’s really changed?

Yet the film is at it’s best, I think, when it shows that there is more to Taylor’s life than her instagram feed presents. Her nervous monitoring of her husband’s artistic career and satisfaction comes to mind.  There was something about the role that radiated a sense of instability (Good job Elizabeth Olsen!) that rang incredibly true to me.

On the other hand, as expected, Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) stops the great moments that are happening in her life to capture the moment so it meets her ruthless instagram standards.  Ingrid of course, is at that point where if it didn’t get captured on social media, it didn’t count. She takes every instance of these friend selfies as a quasi-religious moment to savor.  Personally, I think most of us just wear out before we hit the Taylor point in our lives.   Or at least I do — I go to weddings, or author events and I take a lot of pictures and post them on social media –but then I’m done! I’ve experienced something, I’ve put it out there, moving on now!

After seeing the movie I wanted to go out and dig into these issues of social media, our place in them, and the social ethics involved.   Sweetie wanted to dismiss the movie. It made him uncomfortable in parts, and he didn’t see it the edgy double-bladed sword of truth like I did. INGRID GOES WEST offers up a chance to examine our relationship to social media–the ways in which we revel and triumph in it, and the ways in which it undercuts what keeps us stable and sane in our real lives. I say these are good conversations worth having.

So FRIEND— go see the movie already! Talk to me about your thoughts regarding the movie down below.  : >

And since we’re talking about social media–I’m glad you’ve found us at Lady Smut. I’m glad that you want to take this journey we’re on as we explore the possibilities of a women-friendly, sex-positive world. We’re here to share our favorite romances with you—many of them smoking hot—and we’re glad you took some of your valuable time to park your attention here for a few minutes every day.

I never feel inauthentic when it comes to the people who support Lady Smut. I appreciate you all every day.  Whether you’re on a lunch break at work or at home in bed sobbing over a shitty love life—we’re here to cheer you up, and let you know others out there are smart, intelligent women who love romance. We think the way you do.

Hugs!

Madeline Iva is the author of the fantasy romance Wicked Apprentice.  You can’t follow her on Instagram, but you can join her newsletter.

 

 

Bad Ass Heroines In Space

13 Jul

by Madeline Iva

No more token female characters in sff novels. No more ‘space babes’ in skimpy costumes on the cover. You do not get to use your galaxy kitten for a minor romantic/sexual sub-plot then push her right back into plot obscurity again. Those times are over. Dead. Gone.

Here are two books that emerged from the SFF world fairly recently to provide a punch in the gut for male SFF patriarchy– now rolled up into a fetal position and slowly dying.

First I want to give a shout out to ASCENSION.  I love the cover. I’ve only read the first two chapters so far and saw much that romance readers would want to roll around in.  I’ll use three words to describe Jacqueline Koyanagi’s writing: heartfelt, soulful, longing.

At the same time, ASCENSION is described by others on Koyanagi’s website as “a fun, fast-paced space opera” with a diverse cast of characters. It examines disability and polyamory—“all while racing to save the universe from certain destruction.”

Sounds good to me!

Here’s the low down on the plot:

Our main character, Alana Quick, is maniacal about fixing spaceships. She’s an obsessive grease monkey–even her skin tastes like the metal from ships she repairs. She feels as much lust for a space ship as she does for its hot female captain.  Although Alana has an aunt with medical issues, and a dying business on a harsh planet, she jumps world to stow away on a ship called the Tangled Axon.  The ship’s crew are trying to find her sister Nova–but why? And do they mean Nova harm?

The captain of this ship is a sexy bad-ass woman, the engineer is more of the burly growly type of male. But our heroine definitely has an eye for the ladies. Alana describes her first impression of the Tangled Axon’s captain:

The woman sizzled in front of me, all blond hair, boots, and confidence. She tilted her head at an angle of self-important distain, hip cocked to match. Cargo pants hung below her waist and a white tank top bared her toned arms. […] We locked eyes. Her barbed expression pricked at me from beneath her bangs, as if I were a spot of rust on her ship that had the audacity to sprout up when she wasn’t looking. Muscles pulled at the corner of her mouth. 

The book definitely is going to have romance/sexual elements in it. I can just tell.

However, I haven’t read it yet, just the first few chapters. So check it out yourself! (It’s the start of a series.)

You should definitely buy Ancillary Justice.

ANCILLIARY JUSTICE was the book everyone was talking about last year at Wis Con. It’s the first book in a three book series by Ann Leckie, but it’s definitely a stand-alone kind of read.

The main character in ANCILLARY JUSTICE is an AI. Once a spaceship called Ancillary Justice, the A.I. started off with thousands of “nodes” –i.e. human bodies that the A.I. mentally occupied and controlled–now the A.I. is down to just one body and bent on revenge.

The book starts off with the A.I. rescuing a former crew mate on the final stage of her long cold quest for vengeance–and we’re off to the races.

The other kicker in this novel–the one that left all the readers I talked to pleasantly a-buzz–was that the A.I. comes from a culture that only uses the “she” pronoun. Everyone from her world is a “she”.

Now, that’s not to say everyone is actually biologically female. The A.I. is no longer in her own society and while talking to other characters from different worlds, we get plenty of clues as to who’s who in terms of man meat and va-jay-jays.

That may sound like a complicated read. It’s not at all – it’s actually easier to read than it is to describe in this blog post, and that’s because Leckie is just one f***ing masterful writer.

Overall the book is engaging. I whiffled right through it in a day and then actually wound up reading it over again because I just wanted to hang out with the characters in that world all over again.

A great read.

A fabulous summer read.

Buy it!

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

 

 

 

 

Rules? There *Are* No Rules–When It Comes To Love

29 Jun

by Madeline Iva

Airplane ride coming up? Click to buy.

Life is messy.  We know that.  I grab a romance to escape from all that chaos that whomps down on my head every so often.  Okay, frequently.  I call romances happiness machines. Though sometimes we love romances that it makes us ugly cry.  So…okay, catharsis machines.  And yet…sometimes I yearn for less romance tidiness.  Sometimes I just really like it when an author breaks all the rules.

If you know of any romances you LOVE that ‘break the rules’ –please let us know about them.  You can comment down below or post to our Lady Smut FB page. If you reallllly want to get into the nitty gritty about sex that breaks the rules in erotic romance books or erotica–about why you like it anyway (and believe me, I’m all ears) — then you’ll want to request that we add you to our Lady Smut Speakeasy –a private group on FB. Come talk to us there and tell us allll about it. ; >

I’ve talked before about Never Sweeter and Untamed.  Both are books that had my eyes widening and saying out loud “OH MY GOD!” But here are two books that break the rules quietly — and firmly.

REMINISCENT HEARTS by Rachel De Lune has that hot, “gotta have you, rip your clothes off right now” kind of sex that I always really love.  Ohhh, but Rachel De Lune makes you wait for it.

Here’s my blurb for Reminiscent Hearts:

Lily wants the bad boy Jake.  But Lily ends up doing what any sane, intelligent heroine would do. She gets together with someone equally wonderful, without all the twisted parts, and they live happily ever after.  Until they don’t.  When Jake runs into Lily again, things have changed.  She’s totally changed.  Now there are no rules. 

So shivery delicious.  The thing is this: I was told as a would-be romance author you CAN’T DO THAT.  You can’t show the heroine falling happily in love with someone else.  Noooooo.

Why not? This book shows that you can do it, and it’s a perfectly wonderful read.

Because readers don’t like heroines who are promiscuous is why.  But coming out of the sexual dark ages, let’s be real.  Most people in life that we know have had sex with more than one partner by the time they’re thirty.  And they’ve been in more than one happy relationship.  If you read the book, it’s quite clear that Lily is about as far from promiscuous as you can get without belonging to a religious cult or something.

But I have to say, that I quite like and cheer for someone who doesn’t succumb to the alpha male treatment, who doesn’t sign up for a relationship with a young ass-hat.  Jake needs to grow up some and gain some control–and he’s not ready for Lily until then…he doesn’t deserve her until then.

I whiffled right through it in one plane ride.  You will enjoy it too! Buy it here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTBPL5O?tag=books2read02-20

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reminiscent-Hearts-Rachel-Lune/dp/194645415X

itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reminiscent-hearts/id1198006612

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/reminiscent-hearts

$4.99. Click to buy.

THE ART OF THREE by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese is a book I’ve just started, so I can’t say anything about where it goes or how it ends–or even what kind of sex is in it.  It’s described as “contemporary romance/queer romance”. I’m already getting the feeling this is definitely NOT erotic romance and that with two bi-sexual men, it’s not menage either.  It’s polyamory.

I’m finding it terrifically soothing.

So far, everyone is behaving well towards each other, even though the characters constantly find themselves in social situations that are tricky to navigate.  I’m just at the part where the hot movie star is not seducing his hot male co-star, because the co-star is too sleepy. Yes, it’s that kind of book.  If you’re looking for a romance that’s modern, that celebrates instead of clashes, you’ll want this book.  It’s as good as settling down on your couch with a throw and the best cup of tea ever.

Buy it here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Art-Three-Erin-McRae-ebook/dp/B01MZ4TY7Y

Oh, and check out their website: https://avian30.com/about/

And follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline

Meanwhile, follow us on Lady Smut — we’ll soothe your sensitive soul.

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

Disclaimer: I met Rachel De Lune recently at a writing retreat and we instantly bonded, I now consider her a friend.  I know Rachel Maltese via a facebook group we both joined.  

Sexy Sunday Snippet

7 May

Morning ladies—We reallllly like Afton Locke, and she’s got a new serial romance for us to savor. DRUNK ON MEN is an interracial romance set in the roaring 20’s.  After reading the excerpt below, go to her website for the first THREE INSTALLMENTS and get addicted!

When three African-American women meet at a resort on the Jersey Shore in the 1920s, they say goodbye to their old lives. Finding men as intoxicating as bootleg liquor, they pin their futures on happily ever after. But love can be worse than a hangover when the men’s flaws threaten to destroy them.

Hannah knows it’s time to replace her fiancé who died in the war, but the abrupt white man who rescues her from rough surf hardly fits the bill. Belle longs to ditch her latest meal ticket, but is the rich African-European owner of an upscale hotel out of her league? And while Edie struggles to face her upcoming arranged marriage, a rugged Hispanic-white fisherman decides to stake his own claim on her.

This 8-volume serial is a heady romance cocktail stirred with addiction, abuse, betrayal, and scandal. These women aren’t perfect and neither are their men. If you think you can handle it, read on and watch three steamy interracial relationships explode across the pages.

You may think it’s sloe fizz gin

But honey we’re sober, just drunk on men

“You’re a bootlegger,” she stated.

He sighed and made a rude gesture with his hand and chin. “What did you think, Belle? The booze simply drops out of the sky into my bar? I am performing a necessary service for the town of Ocean Promenade.”

Excitement rippled down Belle’s arms and legs. Tonight’s joyride was the most thrilling thing she’d ever done.

“How much booze does this town drink, anyway? The Sands is the only place I see that’s even wet. I have a hard time believing you could buy a car like this on that speck of business.”

“I see you are shrewd businesswoman.” He leaned between the front seats and shot her an admiring glance. “I am much impressed. Since you ask, the product also gets shipped to Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City.”

“So, what happens next?” she asked. “Where’s the booze?”

He slid his jacket sleeve upward with two fingers and glanced at his watch. “It’s coming. Please join me in the front seat where I can see you.”

“Not with the gun lying there. A girl could get her cha chas blown off with a thing like that. Besides, how do I know you’re not planning to bump me off for knowing too much?”

“You are too beautiful to kill,” he crooned as he moved the monstrous weapon to rest against his door. “However, you have become heavily involved. I wanted to protect you from this.”

“It’s okay,” she said, shrugging as she scrambled to the front passenger seat. “I’m a big girl. I’ll survive.”

He reached over and grabbed her chin, forcing her to face him. Adrenaline flooded her body. Without thinking, she smacked him across the face.

He reared back in his seat. “What was that for?”

“Don’t manhandle me,” she said coldly. “I don’t care for it.”

She hadn’t pegged him as abusive, but she wasn’t about to take any chances. Especially in this abandoned place. She’d do a lot for money, but she refused to tolerate violence.

Please tell me you’re not one of them, Raoul. I don’t want to have to give you up.

“Bella, please. You shocked me, and I think you broke my jaw.” He stuck out his bottom lip like a little boy and dazzled her with another smile.

She couldn’t help laughing. “Oh, you’re all wet. I did not.”

“I’m only trying to make you understand something.” He leaned closer but without touching her this time. “You will see things and people who don’t want to be recognized. If you do not keep your pretty kisser shut, you could endanger your life and mine.”

Belle took a shaky breath. “Understood.”

“And it means you are my lady. You cannot walk away from me. Not after tonight.”

As if she wanted to. They sat in silence for a moment. He caressed her hand and then the thigh it lay on through the thin hem of her dress, making her breath draw in with a hiss.

“I want to show you my hotel room soon,” he said, lazily stroking. “I have a circular tub with flowing water. It is like the ocean, yes?”

“Sounds divine,” she whispered.

“We don’t have much time, and I need you to show me your loyalty.” 

Loyalty?

Belle watched, fascinated, as he reclined his seat until it lay almost horizontal.

His voice dropped very low. Very soft. “Come here, Bella.”

25954402 – art deco vintage frames and design elements

Afton Locke is a USA Today Bestselling Author who prefers romantic fantasies to everyday reality. Fantasies take her to different times, races, places, and beyond. She lives with her husband, several unnamed dust bunnies, and a black cat that can be scary or cuddly, depending on the current book. When she’s not writing, Afton enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and watching retro T.V.

Find Afton here:

Web site: http://www.aftonlocke.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AftonLockeAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/aftonlocke

Newsletter: http://www.aftonlocke.com/mailing-list.html

Guess the Lady Smut TBR Stack–Win $10 Amazon Gift Card!

4 May

Hi RT Orphans! Does your TBR pile have some of the same titles as ours? Let us know–leave us a comment below. 🙂 Want to buy the book on our TBR list? Click the link.  Meanwhile, here’s another fun game you can play at home.

FIRST Read the TBR lists. THEN guess which list belongs to which blogger. Your blogger choices are below & we’ve abbreviated the longer names for you. We also provided some hints.  THE FINAL STEP IS TO email us at LadySmutBlog@gmail.com with your guesses. The first reader to email us the most correct answers wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

CONTEST ENDS FRIDAY MAY 5th AT 12PM PST!!!!!

OUR BLOGGERS:

Elizabeth Shore

G.G. Andrew

Kiersten Hallie Krum (KHK)

Alexa Day

Rachel Kramer Bussel (RKB)

Elizabeth SaFleur (ESF)

Isabelle Drake

Thien-Kim Lam (TKL)

Madeline Iva

Ready to play? Here we go——

Lady Smut TBR List #1

Hint: This blogger is a foodie who loves diverse romances & sex toys

  1. Alpha by Jasinda Wilder
  2. Nine Kinds of Naughty by Jeanette Grey
  3. The Muse by Anne Calhoun
  4. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  5. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Lady Smut TBR List #2

Hint: This blogger likes to share all after a few dirty dates. ; > 
  1. The Pawn by Skye Warren
  2. Trophy Wife by Alessandra Torre
  3. The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
  4. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
  5. The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

Lady Smut TBR List #3

Hint: This blogger is a big fan of New Adult romances, secrets, and other crazy, sexy topics.

  1. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
  2. Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  4. Deadly Testimony by Piper Drake
  5. Ghostland: An American History of Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Lady Smut TBR List #4

Hint: This erotica author loves blogging about TWD, kidnapping & a few other illicit topics.

  1. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  2. All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart
  3. Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Chorderlos de Laclos
  4. Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres

Lady Smut TBR List #5

Hint: This blogger is wild about reviewing her fav authors.

  1. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
  2. The List by Tawna Fenske
  3. Madly by Ruthie Knox
  4. Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha
  5. Edge of Ruin (set of 3 Viking Dystopian Novellas) by Megan Crane

Lady Smut TBR List #6

Hint: This author blogs about edgy topics of desire including: swallowing, tattooing, cross-dressing–even Jewish Swingers. 

  1. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
  3. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  4. The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose
  5. Beyond Ruin by Kit Rocha

Lady Smut TBR List #7

Hint: When this author wasn’t all tied up, she’s blogged about CW’s Riverdale.

  1. Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler
  2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  3. DC Comics Bombshells: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett & Marguerite Sauvage
  4. Initiates of the Blood by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Lady Smut TBR List #8

Hint: This blogger is a capital BDSM Erom author

  1. Bombshell by CD Reiss
  2. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  3. Royally Matched by Emma Chase
  4. The Chosen by J.R. Ward
  5. The List by Anne Calhoun

Lady Smut TBR List #9

Hint: This author loves blogging about wicked villains & paranormal television shows.

  1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  2. The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde
  3. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  5. A Darker Shade of Magic V.E. Schwab
Send off those answers and follow us at Lady Smut. If you want to know the about the latest fun when it comes to sex, romance books, and pop culture–we won’t leave you guessing.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Sexy Sunday Snippet: 1-800 by Alexa Day

26 Mar

Sure, Valentine’s Day may have given way to March Madness, and April showers aren’t far away. But is there ever a wrong time for holiday shopping? Of course not. Take a peek at “1-800,” in which our hero Jason Lowell starts out looking for one thing and ends up finding something far more exciting. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Jason has to find the perfect gift for his perfect fiancée, the beautiful, sexy Kate. But where will he find a present worthy of the love of his life? A bit of afternoon channel surfing, meant to stimulate his thoughts, leads to a home shopping network right out of his wildest fantasies. Before long, he’s stimulated in all the right ways! But will he find the gift Kate’s wanted all her life? Or will he be too distracted by the live product demonstrations?

*****

To the untrained eye it would appear that Jason was watching a basketball game in his basement man cave. But he knew he was looking for a Valentine’s Day present.

Sure, most other guys would actually look for a present in a more obvious place. The internet came immediately to mind, jam-packed with so many “Best Presents to Get Your Woman” lists that the websites had to find some way to make them all unique. One list was written by women. Another was written by a call girl. He had a feeling neither of those was entirely accurate, at least not for his purposes.

He could always just ask what she wanted. Kate wasn’t the sort to presume he was reading her mind, primarily because he had failed to do it so many times during the early months of their relationship. What she wanted most, she said, was reliability, even if that meant just asking her for advice. Still, something in him, some ancient provider gene that had survived eons of evolution, wanted to come through for her without any help.

Of course, there were the old standbys: chocolate, flowers, jewelry, what have you. He’d never met the woman who disliked flowers, and he brought them home every so often just to make her smile. He knew she liked chocolates, the darker the better, but if they were in the house his waistline would suffer for it. As for jewelry, well, the only jewel she wore regularly was the diamond he’d put on her finger this past Christmas.

So none of the standbys would prove interesting. He liked being interesting, but it put a lot of pressure on a guy.

In their time together he had usually been successful in getting her just the right thing. His secret was a simple one. He knew immediately that she was not an ordinary woman, so he didn’t bother with ordinary gifts. His friends had all mocked him for the unorthodox ideas. The ornate hardbound edition of Jane Eyre with a hand-painted bookmark at each chapter. The cute little tasseled earplugs for the years with her obnoxious roommate. A heart-shaped infuser for her tea. His friends had gone on and on about his “weird ideas.” But in the end, those guys hadn’t been interesting, and he still was. So there.

He grinned.

So far the commercials had been for beer (not really a present), another kind of beer (see above), a pizza with two kinds of bacon and six kinds of cheese (almost lunch time), diamonds (already got one), and a $45,000 luxury car. He’d watched this ad with her before. She’d taken one look at the car racing down a dark street and scoffed. “Oh, look at us!” she said scornfully. “We have money!” Then she’d flipped off the elegant woman in the passenger seat with one hand, and her smug-looking husband with the other.

No luxury car. Not that he could afford one.

The game started again with a slow-motion replay of North Carolina’s tiny little point guard driving right through Virginia’s entire defense for a layup. He groaned and reached for the remote. If he was going to shop for gift ideas, he could at least find a better game.

His thumb flicked the channel up button with practiced ease, and programs flashed by in a blur. First up was an even worse ball game. Law & Order. Chick flick. Predator movie. Two women in their underwear, giggling into the camera. Hogan’s Heroes.

Whoa whoa whoa.

He flicked back to the ladies in lingerie.

A blonde dressed in a red bra and panties stood next to an olive-skinned beauty wearing a merry widow. He loved the phrase merry widow. Ever since he’d first seen it, in the bathroom with a Victoria’s Secret catalog about a million years ago, he’d committed it and the luscious form it was wrapped around, to his memory.

The girl in red waved at the camera. “Hi!” she said. “I’m Cassidy.”

Merry widow waved. “And I’m Marissa.”

Then, in unison, they announced, “And this is…The Toy Box!”

The two of them put their arms around each other’s shoulders and tittered like this was going to be the most exciting television show in the world. He put the remote on the table.

“We’d like to welcome you to the Valentine’s edition of the most popular show on the Shop From Home Channel,” said Cassidy.

“But these toys are for grown-up boys and girls,” said Marissa. “So if you’re under eighteen, you need to change the channel.”

They stood there and giggled some more.

Come on, kiddies. Change the damn channel.

“All right, then,” said Marissa. “Now we’re ready to show you some awesome gifts that are sure to spice up your special day.”

This was probably going to be something lame, like crotchless panties or a cake pan shaped like a dick. But he kept watching. Just to be sure. Until one of those games turned around.

“Why don’t we get this party started with one of our most popular goodies?” asked Marissa. “Cassidy?”

“This is our Little Giant,” Cassidy said. She held up her hand, one finger extended as if she were pointing at the ceiling. She had a little gizmo on her fingertip that looked for all the world like one of those little vibrators. “It’s a great present for a special someone you might like to know a little better.”

“I’ll take some calls while you give us a demo, Cassidy,” said Marissa.

A demo. Like the people in TV Land needed her to show them where the on switch was. Actually, he and Kate had gotten a toy once where the button was hidden in the—

Cassidy had walked to the back of the set, where she tucked her thumbs into the waistband of those festive red panties and pulled them down, bending at her waist and supplying just the right amount of jiggle. Then she hopped up onto a chaise longue and spread her legs, bending them at the knee. Jason felt his mouth drop open.

What the hell channel is this?

*****

“1-800” is free and yours for the taking at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Enjoy!

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