I’ll be honest and admit that there are three reasons why I’m a frequent visitor to the Lakeland National Park in Great Britain.
But now there’s a fourth reason to visit: Body Temperature and Rising by K D Grace. This is the first in a series of titles (other titles to follow include Elemental Fire and Riding the Ether). Set with its feet firmly in the Lakeland area, the story begins with Marie feeling a little lost on a remote path in this fell walking region.
As she struggles to find her bearings Marie comes across a couple. And, in this place of elemental beauty and charm, Marie finds herself being drawn into an enticing world of intrigue, witches and sex magic.
This is from the book:
There was something in the way the man spoke that was strange. The accent was very British, and yet not. And the way he moved against the woman, the way he protectively pulled her to him, the way his mouth made love to hers banished Marie’s irritation that they’d chosen her path for their reunion. Irritation was replaced by longing that ached down through her torso to mingle with the strange buzz that had migrated to the soft spot between her legs, and the air felt suddenly warmer. The man’s hands joined the reunion. He slid the strap of the woman’s tank top down to spill a bare breast heavily into his waiting palm. He paused to knead it and fondle it as though he had never seen anything more exquisite. Then he took as much of it into his mouth as he could. The woman released a shrill gasp as though cold water had been poured onto her. “I can feel it,” she breathed. “We were right.” Then she held him to her, letting him nurse at her in hungry nibbles and slurps.
One of my personal worries about approaching fantasy fiction is that I might not be able to buy into the world being created. I’m a simple soul and I’ve just about started understanding the real world in which I live. Luckily the walls are padded in my part of the universe and there are helpful instruction manuals to cover tricky things like meeting people and discussing life’s more esoteric subjects. Immersing myself in a world of sex magic, spirits and witches is a risky proposition that I’ve previously avoided.
But K D Grace leads the reader into the fantasy world of Body Temperature and Rising with a mastery of the craft. Perhaps this is partly because the physical world of the story is a very real area, enriched by a natural beauty that lends itself to the beauty of physical intimacy? Or maybe it’s because there is really a form of sex magic that is not so dissimilar to that being presented in this book. Or perhaps it’s just that Grace is a bloody good writer and manages to tell a convincing story with a strong erotic content. Maybe it’s a combination of all three factors.
The brief cry of pain that accompanied the final push, gave way to the pleasure of fullness she had never imagined. As her anus yielded to accommodate and he found his rhythm, he kneaded and tweaked first her breasts, then her clit. Then from the still-open drawer of the night stand, he produced a thick dildo and buried it to the hilt in her pussy, and she could take no more. She growled like a wild animal, bucking and thrashing and quivering as orgasm avalanched over her in wave after wave until he wrapped his arms around her waist to hold her, until his own orgasm burst up from his balls, and she thought he would strangle her in his bear hug.
At last, as they collapsed onto the bed, he whispered against the back of her neck. “You truly are the Fourth Element, my dear Marie. And now the circle is complete, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. You will be an excellent ghost rider.” She didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but she figured she’d ask him after she regained consciousness.
This is powerful, sexy writing from the extremely competent K D Grace. The story contains a compelling narrative. And all of it is set in the most beautiful scenery in the natural world. You really will love this book.
Bad boys are a staple of fiction. The slightly broken guy who is on the shadier side of society evokes something in the reader that is titillating. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s got smouldering good looks and isn’t afraid to do things that aren’t done in polite society. He’s the one the heroine starts to think about while she touches herself, wondering if a man who isn’t necessarily good for her would be good to be with.
When I’m reading, the most successful “bad boys” are the ones who are on the wrong side of the tracks (or the law, or society in general) because they’ve had no choice. Their reputation isn’t wrong – it’s just the result of taking a bad option from a list of poor choices. The scoundrel isn’t all bad, there’s a redemptive element to him, and when push comes to shove, the realization of this knight in slightly-tarnished-armor comes with a bit of relief. You want to like him, and now you have a reason.
In Coercion, I couldn’t quite find that sense for Michael. He’s spoiled, petulant, dates a girl who is equally spoiled and petulant, and has a kind of hot-and-cold desire for the heroine of the tale, Valerie, whom he basically treats as a throw-away sexual release valve whenever he and his girlfriend are on the outs.
Valerie herself is a woman who was once chubby but has slimmed and toned herself with diet and exercise, and is suddenly attractive and desirable to men – but her proper ways and virginal inexperience seem to put off the guys around her – or she just doesn’t really notice they’re looking. Except for Michael, who definitely notices her and fingers her in a parking lot when he’s struggling with his girlfriend – and then doesn’t speak to Valerie for weeks.
Valerie is an apparently smart and gentle sort. Her desire for Michael is something even she admits to herself is foolish, and yet she falls into the traps of the low self-esteem. She wonders if he’d like her if she were as thin as his girlfriend, for example, and although I understand the allure of the handsome rake, by that point I was starting to get annoyed with her. Yes, I’ve been attracted to people I shouldn’t be. Who hasn’t? And especially in college – the setting for Coercion – the raging hormones are flying in all directions, but I wanted to slap Valerie. This guy has spoken to you twice all year – both times fingering you and then leaving immediately thereafter, by the way – and he drops you like a rock whenever his girlfriend pays attention to him. And you’re pining after him? Grow a spine.
Instead, Valerie allows herself to be used by Michael more and more. I wanted to enjoy the erotic prose – which is well written, well crafted, and builds at a surprisingly slow pace throughout the novel, nudging Valerie into deeper territory – but I just couldn’t get past disliking Michael thoroughly and getting annoyed at Valerie’s inability to realize what a cad Michael was. When she does realize he’s a jerk, she’s helpless to her desire, her body reacting regardless and her mind unable to turn away from Michael’s touch. Which, okay, it’s an erotic story but it just goes to underline Valerie’s hopelessness and lack of conviction or strength.
By the time Valerie gathers some self-worth, it was on the edge of being too late for me. If I hadn’t been reviewing the book, I’m not sure I would have made it past Michael’s request that she go ask her friend to join in – which she does, though mercifully her friend reacts like a sane woman given how Michael has treated Valerie from step one.
I should mention that at no point is Coercion written poorly. The writing is good, the descriptions do well to evoke the time period of the piece, and the characters – for all that I found them unlikeable – are consistent. This is not a badly written story, which is part of the confusion for me. The zero empathy factor I had for the characters shot me down.I’m not sure where Coercion was intending to lead me. I think it was aiming to be a “coming of age” for Valerie, but it felt like it took her too long to get a clue. It very likely could be that this just wasn’t the right kind of story for me by virtue of the characters. Valerie’s weakness left me so frustrated, and Michael just seemed without redemption. Michael’s girlfriend seemed like a female version of Michael, and I just found myself caring for almost no one in the tale, with the exception of the one nice guy who seems to like Valerie, but he barely blips on the radar throughout the story. The story is saved by its ending somewhat, which I won’t ruin, but overall Coercion left me more angry than titillated.
Daddy is an evocative word. Father has a cold, formal connotation, but a daddy sounds warmer. Some might even say hotter. It's a thoroughly masculine identity - a role model, a task master, a lover, a giver, a teacher, and a guide who cares. It's also recognition that there's something very sexy about a mature man. Not necessarily old, as many of the stories in this anthology show us, but comfortable in his skin and in control of his life.
In Jamie Freeman's “In His Time,” a married man who gave up cruising to keep his vows is accused of cheating one too many times. He heads to the bookstore where he used to go to hook up. Each glance in a mirror reminds him that time has passed and maybe he's too old now. He doesn't want to be the old creep, and he doesn't want to be a daddy either, but when the right guy makes him feel all right in that role, he realizes that it's time to embrace who he is.
Sometimes a boy just wants a Daddy, or several of them. In Landon Dixon's wonderful “Men of the Open Road,” a hitchhiker doesn't want to go anywhere in particular. He's just along for the ride. He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it.
If you like your BDSM on the brutal side, you can always count on Xan West to deliver. In “It's My Job,” the boy says "Right now my job is to take him into me, to be a good quiet hole for Daddy's cock. And there's grace in that." Jeff Mann's “Daddy Draden” is BDSM laced with bittersweet memories of a cub who can only visit his master a few times a year. They're aware that their paths may spin them apart, so they make the most of their times together in scenes that are as emotionally charged as they are physically intense.
Some of the stories in this anthology are rescue tales. Gavin Atlas's “Daddies in Damian” is about a porn performer looking for a way out and the fan who wants to help him. In “Pop Tingle” by David Holly, a sugar daddy picks a street kid to be his new sex slave, and the kid is all right with that. To me, the sissy trope and women's clothes forced on the kid smacked of creepy straight guy playing sex tourist in Thailand fantasy, but maybe there are gay men into forced feminization, so if you enjoy that, here's the story for you.
Or maybe you're in the mood for a good round of horseplay with a father and son (and cousin) team. If so, Jack Fritscher's “Father and Son Tag Team (That Summer! That Camp! That Cousin)” is going to be the perfect, almost over the top, but so fun you won't care choice in this anthology.
Obviously, it helps to be into the daddy/boy dynamic to appreciate these stories, but they aren't all about age play. Some of the daddies are younger men. Contributors Kyle Lukoff, Mark Wildyr, Dominic Santi, Dale Chase, Doug Harrison, and Randy Turk each have a different take. More than a few are bound to appeal to you. Thumbs up.
I don't have anything against happily ever afters. I write erotic romance myself, and I appreciate the appeal of a love that lasts, growing deeper and burning hotter as time goes on.
At the same time, I must admit a fondness for one night stands, both actual and literary - those intense, unexpected interludes where you suddenly connect with a stranger. In those few minutes or hours of startling intimacy, you become truly naked, your lust fully exposed to the gaze of your partner (or partners). Surprising epiphanies can emerge from what seems like a mere indulgence of animal appetites. Even when such encounters don't spark those sort of insights, the emotional high that comes from pushing boundaries, violating taboos or simply experiencing new peaks of pleasure can last long after the orgasms have faded away.
Violet Blue's anthology One Night Only celebrates the intensity, and the variety, of sex without strings. She has assembled a collection of exceptional stories that range from deliciously raunchy fantasy to searing realism.
Alison Tyler's tale "Seeing Stars" kicks off the book.
You've heard the clichés: The bells. The whistles. The flashes of bright light. Our connection was different.
The heroine, a student of astronomy who works nights at a Hollywood movie theater, gives in to impulse and takes off with a strange man who looks a lot like her, to couple on a roof under the stars. I'm used to raw kink in Ms. Tyler's stories. This one felt more tender, less subversive than many, but still provides the emotional honesty and physical heat for which she's renowned.
Does every woman have a man like this in her life? asks the narrator in Donna George Storey's contribution "Hole in My Pocket", a story about temptation and long-suppressed lust. The heroine has flirted with and fantasized about her colleague for years. When he passes through her town for a single night, she seizes the chance to act on her desires, though she knows he's claimed and the moment will never be repeated.
The first thing, if you were me, was that you didn't want to seem needy. Second, you didn't want to be uncool. And third, a cliché: you didn't ever want to be a cliché, but always extraordinary, not commonplace in any way. So I seemed together and in control, interesting and cool, up in my tower above it all and better than anything that happened to me. ... Confession: I was a needy, uncool cliché, and a really lonely girl.
Thus begins Daniel Burnell's astonishing tale "Breathing," in which the narrator finds herself on a couch, in the dark, at the tail end of a party, touching and being touched, breathing but not daring to speak for fear of breaking the spell. Mr. Burnell's delicate prose teases apart the tangled desires and motivations of his young, inexperienced heroine, allowing the reader to feel every brush of a fingertip and hear every sigh.
The three stories above approach the anthology theme from a moderately realistic perspective. At the other end of the continuum are fantasy tales like Kristina Wright's playful and outrageous "Just a Little Trim."
There was a reason I was the top stylist at the salon- the only thing hotter than sex is the temptation of sex. Temptation pays the mortgage, baby. Lulu's a pro when it comes to teasing her customers, but the well-muscled ex-Marine who books her services for a quick cut and shampoo induces her to make an exception to her policy of deprivation.
Then there's "Three Pink Earthquakes," by Thomas S. Roche, an over-the-top account of a woman's dalliance with an Italian tourist couple under the table in a San Francisco gay bar. There's no limit to what Molly's willing to do with, and to, Ilaria and Jeff, once she realizes that they're up for absolutely anything at all. I cringed a bit at Molly's description of the disgustingly sticky floor of the bar, but if you're looking for pure raunch, you'll find it in this tale.
Lily K. Cho offers another fantasy-fest in the "The Spoiled Brat," in which a woman gets picked up by a gay male couple who share their heat as well as their dildo and harness with her, while N.T. Morley provides a graphic account of a woman fulfilling her desires to be gang-raped in "Audience of One."
Perhaps the most erotic tale in the collection, in my view, is Cynthia Hamilton's "Performance Art." Tourists Julie and David meet at a Paris museum of erotic art, and before long find themselves surrendering to the lust on display all around them.
Thinking back later, she would be fairly sure that she was the one to cross the velvet rope, to pull him down on top of her on the mussed sheets, locking him against her with a leg hooked around the back of his thigh. ... But only fairly sure.
Before long, Julie and David have an audience, as other visitors to the gallery wander into the exhibit they've taken over for their coupling. Deliciously, though, this story is not about the kinky excitement of being watched, but quite simply, the thrill of being together in the moment.
"Not for them,' he breathed at her lips between humid, hard kisses. 'For us."
I've highlighted a few of my favorite stories, but in fact nearly every contribution to this collection deserves praise. May Deva's steamy "Subway Subterfuge" proves that an erotic story does not need to include intercourse in order to arouse. In D.L. King's fabulous "Whore", a neurosurgeon is mistaken for a woman of the night, with wildly pleasurable results. Abby Abbot's original tale "Tournament" explores the interaction between competition and lust, demonstrating that sometimes you can be a winner even when you lose. In "Rock Star Rewards", Rachel Kramer Bussel channels a flame-haired giantess rock legend who consumes the tasty "boys" who adore her with genuine relish. And Heidi Champa's "Chasing Jared" gets my vote for the most creative location for sudden sex - inside the cramped confines of a hamburger vender's cart.
I loved this book while I was reading it - an activity I approached slowly, one or two stories at a sitting, wanting to savor each one. As I re-read some of the stories, seeking quotes for this review, I became even more impressed. One Night Only ranks as one of the best erotic anthologies I've read recently. While this may be partly due to my personal attraction to the theme, I'm certain the diversity and the quality of the writing are also significant factors.If you like original, honest, seriously hot stories - and you don't require a happily ever after - get yourself a copy of this book.
This saga of an upwardly-mobile American family, starting with a couple from Russia who immigrate to New York in the time of the last Czar, resembles a history of the Kennedys or the Rockefellers. By the end of the story, the “Shore” family consists of a glamorous middle-aged couple, Art and Vita, who visit the overseas branch plants of the family business, and their three privileged children, two of whom want to learn the business from the ground up.
So how do they make their money? In the illegal business of porn, later defined as “adult films.” This story is as fascinating as the true Hollywood history of United Artists (originally formed by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks). The story of Gold Studios, the business of the Shore family, includes tragedy in the form of unexpected deaths and a mysterious mental illness. Aside from this, however, the history of the business and the family, covering almost a century, looks clean, uplifting and sanitized. The Shore family is shown living the American Dream; their methods seem only slightly more broadminded and creative than those of fellow-millionaires who made good by setting up widget factories.
Art Shore, the key figure in the story, eventually turns a small underground operation that churns out black-and-white plotless films of people having sex on mats into a legally registered company that produces “Sex for Lovers” in settings as elaborate as those in other movies. He finds his way into the “porn” business through an introduction to Howie, owner of Gold Films in 1961, by Betty, a very nice woman who has called herself a “sex therapist” ever since she became too old to star in “dirty movies.” Art comes into Manhattan from the family home in Far Rockaway to spend weekends with Betty. He pays her well and takes her to nightclubs.
Art, whose family had already acquired a comfortable nest egg by working for a bank, was introduced to Betty at age 18, by his older brother Vic, who had enjoyed her services for years. Considering the illegal and disreputable status of all forms of sex work in the early 1960s, the entry of the handsome, upscale Art Shore into that world looks unbelievably smooth. Howie, who inherited a rundown building from his father, a carpet seller, has to pay off the police to avoid arrest, and there is a reference to the Mafia somewhere on the sidelines. (Apparently that family was into bigger operations than Gold Films.)
According to the descriptions of the sex biz in the Bad Old Days, it didn’t include violence, drug addiction, extortion or betrayal in any form. When Art becomes an enthusiastic performer as well as a shareholder, he learns the story of “Chickie,” a small, bisexual man with a large dick and a Turkish name that Americans find hard to pronounce. As it turns out, “Chickie” (who dies gruesomely of syphilis after a long and reckless sex life) is a kind of pipeline for a British fortune that is eventually used to transform the bootleg porn film business in New York.
The subplot involving “Chickie” is a fascinating look at the convergence of underground sex services with an underground gay-male community before Kinsey brought the actual sex practices of Americans to the attention of the cultural mainstream. As the child of poor Turkish immigrants, “Chickie” is seduced by Jeff, a male counsellor at summer camp whose English parents are killed in a bombing raid in London in 1942, leaving him the owner of their property on both sides of the Atlantic. “Chickie” becomes Jeff’s long-term lover, and they turn an inherited brownstone into Rose House, a kind of community centre for gay men. Having no direct descendants, Jeff leaves his whole estate to “Chickie,” who becomes a shareholder in Gold Films. “Chickie” finds that he enjoys sex with women as well as men, and he is not offended when Howie chooses to film his impressive cock without showing any of the rest of him.
From time to time, the chronological narrative is interrupted with sex scenes, all heterosexual. The shifting viewpoint is disorienting. (Is this a slightly-fictionalized third-person account of actual events? In that case, who would know how many times Art came, or how satisfying it was?) In addition, the dialogue sounds as stilted as the speech of people who learned English as adults and want to be grammatically correct.
The central romance in the book is between Art and Vita, a beautiful young blonde who performs for Gold Films to support herself and her widowed, ailing, Swedish father. When Art first confesses that he has refused to perform (have sex with) Vita because he has “personal feelings” for her, she is understandably sceptical. Here he rushes up to her and tries to explain himself:
“Look, I am sorry. I am not playing with you as you think I am. I do not know how to explain what I feel about you, but I do. Do you believe me? I do not want to hurt you.”
Is this how Art’s Russian grandparents (who raised him after the sudden death of his parents) taught him to speak? As a native-born New Yorker, wouldn’t he have learned to use a few contractions on his weekends in Manhattan?Despite the awkwardness of style and the unlikely goodness and generosity of a large cast of marginalized characters, this book is persuasive enough to seem like a peek at a largely-unknown history of New York, which includes an underground economy. This book could use a ruthless editing job, but it tells a story that needed to be told. If the Gold Company actually exists under any name, someone there should consider turning this epic into a major motion picture.