Saturday, December 29, 2012

Waterleigh Care Home by Molly Cutpurse (REVIEW)

"Life's a bitch and then you die"

Waterleigh Care Home is not an upbeat novel by any means, but it is an eloquent plea for human dignity. It is the unusual story of a transgender person, who, after many years of insufferable agony accommodating a male gender role, finally comes to terms with her true self and belatedly becomes the woman she was always meant to be. But, in the saddest of ironies, the anaesthesia administered during her surgery triggers a flat out plunge into dementia that lands her in a nursing home where she spends her final days in decline.

Molly Cutpurse speaks to us on many levels in this fine book. She tells us to enjoy life while we can and always be true to ourselves. She also makes it clear that our transgender protagonist is a person first, and, as such, needs to be treated with utmost dignity. Then there is the issue of true compassion, that very rare commodity possessed by so few. But why do we shirk our natural inclination to be kind to others when, one day we too will be at the end of our journey? My guess is that it is too painful for most of us to go there; too agonizing to view our own demise in the eyes of the sick and dying. That is where this novel shines.

This book was particularly impactful for me given that my own mother died recently. For most of her life she was a beautiful and charismatic figure, projecting a stunning magnificence and a radiance that often made the lives of those around her sweeter. She did not happen to be a transgender person, like Sarah, the protagonist in this novel, but like Sarah, she was very human and had an edgy side. She could be outspoken, sometimes feisty and often deliver a verbal jab that could put one soundly in their place. This very human quality was demonstrated to me even in her last days when I decided to pay her one final visit.

At first my mother, who even near the end still radiated a special beauty, seemed unaware of my presence, although I tried hard to stir her. Finally, it appeared that I had her attention and I attempted to make contact with the mother I once knew. She had not seen me in some time and she had never known me to wear a beard before, so I asked, "Mom, do you like my beard?" No answer. She continued to stare at me, a bemused, Mona Lisa look on her countenance. I repeated my query several times over. Finally came her measured reply. "What are you, a masochist?" She proclaimed. Those were her last words to me.

Read this novel for a taste of what it means to live.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Re-imagining Your Own Fiction by Gryvon (Guest Post)

When I first wrote The Machinist for the Weight of a Gun gun-kink anthology, it was meant as a one-shot piece for the anthology, to be written and forgotten in the pursuit of other stories. But in the writing of it, Avery and Harrow and the world they lived in grew. There was potential in those two, in Avery's wit and fearless charm and in Harrow's scowling fondness for the machinist he'd caught. So when the call came around for Weight of a Gun II, it was inevitable that I return to Avery and Harrow's world.

With short stories, we're limited by the frame of the anthology. There are only so many words that can be slotted in beside the rest of the stories, so the scope of the story has to be pretty narrow and tight. Often, this means that the world the characters inhabit doesn't get explored as much as we would like. That happened in The Machinist. The story focuses primarily on introducing the characters: Avery as the machinist on the run in the Northern wilder lands, and Harrow as an invading lord who steals Avery from one prison to keep him in a prison of Harrow's making. It's the story of two people meeting and not quite falling in love, but close, at least on Avery's side, if you turn your head and squint a little.

In The Inquisitor, the Weight of a Gun II story that continues Avery and Harrow's adventures, the characters are already established and known, so I was able to explore more of the world around them. We get to see what life outside of the colony walls is like and learn a bit more about the shadowbeasts that attack in The Machinist. We also find out a little more about why Avery is out in the wilderness and why his profession – and Avery himself – are so important for Harrow to control.

While I was outlining The Inquisitor, I came upon a problem. I had an idea in my head about how the world from The Machinist was supposed to work. It was a dystopia, a future society where humanity had destroyed itself, leaving nature to take the world back while the remaining survivors pieced together what little they had. Hundreds of years later, humanity has grown, and they're starting to find all the old tech and need machinists to put it back together and get it working. At least, that had been the original idea.

When I went back through and added up all of the tech used in The Machinist, there was too much for that. Guns. Night-vision goggles. Jeeps. Electricity. All in all, not very dystopian, or at least not post-apocalyptic. To make matters worse, at least for the original dystopian idea, The Machinist was already out in print. There was no changing things. I'd written myself into a corner.

The great thing about ideas is that they can change. Dystopian became colonial sci-fi. I read through The Machinist three or four times, taking notes on every little detail about the world I'd already written, and then turned that into a different world than what I'd originally imagined, still the same at the core but with a little different trappings. The elements were the same, but I had a new interpretation on it, and a more solid look at the world I'd already built. The role of the machinist in his world became clearer in my mind, and in outlining the second part of the story, a new characters was born – the inquisitor.

In Weight of a Gun II, Avery and his captor/lover Lord Harrow now face the threat of The Inquisitor, who's been searching the wilderness for Avery and is determined to catch him. But Harrow is very possessive of his prize and has no intention of turning Avery over without a fight.

Gryvon is a writer of things strange, fantastical, and queer. Her works span a wide range of tone, from dark paranormal thrillers to cozy romances. During the day, she works as professional code monkey with coworkers who think her far more innocent than she actually is. She's an avid gamer and all-around geek who spends a fair number of weekends running around (or LARPing) with people playing as vampires or werewolves. Her latest short story, "The Inquisitor", is now available in Storm Moon Press' Weight of a Gun II anthology. Her other works can be found at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Bondage by Erzabet Bishop (Guest Post)

Christmas and bondage... ah what could be better? Nothing like a little roll under the Christmas tree to make the season bright. Add a few spankings and a creatively placed candy cane and you'll have me dreaming of sugarplums and flogger-wielding reindeer. Oh yes, the Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs anthology from Storm Moon Press was the perfect catalyst to tell Jonas and Holly's story.

Writing about BDSM and the holidays was a whole lot of fun. I thought about it for weeks. I hung Christmas lights and garlands in my writing space, trying to come up with a story that was original. Scouring books, I thought up naughty things to do with holiday paraphernalia (that was way more fun than it should have been). Then, it hit me. What about a lust demon with a penchant for Christmas ornaments? And, of course, said lust demon (Jonas) needed a smart aleck friend to give him endless Hell. Enter Mallory, a succubus with flair and a habit of saying just what's on her mind.
"It's twisted." Mallory sniped out, her tone coolly disapproving. Grabbing Jonas by the arm, they trudged down the main street of the Old Towne shopping district, dodging tourists and rabid consumers on a mission. "You have lost your mind. Here? Seriously?"

Holiday music piped through the air and the smell of chestnuts roasting wafted towards them. The Carver Hills Old Towne Winter Carnival was in full force and it warmed Jonas' soul to see it. Throwing caution to the wind, he let out another burst of energy and sent it spiraling into the crowd. What could it hurt? He was here on a shopping expedition of his own and it wasn't for the latest transforming doll or gadget. Nope. Lust. Just a little. He was hungry.

Lust was, after all, his personal vice of the seven deadlies. It really didn't matter the form. It was usually sex that got people into trouble, but any old lust would do. And right now, he was indulging in a little proclivity of his own. Christmas. Twinkling lights. Tacky reindeer yard ornaments. Tinsel. Garlands. Ah, the things you could do with a garland. A little tricky rope work and a willing partner and you had yourself your own little version of a bondage Christmas carol. A happy smile tilted up the corner of his mouth. It was funny as Hell, really. A lust demon with a fetish for Christmas ornaments.
Let's play a little game, shall we? This or That with Jonas, Mallory, and Holly!
  1. Sushi or pizza Mallory: "Yes please." Jonas: "Jeez, Mal. No way. Pizza." Holly: "I second that, Jonas. Pizza! With lots of cheese."

  2. Christmas or Halloween Mallory: "I'm a demon. Halloween of course!" Jonas: "You would say that, Mal. Give me twinkle lights and gingerbread any day of the week." Holly: "I love them both, but I have suddenly developed this new, um, fetish for Christmas trees and red ribbon." Blushes bright red.

  3. Apple cider or appletini Mallory: "I love a good fling at a bar. Bring on the appletini's and don't hold back on the studly young appetizers." Jonas: Rolls eyes. "Apple cider." Holly: Laughs out loud at Jonas' expression and grins at Mallory. "You two." Shakes her head. "I have never tried an appletini but I like apple cider just fine."

  4. Vanilla or Kink Mallory: Grins broadly. "I'm a succubus. What do you think?" Jonas: Looks over at Holly and smiles seductively. "Oh, I think a bit of kink, don't you?" Holly: Giggles and hugs Jonas. "I couldn't agree more."

  5. Floggers or good old fashioned knot work Mallory: "Flogger. Definitely." Jonas: "You mean I have to choose? I like them both. So much potential." Holly: "I don't know. I kind of liked it when you tied me up with the ribbon." Grins at Jonas and waves a red ribbon at him.

Taking a journey with Mallory, Jonas and Holly was a whole lot of fun. Mallory's wit and audacious behavior is just what I imagine a succubus could become after walking the earth for centuries. Jonas is world weary but finds happiness in the sights and sensations of Christmas. When he meets Holly in the bookstore and holiday shop, the pieces fall into place for a kinky romp underneath the mistletoe.
The little minx behind the counter just stared at him, speechless. He towered over her, a petite redhead dressed in a tight fitting red sweater that left little to his overactive imagination. He couldn't see much of the black slacks she had on, but if the rest of her looked as good, he was in for a treat. The waves of lust emanating from her were like a homing beacon to the gnawing hunger in his gut. He felt it burn through him while he was basking in the glow of the holiday lights. The force of feeling behind her emotion was staggering and he held onto the counter with a death grip to avoid leaping over it and taking her right there. The sound of holiday carols playing in the background mixed with the heady scent of baking cookies and spiced cider made his heart happy.

"Is it for sale?" The smile in his eyes burned bright with a sensual flame. He notched it up a little, just to see what she would do. The game was on.
Thanks for having me on the blog today! I hope you enjoyed getting to meet Mallory, Jonas, and Holly. May you have a wonderful holiday season and many nights of kinky reads with Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs!

Erzabet Bishop has been in love with books since she could sound out the oddities of Dr. Seuss. Inspired by the life size cutouts of Dracula and his bride that adorned her wall as a teenager, she has been reading and writing fiendishly ever since. She has been published in the Coming Together: Hungry for Love anthology, and her most recent short story is part of Storm Moon Press' Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs. Under her real name, she reviews music, is an aspiring YA author, blogs about books, and can be found watching monster movies with her husband, crocheting strange looking objects, working at her job at the bookstore, or chasing around one of her furry children and insisting they behave. They don't often listen. Erzabet can be contacted via e-mail at erzabetwrites AT gmail DOT com. Check out her erotica reviews at her review blog and find her on Twitter @ErzabetBishop.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Always Okay To Be Me by Danielle Marie Bergan (REVIEW)

This very well-written transition story outlines the author's transformation to a female gender role, as she grapples with the inner demons she has long kept at bay. Not for the faint at heart, It's Always Okay To Be Me: A Journey To Recovering Lost Hope is a memoir that reads like a novel, grabbing the reader's interest from the very first page.

The story outlines Danielle Marie Bergan's attempts to deal with the ravages of her life-long gender dysphoric feelings through denial and the use of alcohol and illegal drugs. When acting on self-destructive impulses and the use of mind-altering substances no longer work, the author finally turns to Alcoholics Anonymous and, with the additional assistance of some highly supportive therapists and associates, she finally comes to terms with her gender variant feelings.

In her moving tale, the author develops, with great depth, the character of the people who surround her, both family and friends. By the conclusion of her story, Danielle has so vetted her gender issues, that her transition seems a normal and natural solution to her life-long angst. This fine work ranks near the top of other such books of this genre.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bonnie Bliss Book Blitz (A Slave for Christmas & Cuff Me, Santa)

A Slave for Christmas
Bonnie Bliss
Holiday Doms; Book 3
Genre: BDSM Erotic Romance
Word Count: 17500
Now Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance, Smashwords

Book Description:

After Kenny steps away from Brad and Millie, he makes the ultimate sacrifice for his best friend. He takes not one bullet, but two for him in combat. Trapped in a military hospital for the holidays, he forces Brad to go home to Millie for Christmas. Reluctantly, Brad heads back to the states, leaving Kenny behind to spend his first Christmas alone and in a bed.

What no one expects, especially Kenny, is the tender care of a very sweet and submissive nurse. Lindsey Williams has been caring for Kenny since he came in injured. Old friends from high school days, Lindsey has no clue that Kenny is a Sadist—looking for his perfect slave. After spending a long night Christmas Eve talking, she discovers his secret. Only to be hiding something of her own. She has been longing for a 24/7 Master/slave relationship since she realized the level of her submission.

With Christmas right around the corner. Lindsey has her heart set not only being his naughty elf, but giving him a Christmas he is not soon to forget.

Disclaimer: This story shows a ‘total power exchange’ relationship, and may contain content that is objectionable to some readers. There could be, but not limited to acts of humiliation, orgasm denial, double penetration (by objects), BDSM punishment and discipline, and is intended for readers over the age of 18.

**Mature Content**

Lindsey froze in mid fork lift.

She thought she had blacked out for a moment. There is no possible way that she had heard him correctly. He needed to whip a woman? Did he also need a woman on her knees naked, head lowered in pose for him? God, she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. For a moment she couldn’t breathe. It felt like time had stopped while she just stared at him. Her fork with the thick mashed potatoes poised to go into her still gaping mouth. Her eyes started to hurt. She wasn’t blinking, and she noticed him shift uncomfortably. Before the moment passed she knew that she had to get him back to that place. That needy place where he desired a slave, a woman, and the hunger to inflict sadistic pain.

“You want to what?” Her voice was hoarse.

Lindsey placed her fork back on the plate lightly. Licking her lips she brushed a hand through her loose bangs. Her long hair was pulled back in a braid. A messy braid that left stray tendrils falling around her heart shaped face. Clearing her throat, she looked down at her plate. He was laughing and making strange noises from his throat to avoid the question.

His throat made a sound to clear it, “Nothing, I was kidding.”

Her shoulders slumped. She licked her lips before she dove into her mashed potatoes again, annoyed that he was changing the subject.

“That’s a shame,” she whispered. It was directed more as a silent comment.


Her head jerked up. Kenny was looking directly at her. His eyes bore into hers. They glittered with mischief, desire, and—arousal. No, that couldn’t be it. Though, she did notice the distinct gaze of Dominant that was hopefully looking at a submissive woman. He looked eager in that moment. Lindsey’s body got tight. Her nipples puckered under the thin green scrubs. The feel of her labia swelling under the intensity of his gaze brought her out of reality and into the fantasy that he could make her a dribbling idiot. Fear peaked at the prospect of being shut down. She was so tired of men shooting her down. This was a man that could have any woman he wanted. He probably did get any woman he wanted. Slaves falling at his feet, kissing his shoes, and posing so beautifully for him. That mattered. She was forever the submissive that just oozed too much toppiness.

Was that even a word?

She broke out of her silent musings and shook her head at him. Lifting the food again to muffle the sound of her own voice, she quickly mumbled a nothing and took a long drink of the beer.

“Oh no little one, you will tell me.”

It was a demand coated in a slight growl. Gooseflesh rose all over her flesh. Her scalp even tingled from the way he commanded her. Then what he had just called her crashed over her desire, and she was back in the reality that she lived in.

“Little one, that’s funny.” She mocked. Her voice dripped with sarcasm as she took another swig of beer.

She needed to get drunk and wallow in her own self pity tonight. Lindsey knew if she told him everything, he would laugh her out of the room and break it to her how much her being submissive didn’t work. Just like every other man she met. No Dom seemed, ‘Dom enough’ to take her on.

“With the right training, you would make one hell of a submissive.”


It was like a slap in the face. She hated that she came off so strong. Lindsey knew that he would think she was a joke if she told him. Only one man so far had taken on the challenge of breaking her. He could smell submission on her, he had told her. That club back home, he was a Master Sergeant. Before that it was a kid in high school, at a Senior party. The one lone guy in high school that had wanted her, started to spank her as a ‘joke’, and…

“I’m submissive!” She blurted out.


Cuff Me, Santa
Bonnie Bliss
Genre: M/M/M/F Erotica
Word Count: 8705
Now Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance, Smashwords

Book Description:

Alex never could leave her presents alone. Its Christmas time again and her boyfriend has left her something naughty under the tree. Determined to try her new toy out before everyone wakes up, she makes the couch her sexual playground. Come midnight Alex hears a noise. Before long she’s no longer alone after Santa arrives and together they create a Christmas neither will forget.

Full of sexy Christmas cheer, this is one Christmas you are not soon to forget. Not only will Alex have some Christmas magic, but Santa will get one heck of a gift himself from the sultry Alex.

Disclaimer: This short story contains adult content. Features one naughty but nice female, and a Santa that is not from your Night Before Christmas. With the stockings hung by the chimney with care, you will sure get a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

**Mature Content**

She giggled at her own thoughts before she hiked her legs up. Alex hadn’t even bothered putting her PJ pants back on. Resting her heels on the edge of the couch, the cool air in the room caressed the glistening seam of her now pulsing cunt lips. She opened her mouth and started to suck the huge plastic cock, readying it for her tight little hole. She may bang Bobby a lot but he was her first boyfriend, and this was the biggest dick she had ever seen. Moaning as she pushed the thick shaft in and out of her mouth. She popped it out and spit on the head, using her tongue to spread the moisture all over the member.

Carefully, she ran it up and down her sensitive labia. She used the flared head of the fake cock to part her delicate folds and started to press. It stretched and parted her pretty lips as she went in for more. She adjusted herself, pushing her ass over the edge of the couch more. Her free hand reached down and rubbed her engorged clit. With one final hard shove the pink cock was shafted fully inside her.

“Oh fuck me that feels so good!”

Just as she started to get momentum with the toy a crash, a grunt, a hard thud, and a billowing cloud of soot and ash filled the room. Leaving the menacing pussy puncher inside her, she looked over. She had to blink a few times. There was no possible way she was seeing what she saw—right?

His pants down to his ankles, the protruding belly, the cherry red cheeks, and the white beard. He was huge. That man was over six foot four. He was handsome despite his size. Alex licked her lips. Her pussy clenched hard around the toy as she looked at his huge cock. It stood straight to attention. God, was she doing that to him?

“Um, Santa?”

She closed her legs, but didn’t pull out the toy.


About the Author:

Bonnie Bliss is not just a willing submissive, but she is a wife and a mother. By day, she is a busy, stay at home mother. At night, she is a sultry storyteller. Her tastes go towards the dark and the extreme. She loves to twist up fairy tales and sweet stories we all know and love. Her lust for Dominance and submission has taken her into the dark inner workings of Sadomasochism.

Bonnie is a native of Southern California, and says that everything in the Katy Perry song, California Girls is totally accurate. She has done everything from waitressing, customer service phone rep., Corporate Real Estate, and spent a pretty impressive part of her life working for the Disney Corporation—including as a Disney Princess. When she’s not writing, she is ordering too many custom bows for her daughter, baking the best cupcakes in the world, going to Disneyland, laying on a beach, and sometimes playing hockey for release.

Friday, December 14, 2012

From Minor Character to Female Lead in "Hearts of the Hunted" by Kathleen Tudor (GUEST POST)

Earlier this year, my story "War and Peace and Brotherhood" was included in the Fraternal Devotion anthology from Storm Moon Press, featuring a m/m romance in an alternate reality, where superhuman powers are spread through sexual contact, and many of these newly minted supers are hunted down and killed by the fearful and power-hungry.

While the main characters fought for their love despite their differences, another character cropped up in the background, and though she didn't seem to have a huge role to play in that original story, she definitely appealed to me as a complicated and passionate character. That character was the young Camille, who became the heroine of my first novella, Hearts of the Hunted.

Camille was young and scared, but she was still passionate and energetic and determined to do what was right, even if it was harder or scarier than the course she was already on. She abandons her escape to a safe haven, choosing instead to continue the heroic efforts of the new Underground Railroad, bringing the Transformed of the embattled Midwest to safety in Canada.

I was so pleased to be able to give Camille her own story. From the moment that she first popped up in the original story, I knew that she would be an important character. As I wrote, I was surprised to discover that her part didn't really get any larger in the original story. I guess I was just saving her for something special of her very own. And when my editor emailed me to ask what happens to Camille after finishing the first story, I knew that I was right to have decided to pass the spotlight on to her in my next piece. Camille would never have accepted anything less!

While a few references are made to the original story, including using the former Underground leader as a contact during a moment of desperate need, Camille's story is completely different and wholly her own. Far from the careful underground flight to freedom that "War and Peace and Brotherhood" portrayed, Camille has a problem closer to home: a woman has been raped in her base city, and unfortunately for everyone, the rapist is a Transformed man.

The implications are quickly clear—if Camille and the victim, Hannah, can't stop the rapist, he might eventually attack someone who would be willing to use their involuntary transformation to infiltrate and take down the entire Underground. Not to mention, the police are clueless, and a violent rapist is on the loose.

Camille might be distrustful, but who can blame her, since Hannah's power seems to be the ability to persuade and manipulate others? And Hannah isn't in the mood to be a hero; she's just come through a terrible trauma, and the last thing she feels like doing is letting down her guard and learning to trust someone new.

Nevertheless, these two very different women—one who has spent years on the run and in the wild, and one who prefers the wilds of the shopping mall—have to work closely together to achieve their joint goal of making the city a safer place by taking a rapist off the streets.

They will face dangers along the way, and both will have to stare their fears in the face to get what they need out of their partnership.

This was a really fun story for me to write, not only because I got to give a minor character that I loved a bigger role in her very own drama, but because I got to explore a different mindset than I normally do in my erotic romance. Mostly, characters in erotica are ready to go when it comes to sex, but Hannah has just suffered a serious sexual assault, and her mindset and emotions are in a very different place than most characters in an erotic romance.

Not that this book doesn't get steamy! Camille and Hannah have a lot to navigate, feelings to explore, a criminal to stop, and decisions to make about the shapes of their futures and the paths they walk. I invite you to come along for the journey, and find out what the shape of their romance becomes!

Kathleen Tudor (aka D.K. Jernigan) got her start in freelance writing, but she eventually discovered that the erotic side of life is where the fun is at. She lives in California with her partner of over a decade, and a small menagerie consisting of a dog, a cat, and a fish, who mostly get along despite the obvious conflicts. Her novella, Hearts of the Hunted is available now through Storm Moon Press. She can be found via e-mail at or by visiting her website,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Kiss on St. Patrick's Day by Gabriel Belthir (GUEST POST)

Hello, my name is Gabriel Belthir. Thank you so much for having me here at Bending the Bookshelf. I'm very excited to present my first solo story, a post-apocalyptic journey that frames a love story between Evelyn Johns, the medic for a caravan, and Lissa, a younger girl who hitched a ride. Evie and Lissa are some of my first characters who didn't go through a standard character creation process. It was, in fact, modeled after a dream that woke me in cold sweats. However, I must not start this story with the dream, but the night before.

My partner and I were cruising through the bar district of Memphis on St. Patrick's day. Bars and Clubs, for the most part, are not my scene, but we found an Irish pub with a good DJ. I sat at a table and watched my partner wander around the room seeing his friends. I finally caught sight of a girl that just captured my attention. She barely came up to my chest, with long and curly blonde hair that had streaks of green in it for the holiday. She had the brightest smile, and a piquant little face. I watched her dance for most of St. Patrick's Day. When we decided to leave, I swallowed an awful lot of fear and approached her. "Excuse me, I hope you don't mind a compliment... but you're the most beautiful thing I've seen tonight," I said, knowing it felt stupid. She smiled at it, and replied, "Oh, honey. You're beautiful, too," and moved up on her tiptoes to plant a kiss squarely on my mouth.

I don't remember much about the drive home except rolling the window down and letting the cold air wake me up. I used a phrase in the story that kept repeating itself in my head, that she'd fried every fuse in my brain. That night, I dreamed about this desolate wasteland and these two characters, myself through Evie and her through Lissa. I watched as the world fell apart and I found her, with a ridiculous aviator's cap on that made her look like a steampunk diva. I'm fairly certain there was a Hollywood kiss and several sexy scenes between the two, but I woke when there was a last stand against what eventually became the Ravagers.

The dream was deeply important to me, and I started composing Lily of the Wastelands, which is now available from Storm Moon Press. There was a long period of world-building, throwing out what didn't work from the dream. Paula and Saoirse came into being in post-production as it were. The addition of a child into the plot was a difficult choice for me, but I found that it flowed when I decided on it. The basis of Evie's persecution by others is that she is doing nothing to further the human race in an apocalyptic setting. Through a series of events, she collects a new family. This is in line with some theories of homosexuality and evolution. One study suggests that homosexuality exists in our genetics to provide parents for otherwise orphaned members of society, that family units can still exist when tragedy strikes without having to shoehorn orphans into already procreative families. I thought this terribly interesting, and explored it. I found that Lissa rarely puts Saoirse down, and Evie is completely wrapped around the baby's tiny finger. Saoirse's story is one that has fascinated me, being a child conceived and born after the Cataclysm, and being raised by two loving mothers in a mire of criticism.

The confrontation with Baron Kalfu arose from a different dream after the writing began. His appearance is left to the reader's interpretation, and I had quite a lot of different opinions on him. Some saw him as Native American, while others saw him as South American or Haitian. His caring for his people is evident, though his society choices are more primitive than our caravan's. I saw him as an old military man, fiercely protective and intelligent. His encampment has their own stories, and may have to adapt over time due to their lack of drilling equipment and growing population.

The characters of this world popped mostly fully formed into my head, and the story flowed easily. However, it took that kiss on St. Patrick's Day to start the whole process, and I had to immortalize the girl. I don't know her name, and I'll never see her again, but it was worth telling a beautiful love story for. The best love stories start with a kiss.

Gabriel Belthir is a freelance author who lives with a husband, a cat, and a dog in Ohio. After forays into poetry and game design, zie has decided to begin exploring the worlds of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. Between an active academic life and running hir own photography business, Gabriel enjoys all kinds of creative pursuits, including graphic design and painting. Hir short story, Lily of the Wastelands is now available from Storm Moon Press.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Politics Escorts Blackmail by Pynk (REVIEW)

I've always been fascinated by the Hollywood glamour of a high-class escort agency. Something about the erotic sophistication and the sexual power of it all has always appealed to me, and even if real-life isn't quite so Pretty Woman, the fantasy is very alluring.

In Politics. Escorts. Blackmail., Pynk introduces us to the high-class, high-drama life of Madam Money Watts, and to the girls (and boys) of her very exclusive agency, Lip Service. Throw in some US senators, a client for whom there are no limits, and a greedy, opportunistic escort, and you've got one hell of a steamy tale!

Like the most sordid of late night soap operas, this is a story that lives on the backs of its characters. Fortunately, Madam Money, Midori, Leilani, Kemba and the others are very well-developed, real-life characters with detailed pasts, diverse motivations, and dangerous habits. We're connected with them right from the start, making us a part of their world. Reading the book isn't so much a voyeuristic experience as it is a fantasy role-play indulgence. You can feel the energy and excitement in what they do, just as you can feel the fear and the dread in what sometimes occurs behind closed doors.

Authorities don't come off in a particularly good light here - senators, lawyers, judges, doctors, athletes etc. - but they're not all bad either. Even when they're doing some very naughty things, Pynk does a wonderful job of establishing the context of their actions, as well as exploring just what they get out of anonymous, no-strings-attached, high-priced sex. There are immense pressures on both sides of the client-escort relationship, and she does a wonderful job of honestly laying those human weaknesses bare.

As for the plot, I wouldn't think of spoiling what happens. Suffice to say, this is a book about secrets, blackmail, seductions, and betrayal. Almost every motivation is suspect, and nobody can readily be taken at face value. There are surprises aplenty - some exciting, and some devastating - but even if some of the revelations are exquisitely timed to stun the reader, Pynk never descends into shock-for-the-sake-of-shock melodrama.

A quick, guilty-pleasure kind of read, this is also the kind of story that sticks with you and lingers beyond the page. The sheer amount of research and dedication Pynk must have put into this is astounding, and I suspect there will be a lot of professionals who walk away from it feeling as if they were a part of it . . . and, who knows, maybe they were!


Pynk is the best-selling author of four erotica titles and one anthology. Pynk won the 2008 YOUnity award for Fastest Rising Literary Star and’s Most Outstanding Author of the Year award for 2009.

Grand Central released the first Pynk novel, Erotic City, in November 2008. Erotic City was voted one of the Best Reads for 2008 by lack Expressions and was a finalist for a 2009 African American Literary Award in the category of erotica. The second title, Sexaholics, about four women addicted to sex, hit the shelves on March 23, 2010, and was released to critical acclaim, particularly for the tragic and gritty depictions of sexual addiction, and was voted among the 2010 Best Books by the Sankofa Literary Society. The third book, Sixty-Nine, is about three sexually repressed women born in 1969 who vow to go beyond their own self-imposed limits at the age of 40. Sixty-Nine was nominated for a 2011 African American Literary Award and was a Top 20 Black Expressions Bestseller.

Pynk joined together with five bestselling authors, contributing to the hot anthology, The Heat of the Night, which was released on February 14, 2012 under Peace in the Storm Publishing. The December 2012 novel by Pynk tackles the topic of politics and the call-girl industry in New York City. It’s called Politics. Escorts. Blackmail.

Each steamy Pynk title is set in a different city: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and the 2014 title, Sin in the City, is set in Las Vegas.

Allow yourself to live your sexy dreams responsibly through the words of Pynk, whose characters are sure to make a fictional appearance in your city soon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sex Toys: The Early Years By Violetta Vane (GUEST POST)

Hello and welcome to the last week of Riptide Publishing’s Warriors of Rome month! We’re Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, and all week we’ll be posting across the web chatting about our heart-pounding new novel Mark of the Gladiator, Roman history in general, and dropping a few sexy gladiator-related surprises along the way! For a complete tour listing, please check out the Riptidewebsite, but first, read on for today’s post, and don’t forget to leave us a comment for today’s chance at winning our week-long contest!

Thank you so much to our hosts for having us, and to all of you for reading along!

Sex Toys: The Early Years
By Violetta Vane

There are some spoilers about Mark of the Gladiator we don’t want to give away on this blog tour—ask us privately and we’ll spill the beans!

However, it shouldn’t be giving away too much to mention that there’s a scene involving ancient Roman sex toys. It’s a very consensual and enjoyable-for-both-partners scene, and we had a lot of fun researching it.

There were most definitely dildos in those times. The Greeks called them olisbos, and there are dildo representations on ancient Greek vases. Women commonly used them to, umm, handle sexual needs. There’s a reference in Lysistrata:

And so, girls, when fucking time comes… not the faintest whiff of it anywhere, right? From the time those Milesians betrayed us, we can’t even find our eight-fingered leather dildos...

Our very word for dildo comes from the Latin dilatare, to dilate or spread. The ones made of polished stone have survived quite well. The more common ones made of leather (eww) have obviously not. Other materials included wood and potentially glass, since the Romans developed some advanced glass-blowing technologies. And as for lubricant, if you guessed olive oil, you’re right.

People must have used sex toys in much the same way back then as they do now. For auto-erotic pleasure. To spice up an existing relationship. To find a way around medical or psychological issues affecting sexual enjoyment.

One difference between the modern-day Anglo-European world and ancient Rome is that phallic representations also had an important religious aspect. So unlike in our society, where dildos are generally kept to pornographic videos and your bedside drawer, in Rome an artificial penis could be an intimate, private possession... or an object of public worship.

If you’d like to see some depictions of ancient sex toys, you can check out this website, which starts at the Stone Age.

Mark of the Gladiator is a fairly dark book, but it does have flashes of comedy, and we coudn’t resist one or two toy jokes. That sex scene we mentioned, though, ends up getting very serious—in fact, reverent—about the possibilities for pleasure and aesthetic enjoyment embodied in these clever, ancient things.

We hope you enjoy it!

Contest Info
All week, leave comments on our blog tour stops for a chance to win all three books in our M/M urban fantasy series Layers of the Otherworld. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email whenever you see us touring. One comment = one entry, so be sure to check us out every day! The more you comment, the better your odds! On December 3rd (that’s one week after Mark of the Gladiator’s release!), we’ll draw one lucky winner to receive Cruce de Caminos, The Druid Stone, and Galway Bound in the ebook format of their choice. Bonne chance!

About Heidi and Violetta
Two unlikely friends and co-writers, Heidi Belleau is a wholesome small-town history nerd from Northern Canada and Violetta Vane is a former academic with a sketchy past from the American South. Together, they write sex-soaked multicultural M/M romance and urban fantasy. You can visit them online at and, or reach them on twitter as @HeidiBelleau and @ViolettaVane.

About Mark of the Gladiator
After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.

Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.

But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr's defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.

Buy the entire Warriors of Rome Collection (including MotG) at a 20% discount

Also available on your favourite third party e-tailers!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Torn in Two by G.S. Wiley (GUEST POST)

Hi! I'm G.S. Wiley. I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and I've been publishing them since 2008. Most of my work is gay romance and gay romantic erotica. The Torn in Two anthology is my first time publishing with Storm Moon Press, and my first story with a bisexual protagonist.

Bisexual characters are sadly underrepresented in romantic fiction, and in the media in general. Too often, they're the punchline to a joke (as Woody Allen said, “The good thing about being bisexual is that it doubles your chance of a date on Saturday night.”) or their bisexuality is seen as an in-between stage, a step on the path of self-discovery that ends up with a character realizing they've been gay all along. Many would say female bisexuality is more visible and commonly accepted than male in western culture, but if you discount the “Girls Gone Wild”-style of bisexuality, in which female sexuality is promoted as entertainment for a straight male audience, I'd say both female and male bisexuals suffer from the same level of invisibility.

In my story, “Syncopation,” the main character, American singer Jonathan Tager, ends up in a committed, monogamous relationship, but that doesn't mean he sees himself as anything other than bisexual. Throughout the story, he has romantic and sexual relationships with both men and women. His longtime girlfriend Ruby, herself a bisexual woman, is a constant presence in Jon's life, even though they are no longer together. While on tour in Europe, Jon has an unexpectedly heated encounter with an otherwise icy Russian flautist, Valentina Verenskaya. At the same time, he finds himself drawn to the comfortable domesticity offered by English single dad Peter Merritt. Rather than doubling his chances for a date, Jon's bisexuality muddies the waters, as he struggles to figure out what exactly he wants from life and whom he wants it with.

Another important aspect of the story is how bisexuality is viewed by the general public. Jon is a celebrity, although he doesn't consider himself as such. At the beginning of the story, Jon is surprised when a paparazzo snaps a picture of him with another man, a picture which is spread across the tabloids and forces Jon into “coming out” as bisexual. He's frustrated when no one seems to understand what this means; even his mother believes he's come out as gay. The general public takes a black-or-white, straight-or-gay view of sexuality, which frustrates Jon as he feels forced to explain, over and over again, his less rigid bisexual identity.

The title of the story, “Syncopation,” is a musical term. The National Symphony Orchestra of the United States defines it on their website as “a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm... the placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur.” Basically, it's a musical word for something unexpected. Bisexuality, even today, is something unexpected, as shown in the story by Jon's continual encounters with people who think he must really be gay, or straight. But syncopation also makes things more interesting. It's a technique which lends pizzazz to all genres and styles of music. At the beginning of the story, Jon sees his bisexuality as merely a part of him, something neither to be celebrated nor hidden. As the story progresses, he learns to embrace it as a unique attribute, as something not only different but special.

I'm very pleased to have this story published by Storm Moon Press. Most of the anthologies to which I submit my stories have very specific, well-defined themes, but this one was more nebulous. By being tasked to write something, anything, about bisexuality, I was able to really allow myself free rein. At the same time, my story is not standing alone, but rather beside two other fascinating explorations of bisexuality and what it means. I look forward to reading both of those stories, and to sharing “Syncopation” with the world.

The Torn in Two anthology will be available soon from Storm Moon Press. You're also welcome to visit my website, There, you can read more about my published works, enjoy several free stories, and learn about my upcoming projects. Thank you, and happy reading!

G.S. Wiley

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Velvet by Xavier Axelson (REVIEW)

Despite having multiple short stories and novellas to his name, including my review of The Incident that brought him by for an interview last year, Velvet marks the first full-length novel from Xavier Axelson. Although it didn't necessarily work for me on a romantic level, I did find it to be an extraordinarily erotic tale of sordid history, friendship, and betrayal.

From the heights of royalty to the depths of prostitution, the story carries us through a series of betrayals that prey upon poor, lovely Virago. In a world where homosexuality is forbidden, the young tailor finds himself falling in love with a singer, a man who was only dangled tantalizingly before him by Madame Therese in order to exact a measure of revenge against the King. Confusing lust with love, Virago finds himself falling under the spell of Seton, even as he struggles to craft the King's velvet coronation outfit.

The King is such a despicable, villainous character, you really have to wonder how Virago could have ever befriended him in the first place. His blind brother, Sylvain, is played perhaps a bit too sympathetically, but he is a lovely character. Seton is as much a victim as Virago, and probably the brightest spot in the entire novel. Like I said, I never quite bought into the romance between then, but the sexual relationship between Virago and Seton is hot, heavy, and gloriously sensual.

The intrigues here are almost as deep as the sexuality, creating an air of mystery and danger that keeps you reading. I had my suspicions as to how it would all turn out, but Axelson managed to toss in a few pleasant surprises that made for a conclusion that was as fascinating as it was satisfactory.

[Reviewed by Sally]

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Missing by Drake Braxton (REVIEW)

Let me start this review by saying that Missing, the debut novel of author Drake Braxton, is a book in a continual state of fluctuation.  The plot and the main characters are forever changing, and if you’re looking for a read that’s going to convey a sense of constancy in any way (physically, mentally or emotionally) then this might not be the book for you.  This story includes one of the starkest plot twists I’ve encountered, and it will throw you for a complete loop.  How you recover from that will greatly influence your experience with this book.

The story starts dramatically, with Blain Harrington, our protagonist, visiting his home town for his twenty year high school reunion accompanied by his husband, Manny.  Very soon thereafter, Manny goes missing.  There are signs of foul play, but rampant homophobia and slow-moving bureaucracy lead to a slow and excruciatingly frustrating experience for Blain as he tries to get anyone outside of his circle of friends to care about what might have happened to his husband.  Season this situation with the fact that Blain and Manny had been fighting before the reunion and that Blain had cheated on his husband two years earlier and they were still dealing with the aftershocks, and you’ve got the makings for a very emotional ride.  And it’s quite a ride, the situation well played out and planned.  We learn what we think is the truth, which is shocking enough in and of itself, and then…

Well.  Far be it from me to include the major spoiler of the book in this review, so suffice it to say things change in a major way.  From the midpoint on, it’s like we’re reading an entirely different book in some ways.  The story’s major emotional trial, which is the breakdown of Blain’s life beginning with the loss of his husband, continues, but the reasons for it change.  Blain takes actions that paint him in a very unsympathetic light, at times.  Don’t look here for sweet romance, easy affection or simple pleasure.  Drake Braxton isn’t afraid to have his characters make bad choices, or to make them face the consequences of those choices.  For me, this added to the realism of the situation, and after the twist he threw at me in the middle of the book, I appreciated that.  Others will not be so sanguine.

Apart from some small sections that I felt suffered from awkward dialogue and phrasing, Missing is a carefully planned and well executed thriller of a novel.  It is guaranteed to make you do a double-take at least once, so if you’re tired of smooth sailing, I recommend this book for a mental kick in the pants.

[Reviewed by Cari]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - My New Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine).

My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity by Kate Bornstein

Cultural theorists have written loads of smart but difficult-to-fathom texts on gender theory, but most fail to provide a hands-on, accessible guide for those trying to sort out their own sexual identities. In My Gender Workbook, transgender activist Kate Bornstein brings theory down to Earth and provides a practical approach to living with or without a gender.

Bornstein starts from the premise that there are not just two genders performed in today's world, but countless genders lumped under the two-gender framework. Using a unique, deceptively simple and always entertaining workbook format, complete with quizzes, exercises, and puzzles, Bornstein gently but firmly guides readers toward discovering their own unique gender identity.

Since its first publication in 1997, My Gender Workbook has been challenging, encouraging, questionning, and handholding those trying to figure out how to become a "real man," a "real woman," or "something else entirely." In this updated edition of her classic text, Bornstein re-examines gender in light of issues like race and class. With new quizzes, new puzzles, new exercises, and plenty of Kate's over-the-top style, My Gender Workbook, 2e promises to help a new generation create their own unique place on the gender spectrum. [Feb 22, 2013]

Kate is an absolute legend, and her A Queer and Pleasant Danger was one of my favourite memoirs of 2012.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

After the First Taste of Love - The Process (GUEST POST)

However else we may characterize the experience of co-writing After the First Taste of Love, the first in a planned novella trilogy about young, gay, mixed-race hotties Nick and Angelo, it is first and foremost a labor of love. The novella testifies to the forever-after we wish for our main characters and everyone who puts their heart and soul into a relationship, including the deep and lusty friendship between its bi, female authors. To us, however, it reaches even further into a love of genderbending and multiracial queerness, a well from which we drink deeply and often as writers, especially as co-writers.

We could simplify this, confess to voyeurism and fetishization in our love for images of and words about beautiful young men in bed together. Certainly, the popularity of slash fiction, yaoi manga, and gay romance puts us in good company. And we could own up to our fantastic creation of mixed-raced lovers who blend golden-tan skin, almond eyes, and luscious black hair as they express their love with multilingual fluency. But that's not the whole truth.

When we create our characters, we use our imaginations to embody them—at least to feel the places where we connect with them. We envision and build ornate backgrounds we can "live in", and then pare down our epic mindscapes and detailed notes to just what we think the reader needs. Talon can answer just about any question asked about a character's entire life before she's written a word; Salome labors to draw her characters in anime-style digital art. And then we work together in as many ways as possible, from roleplay-style exchanges on instant messenger to in-character e-mail exchanges.

Much of our writerly foreplay, if you will, ends up on the cutting room floor. That's inevitable, even when we love an exchange so much we long for a scene it fits into. There's this tidbit, for example:

Nick: I'll just sit here and play with my big old cock.
Angelo: It's not big and it's not old.
Nick: You did not just call my dick small.
Angelo: I thought I was pretty funny.
Nick: Fine, I'll just play with my gherkin.
Angelo: [laughing] And I'll play with my Blue Ribbon-winning County Fair cucumber.
Nick: As long as it's not seedless.
Angelo: No, it's plenty seedy.
Nick: [laughing] That's wrong on so many levels.

That's not going to drive any plot forward, but it shows their playfulness... and our love of dick jokes. As we brought After the First Taste of Love together as our first co-written novella, we were determined to keep some of the process in the final product. Readers will find evidence in a chapter made up solely of an e-mail exchange, including functioning e-mail addresses for Nick and Angelo, for instance. (The boys can't wait for "fan mail"!) And we even commissioned the superbly talented digital artist Mistiqarts to create a page from Dark Crimson 3, the fictional yaoi manga (kinda like a gay comic) that Angelo loves, which we've included in the book.

This playfulness hits us at an even more personal level, though. While we're happy to discuss our co-writing process further in comments to this post (or at, we want to end by making as clear as we can what all this gives to us. Most essentially, we love our main characters (or we can't write them—though sometimes we love to hate aspects of them), and we love "being" them as we write. For us, writing gay romance is a kind of shared, idealized transgender experience. We know from experience that reading it can have that effect, too. And we're honored and thrilled to have readers take that ride with Nick and Angelo.

After the First Taste of Love – Now Available for $4.99 (e-book) and $9.99 (print)

Talon Rihai and Salome Wilde are the authors of After the First Taste of Love, their first novella, which is now available through Storm Moon Press. They can be found at their website, Sal & Tal Erotica.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Afflicted by Brandon Shire (REVIEW)

The worst part about having your e-reader die is losing access to your carefully managed queue of review titles. While I'm (barely) managing to muddle through with a cheap tablet, trying to reconstruct that queue from titles scattered across email, my laptop, my PC, and my cloud drive has proven to be a challenge. As a result, I am woefully behind with some titles . . . but persevering. :)

With my only experience of Brandon Shire being his starkly-realistic tales of sorrow and tragedy, I was quite excited when he told me he had a new story, one with a "HAPPY ending" to share. I already knew him as an exceptionally strong writer, one who can capture the human soul on the page, and one who could wring the most intense of emotions from a reader, so Afflicted went into my must-read pile.

A fresh take on the 'opposites attract' theme, Shire offers up a high-priced male escort with a difficult past, and a fiercely independent gentleman for whom blindness is a challenge rather than a disability. I don't want to say much more about the plot, because it is pretty straightforward, and largely what you would expect from an erotic m/m romance. What I do want to talk about, instead, is the actual writing of the tale, and the way Shire commands our senses.

For many authors, writing a character who is blind or deaf is a challenge, and one that never quite comes across as genuine. All too often a narrative voice is forced to intrude, letting us know what they would have otherwise seen, or could have otherwise heard. We're left outside that character's head, which only reinforces the sense of disability. Not so with Brandon Shire. He immerses us in his characters, and shows just how our other senses can not only compensate for the loss of one, but how they can be powerful and passionate all on their own.

The lust-cum-love between Dillon and Hunter is one of smells, sounds, and physical sensations. If you've ever made slow, passionate love in the dark, you have a sense of what that can be like - except, of course, you really don't, because that darkness is never absolutely, and never eternal. Even knowing what I did about his style and his love for poetic language, I was consistently amazed by how much Shire made me 'see' without seeing anything at all.

There is still some pain and sorrow to the tale, mostly buried in the past, but the prospect of love forces both characters to expose that pain. It's a traumatic, but ultimately cathartic experience, and the way in which the relationship develops will leave you breathless and hungry for more. If I were to have one complaint, it's that the pacing seemed to accelerate unnecessarily in the final chapters, with the end coming about much more suddenly than seemed fitting. That's a small complaint, though, and nothing that takes away from the beauty of Afflicted.

[Reviewed by Sally]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm From Driftwood by Nathan Manske (REVIEW)

The worst part about having your e-reader die is losing access to your carefully managed queue of review titles. While I'm (barely) managing to muddle through with a cheap tablet, trying to reconstruct that queue from titles scattered across email, my laptop, my PC, and my cloud drive has proven to be a challenge. As a result, I am woefully behind with some titles . . . but persevering. :)

With I'm From Driftwood, Nathan Manske collects 50-plus Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Stories From All Over The World. It's an admirable effort, with some really interesting stories to enjoy, but I have to be honest in that I found it rather heavily weighed on the 'gay' side, with few 'transgender' stories, and even fewer 'bisexual' stories, and somewhat uneven in terms of quality.

I know, life stories are just that - life stories, and not literature - and Manske is limited by those stories the community care to share. In terms of demographics, he may very well represent an accurate cross-section here, but I simply would have liked to see more balance. That's probably a personal complaint, coming as it does from one of the under-represented demographics, but it's a complaint all the same.

Some of the stories here were quite fascinating, containing moments of humour, sorrow, and anger. If there's a common them to them, it's this - while words and actions do indeed have power, even a quiet form of acceptance can be stronger than the most vocal rejection. There were a few stories in which I could see myself, moments and confrontations I too have shared, but for the most part I felt like a sympathetic ally, standing outside the story.

I don't mean for this to sound like a negative review, because this is an important collection, and I think it's wonderful that so many people have shared their stories with the i'm from driftwood project. It does reflect the individuality within our shared circumstances, and there's an authenticity to the words that you wouldn't otherwise find in a memoir that lifts, borrows, and edits the tale to fit a larger theme.

[Reviewed by Sally]

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Superheroes Union: Dynama by Ruth Diaz (REVIEW)

The worst part about having your e-reader die is losing access to your carefully managed queue of review titles. While I'm (barely) managing to muddle through with a cheap tablet, trying to reconstruct that queue from titles scattered across email, my laptop, my PC, and my cloud drive has proven to be a challenge. As a result, I am woefully behind with some titles . . . but persevering. :)

A romantic bisexual superhero adventure, The Superheroes Union: Dynama is a wonderfully fun piece of fiction from Ruth Diaz. The basic premise is as crazy as it is original - when her supervillian ex-husband escapes from prison, a retired superhero is forced to break out the spandex once again, leaving her kids with a nanny who specializes in superhero families . . . and with whom she falls in love.

What I loved most about the tale is the fact that Diaz doesn't try to recreate the feel of a superhero comic book adventure. Hers is very much a story of people, emotions, relationships, and (most importantly) consequences. She looks at the very human awkwardness of a messy divorce, and the equally human awkwardness of a new relationship, all within the context of a world where superpowers are a fact of life, not a driving force. There's are no grand schemes of world domination to thwart, just relationships to be resolved or mended.

TJ/Dynama is a wonderfully complex character, one who makes you believe that a woman can be a wife, a mother, and a superhero all rolled into one. She's neither perfect nor infallible, and makes the same bad kind of decisions any of us could make. As for Annemarie, the first word that comes to mind when I think of her is 'cute'. She is just such an adorable character, she actually comes across as less authentic than her superpowered lover, which may not have been an intentional twist, but one that I enjoyed.

Overall, this was a quick, fun, feel-good read, and one with a happy ending that still leaves room for more stories in Diaz's world.

[Reviewed by Sally]

All the Right Reasons by Damien Dsoul (REVIEW)

Although not my favourite offering from Damien DsoulAll the Right Reasons is a fun read that explores the blossoming and transformation of a middle-aged couple. What makes the story so much fun is the depth and extent of that transformation. Here we have a very average, very white, very boring, suburban couple. Ellen is prim and proper, a housewife/teacher whose most explicit act of self-expression is a skirt that falls 2 inches above the knee. Tim is tired and overworked, a loving husband whose most explicit sexual desire is a little fellatio.

Their transformation starts with an unusual job offer, one with some strange conditions attached to the application, and a staggering monthly salary attached to the job itself. Desperately curious about the money, Ellen soon finds herself relaxing her standards to match those of her boss, a commanding black man who will stop at nothing short of complete sexual domination. Her transformation from prim housewife to wanton hotwife is rough and reluctant, almost bordering on non-consensual at times, but all the more erotic for its intensity.

As for Tim's transformation, it begins with that most human of weaknesses - the lust for another woman. When his nosy neighbour stops by to comfort him during Ellen's absence, it is clear she knows far more about what is going on than she should, but the promise of long-denied fellatio pushes hubby over the edge. Before long, he finds himself handcuffed to chair and forced to watch as his wife takes on a series of black, well-hung lovers.

That is only half the story, however. Where it goes from there, and how these strange new relationships develop, demonstrates Damien's ability to carry a cuckolding tale through to its inevitable conclusion. A story with a happy ending for all, it does leave you wondering why all marriages cannot be so happy.

[Reviewed by Bobbi]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On by Christine Benvenuto (REVIEW)

Not since the response song, "I'll Save the Last Dance for You," or maybe it was "Dueling Banjos," have I experienced a feeling like the one I got while reading this memoir, the obvious answer to another recent memoir, penned by one particular transgender person who shall remain nameless.

However, if you've been reading memoirs of transgender people as I have, you can pretty easily guess who it is.

Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On is Christine Benvenuto's take, as an aggrieved spouse, on her husband's transition to a female gender role - and boy, did it ever eviscerate the ex-husband. I realize that there are three sides to every story, and I cannot blame the former wife for feeling hurt, angry, and deceived (as well as the myriad of other negative emotions she so deftly describes). But I CAN fault her for bringing out this book in the first place.

In my opinion, it was an unnecessary and hurtful thing to do. I found it to be an extremely skilled, yet underhanded and covert bit of retribution. Cleverly couched in some excellent writing, this literary diatribe also reminded me of the marital rancour of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," only from just the wife's side.

Read this book if you enjoy being a "fly on the wall" to witness a few hundred pages of unabashed insults.

Sally's Note: In the interests of fairness, and in order to ensure readers get both sides of the story, I feel it necessary to point out that the companion memoir to which Samuel refers is Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders by Joy Ladin.

[Reviewed by Samuel]