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.
As a title, Gracefully Aroused is a clever play on words for a collection subtitled The Best of K D Grace. It’s entirely my own fault that it seemed to me at first to be a bit on the tame side as titles go, suggestive of lovely but rather languid sexual encounters. It didn’t take more than a few seconds of reading to realize how wrong I was.
There’s nothing tame or languid about any of these stories. K D Grace packs them with hard-hitting, no-holds-barred sex, and does it with prose that really does turn out to be graceful in a way that requires great skill. Blunt when needed, lyrical when that’s the better choice, paced just right to speed or slow the action, her writing brings her characters (and readers) to the highest pitch of whatever flavor of sensual pleasure she’s serving up.
The way these ten stories are arranged has a pattern of its own. She begins with classic themes that could seem hackneyed, but in her hands they remind us why they became classics in the first place. The first three pieces are from the women’s point of view, and the men the women are viewing are very much of the manly/studly variety, alpha when that’s what works, sensitive as needed, with a few secrets to be revealed. Delicious.
The “Hired Hand” makes the lonely woman farmer reflect:
Working bare-chested might cool him down a bit, but it only made her hotter. She had nearly forgotten the clit- stiffening scent of sweaty maleness, earthy and slightly piquant, a scent that, amid the barnyard animal smells, caused her own animal nature to squirm and stretch and sniff.
The “Personal Trainer” is in complete command of conditioning not only the muscle tone a bikini will display, but every delectable bit even a bikini conceals:
“A few push-ups, maybe some dumbbell flies and your cleavage will give every bloke on the beach wood.”
His gaze is like a magnet pulling my nipples all taut, and I wonder if it’s my cleavage that has given him wood, or if it’s just a permanent condition for the macho
The “Accidental Hitch-Hiker” is in luck with the trucker who rescues her when her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere:
What had been hidden beneath the poncho was not the stereotypical American trucker she had expected. He ran a hand through damp auburn hair in need of a cut. It hung in unruly curls around the soft stubble on his face. There was no beer belly, no good-ole-boy tattoos, no missing teeth. He wore a faded T-shirt stretched over his chest... The overall effect made her pulse race, and the feeling low in her belly was like the deep vibration of the lorry motor, only inside her.
The next two stories take entirely different tacks, both from the viewpoint of the man. In “Productivity,” a high-powered lady efficiency expert schools a nervous CEO in the power of orgasms to increase confidence, not to mention general health. “Flaws” also involves a man learning from a woman, but in this case the woman is a witch who does sex spells for a fee, but draws the line at the much more dangerous love spells. This taste of fantasy is a nice variation, and gives just a hint of some wilder excursions beyond everyday reality that come later in the book.
That’s the first half of the book. The first three stories of the second half are sexual romps of one kind or another, the first two with a tongue-in-cheek attitude (even when the tongue is elsewhere at the same time,) and the third has a humorous slant as well even though the setting is more realistic. “Hard Times At the Nymphomaniac Rehabilitation Center” is a title that pretty much speaks for itself, and the girl in “Confessions” with her fetish for priests could easily have matriculated (and masturbated) at that same institution. The archaeology students in carnal pursuit of their professor in “Excavations” are out for a fun prank as well as a good boinking, and the professor is more than equal to them when it comes to both.
Good as all these are, the last two stories go to a higher level entirely. Intensely sexual and arousing in physical terms, they also stimulate the mind and imagination, not only with their concepts, but with the startlingly vibrant descriptions.
In “Seeing Red,” the main character has a strange power:
One day, Jenny woke and found she could actually see body heat, the body heat that showed up in the infrared spectrum in glorious swirls and splashes of colour from burnt orange all the way to spilt-blood black. Watching it was like watching fireworks, subtle living fireworks.
And in the final piece, “Pheromones,” the super power is claimed by the sense of smell rather than sight:
By his scent, Chloe could tell if her landlord had got shagged and if it had been by his wife. Chloe could smell every detail of her flatmate, John’s, sex life. His girlfriend, Kim, was an olfactory layer cake. Deodorant soap and perfume could never completely mask the fact that she worked at a chippie. All those smells fought a losing battle against the tidal pool of scent emanating from between her legs, a scent that was always flash fire urgent.
There are so many passages of brilliant description combined with creative sex scenes in these two stories that I can’t possibly choose just a few, and, in fact, I shouldn’t. This whole collection is varied, balanced, and beautifully—even, yes, gracefully—written, and you shouldn’t miss a word of it, so reading it all yourself is the only way to go.
Francie and Dan are desperately in love with one another, but they aren't having an affair – not technically. During their private meetings in the lavish grounds of Dan's opulent estate, they don't touch each other. Instead, they engage in simultaneous masturbation, encouraging one another with dirty talk until each reaches an independent climax. In Dan's view, at least, he's still being faithful to his wife Isabel.
Dan assures Francie that he'll eventually divorce Bel, but he isn't ready yet to take that step. He believes that Bel is too emotionally fragile to handle the shock. Meanwhile, although Bel employs Francie as her kitchen gardener, they're also close friends. Torn apart by guilt and sexual frustration, Francie decides to leave her job for one that plays less havoc with her feelings.
To persuade her to stay, Dan enlists the help of his college chum Simon, a handsome landscape architect who has a lot in common with Francie. According to the plan, Simon will become Dan's surrogate, making love to Francie while Dan watches and directs. Simon agrees, primarily because he's strongly attracted to the earthy, uninhibited young woman himself.
Unbeknownst to her husband, Bel is engaged in some extracurricular sexual shenanigans of her own, in the company of her masseuse Ellen. When Dan finds out, the kinky possibilities re-ignite his lust for Bel – even though he tells himself he loves Francie. Secrets unravel, motives are misunderstood, and for a while it appears that nobody will end up satisfied. That illusion is dispelled, however, as each character ends up matched with the partner he or she deserves.
I loved The Initiation of Ms Holly, the last book by K.D. Grace that I reviewed, so I opened Surrogates with eager anticipation. Unfortunately, I found myself rather disappointed by this book. The plot premise felt contrived, an insubstantial ruse to justify the sex scenes. The sex itself, though copious and well written, was pretty pedestrian compared to the wildly imaginative scenes in Ms Holly. There are M/F/M and M/F/F ménage interludes and a whole lot of wanking, as well as the obligatory corporal punishment scene, but somehow all of this bonking lacked conviction. There were no surprises, no shocks or risks, no breath-stealing excitement or delicious shame. This may be in part because so many of the sexual encounters were literally staged by Dan, in his attempts to have his cake and eat it too.
The voluptuous Francie is an appealing character. (I keep finding myself wanting to write “well-rounded” or “fully fleshed-out”...) She's passionate, unaffected and genuine, with a powerful connection to nature – a true goddess type. It's no wonder she inspires such desire in the men around her. She rings true – the descriptions of her passion are among the best parts of the book – and I would love to have met her in a deeper and more engaging story.
The sensitive but virile Simon is her perfect match, though it takes a surprisingly long time for her to realize this. Dan, on the other hand, struck me as so selfish, self-centered and self-deceiving that he's almost a caricature. Toward the end of the book Ms. Grace suggests that he may be punished for his dishonesty and sexual greed, but one gets the impression he'll enjoy that chastisement far more than he should. He's so unsympathetic that I found it implausible that someone with Francie's virtues would ever be attracted to him.
The plot of Surrogates smacks a bit of a Shakespearean comedy, with its deceptions, misdirections and revelations. I found myself thinking of Titania and Bottom. Perhaps one should view Ms. Grace's characters from that perspective, as comic archetypes manipulated by the author for the pure fun of it. Certainly, with the possible exception of Francie, they didn't strike me as at all realistic, but maybe that was intentional.
Surrogates is not a bad book, if you're looking for stroke fiction. It races along smoothly from one orgasm to the next, raunchy and playful, amusing and pleasant (as long as you can put aside the urge to kick Dan in the butt). However, I know from experience that K.D. Grace is capable giving the reader more than a quick wank, that she can produce erotica with a great deal more depth, insight and passion than is evident here. I'm sorry this book doesn't fulfill that promise.
Ever since Fanny Hill, the lusty wench has been a stock character in erotic fiction. Starting from a state of relative innocence, she dives with reckless abandon into the "warm waters of sins of the flesh", eager to experience every variant of sexual pleasure. No one can resist her erotic enthusiasm. She attracts both men and women, less because of her physical attributes than because of her inexhaustible capacity for arousal. It is her sexual curiosity, responsiveness and openness that set her apart from ordinary women and mark her for a special fate.
Rita Holly, the heroine of K.D. Grace's highly entertaining novel The Initiation of Ms Holly, is a prime example of this literary tradition. Rita is a modern, independent, intelligent young woman, a transplanted American working as a journalist in London. She is attractive but not really sophisticated or elegant. An encounter with a stranger on a blacked-out Eurostar train stalled under the English Channel reveals her true nature: exquisitely sensitive, sexually voracious, and possessing the rare ability to completely suspend her rational self when in the throes of carnal delight.
Rita never has the opportunity to see Edward's face, but his touch, smell and taste set her on fire. Before long, she learns that he belongs to an ancient sexual society known as the The Mount, which hides behind the facade of an exclusive London restaurant and dance club. A mysterious vow requires him to wear a mask in her presence, but he introduces her (in the most physical sense) to other members of The Mount's High Council: golden-haired, androgynous Alex, who teaches the tango and other dances of passion; stern but succulent butch Aurora, who serves as waitress and enforcer of The Mount's rules; grizzled, solid Leo, in his bush helmet and khakis, looking like he just returned from safari; curvy, elegant Lorelei; exotic Morgan, his body tattooed with leopard spots; and the impossibly beautiful and elegant Vivienne, the head of the Council. Edward convinces Rita to apply for membership in the elite society and she is accepted as an initiate despite Vivienne's opposition.
Most of the novel recounts, in loving and lascivious detail, Rita's undertaking of the various tasks and sexual rites of passage devised by the Council members. Needless to say, Rita passes every test with flying colors. A week as a pet in a human zoo, an explosive coupling bound to a motorcycle, "forced" oral service to both males and females, whippings and spankings, public exposure, a week as a slave to the vicious Vivienne, nothing can stand in the way of Rita's desperate need to know who Edward really is. Even as she questions her own sanity, she is a more than willing participant in the many flavors of debauchery to which she is subjected.
The Initiation of Ms Holly is erotic fantasy at its best. The sexual scenarios are wonderfully varied and imaginative, and unfailingly arousing. I flew through the book, devouring one luscious sex scene after another, as eager as Rita herself for the next trial.
The book includes a variety of D/s activities and given my usual preferences, I would have expected these scenes to be my favorites. However, the interlude that Rita spends in Leo's "zoo" turned out to be the most arousing section of the novel for me. Leo treats his beloved pets as animals, but they are not used, abused or forced to "serve" their masters, as "pets" sometimes are in BDSM tales. Indeed, pets are not allowed to have sex with humans. The thrill in the zoo is the way its denizens drop their human pretensions and give full rein to their animal nature. For a week, Rita does not speak. She uses the senses of smell, taste and touch to communicate with her fellow pets, and glories in the permission to enjoy sexual pleasure without any of the societal baggage we humans carry. Ms. Grace describes this experience in a vivid, visceral way.
This novel does require considerable suspension of disbelief. Despite its fantastic plot, though, the characters are distinctive and moderately realistic, except for their prodigious sexual capabilities. Vivienne, the gorgeous bitch who emerges as Rita's adversary, is particularly well drawn. The scenes in which she imagines taking Rita's role show a significant level of psychological insight.
I found the resolution of the novel slightly disappointing, relying as it does on a mater ex machina. However, I might have been influenced by the fact that all the delightful carnal games were drawing to a close. Appropriately, the novel ends with an orgy as Rita becomes a full member of The Mount and Edward removes his mask. Of course, an abundance of orgasms are enjoyed by all.
Overall, The Initiation of Ms Holly is great fun, following in a time-honored literary tradition.