Those of you who are familiar with Lisabet Sarai’s writing won’t need to read any further. Exposure is a very good book – another example of how a talented author can make the erotic genre work effectively – and well worth the time and money it takes to purchase and enjoy. Go out and buy it.
For the rest of you who aren’t familiar with Lisabet’s writing – what the hell is wrong with you? Why aren’t you familiar with Lisabet’s writing?
Lisabet is a doyen of erotic fiction. For anyone who wants to enjoy a guaranteed good read in erotic fiction: pick up one of Lisabet’s titles. The same advice goes to anyone who wants to know how erotic fiction should be written: pick up one of Lisabet’s titles. The lady knows how to tell a gripping story, make it saucy and keep the pace cruising along at Ferrari-speed.
Exposure is Lisabet’s latest title and it tells the well-crafted story of Stella Xanathakeos, a 28 year old stripper who finds herself wrapped up in the political intrigue of a murder mystery. The story is exciting and compelling, the characters are strong, likeable and credible and the sex is powerfully arousing.
In many ways a murder mystery shares a lot in common with a typical striptease. As one layer after another is removed, a little more is revealed but the audience remains hungry to see even more and they won’t be satisfied until everything has been wholly and totally exposed.
Lisabet manages this authorial trick with typical aplomb, setting the story up so that the reader is presented with a Stella–eye view of reality. The intrigue of the murder mystery is cleverly executed because Stella’s understandable paranoia allows the reader to have doubts about so many of the characters as they struggle – alongside Stella – to work out who are the heroes and who are the villains.
This device also allows the reader a chance to experience Stella’s passionate involvement in the story as she is driven by her high-octane libido from one gloriously steamy encounter to the next and then the next. Stella has a voracious appetite and Exposure gives her the chance to enjoy a lot of life’s most satisfying pleasures before it reaches its fulfilling climax.
A lot of editors have told me that they don’t like seeing sex and death mixed together in erotic fiction. I disagree with this arbitrary attitude. I’ve written graveyard sex scenes and found, as long as the hero doesn’t go into the cemetery with a shovel to find a partner, the two themes can usually work quite well together.
One of the many things I enjoyed about this title was Stella – the heroine. Stella is an eminently likeable character. She knows that her profession is frowned on by most people but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her work and taking as much pleasure from it as she can. She tries her best not to take her stage show too far but, when she gets caught up in the moment, Stella knows the best way to keep her audience coming back for more.
I think it’s fair to say that the world Stella lives in is ruled by men, and the majority of women in Stella’s world are mere commodities owned by the ruling hegemony. Yet, despite the dual ideologies of patriarchy and money-is-power that control her universe, Stella lives by her own code. Her attitude toward life is a remarkably refreshing and honest approach.
All-in-all, Lisabet’s story is a fast-paced action-packed adventure that’s filled with lots of erotic encounters and a plot that twists and turns with the skilful limberness of a well-practiced exotic dancer. Stella’s appetite is not only voracious – it’s also eclectic. Stella slips between the sheets with men and women, always ensuring that she squeezes as much fun from each encounter as her well-toned muscles will allow.
In short – buy the book. It’s bloody well written and a bloody good read.Editors Note: This title is due to be released February 9, 2009
It’s no secret that power games are at least as prevalent in big business as they are in sex, and when sex and business are intertwined, the power games are amped up to an orgasmic crescendo. They certainly are in erotica, at any rate, and we read enough in news accounts to conclude that there’s plenty of such play going on in the “real” lives of the rich and powerful.
The news accounts, though, can only provide mild titillation. It takes a writer with the skill and erotic imagination of Lisabet Sarai to really immerse us in this world of glitter and grit, silk and semen, financial power plays and BDSM role playing. In Nasty Business the financial stakes are high, the emotional swings are chaotic, and the sex is intense, inventive, and very nearly non-stop.
The story is told through three different viewpoints, a structure that could be hard to follow but turns out to be just right. First is young Ruby Chen, heiress to her deceased father Liu’s business empire as well as to his financial acumen and sexual appetite. Next is her assistant Margaret, also inherited from her father, and, unknown to Ruby, Liu’s longtime lover and submissive. The third is Rick Martell, an entrepreneur who challenges Ruby in a business affair that becomes personal as well as financial, striking even more sparks of lust than of competitive fever, until sex and business become inextricably tangled and dominance in both rebounds from one player to the other as though they were players in a frenetic handball game.
Each section is labeled with the name of the point of view character, and each of the voices is distinct. We get their accounts not only of what’s happening in the present, but what they remember from the past, expanding the range of sexual experiences we can see, and at the same time giving insights into their characters, as when Margaret recalls that “I was floating in a crimson haze, breathing in time with his savage strokes. I forgot myself, thinking only of him, basking in the intensity of his desire. I forgot to notice when, or whether, I climaxed. There was only Liu, his energy and will, his pleasure. That was the only thing that mattered.”
We also get to share their inner thoughts and fantasies; even in the throes of sex, Ruby imagines how she must look to Rick: “An image: my pale bottom, my swollen pink sex lips gripping the leather-bound rod, the black strands vibrating against my creamy skin. The stretched, torn lace of my flimsy panties, framing it all. Is this what he is seeing? I suck hard, my eyes screwed shut.” Rick has this same habit: “A part of me is watching myself, simultaneously shocked and amused. A new twist. A new category of victim, perhaps, unable to resist me? Is there any limit to what I'll do in the pursuit of pleasure and power? But these thoughts are swept away by the raw sensations in my penis, and returning images of Ruby.”
Rick’s “unable to resist me” attitude brings up my one semi-complaint about the book. He’s a hard character to like, and might even be said to put the “nasty” into Nasty Business, not that Ruby isn’t at least as ruthless in her drive for power. Rick is portrayed as not particularly handsome, which was at first a pleasant change from the typical perfection of characters in erotica, but then he’s shown to have some inexplicable magnetism that makes him irresistible to women. Ruby wonders, “Why does Martell have this overwhelming effect on me? Chemistry? Pheromones? It feels like something biological and irresistible. Or perhaps telepathy, empathy, some psychic force that allows him to catch and shape my thoughts.” But Ruby takes it as a challenge and part of the game; Margaret feels it as almost a violation.
In the long run, after many volleys and reversals in strategy and dominance and various different couplings (with Rick’s handyman Raoul and housekeeper Luna thrown into the mix), Rick turns out to be a reasonably good guy, or as good as any guy could be who has known all his life that women can’t resist him. At least Ruby is satisfied, so all’s well that ends well—and orgasmically. Every player has his or her turn on the top and/or the bottom, while the complexity of human desires is explored with considerable insight. My favorite character, though, is Margaret, who comes the farthest to find her true self, motivated not by greed but by loyalty and love. Margaret, in fact, may ultimately be the most powerful of them all, with the keenest understanding of the nuances and complexities of power exchange.
Nasty Business is top-notch erotica, written with a sure hand by Lisabet Sarai. Her prose is lushly evocative as well as explicit, and her imagery can even verge on the poetic when the situation calls for it. For me, the most memorable passage comes from the viewpoint of Margaret, watching the young housekeeper Luna who has just led her through a great moment of self-discovery: “She gathers a droplet from my thighs and licks it off her finger. Her eyes close as she savors me, and I am reminded of some flaxen-haired medieval angel, consumed by mystic ecstasy.”
Don’t worry. There’s plenty of raw sex, rough sex, kinky sex, revenge sex, even elegant sex, in Nasty Business. And there’s plenty of power play. But to have all that and the rare moment of mystic ecstasy too—well, that does it for me. Whatever does it for you, chances are that you’ll find it here, and some unexpected pleasures as well.
The other week I was trying to produce a working definition for the concept of genre. It seemed like a straightforward enough task. We’ve all purchased books based on genre. We all understand the term loosely beyond its dictionary denotation. Most of us read genre fiction, some of us write genre fiction, so we must know what genre means.
Well, to be honest, I never got to the point where I could produce a working definition. There were too many variables. Just because a story contains a werewolf, does that mean it has to be a horror story? When does a story stop being part of the mystery genre and start being a supernatural yarn? When does a story shift from being a romantic adventure to becoming an adventurous romance?
My studies produced a lot of questions which have been difficult to answer. Next time I’m doing something so bold as trying to define a term like ‘genre’, I shall take a shortcut and simply ask Lisabet Sarai.
Lisabet Sarai is a master of genre and Rajasthani Moon proves as much. Set in a steampunk imagining of an empire-forsaken Victorian India, Rajasthani Moon contains aspects of fantasy, action-adventure, supernatural, science-fiction and, of course, erotica.
“Really? If you’re on an official diplomatic mission, why were you travelling in disguise?”
“As you note, sir, your countrymen are known for their violence and lawlessness. A woman openly journeying as Her Majesty’s representative would be especially vulnerable to attack by brigands and highwaymen…”Cecily stopped short, overwhelmed by memories of her time with Pratan. Her nipples knotted under the thin fabric of her bodice and moisture painted her thighs. Once again embarrassment heated her face. She tried to tear her eyes from the Rajah’s but he would not allow it.
He shook his head. “I really don’t know what I should do with you.” He flipped the gauzy train of her sari off her shoulder, exposing the swollen nubs that strained the fabric of her top. “Though I imagine I’ll think of something.”
For an instant she expected him to reach for her brazenly erect nips, to pinch or twist them. She knew he’d be cruel. A shudder of anticipation raced through her. She sucked in her breath, expecting—no, craving—the debasement.
He didn’t touch her. Instead, he favoured her with an ironic grin and settled back into his chair. “Sit here, then.” He indicated a nest of pillows piled to one side of the throne. “For now, I shall pretend that you’re telling the truth, Cecily, and treat you as the honoured representative of a foreign monarch.”
I’ve been a huge fan of Lisabet Sarai’s work since I first encountered her short story ‘Butterfly’ in Mitzi Szereto’s anthology, Erotic Travel Tales II. Not only does Lisabet have a sophisticated command of detail that brings each narrative to life, she also has an astute focus on plot that allows her to create and combine genre tropes as she tells a specific and enjoyable story.
When she opened her eyes, Pratan stood in front of the horse. The sight almost undid her.
He had removed his clothing. Muscles rippled along his arms. His sculpted chest gleamed with sweat. The scratches from his fight with the palace guards had faded, though they were still visible. His thighs, parted by a foot or two for balance, were like the trunks of great trees. At their juncture his proud cock reared up, nut brown crowned with strawberry red, its slickness further testimony to his arousal.
In his hands he held a cat-o’-nine-tails. He trailed the leather strands through his fingers. A teasing smile graced his lips, but his ebony eyes held something darker and more serious.
The horse swung her backwards, out of range. Then, like a pendulum, the device brought her back within reach—no more than six inches from where he stood.
At a mere 145 pages, Rajasthani Moon is a slim novel, but packed with all the necessary elements to provide an entertaining and satisfying read. As with all titles written by Lisabet Sarai, this book is well worth the investment. You will enjoy.
This book is a re-release. It was originally published by Black Lace in 2000, then again by Blue Moon in 2003.
Kate O’Neill impetuously takes a job in Bangkok, leaving behind her quiet life in Boston and her boyfriend, David. The trip from the United States to Thailand is just the beginning of the adventure. At her new job as a software developer, she’s introduced to the firm’s financial backer, Somtow Rajchitraprasong. Somtow is gorgeous, attentive, and utterly irresistible. He introduces Kate to the Thai view of sexuality, and shows her life on the spicy side with a taste of Thai cuisine you won’t soon forget.
Through her work, Kate also meets a demanding client, Gregory Marshall, owner of the sex club The Grotto. Marshall’s commanding demeanor alternately irritates and fascinates Kate. He’s a Master, accustomed to being obeyed. Kate isn’t quite sure why she follows his orders, but she does. He claims to know her better than she knows herself, and after a BDSM scene in a private room in his club, she begins to believe him. At each of their encounters, he brings out more of her submissive side. She flees to Singapore for a few days to think over the drastic changes in her life, but finally realizes that she can’t escape her true self.
Kate returns to Bangkok and continues her affairs with both of her new lovers. Each offers her something different. Somtow is a committed sensualist who delights in pleasing Kate’s sexual and intellectual hungers. Marshall shows her the truth about herself. Then David comes to visit, and Kate feels the need to choose between her three lovers. The men agree to let her decide, but not before each tries his best to prove he’s the best lover for her.
Do you remember when erotica was just good, wicked fun? Lisabet Sarai does. This story is a skillfully delivered romp through increasingly hot sexual scenarios. Maybe I’ve been reading too many stories full of angst and ennui, but it was such a pleasure to immerse myself in guilt-free, full-throttle, joyous sex. I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but there’s an embezzler and industrial spy, a salacious chauffer, a katoey (lady-man) go-go dancer, and one very wicked Domme, all of whom keep the story rolling along at a good pace.
There are same-sex pairings and some explicit BDSM scenes. As a warning, there is also coerced consent in one scene. You could argue that he did consent, and that he had it coming to him, but given the sex-positive tone of the rest of this story, it did make me a bit uncomfortable. However, that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. The Bangkok setting is fascinating and adds to the overall feeling of opulent sensuality. Lisabet Sarai deftly shows the country without ever letting the descriptions take over the story. Good BDSM novels are voyages of self-discovery, and Raw Silk is a journey you’ll enjoy taking.
Rough Caress by Lisabet Sarai is an entertaining e-collection of her BDSM stories that shift the dominant role from gender to gender as well as between the same ones. Thus there is a whacking good time for all. What makes the book particularly entertaining is that the stories are not simply S/M. They are based in the way that I think people fantasize about the excruciating sexual adventures they would like to have. The net result is that a lot of these characters, such as the protagonist in “Poker Night,” take a great deal of bottom blistering punishment that a beer quickly repairs. Better still, the abuse always leads to what would be a skull splitting orgasm, and yet no one ever seems to want an Excedrin afterwards.
I can’t fault Ms. Sarai for taking this surreal route with her stories as they become a refreshing relief from the usual tormented souls in S/M erotica who seem so overwrought by the fact that they have any sexual urges at all. Worse still, are the truly mindless examples of erotic fiction in which sex is on the characters’ brains 24/7 to the exclusion of all else. Someone has to take out the garbage after all, and let in the guy who reads the meter. In my experience he or she is not often the sort you want to throttle and carry into your bed once she/he’s collected their data for your gas bill.
Waking fantasy then deserves its rightful place in the world of erotica and nowhere else is that more justified than in the sexual realm of BDSM. Such relationships are complicated and they require a lot of forethought as well as insight to turn a session of love-making into more than the esthetic equivalent of beating a rug and then pissing on it.
Make no mistake, Rough Caress contains more than its share of vigorous, graphic, and lively beating and punitive pissing. Yet for the most part, it succeeds in rising above the usual trap of being a list of repetitive, icky-sounding activities.
That is a function of two things that Ms. Sarai does very well. The first is that she is unusually good at entering into the minds of her characters so that their perception of each stroke, lick, finger, and poke is realized in a way that is plausible to the imagination. You don’t care so much about what is going on as you do about how much the character is enjoying it, even if, at times, they are howling and peeing from the excess of sensation as they do so.
The second strong weapon in Ms. Sarai’s delivery is her sensibility to local atmosphere. She is not quite given to Hemingway’s dictum that one should always describe the weather in any fictional account of a place. However, she understands, as so few do these days, that every city has its own atmosphere, and within it, districts and denizens who respond to the demands of circumstance.
The best example of this is a brooding murder story called “Bangkok Noir”that carries the reader through the steamy streets of that city’s red light district. We make the trip through the eyes of a good-hearted, street-wise Lesbian S/M madam whose supply of fetching mistresses is being depleted by a serial killer. A stickler for authenticity and quality, the madam recruits only the best and the killer is hacking into her profits not to mention her lovelife.
All of that is balanced off by a stiff-necked Thai policeman who, though eminently corruptible on some levels, resists mightily being sexually bound to the madam’s harsh attentions. The atmosphere is so rich that it is impossible to put the story down as much for one’s curiosity about the outcome of the plot, as the lyrical turns of sexual play that Ms. Sarai spells out in the text.
If I were going to fault this collection in any way it is that sometimes the writing style is not quite the equal of the task it assays. “House of Shadows” is the prime example. A wealthy woman of the Edwardian era yearns to be whipped and otherwise roughly mastered by a domineering male. The problem is: how does a respectable lady of the upper crust go about getting her jollies without ruining her pristine public façade? Her perfect husband seems utterly clueless about her desires, and propriety would never tolerate such appetites among the upper echelon in any case. It might be perfectly fine to spank your wife soundly for some impudence or flaw, but neither one of you had better admit to enjoying it. Thus she finds her way to the underground pleasure dome of the House of Shadows.
Well, okay, that’s fine, but the trouble is that Ms. Sarai cannot manage the languid idiom of Henry James much less the titillating indecorousness of Frank Harris. Edwardians were masters of subtle indirection, which strove to make the lurid appear commonplace amid the banal. One thinks of Aubrey Beardsley here, and even more so, his imitators in the home décor field.
Ms. Sarai’s heroine instead affects a stubbornly blind sexual naiveté that becomes plain silly after a while. This lady knows perfectly well what she wants, and no matter how hopelessly she romanticizes her appetites, they remain brutally clear to her mind and body. The only person who seems unable to accept that, is she. The resulting story is a strangely unsatisfying whipping romance.
On the other hand, I defy anyone to fault the style and atmosphere of “Wednesday Night at Rocky’s Ace Hardware Store”in which a rollicking BDSM couple test drive all sorts of handy home gear for all sorts of daily chores in the realm of bondage and discipline. The Mrs. is bound, bent, bared, and beaten in the aisle next to the ladders with a wide range of gear and gadgets that is helpfully made available because, “Ace is the place for the helpful hardware man.” Indeed he is, and without question, he is a genuine believer in the Do It Yourself disciplined approach to regular home maintenance.
You may not fantasize at the Home Depot about being spanked by your lover. But I am willing to bet that, given the level of tedium most ladies experience in waiting for their other half to decide between two identical buckets of plaster, they have a wild assortment of fantasies up and down the aisles from here to plumbing supplies and on to small appliances.The point is that Ms. Sarai understands the imagination and how it can pick up little things and turn them into day-long adventures of sensational, decadent, throbbing sexual fantasies. That after all, would seem a good explanation of why we need fiction in the first place.