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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. ūüôā 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Hey, Girl, Sharing Is Caring: Why Sharing Secrets Is Cool, Sexy Fun

2 May

This couch is not big enough for five people. That’s just the way we need it.

By Alexa Day

By now, you’ve probably heard that Lady Smut is at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Oh, yes. Right now.

You’ve probably also heard that we’re going to have a party on Wednesday. It’s called NEVER HAVE YOU EVER EVER. And it’s a chance for you to share your naughtiest secrets for the shot at some awesome prizes.

Some of you are uncomfortable with the idea of telling a lot of strangers your naughtiest secrets. You didn’t even need to hear what the prize was, although I’ll get to that at the end of the post. That’s fine. If I stand for anything on Lady Smut, I stand for your right to choose not to do anything you don’t want to do. And don’t worry, you will still have lots of chances to win something.

But I’m also big on making you answer the tough questions.

Today’s tough question is this: Are you sure you don’t want to tell a naughty secret? Not even one? Not even a not-that-naughty secret?

Just consider these ideas.

Secrets can be fun. Secrets are intimate. Secrets build relationships.

Secrets are sharing, and as you know, sharing is caring.

Let’s demonstrate with a fun game.

I want you to imagine me, your faithful correspondent, sitting in the middle of the world’s longest fainting couch. Kind of like the one above, but much bigger. Almost big enough for five grown people to sit next to each other.

On my left are two really hot friends. Let‚Äôs say Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston. In the past, they‚Äôve played such fun games as ‚Äúlet‚Äôs kidnap Alexa with our super-expensive car‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúHow to be Wicked,‚ÄĚ and this will be much less risqu√© than either of those. Unless they don‚Äôt want it to be. I don‚Äôt know. I didn‚Äôt really ask about that.

On the right are two more really hot friends. Let’s say Ryan Gosling and Idris Elba. They’ve never played one of these fun games before, but like I said, this is not a totally inappropriate game like the others. In fact, I bet if Idris knew about our game, he would volunteer to play.

If you want, you can imagine your own fainting couch. Just pick your own hot friends, because these four are sitting with me. Come back when you’re ready.

Ready? We’ll start with Mark.

I’m going to slide over one spot to sit next to Mark, who wants to tell me a secret. Sharing a secret is going to require me to be physically close to Mark. Possibly close enough for our shoulders to touch. Or our thighs. Whatever makes you comfortable. I want everyone to be comfortable.

Mark is also going to have to put his face pretty close to mine so that I can hear him but Tom can‚Äôt. I created this couch, so it‚Äôs almost big enough but not quite. I’m not crazy.

And now Mark is going to have to lower his amazingly sexy voice to tell me whatever is on his mind right now.

Consider the warmth of that point of contact between me and Mark. Mark’s accent is curling around my ear. All the baby-fine hair on the back of my neck is rising toward Mark.

It almost doesn’t matter what Mark says at this point, right? I mean, I’m going to pay attention and everything, but the sheer physical giddiness of the secret itself is pretty compelling.

And I wouldn’t be so close to Mark if he didn’t have a secret to share with me.

Is your earspace going to be all warm and tingly from Mark’s secret?

Nope. Mark is sitting with me. But if you’re willing to hear a secret or two, one of your hot friends will do you the same favor.

Once Mark has wound up and I’ve assured him that whatever he said is in the vault, Tom decides that he needs to tell me something, too. This is perfectly normal. I mean, I have a face like that, but it’s normal for a person to seek out an especially trustworthy person for the disclosure of confidences. Sharing secrets makes you that trustworthy person. Just think about that.

It looks like fun and games to us, but Tom has a lot on his mind. You could be there for him. If he were not sitting with me.

Tom and I really are just friends. I think he’s a sweetheart, but I’m not attracted to him at all, and no, he cannot sit with you now because he is still sitting with me.

I’m going to be a little firm with you. You need to find four really hot friends who are not sitting with me.

Anyway.

Physically, I‚Äôm as close to Tom as I was to Mark. Similar point of contact, accent curling around the ear, the whole thing. I have to imagine that Tom is one of those guys who smells really expensive. Once Tom is done telling me whatever he‚Äôs got to tell me, he‚Äôs going to pat my knee in a we‚Äôre-friends kind of way and say, ‚ÄúNow, that‚Äôs just between us.‚ÄĚ

Stop.

How did I get to be part of an ‚Äúus‚ÄĚ with Tom Hiddleston? I let him share a secret with me. Disclosure of confidences can make you part of an ‚Äúus,‚ÄĚ too. You want to be part of an ‚Äúus,‚ÄĚ right? Sure, you do.

But not with Tom. Tom is sitting next to me.

Be picking your own friends while I go sit next to Ryan.

Ryan and I have not been friends for as long as Mark, Tom and I have, which is to say that I have never involved him in one of these imaginary games. That’s actually just fine with Ryan. See, Ryan has something that’s wearing heavily on his heart. He wants to tell someone, but he’s concerned he will be judged.

Ryan’s best bet is to tell a total stranger whatever is bothering him so much. He doesn’t know that I won’t judge him. As far as he knows, there’s still a chance I will leap to some conclusion about him. But he thinks he’ll never see me again, so who cares what I think about him?

‚ÄúHey, girl,‚ÄĚ says Ryan. ‚ÄúYou want to hear something crazy?‚ÄĚ

The answer to this question should probably always be yes. There are some exceptions, and they will leap out at you when they occur. But my advice is to say yes whenever you can and figure it out later. This is what has worked for me.

‚ÄúSure, Ryan,‚ÄĚ I say. ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs going on?‚ÄĚ

And then Ryan purses his mouth up in that Ryan way and leans over to tell me whatever he needs to tell me so badly. We don’t know each other all that well, so we’re probably not as close together. But one only has to be so close to Ryan Gosling, right?

When Ryan has told me his secret, which is not as troubling as he thinks it is but would probably bother someone out there, he is in a place of vulnerability. It’s an opportunity for me to share some strength with him. Reassure him that I’m not shocked at all. I know he’s a good person. I’m sure no one will think anything about this. Then I’ll give Ryan one of my best reassuring hugs, and we will both feel better. One of us will feel a great deal better.

Want Ryan Gosling to hug you?

Too bad. Ryan is sitting next to me. I feel like we have to keep going over this.

Want your own hot friend to hug you? Open up. Tell your hot friend a secret. A secret can make a safe place for new friendships.

Before Ryan can get uncomfortable with the length and intensity of this hug, I’m going to let go of him and move over to Idris.

Don’t let Idris play this phone crap with you. He can sit on the couch like everyone else.

Idris and I are going to have a conversation first. I get the impression that he’s an open book. After all, he sent a picture of himself in a state of undress to the entire Twitterverse when he intended to send it privately to his girlfriend. He sought out some brutally honest dating advice from little kids. Idris probably doesn’t have anything buttoned up deep inside him.

This is good news for me. It means I get to tell Idris something.

‚ÄúHey, you know what?‚ÄĚ I say.

‚ÄúWhat?‚ÄĚ he says.

Go back and imagine that again. Make sure you have the accent right.

‚ÄúWhat?‚ÄĚ he says.

Now, I have to initiate with Idris because it’s my secret. So I have to lean over and put my face up against his and whisper something to him. Something complicated. No need to rush through this.

Once I’m done, I’m going to lean back again. Then Idris is going to tell me a secret. Hey, why not? We’re all friends here. Let’s be friendly.

So Idris is going to lean over to share a special point of fact with me. Same point of contact, same curling accent, the whole thing. And why? Because quid pro quo. Show me yours. You know the tune.

Am I saying that Idris Elba will lean over close to you to whisper in your ear once you share a secret with him?

No. Are you paying attention? Idris is sitting next to me.

But you can find your own roomful of friends tomorrow at the Lady Smut Never Have I Ever Ever Ever event. Some of them are probably better with sharing than I am.

Not at RT this year? It’s cool. We will have lots of crazy, sexy cool things happening right here on the blog. I promise.

And if you’re not following Lady Smut already, now is seriously the time. Your secrets are safe with us.

Tiaras. Fetish toys. Tiaras. Smoking hot books. Tiaras. And goodybags for the first 100 people in line. It’s the Lady Smut Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever event. And it’s on Wednesday afternoon at 1:30.

You’ll be glad you went.

This is Not Why We Need Diverse Romance–but it Sure Helps

24 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

There are a lot of reasons why #WeNeedDiverseRomance. We here at Lady Smut have discussed aspects of diverse romance regularly, whether it’s Alexa Day discussing the racial- and feminist-line¬†blurring TV show Pitch or her examination of interracial romance through history or Thien-Kim Lam’s talking about #OwnVoices during #ReadHotter month, or my own look at the women who make America great, including the former first lady and the first Latina senator elected to office. Then there was Elizabeth Shore’s interview with Vikkas Bhardwaj¬†who’s burning up romance covers and not only those covers with Indian or dark-skinned heroes. He’s challenging the need for white-washed heroes on romance covers regardless of the hero’s description on the pages inside. And we thank him for that. Oh do we ever.

We work to be a fuller, more rounded representative community here and not only when it comes to sexuality. I thought of that earlier today¬†while trolling through Facebook (as one does on a Sunday afternoon) when I caught romance writer Zoe York’s post of a link to this delicious feature:

Gorgeous Asian Hunks Wearing Only Iconic Costumes Will Make You Thirsty AF

Well now, thought I, here’s my Lady Smut post for tomorrow.

Why yes, please do tell me more.

Whether they’re shirtless food vendors from Malaysia or smoking hot firefighters in Taiwan hosing themselves down with water, we here at NextShark can appreciate a hunky Asian man.

Thai portfolio service SKiiNMODE takes sexy snapshots that combine Asian culture with some of the continent’s most attractive guys, RocketNews24 noted.

Um, gulp.

Now, I myself, personally, am not a huge fangrrl of Asian cultural. I don’t like Asian food, or more accurately, my body doesn’t like it, and I seriously dislike anime. My cultural jones is firmly Celt and ¬†British situated, for the most part. Thankfully, food and anime are only two minor aspects of Asian culture. There’s a ton of things to explore as with any culture, and I readily admit that¬†samuri and geisha history fascinate me. I’m also fond of a great deal of Asian artwork and architecture.

Click on image to buy!

My romantic suspense addiction is likewise intrigued by the whole mafia/Yakuza genre. Criminal clubs/gangs/societies trip my trigger, I won’t lie, which helps explain my MC romance addiction. One of the things I loved about Anne Stuart’s fantastic dark romance, ICE series (which, if you haven’t yet, you must read–in fact, I just interrupted writing this post to one-click the hell outta the series and I already have every single book on my bookshelf in paperback) is her Asian bad ass heroes. Fire and Ice, book five of the series, has a defrocked Yakuza hero and takes place entirely in Japan, a culture of which the author is an admitted devotee. Stuart doesn’t take the tourist angle here either. Pursued by the bad guys, the hero and heroine go outside Tokoyo into the nitty-gritty aspects of Japanese society you can’t find on the NatGeo channel or with hours of devotion to Mortal Combat or Bruce Lee movies. I was just as intrigued by the Japanese culture Stuart utilized as I was by the story.

But holy hotness, SKiiNMODE. I think you just broke me.

Any of these chiseled examples of male perfection could easily storm the heart and attitude of the sassiest romance heroine regardless of cultural association on either person’s part. SKiNMODE also features gender-bending ideas for Ghost in the Shell geisha assassins and a male Elektra that would revive that sad franchise with one steely look. And who knew Power Rangers could exude so much sizzling sexuality. Morph me.

You can follow SKiNMODE on Instagram and Facebook and, bless them, there’s even a Tumblr page that gives a whole new meaning to NSFW.

You can thank me later.

Don’t forget that we’re going to be at RT this year.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll happily morph all your cultural jones.

It’s coming fast. No, not the virgin heroine’s first orgasm. Rather, the Lady Smut big RT event is less than two weeks away!¬†Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention¬†May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event ‚Äď Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more! Goodybags to first 100 people in line!¬†Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

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

Exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Fantasizing About The Hot Villain: Women as Hunters

20 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Who here sees a¬†movie and winds up fantasizing later on about the hot villain? Raising my hand.¬†WHY is my question. Why aren’t we fantasizing about the hot hero? (I mean, maybe we are. Sometimes.) Last week I talked about the hot villain being redeemed all the way into becoming an anti-hero.¬†Here is another post about how we are bitten by the compulsion to use a hot¬†villain as fantasy fodder.

How many Harry Potter fans found¬†Snape a bit more interesting than all the other characters? Raising hand again. Of course, Malfoy fan fic is popular all across this great land. (Bonus points for those who add a queer element.) ¬†But cold snobbiness is not so obviously a turn on–so what is?

THE VILLAIN AS ROMANTIC CHALLENGE:

Some women are hunters.

I loathe shopping, but I believe that some women shop as a form of hunting. They hunt down a bargain, they trap their sale item, and display their trophy at home. Myself, I love capturing a shy person at a party. ¬†If I can get a shy guy or woman to crack open and talk about themselves, then I am so happy lapping at all that hidden goodness within. ¬†Here’s my theory: if you are more comfortable at a party when you have something to do vs. just hanging out, I’m guessing¬†you like to hunt a potential mate¬†who presents some kind of challenge.

On the other hand, we need to respect the fact that some women like hunting men as an attention¬†game for the sheer sport of it, whether they’re also looking for sex, romance, or a husband. ¬†The idea of women hunting after men often used to have a really negative connotation. ¬†But let’s face it, women really are socially very powerful. ¬†For instance, there’s a Georgette Heyer book called AN INFAMOUS ARMY in which the heroine ‘Babs’ is in a mood, so she decides draw a¬†man clear across the room to her with just one look. ¬†She’s that kind of vixen. ¬†Later on, she’s almost undone when she finally lands a guy she actually likes, because the vixen thing only works well when you don’t care, and by that point she cares a lot more than she wants to.

Spike is love’s bitch, and he’s man enough to admit it.

I decided to try a Babs-ian moment at one point in my life. ¬†People were dancing and I was having some kind of crazy hormonal surge that left me feeling ridiculously¬†full of confidence. ¬†I spotted this guy on the other side of the dance floor–a blonde–and just BAM! Gave him one look. ¬†It worked. ¬†I watched with a bit of amused disbelief as he came across the crowded dance floor. ¬†He turned out to be mega-cool and by the end of the night we had a thing going on. ¬†(He dumped me a few months later.) On the other end of the spectrum, luring my Sweetie into a relationship was a much more subtle and drawn out process. ¬†In those moments where I would entice¬†him to yet another fun social event where we could bond, I was like a different person. ¬†Kinda hunter-y, though that’s not how I’d put it at the time. ¬†But definitely confident, goal-oriented, and–um–compelling. ¬†Of course, I was an insecure mess the rest of the time, obsessed and anxious, desperate and yet still hoping.

My point is: the¬†heart you have to conquer is the heart you’ve earned. ¬†And when it comes to villains, they’re just not easy to conquer. Maybe they’re selfish, or mis-trusting. ¬†Your above-average intellectual villain wouldn’t fall for you just because of your looks. ¬†He’s probably more discriminating.

THE VILLAIN WHO HAS A HEART–though it’s “small and tiny, and he can’t remember the last time he used it.”

Your ideal hot villain cares for only one or two people‚Äďif that. ¬†So in the fantasy, the villain who only has the capacity to love in the low single digits–loves you. You get to be within that circle of protection. You get to be one of the chosen few.

Even better–villains are often virgins of the heart when it comes to romantic feels. ¬†He’s having new feelings he’s never had before, and this makes your encounter¬†all the more scrumptious.

The fantasy about the villain is he can be so awful to others, but stops being simply¬†awful to you. ¬†He just can’t. ¬†He may even be frustrated and unhappy that he can’t. ¬†Being unable to act like an utter sh** the way he does to everyone else becomes proof that whether he wants to or not, he’s got the feels for you, and he’s got it bad.

THE VILLAIN AS COLD, ISOLATED MAN:

Fassy as Magnito in the Xmen franchise might as well be singing ‚ÄúAllllll by mysellllf‚ÄĚ. ¬†¬†He‚Äôs an iceberg and you want to thaw him out.¬†

THE VILLAIN YOU PRACTICE YOUR SUPER-POWERS UPON, AKA THE PLOT OF EVERY DARK ROMANCE EVER WRITTEN:

¬†I love a Villain who does some bad stuff but also some good stuff and shows real anti-hero¬†potential. In Dark Romance the villain/hero does a lot of¬†bad stuff‚Äďeven to the heroine. ¬†Yet the heroine holds out a kind of hope:

  • if we can bond,
  • if I can show him I trust him,
  • if become one of the very few HE TRUSTS

…then I‚Äôll be safe via some combo of my looks/personality/vulnerability/wits/social powers, and gift of persuasion‚Ķ

…and therefore I survive and therefore I WIN.

Yeah‚ÄĒcall this Stockholm Syndrome–sure, go ahead.

But Stockholm syndrome had a negative connotation of a kind of victim-hood, whereas what I’m talking about is slaying your skulking hottie villain¬†with love-bonding.

This is less about being a victim and more about working raw survival skills when you‚Äôre at a complete disadvantage using only your powers of attraction and persuasion ‚Äď which can feel like a sort of triumph and conquest. It’s like killing someone with one tiny piece of string.

SO WHY ARE WE LIKE THIS?

Why are we attracted to men with limited or negative qualities? Why aren’t we just wired to dive onto that sunny, friendly, honest good guy and not let go? ¬†Welp. ¬†I think it has something to do with The Warrior Gene problem.

THE WARRIOR GENE

There actually is a genetic variant that some humans (men) have which they call the warrior gene. ¬†With this genetic variant you can get empathy, but it’s rather limited. ¬†For instance, you can have soldiers who are¬†efficient killing machines in battle, but still display love and caring for their¬†family and children. This gene shows a¬†middle ground between ‘normal’ people who really don’t like to hurt others, and sociopaths who have a hard time caring for anyone but themselves.

Okay, so here’s my whack theory: I hypothesize that there’s a¬†counterpart to the¬†Warrior Guy gene.

THE WARRIOR MATE GENE

Let’s call it the Warrior Mate gene. ¬†The Warrior Mate¬†gene (if it exists) would be¬†a genetic variant that makes women highly attracted¬†to Warrior Guys–even if Warrior Guy is sometimes a dick. I mean, in terms of evolution, Warrior Guy is the perfect mate waaaaaay back in the day, right? He won’t attack and abuse the children or you, but–and this is key–he will protect the family against ruthless, violent attacks. His lack of emotions in the moment of battle will give him an edge and he will be¬†competent and unhesitating when it comes to killing. ¬†Of course you’d be wired to look for this guy and to be attracted to him and draw him in close.

Further whack theory: this is why we women have evolved to process relationships to a much greater degree¬†than men. (There’s science to back this up.) We need to sort through all the good and the bad when it comes to guys–sifting fine nuances in behavior–because sometimes the bad can work in our favor. I mean, look, if the Huns are on our doorstep¬†we¬†can’t go fight them all if¬†we’ve got three knee-biters to look after. Right?

Do you revel in a good villain? Let me know in the comments section below.  Speaking of reveling:

We’re only two weeks away from our big event at RT. ¬†Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention¬†May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event ‚Äď Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more! Goodybags to first 100 people in line!¬†Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

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.

Reasons To Bang The Bad Guy, Pt. 1

13 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Saranna DeWylde got me thinking yesterday about why we‚Äôre so attracted to awesome villains like Loki. Because we are. I am. ¬†Before I unleash my perverse romantic side, let us be clear: I’d never go near an evil dude in real life. ¬†(I can’t help thinking of this guy who said to me in college: Women only like assholes, never the good guys. ¬†No, David, most of us like the good guys.) That said…here’s the break-down on why we are simply fascinated with depictions of excellent villains and their equally hot cousin, the anti-hero.

(What is an anti-hero but a villain who was so damn attractive he was morphed by popular demand into Super-Duper Flawed Guy. ¬†Examples: Damon on Vampire Diaries, Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sawyer on Lost — I could go on and on and on…)

From a romance perspective, a great, charismatic villain provides hideous temptation to fantasize.Their are specific qualities that particularly tempt us. ¬†Let’s explore them, shall we?

THE VILLAIN AS A FANTASY OBJECT OF REDEMPTION:

  1. We especially like a villain with teeny bit of good in him:¬†Romance readers are always willing¬†take a small nugget of goodness and blow it up into something mate-worthy–even heroically substantial. Readers¬†feel this especially for good looking men. ¬†Would that we were as kind to women*** Anyway, Jamie Dornan playing Paul Spector in THE FALL is a serial killer, but also a loving dad to his daughter–therefore, it hurts when¬†his world is falling down around him at the end and he has to explain to his daughter that he’s not going to raise her anymore and probably not see her again. There’s not the usual feeling of satisfaction that he’d been caught for his evil deeds and is going away for forever. ¬†(I think the point originally was to show the audience that¬†he’s victimized his daughter as well–but there was such an intense depth of¬†emotion to the scene that it¬†mutated into something more complicated, intriguing, and relatable.)
  2. Villain as misunderstood‚Äď underneath his/her reprehensible actions, there‚Äôs a world of hurt in that villain. ¬†The villain needs someone to kiss the boo-boos and make it better. Frankenstein‚Äôs monster just wants to give the little girl a flower. Is it his fault she passes out from fear and people mis-construe the way he carried¬†her off? He‚Äôs just MISUNDERSTOOD PEOPLE!
  3. Villain as a fish out of water – Loki fits this — he‚Äôs a fish out of water in Valhalla. ¬†He’s intelligent and incredibly powerful, but despite his talents he‚Äôs not the leader–he’s not even one of them. Despite his¬†strong call to lead, he’ll never get the chance because he’s a cuckoo in the nest. He‚Äôs all twisted up from the git go cause of the lies and things that were hidden from him ‚Äď none of which is his fault. And frankly, NO ONE CARES to make it right with him. All paranormal monsters are always a fish out of water when it comes to normality–even when normality is being an immortal god in a giant hall at the end of a rainbow.
  4. Villains as victims/victims of betrayal: ¬†Sebastian Stan was cat nip as THE WINTER SOLDIER in the movie of the same name. ¬†Inside that weird bromance-core was an understanding of Stan’s plight: He can‚Äôt HELP IT ‚Äď it‚Äôs not his fault‚ÄĒhe‚Äôs been brainwashed!!!! ¬†And those lips, yi. ¬†Meanwhile,¬†James Franco in Spider-man loved his father, and was blinded to the truth by his father, because his best friend and father both lied¬†to him. The ending of the first Spider Man is drenched in¬†irony through Franco¬†not realizing that his virtues (his loyalty to his father) means his best friend becomes his worst enemy. I remember watching the first movie long ago and liking Franco in his proto-villain phase far more than anyone else in the movie even before Franco became a big deal.

    James we hardly knew ye as Harry Osborn.

  5. Villain as vulnerable: we relate to flaws A LOT. A top-notch villain can is as much a prisoner of his past and deep psychological needs as anyone else.

    Kylo Ren is angsty, unstable–ready to crack open and bleed pain. Yum!

  6. For some villains, happiness is just so close–yet so far away!¬†Show me a villain who has the chance to change and I’ll show you a riveted romance audience. ¬†The best villains often have¬†pain they cling to that goads them towards doing evil–and when there’s a chance the villain might back off from this emotional sticky point¬†before the point of no return oh, we are in our happy place! That’s how you know romance audiences–we want happy endings for anyone we find interesting.

NEXT WEEK: VILLAINS & OUR FORBIDDEN DESIRES

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.

***Women on the whole are a lot more unforgiving towards other women than they are towards men. I think with a romantic perspective and therefore believe that my readers view worthy, hot men as objects of romantic conquest/relationship projects. At the same time I believe almost all women are still socialized to be harshly judgmental when it comes to other women–especially those depicted in romance novels.

Is that statement upsetting? I would never want to accuse someone unjustly of sexism, but even I fall down when taking the quiz below–see how you do:

  • Name three women you know personally who sleep around a lot, but¬†you DON‚ÄôT think are sluts
  • Name 3 woman you know who doesn‚Äôt prioritize their kids but¬†you don’t¬†judge them as neglectful moms
  • Name three women you know who have some kind of authority over you or someone very close to you that you don’t¬†think of as busybodies or annoying bitches.
  • If you read a romance novel about an unmarried woman, who is intensely focussed on her career, and doesn’t want kids, or to take care of the people around her–would you see her as a role model? Or would you think she’s too selfish and unlikeable for a romance heroine? Now if the character was switched to a romance hero, would you also think he was selfish and unlikeable?

 

 

Heroines of Destiny!

23 Mar

You could go to college and get married — or you could be a brown fairy with wings instead! Choices, choices, choices.

by Madeline Iva

Go to college, have a career, get married, have children. ¬†Is this the modern woman’s destiny? What if you don’t tick one of those boxes? I’m moderating a panel called HEROINES OF DESTINY on Saturday, 10AM at Virginia Festival of the Book, so I’ve been questioning the concept of destiny lately, especially for women who swim against the strong current of societal expectations.

The ancient Greeks thought of destiny as inescapable–your fate would find you no matter what. ¬†Struggle as hard as you could against your destiny, the outcome would still be the same. ¬†Cassandra is the ultimate heroine of destiny¬†— Her inescapable fate was signed the moment she rejected Apollo’s advances, and that was that. ¬†He cursed her with the gift of¬†prophesy; no matter how often or how much she warned people of their fate, she was never believed. Yet¬†she kept trying to over and over to change the outcome, only to watch events play out the way she foretold–even her own death.

Moving forward a thousand years or so, our¬†panelists (including Pintip Dunn, NYTimes bestselling YA author) will discuss how their book’s heroines are fighting¬†a certain destiny — whether it’s to marry and have children, to accept the loss of¬†a lover, or to remain locked up in prison for a crime that hasn’t been committed yet.

I love the idea of a heroine who changes the course of her life because she’s fallen in love. ¬†I see these works as feminist because the¬†women go against the grain of their lives according to society’s expectations yet¬†it all works out in the end. ¬†Here are some¬†of my fav fantasy examples:

THE LITTLE MERMAID: having fins while your loved one has legs is a pretty big romantic obstacle to overcome. ¬†The Little Mermaid was very bold and plucky when it came to pursuing the object of her love–right down to changing her fundamental physical being–even though she had to pay a very large price. ¬†Let all those considering plastic surgery and other gendered forms of modern torture beware.

STARTDUST: Yvaine is a star, who’s destiny is to twinkle in the sky and watch the doings of men from afar. ¬†Yet she decides to abandon her place, and come down to the world of men to explore their hearts, as well as experience their joys and suffering. ¬†I have some serious issues with parts of this novel/movie, but I appreciate the idea of a great and powerful star forging a new destiny for herself–with the man she loves.

Yvaine is a star who rocketed to earth and met her one true love.

Another way to think of HEROINES OF DESTINY is to think of powerful women who shape the lives and change the future of those around them.

THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD: Sybel is content with her own solitude and magical menagerie far from the world of men until fate brings her a baby and a flame haired hero. ¬†Then she is drawn¬†into the snarled paths of men’s destiny. ¬†I love how McKillip shows Sybel, using her various powers to shape and thrust aside the male forces around her rather than become their pawn. ¬†Sybel takes her time and sounds her own heart in her decisions about how to forge the future. ¬†Though the world of men shakes and angers her, ultimately, she finds a way to shed¬†their petty resentments, fear, and bitterness. She finds her way to true love by the end, yes, but more importantly she discovers the path back to the calm stillness of her heart that makes her¬†serene and content.

Sooooo good!

And finally — by far and away my favorite:

MALEFICENT: A fairy creature (Maleficent) and a boy become¬†friends–the first way in which Maleficent goes in a different direction from the other creatures in fairy land. ¬†At one point Maleficent (now grown) is betrayed and loses her wings–a kind of symbolic fairy tale rape. ¬†What happens after that is partly shaped by Maleficent’s determination to avenge herself, and partly shaped by her wounded heart. ¬†The movie offers an unexpected twist at one point — wherein Maleficent, now the wise protector and leader of her land in times of crisi, can shed her identity as victim once and for all. ¬†I LOVED THIS FILM SO HARD. ¬†It really made me want to cheer. ¬†Though it is not in a typical m/f ¬†love story or romance, it provides that same kind of deep¬†joy and overcoming of obstacles that make us romance peeps so very happy.

In my novel WICKED APPRENTICE, Zephyr averts disaster for the people and the land all around her once she becomes a powerful sorceress. ¬†Meanwhile, her desires and magic work upon the hero until¬†he goes from being a tortured, reclusive wizard into a¬†magnificent hero who is the only one that can end a decades long war. She is most definitely a Heroine of Destiny — and if you haven’t read the book yet you should– it’s only .99!

Are you the heroine of your own destiny? What great heroines do you love –and how do they shape the the lives of¬†those around them?

And follow us at Lady Smut–we’re fated to be together.

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.

The Enduring Romance of Beauty and the Beast

20 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– “Evermorefrom¬†Beauty and the Beast 2017 ¬©Disney

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is no fantasy.

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

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I Was Enjoying DARK MATTER ‘Til They ****ing Killed My Favorite Character

23 Feb

by Madeline Iva

***Yeah, this post is chock full of spoilers. ¬†You’ve been warned.***¬†Dark Matter is a successful comic book made into a Canadian television show that you can binge watch on Netflix–which is what I did. ¬†The gloomy ship, the tough characters and the cloudy mystery about their identity sucked me right in until I was devouring episodes left and right.

One. He's the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

One. He’s the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

WHY I LOOOOOOOOVED DARK MATTER SO MUCH:

The premise is pretty brilliant. ¬†Six people wake up in sleep pods on a dark ship in space. ¬†Their memories have been wiped. ¬†In addition to that, the android that sort of runs the ship wakes up and starts attacking them, so they knock her out and end up injuring her. ¬†To get her back up requires a memory wipe, so she too doesn’t know what happened to them all. ¬†It’s science-fiction, but it’s also mystery. ¬†Who are they? Who did this to them? Why?¬†

darkmattertwo

Two. She’s hot.

They give themselves numbers and I knew that they’d eventually run into their pasts and get names, but it made¬†me extraordinarily satisfied¬†that they call each other by numbers. ¬†It becomes an alternative identity. ¬†Later on Three learns his name is Marcus–but if the others still call¬†him Three, it’s like they’re¬†disavowing his messed up Marcus past and saying that he can go back to being their three–i.e. annoying, but not a completely¬†heartless dick.

I like¬†One best. ¬†He is a good looking guy–but I mean, they’re all good looking, so really, it isn’t only that. However, in a ship full of tough people, he’s the good guy. ¬†Which is a little scary, because the rest (Five excepted) so obviously are¬†not. I usually don’t like the super good guys. ¬†I like the maybe-villains. ¬†But One is played by a very talented¬†actor, who via subtle expressions and delivery squeezes a three-dimensional performance out of a two dimensional character.

Three is all walking id, questioning every decision that isn’t based on pure selfishness–so of course, he is fun to watch and a bit of a wild card. Later on, we see Three has¬†a real soft spot for women. At one point we think Two has been executed and Three’s face is really something to see in that moment. ¬†Three, also, is one of the best actors on the show–at certain moments.

THREE

THREE. Also the show’s id character. Also kinda hot. Sometimes. Also a good actor.

Two is the toughest character in the beginning. ¬†Played by an asian female with some extraordinary thighs, she takes command of the ship with her¬†bad-ass attitude. ¬†One is quickly drawn to her, but when she wants to scratch her bootie itch and¬†have a little meaningless sex, it’s Three she calls upon, not One. Which makes One smart. ¬†So there are tensions between One and Two because: love triangle! ¬†Not to mention that One and Three are diametrically opposed in terms of morality.

Yet pretty soon, it turns out that One discovers he’s got a BIG secret to keep and Three is right there when this secret is revealed to One. ¬†So the two are¬†connected in that way for a while and it’s massively uncomfortable for One. Which is great! (Although I hope you can follow what I’m saying, because it’s starting to sound like weird SFF algebra.)

Probably the most handsome guy on the show. But....meh.

Four is probably the most handsome guy on the show. But….meh. He adds the most in ensemble moments.

The show delivers¬†Big Secrets every so often and they are mostly yummy. ¬†The show is at it’s best when it returns to its gloomy mystery origins: you just don’t know who you can trust. ¬†Goodie!

It’s often young Five who circles us around to these gripping plot reversals. I think I liked her¬†at first simply because I associated her with these moments. But I also delight in Five being a¬†Young Adult character–a main character and a girl–in a sci-fi television show. ¬†I’m trying to think of another major adult SFF show where that’s the case, and I can’t.

Five aka "The Kid."

Five aka “The Kid.”

I enjoyed watching the Android–though you and I know her as Lauren ¬†from LOST GIRL. ¬†She gets dinged up from the git go and starts to go “off program”. For instance, she starts seeking approval from the humans. ¬†The “right” thing to do would be to wipe her system and reboot–a kind of android seppuku. At one point there’s the potential to “upgrade her system” to make¬†her feel and seem more like a human and a ‘rouge android’ element is introduced. ¬†The program upgrade makes the Android seem like a whole other character. ¬†The actress performs this well, but…ugh! (more later below).

So there was something here for everyone–I thought a lot of the ideas in the show were fabulous.

WHAT WENT WRONG…

I’m not saying this show was perfect. ¬†One¬†problem I had with five is¬†that she’s so obviously an older actress playing a younger character. ¬†She and Two are equally short, and she has far larger breasts, so buying that she was a teen was a challenge (She’s was¬†twenty-two when they filmed). ¬†I had to keep squinting to suspend disbelief about her. ¬†I mean, it’s not just that they all decide she’s a young teen when she looks anywhere from sixteen to twenty-three, it’s that they keep saying things like: “She’s just a KID!” like she’s only twelve or something…But that’s not saying anything against the actress, who is quite good. Another thing is that she keeps having new clothes to wear when a) she was a stowaway, presumably on the ship without luggage, and b) everyone else on the show seems to be in the same-o, same-old clothes.

Android fail. Every few episodes she's getting zapped and it's lights out.

Android fail. Every few episodes she’s getting zapped and it’s lights out.

I had problems with the android ‘upgrade program’, although it was more like an epiphany. The plot of this particular episode struck my robot-romance fixated nerve. ¬†It made me realize that the ‘upgrade’ shortcut¬†would never work for a successful robot/human romance. ¬†What do we love about idea of a cyborg/AI/robot/android romance if it’s not that the android represents the most difficult challenge of all? Huge boundaries (impossible boundaries some would say) exist in terms of getting a cold and emotionless being to develop attraction, love, and passion. That’s a HUGE obstacle.¬†A quick upgrade to the system???? That’s just cheating. )

I delighted in watching Six waiting in a doctor’s office for a very long time where they continuously ran ads about adventuring off world via clone proxies. ¬†Your body and mind are scanned in a pod, and your look-a-like clone wakes up on some other world. ¬†Your clone enjoys your vacay and then all the memories from your clone are downloaded back into your memory while you’re in the pod. ¬†You wake up and come out of the scanner remembering the events and sensations of your vacation. ¬†Meanwhile, the cyborg that looks like you and is walking around as you, is taken somewhere, has a memory wipe and is put into a vat for recycling…

Six

Six. Nobody trusts nobody–not even the android.

I thought the show was creating an ironic situation in which¬†Six was ignoring a bit of information crucial (and funny) in terms of unravelling the core mystery. ¬† My hope was that someone had wanted a bad guy dream team to go do bad deeds across the universe. ¬†So they made clones of the original criminals and when those deeds were done, wiped the clone memories–but for some reason the clones weren’t put in the vat. ¬†Instead they ended up in the sleep pods on the ship — To me this TOTALLY explained the mystery of how they wound up on the ship together and why they had no memories…

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod...

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod…

Alas, that was not the actual solution to the mystery.  This was the writer in me, weaving together my own plot soup based on ingredients provided by the show.

My sweetie hated the clone device. ¬†He hated it because real clones (one day) are/will be¬†real people. This show perpetuates the idea of clones as objects to purchase¬†and discard. ¬†The clone thing is used as a plot device later on in other ways, but the clones¬†when badly hurt tend to simply disintegrate a la Buffy stabbing the vampires and making them go poof. Why would a clone do that, he asked?¬†It’s stupid. A clone–because it’s an actual human body–would go splat, not poof. It would not disintegrate into a cloud of clumpy dust.

Yeah, so that was kind of a regrettable choice. ¬†Meanwhile, I loved my idea of the crew being memory-wiped clones. ¬†The show has them on the ship starting from square one in a state of distrust, but circumstances make them pull together. ¬†We know they were probably very bad in their former lives,¬†but rallied by the influence of Five, aka ‘The Kid’, they have a chance to become new, better people. (Insert here your own philosophical discussion with a friend over¬†the role of memory in personhood and if one can change merely by starting over. This is the good kind of sci-fi.) ¬†As they slowly pull together to become a unit they build loyalty to each other and we know that many of the forms their enemy will take are elements of their past coming to haunt them. Everyone knows karma is a bitch–but it’s very¬†enjoyable to watch.

One finds out that there is indeed a very bad guy out there with One’s¬†face. (See! One is a clone!) Unfortunately, however, for my pet theory, the bad guy Derek Moss says something like “I’d think you were a clone, but someone would have had to scan my body to do that, and no one did.”

Booooooooo!

dark-matter-season-2-coverHowever, I was still delighted that One had this evil Doppleganger out in the world that could cause him no end of trouble.

But here’s the big problem. ¬†They f**king killed One. ¬†Whyyyyyyy? It seemed gratuitous and unnecessary given that they never really followed the conspiracy plot path the killing seemed based upon. ¬†You eventually find out where the crew’s memories are stored and I knew that Evil One aka Derek Moss was still out there. ¬†So my FTL plotting muscles realized ‘the gang’ was going to kidnap Evil Derek and stick One’s memories into him. ¬†But that didn’t happen either. ūüė¶

But! When Derek reappeared, I was like: Yay! Evil Derek is better than no One at all.  Alas, in that very episode the show killed off Evil Derek.

Oh people. ¬†I was so disgruntled. ¬†One was the¬†glue that kept my interest in the show at super-high levels. Yeah, I liked all these ideas about the others and sometimes their interactions were okaaaaaay, but for me,¬†One was the secret sauce. ¬†Yes, the whole prison break thing was good. Yes, finding out Two’s backstory was pretty cool.

Frankly, since One/Derek’s death,¬†I’ve only made it through about four more episodes while mostly folding laundry and checking email. ¬†I just don’t care anymore–Maybe other audience members, more familiar with the comic books than I am, are looking forward to what’s around the corner. ¬†Maybe they know stuff that I don’t. ¬†Apparently DARK MATTER ¬†has a very loyal following. ¬†But I, good people, am done.

If you know the Dark Matter comics, tell me — is there reason to hope? Should I give the show another chance?

Have you ever suffered torment from the¬†character you were rooting for being killed off? (I’m looking at you SLEEPY HOLLOW fans.) Did you slog onward or just give up? ¬†I’ve resorted to writing DARK MATTER fan fic as a way of detoxing. ¬†Sigh. ¬†It’s premised on my rogue clone idea…Maybe it’ll become its own thing one day.

Follow us at Lady Smut where we make the darkness matter.  And subscribe to our newsletter if you want fabulous free reads. ; >

Meanwhile, here’s something to pluck up your spirits — we ran a giveaway from Lux Aromatica last week, and to say thank you to our readers Lux¬†made a coupon just for you. ¬†2017-02-ladysmut-flash-sale

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

Transgender Romance, Anyone?

8 Dec
Andreja Pejic--a globally successful trans model.

Andreja Pejic–a globally successful trans model.

by Madeline Iva

In a wonderfully reassuring moment on Facebook — yes, I *know* how strange that sounds — I was in the middle of a discussion¬†about transgender romances. ¬†They’re out there. ¬†And if you’re looking for something new when it comes to contemporary romance–something a little m/m but not–transgender romance might just be the ticket.

How do you come out to your folks that you're trans? "Mom, Dad, there's this really funny TV show I'd like you both to watch," could be your conversation starter.

How do you come out to your folks that you’re trans? “Mom, Dad, there’s this really funny TV show I’d like you both to watch,” could be your conversation starter.

Meanwhile, I would consider the last year to be “Year of the Trans”. ¬†From Laverne Cox to Transparent, to using bathrooms, we’ve had more exposure and acceptance of this tiny group of individuals than ever before.url

With that increase in recognition and acceptance, of course the romance community has swelled to include romances starring trans hero/heroines. ¬†HERE’S A GOODREADS LINK TO SOME¬†TRANS ROMANCES¬†you can scroll through. The descriptions at first may not SOUND like the romances are typical m/f. ¬†But read closely and follow the reviews–you’ll see they are a bit more wiggly and complicated–breathing fresh life into familiar romance tropes.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world--which seems totally open to anyone and everyone--as long as they're skinny. It's a twisted kind of radical acceptance.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world–which seems totally open to anyone and everyone–as long as they’re skinny. It’s a twisted kind of radical acceptance, I guess.

For my part, I’ve become fascinated with trans model Andreja Pejic and this interview with Madeira Darling got me all revved up imagining a trans-sexual hijinks vampire plot that my obsessive brain will not leave alone.

Also, G.G. Andrews has started this whole #ReadHotter challenge at Lady Smut. ¬†Trans romance really fits the bill for stretching my reading boundaries–how about you? ¬†; >

Carry on my wayward kittens! And if you’re bored and looking for sparkly-bright distractions, follow us at Lady Smut where we purr and snarl over all things fascinating in the world.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline 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.

A Wicked Little Excerpt: Our Simply Sinful Giveaway Event Continues

25 Nov

by Madeline Iva

Like booze, books, and bath bombs? Then you’re in luck! ¬†This weekend is our Lady Smut Simply Sinful Black Friday Event. Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure. (Don’t forget to comment on this or any other post from today to be entered in our giveaway. See details below.)

This snippet is from Wicked Apprentice. (Book one in the Wicked Magic Series).

BLURB: Zephyr, apprentice of magical arts, is having a really bad day. Under orders to capture an uncanny creature for her mistress‚Äôs latest spell, she chains up a tall, gorgeous elf in a decaying castle only to find out he’s really a wizard with potent powers over human women. Uh-oh.

Theo has suffered heartbreak and betrayal more than once. He’s got a plan to escape, and when he does, he’s taking the curvy little apprentice with him. He‚Äôs vowed never to unleash his powers of enchantment upon a human woman‚ÄĒyet while she kisses and teases him, longing for an elf romance, his fae side is slipping out of control.

Got sexy elves?

Got sexy elves?

~~~~~Excerpt~~~~~

He whispered. ‚ÄúWill you help me?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúYes,‚ÄĚ she whispered back. There. She had said it. She had committed herself. The walls of her loyalty to Hulgetta toppled. All that was left was a¬†healthy fear of her mistress and a strong sense of self-preservation. But she was obsessed with the elf man before her. ¬†It didn‚Äôt feel right. To promise him anything. ¬†To be two-faced with her mistress. In some measure she felt she owed the sorceress. The woman had taught her magic, given her room and board. It was a debt.

A thought suddenly occurred to her.  What if to get the elf-man free from that manacle she had to cut off his hand? Her stomach turned over and her fingers turned to ice. She pressed them into his.

His eyes changed. He looked down into her face and down at her mouth. Those eyes were black. She could see her own face in them. Oh, what was this? A thick syrup of languorousness poured over her head. Her skin and lips wanted to whisper to him.  Her mind was strangely hushed.

‚ÄúThe book. Bring it to me.‚ÄĚ His voice held a compelling tone.

‚ÄúYes.‚ÄĚ

His eyes. They could suck in galaxies. Under their gaze all her worry leached away, like a puddle dried up in the sun. At the same time her loins were licked by that mouth and the steady hammer of his gaze bent towards hers.

Like dark, slow treacle dumped upon her head, a sense of bonding with him enfolded her. Thick and full, it poured down her throat, trickled across her breasts, and down the center of her core. She stood under his gaze, but really she was swallowed whole in it.

He bent to kiss her, their mouths opening slowly, eyes closing, his chain clanking as she yielded softly and fully to him. He pulled her up by her bodice, his hands high around her waist, one hand coming round to pull her hair aside, letting his lips rove across her neck. She felt an involuntary clenching deep down and pulled his hands lower, towards her hips.

He pulled her up against him. She was falling into a thick featherbed of need. His long fingers held her face upwards, as she basked in his touch. Yet there was a touch of despair in his desire. She drank it in, ready to defy it, her soul suddenly brave. She’d die saving him if that’s what it took.

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His head hanging above her own, he watched her clear eyes grow heavy. He watched as her irises shot wide, becoming vulnerable, her expression filling with a delicious resignation. He held her arms, letting one slender inch between his body and hers.

‚ÄúBring the book to me. You‚Äôll return it quickly. Hulgetta will never know,‚ÄĚ he said, the gold cuff rattling against the bar, holding it to the wall.

‚ÄúShe‚Äôll know if you escape.‚ÄĚ She spoke like a woman asleep, like someone resigned to her fate.

He let her go. In theory, her will was not entirely her own. He had never deliberately tried to enthrall anyone before. Was it working? He had no idea.

Among his mother’s people he’d be put to death for even trying. The mindless instinct to survive had acted before he could stop it. Now it was done.

She was staring at his naked chest, and the elf in him wanted it that way. Crave me. He relished the challenge she presented. She was under his thrall. He loved the feel of their agony mixing with desire. He wanted to feel his powers wrapped about around her, protecting her. He wanted her to struggle, try to resist, and discover all her will to resist was gone.

Stop. He forced himself to look away. He held onto her shoulders and, with a hard inner twist on himself, gave up the thrall. His eyes ceased to throb. He was back, the world hollow and dim, a pale shadow of what he felt in his elfin state.

‚ÄúIf she discovers I‚Äôve taken a book from her lair‚ÄĒ‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúShe won‚Äôt. You‚Äôre too clever.‚ÄĚ His eyes dragged across hers. He felt the slender skein of magical connection. “You’ll be careful.” She left the cell.

He fought the urge to call her back. He was the one she should fear the most. He was cursed, unlucky‚ÄĒa betrayer with dark secrets she couldn‚Äôt even guess. Then she was gone.

He let his vision darken, felt the fae-half pulsing inside and this time he did not fight it.

He stalked back and forth the short three paces his leash allowed. Every bit of the elf inside him wanted to fight. If it could not fight Hulgetta, then his fae side wanted to take that pretty little maid apart inch by inch until she died from the tormented pleasure he’d give her.

Want to read more? Find Wicked Apprentice at major, online retailers for just 99 cents. Includes one hot elf, one magic geek heroine, and a lot of sexy magical mayhem.

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.

 
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Here’s how you win the giveaway: Leave a comment below–or on any post published today, November 25 and you’re entered for the Simply Sinful basket of book goodness.

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Giveaway closes at midnight (Eastern), November 25, 2016.

Next up in the LadySmut Simply Sinful Reader Event is Alexa Day at 3 p.m.

 

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