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Person Of Interest: My TV Show Hangover

30 Mar

He’s a soft-spoken, hot killer–if you like that sort of thing.

By Madeline Iva

The upside to having a week long bout of stomach flu was enjoying a PERSON OF INTEREST marathon, aka watching Jim Caviezel eye candy.

I’d never been interested in watching the show until I saw a recommendation on i09 that was like: The last season is out! You have to go check out the entire show on Netflix! Well, okay then.

Now I’ve finished the last episode, and I am in the thrashing throes of a terrible TV show hangover…So thanks, i09.

Of course, seeing commercials for the show at one time, I thought: Hey! It’s that guy who was the leader of the Others on Lost.  And hey! It’s that guy who was in that whack sci-fi alien/Viking film (Outlander—but not the Outlander you’re thinking) and G.I. Jane. Damn he’s hot. Even when he’s looking anxious and sad.

I *liked* Carter and am following her from this show to other work she’s done.

So why wasn’t I interested? Cause it seemed to be about these wistful attractive women in danger, and this creepy-yet-competent ex-military guy who saved them with some slightly futuristic computer device. Yawn. Happily, it’s not like that AT ALL.

WARNING: SEMI-SPOILERS AHEAD!

Even in the first episode there a tart reversal and the heroine in need of saving turned out to be something else all together.  That made me happy and kick-started my whiffling through all five seasons before pulling the plug on Netflix. (I have a book deadline coming up and need to buckle down.) Also, I had no idea that it was a bit futuristic. (Though since the election it leans into that zone where it’s not completely Science Fiction, it’s really more like Really Scary Science Fact.)

The show with an AI called “the Machine” spitting out numbers that saved people morphed a lot as it went on. It started out as a kind of surveillance heavy 24, with a lot of white, male characters. Instead of dumbing down like most shows do, it went the other way…We saw more POC story lines and actors join the show, more female characters & LBGT references—and more female villains. The show found a sci-fi geek audience and as a result, leaned into progressive, liberal ideas and concepts as it went along, reversing its stance on the surveillance machine from “I know it violates our rights–but look! It does good things!” to “I’ve created a monster! A MONSTER!” wails of despair and gnashing of teeth.

But when we’re talking the best parts of the show, I’m sorry, CHARACTER IS KING! Pontificate on all the weighty discussions you like including:

  • AI and personhood
  • Safety vs. privacy in the modern state
  • Misuse of governmental power

my true obsession will still lie with Jim Caviezel and powerful story arcs about Carter, Sameed and other human characters. The AI lacked all qualities I want to spend time my with: sexiness, humor, cleverness, and personality.

Jim Caviezel, on the other hand, is this reader’s hero proto-type. The character he plays, John Reese is brooding, handsome, soft-spoken with a sense of humor, and yet, um, deadly.  Because he’s in mourning for his dead one true love, every episode leaves you wondering–will he feel the pull of desire/love/passion again? Oooooh how I wanted him to! But then I’m a complete masochist for the unattainable hero.

A do-er, not a talker, Reese has done bad things to a lot of bad guys—and yet, he can no longer tolerate the grim, clandestine life where he was given orders, but no iron clad proof of guilt for those he assassinated. Unquestioningly following orders eats at his soul, until he’s at the point where despite orders, he can’t betray his partner—who at the same time betrays him.  At the top of the show, he’s lost his mission in life, his identity, and even his one true love.  He needs redemption and a purpose—enter Harold who has a quirky all-powerful machine and gives John Reese’s ex-CIA black ops dude a goal in life.

Tarij Henderson – so sparkly bright and fun off the TV show, plays Detective Carter–who goes looking for “the man in the suit” out shooting knee caps of bad guys and breaking a thousand laws while doing so.   Now, I knew from Kiersten Hallie Krum via facebook, that Carter left the show at a certain point. For Kiersten it was hard to keep going after that. For me, knowing Carter was going to leave but not when or how ended up giving the show tremendous suspense — and like a horror movie I waited, tense and clutching my pillow to see when It Happened, getting more and more wrenched about it the more I liked her character. Henderson did a phenomenal job with developing her character and growing it. By the time she left the show, I was nodding my head thinking about what Lexi says about the infuriating state of racial diversity in entertainment today…This is another tragic example, and though the actors actually sought to correct that as much as they could in their penultimate scene together, grrrrrr. And now I’ve followed Tarij over to not just her Oscar nominated role in HIDDEN FIGURES but also over to EMPIRE where she’s did an actor 180 and portrays a completely different kind of role. (Why has no one on Lady Smut talked about Cookie yet? Why?)

Kevin Chapman plays detective Lionel Fusco, a crooked cop who finds redemption after some swift strong-arm tactics from Reese sorts him out.  Lionel got some great noir-ish lines and had fabulous delivery. I wonder if they had planned on making him such a big part of the show from the beginning, or if he was a happy discovery.  Reese has done much worse and seems less fundamentally tethered to the world.  As Jim Caviezel said at one point (I paraphrase from an interview I found on You Tube that took place at some con) Reese is a shark.  If he stops moving, he dies.  Other men have described him as batman in a suit.  It’s very interesting that the show portrays these two paths to redemption, each with its own singular flavor.  Lionel’s character has some charming grit, and a less tragic trajectory.

Michael Emerson was born to play the role of Harold, reclusive billionaire dork.  Harold builds the machine that plunges the characters into their episodic heroism.   Amy Acker (you know her from Firefly) got the thankless task of spending half her time having moral dialogues with Harold, while the other half was spent voicing the words and motives of the AI. Not fun—not fun at all, and yet she carried the weight of a whole other character upon her shoulders to the point where you felt like there actually was a machine with some proto-personality hovering about inside the internet ether.

I enjoyed the inclusion of Sameed – a short, female version of John Reese’s character, showing that a woman could do whatever a man could– and playing a kind of sociopath role to boot. No guilty torment for Sameed!

Although the show starts off Reese and Harold as the stars and swiftly includes Lionel and Carter as side kicks, the show changes direction in a fundamental way.  Soon, it becomes more of an ensemble cast with Harold and Amy Acker’s character, Root, in the staring roles.  We often see a lot more of Sameed as well, and John Reese’s role shrinks substantially over five seasons.

I think this was a wise move on the part of the producers…nor did a greater sense of inclusivity (fall out from Carter leaving the show?) seem to bother Jim Caviezel much in interviews about the show.  There was a way in which the show settled his character arc and then let it rest there.

Then they turned to other topics that more heavily involved Michael Emerson’s role as Harold, and his moral responsibilities as the one who created the surveillance AI machine. By the end, the AI character, AKA “The Machine” had as much character growth and backstory as any of the other characters—not an easy trick to pull off.  

Another thing that I liked about the show was that it started off grim, and only got more grim as it went along. But I’m perverse that way…

I’ve watched all five seasons now, and I now have a horrible tv show hangover. I actually went to You Tube and started watching a lot of videos taken at various Comi-Cons to ‘learn more’ but really to ramp down my addiction until I could walk away.

Hangovers I now think, are more than any other reason why we authors have social media platforms…So people have a place to go when they can’t say goodbye.

In all these interviews, I never really wanted to hear anything about what the creators had to say about the show, even though they were articulate men of ideas. I wanted to hear from the actors instead. This is because in essence the creators HAD their say…and we saw it all play out. Choices about character deaths, romances, etc, we saw the creator’s ideas were splatted across numerous episodes and dialogue everywhere. I was more interested in the background behind the show. What kind of training the actors go through? What kind of humor did they share? How did cast members related to each other? (Jim Caviezel trained with special delta forces men in San Diego, Tarij told all kinds of Jesus jokes poking fun at Jim, and Michael Emerson is every bit as articulate and intellectual as his character.)

Now I’m going to go off and write something in Jim Caviezel’s character’s voice…buh-bye!!!

Follow our blog — we’re not soft spoken, we’re outspoken, but charming nonetheless.

And check us out at RT Booklovers convention where we’re going to have a really fun event:  Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever — and win crowns, toys, books and more. (Ooo, and we’ll have brownies….) Goodybags (with fun stuff!) to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/ event/never-have-you-ever- ever-ever

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.

 

 

 

 

NEVER SWEETER: The Sweet Darkness in Charlotte Stein’s Dark Obsessions Trilogy

9 Mar

This one is going into my “special” kindle folder. ; >

by Madeline Iva

We posted a fun excerpt from Charlotte Stein’s story NEVER BETTER last Sunday.  NEVER BETTER is the final book in her Dark Obsession trilogy, so of course, I read it first, and then worked my way backwards, cause I’m perverse like that. I gobbled down NEVER BETTER like a chocolate chip cookie and advise you to do the same.  Now I’d like to take you on a journey through the open-mouthed, kindle-clutching, eye-squeezing moments I had while reading NEVER SWEETER, the first book in the series.  How to do so without delivering any spoilers is gonna be hard, but here I go…

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE GOES TO THE DARK SIDE

What really keeps a man and a woman apart these days if they want to be together? Not much. After plundering the treasure chest of meet-cutes and other fabulously quirky ways to bring two people together and then keep them apart for two hundred odd pages, contemporary romance has gone to the dark side.

I personally blame paranormal romance.  Let’s face it–paranormal romance is just so much easier.  Look at the obstacles a heroine faces—Example: “He’s a vampire who’s killed THOUSANDS of people and he’s hundreds of years older than me.  How could we ever be together?” it’s a really messed up situation.

CRAZY-WRONG “I’D HAVE TO BE INSANE TO BE WITH SOMEONE AS EVIL AS YOU” SITUATION= STRONG ROMANTIC ROAD BLOCKS = LOTS OF ROMANCE FEELS & GREAT TENSION

After all, 50 Shades was based on a paranormal romance, wasn’t it?  E.L. James just fished around for a modern day ‘real’ equivalent for a evil-but-not-really, self-loathing, brooding hero.  She came up with a billionaire sadist, around the same time other authors were also plonking down flags into anti-hero territory. Do we want to blame 50 Shades for all the motorcycle clubs, hit-men, crime families, and other anti-hero-ish trappings that are so popular these days? No, but I think the E.L. James phenomenon illustrates a sweeping trend, and Charlotte Stein has taken some steps down the same path.

BUT CHARLOTTE STEIN ISN’T LIKE THAT! SHE’S SO SWEETLY DIRTY…

But maybe sometimes she isn’t. INTRUSION and some of her other works have strayed from abused heroines into more plum-colored territory. Which brings us to NEVER SWEETER.  Let’s look at the blurb:

Letty Carmichael can’t believe her eyes when she catches a glimpse of her high school tormenter, wrestling champ Tate Sullivan, on campus. College was supposed to be her escape from Tate’s constant ridicule. Now he’s in her classes again, just waiting for his chance to make her life hell.

skipping, skipping, skipping…

Loving him is impossible. Craving him is beyond all reason. So why can’t she stop?

Falling in love with your high school bully is messed up, peopleKids, don’t try this at home.

However, line by line Stein just sucks you in.  Great dialogue, great side-kick friend, very specific descriptions of torments she endured and then Tate — a classic Stein-i-an hero, just takes over.

What do we like about Tate? We like that he’s open, agreeable, and fast on his feet.  We like that he’s hotness plus, and can read people–especially the heroine–quickly.  We like that he’s a sexual beast wrapped up in a Nice Boy package–but is he really trustworthy?  It’s that last part that keeps readers furiously turning the pages and riding all the highs and shocking lows.

Why was he such a monumental dick? This is the big answer we need to know. Stein gives you answers, and then sweeps on by.  Do we believe these answers–ah! This is where she’s brilliant, because doubts may  linger, and she plays upon these same doubts later.

I just went through such a roller coaster of emotions with this book.  It really was so incredibly sweet at points–which is what I do look for from Stein–and so sweetly filthy at others–which is what I relish about Stein–and at other times it was kinda like a horror movie.  There’s a Carrie reference and it’s seriously well earned.

I think at one point I shouted “No!” in shock.  At another point I kinda cried, almost.  The whole time I felt as guilty as the heroine for being so sucked into a kind of situation that I would NEVER EVER EVER!!!! endorse in a million years in ‘real life’.

So go buy it already.

Meanwhile, I got the skinny from Charlotte Stein about RAW HEAT — her so good it hurts post-apocalyptic romance that’s out of print right now. Talk about bullying! It’s really unfair clobbering my friends and even total strangers over the head for not having read RAW HEAT if it’s not even in print. Stein has said she’s going to re-pub it in a collection with some of her other post-apocalyptic/paranormal stuff.  So happy about that. Soon none of you will have any excuse.

Okay, I’ve started going into Charlotte Stein withdrawal, so I’ll sign off for now.

Follow us at Lady Smut–if you want to.  It’s your own choice.  Really. We’d never bully you about it.

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

 

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. 😦

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

The Sexy Dane Solution

5 Jan

by Madeline Iva

hyggeHere’s a Danish word for ya:  HYGGE

Pronounce it Hoo-gah, but try throwing a little “U” into that ‘oo’ sound and you’ve nailed it.  Hygge translates to “cozy” in Danish, but it’s not just a word to the Danish, nor just an emotion—it’s a genius cultural ideal!

It’s cold outside, my peeps.  And we are in desperate need of ideals right now.  Also, after the holidays we’re poor. Yet we can still pull on a big pair of wooly socks, make a delicious pot of hot soup, and settle down in front of the warm lights of the fire.  Or Xmas tree you still haven’t taken down.  Or your space heater.  Whatever. We can still embrace each other and cling to everything in our world that is simple, good, and warm.

Like hot guys in winter sweaters. hygge2

My romance ideal is founded on the concept of Hygge and I think you may already recognize it:

SEXY + HYGGE = SMYGGE (SMOOGAH)

Hygge is not at all contradictory with a bit o’ sexy. In fact, if you’re like me, this is the package in which you actually prefer your sexy. Show me a guy with great bed head in a big ole sweater with jeans, or conversely some boxers and hot abs and I’ll show you my clenching ovaries. Give him a mug of coffee or a kitten to hold and…my God, you’re killing me here.hygge4

Yes to Hygge! Yes to Sexy! Put them together and you’ve got Smygge – my new sensual ideal. Happy New Year!

Got Smygge?

Got Smygge?

(To find more of all things Smygge, go to my PINTEREST page. ; > )

Icy Hot.

Icy Hot.

GOT MIRTH?

And while we’re at it–materialistic American beasts that we are–let’s embrace the wider ramifications of Hygge and Smygge. We’re not just talking Nordic sweaters, kittens, and mittens—we’re talking about the fundamentals of creating social joy.

In Denmark, Hygge means means having your friends over for an informal dinner with candle light. (Cough. While candlelight is very Hygge, it also hides a vast amount of housekeeping neglect. Cough. Cough.) Or better yet, leave those dust bunnies to roam, and wander down to the local pub with your mates to drown your winter sorrows in an amber pint of excellent Danish lager. (Preferably while wearing a nordic sweater.) I’m talking an informal sense of togetherness and peace – this is very Hyggelig.  (Hoo-glee)

When you create warmth for you, your loved ones, and friends–and without spending a lot o’ money–you are essentially creating social joy.   For me, 2017 is going to be all about creating maximal hygge warmth and mirth as a big wholesome buffer against the forces of evil and uncertainty that loom.

My ovaries! My ovaries!

My ovaries! My ovaries!

So embrace these velvet fog days, snuggle down in your warm flannel sheets, and draw your loved ones (or pictures of your favorite tv/movie stars—I won’t judge) close.

And for that added kick of joy, put a little smygge in your life—pop on that warm wool sweater and socks (but nothing else). You won’t regret it. ; >hygge-7

Follow us at Lady Smut — we’re an excellent daily source of Hygge.  And subscribe as well! It’s free and fun stuff is coming to our subscribers very soon.

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.

 

I’VE SEEN STRANGER THINGS THAN BAD MOMS WEARING CROWNS

1 Dec

 

by Madeline Iva

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was inspired. As promised, I binge-watched a ton of TV and movies letting my brain waves rest for a few days. And yes, I’ll be talking about foreskin before I’m through with this post. But let’s talk about STRANGER THINGS***–before we get to the turtleneck.

STRANGER THINGS takes place in the 80’s and yet I noted how it was different from the actual movies of the 80’s:

1) Weirdness wins!

2) Unlike any proper 80’s horror movie, the popular ‘slut’ doesn’t get slaughtered in the first act. Instead her stodgy ‘good girl’ friend is the one who ends up bloody and eventually missing. Huzzah!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder--so 80's it hurts!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder–so 80’s it hurts!

3) The weirdest of the weird in this show is a girl named Eleven–AND I LOVED HER CHARACTER SO HARD. She’s beautifully androgynous, as well as full of raging destructive and weird powers.

Note to self: Why am I not writing characters like this?

Warning: you're about to get a skewed sense of this TV series, as scene through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

Warning: the skewed sense you’re getting of this TV series is because it’s through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

4) The single mom Winona Ryder (who’s a mess) doesn’t need a man in the end.  I walk around with romance colored spectacles all the time, so I’ll admit I kept a keen eye on Winona, wondering if she and the gruff, hulking chief would connect as they started working together to find her missing son. Nope. By the end of the season she’s still a single, shambolic mom–and perfectly content to stay that way. For her it’s a happy ending (but not for everyone else—bwa-ha-ha!)

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

Ultimately, this show was mega-inspiring. Totally rad. Hella bitchin cool. To the max.

Speaking of BAD MOMS–No—I can’t go there yet.

Let’s talk about the Bad Mom with a Crown first.

THE CROWN — It’s like Mad Men for women. Elizabeth is not well educated, or at all prepared to be queen. She was only in her twenties when her father surprised everyone by dying and leaving her to inherit the crown. Her work in the first season is to repair her own deficiencies in the very best British way—by honestly admitting them and tackling them head on.

THE CROWN--in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

THE CROWN–in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

I like this show. Yes it’s British propaganda and yes, the attitudes of the people are excruciatingly conservative. But upholding traditions four hundred years old necessitates a bit of a conservatism, doesn’t it?

What I enjoy is that Elizabeth is not the kind of person who glitters, charms, or has brilliant moments of insight. She’s not the princess in a fairy tale who sweeps through the grand palace. She is excruciatingly ordinary.  She sighs over the necessity of living in a giant, ugly, palace and she dresses up with the same stoic attitude I have while doing stomach crunches at the gym. She’s also not really a mummy. Charles and Anne have their nurse, and that should be sufficient. Elizabeth seems at her most content as a mother watching from a distance while her handsome husband plays with the children out in the yard. The show portrays her without a maternal bone in her body. (Why is this so exciting to me?)

Huzzah to Clair Foy, meanwhile.  She’s the actress playing Elizabeth AND also Anne Boleyn in WOLF HALL.  Nice work if you can get it.

While I’m not saying Elizabeth’s not smart, at the same time she clearly wasn’t precocious or intellectually curious as a child. Punctilious in her duties, she’s a bit of a worker drone all in all. She loves horses, her husband, and her sister–perhaps in that order.  But in the beginning she makes mistakes in these most important relationships, promising her husband and sister things that she can’t deliver because she didn’t at first understand the forces who control and apply pressure to someone in her position.

At the same time she must face up to people seeing her exactly as she is–warts and all. I admire this and I cringe.  She doesn’t hide or lie about who she is–ever. I, meanwhile, constantly vacillate between anxiously wanting to please people only to swing right around in the other direction where I’m being so intensely, brutally myself that I alienate them. Gah!

In her role as queen, Elizabeth is not nurturing, motherly, or accommodating to others in ways we tend to expect of women; she’s simply in charge. She does her job with exactitude and diligence. Elizabeth learns the very difficult task of figuring out what this other persona is that she’s expected to inhabit–being The Crown. We see her negotiate being that persona out in the world and at home, and perhaps it’s because she has such a firm grip on herself in terms of who she is and who she isn’t that she gets through smoothly most of the time.

When people (i.e. politicians) attempt to walk all over her, she reminds them—in the very best British way–that she is the queen, and a woman of character, and in her own stead-fast way, a force to be reckoned with.

SPEAKING OF BAD MOMS – No. I still can’t.

SPEAKING OF THE 80’s: If you’re looking for a light comedy—check out WORKING GIRL on Netflix. I’d seen it when I was very young and really loved it. Seeing it again, I realized it is a transgressive fairy tale for the 80’s.  (I assume it was made in the 80’s.  The hair is REALLY big, and shoulder pads are everywhere.) It’s a million times better than Pretty Women, IMHO.

Transgressive 80's Cinderella story.

Transgressive 80’s Cinderella story.

Despite what the title suggests, Melanie Griffith is a lowly Staten Island secretary who wants to leave her life as a wage slave and become an executive. (Become an executive–snort–such an 80’s theme!) Her new female boss, Katherine (played SO WELL by Signorney Weaver) points out that

  • you have to finesse the scum bags—Hey, hasn’t Megyn Kelly has been telling us the same thing lately? Nuts to that, a lot of feminists say.
  • you have to make your own opportunities.

Yes! I hadn’t realized how much this movie influenced me.  When I saw it the first time I was a lowly minimum wage worker.  I then managed to become a creative writing instructor through creating opportunities for myself—and not always asking for permission before doing so, mind you.

Although the female boss Katherine turns out to be the villain of the movie, Melanie Griffith takes her advice. She makes her own opportunities. She doesn’t ask for permission. No guts, no glory. And with a lot of support from Harrison Ford, she succeeds.

OKAY – so now let’s all embrace foreskins and talk about BAD MOMS.

The best part of bad moms--the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits...

The best part of bad moms–the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits…

I watched it at my sweetie’s insistence.  Poor guy, he’s been so sick, he was looking for some light-light-light comedy to watch and because we both really like Kristen Bell, we decided to check it out. But I came to the film with very low expectations having seen Jezebel’s review/snarl/yawn.

Even so, I was mightily underwhelmed. Let us be clear—there was one bad mom in this film.  One. And she was not the lead–she was the rebel side-kick.  But let’s not dwell upon all that was meh about the movie. Let’s dwell instead over the one weird pause in the film where the women stop to have a frank discussion about foreskin.

–Particularly about how to deal with it face to face when knocking boots with a guy.

Let me first confess that the only foreskin I’ve ever seen is on baby boys while changing diapers when I was a nanny. Sweetie says based on what he sees at the gym (not that he’s looking closely or anything) foreskin was once rare for U.S. men his age or older, but now it’s something you’re probably going to encounter as a single woman dating men of the millennial generation.

Just the same I have to wonder–is this really a big deal? Is this a thing? I mean, yes, the evil world of marketing strives to make us cripplingly insecure about our bodies in every possible way. (Vaginoplasty anyone?) Are men being subjected to the same twisted pressures? Are they now expected to feel less-than because of a perfectly natural part of their bodies?

I vaguely recall some TV episode (was it House?) where a teenage kid took a razor to himself because he felt less attractive to girls. Are we really going there?

On one hand, Bad Moms seems to validate this ‘issue’ by showing some anxiety about encountering foreskin.  Yet they also seem intent upon delivering a message of acceptance.

And how could you not love the moment where the rebel Bad Mom side-kick tells Mila Kunis how to manipulate the foreskin during foreplay while using Kristen Bell’s head to demonstrate?

On the other hand, I’m just goggling over the fact that the movie kind of comes to a dead halt to deliver this rather hilarious PSA.

Oh well. Thanksgiving is over. Back to the daily grind for me.

I’m writing my next book about a Wicked Enchantress–who is NOW going to be a beautifully androgynous character full of raging destructive and weird powers. Huzzah!

And if you like weird, powerful, smexy women, then follow us at Lady Smut.

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.

***I must offer up a humble apology to my writer friend S.A. Hunter. She recommended STRANGER THINGS to me back in September before anyone else was talking about it. People, life is too short to sort through all the crap out there. When a good friend makes excellent recommendations, you listen to her. You treasure her. You don’t turn up your nose and shrug off her suggestion as I did. I was wrong to do so, and hang my head in shame. You are the more discerning, better friend, S. A..

 

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’s 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’s vowed never to unleash his powers of enchantment upon a human woman—yet 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. “Will you help me?”

“Yes,” 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’t 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.

“The book. Bring it to me.” His voice held a compelling tone.

“Yes.”

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.

#

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.

“Bring the book to me. You’ll return it quickly. Hulgetta will never know,” he said, the gold cuff rattling against the bar, holding it to the wall.

“She’ll know if you escape.” 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.

“If she discovers I’ve taken a book from her lair—”

“She won’t. You’re too clever.” 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—a betrayer with dark secrets she couldn’t 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.

 

The Magicians: A Novel That Stabs Itself in the Heart

6 Oct
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Go ahead and click here to buy, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

By Madeline Iva

How do you destroy the genre of your own book? Lev Grossman managed this nifty little trick in his breakout novel THE MAGICIANS–a book that SFF people love to hate.  Meanwhile, everyone else is raving about it.  This fantasy book was clearly a huge best seller, but when checking out the reviews I noticed among the glowing accolades, a few ominous warnings: the book was derivative–HIGHLY derivative, and critics questioned the experience of reading the book, saying “What did I ultimately get out of it?” Nothing positive, I’ll tell you that.

By ‘breakout novel’, technically we’re talking about a novel that sells so well it changes an author’s life forever.  Harry Potter is an excellent example of this.  However, if you look at many other breakout novels, you’ll see that they often conform to a similar structure. While they have a genre framework, the story inside that frame is not really genre at all.  Such is the case with THE MAGICIANS.

Often a breakout novel disappoints readers of that genre.  Why? To hear Donald Maas tell it in his book HOW TO WRITE A BREAKOUT NOVEL, many breakout novels don’t fulfill the conventions that die-hard genre readers expect.  Instead the author explores a literary theme, talking about WWII or about the breakdown of entitled-yet-morally-corrupt-youths, or societal reform almost as if it were as important–if not more–than solving the murder.  These books also don’t end with the bad guys punished, order restored and chaos vanquished, or even with happily ever afters–which is why we read genre, isn’t it?

Here are some examples of break out novels: SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW, THE SECRET HISTORY, THE DA VINCI CODE, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. These books may start off being mysteries, thrillers, or horror novels, but they have literary themes and are written in a literary style.  The genre shell is merely a spoonful of sugar that makes the literary medicine go down.

Case in point: THE MAGICIANS.  When I started reading it – I loved it! I thought: This is my kinda book. Really well written, I lurv the main character and all the other characters, yes! Quentin is a tall, mopey, unhappy brilliant teen.  I was all over that.  He gets invited to a college where he can learn magic. Fabulous!

And then it’s Harry Potter in college–but with a lot of drinking, drugs, n sex.  In fact it was a LOT like another crazy brilliant break out book that I highly recommend: THE SECRET HISTORY. Really, it’s THE SECRET HISTORY meets Harry Potter.  I said to myself—Okay, I’m seeing the derivative stuff they mentioned, but it’s SO GOOD that I don’t CARE.

Even up to the middle of the book, I was like, Where is this going? Not sure and I. Don’t. Care. At page 274 I said to myself FINALLY!! Now we have a direction once again–Here we go! Wheeeeeee!

And then the author ruined it for me. How? Why? What went wrong?

First I have to ask myself: what do I get out of Fantasy? Why do I like it as a genre? I like it because it’s anti-high school irony.  There is an earnestness to fantasy. Enthusiasm and triumphing over difficulties is at the core of many a fantasy novel.  Also there are deeply held values of the characters often in play.  Even GAME OF THRONES has these aspects–(What is GAME OF THRONES, meanwhile, but a breakout novel about a fantasy world that–aside from a few dragons–explores the bloody brutality of what it took to survive in the middle ages?)

The point is, I savor these fantasy qualities because when I’m operating in the real world I feel out of step. I feel the world is too harsh or complicated, or sophisticated. I am looking to retreat into my sensitive shell, to enjoy something simple, and sincere.

Certainly Harry Potter is sincere. Even Game of Thrones is sincere—as my Sweetie said: the bad guys are sincerely bad. And one token of their sincerity (some of them) is that when they realize they’re being bad, they change. (I’m looking at you Jamie Lannister.) This is what I want out of a fantasy book.

THE MAGICIANS is not such a book. When Quentin realizes he’s being weak–he  keeps on being weak. There is no character change. There is no fundamental growth and development. It’s as if the author believes character growth and change are impossible.  All there is is time. Time for one to grow older and see over the scrim of youth to the backstage area, where nothing is as wondrous and captivating as you hoped it would be.

What a jaded attitude — especially for characters who learn magic, and travel to new fantastical worlds.  To embed a theme of chronic dissatisfaction in the face of such glorious adventure and then turn around and claim, it’s not really adventurous, we don’t know what we’re doing, and it’s all going to shit–it’s disgusting, really.  Yes, disgusting.

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This is the one. Click to buy this book.

Now, Donna Tartt does something similar in her book (which came out long before Grossmans, and I highly recommend it,) but there was a point to it.  We know the students in THE SECRET HISTORY killed their good friend.  We’re told that on page one.  The book explores why and how they tried to get away with it.  Relationships are destroyed.  They suffer–and this makes sense to us.  It’s satisfying because THEY COMMITTED MURDER.

I think Grossman is reflecting back some kind of commentary about the lives of the privileged elite – and yeah, I’m calling him that. If you went to both Harvard AND Yale, and you mention that on your freakishly successful book cover jacket, what else could you be?

So what’s he saying? His characters are living lives of fantastical proportions, but it never seems quite real to them.  They are always waiting for their “real” life to start.  It’s like being in a house where all the doors open onto each other. You keep going through doors, but you only end up going in circles.

Which makes the novel rather nihilistic at its core.  This is the antithesis of what fantasy novels and the fantasy genre are about.  Lev Grossman stabs his own novel in the heart until it’s dead and the reader is appalled.

Unless, of course, the reader doesn’t particularly care for the fantasy genre and is as jaded as Grossman.  Then they might love the book.

Another crime this book commits is that it starts out a leetle derivative, and swiftly towards the last third becomes crazily derivative. The former magic students enter a world called Fillory where we have trees like Tolkien’s Ents, we had Rams like the lion in Narnia, we had bears similar to The Golden Compass. We had a school for magic, like in Harry Potter.  I suspect Grossman intends to be derivative.  The more derivative the book, the more meta comments the characters make.  The meta elements, like the derivative  elements spread through the end of the book like a virus, snuffing out a fantasy reader’s pleasure. In the end, the amoral laxity that Grossman injects into his book kills the flourishing novel he’s created.

It’s like watching someone kill a unicorn. What’s the point?

All of this is done with maximal writing skill. I hate him. AND I envy him his writing chops. They’re making the book into a series–I wonder if they’re going to change it at all to accommodate fantasy TV viewer expectations?

CAVEAT: I know someone who is ready to defend the novel to the death (and does so frequently). She is willing to take on all comers. So she must have cared by the end of the book. Or loved NOT caring.

Follow us at Lady Smut.  We promise never to kill unicorns.

And come back tomorrow, folks–I’m having cover reveal for my fantasy novel WICKED APPRENTICE, including an excerpt and other fun stuff.  You can already pre-order the book on Amazon.

41tek67q8lMadeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek, is available for pre-order and releases November 1st.

 

 

 

 

Illicit Impulse: A Tempting Little Excerpt

2 Oct
What's a little experimental drug testing between friends? Click to find out.

What’s a little experimental drug testing between friends? Click to find out.

By Alexa Day

My colleagues and I have been celebrating the re-release of Illicit Impulse, my hot story with one sexy scientist, lots of experimentation, a spirited friend with benefits, and a pill designed to improve women’s sex lives. Sound complicated? Well, here’s the story in a nutshell:

Scientist John March has a problem. He needs the perfect subject to test out his new project, a sex pill called Impulse. His best friend, Grace Foley, might be the right woman for the job. She’s more than willing to see just how far these pills will take her … and her friend with benefits. But can John maintain his objectivity when he wants Grace for himself?

Grace wastes no time testing the big red pills and her own boundaries with her buddy, Tal Crusoe. Grace’s real fantasy is to spend more alone time with the sexy scientist who gave her the drugs, but her best friend has already refused her once. They’ll never go to the next level, but sharing her experiences with him – in explicit detail – might be the next best thing.

Want some more? Let’s join John and Grace at their first interview.

***

“Big smile,” John said. He shut the laptop. “Does that mean you’re a satisfied customer?”

Grace folded her coat over one arm. “More than satisfied.”

“Is that so?” John asked.

She nodded. “Want to hear all the juicy details?”

Of course he did—until she asked. Now, as the end of the question hung in the air, he wasn’t so sure he still wanted exactly what he had asked her for. And the smug look on her face said she knew it.

Grace draped her coat over the empty chair on her side of the desk before sitting. “I’ll go easy on you at first.”

John rearranged his notes, the microcassette recorder, and an overabundance of pencils and pens on his side, just as he had with dozens of other people, sitting close enough to observe their physiological responses and distant enough that they couldn’t see his notes. He tried without success to make himself comfortable in the cheap desk chair.

“Do you mind if I tape you?” he asked. “I want to make sure I get everything. I tell everybody that nobody else will hear it, but that’s doubly true in your case.”

Grace picked up the recorder. “You still use actual tape?” she asked.

“Instead of digital?” He nodded. “But just for you.”

She returned the recorder to its place on the table. “Why?”

“Three reasons. Nothing is ever left on the recorder—once I take out the tape, the recorder’s empty. The tape is easy to keep private—if it’s with me, no one else can get to it.” He looked up at her and smiled. “And if anything goes wrong, the tape will be easier to eat.”

Grace laughed and leaned back in her chair. “Can’t argue with that.”

“This is more of a conversation than an interrogation.” He slid the recorder to the center of the desk. “So you might not feel like I’m asking you many questions. I just want to hear what happened.”

“Sounds simple enough,” she said.

He engaged the recorder with a click. Then he sat back with one of the notepads, which he tapped with one of the over-sharpened pencils. “Okay. Let’s hear it.”

John turned his attention to the blank page, writing the date and time in the upper right corner and waiting for Grace to begin. Often he’d found that his subjects would communicate more if he wasn’t looking at them. In this case, he worried that he wouldn’t be able to concentrate.

“You know I went to see Tal right after I saw you on Monday,” Grace said. “He thinks this is a great idea, by the way. He wants to be first on the list when you come up with one of these pills for men.”

Still holding the pencil, John rotated his hand, listening to the tendons pop. Tal is helping you, he reminded himself.

That’s right. Good ol’ enthusiastic Tal is helping you.

“I know this is a secret,” Grace said, “but I didn’t think it was fair to ask him to do all this without knowing.”

“No problem.” John popped his wrist one last time and glanced up at Grace. “As long as he doesn’t say anything.”

“His lips are sealed. So what do you need to know?”

“Let’s start at the beginning. Right after you took it, did you…feel anything?”

“Anything…like what?” she asked playfully.

“The little chill we discussed.”

“I did feel that. Really cold, but just for a few minutes, until I got to Tal’s.”

The pencil’s scratch seemed very loud between them as he took note of the chill. “And then what?”

“As soon as he opened the door I felt really…agitated.”

“Nervous?” he asked. “Jittery?”

“Horny.”

John looked up from his hastily scribbled notes. Almost everyone had reported fidgeting, pacing, or generally feeling antsy. No one had mentioned an increase in arousal. Not to him, anyway.

“You look surprised,” she said. Her self-assured smile was back in place.

“Me? No, no, no. Not surprised.” And he wasn’t, really. It was just that she was so matter-of-fact about it.

“You’re sure?” she asked.

“I’m sure. Keep going.”

“Okay.” Grace stretched her legs out in front of her, gazing at the ceiling. “So as soon as I saw Tal, I felt this rush. I just had to have him.”

John watched her take a long breath before she moistened the center of her upper lip with the tip of her tongue. She was reliving it now, whatever she had done that night after she’d left him. Inside him, something uneasy buckled and knit, pulsed with his heartbeat as her mind returned to this other man. He wrote down the counter number from the cassette recorder and reminded himself that he’d sent her on this errand. He’d chosen to be in this position, and if he was bitter about it now, he had no one else to blame for the bad taste it left in his mouth. He forced himself back to business.

“Any chance this was just your normal anticipation? For your friend, I mean.”

“No.” She took a deep breath and slid her palms down her thighs. “Usually we’ll talk a little or have a beer first. That night we were all over each other.” She glanced over at John. “It was a little scary, to be honest.”

“Increased urgency.”

“Yeah, definitely.”

He took note of her symptoms and of her movements now as he looked on. Her fingers twisted on her lap. Reluctance. This couldn’t be uncomfortable for her, too, could it? “Okay. Then what?”

Grace turned back to the ceiling. “Everything was more intense. When he put his hands or his mouth on me, it made me so…so wet. Everything he did made me want more.”

Had she lowered her voice for his benefit? The color that bloomed on her face told a different story. She wasn’t spinning a yarn for his entertainment. The recollection was turning her on.

More. He could practically hear her saying it. More. Please. More.

Damn. What would he have to do to make her blush? Would he ever be the one to make her breathless?

He idly traced the margin’s red lines. He’d had his chance with her already.

“And then?” He tried to maintain a neutral tone of voice.

She bit her lip. “I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. I was ready to come as soon as he touched me. It was like being a teenager again.”

“Out of control?”

Her eyes met his. “Yeah! Mmm. Out of control.” Her voice lowered again, as if she was sharing a secret with him.

“Like being in heat. That have-to-have-it feeling, you know? There is something…liberating about losing control. Giving in to biology.” She smiled. “But then I don’t mind having the extra scoop of ice cream either.”

He chuckled. “So you’re aroused.”

She blinked, and he savored that moment, enjoying the rare sight of Grace in shock. He might never share a bed with the woman, but he could still manage a surprise or two. He pointed at his notes with the pencil.

“Oh!” she said. “With Tal. Yes.”

“Everything he does makes it worse.”

Slowly, she shook her head. “Oh, no. Better.”

“Stronger.”

He watched her consider the choice of words. “Stronger,” she agreed.

He took note of her increased sensitivity, careful to use the word they’d chosen together. “And then?”

Silence stretched out after his question until he looked up to find her grinning at him. “Oh my God,” she said, amusement in her voice. “You’re blushing.”

“I am not.” Blushing. He snorted. He did this every day. He’d heard far worse than this. Hadn’t he?

“You know,” she said, “it’s going to get pretty graphic before I’m finished.”

Like he needed the reminder. “Well, that’s why we’re here.” He turned back to his notes and pushed his glasses up on his nose. “So get graphic. I can take it.”

***

Ready to follow the Impulse? Go grab a copy right now.

And follow Lady Smut. There’s always something new to try around here.

Why Do We Wanna Boink Smart Guys So Badly Anyway?

29 Sep
Smart, lean, uncomfortable, but trying. God, I love a geeky man.

Smart, lean, uncomfortable, but trying. God, I love a geeky man.

by Madeline Iva

People, I have long adored the sexy geek as an iconic romance hero.  Show me a fit, dorky guy with a great smile and glasses — and I’ll show you an obsessive crush.

This week we’re heralding Alexa Day’s re-release ILLICIT IMPULSE and OH! the memories when it first came out.

Waaaaaay back, Alexa and I went mano-y-mano against each other in an unpublished author’s contest with similar science-y erotic romance plots.  My book pitch went down in flames, while Alexa got a publication deal.  Glory with me now in my lost manuscript and Alexa’s triumph.  The two books had similar premises, yet while hers was publishable, mine was soooo wonderfully whack.

Good times! But back to the business at hand:

Why do we wanna boink smart guys so badly anyway?

Buy it, try it, lurv it. Click here.

Buy it, try it, lurv it. Click here.

You see a book you wanna buy (please do). I see 5 reasons below:

Is it just the glasses? I consider the question in F**k my brains out: why are smart guys so sexy?

Is it the Ph.D. maybe?  Yes Professor: Confessions of a Sophophiliac

Is it that he was on the most famous geek TV show EVER?My obsession with the impish, irritable charm of David Tennant

Is it his geek-i-tude obsessions? CRAZY SEXY GHOULISH.

Do we just wanna have smart babies? Or is it because the sexy geek is the antithesis of a male stripper? Talking with Lynne Silver ’bout why we love a good geek.

As for the rest of these links, if you’re a geek–or in love with one–you might want to canvass a few of these other geek-related topics.  Enjoy!

Sexy-Geeky-Goodness: 4 Great Geek Reads.

The whole Sex Bot Thing–seriously, don’t get me and Alexa started.  #WeWantMaleSexBotsNow

Here’s a review of a book about a movie geek who encounters a movie star.

Heck! Who am I kidding? I *am* a movie geek.  What is this movie geek freaking out about? The same thing every other SFF movie geek is freaking out about–the ridiculously hot new Aquaman.

Finally, a little discussion from a while back (God, it seems like we’ve gone full circle since then) about some great interracial romance recommendations, including some awesome geeky paranormal IR: They’re Hot, They’re Naked and They’re Two Different Colors

So follow us at Lady Smut and hug a geek near you–Cheers!

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ involves a biology geek, and is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek, is available for pre-order Oct 1st and releases November 1st.

The Great Sexperiment, or Bodies of Knowledge

27 Sep
Buy it, try it, lurv it. Click here.

A man, a woman, and an experimental drug. Click to buy!

By Alexa Day

Great news — Illicit Impulse is available for your reading enjoyment right now! I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy and find out just how far two best friends will go to test an experimental sex drug called Impulse.

The Impulse experiments sound simple enough at first. Test subject Grace Foley just has to take the pill, have the sex, and report the results. Sure, her best friend, John March, is the one taking notes on her encounters, and she’ll have to work around her feelings for him. But aside from that, there shouldn’t be any trouble, right?

(There’s trouble. I promise. Just in case you were worried.)

As I was working on John and Grace’s story, I discovered that there’s a long tradition of sexperimentation quietly simmering beneath science’s sedate exterior. My personal favorite is the anatomical study of sexual intercourse conducted inside the MRI machine.

That’s right. Two people had sex inside an MRI so that we, the inquisitive public, can see what happens. Talk about sacrificing your body. I’ve been inside an MRI machine, and I’m a pretty open-minded woman. But I don’t see how two people can have missionary-style sex inside that thing. When I asked the tech —

What? Of course I asked. As expensive and unpleasant as an MRI is, I figure I get to ask whatever the hell I want.

Anyway, when I asked the tech, he said that there’s more space in the machine than I suppose. He’s been inside it a few times himself (for maintenance purposes, not for sex, you nasty people) and suggests that it is not as impossible as I think it is. Indeed, the report (please, you’ve got to read the report) says that when the couple was in position, only 3 centimeters of space separated them from the top of the tube.

Intrigued? Well, this European report comes with a video. Enjoy!

Creating Impulse and the tricky experimentation that went with it … that was a labor of love for me. So many of the modern sexperiments focus on men’s sexuality. Their testosterone levels, their arousal, their performance. Studies focused on women tend to produce mind-bending conclusions like “Jinkies! Women apparently want to have sex, too!”

Seriously, the number of results I got when I Googled “the enduring enigma of female desire” was both surprising and disappointing. Is it an enigma? Why does it endure so? Could it be that female desire would be less of an enigma if — I don’t know — someone were studying it more?

Illicit Impulse is built around a sex drug that only exists for women, a drug whose sole purpose is to allow women to enjoy sexual adventure. In the hands of a woman who loves her freedom and a man devoted to studying her pleasure, Impulse lives up to its potential. And that’s before Grace’s friend with benefits gets involved.

If you’re down for a little sexperimentation, grab a copy of Illicit Impulse. And stay tuned as Lady Smut’s smart, sexy theme week continues.

Follow Lady Smut. Give it a try and see what happens.

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