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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 – 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!

Monday Morning Meeps

17 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

That’s “meeps” lovely Lady Smutters, not “Peeps”.

I get the confusion, especially on this Easter Monday when, if you’re a person who celebrates the Easter holiday (which I am) you have church and family (and wine because of the same) hangover like nobody’s bidness. This is also the day Easter candy is half off everywhere, praise Jesus, so Peeps are definitely more front and center of one’s mind, those lovely sugar confections that look so adorable right before you bite off their heads.

Perhaps, that’s just me.

My standard post-Easter, half-priced stash is usually chock full of Cadbury eggs (mini and regular sized) and Starburst jelly beans because YUM.

Alas, this year my Easter Monday hangover is more melancholy tinged than Moscato flavored. This was my first Easter without my mom who passed away quite suddenly in January. Easter was her most treasured holiday and she raised us to infuse it with the same importance and fervor. We always come home for Easter–even when I was student at Oxford, I came home for Easter. As her care-giver for the last nine years, I found myself particularly at a loss the need to logisticate the trappings of the holiday for us. (Yes, that’s a made-up word; No, I don’t care.) For the first time in memory, I only had…well, me.

Meep.

This loss has not only infected my holy day, it’s also been a drag on my motivation and general impetus to do or accomplish anything. My day job keeps me busy, but downtime is peppered with a lot of boredom, Facebook haunting, and general staring at the walls. A lot of this is absolutely normal, and I get this, I know this, but finding ways to function and move forward when the structure of my world has forever been altered is–look, it’s fucking hard, okay? Not exactly a revelation, right?

Maybe I should’ve called this post “navel-gazing Monday”.

Life keeps moving on, trite but true. It boggles my mind. Surely, the world should be different. This cataclysmic thing has happened to my family, to me. The sky should be a different color, right? The earth should missed a shift in its rotation, yeah? Lord knows, my world certainly has shifted irrevocably. How can everything just keep…moving on? I still have deadlines. I still have blog posts to write (even if this one is late today–sorry, gang). I still had Easter and soon Mother’s Day (save me from Hallmark holidays) and ultimately my birthday and further on Christmas. I still have dreams and wants and needs to do and go and be.

I still have a story of which I am yet its heroine. One that is far from finished no matter my lack of motivation.

Despite efforts to the contrary, I spent Easter Sunday morning with my proverbial cotton-tailed butt in bed with breakfast and my kitties watching STAR WARS: Rogue One. It had its own kind of holiness and in hindsight, was exactly what I needed, a wee bit of wallowing with some comfort crutches. We all cope in our own unique ways. Mine, apparently, requires space ships and heroes. That, too, is hardly a revelation.

Follow Lady Smut. We’re happy to be your comfort crutch whenever you need us.

 

Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – 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

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Motor City Romance

10 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

In February, I had surgery and spent six weeks on short-term disability from the day job. Mostly, this time was spent staring lifelessly at the T.V. screen or buying needless crap online to off-set my ennui. I also did a helluva lot of reading, some of which was spurred by .99 offers here and there. So writers, if you’re wondering if those discount sales do you any good, as a reader, I’m here to tell you they do.

A couple of these offers led me to new-to-me series by authors not new to me but not on my auto buy list either. One is the Motor City Royals series by Jackie Ashenden.

Look! Three Blurbs!

Dirty for Me

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Ezekiel “Zee” Chase has a complicated past. Born into a family whose wealth grew from the seedy world of big-time crime, he ran away as a teenager and made a home for himself on the streets of Detroit. By day, the mechanic works at a local garage. But by night, he throws down with the best of them in Detroit’s gritty underground fighting scene. With all those muscles, he’s never had trouble with women–until he meets one who challenges him to the greatest fight of his life. . .

Tamara Eliot is a hardworking corporate high-flyer who appreciates the finer things in life, from her expensive perfume to her designer handbags. More than anything, though, she likes to be in control–and when Zee explodes into her life, she feels anything but. He’s the definition of a bad boy: brash, fiery, and of course, irresistibly hot. And there’s a darkness about him that keeps her coming back for more. As Zee takes Tamara deeper into a world she never knew existed, she just might prove to be the one opponent he won’t be able to dominate–at least not without some pleasurable convincing . . .

Wrong for Me

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After eight years in prison, Levi Rush is finally out and back on the gritty streets of Detroit to claim the future he was owed. A future that includes the one woman he’s wanted for years—his former best friend Rachel. She’s the reason he went inside and if getting her to do what he wants means buying the building that houses her tattoo studio and using it as leverage, then that’s what he’ll do. Because if there’s one thing he’s learned inside it’s that if you want to win, you have to play dirty.

Rachel Hamilton is a tattoo artist and one hell of a tough girl. Detroit is her home, and she’s determined to make it a better place. But her plans are threatened when her old friend Levi reappears and gives her an ultimatum: she gives herself to him body and soul, or else she and her business are out on the street. Levi’s got no room in his heart for anything but anger and the lust he’s been carrying around for so long. But the only thing stronger than the secrets of their shared past is their fiery attraction to each other . . .

Sin for Me

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It was anything but easy, but Gideon Black has finally managed to create a safe haven for himself on the gritty streets of Detroit. He worked hard to get on the straight and narrow, pulling himself up from an underground crime syndicate before it consumed him completely. But the past isn’t staying put, and now that it’s come calling, it’s not after him, but the woman he considers the closest thing he has to family . . .

Zoe James has always loved Gideon more than anything in the world. She knows he only wants to keep her safe, but his overprotectiveness has taken over her life and it’s got to stop. She’s sick of him treating her like a little girl, but is she woman enough to handle the truth when it finally comes out? As old enemies close in, a complicated but undeniable passion is growing between them. Gideon tries to hold on to Zoe and keep her safe, but he may have to let her go in order to save them both . . .

Okay, so there’s a lot going on in this series, that’s clear. And yeah, I inhaled the first two in as many days and paid full price for the third the day it was released (which, at agency pricing, is a BFD for me, but that’s a different post) and slurped it right up. This series has a couple of tropes that are serious catnip for me, but also a couple just slightly off the main path choices that intrigued me.

Here are the Top 5 things I dig about Motor City Royals:

#5 Those Covers:

Let’s talk about those covers for a minute. Ya know what? Let’s let ’em speak for themselves, because, holy hotness, are they saying a lot. Admittedly, in real life, they’re a little too young and a little too lean for my tastes, but as book covers, ya huh. Particularly digging that ink. Hard.

#4 Detroit

Perhaps given away by the series title, these books are set on the wrong side of Detroit. Now, pretty much the only thing I know about Detroit is from attending a wedding in the Detroit suburbs a gazillion years ago, Motown music, and news reports in recent years about the city’s dramatic decline. So my expertise is zilch. It’s definitely not a place I think of as a natural fit for a romance series, which is my bad, obviously. Ostensibly, there’s not a lot of flash and draw to that setting, but going by Ashenden’s series, that’s our loss for missing out. Ashenden stays away from easy Detroit stereotypes and shows the city through the love of its inhabitants, her characters, who are loyal to and incredibly protective of their turf.

#3 Super sexy times

Leading with those covers, it’s clear this is not a tame series when it comes to sexy times. But while those times are hot and drrrrty, there’s a whole lotta sweetness and charm deep down

#2 Family is what you make it

This series is rooted in the mechanics shop run by Gideon Black, the defacto Big Brother of the lot. Throughout all three books, everyone is rooted back to the garage, back to Gideon. For Gideon, for all six of them, each with a murky past and murkier blood families, this is the family that they’ve made together, and how their actions and decisions may or may not affect that family is a strong thread through all three books.

#1 Rich Girl/Boy from Wrong-Side, Reunited Lovers With a Grudge, and Friends to Lovers…this series has three of my absolute favorite Romancelandia tropes. Ashenden hits my trifecta and does it hard and dirty. This series runs with high emotional stakes coasting alongside life-changing decisions and rife with secrets and lies that could wreck any family, even one that chose each other.

Do yourself a favor. Rev up your engines and get your groove on by checking out the Motor City Royals

Follow Lady Smut. We know how to rev all your engines.

Let the Confessional Games Begin!

Have you ever had mad monkey love on a motorcycle? A three-way in an alley? Been tied to a tree and made someone’s sex slave? Have you never, ever, never done any of this? Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past and win crowns, fetish toys, books and more at the Ladysmut.com special reader event, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

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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The Uncomforatble Intimacy of Audio Books

3 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Last week, Lady Smut blogger Madeline Iva titillated us with tales from the Virginia Love Fest panel with the men who read romance…or perhaps that was just me. Had I been there, hearing the one guy say most of the time, “it’s like: ‘Up on the hog babe, let’s go for a ride.'” would have generated a mini-orgasm on the spot. I won’t lie. But I haven’t entirely made it through the accompanying video of the panel and here’s why: it all kinda makes me squishy and not in a good way. I too dig the deep and sexy man reading voice. Hoo. Shah. Maybe that’s the whole problem.

This is the thing about audio books, something I wholeheartedly support and appreciate. I don’t listen to audio books. Like, at all. I like music when I drive, mostly because I get into a zone and let my brain works on its own pathway, especially on long trips. When I have listened to books while I drive, I do a lot of rewinding because I miss things due to zoning out. Then, if I’m listening while commuting to the day job, I don’t want to stop once I get there (providing it’s a good book, and it almost always is).

A few years ago, I went through an audio book stage. I got all the Outlander and all the Harry Potter books on CD from the library and, one by one, loaded them first onto my compute and then onto my iPod. (Then, shortly after, my brand new iPod crashed and I vowed never to buy an Apple product again, but that’s another story.) I listened to each and every one of them and I loved them. How had I not been listening to audiobooks all this time? This was the BEST THING EVAH.

Mind you, this was before Wispersync and Kindle Fire and the Kindle app–I don’t even think smartphones were all that common at the time either. It was big, expensive CDs that you were better off getting from the library. As  I did.

So I was hooked. I got some murder mysteries out and continued “reading” in this way.

Then I tried a romance.

Big mistake. Huge.

I got Linda Howard’s Cry No More from the library and plugged it in. Here, for the first time, I had an audio book with two narrators, a man and a woman, each reading the POV chapters for their respective hero and heroine of the story.

I was a huge Linda Howard fan in the 80s and 90s but hadn’t read her in a long while, so I thought I give this a chance. I didn’t like the book at all, it’s slow and boring, and maybe that’s because I was listening to it and not reading it in my own mental voice. The narrators were competent, the story just dragged.

And then came the sex scenes, read in both the male and female narrators voices. Together.

It majorly squicked me out.

Romancelandia deals with a lot of crap accusations of being porn for women, an accusation to which a vehemently object. Listening to the audio version of Cry No More, I had to check myself. Because I felt like I was listening to porn. Transferring the sex and romance scenes from the page to real men and women reading the words for me, out loud, transformed the entire “reader” experience for me and not in a good way. I was disturbingly turned and seriously uncomfortable, but not in a “damn, that was a good scene” way, rather in a “I should not be listening to these two people bang” way.

This, I think, is the uncomfortable intimacy of an audio book. When we read, it’s private. We’re in our own heads imagining our own versions of what were reading, what the author has crafted for us to sink into. When it’s suddenly read aloud, it’s completely different (duh, right?), and I wonder now if that difference transforms the material and/or the experience into something else. Especially having a man read the hero parts, like boy! howdy! does it make the goings-on super intimate. Like I was right there and not as a participant. Welcome to Voyeursville via audio books.

Now, I’ve changed a lot in the years since I listened to Cry No More, and I can’t say that I’d have the same reaction I did back then, but that reaction was strong enough that I haven’t had the desire to listen to a romance or any other sort of book since.

Back in April of 2013, Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore wrote about her uninspired experience with audio books. She had a much less satisfying experience.

“Taking the first point, about the performance, leads me to think that the romance audiobook clip I listened to made me feel squishy because the performance was as enthralling as watching paint dry. Or perhaps, in this case, listening to paint dry, meaning there was no performance whatsoever. The reader made the decision to be dry and unemotional. It may work for some, but for me it was a complete snooze with a dash of discomfort. If the hero is baring his soul and revealing his issues and declaring his love well, damn it, I want emotion.”

For her there wasn’t enough intimacy offered by the reader/performer. For me, too much.

Thinking about this post this week made me realize how readings of our own books aren’t that much different. I did my first reading last summer at The Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City, CA for the Orange County Lady Jane’s Salon. I was beyond thrilled to burst my live reading cherry at the only romance bookstore in America. I had an absolute blast. One man even said that even though it wasn’t his kind of book, I was the best reader and had the best content of the four of us authors who read (but he’s my sister’s partner, so he has to say that).

But I also chose a scene to read that would make my story seem enticing (and had swear words and naughty talk, because, it’s me) but it was not a super sexual scene that would squick people out to hear read live and in person by the creator (aka, moi) and/or make my face turn red against my own internal wishes. Dang physical reactions!

Our own Rachel Kramer Brussel wrote last year about why she reads her erotic romances to live audiences.

“I’ve found that audiences are incredibly hungry to hear people talk about sex in public in an honest, open, unashamed way. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction, or what the exact details are: if you stand up in front of a crowd of people and are talking about getting naked, people will listen.”

Well, yeah. Duh again. But people who attend erotic readings are indeed prepared for what they get and are going for those reasons. Of course, if you’re listening to a romance novel as an audio book, you should know that you’re going to get the same heat in your ears that you once consumed through your eyes. And having the many, many intimate and sexual scenes in the Outlander novels read to me didn’t bother me one iota. It was adding in the male narrator and having the narration become a two-pronged, back and forth exchange complete with inflections and emotional heft–I need a cold shower stat.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all in any way shape or form against audio books or suggesting they’re porn or inferring that we shouldn’t have romance novels on audio. Surely, you know me better than that by now. Only that I, for one, was shocked but the unexpected intimacy that came from listening to a romance novel and it made me so uncomfortable, years later it’s made me have zero desire to listen to another.

I guess I like reading and talking about my romance…I just don’t want to listen to it. Which, judging from those male book readers, is my very big loss.

Coming to the RT Booklovers Convention? Join the Ladysmut.com bloggers for a very special reader 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

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

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.

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 matinée. 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 matinée 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 doppelgänger. 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.

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Waiting for Godot: Living Through Series Delay

13 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Recently, an author for whom I am a big fan–in fact, I think it’s safe to say I am a superfan–released the first book in her new series. Cue the confetti. Strike up the band. Huz-freaking-zah. Right?

This new novel is in a new genre for said author and is the start of a three-book series, the remainder of which will come out throughout the rest of the year. Goodness abounds, yeah? Well, no, not really.

The author is rightly super excited about her new foray, a genre into which she has long been noodling on her own, ramping herself up to finally go for it. She also values her readers and is enough in tune with them to know not all of her dedicated flock are going to happily trot along behind this new venture. To this end, she’s taken great pains to explain the long path that’s brought her to write this series. She’s posted blogs on her web site and on social media patiently laying out, not her argument, because she needs make no defense for following her heart into writing the stories that have been weighing on her or so long, but an explanation as to what led her to make the decision to pursue this series. No author or any creative force, is obligated to take this sort of effort to, essentially, state her case. She’s done this with grace and care, and I have a lot of respect for her, or rather, even more respect for her, for doing so. And I’ve read enough of her books (over and over and over again) to feel confident that she has hit it out of the park.

That said, I’m unlikely to read this series because its genre is not in my wheelhouse. Like I said, I’m a superfan and have deep dived into this author’s extensive back list. That said, there’s a dozen or more of her novels I haven’t read, or ones where I’ve read the first in the series and the genre and situation didn’t/doesn’t appeal to me.

But, I’m woman enough to admit, this time, I’m a little miffed.

This is not because this author has written a series in a genre I don’t like, which leaves me going nearly a year without new goodness from a favorite (my choice, admittedly). Okay, it’s not only because of that. Mainly though, I’m miffed because this author has at least two unfinished series for which I am rabid and another series that readers (including moi) have been greatly anticipating for years, all of which are being denied for something new. Instead of working on what is already in play, she’s taken a new creative direction and thus created another new series.

I don’t want a new series. I want the books that have been explicitly or implicitly promised for existing series I’m on which I’m already thoroughly hooked. I want the series installments for which I have been (im)patiently waiting.

And yes, I would like some cheese to go along with that whine, thank you very much.

Look, I’m miffed, I won’t lie. That’s the reader side of me. I want my jones for those existing series to be fed. I got hooked on one of them fast and deep only to have the brakes slammed on the three or four books yet waiting to be written. Now I hafta wait out this unwelcomed series and hope that maybe next year there might be a hint of these upcoming books being in the works much less the break off series that has been promised for years.

But the writer side of me gets it. Sure, you have to sit and write whether the Muse or the spirit or whatever floats your boat gets your butt in the chair and your hands of the keyboard or not. Especially if you’re a full-time writer making a living off your words. You have to produce pages in order to get paid. It’s much easier to do this when you’re passionate for the project, when you’re driven to get that story out of your system. A writer can’t always pick and choose what story grabs her and when. In order to be true to reader expectations of the quality of your work, you have to make sure your commitment to that work is on par. That doesn’t always mean giving them the story they think they want. I know enough to know it doesn’t always work that way. Added to that, when an opportunity presents itself to do something different, something you’ve been somewhat secretly working on or leaning toward for some time, you don’t say no. You pursue that opportunity with prejudice if necessary. No author jumps off into the deep end of something new, knowing you might be risking a portion of your readership and therefore your livelihood by making a drastic turn in what you’re writing. Don’t get me wrong, I totally support this writing and admire her for having the guts to pursue this direction for which she clearly feels substantial compulsion.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want those upcoming books that I’m keenly anticipating to suffer from a rush job either. If the author isn’t feeling those stories, isn’t prepared to live in the heads of those characters, I sure don’t want her to force herself to write them simply to appease her readers’ desires when she’s not prepared to tell those stories. That disappoints everyone.

Look, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve waited on a series. Diana Gabaldon cranked out Lord John novels and novellas in-between her Outlander tomes. We all know the pain and suffering G.R.R. Martin fans have been going through for decades. Cripes, Godot shows up more often than new Game of Thrones novels.

Maybe I’m feeling this one so keenly because to me, it feels like a waste because I have no desire to read this series. This means I now have to wait for it to burn out so she can get back to writing what I want, because I’m a selfish superfan in need of her jones. God forbid she come out with an announcement later this year that she’s writing more installments in this new series. I may just plotz.

It’s a weird line to walk. I support the author’s new endeavor because I like her and I dig her work hard. I’ll probably read it too at some point, despite my dislike of the genre, because I’m curious to see how her voice comes through in that situation. What her unique take on the genre turns out to be. But I also resent it because it just means more and more delays until she writes the stories I’m waiting for with ever so-much-less patience.

The writer/reader relationship can be so wonky.  There’s an ownership a superfan feels when they’ve invested time and emotion and dollars into a writer, or any content producer really, and then something happens that makes the reader feel as though they’ve been gypped. It’s not just in books either. Lord knows, I’ve railed and fumed when TV shows and movies don’t fulfill the promise of relationships or story lines. It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to invest in a TV series until I can wait out the will they/won’t they of the primary ‘ship. (Do *not* get me started on Arrow’s abysmal treatment of the Olicity ‘ship, which has made me stop watching the show altogether.) This resentment I’m feeling now is along the same lines, the continued disappointment of not getting what I want, no matter what the motivations or desires of the content provider. And yet, as a content provider myself, I understand the creative and marketplace demands that may take precedent over one reader’s (or a thousand readers’) preference.

Have you been disappointed by a writer or other content provider’s creative decisions? Are you waiting for a book that feels like it might never come? Have you had a favorite author go in a direction you don’t like? Tell me your experiences in the comments!

Lady Smut is out and about in the wild again. We have a hot and spicy event at the upcoming RT convention in May. Share your sexy secrets at the “Never Have I Ever, Ever, Ever” game with in-person Lady Smut bloggers Elisabeth SaFleur and Isabelle Drake. We’ll have more information on the event in the upcoming weeks so be sure to follow Lady Smut so you don’t miss a trick!

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

 

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.

Edge of Power by Megan Crane: A Review

6 Mar

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

The highly anticipated, third installment of Megan Crane’s EDGE series, EDGE OF POWER, is finally here. Okay, technically, it releases tomorrow. Allow me the dramatic flourish.

This is Wulf’s book, the charismatic, fear-inspiring, panties-melting, ruthless leader of the raider brotherhood. Fans of the EDGE series have been greatly anticipating his book since he first appeared sprawled on a beach with lazy deception in EDGE OF OBSESSION and all readers sat up and said “hel-lo!”

Look! A blurb!

The ultimate Viking warrior meets outlaw biker: Wulf, the Raider King. He rules a future, destroyed world with the force of his will alone. Now he will meet the one woman who will change…everything.

Wulf is king of his clan and the ruthless head of the raider brotherhood.

Every foe in his path surrenders to his will. But when his mortal enemy’s beguiling daughter gets under his skin the way no one else ever has, a whole new intensity from the Raider King is unleashed…the fiery strength of dark passion and hard-hitting lust.

Kathlyn is no fan of the life she’s been forced to live under her savage father’s unforgiving rule. But the bold and powerful barbarian who steals her innocence—and her heart—is a dangerous bet. There’s nothing safe about a man who wants to destroy everything she knows and burn it to the ground. Except if Wulf can set her free, maybe safety is overrated…

Will the overwhelming heat of her warrior-king lead to something more powerful than either of them can imagine?

Strewth!

EDGE OF POWER has a lot going on betwixt it pages. But for all that, it is a slower book than the three that precede it. Let me qualify: it doesn’t read slow and the pace doesn’t drag. You’ll be hooked and unable to set it down without finishing first. I read it in one big gulp. It bulges with Crane’s signature sexy scenes and ribald, earthy language, and creative descriptions. Her world building continues to be imaginative and engaging, with increasingly more than a touch of prescience. I’m constantly struck by the relevance of this world’s structure and politics, and it, I think not accidentally, regularly calls to mind The Handmaid’s Tale. In EDGE OF POWER, a noble woman’s sexual status is noted by the color she wears. Kathlyn can only wear gold, which not only marks her publicly as a virgin princess, “but the particular property of the king.” Her virginity is considered her father’s to own and dispel as he sees fit. Kathlyn’s worth, like most women in this world, is solely equated with her sexual status. Beyond that, she has no value to her father or her world at large. Given our current political climate, a large part of which is unduly concerned with policing the sexual and reproductive rights of women, this seems like a particularly uncomfortable insight to our possible future. With or without Viking raiders.

Click on image to buy!

Click on image to buy!

EDGE OF POWER is a long burn of a story. Despite being action man, take-what-he-wants, never apologize, battle loving, Viking raider clan leader, for most of this book, Wulf is forced to bridle his instincts and usual modus operendi for a long wait and the messy, bloody dance of politics with his enemy. It’s totally against his nature. He wants to main and pillage and plunder and exact righteous revenge for the sins and insults the king has waged against Wulf’s clan before Wulf and the brotherhood were even aware of his existence. This juxtaposition simmers through the entire narrative, building a tension along the way that is almost gleeful in its release, once all things align and Wulf is finally set free of his self-imposed restraint.

This is a book about patience, not a prized virtue among the brotherhood. Wulf has to be patient and resist his instincts to rip his enemies apart and just get the job done. He knows if he makes the wrong move, all of his people will be at mortal risk. He has to taper his usual methods and play the long game, consorting with known enemies, weaklings and fools to his eyes, in order to gain the advantage and have his plan come to fruition. Kathlyn is one woman, a woman who is not under his protection. He cannot risk his clan for the daughter of his greatest enemy, a woman whose loyalties and ambitions are still a mystery. Yet, as the story goes on, his instinct and need expands to include Kathlyn. Wulf struggles to make decisions he knows will benefit his clan and his detailed, complex plan, but these are choices he also knows for which Kathlyn will, and does, suffer. He wrestles with that dual edge of being the leader when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the king.

But Kathlyn has been at this game far longer than Wulf can initially imagine. Her patience is epic and her ability to survive the most heinous of circumstances is far beyond Wulf’s expectations. “I’m a princess, not a raider,” she tells Wulf in their first encounter. “If I launched myself into battle every time someone insulted me, I would’ve been dead long ago.”

Since the brutal death of her mother at the hand of her sociopath, psycho father, King Athenian, Kathlyn has existed in a living hell, staying as quiet and unobtrusive as she can manage, enduring unfathomable humiliations and dangers just by being the yet virginal daughter of the king, a commodity her father plans to auction off to the highest bidder at his convenience. It’s a carrot he’s dangled before the nobles for so long that Kathlyn herself is seriously tired of the wait. She wants to wear anything other than the gold dresses that define her, and not only because she’s desperate for a wardrobe change. At her level of nobility, the deflowering of a noble virgin is a public ceremony, done on a large bed in the great hall before all the world. Nothing like performance anxiety, yeah? Kathlyn wants to control at least this one thing in a world where being a princess is more of a prison than the lowliest offender has ever seen.

This is a world, remember, that had deemed sex only necessary for procreation to repopulate the world. People here enter into winter marriages where, if a child is conceived, they may stay together for a year until that child is born. If there is no child, both parties go their own ways. Pleasure doesn’t come into the matter at all. No foreplay, no fun. Just copulation for procreation.

Or, at least, for the women. The men indulge in sex for pleasure all they want (naturally). Kathlyn knows all too well how rampant this hypocrisy is among the men of the court. Finally deeming her virginity a burden she can no longer bear, she decides to offer it to the Raider King, a barbarian she’s sure won’t quibble over defiling his “host,” the king’s, daughter. Doing the deed puts Kathlyn’s life at enormous risk, but she’s reached the end of that long stretch of patience that’s kept her alive this long. Whomever she’s bargained off to in the end, she wants first to be able to make one choice for herself, especially about so intimate an event. Because, for the first time in a lifetime of restraint, of not allowing herself to want or need anything only to see it wrenched away, of living a quiet half-life always aware that her father could kill her in the next moment, Kathlyn wants. Wulf awakens in her a pulsing need, not just for sex, but for the wild freedom he represents to her. The crazy idea of choice and desire, of a life spent living and not enduring.

Here again, though, Wulf must resist his urges and instincts as he knows screwing Kathlyn will put both her life and his mission in danger. Obviously, since this is a romance, that resistance doesn’t last, but there is genuine, uncharacteristic struggle in Wulf about what he does to and with Kathlyn. He takes time with her, not only sexually, protecting her in his limited way and when he can’t, working to at least make their sins worthy of her punishments. They also take great risks to be together, and eventually, this leads to their (temporary) downfall. Even when forced into humiliating situations together, designed to denigrate and demean Kathlyn especially, Wulf does what he can to protect her, always keeping in mind what risk it may or may not pose to his mission. He strains against the inability to shield her from her father’s unreasonable and unpredictable wrath. Wulf’s burden of failure grows as he and Kathlyn’s situation becomes more and more perilous. Ultimately, he has to choose between his clan and his woman, perversely giving Kathlyn the life he thinks she wants by taking away the man she’s discovered she needs. Heavy hangs the head of the king.

Author Megan Crane

Author Megan Crane

Yet Wulf has the advantage of knowing how this game ends, or at least how he expects it to end, given his faith in the superiority of his brotherhood and confidence in the soundness of their strategy. Kathlyn takes these risks with him fully expecting to pay the ultimate price. She is so weary of her life, so tired of being afraid, so done with being victimized by her savage, sociopath of a father, even death is a relief, death on her terms, making her own choices, and, for once, feeling bliss with a barbarian who turns out to be the only man in her life to ever give a damn about her. Her strength of spirit in mind-boggling. She not only endures, she triumphs in her resolution. Kathlyn may bend and submit as she needs to in order to survive, but she is far from beaten and defeated, even when physically, she is both. Crane sketches her with such deft and layered strokes that Kathlyn resonates with the emotional authenticity of real-life abuse victims.

EDGE OF POWER is richly drawn with a fascinating dystopian world that is not so far out of our reality. Wulf and Kathlyn’s slow burn of a relationship amidst the perils and pitfalls of a ruthless, unforgiving, brutal court and king is a careful tap dance of sexy subterfuge beneath which lies the delicate waltz of conflict between duty and desire, where a woman with no hope who is accustomed to being betrayed by those closest to her falls for a man whose stalwart faith in his brotherhood and his own purpose cannot be shaken. EDGE OF POWER is sexy and sensual, fierce and touching. A fitting fulfillment of the Raider King’s story.

EDGE OF POWER is available for pre-order and will be on sale March 7, 2017.

A copy of this book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher via NetGalley. You can see more Lady Smut reviews of this series, along with a guest post from Megan Crane about the EDGE series, here.

P.S. If you join Megan Crane’s Clan Facebook page and/or check out her website, you’ll see the absolutely stunning map that her animator (as opposed to animated) husband drafted. As a visually oriented person, having the colorful, detailed map definitely helps me to picture this new, greatly changed world.

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.

I Love You, iBooks!

27 Feb

This week’s guest post comes from Lyla Bellatas, author of The Real Fling series, standalone, saucy vacation romances that begin as a fling, but end up as the real thing. Lyla was a hard convert to digital books and is here today to tell us why. Welcome Lyla!

I was born a reader–loved the feel, the smell, the look of books from the beginning. It was always my escape. I could get lost in a bookstore for hours looking for my next adventure. I’d reverently pick up a book, sniff it, let the feel of the pages soak into my skin. They were presents waiting to be opened. I adored looking at the covers and yes, I’ve judged more than one book by its cover.

deeper

Click on image to buy!

When my brother got sick we took him to many hospitals chasing a miracle. I’d sit at his bedside while he was asleep and read. I read to flee the horror of watching his young life fade away. Reality was too cruel to deal with, so I ran away, mentally. I remember the books I read during his last six months, vividly. I devoured them and they seared into my soul, ever so thankful they kept me company during the most awful time of my life.

When I was on bed rest during my pregnancy I was incredibly anxious. Bed rest is not as easy as it sounds. I’d get daily deliveries from Barnes & Noble and I’d be good for a little while, but it was never enough. More times than not, I’d open a book to find it lackluster, and I’d be crushed for the day.

I remember the joy and relief on my husband’s face when I got Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was huge at 870 pages. My husband thought it would keep me busy for a week. Yeah, he underestimated me. One of the few and probably the last time he did. By the time he got home that night, I was done and jonesing for my next fix. The look of disappointment and horror on his face was comical, now. Not then.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle, I balked. I kicked and screamed. No! How could I enjoy reading without the accompanying sensual pleasures? Ha! This time I underestimated me.

What I didn’t take into account is my obsession with books. It’s the stories that I couldn’t live without. The escape.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a collector of anything but books. Every trip to a bookstore would have me leaving laden down with a stack of new prizes to explore and a lot less money in my pocket.

hotter

Click on image to buy!

I’d slip my latest read in my pocketbook to sneak a page or two throughout my day. When I was traveling, books were always the hardest things for me to pack. I’d sit on my bed with them spread out before me trying to choose which ones would make the cut. How many I would be able to read in the week or so I’d be gone? The worst was deciding which would go in my carry on. What if I got on the plane, cracked open the book and decided I hated it? Then what? So, I’d over pack and my back would pay the price.

Today, with more than 4,000 books in my iBooks and a few hundred in my Kindle app, I don’t have to choose anymore. They all come with me wherever I go. It’s amazing! I can read without stuffing books everywhere you could imagine. My back thanks me!

I’m still a collector but now I browse Goodreads, Amazon, and blogger sites looking for new books to add to my collection. And, as such, I’m reading more. I read when I’m waiting online or when I take a break. I can read at night without turning on the light. I LOVE that! I read at red lights or when stuck in traffic (shh, don’t tell anyone). I don’t freak (well, almost) when the doctor’s office keeps me waiting. What a revolution! I love you iBooks.

head-shot

Romance author Lyla Bellatas

Born Armenian American on Long Island’s Gold coast, Lyla has defied convention and morphed too many times to count. Beginning her career as an engineer, she swiftly made the move to marketer then drifted to digital design, printing CEO, and tarot enchantress, collecting stories along the way. As with her career, Lyla’s passions have also led to many outlets. She’s a high performance race car driver and driving instructor, poker player without the face, loves to shoot pool and although she hates being away from home she does enjoy exploring new places.  She was gifted her first tarot deck during a chance encounter in an elevator. Innately empathic and claircognizant, tarot unlocked the natural witch within. Lyla has taught tarot, pessomancy (reading stones) and reading junk oracles. She’s read tarot, stones and junk professionally for decades and still reads with or without a deck when the moon shines just right. Swept off her feet by a handsome Greek she met at the race track Lyla finally found her happily ever after as a wife, mother to a beautiful, spirited daughter, and writer. They live in the NYC suburbs and love the fast-paced brutal honesty, great restaurants, arts, and energy that define New York City. And they never fail to light a new/full moon candle charmed now by three.

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Romance Gives Back

20 Feb

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Today is President’s Day, a national holiday that while ostensibly is about celebrating our most notable presidents, Washington and Lincoln, it mostly means a day off from work. But many people see President’s Day as a day to give back, a day in which to service their community. With the current administration seeming to work hard to destroy all that is good and just about our country, I wanted to take this opportunity to focus on how writers and readers in Romancelandia give back. No, it’s not terribly sexy on the surface, but to my mind, there’s a sexy quality to being of service to those who can’t do for themselves.

presidents-day-quotes-5

A few weeks ago, Lady Smut Blogger Alexa Day threw down the gauntlet to challenge us as readers to support diversity in publishing by turning the page and not just buying and not just reading but truly making sure that we act on what we read to make that difference.

It’s not enough any more to just buy that book. It’s wonderful and all, but just having that one book doesn’t make you an ally. It doesn’t make you an activist. You’re going to have to read it.

Read that book. Then read another one with a different author. Consider the way the heroines walk through the world — the billionaire socialites, the ancient queens, the 18th century doctors. Travel through ancient Africa and the American South still smoldering after the Civil War. Immerse yourself in the authors’ blogs as well as their books.

We serve each other by going beyond the mere gesture. Buying that book, in order to support that author and the call for greater diversity in publishing, is absolutely fantastic. But reading it — taking in the places where your viewpoints differ, where the author’s culture teaches you something, where you have something in common — benefits both you and the author. Reading it is where we go beyond mere talk and good thoughts and move toward real understanding.

Alexa Day, Walk the Walk by Turning the Page

Many authors in Romancelandia choose to give back in tangible ways, using their exposure and reader base to support causes often near and dear to their hearts. The romance community is well know for supporting and contributing to such charities and organizations that support literacy, autism, and women and children in need, to name only a few. In this vein, I invited writer Diana Cosby to share about her current project with Habitat for Humanity, an organization I too have been privileged to work with in the past building homes in Kentucky.

NOTE: This is *not* an official Lady Smut sponsored project. All contributions by readers or bloggers are made of their own personal accord.

Take it away, Diana!

Diana Cosby’s Romance Reader’s Build A Habitat For Humanity House of Love

diana-cosby

Romance Writer Diana Cosby

Romance readers are AMAZING!  And, SO is Habitat For Humanity, a charity that I love supporting and volunteering for. So, I thought, why not pair the two and help a deserving family receive a home? And, the Diana Cosby’s Romance Reader’s Build A Habitat For Humanity House of Love fundraiser was born.

I contacted the Habitat For Humanity office in Grayson County, Texas, where I’ve had the honor of helping with several builds and spoke with Laurie Mealy, Executive Director. She embraced the project, and was thrilled at the thought of pairing romance readers, who love stories where heroes and heroines overcome challenges to make their dreams come true, with making the dream of home ownership for a deserving family a reality.

Goal:  Fund an entire home – $55,000. 

I kicked off the challenge by donating $200. As I write this, we’ve raised $9,165. Romance readers are amazing, and I have complete faith that as the stories they love, they will join together to raise the amount necessary to give a deserving family a home.

How it works:

As readers send donations to Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County for the “Diana Cosby’s Readers Build A House of Love,” the total contributions are updated below the house graphic on the upper right side of the homepage. Donations can be sent via PayPal by clicking on the house, which takes you to the donation page, or by mailing a check or money order to:

Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County

901 N. Grand Avenue

P.O. Box 2725

Sherman, TX 75091

**Please note on your donation: ‘For the Romance Readers Build A HFH House of Love.’

Thank you so much, Kiersten, for inviting me to visit the Lady Smut blog today and also to everyone who contributes for helping to make an incredible difference in a deserving family’s life. For when a family walk into a Habitat For Humanity house, it’s more than mortar and wood, it’s a place they can finally call home.

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine. Book two in her Forbidden series, Forbidden Knight, will be released in June 2017. Learn more about Diana’s books on her website www.dianacosby.com.

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

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.

The Devil Is Back in the Bayou

9 Jan

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

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

Look! A blurb!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, will be available on April 14, 2016. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via  @kierstenkrum.

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