While reading 1901: A Steam Odyssey, I pictured author Lionel Bramble chuckling as he wrote it. How could he resist? The story is infused with such glee and charm that an avuncular twinkle had to be lurking in his eyes.
Admittedly, I'm a huge fan of steampunk, so I'm inclined to enjoy the iffy science and fantastic elements. It's rare that I see a book that embraces the surreal feel of early science fiction classics though. Imagine, if you will, Georges Melies version of From the Earth to the Moon (Based on Jules Vernes story) or perhaps the music video that it inspired, Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins mated with the penny dreadful of the Victorian age, with a healthy dose of the Perils of Pauline and a smidgeon of A. N. Roquelaure's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, and you might come close to 1901: A Steam Odyssey, but why torture your imagination when you can simply buy this rollicking tale?
But, of course, this is a review of the erotic content, and why you're most likely to pick it up. From the opening scene in which our heroine, Directorate agent Lady Cheyenne Easterling, her lover James Steerforth, Directorate agent Miss Olive Ravenswood, and Major Bernard Lewis have taken a room at the Thunder Child Inn for an evening of fun with sex toys that they don't quite understand. The Martian invasion of earth (in the War of the Worlds) has been quelled successfully, and it's time to relax. At least, it is for the ladies, who delight in using the magnetic cock rings they've slipped onto their gentlemen's cocks to keep the men in a state of unrelieved arousal.
From there on, it's tit for tat, with the men tormenting/pleasuring the ladies as they split up on Directorate orders. Miss Ravenswood and Steerforth head out in search of disappeared Directorate agents in the Antarctic, while Cheyenne and Major Lewis head to Venus. Of course they're captured by the formidable seductress and turncoat Directorate agent, Lady Jane Moonstone, who has allied herself with the Marshies (the Martians)! And oh, the sexual jeopardy they constantly find themselves in! Thank goodness for the British stiff upper lip, and even stiffer cock, that the gentlemen wield with fortitude and honor in the face of every conceivable sexual challenge. Our ladies are no less intrepid in their zeal to do whatever or whoever, it takes to see their mission to a successful end.
I read this story as an ebook on my computer, so I can't say that I couldn't put it down as I never picked it up in the literal sense, but the same sensibility applies. Not only is the premise fresh, but it is superbly executed. There isn't a false step anywhere. Inventive, imaginative, saucy, naughty; 1901: A Steam Odyssey is all that and more. Two thumbs way, way up! (Mr. Bramble, please feel free to write more. Your adoring fan. KB)
Much of the fun of reading an erotic story about paranormal characters is discovering new kinds of virtual sex between strange bedfellows: the seduction of mortals by ghosts or vampires, telepathic manipulation, spiritual bonding in the absence of old-fashioned hands-on groping--or in addition to it. Add a tongue-in-cheek look at gay-male culture in an actual city (Los Angeles), and you have a sit-com serial to rival the latest vampire sagas on the small screen and the big one.
Bonded is part of a series about vampires in L.A., most of whom were recently "turned," so they still seem at home in the 21st century. Their lord or godfather is Brandr, a thousand-year-old Viking warrior, once the "Terror of the Baltic," whose deepest secret (he thinks) is his compassionate side.
His appearance in public is always dramatic, although he apparently lacks the self-consciousness of an actor or a model:
Brandr's long black duster flapped around his lean legs as he strode past the line of heavy metal rockers waiting to get into the Whiskey A Go Go nightclub. One of them snickered and pointed at him. He tugged the brim of his black cowboy hat low over his ice blue eyes.
In a moment of crisis, Brandr swings his battle-axe through the air in an arc, a move which accomplishes nothing, but—like everything else he does—it “looks really cool.”
Brandr appears to be 25, his age when he was "turned," but he has enough vampire wisdom to know that "turning" others is unethical. He simply feeds on mortals as needed, and leaves them alive with no memory of the attack. Unable to hold down a daytime job, Brandr spends most of his nights writing historical romances; after all, he can give authentic accounts of the past. Since he acquired three "pets" (young male vampires needing guidance), he has had little time to himself. Like an aggravated but soft-hearted daddy, he tries without success to keep them in line.
Brandr's favorite is Kyle, a goth hustler who has a flair for home decorating. The other members of his family are Jamie, the Latino computer geek and Henry the yoga instructor. These vampires are fully functional, and never have to spend a night alone.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Tyler is a mortal man with his own problem: a shiftless lover named Luke. Here they are at home:
. . . before passing out, Luke had been trying to put his hands down Tyler's pants. One of those hands still had the phone number of another guy scrawled across it. While they shared the bed, they hadn't touched each other in three months, and Tyler wasn't about to break that streak with a drunken, fumbling relapse.
Tyler and Brandr each have man-trouble, but aside from that, it is hard to see what they could have in common. For better or worse, they are destined to meet at sunset:
A tall, hot, blond guy was walking as if lost in deep thought. Tyler didn't want to intrude. It was so hard to get a moment of personal peace in a city the size of L.A. . . . The guy passed by close enough for Tyler to touch, but didn't seem to notice. He definitely didn't see the parking meter. He walked right into it.
“I got you.” Tyler grabbed the man's arm before the guy tripped into the gutter. Instead of thanking him, the guy went nuts and threw Tyler against his Jeep. Tyler was too surprised to let go. As he fell back, he yanked the guy into the metal cover of the Jeep's spare tire. Blood spewed from the guy's nose.
Tyler licked his chapped bottom lip and tasted blood. He licked again and swallowed. He didn't remember his blood tasting so good. At least his lip didn't feel as if it were busted. Then he groaned. Maybe it wasn't his blood. Maybe it was from the other guy. Oh, gross. He'd swallowed some strange guy's nose blood. He probably needed to get tested.
The guy bared fangs and hissed.
“I was just trying to help you out, asshole!” Tyler yelled as the guy rushed away.
Do you see where this is going? Tyler has swallowed vampire blood! Unfortunately, even Brandr doesn't know what to expect when he and a mortal are accidentally blood-bonded. And of course, Tyler thinks at first that he just had an encounter with a crazy person who will stagger off into the night, never to be seen again.
Then the fun begins. Brandr and Tyler each experience unfamiliar feelings: Brandr the outward stoic is disconcerted to feel Tyler's grief and loneliness when he breaks up with Luke, and Tyler, in the midst of a sexual fast, is jolted when Kyle works his sexual master on Brandr, his Lord. Forced empathy! Tyler is reluctant to admit to himself that the freaks who come out in the city when the sun goes down include real vampires, let alone that he might be intimately connected with one.
Since Brandr and Tyler each experience each other's sexual feelings, most of the sex scenes in this novella have a ménage vibe. Because this story is essentially a Hollywood sit-com with paranormal elements, the horror and despair are always undercut with camp humor as well as studly sex.
The bond between vampire and human answers the question: How much sex is too much? The two never become unbonded in this part of the serial, but they each gain something from the experience. Of course, there has to be a sequel, which this reviewer actually reviewed first. To learn more, find that review on my live journal page. http://jean_roberta.livejournal.com/142623.htmlBeware of picking up this novella. Like the characters, you'll be hooked.
The first few pages in any book are critical. In those pages, an author must grab the reader's attention, stimulate her curiosity, and motivate her to continue reading by previewing both the characters and the author's style.
Dangerous Pleasures by Fiona Zedde opens with a reasonably promising line:
You should fall to your knees and thank God that you're single again.
However, the page that follows this opening would have discouraged me from reading any further, if I had not been committed to writing a review. That page was the most egregious example of confusing POV shifts that I have encountered in years. Two female characters are conversing. The point of view switches from one to the other in each paragraph, without any cues or warning. I had to read the page four times before I could come up with a consistent hypothesis about who was saying and thinking what. Not an auspicious beginning.
Fortunately, I noticed far fewer problems of this sort as I got further into the book. However, I can't deny that my first impressions of Ms. Zedde's writing were tarnished by this experience.
Dangerous Pleasures focuses on the sexual and emotional quests of two twenty-something women who have been best friends since their childhood. Mayson is a free-spirited lesbian who owns and operates a yoga studio. Renee, an artist at an advertising agency, is newly divorced after four years of marriage to Linc, a man who (we are told) claimed she was frigid and tried to remake her according to his preferences rather than allowing her to be herself. Renee feels lost and unsure where to turn after extricating herself from her damaging relationship. Mayson encourages Renee to indulge in some no-strings-attached sexual liaisons in order to satisfy her physical needs, build her self-esteem, and get Linc out of her system.
Mayson practices what she preaches; much of the book is devoted to her steamy encounters with the voluptuous, horny women who happen across her path. Meanwhile, urged on by the far more self-confident Mayson, Renee places a personal ad and begins to meet strange men in hotel rooms, seeking physical pleasure without any kind of emotional connection. She carries anonymity to extremes, insisting that her couplings take place in complete darkness or wearing a blindfold in order to remain ignorant of her partner's appearance and identity.
Ms. Zedde proves adept at penning intense sex scenes, both heterosexual and lesbian. Mayson's and Renee's sexual adventures are by far the most involving aspect of the novel - a positive point since sex probably takes up at least 50% of the book's pages. It takes considerable skill to interest me in a sexual encounter without commitment or emotional involvement. When nothing is at stake beyond a few orgasms, I tend to find sex boring. Fiona Zedde succeeded in holding my attention.
In other respects, I found the book less successful. The episodic plot wanders from one sexual adventure to another, switching from Renee to Mayson and back, without any clearly defined conflict. Then, quite suddenly, a challenge arises and the plot resolves itself in a twist that I found difficult to believe. I don't want to give away the ending, but I think it's fair to say that despite all the recreational sex in the book, by its conclusion Dangerous Pleasures feels very much like a romance, with all that entails.
Before I conclude this review, I would like to mention the back blurb. The blurb focuses completely on Renee's heterosexual experiments and implies a focus on BDSM (which does not appear, by the way). It neither mentions Mayson nor hints that the book includes a great deal of lesbian sex. Now, I am not the sort of reader who picks her books based solely on their sexual orientation. While I may have enjoyed the lesbian erotic content more than any other aspect of the book, I know from listening to readers on reader lists that some women (and this is a woman’s book) find female/female interactions distasteful. It is my impression that the Dangerous Pleasures blurb is misleading and borders on false advertising. Kensington may find itself with some irate purchasers.In summary, Dangerous Pleasures offers steamy sex between beautiful people and a happy ending. While danger doesn’t really materialize, there is plenty of pleasure. If you’re looking for an uncomplicated read, you may enjoy this book.
There is a surprisingly strong element of commodification in Morizawa’s Memoirs of a Wannabe Sex Addict. On the surface this title can be read as a bildungsroman tale of education and maturation through the protagonist’s exposure to disparate sexual encounters. However, instead of coming across as a contrived narrative with a predestined happily ever after conclusion, there is a distressingly realistic air to the language and content that makes this one of the most believable erotic memoirs I’ve ever read.
In the first chapter, “The Slave,” Morizawa is the occasional sex slave to an illicit fuck-buddy. The second chapter is entitled “The Disciple.” The third chapter is called “The Client.” In each chapter Morizawa takes on the eponymous role of the chapter heading: she is The Slave; she is The Disciple; she is The Client.
Her character grows and develops as the story progresses and the reader comes away from the story with the impression that each aspect of development has been summarily compartmentalized as per the chapter heading. But it’s more than that. Much more than that.
As Morizawa’s story develops, the high standard of the writing and quality of the author’s ability to convey her message to the reader remains beautifully focused. Morizawa is a first-rate writer. The quality of the writing blends literate prose with an accessible style that few authors can manage. The erotic scenes are presented in appropriate detail, cleverly paced to deliver information that is arousing without appearing salacious or prurient. The content is graphic where it needs to be and it basks in sensuous detail when a more languorous approach is required. But it is never unnecessarily gratuitous. The whole book is well-worth the read for anyone who enjoys erotic memoirs, or simply for those who appreciate the creative talents of Morizawa.
As a word of caution, I should add that I came away from this title believing there was an underlying current of misogyny in the content.
The former lover of one partner is shown as a grasping and promiscuous shrew.
Morizawa has a Sapphic encounter with a predatory bisexual artist. Morizawa introduces a young female meth addict to a man she describes as her pimp. I could go on but it’s enough to say that there are few female characters in this story (Morizawa included) who are presented in a flattering light.
To some extent this lends itself to the credibility and honesty of the narrative. It reminds the reader that we live in a patriarchal hegemony where the female is constantly subjugated by a majority of negative role models and a dearth of positive role models.
But, for some reason, that subjugation still feels like misogyny.
He inserted first one finger in my ass, then eventually another. He continued eating me – hungrily, as if he were a stray dog who had found the leftovers in an easily accessible trash can.
I think this simile summarises my feelings of unease. Admittedly, the imagery is fresh and vibrant. But it’s hard to steer away from the association that Morizawa’s protagonist (or, at least, the sexual essence of her that is being consumed) is being described as easily accessible garbage.
That said, Morizawa’s memoir is a comprehensive and entertaining insight into twenty-first century sex. According to the back of the book:
Julia Morizawa exposes an arousing world of sex intertwined with the vulnerable and complex emotions that often come with it. This is a must-read for any woman who has searched for herself by using, and abusing her body. And for anyone who has emerged from the other side, having found so much more.
I have to agree. This title is intelligent and honest in a way that many sex titles never manage. Morizawa is not afraid to admit that some sex works and some sex doesn’t work. She is also capable of pointing out that, aside from the more obvious elements of pleasure, sometimes satisfaction can be obtained through the simple medium of cuddling. Memoirs of a Wannabe Sex Addict is a fascinating insight into one woman’s revelatory experiences. It’s well worth the investment of time and money in sharing Morizawa’s memoirs.
Spank! starts off with a sexy little story called “Just a Spanking.”
“Excuse you for what?”
“Where’s your lead? Don’t you want to write something like, ‘Spank! delivers a wallop’?”
“Have you been reading my review copies again?”
“You leave a book called Spank! with a sultry cover like that out on the nightstand, and I…”
“Well, I took the hint.” He cracks the spine and begins reading:
‘I guess I’ll just have to hit your harder,’ he says and follows through on his promise.
Thwack! Slap! Even he couldn’t possibly have the strength to keep this up. Agony stitches across my lacerated flesh each time his hand finds its mark.
“Oh, yes, that’s from the opener by Lisabet Sarai,” I say, remembering fondly.
“You had the page dog-eared.”
“For return visits.”
“You’re planning on returning to all of these?” He brandishes the book, with the multitude of bent-over pages.
“I like re-reading my favorites.”
“No, not usually. I tend to sprawl in the bed with the book in one hand and my Rabbit in the other.”
“Let’s try aloud.” He hands me the book. I open to the first bent corner selection, from a story called “Thin-Skinned” by Jean Roberta:
I wanted to spank her without mercy for making me worry so much about losing her….
“No, not like that.” I look at him. “Bend over the sofa and recite me the parts you marked. I’ll be doing some marking of my own.”
I should have known better. When D.L. King asked if I would read and review Spank! I ought to have requested a PDF, because here I am, attempting to write the review, but now forced to bend over for the man.
I make a big show of setting down my pencil and picking up the book. As I drag my feet over to the sofa, I wish like hell I’d put on long johns, fleece sweatpants, a flannel robe, a suit of armor—instead, I’m wearing the naughty nightie he gave me for Christmas, nearly translucent crimson silk, over matching panties. My husband waits while I get into position. I open the book to the second bent-over page.
“Name and title, if you please.”
“This one is from Anna Black, called “Elementary My Dear, Sir.””
“I like the sound of that.”
He slowly rubbed his hand over her rear, his smooth palm pressing hard against her flesh.
“Nice.” He does exactly what the book says. “Choose another.”
“This is from “Sugar” by Sommer Marsden.”
My bottom burns, my pussy lets loose a warm and shameful slick of excitement, and he pushes his fingers into me again. ‘Jesus, Sheila. Look at you. Look at this.’ He holds his fingers under my nose and in the fairy lights that dot the ornamental trees, I see it. The wet evidence of how easy I am. I feel like the stars in the midnight velvet sky are watching us.
“I can see why you’d return to that clip,” he says, sliding his own fingers between my thighs.
Punishment first, forgiveness afterwards. Isn’t that the best way?
“You didn’t give title and author.” He spanks me once, hard.
“This one is called “Slippering” by Lee Ash.”
Yes, darling,” she repeated. Jake turned to Duncan. “For modesty’s sake, I could slipper her like this, but I always think that the fabric of her knickers might cushion some of the blow.
“That is a problem,” Sam agrees, pulling my own knickers down. Fuck me for choosing that particular excerpt at that particular time. “Next.”
“This is… “Richard’s Reward” by D.L. King.” I’m stuttering over the words because Sam is punctuating each phrase with a stinging spank.
Poor Richard had a difficult time keeping his legs apart and each time he’d bring them together and clench his bottom, she’d stop and gently tease them apart with the head of the crop.
She paid special attention to the sweet spot where his thighs met his rear end. The cropping went on until he was rolling uncontrollably against her lap and she heard him sniffle.
Sam spanks me faster and harder now, so hard I can hardly read the next excerpt. But Sam being Sam, he doesn’t allow for excuses like crying. I wipe my eyes on my arm and continue. “This is from “What Jackie Gives Me” by Evan Mora:
‘Get yourself off, you dirty bitch.’
I moan then, already half lost in the crazy rush of pleasure-pain his words and his cock and his vicious, beautiful hands deliver, but grateful still for the permission he’s given. He could have denied me any kind of release; Jackie can be cruel.
“So can I.”
I know that, which is why I’m relieved and grateful when Sam runs one of his large hands under my body and begins to strum his fingers against my clit. I let the book fall to the sofa cushion and I close my eyes.
“You chose that last excerpt on purpose,” he says as I come.
“I didn’t,” I insist.
“You think this is a good time to argue with me?” I bite my lip and shake my head. “What will your review be?”
He grabs the book from my hand and gives me a solid ten strokes with the collection. “Good, bad, indifferent?”
“Oh, good,” I say, standing up and rubbing my sore behind. And it is good. A good, solid spank of a book (or a book to spank with solidly)—to dip in and out of in any manner you choose.