Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review of 'Unspeakably Erotic: Lesbian Kink' (ed. DL King)

Forgive me if I introduce this review of what is, overall, a pretty good anthology, with a rant. These things have a way of building up inside me over time, and I’ve found it’s healthier to get them out of my system as quickly as possible, rather than letting them ferment in some dark corner of my subconscious.

I am sick and tired of badly-written BDSM, and there is a damn lot of it out on the market these days like a lingering hangover from “The Trilogy That Must Not Be Named”. Not just poorly written, sloppily plotted, thinly-veiled mercenary dreck, but an overflowing sewer of BORING, unoriginal, predictable, ploddingly-derivative, poorly-paced, and totally UN-SEXY effluvium. I have no doubt that any sub-literate hunt-and-pecker can singlehandedly churn out an ocean of this shit—and many seem to spawn their own personal Pacifics on a regular basis. All the more maddening is that a lot of this garbage sells, sometimes extremely well.

It may be, apart from any stylistic or technical-grammatical considerations, that I am not the proper observer for this material. I am a passionate egalitarian where relationships are concerned. I am not turned on by pain, and I DESPISE stories in which cruelty and abuse are portrayed as normative, or a brainless sadism conflated with anything desirable. A lot of writers appear to be so hung up on the ideas of power and power exchange that they forget how to tell a compelling story about passion and desire (never mind erotic spontaneity). Many so into the mechanics of bondage—so eager to explain the minutiae of The Lifestyle—that they overlook genuine emotion, and present rather shallow, unconvincing characters in the process, characters constantly trying to elucidate the philosophical underpinnings of their particular kink like some snooty docent outlining the rules of an exclusive club to which few visitors ever feel truly welcome. And don’t even get me started on the insensitive, arrogant, bigoted use of the word “vanilla.”

I am troubled by what appears to be a wide-spread classist bias in many BDSM narratives. This may be due to a lack of originality or imagination on the part of some writers, mostly in it for the money, and yet I sense something else at work. If some of the behaviors portrayed in these stories were transposed from their usual settings, private islands, wealthy gated communities, or even the dull-beige monoculture of modern suburbia to, say, a trailer park outside the city, or some small town in flyover country, I have little doubt that many of the subgenre's "fans" would turn on it in a heartbeat, while those who profit from the perpetuation of moral panic would have a field day. Back in the 1970s, suburban swingers tended to look askance at "squares", but the notion that poor people might be involved in similar activities was a source of outrage and disgust, not to mention a wellspring of punitive right-wing social legislation—of course, the right-wing never  passes up an opportunity to figuratively fuck over the poor or find some new creative way to make their lives more difficult.  

I could go on and on, but you get the point. I have often said that I don’t care what your kink is so long as your writing about it is first-rate. I may not share your notion about what’s sexy, but if you write about your fantasy with style, beauty, originality, craftspersonship, and conviction, I am more than delighted to have a look.

I was happy to have a look at DL King’s latest anthology, Unspeakably Erotic:Lesbian Kink. The quality of writing throughout this 20-story collection is fairly consistent, and several of the stories are very good indeed. Particularly notable, or, at least, having pleasantly remained in my memory: the authentic, skillfully-evoked ambiance of Sacchi Green’s Baubles and Beads describing a passionate encounter between a butch farm girl and her femme admirer in the horse barn at a county fair (and thank you, Ms. Green, for taking the bad taste of class bias out of my mouth at least in this one instance).  Sonni de Soto’s Support Service with its astutely-observed, believably down-to-earth characters exploring the art of the sensual foot massage. The always-fascinating Anabeth Leong’s finely-crafted Simultaneous, which could practically be a textbook example of how to write an effective erotic scene where  several exciting things happen all at once; in this case, a domme allowing herself to be tied up while simultaneously being fucked by one partner and having her nipples pierced by the other—fun!!!  The Auction by Tamsin Flowers is a diverting bit of fantasy, yet so-well grounded in ordinary life—situations that are just plausible enough—that it lulls the reader into a sense of delight right along with its well-satisfied narrator. Kathleen Tudor’s wonderful Aloha à Trois gives us a gorgeous setting and colorful characters written with depth and feeling to compliment their playful, steamy antics.

Appetite by Emily Bingham draws delicious parallels between the sensuous delights of food and sex; one can almost smell the baking bread and feel the heat of the oven even as another very different sort of heat begins to rise. Mary Tintagel’s The Last of Marengo is a delightful take on pony play complete with a rare historic artifact readers are unlikely to forget anytime soon. And Sir Manther’s  Bitch Slap impresses with its sensitive, quasi poetic aspirations, exploring emotions and sometimes-intense BDSM without shying away from tenderness and reflection.

J. Belle Lamb’s Pygmalion juxtaposes a scene of coolly controlled passion with musings about abstract art—structurally very clever! Private Party by Rose P. Lethe gives readers a poignant glimpse into the mind of a young woman prone to panic attacks, going out on a limb like a sexy kitten to explore her fondest fantasy with someone patient enough to understand her need. Avery Cassell sets the scene so well in Blue Plate Special: Your Boot on My Cunt that readers will feel as if they’re walking side by side with the two insatiable lovers who take a break for a bite to eat in a San Francisco café.

To be completely honest—and by now anyone who visits this site on a regular basis should know that I am nothing if not completely honest in the articulation of my opinions—several of the stories in this collection barely rise above the level of the mediocre, and a few of them were so ploddingly unimaginative in setting, characterization, and the portrayal of erotic action, that I did not bother to finish them. (See my thoughts concerning DNFs here.) Thankfully, these issues were few and far between, and should in no way deter curious readers from seeking out the truly outstanding pieces here. 

So, on balance, not bad. Not bad at all! Recommended.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Download a damn-fucking good novel for free

OK, folks, this is the last time I'm going to plug this novel here or anywhere. If you have yet to purchase The Seven Seductions, this is your chance to get a copy of the final, fully-revised version abso-freakin'-lutely free, this weekend on Amazon from Thursday June 21 through Sunday June 24.

I generally refrain from tooting my own horn when it comes to my writing. In fact, I'm absolutely lousy at promotion, not because I don't think what I've written is worth promoting, but because I expend so much time and energy in creating my work, that I tend to be all tuckered out when I'm done. I HATE schmoozing or sucking up just to sell my wares, and I despise the idea of spamming my friends or whoring myself to strangers for the sake of a few lousy sales, hogging bandwidth with  endless self-congratulatory postings that don't move the reader-interest needle so much as a fraction of an inch one way or the other, while effectively making me look like a money-grubbing asshole.

But, you know what? I'm a FUCKING GOOD WRITER, and The Seven Seductions is a DAMN FUCKING GOOD NOVEL, and that is the TOTAL IN-YOUR-FACE HONEST FUCKING TRUTH. Download  The Seven Seductions gratis this weekend on Amazon, Thursday June 21 through Sunday June 24 and find out just how fucking good it is!

What else can I do to tempt you? It's probably not cool (or even legal, let alone practical) to offer a free hum job with every download, or even a sensual foot massage--though I've been told I'm pretty good at the latter. Believe me, I'd happily do that without the slightest promise of anything in return. So, think of  your free copy of The Seven Seductions as a super-sensual foot massage, except it's for your brain. Goodness knows, we could all use a nice brain massage from time to time; after all, the 'big brain' is the largest, most complex sex organ in the human body, and it requires its share of attention. You can also make your brain happy by indulging it with finely-crafted, sexily stylish language of the type to be found in The Seven Seductionstotally free this weekend on Amazon, Thursday June 21 through Sunday June 24...

Still not convinced? Do I need to write one of those sneaky fake reviews like the ones so many unethical authors put up on Goodreads, or pay to have posted on the Zon? How would I go about it?

Terrance Aldon Shaw's The Seven Seductions  is not only a brilliant piece of writing, and a sexy-storytelling tour de force, but one of the steamiest reads to come down the erotic-romance pike in something like the whole history of ever...  Believe me, you'll be peeling yourself off the ceiling when you're done with this one! Shaw has a gift for evoking rich erotic atmosphere, pulsing with sexy potential, and, like the lovers in his story, he knows how to delve deep and hit the literary G-spot time and time again. 

Haunted by a demon's prophecy, Nebraska farm girl Gretchen Ausslander grows up dreading the destiny she cannot escape—not even within the walls of a convent—the lustful longings of the otherworldly creature she knows only as The Nameless One.

Uncanny things have always had a way of happening ever since her older sister read aloud from a book of black magic, unwittingly awakening the demon. But now, after having become Sister Mary Chastity, Gretchen must struggle with the stirrings of her own long-buried desires, the undeniable yearnings that overpower her flesh, and the guilt that inevitably follows when memory intrudes upon the present and dark secrets come back to confound her.

On “holy retreat” in a vacation house by the shores of a lake in the Great North Woods, Mary Chastity meets Magic, a handsome, carefree young artist who tests her vows even as he speaks to something deep within her heart. Can this beautiful boy help her to face her fears—or is he part of the future The Nameless One has foreseen for her all along? Is Magic the key to Mary Chastity’s salvation—or nothing less than the incubus itself in human guise? 

Admittedly, Shaw's novel takes a while to warm up, but when it finally comes to a boil, absolutely no one will escape the heat. The story reaches an earth-shattering climax, when past and present at last converge and the reluctant heroine is forced to face her demons in a blazing set-piece that takes her to the very depths of Hell and back. The Seven Seductions will leave you breathless, horny, and happily enlightened all at the same time. (Who wouldn't pay absolutely nothing to feel that way???) Enthusiastically recommended! 

Still stubbornly unconvinced?? I guess the only card I have left to play is the writing itself. Here's an excerpt from The Seven Seductionswhich--surprise!--you can download for free this weekend on Amazon, Thursday June 21 through Sunday June 24... 

Gretchen lay alone in the dark, wide awake on a dull sword-edge of anticipation. Excruciatingly alert, she had ceased to live in the present, her whole attention focused squarely on what was about to happen. Her mind was racing out ahead of her, minutes into the future, building up a terrible momentum as it roared past possibilities like sights along a railway line, and she a reluctant passenger, not wanting to imagine, yet wholly incapable of not imagining.
Is he going to finish what he started in the bathroom?
Was it her fear that held her captive—made it impossible to move? Or was it her curiosity, her need? No one had drugged her. No one was holding her down, or threatening her. She could get up and leave if she wanted, run away if she felt like it, put it all behind her and never look back.
Why is he making me wait? Oh! Why doesn’t he hurry up and get here?
Her hearing had become so unbearably acute that sound itself was palpable, dull blades slicing into her skin, and she startled at the slightest noise. Is that him? Is he here? Oh God! Oh God! Yet, she remained still, if unrelaxed, muscles tensed like taut bondage ropes suspending her an inch or so above the bed.
Please! I can’t stand it—this waiting, this not knowing—not even a second longer! He can do whatever he wants. I don’t care. Only let it happen now—
“Oh!” Gretchen started up as someone rattled the doorknob from outside. A burst of frozen heat erupted from the middle of her gut as the tension that had been building up was violently released; as the “later” into which she had projected herself suddenly became the “now,” and she was born into a new and terrifying reality.
A sliver of dull reddish light slowly widened across the bed as the door creaked open. A black smudge loomed up within the middle of this lambent pillar, resolving itself into the negative image of a human form, a faceless wraith, stepping through the portal of a nightmare.
My shadow is upon you now and you are bound to me forever.
The intruder shut the door, plunging the room back into dusky obscurity. Gretchen felt its presence in spite of her senses’ confusion, the preternatural heat of its intention projected towards her as it came on through the pouring gloom.
“Mm.” He stood at the foot of the bed, staring down at her for a moment, or so Gretchen supposed, for she still could not make out his face.
“What are you… what are you going to…”
Swiftly, silently, he hooked a meaty finger into the wedged point of her décolletage and pulled, rending the flimsy fabric with a single merciless motion. The negligée fluttered open, limp and useless at her sides, its stylish shoulder straps framing her neck like a pair of drooping wings. She could feel the sickly moistness of the air caressing her newly-exposed flesh, her breasts her belly, her cunt.
She heard the ominous clink and snap of a belt impatiently unbuckled, the buzz of metal teeth, muffled by the parting denim, as he unzipped the fly on his jeans. Tyge hummed softly to himself, a lazy series of three notes, indistinguishably off-key, maddeningly repeated at random.
He toyed with her, pressing his cock against her inner thigh, drawing it slowly back and forward again to plow the coarse tangles of her mound. His penis seemed unbelievably heavy to her, a balky iron club wrapped in velvet, as thick as her own upper arm, hard, yet not wholly rigid, its movements imprecise, unwieldy, clumsy in a childish sort of way, still uncannily aware of its own terrible power.
She whimpered, wanting it.
“Mmm-MM-mm.” Tyge hummed the strange tune, more incantation than melody, ignoring her need, unmoved, yet in constant, slow, delicious motion.
“I think… I’m ready.” Gretchen whispered the words more bravely than she felt them. She lay on her back, limbs splayed wide, wanting him to see her—all of her—and know that she was his to do with as he pleased.
“Please?” She was practically weeping now, her voice ragged with emotion as she tossed her head to the side in a fevered agony of longing. “Please, I want…”
“Mm-MM?” He stopped in mid-hum. A bolt of lightning ripped through her lower body as he brought the tip of his cock into contact with her clitoris.
Oh Jesus God!” Gretchen clutched the bedding on either side of the mattress, gathered up into tight wads in her fists, as if bracing herself in this way might keep her soul from flying apart.
“Mmm-hm-hm!” Tyge seemed to chuckle as he pressed at her again.
“Please,” Gretchen sobbed, “now!”
“Mm-MM-mm…” In no hurry, he rested a flat palm in the wide valley of her bosom.
“C’mon!” She shoved her pelvis up at him. “I’m right here!”
“Now!” Gretchen sobbed through gritted teeth. “Now!” the word repeated like a mantra as her desperation rose, inflected in a dozen different ways. “Now!” she moaned and whined and begged and pleaded until she was cursing unaware, lashing out blindly in her frustration. “Now, goddamn it! Now! I want… I want…”
“I want you… I want you to…”
“I want you to…”
“Fuck me!” she screamed at last. “Now! I don’t care! Just do it now!
He was already prying her lips apart with the tip of his cock. She felt it quivering there like a diviner’s rod, seeking the hidden well of wetness deep within her folds.
“Oooh!” Gretchen moaned, the sound abruptly cut off by a sharp intake of breath as he eased forward. “Oh… Ohhh…. OHHHH!” She screamed again, but not from pain or fear.
He leaned over, bearing down, filling her easily though he came into her with twisted serpentine thrusts, as if careening around a corner. Their movements were wildly out of sync, like awkward swimmers reaching out for one another beneath the water, repelled by mutual surface tension.
“Fuck me!” She was panting, her voice barely more than a bated squeak tinged with the pain of unfulfilled desire. They moved obliquely together, joined at the crotch, twisting and corkscrewing around the immovable axis of his penis, she turning her thighs away from his, off-center, a little to the left; he rolling his hips in the opposite direction in order to pull her back into alignment, though he continued to impale her with a steady, mechanical rhythm.
“Oooooooh!” That noise again, somewhere between crying and singing, though Gretchen was barely aware of any sound at all.
Tyge crawled on top and crouched above her in the bed like a soldier poised to do pushups, pinning her there with the bony weight of his hips. Her moans came in syncopated gasps, soft replies to the regular pulsing thrusts that drove her back and back towards the middle of the bed, the syllables rising in pitch like the sound of water filling a narrow glass to the brim.
Her limbs seemed impossibly buoyant, her whole body in a state of languid atrophy, shrinking down with each relentless thrust until all weight, all substance was concentrated like an imploding singularity in her cunt. Gretchen opened her mouth to cry out again, but no sound reached her ears. All sense was lost. All save for the feeling of those tender inner walls eagerly expanding around her lover’s extravagant girth, aspiring to become the center of a new cosmos, a cornucopia of pleasure overflowing with light.
And they had only just begun.


Download The Seven Seductions absolutely free this weekend on Amazon, Thursday June 21 through Sunday June 24...

[UPDATE 6/25/18: The promotion was a success as far as I'm concerned. About 45 copies were downloaded. This may not seem like many, but if most of those downloads come from people who are genuinely interested in reading the novel--as opposed to thousands of casual downloaders with no real interest beyond collecting yet another free book--this can only be to the good.]

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Review of 'Perfect Strangers: A Memoir of the Swinging 70's' by Dorothy Freed

When I grow up, I want to be as cool as Dorothy Freed. Well, that might be a tall order: no spring chicken any more, it’s getting harder to deny that I am finally, in spite of all my efforts to avoid it, a rather drab excuse for an adult.  Still, if I could hope to be even half as cool as the fantastic Ms. Freed, or write about my own life-experience with the same deep self-awareness, honesty,  passion, and grace that she brings to this amazing new memoir, I would consider that something worth celebrating.

Perfect Strangers proves once again that real life is often farther-out than fiction. Freed’s story has all the elements of a well-crafted erotic page-turner, including the plucky heroine with a problem on her hands, a seemingly endless series of obstacles to negotiate, and conflicts to overcome—her storytelling all the more powerful for being true! As in any good tale, conflict  comes right at the beginning, in this case when Freed discovers her husband in bed with her best friend. Lacking the confidence that comes with experience, the young heroine is, at first, very much adrift: married at seventeen and a dutiful housewife for twelve years, her husband is the only lover she has ever known, though he never seems to miss an opportunity to remind her of what he perceives as her sexual inadequacies, particularly her (supposed) inability to achieve vaginal orgasm.

Soon divorced with two young sons to support, Freed made her way to the west coast in the mid-1970s. “If you come to San Francisco,” Scott McKenzie so famously sang, “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…” Had she known what awaited her there, Freed might well have arrived with bells on. Already the legendary mecca of seekers, and undisputed world capitol of the dawning New Age culture, San Francisco in those years was the very pulsing, exuberant heart of the Sexual Revolution, and Freed found her element—and herself—there, truly at home for the first time in her life.

The city is much more than mere backdrop in this narrative, with its sleazy clubs and peep shows, steaming bathhouses, velvet-upholstered swingers’ retreats, greasy bistros, head shops, and cafes, high-quality psychedelics, and easy sex—what Erica Jong notoriously referred to as the zipless fuck—San Francisco is the magical canvas on which the story of Freed’s quest for liberty and self-knowledge assumes vivid life.

As in any quest-narrative worth the telling, the heroine needs a guide or mentors to help her learn the workings of this strange, new, and sometimes scary world. Enter a series of fascinating acquaintances and “perfect strangers” to help Dorothy navigate the Yellow Brick Road. At one point, Freed informs us, she was simultaneously dating no fewer than seven men, and would ultimately have close to a hundred lovers in the space of four years. She describes a few of these encounters in frank, unblinking detail, the good, the bad, and the bat-shit crazy, along with what lessons were learned along the way. But probably the most influential and constant figure in her life at that time was “Jake,” Freed’s friend-with-benefits galore, who, in his constant challenging of her inhibitions and hang-ups, ever pushing the envelope of convention, was instrumental in helping her realize her true sexual self, the dazzling butterfly at last emerging from its cocoon of uncertainty and self-doubt.

Freed’s musings about the pitfalls of love, the search for deeper connection and meaning in life, are often extraordinary, and beautifully written, rising to the level of the most memorable personal literature. Throughout, her language is direct, frank—but seldom brutally so—and never convoluted or confused. This is by no means a difficult book to read, though it is certainly an easy one to love.

Enthusiastically recommended!

Monday, June 4, 2018

'The Erotic Writer's Thesaurus' now available on Kindle

The Erotic Writer's Thesaurus is now available in an unabridged Kindle edition. This e-reference features easy navigation and searchability. $22.50 USD.

Amazon UK