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 Magic of Household Gods
The title of this gay-male BDSM romance or parable of sexual magic in the City of Angels is misleading. It is more about patterns than about chaos. The adorable young bottom who tells the tale has a plan for his life, and the minor deities that he has willed into being (the Goddess of Traffic, the Goddess of Negotiation and the God of Computers) have their own plans. The author's plan is the best of all.
Sam, who appears to be a SAM (Smart Ass Masochist), opens a psychic door to something new by literally praying for a new Daddy to appear in his life. This request is unusual for him, as he explains:
"See, to the Gods, most prayer was like the buzz of a hungry mosquito in a dark room late at night . . . Knowing that, I worshipped my Gods, but rarely prayed for anything. When I knelt before their altars and offered sacrifices, selfless adoration flowed off my soul much the same as when I gave my body to a Master. It was an incredible high to bow that low.
"Boundless faith, bottomless misery, and sheer desperation -- the holy trinity of prayer."
Sam reluctantly goes to the bar with his concerned friends, who want to help him get over his last relationship with a man who is very bad news. Unfortunately, Marcus the ex-Master is stalking Sam, and often appears in places where Sam has gone to escape from him.
Sam bolts out of the bar and into the arms of Hector, a mature and reputable dominant as well as a successful salesman of oil-rig equipment. Hector has no interest in tricks of any kind. Despite his frequent out-of-town trips, he wants to get to know Sam step by step, in an old-fashioned courtship that suggests the traditions of his Mexican ancestors. Hector even lives in the house of his dead grandmother, who appears as a ghost to Sam and his family of protective spirits.
On their first date, Sam expresses surprise that the oil-drilling business provides Hector with a good living in Los Angeles. Sam was raised in an eccentric family of pagan farmers in Oklahoma, and he is not familiar with all aspects of his adopted city. Hector explains it to him:
"Los Angeles is like sedimentary rock -- layers applied over each other and compressed together. One layer is entertainment industry, another is agriculture, oil, aerospace, fashion, meat packaging -- name the industry and it's here somewhere you've driven past a million times and never noticed."
This description of the local setting suggests the complexity of a plot that combines romance, hot BDSM, psychological realism and the paranormal. L.A. (or El Lay, as it has been called) is described as a place where anything can happen.
When showing his altar to Hector, Sam explains his religion:
"Gods aren't immortal. They don't live much longer than humans do. Every time a god spirit is reborn in the cycle, the Dewey Clan [Sam's family] stands ready to worship the new deity. That doesn't mean we have to though, except that Mom would scalp me if I didn't worship the family Gods. So I have altars for the God of Agriculture, the God of Weather, and of course, Mama Fertility, even though I don't farm."
Sam goes on:
"The minor deities share [an altar]. I'm never sure if those nameless ones are old gods clinging to life or new gods without much of a power base: the God of Exact Change, the Goddess of Please Let My Period Start... Think of how many prayers rise from human lips in the average day. People don't mind asking for help, but then they refuse to believe in their own Gods. It's sad. A lot of minor deities end up in therapy. No amount of hand patting and 'it's them, not you' can give a God the strength to go on. Only worship, faith and the occasional bottle of Stoli can do that."
Thus the reader learns how closely Sam's spirituality is connected to his sexuality. As his guardian god-spirits tell him, his faith is strong enough to keep them alive and healthy, and therefore any favors they do for him are part of a power exchange, not one-sided acts of charity as he believes. Their hardest job is to get him to believe in himself.
Sam at first appears vain, restless and eager to connect with dominant men on a strictly physical basis. As his story unfolds, the reader learns how dangerous Marcus is and how much Sam is in denial about the harm that has been done to him and about his own paralyzing fear. As Sam has reason to know, hell hath no fury like a Master scorned.
At first, Hector looks like the anti-Marcus. He offers Sam a chance to reconnect with the soil by growing a garden while living in Hector's house. Hector points out several times that he could easily support Sam, whose writing job on the fringes of the movie business barely pays his bills. Hector appears protective, concerned and generous. Is he the ideal Daddy or a control freak? Sam wants to be loved, like all other human beings, but no one living in L.A. could be unaware that exchanging sex and other domestic services for material things is a business. As Sam explains to Hector, a real relationship between them can't be about money.
When Sam's protective deities magically create houses in Hector's neighborhood so they can live nearby and watch out for their boy, none of the local residents seem to notice anything unusual. Even with supernatural guardians, Sam can't always be safe in a city where everyone seems to ignore all the "layers" or dimensions of reality outside their own.
Hector's demon seems to be a fear of disloyalty. He has been wounded more than he will admit by two previous boys whom he loved but lost when he caught each of them with other lovers. Hector is determined not to let such a thing happen again. Unfortunately, Sam's first reaction to fear is to run away first and explain himself later, if at all. And Marcus knows the weaknesses of both Sam and Hector. His plan is to convince Hector that Sam is too fickle to trust and to convince Sam that there is no alternative to a life of submission based on fear.
For awhile, Sam's relationship with Hector seems headed for disaster as surely as the plot of a Greek tragedy. Even when Sam realizes that Marcus is the God of Fear, it is hard for him to turn off the negative energy that has enabled the bully to grow larger than life. As the plot thickens, the reader becomes aware that this saga is a teaching story about the differences between loving, consensual BDSM and one-sided abuse and how easily one can slide into the other.
Does Marcus regain control of Sam's life? Does Hector learn to trust Sam? Does Sam learn to trust himself?
To discover how things work out, you have to read the book. Be warned, however: on the way to a conclusion, you are likely to be distracted by the hot sex scenes. Sam attracts everyone who sees him (even Mama Fertility, who wishes he were straight enough to mate with her), and he describes every blow job he gives and every spanking he gets. He even learns to accept sex in a form that always frightened him too much to enjoy before. As he and the reader learn, however, love and trust are the best forms of lubrication.
True love is supposed to involve mutual understanding. Real lovers are on the same wavelength. They instinctively comprehend each other’s desires. They thrill to the notion that perhaps, as predestined soul mates, they can read each other’s minds. There might be some conflicts that arise from differences in experience or goals, but these are superficial, insignificant compared to the lovers’ communion when they are together.
It ain’t necessarily so.
In Love Runes , Jay Lygon gives us a relationship which, without a doubt, involves true love. The protagonists, Master Hector and his boy Sam, care deeply about one another. Each is miserable when separated, emotionally or physically, from the other. They also share mutually complementary sexual kinks. In the dungeon, Hector knows how to give Sam what he needs; Sam delights in suffering the way Hector wants. At a deeper level, though, the two are not in touch. Sam lies to his Master and hides behaviors that he knows Hector would criticize. Hector is jealous and moody. When he’s feeling hurt, he rejects and isolates Sam. Love Runes is the story (continued from Lygon’s first novel, Chaos Magic) of Hector’s and Sam’s quest for a relationship based in trust rather than suspicion and fear.
This might sound like a rather tedious soap opera, but in Lygon’s hands, the premise is emotionally involving and impressively believable. This is despite the fact that Hector and Sam live in a world of specialist deities who are intimately involved with the lives of ordinary mortals: Aggie, the God of Agriculture; Crash, the God of Computers; Deal, the Goddess of Negotiation; Angelena, the Goddess of Traffic. In fact, Hector and Sam discover at the end of Chaos Magic that they are themselves the God of Love and the God of Sex, respectively. Alas, supernatural power doesn’t guarantee emotional success. Hector and Sam have to work out their problems like any other pair of benighted humans.
As befits the God of Sex, Sam is irresistible. He’s the ultimate Boy Toy, with a pretty face, a gorgeous body, and a butt to die for. He believes that his boyish appearance is the primary reason for Hector’s attraction and so he surreptitiously trades some of his power to the Goddess of Eternal Youth, in order to keep himself looking nineteen. Meanwhile, Hector is waiting for Sam to grow up, to release some of his childish insecurities and habits and become a man who can meet him halfway emotionally. Hector discovers Sam’s subterfuge, and the revelation comes close to severing their fragile connection. But of course, since this is a romance (albeit an unconventional one), the two men reconcile and move forward to greater trust, before it is too late.
Jay Lygon writes deftly, with confidence and style. He is particularly skilled at evoking the physical and social environment of southern California, where Hector, Sam and their fellow Gods reside. At times, he skirts the edge of parody, but never tumbles over. Consider his brilliant picture of the predatory Goddess of Eternal Youth:
“Sammy!” The Goddess of Eternal Youth stood in front of one of the many bookcases lining the walls of the living room as if she were searching for something to read. Her perfume preceded her across the room. As she advanced on me, she held out both hands, grasped mine, and squeezed until her rings cut into my fingers. Even though it was the middle of the night, she wore a tailored suit, ecru blouse, and a strand of pearls like drops of pale honey. I had no idea if she had a day job, but if she did, I bet she sold multi-million dollar mansions in parts of Los Angeles so exclusive that I’d never heard of them. ...
She started to sit in Hector’s big poppa chair, but I glared at her, so she perched on the arm of the couch and carefully avoided the old crocheted blanket draped across it as if it might infect her. She crossed one svelte leg over the other. The skirt of her suit clung above her knees with the kind of modesty only a very expensive suit could provide, showing just enough skin and shadow but not a hair’s-breadth more.
Equally sharp and amusing is the scene in which Deal, Goddess of Negotiation, accompanies Sam to a job interview in a hip LA restaurant.
Deal sniffed the air. “Do you smell that, Sam? Power. Raw money power. I love this place.”
Then there are the sex scenes, primarily BDSM, invariably intense – occasionally heavy enough to make me uncomfortable. (Even if I don’t have balls, I can imagine the pain of having them abused.) If the participants were strangers, one might really worry. However, it is clear from the very first that Hector and Sam are truly soul mates from a sexual perspective, at least. The goal (usually achieved) is mutual satisfaction, and the aftermath always involves some tenderness.
Hector plunged his tongue in my ass. To show him how much I loved being rimmed by a stiff tongue, I set my lips in a tight circle and slowly pushed them down over his cockhead. That got us both moaning. I was so damned hard. He loved to torture me with a long rimming session while I squirmed and begged to be fucked. I was trying to concentrate on his body, though, so no matter how much I wanted his cock inside me, I didn’t plead. Hector lapped at the outer ring of my hole. I swore I was going to shoot if he didn’t stop.
He sank his teeth into the cheek of my ass. The pressure of his bite intensified. Just when I thought he’d break my skin, he lapped my hole again, and then bit my other ass cheek. His hand gripped where I’d been bit.
It was too much. “Sir, please.”
He mercilessly tongue-fucked me for a while and then asked, “What, Boy?”
I could barely speak. “I’m going to come.”
Hector shoved me off him, pushed my face down into the tangled sheets, and smacked my ass until it burned. “You don’t tell me when you’re going to come. I tell you.”
“Yes, Sir.” My ass got smacked harder. “Yes, Sir! I’m sorry, Sir!”
If you enjoy this sort of rough action, you will find plenty of it in Love Runes. Floggers and gags, clamps and torture racks, handcuffs and rope, leather and chains, this book is a cornucopia of kinky gay sex. (There’s no group sex, though; Hector and Sam are emphatically monogamous.) The gusto with which Sam and Hector engage each other in the bedroom (and the dungeon, and the car, and the street) pushes this novel over the line from romance (which it is, thematically) to erotica (which I believe is how the author would prefer to see it categorized.) The scenes are narrated from Sam’s point of view, but they’re arousing from the perspective of a bottom or a top.
I enjoyed Chaos Magic when I read it a few years ago, but I thought it had a few rough edges. Love Runes is smoother and more consistent. It is always a pleasure to watch an author developing a distinctive voice.
In summary, Love Runes is lively and engaging, sharply observed and carefully crafted to arouse both empathy and lust. I recommend it to anyone looking for an original piece of gay erotica.
Many years ago, I recall once being engaged in a discussion of literature with my sister-in-law. At the time she was a huge Catherine Cookson fan (well, she’d read three Catherine Cookson books and she was very fat, so I suppose that qualifies her as a huge Catherine Cookson fan).
“I thought I’d read all the Mallen books,” she confided miserably. “But it appears that I haven’t.”
I expressed interest. Well, I didn’t tell her to shut up, which amounted to the same thing.
“I’ve read The Mallen Litter,” she began, between mouthfuls of pie. “And I’ve read The Mallen Streak and The Mallen Girl. But now they’ve brought out a new title. I’m going to have to buy that one too.”
“Really,” I said, feigning interest. “What’s the new title called?”
She consulted the catalogue she was perusing and frowned over the unfamiliar word I was expecting her to pronounce. Taking a deep breath she said, “This new one is called The Mallen Try-Logie.”
I glanced at the catalogue and said: “It’s pronounced ‘trilogy’.”
I mention this, because whenever I encounter any trilogy, I always think of it as a ‘try-logie’ and then smirk at the memory of my sister-in-law’s disappointed face when she realised she had spent valuable pie money on a collection of the only three books that she’d previously read.
Personal Demons is the last of Jay Lygon’s trilogy (try-logie – can’t shake that habit) which began with Chaos Magic and continued with Love Runes. In this novel Sam, the God of Sex, and his master Hector, God of Love, bring their relationship to a climax. I’m picking my words carefully here because I don’t want to include any spoilers for those who’ve been following the story so far.
Readers who are familiar with the work of Jay Lygon will have come to expect a high quality of writing, combined with well-structured stories, deeply layered characters and explicit, arousing sex scenes. Better than that, the dialogue is rich, credible and has the authenticity of natural speech. Consider the following excerpt:
I tried on the damn gray suit. I even modeled two of the shirts, but the next time I came out of the dressing room, I was in my street clothes. “I’m done,” I said.
“You’re not done, Boy, until I say you are.”
The clerk and the tailor exchanged a glance. Backing away, they muttered excuses to leave us alone.
Hector’s brand on my butt cheek seared. I swore I could feel the exact outline of the capital H. That was more warning than I usually got, so I should have backed down. No, I should have crawled across the floor to his feet and begged forgiveness. Instead, my lips twitched a little into a sneer and then my chin lifted. The next thing I knew, Hector was out of that chair with his hand on my upper arm.
“Sam and I are going to have a little chat,” he told the clerk through gritted teeth. “I’ll be out to pay for all that in a moment.”
They rushed to collect the clothes I’d tried on. Hector dragged me back into a dressing room and slammed the door shut. He sat on the cushioned bench and yanked me over his lap. “Bare that ass, Boy.”
Previously on these pages I’ve criticised books for containing dialogue that is nothing more than artless words on the page pretending to be speech. The example above shows that it’s possible to put black print on a white page and structure it in a way that makes the characters whisper their words into your ear.
The whole ethos behind Personal Demons is supremely clever. The supernatural abilities of the central characters are only occasionally exploited as a convenient device – allowing Sam and Hector to fuck over their relationship the way we mere mortals invariably fuck over our own relationships. Indeed, the presence of the central characters’ omniscience is a constant reminder that Sam and Hector are voluntarily putting themselves through the ordeal of a ‘normal’ relationship which, in itself, says volumes about the level of construction that supports each character. And, if any one of us had the opportunity to become a God, where better to reside than in the heartland of Hollywood’s glitterati?
I could go on: I could mention the fun and excitement of reading about Ophir, Alberto and Deal, or Lygon’s elegant, eloquent description. But instead, I’ll just say that Personal Demons is an excellent book on its own: but it’s a better experience if you read the whole trilogy (try-logie).