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The Master of None “First Date” episode made me glad I’m not on Tinder

19 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m writing this post while binge watching Season 2 of Master of None, the Netflix comedy created (and often written and directed) by and starring Aziz Ansari as actor and newly single Dev Shah.

Here’s the trailer for Season 2:

It took me a little while to warm up to the show; I started Season 1 soon after it debuted, but didn’t get far. But over the last week I’ve been making my way through Season 1, then went right into Season 2.

There have been moments of recognition, but episode four of the new season, titled “First Date,” was one that made me grateful that I’m not using dating apps. I almost wrote, “grateful that I’m not single,” but that’s not totally accurate. While I’m happy to be in a five-year long-term relationship, even back when I was single, I could barely handle online dating, let alone dating apps.

I think the reason they never did the trick is that, unlike the woman Dev goes out with who, mid-date, starts using the app where they met, Love at First Sight, because she’s both just not that into him and truly enjoys swiping, I was never “into dating,” I was into meeting someone I could connect with. I hated the awkwardness of first dates, the way they could very easily feel like job interviews in more casual settings.

Back in 2010, I went on what’s still my worst date ever, in which a guy seemed to be deliberately trying to make our date agonizing. The thing is, on a dating site or app, it’s relatively easy to make yourself seem more interesting than you are in real life. The converse, for me, was also true: the few times I did using dating sites, I always felt torn between being honest about who I am and trying to upsell myself. If I painted too rosy a picture, I worried I wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. But when would the right time have been to tell someone I was a hoarder who couldn’t open the door to her apartment without slamming her body weight against it? That’s just not something that would ever work in the context of an “about me” blurb.

But Tinder, which I’ve only observed on a friend’s phone, seems to take all the pressure of summarizing yourself and presenting a pretty image to a whole new level. I imagine that if I were on it, I would also become obsessed with not the quality of my matches, but the quantity. My mood would swoop up or down depending on how popular I found myself with the people there. And while there are exceptions, I have trouble imagining I’d have met someone who I could actually settle down with via a dating app.

I’ve always preferred to meet people I date more organically, either through a shared activity (like playing Boggle or trivia, both of which have yielded me dates), via a mutual friend or simply by chance. As my sex column and erotica writing career developed, I also faced a clash between my public, online persona and the “real me.” That’s not to say that I wasn’t myself in my writing—I always was (and am), to a fault—but it’s awkward when someone can Google you and find out you like giving blowjobs or have posed nude or an endless stream of other details I’ve shared with the world. There is a tension between the me who sits around in sweats and binges TV shows, who’s super dorky and romantic and cries easily, and the more readily available version that comes up via Google. They’re all parts of me, but ones that are hard to convey in an hour or two, especially when there’s all the pressure of a first date.

I know there are some people who simply enjoy the act of dating, of going out and meeting multiple people, no matter the outcome. But I was never one of them. I was more about the destination than the journey. That’s not to say I didn’t like when a date went perfectly, the kind where I lost track of time and wound up getting home in the wee hours when I’d planned to be back early. But watching Dev go on so many dates on Master of None, I didn’t feel a shred of envy. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything, and while I don’t plan to ever be single again, if that should ever happen, I won’t be using technology to help me bond with anyone. I’ll fumble through the madness that is dating all by myself. At least I don’t have a Tinder worst date story, right?

What do you think? Are dating apps a modern blessing or curse? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Decent Acting, Gorgeous People, And BDSM! So Why Didn’t Anyone Watch Submission?

10 May

By Elizabeth Shore

A few days ago I found myself without anything to do. Well, technically, there’s always s**t to do, but nothing I felt like tackling. The solution? Cruise my way down couch jockey street, flipping channels until I landed on some mind-numbing goodness for a few hours of escape. Drink in one hand, remote in the other, I found Submission, a 6-episode series that aired last year on Showtime. Wait…last year?! Why hadn’t I heard of it? Admittedly, I’m not always hip to the latest on TV, but still. This show was right up my erotic romance alley and yet until recently had gone undiscovered.

Naturally, I binge-watched all six episodes. Not terribly impressive since they were each like 28 minutes long. Yet once I finished watching I really was perplexed about why no one’s been talking about this show. Let’s run down the list of attractions: beautiful actors (standard fare for TV shows, but still); not bad plotline, decent writing, money from Showtime. Oh, and sex. Lots and lots and lots of sex! BDSM, F/F, regular M/F, even ménage. And it was hot, too. A scene between one of the series’ main characters and an impromptu meet-up in the ladies’ room had me coming back ’round for a second viewing. De-lish!

It’s not surprising that the sex scenes are a major focus of the series. Its two creators, Jacky St. James and Paul Fishbein, have well-established creds in the adult video world. Fishbein, in fact, is the former CEO of Adult Video News and creator of the AVN awards show. So on paper it seems like this series would work. It’s even got parallels to 50 Shades. But I don’t know a single person who’s seen it and the show’s outlook for a season 2 is shaky, to put it mildly.

Here’s the plot: sexually frustrated Ashley ditches her boring boyfriend and decides to roommate with an old friend, Jules. Jules has an additional roomie, Dylan, who’s night and day different from Ashley. Dylan’s a sexually open, do-it-with-anyone kinda gal. She’s also a submissive. When Ashley meets Dylan’s master, Elliott, and becomes the object of his desire, giving Dylan the boot, things get interesting indeed. Nothing like a pissed-off subbie out for revenge. Dylan, as it turns out, knows something about Elliott that he’d rather keep secret. So unless Ashley does exactly what Dylan wants, Elliott’s in a heap o’ trouble. And naturally, adding fuel to Elliott’s fire, by this time he and Ashley are in love. Conflict abounds! Late-night smutty TV at its best. Oh, and then there’s the sex. Did I mention that?

I looked up deets on the show on IMDB and wasn’t exactly shocked to learn that the character of Dylan is played by former adult video star, Raylin Joy, whose stage name is Skin Diamond. Her character is the most sexually daring of the bunch. But here’s the interesting thing about the actress. She was born in the U.S. but lived most of her adolescent life in the U.K. She studied Dramatic Arts and her favorite subjects were ancient Greek theater and Shakespeare. For her acting final exam she played Antigone in the Sophocles play. With a theater geek background, why porn? She’s quoted as saying, “as an independent and highly sexual woman, taking charge of my own personal sexual growth in this manner was immensely empowering.”

Certainly comparisons can be drawn between Ms. Joy’s statement about her acting and why some of us choose to read and write erotic romance. There is indeed something personally empowering in creating sexually open characters and having them delve into all kinds of hot wickedness, wherever our naughty little minds choose to take them.

I personally think Showtime dropped the ball by not advertising the dang series. No one’s gonna watch if they don’t know the show exists, amiright?! Who knows if Submission will go beyond a single season, but if you want to see it for yourself, it’s streaming on demand. So if you’re sitting around with nothing to do, now you’ve got some options. 😉

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

The end of an awful marriage might be the beginning of something smoking hot. Click to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

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

4 May

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

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

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

OUR BLOGGERS:

Elizabeth Shore

G.G. Andrew

Kiersten Hallie Krum (KHK)

Alexa Day

Rachel Kramer Bussel (RKB)

Elizabeth SaFleur (ESF)

Isabelle Drake

Thien-Kim Lam (TKL)

Madeline Iva

Ready to play? Here we go——

Lady Smut TBR List #1

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #2

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

Lady Smut TBR List #3

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #4

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #5

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #6

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #7

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

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

Lady Smut TBR List #8

Hint: This blogger is a capital BDSM Erom author

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

Lady Smut TBR List #9

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

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

Raising the Bar: Romance Has the Right to a Better Attorney

25 Apr

Is Dean Strang the new face of romance? Maybe. But let’s find a sensitive way to tell him that.

By Alexa Day

I have not been a huge fan of the lawyer as romance hero. Part of my resistance comes from reality, I imagine. As an attorney, I spent a great deal of time around other attorneys, and nothing cures an infatuation with lawyers faster than constant proximity to them. No offense meant, of course, to any members of the bar who might be hanging out here with me.

A larger part of the problem is that romance is generally fixated on the wealthiest fraction of the legal profession. I get that part of the allure of the super-rich hero is the comfort and security of money. But the world is filled with women who have their own comfort and security. And way too many of romance’s bumper crop of well-to-do heroes are … well … domineering jackasses.

They’re trying to impress people. They think the money makes them important. Money might not buy them love, but it’s always good for securing obedience and deference, and they’re willing to settle.

There’s a suggestion that the billionaire hero is on his way out, which is fine by me. I won’t miss them terribly, and they can take their alpha lawyer friends with them. But there’s an opportunity to reform the lawyer hero. If reality drove me away from lawyers in romance, then it makes sense in this great circle of life that reality would bring me back to the bar.

The last 18 months or so have been very good for the real life lawyer hero. Last winter’s film Loving featured two of them, bright-eyed ACLU crusaders who went to the wall to defend Richard and Mildred Loving’s right to be married. 13th and Time: The Kalief Browder Story introduce a few more, good people motivated primarily by the need to set things right. Off screen, the bold men and women of the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are enjoying a moment in the sun, garnered under dark circumstances. The lawyers on the front lines here are not rolling in cash. One has to borrow an office. Another seems to be working in a windowless room just large enough for his desk and two chairs. Filmmakers make it a point to describe public defenders as hard-working, talented practitioners facing an impossible workload. Social media outlets emphasize that good lawyers are a bright light in a dark world.

They’re passionate. They’re tenacious. They know everything about the troubles that keep their clients awake at night, and they’re willing to shoulder as much of that weight as they can. They consider it their duty to ease fears, inspire confidence, and keep moving forward. They inspire that most blessed of feelings: Everything is going to be all right now.

And the legal industry is filled with attorneys just like this. Shouldn’t there be more of them in romance?

Of course, as an erotic romance author, I have to mention the delightful fiction potential presented by the rules preventing lawyers from sleeping with their clients. So no matter how attracted we might be to one another, nothing can happen without some fairly dire consequences. Except for impure thoughts. Impure thoughts about the forbidden can always happen. That’s great news for romance fiction, honestly — who doesn’t love a hearty struggle with impure thoughts? Even under extreme pressure, it’s hard to avoid an impure thought or three for the person who can create the feeling that everything will be all right now.

Two things, and then I’ll leave you to consider where the good lawyers of romance are (or to tell me where they are).

Why haven’t I mentioned the lawyer heroine?

My experience is that we already expect the lawyer heroine to take on this nurturing role. I don’t think we have nearly as many rich, hard-charging female attorneys as we have family lawyers, guardians ad litem, and the like. On the one hand, it’s good to see so many characters in these important lines of work, but on the other, it’s always reminded me of the days when heroines could only be schoolteachers and nurses. The iron ladies of the law deserve love, too.

Finally, I imagine some of you are wondering how I’ve gone on for this long without mentioning Dean Strang. I haven’t forgotten Dean. I just think he deserves his own space.

Dean Strang appeared on the worldwide stage in the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer. He and his partner, Jerry Buting, take up the defense of Steven Avery in a murder case most charitably described as a giant clusterfuck. Dean is exactly the sort of lawyer the romance genre needs.

By the time he appears in the third episode, Dean is a reassuring presence. He’s not a physically imposing figure at all. He looks out at the world through big glasses, and his fashion choices made waves on social media for being ultranormal. (In fairness, he can successfully wear the color popularly known as buttercup. That deserves a nod from social media.)

As soon as Dean shows up, he understands what’s happening to his client and to the case immediately, and as a result, we feel safer, almost without knowing why. We learn that local law enforcement regards Dean with a respect that approaches apprehension. He is quick to call prosecutors out on missteps, and his attention to Avery’s alleged accomplice, a teenager who is not his client, is heartwarming.

The purity of Dean’s devotion to the justice system is untainted by any trace of naivete. He knows how things actually work and how they’re supposed to work. He believes in the highest possible standard but knows that he’s working in an imperfect world. To watch Dean work is to watch someone capable of deep love for a system that cannot love him back if it’s going to function the way he needs it to. He is intense and magnetic, and he has everyone leaning forward, just by doing his job.

He throws everything he has at the idea that the justice system should function effectively and that it’s his job to make sure that it does. His quiet fury, directed at those who are trying hard to subvert the system to protect themselves, makes the series work. Before long, viewers are showing up for Dean. The world seems a little hollow when he’s gone because we’re not so sure that everything will be all right.

Dean is surprised he has groupies. I’m not. I’m not surprised at all.

Romance doesn’t need more lawyer heroes. It needs better lawyer heroes.

It needs the man completely, but not blindly, devoted to justice. It needs the man who’s comfortable shouldering a client’s burden. It needs the man who has sacrificed wealth and comfort for limited funds and an imposing workload because his job saves lives.

It needs the sort of man who is surprised to find he has groupies.

Does this guy already practice in Romancelandia? Call him out in the comments and I’ll sit corrected.

In the meantime, follow Lady Smut.

Did you maybe bend the rule and touch your attorney? It’s okay. You can tell us.

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

Fantasizing About The Hot Villain: Women as Hunters

20 Apr

by Madeline Iva

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

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

THE VILLAIN AS ROMANTIC CHALLENGE:

Some women are hunters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE VILLAIN AS COLD, ISOLATED MAN:

Fassy as Magnito in the Xmen franchise might as well be singing “Allllll by mysellllf”.   He’s an iceberg and you want to thaw him out. 

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

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

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

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

…and therefore I survive and therefore I WIN.

Yeah—call this Stockholm Syndrome–sure, go ahead.

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

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

SO WHY ARE WE LIKE THIS?

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

THE WARRIOR GENE

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

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

THE WARRIOR MATE GENE

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

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

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

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

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

You Had Me At “Hi”: Scandal Goes Through the Looking Glass, People

18 Apr

But is it all a dream?

By Alexa Day

“For of all sad words of tongue and pen

The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

— John Greenleaf Whittier

Two immensely powerful words: what if.

They lead to a world that doesn’t exist, an imagined world where we have the chance to fix mistakes or indulge in every imprudent temptation we avoided in real life. “What if” creates a world full of adventures and devoid of regrets.

It can be a place to turn around, to get back on course.

Scandal needed to spend a little time in the World of What If.

By the time I stopped watching, Scandal had lost its way. It had drifted from tempestuous romance and outrageous plot twists into espionage and family dysfunction. Along the way, it shed lots of viewers. Not long ago, the series hit all-time low ratings.

But last week, for its 100th episode, Scandal spent an hour in the World of What If. Trapped between Fitz and Jake in a far less sexy way than I’d become used to, Olivia wonders how different her life would be if she hadn’t agreed to rig the presidential election for Fitz so long ago. It’s a tempting fantasy, even for one who’s had to decide between two men like Fitz and Jake, and she indulges in the daydream thoroughly.

At first it seems that things would be easier in a world where Defiance never happened. Without the presidency to support it, Fitz’s marriage to Mellie doesn’t survive. Without the presidency to impede it, Fitz is free to marry Olivia. Just a few minutes in, and the what if episode gives us estranged Scandal fans something we’ve wanted for a long time. We get a very stylish wedding, complete with a classic soul soundtrack. We’ve gone back in time to a place before B613, before the weekly Shonda-logue. We’ve returned to a Scandal with familiar faces gone too soon, long stares heavy with naked longing, and that greeting.

“Hi.”

This gratification is wonderful while it lasts.

Everything seems fine at first. It’s better than fine. It’s like all the things that chased me away from Scandal have simply been wished away. But while an alternate universe might change a person’s surroundings, it does little to change one’s character. Olivia still doesn’t know how to be happy in a relationship, and without the presidency, Fitz has enough time to worry about his place in her life. It’s not long before they’re fighting over something again, but this is not the familiar back and forth that drove me away from the series. This time, Fitz wants a divorce.

This still felt like good news to me, and not like before, in the prime universe, when I just wanted the two of them to stop talking to each other if they couldn’t be together. I was hopeful, at least partially because I didn’t want to let go of the daydream. Maybe, in this alternate world, they’d find their way back to each other, even if they only managed to stay put for the rest of the hour.

Alternate universe Easter eggs made the time pass quickly. Without black ops, Huck and Quinn are as close to normal people as their natures permit. Huck is more disheveled than his prime universe self, but he’s close enough to Olivia to walk her down the aisle. He’s a superfan of a Bachelor-esque dating show featuring his one-time prime universe sweetheart, Quinn. For her part, Quinn’s a believer in true love, happily ever after, and going down on Fitz behind closed doors. She’s in it for the attention, not unlike her counterpart.

Cyrus catches Mellie at a vulnerable moment, on the outside of the wedding, trying to peek in. Cyrus is still in the closet and trying to stay there, so when his pep talk with the heartbroken Mellie leads to a kiss, the opportunistic Cyrus makes sure that kiss leads to marriage … and later, to her very own presidential campaign. Cyrus has always wanted the Oval Office for himself. Running the country through Mellie would work just fine for him.

It’s crazy, soaptastic fun, loaded with twists and backed with a well-curated soundtrack. But no one stays in the alternate universe forever, and finally we travel back to Olivia and Fitz and their future, together or apart.

Fitz and Olivia actually manage a compromise, an agreement that has a chance of making them both happy. It probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise, right? There’s no sense in traveling to an alternate universe to make the same mistakes for the same reasons. But why are these two people coming together now? They still have the same hangups. I still don’t think either of them knows how to be in a relationship.

But Olivia and Fitz have a much easier time in the mirror world because no one is president. And as Olivia returns to reality, I think she realizes that her reality is about to merge with that daydream as Fitz’s term in the White House ends.

What does it all mean, now that the dream is over? Are we returning to the Scandal of old? Will I be on the edge of my seat, waiting for “hi”?

I don’t know. Right now, I only know that I watched an entire episode of Scandal, and I’m thinking about watching the next one. That hasn’t happened in way too long.

Are you watching Scandal? Big fan of the alternate universe plotline? I’ll meet you in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. What if has never been so much fun!

Heading to Atlanta for the RT Booklovers Convention? So are we.

Crowns! Fetish Toys! Booooks! All can be won at the Ladysmut.com reader event — Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever, at the RT Booklovers Convention.  Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past on Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Bang-able Villains

12 Apr

Hello Lovely Readers! Elizabeth Shore is away today. Instead, we have a happily edgy post from the amazing and kick-ass Saranna DeWylde here.  I asked Saranna to do a guest post after I saw this exchange on facebook:

Yes! Exactly!

So I asked Saranna to talk to us about why we women are sometimes (often?) a bit more interested in a really good villain than they are the hero.

I absolutely love a well-constructed villain. I don’t mean an anti-hero, I like them, but this post is all about the E-ville. Is that a misspelling? Not at all. Say it out loud, roll it around in your mouth. You’re not a good villain unless you have the mustache-twirling pronunciation. Maybe even a bit of goatee stroking. You know what I mean?

No, I didn’t. 

When I first think about favorite villains, Hannibal Lecter comes to mind, but he’s not really a villain anymore, is he? In the television show, he’s more of an anti-hero.

 

Is he??? I haven’t seen this show, but I’ve heard so much about it…Check out the preview above.

What especially interests me about villains and their bangability is societal reaction and what we deem acceptably attractive in people. No one thinks anything about me saying I’d like give Darth Vader a run for his money except to say that maybe his parts don’t work in that suit. I maintain he could probably give really great orgasms with The Force. A little breath play, and pretty much whatever else he wanted you to feel. (Is it getting hot in here, or is just me?)

Old Darth does it for Saranna, Kylo Ren is all tortured and interesting to a new generation.

If I say I thought Paul Spector was hot from The Fall, I’d be one of those twisted girls into serial killers. But I know real serial killers. I was a prison guard. I hung out with them for eight hours a day, sometimes sixteen. None of them look like Jamie Dornan. And none of them were ever the least bit attractive to me.

Which is not to suggest that because someone is physically handsome in real life he’s NOT a serial killer….Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha

(Incidentally, I didn’t crush on Jamie Dornan until The Fall.)

Fictional evil is attractive. There’s a nod to everything that’s not the ideal. That’s not a princess. That’s not perfect. And part of us wants them to win because that means we can too. A charismatic villain makes so much easier to acknowledge our own sins, see our own dark places, and we can empathize with him in fiction, because we don’t have to own our massive flaws for real.

I find when a hero holds up his virtues it’s much harder for me to say, yes…that’s me too. The writers of Luther posited through show dialogue that women specifically were attracted to evil men because we were able to claim some of their power for our own. There might be something to that.

While we’re at it, I kind of have a type. The Devil. Almost anyone can play The Devil, and that’s an insta-girl boner. Hell, this could probably comprise most of my list. Apologies to Tom Ellis in Lucifer, though. He’s hot, but he started out an antihero so he doesn’t make my list. So pretty, though.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer

With that said, let’s open our Slam Books to

Top Eleven Villains I’d Bang.

Not ten, because I’m being contrary in honor of our villains. (After, you better share yours, too, or I’m not going to share my slap bracelets.)

In no particular order:

Darth Vader– As I said before, he could do some crazy shit with The Force. I just keep thinking about that choke hold. Amirite?

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho– That might actually be bad sex. I’m not so much down for the coat hanger and he’s so arrogant, he’s probably terrible in bed. I think I really just want to pet his shoulders and his hair after we eat at Dorsia.

Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), The Fall– Well, I mean. C’mon.

Paul Spector in The Fall, aka Jamie Dornan

Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek), From Dusk Till Dawn– Everyone wants to let her bite them. Everyone. She’s single-minded in her approach to food and any other pleasures. I support this wholeheartedly.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), The Wolf of Wall Street– I’m not sure if it’s the part where he says, “the book, motherfucker) or if it’s because he’s unrepentant about what a piece of shit he is, and I don’t know if I’d think the real JB was attractive, because he did actually hurt people. But his characterization? Yeah, I’d hit that.

Lizzie Borden (Christian Ricci) Lizzie Borden series– Here’s a woman who isn’t taking shit from anyone. She knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to take it. Whatever the cost.

Viggo Mortenson, The Prophecy– His portrayal of the Big D is one of the best ever. He’s not meant to be attractive, yet, somehow still is. He’s horrible, and awful and I love every second of it. “Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers every night. And then you would jump into bed, so afraid that I was under there. And I was!” Really, do you promise? Please?

Gabriel Byrne, End of Days– Gimme. (I also dug him as the priest in Stigmata, but he was sort of a hero there. Kinda. It doesn’t count.)

Mark Pellegrino, Supernatural– He’s almost an anti-hero. But not quite. Just enough… I love his character so much.

Sam Neil, The Omen Part 6400-I don’t know. I just can’t help myself.

Bradley James, The Omen TV series-He doesn’t want to be bad, he just is. And when he finally owns it? Boo yeah. Bring it, handsome!

Anyway, those are my eleven for the moment. My list is ever-changing, but I’d love to know which villains you’d like to lock in your bedroom. Tell me in the comments below.

Want more Saranna? Check her out on facebook, or sign up for her newsletter at her website. Tomorrow I’m responding more to Saranna’s post — check it out!

And follow us at Lady Smut where we’ll happily explore your dark side all night long.

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.

Let’s Not Wait Until We’re 70 to Talk About Sex Toys

7 Apr

by Thien-Kim Lam

Netflix's Grace and Frankie

I’m not a big fan of sitcoms, but Netflix’s Grace & Frankie has been lighting up my television. I’ve even been tempted to cheat on my husband and watch ahead. But I’m not. I promise.

The premise of the show sounds like romance tropes on crack. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) learn that their husbands have been secret lovers for twenty years. You read that right. Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) have come out and want to get married. Grace and Frankie, who couldn’t be more more different, are thrown together with crisis as their common denominator. The fallout is both entertaining and awkward as the children try not to take sides between their mothers and their step dad-to-be.

 

via Giphy

What makes the show different from your typical romance is that our heroines are well into their 70s. There aren’t very many romance books that feature heroines over fifty. Even Hollywood isn’t kind to women actresses once they reach their forties. To see older women playing funny, ambitious, and even raunchy multi-dimensional characters? I love it.

While I’m not even close to their ages, I love seeing these two amazing women and the characters they embody every night on my tv.

I learned a something very important from Grace and Frankie: Don’t wait until you’re 70 to talk about sex toys with your friends.

via Giphy

In season two, the two women have many discussions about lube and vibrators. The discussions aren’t always easy or comfortable for either characters. Even though Grace ran a successful skincare business, she still has a hard time ask for what she needs during sex. I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say that Frankie makes her own lube out of yams.

Netflix even made this fake commercial for her yam lube:

During the twelve years that I sold sex toys at home parties, the majority of my clients were embarrassed to discuss sex toys and speaking up in the bedroom. You might scoff and say it’s an older generation thing, but that wasn’t what I saw.

Women of all ages, social class, and ethnicity had a tough time talking about sex. They were comfortable discussing it with me, a person they’d only met. But their friends? It took a few glass of wine to reach that comfort level. Some didn’t even talk to their husband about their lack of orgasms during sex.

We’re excited to tell everyone about the most comfortable yet stylish shoes we’ve found,so why can’t we do that with sex toys? Talk to your girlfriends about sex, vibrators, lube, foreplay–anything sex and body related. Maybe a friend tried a new position that blows her mind. Or you found a vibrator that makes you sing–loud.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Here’s some ideas:

  • Watch Grace and Frankie together.
  • Visit boutique sex shops with your friends
  • Host a home sex toy party
  • Start an erotic romance book club

Sex is fun. The more you talk about it, the less taboo it feels.

Do you talk to your friends about sex toys?

Thien-Kim Lam is runs an erotic romance virtual book club and you’re invited! She is currently writing romances about Asian American women who have mega hot sex. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries included. Check her Pleasure Pairings guide with buzzy recommendations for the adventurous reader

Of Love and Tigers on The Walking Dead

4 Apr

Like Sixteen Candles, but with MREs.

By Alexa Day

Warning: This post is wall-to-wall spoilers for the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead.

Season 7 of The Walking Dead has been leading up to the phenomenon known to readers as the All-Out War. But right now, on the eve of war, the conflict that finally put most of the zombie apocalypse’s factions in one place at one time has a clear winner.

Love is winning.

And tigers. Tigers are also winning.

Seriously, it’s all spoilers from here. Last warning.

I wasn’t sure I’d get through this season. After losing Glenn and Abraham in the season opener, I had to watch Rick disintegrate in front of a schoolyard bully whose only weapons were a bat and the inability to shut up. My attention began to wander. What happened to Rick, a man who tore out an enemy’s throat with his teeth? What was Time After Time like? When did American Crime come on?

Still, I stuck around all season long. I’d have felt awful if I’d abandoned my favorite television couple. And now I’m glad I stayed.

First, let’s salute the little things that make TWD great.

Carol has come out of the dark and reclaimed her status as BAMF. Earlier in the season, she had trouble reconciling her own vulnerability with her emerging identity as a true warrior. Her ability to open her heart to other people was, she felt, at odds with her ability to herd people into a room filled with gasoline before tossing in a lighter. On Sunday, I think she discovered that embracing her lethal self is the highest form of service to those she loves. Watching her in a suit of shining armor, among King Ezekiel’s knights and alongside His Majesty’s tiger, Shiva, was a joyful experience.

Jadis, as leader of the trash-dwelling Scavengers, is also a joy to watch. The Scavengers feel like a matriarchal society — most of Jadis’s lieutenants are women. And it’s notable that when Jadis decides she wants a handful of Rick, she goes right to Michonne for permission. Either she presumes Rick would be okay with a night of garbage-scented loving, or she’s decided his opinion just isn’t that important. (Michonne declined to loan Rick out. No doubt she was concerned that she’d have to run his junk through a car wash with extra foam — twice — afterwards.) Still, whatever else we might think of Jadis, it’s important that, in her peculiar, disjointed English, she did ask for permission before advancing on Rick. A lot of people wouldn’t bother with such pleasantries, but the “filthy garbage people” (says Negan) do respect some of society’s rules, after all.

All of this is secondary to the core of the episode, a story about just how deep love will go at the end of the world.

Love has sidled up on people this season, surprising them with its magnitude and persistence. And on Sunday night, amid the gunfire, love’s powerful current made its presence felt.

As soon as CBS announced that Sonequa Martin-Green would have the leading role in Star Trek: Discovery, people started to count the days until Sasha made her exit from TWD. Still, The Walking Dead is not television as usual. Anything can happen — or not happen — to anyone at any time. So while I was watching Sasha listen to her mp3 player in the dark, it took me a little while to accept that these were the final moments I’d have with this character.

Sasha’s last thoughts are of Abraham. We only really witnessed the surface of their relationship, the way strangers would observe a new couple on an early date. He was the Abraham we’d come to know, full of a casual, self-deprecating vulgarity. Courtship brought out a certain warmth in her, something we’d seen before with Bob and hoped to see again.

But in her memories, we get to see an Abraham we didn’t really know. Sure, he still says he hates the beach because it’s like getting his nut-sack sandblasted. He’s not totally different. But he’s a gentler, sweeter Abraham in Sasha’s memories, held so dear in her mind that she can recite every word he said to her during their last conversation. We see their relationship in a way neither would have shared with the group. They are tender and still hesitant with each other, but they’re starting to strengthen each other as well.

That lost possibility is the reason Abraham is in Sasha’s thoughts, instead of Bob or her own brother, Tyreese. We mourn the things that might have been differently. Grief for the things that have run their course, or for the people we’ve had a chance to say goodbye to, is not the same. Together, Sasha and Abraham might have complemented each other in a way that would rival Rick and Michonne. Sasha and Abraham had a lot to lose, and he was gone perhaps before they realized it.

A couple of weeks ago, Rick and Michonne enjoyed a honeymoon of sorts, complete with MREs, a drop through the rotted roof of a building (followed by giggles), and a deserted carnival where Rick tries to shoot a deer for his sweetheart. Romance is unpredictable in the new world, though, and Rick drops from his vantage point on a Ferris wheel into a crowd of zombies, who close in on him.

Michonne freezes. We know Rick isn’t dead — but she doesn’t. The certainty that she’s lost him seizes her, and she drops her ever-present katana. She’s speechless and defenseless, until he emerges from a nearby shelter, and the two go back to killing zombies and taking names.

Later, shaken by the close call, Michonne confesses that she can’t function if she loses him. Rick assures her that she can, and that she’ll have to face the possibility that she will have to survive him. This same conflict splintered Carol earlier this season. Neither woman could reconcile her need to hold on to loved ones with the vicious reality of life, but by the end of the season, both are trying to get to that place.

Rick might be sure that Michonne will survive in his absence, but before long, he’ll find himself in her shoes. After Jadis’s Scavengers turn against our heroes, Michonne finds herself in a fight for her life. Rick knows she’s locked in combat with an enemy, but he’s powerless to help her and too far away to see what’s happening. When he hears someone fall, screaming, from a distant rooftop, we know Michonne isn’t dead — but Rick doesn’t.

By the time he thinks he’s lost Michonne, the battle seems lost. Negan has Rick and Carl on their knees. He’s threatened to cut off Rick’s hand, an event graphic novel fans have been grimly anticipating for weeks. But when Rick hears the death shriek from Michonne’s direction, the last of his resolve deserts him. Something seems to fall away from him. Maybe it really is over.

Whether he’d been planning to surrender before or not, Rick seems more at peace with the decision and his fate at Negan’s hands once he believes Michonne is gone.

But then Shiva the tiger pounces on one of Negan’s Saviors, and all is eventually restored.

The experts are right. The tiger is not a pet.

Regrouping from yet another attack on Alexandria, and embracing all who came to the rescue, leads Rick to Maggie. He tells her that she’d done the right thing by joining the battle, just in time.

For Maggie, this is both simpler and much more complicated than a choice.

Maggie responds that the decision to rescue Alexandria didn’t belong to her. It originated with Glenn, who put himself in danger to help Rick, a stranger, all those episodes ago. That chain of events led one person to another, making strangers friends and binding friends into family.

Family always saves family. It’s not a choice. It’s just reality. To face the possibility of loss and fight for the future anyway — that’s what love is. It’s what love does.

That’s a lot to think about until October.

Well, that and watching Shiva leap into action. I know I’ll be replaying that moment all summer long.

This summer, you can do more than just follow Lady Smut! 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 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Buffy, But More Bawdy: Deborah Wilde’s The Unlikeable Demon Hunter and Crazyhead

31 Mar

by G.G. Andrew

I miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A lot of us do, especially with the recent release of the cast photo for the 20th year reunion of the popular Joss Whedon show about a chosen one and her friends battling supernatural baddies. Along with its stellar cast, the show had wit, romance, and demons–what’s not to miss about that trio of goodness?

But as it turns out, Buffy is back. She’s just a bit raunchier.

This November I discovered the show Crazyhead on Netflix (via Madeline Iva; thank you, Madeline!). A British show, it’s the story of two women who form a friendship because they can both see, and thus fight, demons. If you haven’t already, check out Madeline’s post on all the reasons the show is fantastic. Like Madeline, I read many reviews on the show comparing it to Buffy, and while I can see that it’s a direct descendant in many ways, it’s very much its own animal. I think it owes as much to the rise in female comedy in recent years as it does to Whedon. Because Crazyhead is not only funny, but pretty dirty. In an early episode, one of the women pees on her friend to exorcise the demon that’s inside her. There’s also foul language and awkward sexual encounters aplenty.

April marks the debut of urban fantasy author Deborah Wilde‘s Unlikeable Demon Hunter series. I’m reading an advanced copy of the first book right now, and it’s also filling that sweet spot that was vacated by Buffy, but adding its own hilariously adult humor to the mix, much like Crazyhead does. To see what I mean, check out the beginning of the book’s blurb:

The age-old story of what happens when a foul-mouthed, romance impaired heroine with no edit button and a predilection for hot sex is faced with her worst nightmare–a purpose…

Deborah Wilde describes her books as “Bridesmaids meets Buffy,” which is the perfect way to capture this awesome thing I see happening here: supernatural stories with kick-ass heroines who push the envelope humor-wise.

Nava Katz, the heroine of The Unlikeable Demon Hunter, is a party girl who’s taking a walk of shame back home after a hookup when she crashes her twin brother’s initiation into a demon-hunting brotherhood by trying to get herself a little hair of the dog–which turns out to be wine intended for the ceremony. Then she’s got another surprise coming: she appears to be chosen instead of her twin. The brotherhood, which is a Jewish organization tracing back to King David and a boys-only club, is not somewhere where Nava thinks she fits. She wears “trollop togs,” has a “collage of speeding tickets spelling out vroom” in her room, and feels more loyalty to her bras than her hookups. She sometimes ends up in bed with demons, like you do. And when she sees hot barkeeps, she tends to think thoughts like these: “Ladytown flooded like it was time to start collecting two of every animal.”

Basically, Nava’s like the fun-loving, dirty-talking, drink-tossing best friend you’d want to take to the bar. But you’d also want her around, because, you know, demons.

Buffy will always have a special place in my heart, but nowadays when I often spend my days doing too much adulting, there’s nothing better than ending the day with the naughty laughs I get from Nava Katz or the girls in Crazyhead. I’m hoping these saucy supernatural stories are here to stay, because I’ll keep devouring them.

The Unlikeable Demon Hunter releases April 18, but you can snag it for .99 as a preorder right now.

What have you been filling the Buffy-shaped hole in your life with? Let us know here or on our Facebook page!

~

Subscribe to the Lady Smut newsletter to learn more about our authors and books, plus get free stories all year long!

Also: 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, fetish toys, books and more. (Ooo, and we’ll have brownies….) Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Go here to find out more!

G.G. Andrew writes quirky romantic comedy. Her latest is the short story Girl Meets Grammarian in the geek romance anthology Covalent Bonds. It involves a sexy sentence diagramming scene or two, because YES.

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