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Odds and Ends

Today’s post is full of random bits, so I’m going to just do a bullet points entry

  • The very belated winner from the Thanksgiving Blog Hop is The Red Cross. A donation was made, and proof sent to the winning comment.
  • On a related note, I’ve had a story titled “The Finer Things in Life” accepted for another Coming Together anthology–Coming Together: Keeping Warm, scheduled to release on Dec 25
  • Before Keeping Warm is released, you’ll get to read “The Finer Things in Life” on Tamsin’s Supererotica Advent Calendar.
  • Speaking of Tamsin, did you know that she has released the December chapter of Alchemy XII? As a beta reader, I’m obviously a bit biased, but I’m so proud of her and I think it’s an amazing BDSM novel.
  • Thinking of novels–or Novellas, in my case–Capturing the Moment will be available for pre-order from Totally Bound on March 15, for purchase on Totally Bound on March 29 and for sale widely on April 29, 2016

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, greetings from paradise. We saw this beautiful rainbow appear over our hotel yesterday.

 

Review: Alchemy XII February

Tamsin gives us boiling hot sex when Harry and Olivia’s relationship continues to evolve in this installment of Alchemy XII.

alchemy xii february

In my review of Alchemy XII: January I made a point of talking about how Olivia–a strong independent woman who came of age during third-wave feminism–struggles with submission.  In February, we see this struggle continue internally for Olivia and externally in and out of the bedroom with Harry.

We get a glimpse of Olivia’s life outside of erotica, and learn that Harry knows all about it–her twin, where she works, and more.  Harry even slips into a lecture and raises his hand to tell Professor Olivia Roux that her formula on the board is wrong.  Olivia is furious and points out that what he’s doing could be classified as stalking.  Harry shrugs and hands her an envelope with orders to be ready at midnight and to be dressed like a slut.

Olivia made a rash promise to Raf in the New Year’s Eve chapter (review here), and now she has to keep it–that she will submit to him.  Harry takes her to Master Blasters where Raf is waiting for them in a private room.  We already know that Raf washed out the training program, but we don’t know why.  The scene that follows gives us a hint of what might have gone wrong for Raf when Harry has to intervene.

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In the wake of her encounter with Raf, Olivia becomes torn between the ecstasy that pain can bring and her struggle with submission.  Her feminist principles are at war with what Harry has to offer her.

Man as drug. Dependency ensues.

This scares me because Harry isn’t even pretending to be my boyfriend. He’s got three other subs, whom he’s putting through the same training. Does he kiss them? Yes, of course he does. And fuck them? Presumably. These thoughts are making me cranky. I want to talk stuff through with someone. With Harry. But he’s not available to me and, even if he were, he controls where all our conversations go.

Oh, I like the pain but do I want to submit to him? Call my lover “Sir”? Interact from a kneeling position on the floor? Is becoming a sub the only way to fulfill my needs?

Today I don’t want to do this. Not the submission. Perhaps I could find myself a man who’s willing to give me what I need without being kowtowed to in exchange. That’s all. No more training or clubs or sub-bating. I’m going to duck out of the program and find another way.

I’ve made up my mind, so this will be my last diary entry.

Olivia wants to tell Harry that she is quitting in person.  She goes to the building where Alchemy is located, and is told that there is no such place there. The concierge denies knowing who Harry Lomax is.  So Olivia tries to send Harry a letter. It’s sent back “Not known at this address.”

She is fuming by the time a note arrives with her instructions for their February training session.  She doesn’t do any of the things she’s been ordered to, except to get into the car where Harry is waiting.  He distracts her with his particular brand of addictive kisses until they arrive at a small airport where a private jet awaits them.

private jet

I’m not sure I want to continue training with you.”

The words all spilled out in a rush.

Harry laughed. Laughter was the last thing I expected and my temper got the better of me. Without a moment’s thought of the consequences, I slapped him across his left cheek. Hard. Hard enough to show him the depth of my anger.

He put a hand up to his cheek but the smile never left his face.

“Jesus, I adore you, Liv,” he said. “Come on the plane and if you can convince me you want to leave, I’ll have pilot come back here straight away. But if I can convince you to stay, we’ll carry on and you’ll take your punishment for that slap.”

Will Olivia quit Alchemy or can Harry convince her to stay?  You’ll have to read Alchemy XII February to find out.

***

Alchemy XII is a serial written by Tamsin Flowers. Each chapter will release on the first day of the month.  February is available for pre-order on Amazon, or you can subscribe from Tamsin directly.

Review: Alchemy xii January

For my review of Alchemy xii: New Years Eve, go here.

alchemy xii january

The January chapter of Alchemy xii begins the series proper.  While New Year’s Eve was written from Harry’s point of view, January and the rest of the series will be told from Olivia’s.  While it marks a shifts in tone, the reader in no way loses Harry’s perspective while gaining Olivia’s.

While Olivia is hungry for the man and the sexual pleasure he brings her, submission doesn’t come easily to her.

“Rules,” said Harry.

“More rules?”

“What d’you mean?  We haven’t even started with rules.”  He frowned at me.

“Like, already I can’t orgasm.  I can’t choose my own food.  I have to call you Sir, Sir.”

“Holy fuck!  Do you know anything at all about submission or domination?”

“Not a lot,” I said.

“But you agreed to launch yourself headlong into it?”

“You didn’t exactly give me much time to decide, Harry.”

At least he had the decency to look contrite when I said this.

“We need to start with basics.  You first weekend’s training will have to be Subbing for Dummies.”

When I’ve talked about Alchemy xii as opposed to other BDSM works, I’ve discussed why I prefer Olivia to other heroines.  She is a fully formed woman with an existing interest in BDSM.  She was always going to explore kink, the question was with whom.  But the sexual desire to participate in kink does not mean that one is a natural all-knowing submissive (or dominant).

The reality of kink is that it is a set of skills, and no one can go from zero to suspension play without a lot of training.  I really like that Tamsin includes a scene in the library (which makes for an excellent read-aloud, for the record) where, among other things, Harry loads Olivia up with books about BDSM.  Subbing for Dummies, indeed.

Olivia is a strong and independent woman who doesn’t come across as particularly submissive.  Partially this is set up for her to train as a switch, but it is also an honest reflection of what is like to enter into submission as a woman who came of age in the age of third wave feminism.  If you were to meet me in person, you would never guess that I enjoy submission as my personality is anything but.  I submit to whom I choose and when I choose.  Which doesn’t mean that it always flows naturally–and in my situation that means there are weeks, even months when I don’t play.  Olivia is in a contractual relationship (by her own consent) she is trying to enter submissive headspace and behavior on a set schedule.  Whether she is struggling with submission or rejoicing in that, she feels familiar.

However, this is also erotica, and thus fantasy, so her struggles and experiences are far sexier than mine ever were.  I appreciate the balancing act necessary to add the realism while maintaining the fantasy.

wall flowers

I looked around any my mouth fell open.  Opposite the elevator bank, illuminated in pools of soft golden light, a row of beautiful, naked girls, stood, cuffed and collared, attached to a burnished chrome latticework on the walk behind them.  As they saw Harry, they all broke out in smiles.  One blew kisses, a couple of them writhed against their restraints, one called out his name.  Harry returned their smiles with a wide grin.

“Evening, girls,” he said.

“Evening, Harry,” they trilled in reply.

Harry turned back to where I stood, stock still and staring.

“These are my wall-flowers.”

Some of the things I mentioned anticipating in the New Year’s Eve review did come true.  We don’t see Dick Glass directly, but his presence is felt.  We do get Belladonna and Olivia’s first encounter.  It…doesn’t go well.

This is a great opening chapter for what promises to be a year of sexual adventure.  Read New Year’s Eve, and then get ready for January.  Each chapter will release on the first day of the month.  January is available for pre-order on Amazon, or you can subscribe from Tamsin directly.

2014 Book Reviews/Recommendations

If you’re a last minute shopper, here’s a round-up of my book reviews for 2014, including a few new micro reviews as I’m running out of time before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 6.22.32 pmPut these books in the hands of your loved ones…

A reminder–If I don’t love a book, I won’t review it here.  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time on books I didn’t like, or to throw around bad karma by ripping apart someone else’s book.

Books I’ve reviewed this year, with best of awards given by me

Twisted, edited by Alison Tyler

Those Boys by Alison Tyler  **Best Novella, 2014**

Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler

The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, edited by Rose Caraway  **Best Anthology, 2014**–my top anthology

Zombie Erotoclypse by Tamsin Flowers  **Best paranormal, 2014**

Skirting the Issue by Alison Tyler, Sommer Marsden, and Sophia Valenti

Roll By Lynn Townsend **Best LGBT, 2014**

The Mighty Quinn by Sommer Marsden  **Best novel, 2014**

Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume  **My husband’s top antho, 2014** (runner up as best antho from me)

Alchemy xii: New Years Eve by Tamsin Flowers  **Start of something amazing for 2015**

Books I haven’t gotten around to reviewing at length, but wanted to review before the end of the year are

Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors, edited by Delilah Devlin.  If you like your erotic heroes alpha and carrying swords, you’ll love this one. My favorites included

  • “The Promise of Memory” by Regina Kammer is a sexy and poignant story set in ancient Rome.
  • “To Love a King’s Man” by Emma Jay features a strong woman who isn’t about to let love walk away from her.
  • “The Squire” by Cela Winter has our heroine pretending to be a male squire and all the awkward that happens when she falls in love with her new knight.  (If you loved Tamora Pierce’s books when you were younger, this story is for you.)

Sex and Cupcakes by Rachel Kramer Bussel.  I really enjoyed Rachel’s essays.  As a plus sized woman, I found her piece about dating a plus sized man (“My Boyfriend’s Fat”)  particularly poignant.  I also really liked “What kind of submissive are you?” because it gets to the heart of how aroused I am by a specific kink is affected by who I’m playing with, what else is going on in my life, etc.  This was my favorite non-fiction piece on sex this year.

Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio.  My story “New on the Naughty List” (excerpt here) is part of this anthology (and I have 5 pdf reviewers copies), but I want to talk about which stories I enjoyed reading the most.

  • “Holiday Hours” by Lynn Townsend is the tale about a bored convenience store clerk on Christmas and the unexpected gift she receives.
  • “Fox’s Holiday” by Leigh Ellwood was an enjoyable shapeshifter story that made me want to read beyond the end of the story–what would happen next?
  • “Accosting Santa” by Sommer Marsden is the story of a neighbor who attacks the man she sees sneaking into the yard next door and combines her trademark hilarious banter and sizzling sex.

Other Days, edited by Jessica Augustsson.  Not erotica, but if you have a speculative fiction enthusiast on your list, this is a great one.  (Yes, I’m in it).

  • My favorite story in the book is “Lessons Learned” by Jessica (which I excerpted here) in which we learn the identity of Jack the Ripper (full disclosure, I beta read the story, too).
  • “Crux of a Faded Soul” by Jennifer Silverwood is a suspenseful ghost story narrated by a someone who insists she isn’t a ghost.
  • “The Karelian Egg” by Robert Young is the story of Anna, who is tasked to go back in time and steal one of the Faberge eggs for a mysterious man holding her brother hostage.

My story Choices (excerpt here) is included.  I have pdf reviewers copies if you would like one.

I have only just begun to read Coming Together: Among the Stars, edited by Lynn Townsend, but I’m still going to tell you to buy it if you have a sci fi fan on your list who would enjoy some kick in their Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.  I’m sharing pages with Rose Caraway, Lynn, Jade A. Waters, and Malin James among others, so I know it’s going to be awesome.  I have one pdf reviewers copy available.

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If you want a reviewer’s copy of Coming Together: For the Holidays, Coming Together: Among the Stars, or Other Days, leave a comment here or email me at delilahnight at gmail

 

***

Also, there’s less than a week left to read my story, “Baby it’s Hot Outside” for free.  It’s a Christmas story set here in sweltering Singapore.

Book Review: Chemical [se]x, edited by Oleander Plume

Chemical [se]x

When I first heard about Chemical [se]X, I was intrigued.  An entire book of erotica with the common theme of chocolate?  Yummy.  I bought it, but had not gotten around to reading it.  Then, a few weeks ago, I listened to Rose Caraway interview Oleander Plume and Tamsin Flowers about the book.  Once I heard the podcast, Chemical [se]X moved up to the #1 spot in my to-read queue.

I’m so glad I read this book.

During the podcast, Oleander talks about how she wrote a story about aphrodisiac chocolates and posted it on her website for free.  Then she thought about writing a sequel.  The idea then evolved into an anthology with the erotic chocolates as a common theme.

Much like Tamsin’s Alchemy xii erotic serial, Oleander’s idea is something I haven’t seen before in erotica.  While anthologies have a common theme, there’s nothing tying the individual stories together.  With Chemical [se]X, while each story works as a stand-alone, the connecting thread took the collection as a whole to a new level.  I want more anthologies like this.

My husband and I often read different erotic books as we have different turn-ons (with a few exceptions, like Alison Tyler), but our shared kindle account means that we can see and read the books that the other has bought.  When I was reading Chemical [se]X, my kindle account would tell me that I was last at a different page because I learned that my husband was reading it at the same time I was.  Much like the way we eat chocolate in real life, I devoured Chemical [se]X and my husband is slowly savoring it.

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I’ve mentioned before that I read a LOT of erotica.  With some exceptions (basically anything I review on this blog or authors I squeal about on a regular basis) this means I have zero issue reading erotica in public because I’m a bit desensitized.  I read using my kindle app on my phone which means I’m likely to read anywhere and everywhere.

I started reading Chemical [se]X in a very long line of Christmas shoppers waiting to be checked out, beginning with the story that started it all; “Chemical [se]X” by Oleander Plume.

“You really don’t find it hot in here?”

“No, the air conditioning is really cranked up today. If you’re too warm, blame yourself for wearing those dopey socks.”

Despite his protests about the temperature, he shrugged out of his lab coat, then stood up to sharpen his pencil. I checked out his butt, it was cute, taut, and round enough to fill out the back of his faded jeans quite nicely. Another fantasy filled my head, this one of Wyatt’s naked ass bent over my knee, slightly pink after a paddling by my hand.

I was feeling a little flushed by the time I was checked out.  I knew I should stop reading Oleander’s story in public.  But it was so good I couldn’t NOT read it and I had to hit the grocery store in the basement of the mall I was in before I could go home.  I’ve never been so turned on while riding an escalator before in my life.  I don’t expect to ever have that singular experience again, either.  Gold star for you, Oleander!
Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.46.33 pmOleander also contributed one of my other favorite stories–“Coffee Break”

My brain screamed at my mouth “Spit that out, some weird shit is happening,” but I literally could not stop, the chocolate had a hypnotic effect on me. Once I finished the entire piece, I stared at Zak while I licked the melted bits off my fingers. That’s when I noticed his skin was the exact same color as the chocolate, and I had the overwhelming urge to lick him, too. All. Over.

Zak and Ryan have the best banter in the book.  They are an odd couple of co-workers with Ryan just NOT GETTING half of what Zak means when he uses words like “pansexual.”  But by the end of the story there is an electric m/m/m threesome.  Bonus point for an interracial coupling–there aren’t enough of them.

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Jade A. Waters’ story “The Connection” was the story that resonated the most for me.

“The Connection” is about a couple who have lost their way from one another.  Aubrey buys the aphrodisiac chocolates, hoping that they might help her and Terrance find that old spark.

Aubrey wanted to wait for Terence, but she ached to know what these chocolates could do. Lifting the lid, she admired the six candies inside, each piece waiting for her in a black and white polka-dotted foil cup. The store clerk had explained this decorative packaging as specific to the premium box, “guaranteed to satisfy” or her money back tomorrow.

How could she resist?

I’ve been married for almost nine years, and I’m the mom of two children.  One of the realities of a long term relationship like this is that there is a lot of ebb and flow to the sexual connection, especially post children.  Jade nails how frustrating the isolation is, and how scary it is to reach out.

When I read this story, all I could think about was reading it out loud to my partner with some chocolate truffles nearby.

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“Bittersweet” by Malin James is the most lyrical story in the anthology.  Malin has a talent for paring a story down to its most  essential elements that is almost poetic.

I study Iain’s strong, broad back and wonder if I should stay for one last fuck. My head is all for leaving, but my cunt…my cunt wants a final go. Absentmindedly, I pop a truffle in my mouth. It’s smooth and dark with a spikey, citrus finish. Not at all what I’d expected—more bitter than sweet. Not really to my taste. And yet…each receptor in my mouth shivers.

I loved the flow of the story from the narrator’s ambivalence to the way that her sexuality is taken in a new direction with the chocolate stimulus.

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“The Stranger” by Tamsin Flowers is special for many reasons.  I knew to expect hot sex–that’s a given with Tamsin.  What I hadn’t expected was a story set in the deep South with such a pitch perfect voice.  A Southern voice is easy to screw up and hard to get right.  She nailed it.

I didn’t know how to say it to him. He was a stranger and eating the chocolate had made me desire him. I was suddenly overcome by a longing more intense than I had experienced in years. I put my hand to his groin to see if he was hard. Of course he was, and through his pants I could feel that he’d fill me up and then some.

Tamsin leaves ambiguity in the story that made my imagination run wild–why was he there? where did he go from there?  Did McGrindle’s carry the special chocolates or were the women the stranger left behind praying for lightning to strike twice?

Honorable mentions go to

“Dinner for Three” by L Maretta for a really hot f/m/m threesome.

“Friendly Neighborhood Drug Dealer” by Ella Dawson for writing the finals week hookup I wish I’d had as an undergrad

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I should confess that when I finished the anthology I had a craving to write a story with Oleander’s aphrodisiac chocolate.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that she decides to do a sequel so I can write and submit one.

Alchemy XII New Year’s Eve by Tamsin Flowers (Review)

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It’s no secret that I love Tamsin‘s writing.  (Click for my reviews of Zombie Erotocylse and Pow! Shibari Girl)

What is Alchemy XII?  Tamsin has come up with a unique concept.  Right now you can read New Years Eve (the series prologue) for free.  Starting January 1, 2015 a new chapter will be published each month, unfolding in parallel to the year Olivia will be trained by Harry.  You can subscribe and get each chapter monthly, an omnibus each quarter, or a single volume at the end of the year.  As a big fan of the Serial podcast, I think it’s a brilliant way to tell the story–even though I’m dying to know what happens next and I’m pouting that January first is still weeks away.

Harry is the reigning prince of Alchemy–an elite club that inhabits a Chicago sky scraper.  As December draws to a close, Harry must pick his fourth trainee for the upcoming year.  Olivia Roux catches his eye and stirs more than his cock.  Will she consent to a year under his tutelage?

“Listen, darlin’, if you’re going to give submission a try, there’s one thing we need to get straight. You submit. I command.”

Olivia’s eyes dropped to the floor.

“Give me a safe word.”

“Palindrome.”

“I intend to make you use it.”

“Good.”

Feisty worked for him. He’d never been one for totally subservient subs. It took all the fun out of it.

As a fan of BDSM erotica, I’ve run across a lot of Doms and Dommes. The only one who has ever made it onto my #fictionalcrushes list is Sandy from Those Girls and Those Boys (review here) by Alison Tyler.  Harry just joined the list.  Although I’ve only had 35 pages to get to know Harry, I’m ready to take Olivia’s place if she were to turn him down.

In Alchemy xii, I’ve tried to create a Dom who’s a person first and a Dom second. Harry’s mischievous and funny, irreverent and charming, and, when he’s in the mood, a skilled Dominant. Olivia, his sub, is an experienced woman who’s already seeking out the world of kink when Harry discovers her. But she’s not the least bit interested in submitting and has no intention of calling anybody “Sir”.

–Tamsin Flowers on her characters Harry and Olivia in an interview with Go Deeper Press.

What makes Harry compelling is that he’s not the ALL POWERFUL SERIOUS YET MAGICAL DOM WHO KNOWS ALL WITHOUT YOU SAYING A WORD that I find so tiresome.  He is a complex character with more going on in his life than just topping.

Harry has a good friend and mentor in Belladonna, who won’t hesitate to take him down a peg or two.  Their body language and snappy banter show that they have a history in bed and out of it.  I can’t wait to see more of Belladonna, especially once she takes Olivia’s measure.

His nemesis is Dick Glass, Alchemy’s pony play trainer and a member of their board. Tamsin uses one direct encounter and two further mentions of Glass to hint at the impending explosion betwixt the two men.  I want to know what happened between Dick and Raf to get the latter kicked out of the training program.  How Harry will handle Olivia going to pony camp one month?

When it comes to Olivia, Harry swings between confidence and uncertainty. Olivia isn’t like his other trainees who are described as “pretty little subby types who were simply gasping to get their asses whipped and their wrists bound by a hard man with a big, bad cock.”  They have an amazing night together, but will she sign on for the training program?  He has the arrogance to ask her to do so just hours before midnight, but isn’t sure that she’ll accept before the deadline.

One of his four trainees is male, which excites me–there aren’t nearly enough bisexual doms in quality erotica.  Sandy is the only other one to come to mind.

One of my favorite things about Tamsin’s writing is the way she finds just the right words to paint a picture in your mind, and New Year’s Eve is no exception.

“Wiping her eyes, she turned her attention back to the spanking scene like a vicar confronting a plate of oysters.”–pg 4

“Who wouldn’t want to be dominated by an Amazonian Domme with a waterfall of blonde curls and thighs that could crack your skull?”-pg 8

“Welts rose like the red tails of comets across a dawn sky.”-pg. 12

Give yourself a reward for getting through (most of) 2014–read Alchemy XII: New Year’s Eve and then subscribe.  I’d be shocked if you don’t agree with what I told Tamsin upon finishing it…

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