Tag Archives: Ellora’s Cave

Fondled And Gobbled: Someone Had To Do It – Book Review

13 Mar

Fondled and GobbledIt all started, according to the introduction of Ellora’s Cave, Fondled And Gobbled: Someone Had To Do It, at last year’s RomantiCon convention. Alcohol-fueled minds played a significant role. Someone started a conversation about favorite scenes in erotic romances, someone else started speculating about how funny it would be to do a parody of them, and thus this amusing, lighthearted anthology was born.

The five short stories in this quick, fun read are all different, but they maintain the goal of spoofing erotic romance. They all garnered at least a smile for me, with a couple of them being straight laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The first story in the book, Cassandra Carr’s Wild Fantasy Hero, was also my favorite. It’s a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey, with the heroine being Steele Ana and the hero Grey Christian. The story would be funny even without the benefit of having read Fifty Shades, but certainly the guffaws are enhanced if you have. Carr’s writing sprinkles hilarious metaphors throughout the story, and she definitely comes up with some doozies. ” . . . she fastened her lips arond the head and sucked hard, using Grey’s cock like a huge straw. Grey’s hands flew into her hair and he steered her like he was captaining an F-18.”

Next is Danica Avet’s Cookie Bound. The hero appears to be perfect: perfect gentleman (he saves her from a mugging), perfect body, wealthy, kind . . . but his skills in the bedroom fall a little short, starting with his “tootsie roll” sized, ahem, appendage.

We get alien sex in Lea Barrymire’s Moonlust Paradise, in which the alien has three – count ’em! – three cocks that he uses with exemplary skill to seduce his Earth woman soulmate. I had to laugh when the alien asks Earth girl Missy, who’s busy orally  pleasuring him, what her name is. “Mithy,” she replies, since her mouth is, you know, full.

Piper Trace gives us Slave To The Sausage, a group sex spoof with sex-crazed Emily Justasalad who, despite her last name, has got to have “meat.” Enter the Broadshaft Brothers, owners of a pizzeria who fill Emily’s wishes and all of her orifices with their hot man sausages. “Go ahead,” says the brothers’ restaurant tagline. “Just try to beat our meat!”

The final story is Anya Richards’ Surprise Submissive, the M/M story in the lot. I liked this story, with its amusing take on the dom/submissive genre, but I actually thought it was also kinda hot.

Speaking of that, as you can imagine these stories aren’t meant to get us panting and reaching for a fan and ice chips as we’re reading them. They’re funny and clever and while they may leave you wanting more, it’s for the laughs and not the sex. And humor, like anything, can be taste specific. In places where I was snorting others may be snoozing. But it’s a fun book and a refreshing way to look at the world of erotic romance. Check it out. If it leaves you wanting more, EC has also released Fondled and Gobbled: Going Back For Seconds.

What’s In A Cover?

28 Feb

ShameWhat’s in a name? That’s which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.  

So Romeo would were he not Romeo called.

But what about Romeo’s face? What about his body? As a writer, I know it’s all about the words, but hey, I’m a very visual person too.  Take my office, for instance.  All my projects are out on my desk, with the important ones on top.  If it’s in the filing cabinet, then I’m not thinking about it.  Outta sight, outta mind.  I’ve got to see it to get excited about it.

So I really appreciate a great romance book cover–especially a great erotic romance cover.  I love romance covers that make me take a second look.  An excellent cover makes me covet a book that I wouldn’t have desired otherwise.

Good or bad? You decide. The title is just too much.

Good or bad? You decide. The title is just too much.

I tip my hat to the people who design them.  I bet it’s a lot harder than it looks. For instance, those romance covers where it indicates a woman is in a menage with several guys.  I bet this is a cover design specialty.  Clearly you want to indicate that there are several men here and one woman, but you don’t want to make it look like a dog pile.  Then there’s the way in which a few men are touching the woman at the same time.  You don’t want the woman to look like she’s in a relationship with an octopus–some multi-armed, naked torso mutant.

Looking through some recent erotic romance books out in the world, I noticed that I have 5 categories of romance covers I’m drawn to.  Here they are:

1) The arty cover.  So arty, you might call it Ahhhhr-ty.  I notice that black, red, and white cover designs are really in right now.

Juicy cleavage never did a cover wrong.

Juicy cleavage never did a cover wrong.

2) The squidy shameful cover–but one with taste.  Something that indicates a little wiggling is going on inside the book.Owning Wed

3) The “I just got f***ed real good cover.Dark Destiny

4) The “I’m just about to get f***ed real good cover.Revving Her Up

5) And finally: the emotive cover.  Cowboys

Faces are hard.  I don’t want to de-personalize others, but it’s so easy to have an expression in a woman’s mouth that makes me wrinkle my nose.

Almost coming out of her corset distracts you from her face a little.

Almost coming out of her corset distracts you from her face a little.

A certain tension around the lips can read, well, bitchy.  There’s bitchy hot, of course, which is great, but I’m talking bitchy in an annoying way.  I also don’t care for the “I’m a dumb blonde mouth”.  So anyway, my guess is that it’s a lot harder than it looks to get an erotic romance cover with emotions on the face that work.  This one worked for me, but her eye is a little dead–if you’d started at her nose I wouldn’t have complained.

study 2What kind of cover do you like best? I found an entirely different cover for A STUDY IN SHAME. Here it is. They look about the same in terms of age and color palate, so I wonder if one cover was designed for women, and another cover for men.  What do you think?

Seeking Sexy Stories

6 Feb

SONY DSCWe write a lot on Lady Smut about romance and sex. We like it, we read about it, we write about it, we talk about it. But it occurred to me that we may have a “can’t see the forest for the trees” kinda thing going on with our own blog. What I mean is, because we’re so entrenched in the industry, we’re also very familiar with where one can go to download hot, sexy stories. But such may not be the case for our readers. While it’s easy enough to do a search on Google, what you get back may very well be nothing more than  information overload. There are a lot of publishers of romance and erotic romance out there. But which ones are good? Which ones really put their writers to the test to offer up quality stories and not just poorly written, cheap schlock that’ll make you regret ever opening chapter one. How does an interested reader wade through the morass?

Fear not! Lady Smut is here to help. Here we offer some suggestions on where to find quality erotic romance for the most discerning reader (and a couple of places to avoid).

Carina Press is the digital arm of Harlequin. They publish both erotic romance and erotica. Carina says their digital focus allows them “greater flexibility” (according to their website) in the type of stories they acquire. The flexibility, one assumes, is from the mothership of Harlequin itself which likely has more rigid criteria in what its editors can bring in. Carina has the benefit of the Harlequin marketing machine (and $$) behind it and produces high quality books. The erotic romance stories are definitely hot, but if you’re looking for truly scorching reads, there are a few more publishers for your consideration.

Founded in 2000, Ellora’s Cave is a well-established publisher of erotic romance. They feature four imprints: Romantica, their own trademark blend of erotic romance; Exotica, where the emphasis is on the heroine’s sexual journey instead of the development of a relationship; EC for Men, featuring hot stories from the man’s point of view;  and Blush, Ellora’s Cave’s “traditional” romance imprint with less emphasis on sex. Ellora’s Cave has been around for awhile and offers a large variety of lines within their imprints to suit an array of tastes.

I would be remiss for failing to mention my own publisher, The Wild Rose Press. TWRP will be publishing my contemporary erotic romance, Hot Bayou Nights, later this year. Their tagline is “where romance blooms,” and their hot line, the Scarlet Rose books, are “where passion burns.” TWRP publishes in both electronic and print and has a variety of erotic romance stories ranging from “traditional” male/female to menage, BDSM, and homosexual.

Some other reputable, established erotic romance publishers include Samhain, Loose ID, Phaze, New Concepts, and Carnal Desires, which says they publish “sophisticated erotic literature.” A peek at their site, however, does state that romance must be central to the plots so I’m including them here.

Several publishers feature BBW (big, beautiful women) stories. Resplendence Publishing is one of them. They have a nice looking, easy-to-navigate website with BBW right at the top. Draumr Publishing seems to have a very strong emphasis on BBW romance, although their website leaves something to be desired.

If you’re looking for gay romance there are a lot of good publishers to select from, including Torquere Press, Ravenous Romance, and ManLove Romance.

Lastly, I mentioned a couple of places to avoid. Because we at Lady Smut are erotic romance writers, we would never recommend publishers who’ve been listed with questionable dealings with their authors. Among them I would list Red Rose Publishing (not in any way to be confused with The Wild Rose Press); Noble Romance, and Naughty Nights Press.

I’m hopeful that I’ve introduced you to at least one or two new publishers. Give these presses a chance. Check out their websites and the books they offer and pick up some hot new sexy stories. Enjoy!

Forbidden Pleasure

21 Jan

Liz Everly’s Sexy Saturday Round Up this week linked to an interesting article at MODERNMAN.COM about “7 Sex Moves You Use That Women Hate”.

The article definitely hits upon a few home truths about sex in our modern times.  (Mister, if you know what’s good for you, don’t mess with Madeline’s beauty sleep.)

While the article perhaps gives the unflattering impression that most men are like eager young dogs–pantingly happy to have any kind of sex, any time, any place, the tips are mostly for men who perhaps aren’t very observant or quick to pick up on subtle female behavioral and verbal cues.

Why is all the pressure on men to understand what women want instead of women speaking up? Why can’t women speak up without bruising the oh-so-sensitive male ego? Ah, communicating about sex!  It just ain’t easy.

Unmade Bed by catphrodite at deviantART

Unmade Bed by catphrodite at deviantART

How nice then to take a break from the reality of men and women not communicating in our modern world and go over to the land of erotic romance. In a good erotic romance all that non-communication is transmogrified into perfect, mind-blowingly great sex.  But how do erotic writers create such great sex on the page?

One ingredient of the best erotic romances — or indeed any romance — that creates amazing sexual magic between two people is when they like exactly the same thing in bed.  But is that really possible?

Well…yes.  It’s not about the slim odds of two people with some unusual predilection who happen to find each other [ “Joseph, I want you to rub my body all over with yogurt and honey, then lick it off.”] It’s more often about one of the partners being extremely open minded and happily rolling with the preferences of the other partner.  In other words:

Joseph = most men = someone happy licking yogurt & honey off your body

Yet I suspect it’s not that easy to write a successful erotic romance scene merely by portraying the heroine speaking her fantasy out loud and the hero enthusiastically responding.  There’s got to be more there than just the magic of communication and a willingness to commence with some kink.

lora leighSo what’s the secret of great erotic romance?  There are two books I’ll refer to here.  One is Lora Leigh’s book, aptly named FORBIDDEN PLEASURE, and the other is J.R. Ward’s book LOVER ETERNAL.  In each book there is a kind of structure at work that leads the reader to a satisfying conclusion.

1. The Partner Who Listens & Percieves

The article Liz linked to at MODERNMAN.com had some basic advice for guys: listen, think about it, then proceed with patience. Normally, there is nothing hotter in a romance novel than this kind of perceptive guy who’s a good listener, aka the mind reading hero.  Lora Leigh tips this trope on its head with FORBIDDEN PLEASURE, because it’s her heroine Keiley who starts off listening and perceiving that something’s going on with her man.  Keiley’s going to figure out what it is, and then address the issue, because she’s full of sass that way.

Meanwhile, in LOVER ETERNAL, our hero Rhage, a vampire, has such a vast experience of women, along with his uber-vamp-hotness powers, that he’s able to perceive every itty bitty thing about Mary at a glance.  She’s saying no-no-no, but why? He scratches his head over this because her body is saying yes-yes-yes and they’re obviously meant to be together for forever.

2. Understanding the Forbidden Desire

In FORBIDDEN PLEASURE, once Keiley knows what the issue is (her husband Mac wants to share her with his best friend Jethro) she’s freaking out.  They can’t do that.  She’s not that kind of girl, etc. At this point Mac is the one who takes over with the listening and perceiving.  He watches Keiley and notes that she’s wobbling between her own fears–and desire.

J.R. WardIn LOVER ETERNAL, Rhage finds out a secret about Mary. (Spoiler alert! She’s dying.)  Her forbidden desire is to have once–just once–a hot fling with an amazingly hot guy, and Rhage is her dream come true. So what holds her back from fulfilling her desire? Rhage is serious about Mary.  He wants a no-holds-barred kind of relationship.  She doesn’t want him to fall in love with her and then later rip his heart out by dying.

3. Building Up to the Forbidden Desire

Is exactly what Mac does with Keiley.  Slowly, patiently, listening and watching her all the time to see what’s driving her crazy for more, and holding back from what’s too much (for now).

4. Overcoming the Inhibition Against the Forbidden (whatever it is).

Rhage picks his moments when Mary is vulnerable and feeling too pissed off at her own bad luck to care about making wise decisions.  He’s there to catch her when she abandons common sense and lets their mutual desire sweep them away.  Lots of very intense, hot sex immediately follows.

5. Fulfilling the Forbidden Desire

This is the moment we wait for and wait for as readers.  In real life it can provide a touch stone of trust to look back upon and strengthen the relationship.  In books, this is where we’re headed towards the HEA ending a.s.a.p.

In the future, we’ll see how this this “fulfillment of forbidden desires” trope develops.  One modern development that I already like is when its the guy’s turn.  It’s not only a heroine who won’t-can’t-omg yes! these days.  Charlotte Stein’s story RESTRAINT presents us with an inhibited male who has a secret desire and the woman who will tease it out of him.  There are many  m/m romance authors showing us the guy-in-the-closet getting his “no, that’s not me, I can’t” protests on.  Let’s face it, men are being targeted as the object of desire more than ever before.

Not only that–more authors are embracing male virgins in the genre these days.  And there’s no rule saying that the more open-minded and experienced partner can’t be female.  In fact, Ellora’s Cave has a whole line of older women-younger men romances called SOPHISTICATE that seems to call out for this kind of trope.  I’ll check it out next week and report back.

Teledildonics? Q&A with Nara Malone

15 Nov

NARA MALONE is an erotic romance author with a cutting edge vision of the future.  Forget e-pub–Nara talks to you about transmedia fiction.  Part of an elusive techno-tribe, this Ellora’s Cave author trolls the internet horizon to explore the boundaries of Second Life, researches potential medical evils in biomedical-engineering and also applies her writing chops in the video-gaming world.  I emailed with Nara about how she takes her fascinating interests and applies them to her writing.  

MADELINE IVA: Your book SNATCH ME takes place (at least half the time) in a virtual world.  It may sound odd but, is there a real virtual world online where this kind of hunt n ravish thing happens?

NARA MALONE: While there is nothing exactly like the premise in Snatch Me, there are several regions in Second Life where similar role play takes place– Hard Alley and Kingdom of Pleasure come to mind.

MADELINE IVA: Did you enter this world and research it? Was it easy to navigate at first?

NARA MALONE: I did visit these worlds. I did the trailer for Snatch Me in Hard Alley. Navigating in Second Life is sometimes frustrating because of something called lag–basically a delay between the time you send a signal to your avatar to do something and the time it takes the avatar to respond. You might click repeatedly on a mouse several times because nothing happened and then all of a sudden your mouse clicks are registered and your avatar walks off a cliff.

I once had a very long conversation with an invisible fellow in Hard Alley. I was certain he was playing some sort of game because no matter what I tried, or what he suggested, I could not see him. It turned out that my slow connection just was lagging behind downloading information and twenty minutes into the conversation he materialized in front of me. You have to admire the patience of the players in the game that they accept such quirks as facts of life in virtual worlds and are willing to work together to get beyond them.  Fortunately lag isn’t constant. Like bad weather, it comes and goes.

MADELINE IVA: Explain: do the guys in this world just have at the women? Or is there consent involved? Or is a woman consenting just by entering the world?  Were there any surprises that came up during your research?

NARA MALONE: For another avatar to have any power at all over you in Second Life or any virtual world, you have to implement software that will give them that control. You have to use a viewer (like a web browser for virtual environments) that implements restrained love features. You have to turn that feature on in the viewer. In addition, a player wishing to take a submissive role has to wear an object, such as a collar or tag, that allows a dominant to take control. By nature of the programming scripts involved the game demands a certain level of consent to participate. Beyond that, if a dominant is someone the submissive decides she doesn’t wish to play with, or if there is some aspect of play that exceeds her limits, she can say no. That no is respected by all players and region owners. If it’s not, she can make a complaint to the region moderators or owner. As a final safety, all a player has to do to stop something from happening is to log off the viewer. So there are multiple levels of consent.

MADELINE IVA: (trying not to snort) What’s a “talking penis”?

NARA MALONE: (laughing.) I first discovered the phenomena of talking genitals when I took a role play class. The instructor mentioned that having genitals on automatic in public places filled the chat with comments from genitals and was considered bad manners. If you have genitals with those features, you’re supposed to turn them off in public.  I try very hard not to come across as too much of a noob, but really, who could let a comment like that go? The penises talk? Vaginas too? What did they say? Why did they talk?

I asked.

Programmers being wonderfully creative and helpful beings, love to solve problems. One problem that came up quite a bit, from what I can gather, is that when a scene between avatar lovers got hot and heavy, their typing skills started to suffer, first spelling went south and as things really heated up, speed slowed when the participating parties shifted from two hands typing to one hand. One inventive fellow decided it might be handy if the avatars genitals could insert canned phrases into the chat while the real life people were…um…taking care of business. I believe the comments are activated by the level of excitement experienced by the participants and those might be interfaced with something called teledildonics. So the comments might move from “Oh, baby” to “ohhhhhh” as things heat up. We’re way past the level of my research here. I have never seen or tried teledildonics and I didn’t own any talking avatar genitals and didn’t know anyone who did. I’m clueless as to what a penis might actually say, but it’s fun to imagine 😉

MADELINE IVA: Your next book BLIND HEAT involves a heroine with face blindness.  What is face blindness–does it really exist?

NARA MALONE: Face blindness does exist and unfortunately my research on that front was gleaned from my experience with the condition. I have normal vision, but for some as yet undetermined reason face blind individuals cannot imprint a mental image of a face. The more severe cases, like mine, can’t recognize close family members. I depend on other clues like hair, body shape, the place where I normally expect to see certain people to give me clues to identity.

MADELINE IVA: In BLIND HEAT there are human-animal embryos in a science lab.  You’ve said elsewhere that this is actually happening in the real world.  Why? What’s the point? How is the science in your world different from what’s going on in this world?

NARA MALONE: Why create hybrids? Some say to help them better study human health issues. Some want to make money from patents. I imagine there could be military reasons to do so.

Here’s a paper at the NIH discussing human/rat chimera http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2220020/ Here’s an article in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19781-2005Feb12.html about the patent office refusing to patent a research project where the resulting chimera would be “too-human”. That’s a point I mention in the book, at what percentage of human is a non-human/human chimera considered human. What percentage human does it have to be to have human rights? I’m always surprised by how many readers don’t realize that this research has moved way beyond science fiction and has been reality for many years.

MADELINE IVA: What’s your favorite kind of erotic romance? What do you look for in an excellent read?

NARA MALONE: I’ve recently been reading capture romance. Two of my favorite authors in that genre are Claire Thompson and S.J. Lewis. I think the key to capture romance is the suspense and conflict. Claire Thompson goes for the quick capture and keeps you in suspense over how it will all end. S. J. Lewis excells at prolonging the hunt, that dance between hunter and hunted.

MADELINE IVA: For writers out there who struggle with pitching their work to editors and agents– how easy was it for you to pitch your first book to Ellora’s Cave?  Was your first pitch successful?
NARA MALONE: It’s never easy to pitch a book, but if you have a good book and can manage to convey that despite the nerves, you will have a successful pitch. I think my first pitch to Ellora’s Cave wasn’t a great pitch, but I was lucky that the book, The Tiger’s Tale, was far better than the pitch and I managed to get that  across. My manuscript was requested and a contract offered.

Whole Lotta Screwin’ Going’ On

19 Oct

In an earlier post I talked about the section on Ellora’s Cave’s website called EC for men. I’m intrigued by it for a few reasons. The target reader is primarily men, but all the authors seem to be women. And assuming that’s the case, do women capture what men really want? Why aren’t men writing these stories as well? Is EC for Men finding an audience?

Ellora’s Cave’s description of this line says it’s “stories written specifically for our male readers. Although many women enjoy them too! The stories are shorter, focus more on the sex than the “relationship”, are aimed at male sexual fantasies. More of what men want or need from women—sex, love, acceptance, admiration, dirty talk; less of what they don’t need (judgment, drama, expectation of anticipating woman’s needs).

Interesting, right? I haven’t seen another line try this approach and I applaud EC for giving it a go. Perhaps there are underserved readers out there who’d embrace this line. In any case, I decided to give it a spin for myself so I ordered and read four of the stories.

Let me say right off that I refer to them as “stories” because they are certainly in no way novels or even novellas. The EC for Men description says the stories are short,  7,000 to 30,000 words, but all four of the ones I read were most definitely in the 7,000 word count range. They’re also not romances. EC says the stories focus “more” on the sex than the relationship. Well, in all honesty, the ones I read focused only on the sex and zero on the relationship. There was a whole lotta screwin’ going’ on.

An interesting discovery in these books is that they are 100% written from the man’s POV. There’s nary a female POV to be had, which is very different from “traditional” erotic romance whose primary target audience is women. Most of the POV is from the heroine, but we definitely want, and get, the male viewpoint sprinkled throughout the story. Apparently EC for Men readers prefer being able to deduce for themselves what the girl might be thinking rather than having the author give us her take on things.

Overall I thought the stories were well written and accomplished the goal of giving straight males their fantasies. Uninhibited women without relationship expectations, without drama – without pubic hair! – are all the rage at EC for men. One of the stories actually had the woman demand that her guy lie on his back on the bed so that she can “do all the work.” Several of the stories also contain female/female scenarios.

I admire publishers who brave new territory and try different venues, and I tip my hat to Ellora’s Cave for embarking on EC for Men. That said, the line launched nearly a year ago and there are, to date, only fourteen available stories. I’m wondering if EC for Men is a new frontier that’s failing to find a home.

I’d love to know what readers think.

Until next time,

Elizabeth

Couples who read together . . .

10 Oct

By Elizabeth Shore

I have a good girlfriend who told me once that she and her boyfriend enjoyed reading passages from my historical erotic novella to each other as a prelude to lovemaking. She said reading to each other like that really got them in the mood for some good time fun. I was flattered – and happy to be of service! – but it also got me thinking about readers of erotic romance and the differences between the girls and the guys.

My assumption, and I dare say it’s likely a proven fact, is that the majority of erotic romance readers are women. The stories are written (largely) by women with the target readers being women. It works because women know what turns them on and write the steamy scenes knowing it will turn their readers on, too. There are variances, of course. Some women love the soft roses and candles kind of lovemaking while others squeal with delight when their guy has his way with them up against the wall. The talented writers out there still know their readers and know how to please them. But is erotic romance interchangeable? Do men read it? And would women enjoy reading erotic romance targeted for guys? I had a male friend once read a steamy section of one of my manuscripts. While he certainly seemed to enjoy reading it, his verdict at the end was that it was clearly written for a woman. Well, yeah. But I would argue mightily that plenty of female writers out there could whip out a story that would leave their male readers panting throughout.

Ellora’s Cave has a section on its site called EC For Men. Each of the covers shows a scantily clad female (men are visual, after all), and – unless the writers are actually men using female names – appear to be written by women. My question is, are men reading them or are women? I for one am going to download a few of them (for research purposes, naturally), and in a future post will give you my verdict. I can already say that I’m intrigued by the concept and I’d love it if a male reader out there would share his viewpoint as well.

Perhaps the conclusion is that we all just like reading hot stuff no matter who the intended audience, which is A-OK by me.

Meanwhile, follow us at LADYSMUT.COM.  Your fella will get all hot n bothered by what we have to say.

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