Tuesday, July 31, 2012

INTERVIEW: Alana Nicole Sholar (author of Hung in the Middle)

Good morning, all!

Joining us today is the lovely and inspiring Alana Nicole Sholar, author the transgender memoir Hung in the Middle. If you missed Samuel's review from earlier this month, you can check out his review here (after the interview, of course!).


♥ Thanks so much for stopping by, Alana! For those who may be new to your remarkable story, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I was born in Hopkinsville (western Kentucky) in 1961 then we moved to Versailles (central Kentucky) when I was around eight years old. My brother, Ricky, took that picture on the front of “Hung in the Middle,” (HIM) not long after we’d moved to Versailles. It was then that I knew I was different – dressing for that picture just seemed ‘right’ – like it was the first time I’d ever seen ‘me.’

I think it’s kinda neat, and rather significant, how the acronym for “Hung in the Middle” is HIM – especially since the book relays the story of that part of my life when I tried so hard to be a ‘HIM’ – when I worked so hard to hide being different – even to the point of not wanting to admit it to myself.

♥ Like so many within the community, you struggled with your sense of identity for decades before ultimately taking control of your gender. What was it that made you decide it was finally time?

I was experiencing health problems, especially with my blood pressure – one minute it would be extremely high and then bottom out  –  like being on a roller coaster ride. My doctor had unsuccessfully tried numerous medications to get it under control.

I’d been having the health problems long before I was even able to bring myself to tell Mary – my wife at that time – that I was hiding a secret. Once Mary knew my secret, she said I needed to let my doctor know and threatened that if I didn’t tell him she would.

I was scared to death to tell Dr. VanMeter, but, once I got the words out, he made me so comfortable and led me on the road to learning about transgender individuals.

♥ Do you have any regrets about not doing it sooner, or do you feel that was the right time for you?

Is it OK to say a big, HELL YES, I wish I could have come out when I was younger. However, like my spouse Bobbie says, everything always happens in its right and perfect time.

♥ Can you recall any influences or inspirations growing up? A celebrity, perhaps, who publicly acknowledged or celebrated their gender identity and made you feel a little less alone?

No – unfortunately there were no Chaz Bono’s back in my day. As a matter of fact, I was raised on rough and tough cowboy movies and ‘bad’ guys  –  those were the only influences I knew. All my friends were ‘bad’ guys, so I felt that, in order to ‘keep face’ with my friends I had to be a bad ass as well, often to the point of laughing at those who we then called ‘queers.’

I also remember watching movies starring Rock Hudson – a real ladies man. I guess I could say I was ‘influenced’ by Rock Hudson. Long before he came out as being gay and being diagnosed with AIDS I had a dream about him – I think I was in junior high school. In my dream Rock Hudson was ‘doing’ me and someone walked in and caught us. Once caught, I had a feeling of relief that now everyone would know and I’d no longer have to hide. Unfortunately, it was just a dream and I remained in hiding.

♥ Now that's an interesting dream! Clearly, the world has changed significantly since either of us were children, with information and support far more readily available than ever before. Looking at the number of transgender biographies, memoirs, and non-fiction books available, is there a book you wish you could somehow go back in time and share with young Alan?

Of course, I’d have to say it would be my own book, “Hung in the Middle.” If ‘young Alan’ could have read “HIM” he would know that his world would eventually become a good place to be and that Alana would have her time in it. I would have been able to identify with the lifestyle of the ‘main character’ of “HIM” trying to hide from himself and be what he thought others wanted him to be. I would never have related to or even read a ‘sissy boy’ biography. The only other thing I might have been able to relate to is a movie called, “Normal” because he dealt with tractors and farm type stuff in that movie.

♥ It seems like the more information that becomes available, the more labels and definitions we have to deal with (transsexual, transvestite, transgender, genderqueer, etc.). In terms of your own self-definition, has how you label yourself changed over the years?

Everyone interprets the labels or words according to their own experiences and the same word can mean something different to each person. Personally, I relate more to the term ‘transgender’ because my interpretation of transgender is someone who ‘transitions’ from one ‘gender’ to the other – which is how I define myself

♥ Should you ever choose to transition surgically, do you think how you label yourself might change as a result of the transition? Do you ever see yourself leaving behind the 'transgender' label to be 'female'?

It would be wonderful if I could simply think of myself, or label myself as ‘female.’ However, I can’t change my history and know the only way I can become a female is to make the ‘transition,’ therefore, technically, at least at this point in my life anyway, I feel I would always be labeled as a ‘trans-woman.’

♥ The title of your book, Hung in the Middle, definitely has a dual meaning. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to label your life's story that way?

In all honesty, I was simply lying in bed one night thinking about being in the ‘middle’ of various situations when “Hung in the Middle” popped into my head. When I told my spouse, Bobbie, she liked the ‘dual meaning’ part, especially from her perspective. However, when we gave our publisher the name he said it was too suggestive and wanted us to come up with another name. When we said that’s the name we wanted and stuck to our guns, he then added “A Journey of Gender Discovery.” That way we all got what we wanted – and each reader can interpret the title to mean whatever they want it to mean to them.

♥ A fair compromise. On the subject of being subjective, the internet has provided us with a wealth of information, but has also served to further sexualize or fetishize transgender identities. Do you feel that exposure has harmed the community, or has it made it more acceptable to be (if I can borrow your own phrase) hung in the middle?

I believe when it comes to sexual fantasies, they are as varied and range from the mild to the extreme just like the personalities of people vary and range from one extreme to the other. From what I gather by searching the internet, apparently T-girls are very popular – which I believe has helped the community, and especially those outside the community, by opening up closed minds to the possibility of being with a T-girl – especially for those who would have viewed it as something ‘freakish’ before having access to the sexual activity now available on the internet. I think once someone views good T-girl porn they see that sex is just sex, a body is just a body, and all bodies are good.

However, personally I have had the experience of being ‘wanted’ by a man, then once he has me, I feel like he’s ready to throw me in a dumpster somewhere - like he’d just experienced a ‘side-show freak’ or something. That’s not a good feeling. Bobbie tells me that as a GG she’s had similar experiences where men come on strong, and then once they got what they wanted, she was made to feel like she was second rate or something they were ready to toss aside. So, maybe that’s just the way some men are and it has nothing to do with the person they’re with.

♥ At what point in your transition did you decide that you wanted to share your story?

After losing my job I didn’t have much to do and spent a lot of time ‘playing’ on the computer. One day I decided to type out my thoughts and then the memories and stories just started spilling out. You should see some of the things I originally typed – just thoughts in no particular order or format – no punctuation  –  run on sentences – one memory triggering another memory of something that might have happened years later or years earlier – I just typed whatever came into my mind.

It was a jumbled mess of stories and thoughts until Bobbie started helping me. She made a timeline with an Excel spreadsheet and started placing my stories where they fit on the timeline. She retyped everything putting them in the ‘story line’ that is now the book. Truer words were never spoken than those on the Acknowledgements page of “HIM” where I say, “I had managed to get words onto a page, but her patience and hard work turned my words into a book.”

♥ Ah, if only we all had a Bobbie to help out - maybe I'd finally get over my own procrastination! What was it that compelled you to share your story? Is there a key theme or message you're looking for readers to embrace and take away from it?

Even before coming out about being transgender people would tell me all the time that I needed to write about my life’s experiences with the Kentucky horse farms, wrecking fast cars, and my days of playing in the band which lead to drugs and drinking. But they only knew the ‘outside’ part of those experiences – they weren’t aware that a lot of those things I did, I did in an attempt to keep my secret hidden. I just felt that it was the right time to tell it all after I did come out so those who had urged me to write about the experiences could be made aware of why I did those things.

As for a key theme or message – it is our hope, Bobbie’s and mine, that “Hung in the Middle” helps all individuals who think of themselves as different and live outside of what society considers ‘normal’ learn that it’s OK to be different. We also hope it gives some insight to the struggles faced by those who feel ‘different’ when trying to just be themselves. It’s not always easy to accept yourself, so how can we expect others to accept us until we can accept ourselves. Like Bobbie often says, we hope the reader comes away understanding that ‘people are just people no matter what’ and I usually add, ‘embrace your difference, it’s a gift.’

♥ What was the initial reaction to the book from friends, family, and colleagues? Did it open any eyes, or change any of your day-to-day interactions?

I have been absolutely blown away by the positive response from family and friends. When you read the book’s reviews on Amazon.com you can tell that many were written by family members and longtime friends. It’s been wonderful.

I’m also amazed at the support and attention HIM has received not only nationally, but internationally as well – from people I don’t know but have only met through social media. One example is JJ Romanoff in the UK – she has dedicated a page to, as she calls it, my ‘transgender book’ on her company website at http://www.dress-me-up.co.uk/ which is getting attention there in the UK.

As for the day-to-day interactions – I’ve had several new friends I’ve made through social media act like I’m a celebrity, which I find funny because there isn’t a more down to earth country person in this world than me. I love the attention though.

♥ You've been married twice, once pre-transition and once post-transition. Did coming out to your first wife make your second marriage any easier, or do you and Bobbie continue to learn and grow in your own way?

I have ‘come out’ about being transgender, but, although I’ve been on hormones for a number of years, technically, I’m still in the beginning stages of actually ‘transitioning.’ As the last line of my book says; “But for now, I’m still hung in the middle” and the dual meaning does still apply.

I currently live in what Bobbie refers to the ‘cocoon’ stage, no longer a male (caterpillar) yet not quite a female (butterfly). I want facial feminization and breast implants so the world can see the true me – the feminine me. However, due to our financial situation, I haven’t been able to get these done yet. Hopefully book sales will change our financial situation.

As for the marriages, Bobbie had the advantage of being aware of and getting to know me as Alana before we were married where Mary and I were married approximately 13 years before I could bring myself to tell her. Bobbie and I face new experiences daily and deal with them together – sometimes we even agree on how to handle the new experiences.

♥ If we can impose upon your personal experience for a moment, what advice would you give to a young man or woman struggling with their gender identity? Is there anything you've done that worked exceptionally well for your situation?

When I begin talking to someone about being transgender I often say, “I know you may not understand me but I hope at least you’ll be able to accept me. I can’t expect you to understand something that I, myself, have had a hard time understanding.”

I believe advice is hard to give because each experience and each person is different. I can tell someone what I did and what worked for me. However, what worked for me may not be suitable for anyone else. I would never want to give advice that could be harmful or dangerous to another individual.

I believe if I could have just been honest about being transgender earlier in life it would have eliminated a lot of the suffering I endured. I guess if I were going to give advice it would be to just be honest – with yourself and those in your life. Be a person of integrity.

♥ Good advice. Along the same lines, is there something you wish you had done differently?

I imagine it would have been nice if I had been able to come out earlier in life, however, that’s not the way my life unfolded. I feel I’ve handled my situations in the best manner I knew how. I’ve never faced what I refer to as ‘the bomb’ which is the fear of someone criticizing me – at least they haven’t to my face – and what they say behind my back doesn’t matter. At this point in life, thinking about ‘what might have been if I’d done anything differently’ is just a waste of energy.

♥ Finally, before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project or an appearance on the horizon that you're really excited about?

Of course, “Hung in the Middle” was just released in May of 2012, so we’ve only just begun. Since I haven’t gotten the call from Ellen Degeneres yet, I’m starting with local appearances. I had my first book signing at the 5th Annual Lexington Pride Fest on June 30, and I have a book signing scheduled in a local bookstore for August 11th.

I’ve been invited to be a presenter and do a book signing at the Northsiders GLBT Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 18. Also, Bobbie and I will be attending the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta, Georgia for a week in September, and I’ve been asked to schedule a couple book signings while there.

Currently, Bobbie is working on a book. It, too, is about transition, but it’s about ‘her’ transition from initially being freaked out and rejecting ‘Alana’ (when she saw me as Alana for the first time) -- through her journey from rejection to acceptance -- and us getting married. She says the title of her book is going to be, “My HUSBAND Looks Better in Lingerie Than I Do . . . DAMN IT.”

Hung in the Middle” leaves off at the point where Bobbie and I got married in 2008 – four years ago. It was during those years that HIM was written – which had some extreme side effects on me. Re-living my past ‘knocked my feet out from under me’ and I’ve spent much of that time battling depression and social anxiety. I want my next book to pick up where HIM stops and go through the completion of my transition. Right now, as I imagine what life will be for me once my transition to female is complete, I want to call my book, “With Head Held High,” unless I can come up with an appropriate title that would have the acronym “HER.”

And, of course, we’ll be sure to let you know when we do get the call from Ellen.


A huge thanks to Alana for stopping by today! If you have yet to check out her book, Hung in the Middle, then what are you waiting for? Get out and get reading today. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

REVIEW: A Strange Life by Adrienne Nash

I enjoy reading memoirs about transgender people and particularly meaty ones that are written from the heart. A Strange Life by Adrienne Nash is an account that integrates a tale of lost and unrequited love into a story about a sex change. It also offers a bonus by providing a running narrative about how the author dealt with her sexual identity. I was particularly looking forward to reading A Strange Life in view of how much I had just enjoyed reading part one of Nash's serialized novel Trudi.

The big problem with this memoir, though, is that I found it lacked balance. There is just too much detail about the agony of one particular exceptionally co-dependent relationship, and not quite enough about the author’s sex change and the problems endemic therein. We’ve all had some relationships that we rather regret, I’m sure, and they were very painful at the time. I don’t want to display a lack of compassion here, but ok, let’s move on. It went on endlessly with such an "over-the-top" glorification of this unfulfilled love affair. I could also have done without the entire first third of the book where the author describes her rather uneventful and bland youth in England with very little reference to her budding gender dysphoria. And I also found the description of her years as a junior banking officer in Africa to be not very interesting or germane to her transition story.

Although this book does have some strong points and is generally very well written, I found it to be rather long, drawn out, and ultra wordy. However, there are some very excellent dialectics about the difference between the imperatives to transition versus the idea that it is a choice to do so. There are some other important and interesting insights concerning gender identity and transition. These are probably the book’s saving grace. It’s sad, because the author has obviously labored hard and put in many hours of writing and editing time to produce a “run-of-the-mill” memoir that attempts to focus on too big a picture in summarizing 60 years of her life while often drilling down to describe the smallest events in the most microscopic detail.

I must also say that I experienced the author to be a bit of a “curmudgeon” as evidenced by some of her observations about unruly children and other aspects of modern society that have evolved to her dissatisfaction over the years. I was tempted to put this book down several times and move on, but it always held the promise of an improvement that just never seemed to come.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

REVIEW: Trudi by Adrienne Nash

Trudi is billed as part one of what is promised to be a serialized account of the life of one particular transgender person, a précis that, according to the author Adrienne Nash, is “loosely based upon real events in [her] life.” Trudi begins as the tale of a young girl, trapped in a boy’s body, who begins to free herself from the charade of her “maleness” at a very young age, and eventually, by mid-teenage years, with the assistance of hormones and surgery, morphs into a lovely and very desirable young woman, though not without some significant emotional baggage.

Written in a free-flowing style, this excellent book is awash in a sea of sensuality as evidenced by the vivid descriptions of the soft and sexy ladies’ fabrics and the uniquely special feelings Trudi experiences while wearing women’s high couture on the “catwalk, no less, in her six inch heels!  We are like a “fly on the wall” as the author takes us behind the scenes to the world of high fashion.  Along the way, the author presents us with wonderful word pictures conveying the essence of gourmet dining, tastings of the finest wines and vivid descriptions of the glamorous cities visited by our heroine. There is some wonderful dialogue, too. Oh yes, there is also rape, blackmail and retribution!

On another level, Trudi is a beautiful love story about gentle courtship and romance of the kind that only occurs when one is loved unconditionally and then eventually realizes they are actually deserving of this singular honor. In real life, this type of experience seems to happen only when one is finally able to first come to terms with loving and accepting one’s own self. This is what  Trudi conveys so beautifully, as "Tim" develops fully into "Trudi", finally achieving and experiencing the self-esteem and confidence she lacked as a boy.

One hopes that the author will quickly follow up with a continuation in the form of a Trudi (2). We badly need to find the answers to some very important questions. Will Trudi ever achieve success in her professional and educational pursuits?  Does the kind and generous mentor Simon have an axe to grind, or is he really on the level?  Tune in soon, I hope, and find out the answers to these very pressing questions!

[Reviewed by Samuel]

Friday, July 27, 2012

REVIEW: Ana & Her Boss by Damien Dsoul

Once again, Damien Dsoul demonstrates not just the scope of his literary talents, but the variety of ways in which cuckolding relationships can be erotically explored. It is really quite astounding just how diverse his stories are! With Ana & Her Boss he changes things up again, offering us the story of an erotic threesome (technically, it is a foursome) where everybody likes to wield the power.

Here we have a wonderfully well-developed white couple, secure in their marriage, and quite delighted to engage in some kinky role playing. Ana's hubby is a willing cuckold, but he is by no means a submissive man. He gracefully allows his wife the freedom to explore her sexuality, to experience the sexual delights that only her exceptionally well endowed black boss can provide, but he also commands his own pleasures from her. Of course, she also commands her pleasure from him, so it all works out very well!

Dennis is the man who makes a slut out of Ana and a cuckold out of Dennis. The fact that he is Ana's boss already places him in a position of authority, but Damien uses that to accentuate the erotic thrill of cuckolding, not to excuse it. Dennis is a man more interested in breaking the white women who come to his attention than humiliating their hubbies. He bestows inappropriate (but beautiful) upon his employee, establishing a personal bond, and then takes her to his bed, establishing a far more significant sexual bond.

The fourth member of this relationship is Mona, the highly-sexed mature secretary who has been servicing her boss long before Ana arrived on scene. The first time we meet her, she is barging into the bathroom stall to orally abuse a rather shocked Ana. I loved what she brought to the story, and was quite delighted to see her join Ana later on for some shared black bull penetration.

Although a shorter novella for Damien, the length and the pacing lend themselves well to the story. This is the celebration of an affair already in progress, rather than the introduction of one just about to begin, which does allow for a more focused tale. A hot, sexy, slutty (in a good way) look at the joys of interracial cuckolding in an open, fantasy-fuelled marriage.

[Reviewed by Bobbi]

REVIEW: Porn's Stars by Chris Burrows

"Why live life constrained by the boundaries of what we traditionally think of as gender lines?”

It is with this wonderfully inspiring thought that Chris Burrows introduces us to the world of Porn's Stars - the title of which is a deliberate pun. Porn is actually a beautiful young transsexual, a friend and mentor to many within the Asian community, and the woman who helped encourage Chris down the path of gender exploration with her rather candid observation that everyone is part male and part female.

There's something so innocent and free about Porn's stories, so welcoming and all-embracing, that you cannot help but fall in love with her. The stories here are sensual as much as they are sexual, as much intelligent as they are erotic. These are stories of real people, each with their own very personal thoughts and feelings about gender. Some are gay, some are straight, some are bisexual, and some may be any of the above, depending on how they're expressing themselves as the time.

As is the case in many of Chris' books, the narrative framework uses a pair of storytellers (Chris and Porn) to distance the reader from the experiences. That allows for a wonderful validation of not just the characters and their experiences, but of our thoughts and feelings in identifying with them. It's a wonderful way of sharing the stories, one that is all-embracing and empowering, without coming across as preachy or artificial.

The stories here encompass the full spectrum of gender expression, from curious cross-dressers discovering themselves for the first time, to out-and-proud transsexuals sharing their pleasures. They are stories were both gender and sexuality are fluid, and where those aforementioned boundaries can be forgotten. It makes for a wonderful variety of erotic experiences in which to share, sexual dalliances that evoke an emotional response wherein you cannot help but vicariously enjoy the moment, even if you wouldn't express yourself the same way.

It's hard to pin Chris down to a genre, but I would describe these stories as erotic romance. They're very well told, honest and realistic, and equally focused on the emotions as well as the physical sensations. Never vulgar or crude, the writing flows naturally, creating a conversational style that really does feel like a bed-side sharing of happy moments. Don't get me wrong, the erotic moments are exceptionally hot but, like the stories themselves, are tastefully told.

[Reviewed by Sally]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Promo Stop: Heated Match by Lynne Silver

Heated Match
By Lynne Silver

A lead byline and a cover story were what journalist Loren Stanton wanted most. Until she meets genetically enhanced soldier, Adam Blacker. Team leader of a top-secret covert ops group, Adam never wanted to search for his genetic match, but whenever he gets close to Loren, things turn hot quickly, making him forget every reason he had for retaining his bachelor status.

After a scorching night together, neither is in any doubt they are connected at the DNA-deep level, although both fear the high stakes of what it means to be together. Loren gives Adam two weeks to prove he is bred for more than war. He must show he is coded for love.


An Excerpt From: HEATED MATCH

Copyright © LYNNE SILVER, 2012

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Slowly he turned back to face her and her stomach clenched with a thrill of fear and desire. Last night’s civilized dancer in a tuxedo was completely gone. In his place stood a snarling, angry, completely aroused soldier.
She used the balls of her feet to scoot farther against the wall and measured the distance between her current location and the bathroom door. Her calculations proved unnecessary.
With an untranslatable growl, Adam flung himself into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
She waited a minute then tapped on the door. “Um, Adam? Are you okay?”
“The damn door doesn’t lock. Back. Away.”
Alrighty then. With him behind a closed door, the aching in her lower belly subsided a degree. “Adam, will you tell me what’s going on?” She bit her lip and fondled a stiff nipple through her blouse before registering where her hands were. Adam needed to answer her questions, like right now, because she had no idea why she was locked in this small conference room with an angry, sexy man. “Adam, please.”
“You work for a newspaper. Don’t you read it?”
“Well, sure, but that doesn’t explain why we’re locked in here together.”
“Think, Loren. What did the articles say about how the Program gains new members?”
She racked her brain trying to remember. “Um, through birthing a new generation, right? But…”
The door opened a crack and she could see his anguished expression peeking through.
“Use your brain. Do I have to explain the birds and the bees? You’re no virgin, are you?”
“I know how babies are made, Adam,” she said. “But the article said you only breed with women who are your perfect genetic match…oh…” Shep’s words came back in a flash. “They think I’m your genetic match?”
He gave a curt nod and started to close the door again. She shoved her foot in to stop him. “How did they figure that out so quickly?”
“The cheek swab at the entry. I’m such an idiot. I should’ve guessed last night.”
She pushed the door open to see him better and sat back on her heels on the threshold between rooms. “How could you have guessed? It’s not like I had my DNA code printed on my dress. How does it work, exactly?” Loren asked.
“Not sure of all the scientific details, but I guess the best way to describe it is like a numbers game. The doctors know there are certain genetic combinations that will produce certain qualities. The Program has a list of their top desired traits.”
“And how do they usually find a matching female? I assume most are not so accommodating as to show up at the front door like I did.”
Adam turned at the sharp bite in her voice. “You’d be surprised,” he muttered.
“Do they kidnap women off the streets and check their blood?” she asked. “Or wait, let me guess, the Red Cross is actually a sham organization front for you to use as a recruiting pool.”
He shifted at her guess, telling her she was somewhat accurate.
“Oh my God. I’m right. I see you avoiding my gaze.”
“The Red Cross is an excellent organization doing important work,” he said. “But, on occasion, we will pull samples from them or other research sites to scan for appropriate genetic matches.”
“And then what? You kidnap them? Oh wait, you do that for fun, like you did me.” She folded her arms across her chest and stared at him, daring him to answer.
“No. We invite potential candidates in for a job interview. Doctor, administrative assistant, teacher for the day care, accountant, you name it.”
“And do you lock them all in a room with their potential match?”
He flung her an exasperated look. “I don’t know all the details. It’s not my department. I do know you should not have drunk the water. I can’t believe you drank the fucking water. You’re feeling the effects right now, aren’t you? Worse than last night.”
“What are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I drink the water? And what should I be feeling?” she asked nervously, but she had a very good inkling as to what he referred.
“The ache. You were a homing beacon for me last night. I could barely let you go.”
“I managed to leave,” she said.
He cocked his head at her. “Yeah, you did. How?”
He looked genuinely curious, but she couldn’t help noticing his hand was directly over the formidable bulge in his pants, massaging roughly. “You frightened me. I’d never felt that way with a man before, even…even in bed with my last boyfriend.” She swallowed over the lump in her throat her confession had formed.
“What about your current boyfriend? Does he heat you up?”
“Current boyfriend? I’m not— Oh. I, um, lied. I’m not dating anyone.”
A flicker of a smile passed his lips so quickly she wasn’t sure it had really happened.
“What about now? Are you feeling it now?” he asked.
She felt a blush creep from the top of her breasts up to the roots of her hair, and she couldn’t look him in the eye as she nodded. “My nipples are starting to hurt. Did drinking the water do that?”
He didn’t seem embarrassed at all as he accepted her confession matter-of-factly. “It’s one of the symptoms on the Rovinsky scale. The water is laced with a drug that makes you more receptive to your match. It’s going to make you crazed for the next twenty-four hours, and I’m going to respond. If I weren’t your match, you wouldn’t feel as aroused. It’s how they test the science behind the blood work.”
“What?” Twenty-four hours of feeling like this, and she was starting to worry this was just the beginning. Her arousal was increasing every second.
“Rovinsky, our founder, came up with a list of what happens when two genetic matches meet. I don’t have it memorized, but I remember painful nipples for the female is on there.”
“What else?”
“A matched couple will be able to find each other, even in a crowded space, up to several thousand feet.”
“What you’re saying is you could drop us at either end of Disney and we’d find each other, even without cell phones?”
He nodded. “Right at the Haunted Mansion, but don’t say ‘us’. We,” he waggled a finger in the space between them, “are not a match. I can’t be matched.”
“Why not?”
“My reasons are my own. I won’t let Shep manipulate me like this.”
She was shocked at the hurt his rejection caused, like a bowling ball hurled at her heart. She shouldn’t be sad. She didn’t want to be a breeding partner either. She had a life to get back to.
“What are the other symptoms?” Maybe if he listed more of them, they would discover they were not a perfect match after all.
He ticked them off on his fingers. “I’ve already said homing beacon for both partners and painful nipples for the female. Your body is getting ready for pregnancy.”
She glanced down, stunned. She could almost feel her womb rippling to life. “What else?” she asked in a whisper.
“Male arousal.” He looked almost shamefaced as he gestured to the erection fighting free of his pants.
She stared a shade longer than was acceptable, nearly having to sit on her hands to stop from stroking the alluring bulge.
“Don’t do that,” he said in a strained voice.
“Do what?”
“Don’t look at me like you want a piece. I’m holding on to my control by a thread. If you make a move, I’ll take you.”


About the Author:

Award-winning author Lynne Silver lives the life of a suburban soccer mom, volunteering with the PTA, doing laundry and working. By night she enters the sensuous world of alpha males and passionate heroines. She lives in an old fixer-upper with her husband and their two sons. When not writing romance, she reads it. Lots of it. Over and over and over again, preferably with a bag of M&Ms in hand

Twitter: @lynnesilver

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Superheroes Union: Dynama by Ruth Diaz

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

The Superheroes Union: Dynama by Ruth Diaz

What if your evil ex really was evil?

TJ Gutierrez used to be a superhero. But after the birth of her twins seven years ago, she hung up the yellow spandex. Until the day her archenemy and ex-husband, Singularity, breaks out of prison. When it becomes clear he's after the kids, she's forced to call the nanny helpline—and once again become...Dynama!

Annmarie Smith doesn't have a superpower. She saves the world by keeping kids safe while their parents fight evil.

She temporarily moves in with TJ, and the way the magnetic mama puts family first captures Annmarie's respect, and maybe her heart—even though she knows better than to fall for a superhero. Still, it's hard to resist their wicked chemistry. Kapow!

But they can only hide from the world for so long. When Singularity's quest for custody puts the kids' lives in danger, can the two women conquer the evil villain and save TJ's family—all before their first date? [Aug 20, 2012]

A lesbian superhero romance - what more could a geek gurl ask for? Ruth was kind enough to set me up with an advance copy, so look for my review closer to the release date!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

INTERVIEW: Jessica Angelina Birch MD (author of Confessions of a Transsexual Physician)

Good morning, all!

Joining us today is the lovely and incredible Jessica Angelina Birch MD, author the transgender memoir Confessions of a Transsexual Physician, as well as a traditional family medicine and transgender health care provider.


♥ Thanks so much for stopping by, Jessica! For those who may be new to your remarkable story, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm a family physician and solo practitioner, in Amherst, New Hampshire. I was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I joined the U.S. Air Force at age 18, and spent my tour of duty in Texas and Kansas. After 4 years in the military, I returned home to attend Greenfield community college where I graduated with highest honors. I transferred to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts where I received my bachelors degree in biology. After college, I worked for a year at the Tufts veterinary clinic assisting in research projects, and after that, I attended the University of Massachusetts medical school where I received my medical degree. I did my residency in family medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania.  I moved to New Hampshire in 1992.

♥ Like so many within the community, you struggled with your sense of identity for decades before ultimately taking control of your gender. What was it that made you decide it was finally time?

It was a combination of events. I diagnosed a patient with Klinefelter's syndrome, a condition in which a person has an extra X chromosome (XXY) and who subsequently declared himself as being  transgendered. This was the 1st person I ever met who sought out medical treatment and hormone therapy for “her” condition. I had never really thought it possible for the average person to receive this kind of treatment until I met her. Around the same time, my father-in-law died unexpectedly from gastric cancer. He was well respected in the community and had two bishops and an honor guard at his  funeral service. So plagued by guilt, I couldn't take communion.

♥ Do you have any regrets about not doing it sooner, or do you feel that was the right time for you?

The easy answer would be to say that I wish I had been born a girl, but the process of transitioning at age 48 was in many ways a spiritual awakening for me; I gained an immense amount of  insight into my own sense of purpose in life, having gone through the process at a later age.

♥ Can you recall any influences or inspirations growing up? A celebrity, perhaps, who publicly acknowledged or celebrated their gender identity and made you feel a little less alone?

Actually, the answer is no. Although I'd heard of  Christine Jorgensen, I couldn't possibly imagine myself  becoming someone like her, and for most of my life,  I had a hard time imagining that there was anyone else in the world like me. I was very naïve.

♥ As a doctor, you have a much different (and some would say better informed) view on gender identity. Do you think that has made it easier for you to transition, or given you greater pause to consider the implications?

Once I found a therapist, a professional person, who gave me permission to express my gender identity without guilt, my world changed almost overnight. Being a physician meant having some financial resources, which helped make my transition possible, and it also gave me access to medical information at the hospital library. The downside of being a medical professional going through transition was the struggle, at first, to maintain my reputation. After coming out to my company administrators, I was placed on paid medical leave for almost 6 months, and before being allowed to return to work, I was required to have a psychiatric evaluation. I was allowed to maintain my employment for a couple years working in the company's urgent care center, but I lost my family practice that I had spent many years developing. Ultimately, my employment was terminated based on productivity.  After trying to find another physician position at fourteen different hospitals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts without success, I decided to open up my own practice, borrowing money off my life insurance policy to get the business started.

♥ Your medical practice advertises itself as one that accepts diversity, and which specialises in transgender health care. In terms of timing, did that focus come about as a result of your decision to transition, or did it help lead to your transition?

I had already fully transitioned when I opened my practice. In my book, I talk about how my business partner and I triumphed over adversity to make our practice unique in the state of New Hampshire.

♥ At what point in your transition did you decide that you wanted to share your story with Confessions of a Transsexual Physician?

Strange as it may sound, I think my life is predetermined, and some outside power or force drives me. At the start of my transition, I obsessed about everything that was happening to me, and I often found myself in the middle of the night writing. Everything I wrote, I saved on my computer, and about 2 or 3 years ago, I decided that I needed to write a book using that material. I felt compelled to tell my story.

♥ What was it that compelled you to share your story? Was it something personal, professional, or a combination of the two?


♥ The world has changed significantly over the past 10-15 years. Looking at the number of transgender biographies, memoirs, and non-fiction books available, is there a book you recommend to patients (other than your own, of course!), or one you wish you could somehow go back in time and share with a younger version of yourself?

Like many transgendered individuals I know, Jennifer Boylan's She's Not There (A Life in Two Genders) was one of the first books I read.

♥ It seems like the more information that becomes available, the more labels and definitions we have to deal with, and the more fluid they have become. In terms of your own self-definition, has how you label yourself changed over the years?

No. I just love being a girl

♥ While the internet has provided us with a wealth of information, it has also served to further sexualize or fetishize transgender identities. Do you feel that exposure has harmed the community, or do you feel it can lead to a positive means of self-exploration?

I'm not sure. I  I can probably speak best from the transwoman point of view. When I was young, I did get sexual pleasure from wearing female garments, but now I just want to “fit-in” if that makes any sense. I just love every aspect of being woman; from the way I dress, the way I decorate my house, to the activities I participate in etc.

♥ Getting back to Confessions of a Transsexual Physician, is there a key theme or message you're looking for readers to embrace and take away from your story?

I think it's hard for me to define the message, but after reading the book, I think people will come away with a sense of empathy, regardless if they are transgendered or not. In my mind, the story is about life's journey and the unexpected twists and turns that it takes.

♥ What was the initial reaction to the book from friends, family, and colleagues? Did it open any eyes, or change any of your day-to-day interactions?

They're my friends, of course, but most of them said they felt very moved by it.

♥ If we can impose upon your personal experience for a moment, what advice would you give to a young man or woman struggling with their gender identity? Is there anything you've done that worked exceptionally well for your situation?

I address this at the end of the book, in the Afterword. As people are trying to get to know "the new you", it's important to show them that you're happy and that you have friends and support. Try not to focus too much attention on your transition but rather try to show others that you can be “normal”; talk about the weather, what movie is playing at the local theater, or what your planning to do for the weekend.

♥ Along the same lines, is there something you wish you had done differently?

I often feel guilty about divorcing my ex-spouse when my two boys were teenagers. It was a trauma for them, and although they are great kids and probably much more mature and open minded about this subject then other kids their age, wounds were inflicted. I never meant to hurt anyone but I believe I would have hurt them even more had I not changed. That's my solace. I like to think that I've taught them that being being true to yourself and facing adversity are virtues.

♥ Finally, before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project or an appearance on the horizon that you're really excited about?

Well, this next year, I have to study for my board recertification. I also want to continue to dance (ballet, tap, and contemporary) at the local studio near my work. I love writing because it gives me a way to express myself, so, I'm sure there will be more to come.


A huge thanks to Jessica for so graciously agreeing to join us today. Her story is a remarkable one, both because of and in spite of her position in the medical community. To learn more about Jessica and her book, please head on over to her website.

I'll be giving Confessions of a Transsexual Physician a read just as soon as I can fit it into the towering TBR pile, so watch for a review to come!

Monday, July 23, 2012

REVIEW: Being Emily by Rachel Gold

Being Emily by Rachel Gold is a wonderful and sensitive novel by a writer who obviously has a good deal of knowledge and experience in the area of gender identity and gender transition. Like a few of the other fine books written about transitioning teens such as Luna and What Happened to Lani GarverBeing Emily hits the mark in terms of both character development and emotional impact. Upon Googling the author I learned that Rachel Gold obtained her familiarity with this subject matter via her multi-year personal relationship with a transwoman. So, in terms of realism and accuracy, it appears that she certainly has hit the mark with Being Emily.

It’s a story about a youth of 16 who has been keeping her female gender identity under wraps since at least the first grade. To this solitary end, over the years it has become increasingly more frustrating for “Chris,” in his male persona, to conceal his true self. Finally, Chris can no longer bear keeping the secret. His relationships with his parents and girlfriend, Clare, have begun to suffer and crumble. When Chris finally opens up to Clare, it creates yet another set of problems but, fortunately, Clare has the unusual and glorious ability to be able to see and accept our protagonist for the person she really is and continue to love her, support her transition, and, in a sense, eventually become the hero that saves Chris, now relating to the world as “Emily.” Clare not only becomes Emily’s salvation many times over, she assists her to move through the transition process. It's not a one-way street though and Clare also learns quite a bit about herself from Emily.

Of course, there are some major obstacles for the transitioning Emily to overcome and the story describes some harrowing experiences she faces as she clandestinely begins to feminize herself and emerge into the world. Fortunately for Emily, she hooks up, via the Internet, with another young person who has been there and has walked the walk. There are hormones and androgen blockers to obtain and without first coming out to parents, Emily initially goes the shadowy route that is certainly not the recommended path, but unfortunately the way of some because of the social stigma attached to "coming out" as transgender. Lots of valid social commentary abounds in  Being Emily.

The author presents some great scenes involving two different psychotherapists, one of whom feels he can “cure” gender dysphoria by creating new neural pathways of experience and re-wiring the brain. Fortunately, through some serendipity, Emily randomly meets another therapist who really “gets” it and understands her problem. But when Emily eventually “comes out” to her parents, there is hell to pay, particularly because they cannot understand what she must be going through. Her mom soon becomes the major impediment to her transition, forcefully demanding, “You don’t think like a woman, you don’t look like a woman and you don’t act like a woman. Why would you want to be a woman?” To this Emily replies quite simply and eloquently, “Because I am a woman.”

Fortunately, another hero emerges to save the day, although this time a rather reluctant and unlikely one in the form of Emily’s father, who finally paves the way for her to be the girl that she always was. I highly recommend this novel as a really great read for both teens and adults.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

REVIEW: Breeder by Maxwell Avoi

I’d been tempted to purchase a Maxwell Avoi e-book for some time now because the synopsis of most of his many efforts was generally quite interesting and his prices were so right. However, I never did buy one because I always noticed that each offering was pretty much a short story and I like books I can read for a while and really “sink my teeth into.” 

In Breeder, Avoi finally wrote and published a lengthier then usual book. True, Breeder is not quite as long as I would have hoped, maybe 2.5 hours of listening time on my Kindle text-to-speech format, operating at the fastest setting, but the premise of this novella was right up my alley so I was up for giving it a try.

I’ve long been a science fiction fan, but for the past several years, my interest has focused pretty much on books concerning mostly gender issues. When I’ve been fortunate enough to come across one that combines sci-fi with gender swap, gender change, gender transformation, gender shape shifting, etc, I snatch it up as quick as I can. To name a couple I’ve particularly enjoyed, allow me to mention The Original Sex Gates by Darrell Bain, and Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman.

I found Breeder to be a wonderful and creative little effort. Very well written, it provides the reader with a fine and plausible story of gender switching, set in the distant future. I won’t go into the circumstances and details leading to the unwanted transmogrification that befell the main protagonist, outlined in great detail by Avoi in this book. I will say, however, that Avoi proves himself to be a very sensitive and caring soul, as well as a darn fine writer, to be able to discourse so lovingly about a fictitious segment of a futuristic population so maligned by its’ peers and disparaged by the majority of the populace for no particular reason other than being different. 

In Breeder there is quite a lot of deep philosophical stuff presented that has great application in today’s society. Not to be too mundane, there is also some really vivid and hot sex to enjoy.

This short novel is a very worthwhile read and I recommend it highly.

[Reviewed by Samuel]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

REVIEW: Shemale Lesbian Gangbang (Robin) by Crystal Veeyant

Fans of the first story in the Shemale Lesbian Gangbang series, Darla, will be delighted to know that Robin picks up just hours after where it left off. Crystal Veeyant has bid a fond adieu to the horny police officers who interrupted the first audition, put the RV back on the road, and brought the wannabe porn stars into rural, small-town America.

It is there that they meet up with a flamboyant young man by the name of Robin. Hot and hunky, in a farm-boy kind of way, he is also sweetly androgynous - much to the shame and disgust of his abusive father. A quick bit of wide-eyed flirtation with the girls leads to a family confrontation, and before long the young man is running away from home, willing to do absolutely anything to earn his place aboard the RV to stardom.

I have to stop there for a moment and absolutely gush about this young man with whom I so quickly fell in love. He is sweet, innocent, and full of sexual curiosity. He is as honest about his lust for these transsexual beauties as he is about his fascination with Karen's black member. Robin skirts the edge of the stereotypical "aw, shucks" kind of farm-boy, but gets away with it because of his "oh, yes, please!" eagerness. He desperately wants to enjoy the treasures being offered, and is quite looking forward to becoming one of them.

A bit of a dirty, sketchy, unlikable brat in the first story, Darla really comes into her own here. We begin to see glimpses of the happy young cheerleader she once was, and begin to understand Karen's love/lust for her. That fact that Robin looks so much like her may be a bit too convenient, but this is a sexual fantasy, so you have to just accept the serendipity - especially once plans for the day's shooting begin to emerge. Moving away from their impromptu orgy into something a bit more scripted, the girls set up Darla and Robin as kissing cousins who 'accidentally' stumble upon the Trixie and Lucy's erotic picnic.

Not to give away any of the good bits, but if the girls really were making a movie, I would definitely buy it. I loved how eager both 'cousins' were to take on their transsexual lovers, and their own taboo coupling in the mud is absolutely priceless. Darla gets the opportunity to demonstrate her willingness, her hunger, and her happiness to be part of the team, and Robin quickly proves he deserves to go all the way, not just for being such a star, but for having such an instinctive grasp for how to make the most awkward couplings work.

Once again, Crystal demonstrates her flair for the erotic, as well as the limitless bounds of her sexual ingenuity. There is no force, no coercion, and no reluctance in this series. Her characters are 100% comfortable with their selves and their sexuality, and are more than eager to enjoy what comes natural - no matter who it may be with.

[Reviewed by Bobbi]

Friday, July 20, 2012

REVIEW: If the Shoes Fit (Wedding Heat) by Giselle Renarde

The latest entry in Giselle Renarde's Wedding Heat series, If the Shoes Fit, is also the first entry in the series with a transsexual lead. It's a very unusual story, quite different from what I've come to expect from Giselle, while also managing to capture everything that I love about her. It's a story of lost love found, of loving acceptance, and of the power behind our fetishes . . . and our fears.

Farrah is a transsexual who has allowed herself to slowly retreat from society because she is tired of being admired as fetish fuel, rather than being loved as a woman. She is sick of the men who come up to her in bars to admit always wanted to be sucked off by a tranny, and then can't understand why she isn't flattered by the comment. Plumbing (and the expense involved in correcting it) is already such a day-to-day concern for her, she really has no interest in men who choose to latch onto something unwanted as a fetish.

Lance is a slightly older man with whom Farrah once fell in love with as a younger gay man. The age gap that separated them has lost much of its significance over time, and when they reunite at a wedding, sparks are immediately rekindled. He is a man with a fetish, one that broke up his marriage, but one that Farrah can fulfill as a woman . . . no matter how uncomfortable it initially makes her feel. In Lance's case, his fetish is not for her plumbing, but for her feet. He is a man with a serious foot fetish, a love for women's shoes, and a desire to use the two to please the women to which they are attached.

It makes for an interesting contrast, not to mention a subtle commentary on the power of our minds to direct our sexuality - precisely what Farrah has longed for a man to realize. The exploration of the fetish is both wonderfully sensual and extremely sexual, despite the fact that no clothes (other than Farrah's shoes) are shed. It is also wonderfully romantic, with the two lovers reconnecting after so long, older and wiser, and intimately aware of what they once allowed to slip away.

Although we're left to wonder about the possibilities of a white wedding and a home with a white picket fence, there is no doubt that this is a happily ever after ending.

[Reviewed by Sally]

Get your FREE copy of Frock Magazine

I am delighted to announce that Issue #16 of Frock Magazine is now available, once again featuring my "Frock Books" review column. Oh, and if you happen to take a look at page 7, in the Meet the Frockers box, you'll notice something very exciting . . . I am now serving as an Assistant Editor! 

I can't tell you how excited I am about that, and how much I appreciate Katie offering me the opportunity. I've already been in touch with several friends and colleagues about contributing a column, but if you have a trans-themed or trans-related story you'd like to share, please drop me a line (sally AT frockmagazine DOT com).

Completely free, and available digitally,  Frock Magazine is one of the finest transgender lifestyle magazines around, and one that prides itself on being coffee-table friendly (i.e. free of any erotic content, suggestive ads, etc.).

Don't just pick it up for my column, though - the magazine has a wonderful variety of articles and features, looks absolutely gorgeous, and is a wonderful read. Please hop on over to  Frock Magazine and give it a read today!

REVIEW: Friday Night Lipstick by Giselle Renarde

With Friday Night Lipstick, Giselle Renarde goes somewhere she's never gone before, offering readers her first trans lesbian romance where both women are trans. It also represents one of the few times she's offered up a larger than life trans character, something she generally strays away from out of consideration for readers have difficulty differentiating between a trans woman and a drag queen.

That's not to say that Layla is a drag queen, just that she's bold, flamboyant, and very promiscuous.

What Giselle offers us here is a glimpse into the culmination of a long-term relationship between two mature transgendered friends. Layla is a single transsexual, one who waxes regularly, has breast implants, and who doesn't so much as bat at eye at $27 tube of Friday Night Lipstick. Bernice, on the other hand, is a transsexual trapped in an emotionally abusive marriage, one who fights night and day to reconcile the image created by the wigs and clothes and makeup with reality of the flesh beneath.

A night out a rather sexually liberated nightclub has significant consequences for both. As she watches her best friend orally pleasure two young men on the dance floor, Bernice's jealousy makes her realize just how deep her love for Layla runs. When she lets that slip, Bernice reveals the love is mutual, admitting to her friend that her promiscuity is the result of a futile attempt to try and fill the emotional hole left by Bernice's unavailability.

One things leads to another, and the two transsexuals head home together for a little awkward flirting before tumbling into bed. Their sexual explorations with one another are mind-blowingly sensual, exposing a long-denied hunger for one another. There is a very real emotional connection there that adds significance to the physical coupling . . . and which raises some honest questions about the future.

I will refrain from saying anything further, for fear of spoiling the magic, but you know with Giselle that there is a happily ever after in the offering. The way in which she wraps up all the threads of the story is quite beautiful, and if you don't shed a tear or two of happiness before the end, it's likely only because you're exhausted from sharing in their pleasure.

[Reviewed by Sally]

REVIEW: Black Master Shango by Damien Dsoul

Taking a dramatic step away from the willing romance of Mr. Tibbs, Damien Dsoul offers up a tale of reluctant carnal submission with Black Master Shango. Here we find a happily married white couple, on their first business trip to Africa, embroiled in a sinister blackmail scheme. With their only other choice being ten years of brutal abuse in a corrupt African prison, Arnold and Becca reluctantly agree to a cuckolding contract with Black Master Shango.

Despite the origins of the relationship, and the unique way in which Shango exerts his power over Arnold from afar, the usual theme of white couples being naturally subservient to their black Masters is once again present here. Becca is addicted from her first glance at Shango's manhood, and discovers a previously unknown sexual insatiability the moment he drives it deep inside her. She not only allows her Master to do things to her that Arnold never would have imagined, she begs for more.

As for Arnold, he is sent away to do the work that brought him to the country in the first place. Bound by his contract - not to mention his own awakening sense of submission - he listens in on his wife's carnal affairs on his cellphone, before being directed by Shango to find a black Master of his own. For the first time in his stories, Damien Dsoul presents us with a white hubby who enjoys his solo submission to the taste and touch of black manhood, rather than sharing it with his wife or enjoying it while she watches.

As sexy as the story is, and as dark and edgy as some of its undertones are, there is also a surprising amount of heart and soul within it. Shango makes it clear that cuckolding is a philosophy, almost spiritual in nature, and something that enhances, not replaces, traditional marriage. It is a bold, daunting concept, but also one that is undeniably erotic and unquestionably attractive.

[Reviewed by Bobbi]

Thursday, July 19, 2012

REVIEW: Lakebridge: Spring by Natasha Troop

The first book in the Lakebridge Cycle from Natasha TroopLakebridge: Spring, is an old-fashioned thriller, the kind of book that understands it takes more than just blood and gore to make a great story - it takes an interesting premise to hook readers, a unique setting to orient them within the story, well-developed characters to make them care about what happens next, and an author who truly enjoys spinning a tale to bring it all together.

The first thing that strikes you about the book is that everybody, including the moose wandering by the bridge in question, has a story to tell. Natasha certainly is not afraid to spread out her viewpoints and experiment with some unusual narrative choices. It's a bit of a quirky approach, in a David Lynch kind of way, but it really works.

The second thing that strikes you about the novel is the language. I've seen other reviewers complain that Natasha is too long-winded, or too free with her punctuation (or lack thereof), but her style of narration comes right back to the idea of being an old-fashioned thriller. This isn't a book written to be digested a paragraph at a time between calls, chats, or emails on your smartphone. This is a story to become lost in, to immerse yourself in, and to really 'hear' inside your head. Yes, there are some long passages, but if you read them aloud (or inside your head), rather than just scanning them, you'll quickly come to appreciate that Natasha isn't just writing a book, she's telling you a story.

The third thing that strikes you about Lakebridge: Spring is balance of emotions represented in the story. While there's something to be said for unrelenting tension on the big screen, there's a big difference between the 90 minute experience of watching a movie and the 4 or 5 hours involved in reading a novel. Natasha offers up plenty of tension here, and some scenes of high drama, but she smartly uses moments of humour (both subtle and absurd) to give the reader time to breathe.

The last thing that strikes you about the novel is the one thing I will say very little about - and that is the story itself. Natasha has crafted a clever little tale here, one with deep roots in the history and mythology of the town. What we have here is an almost-perfect, self-contained story of horror in a small town. While there are more than enough lingering questions to compel the reader into reading the sequel, Lakebridge: Summer, it doesn't feel like we've been intentionally left hanging.

If you're in the mood for something to read and enjoy, the kind of book to linger over on a warm summer's night, then give this a try.

[Reviewed by Sally]

REVIEW: Mr. Tibbs by Damien Dsoul

A very different tale than The Devil Wears High Heels (my first taste of Damien Dsoul), Mr. Tibbs successfully builds upon the interracial cuckolding themes present there, but does so in a surprisingly dramatic, almost romantic, manner.

In many ways, this book reads like a steamy prime-time television drama - broadcast, of course, on a no-holds-barred premium cable network. It is an intimate look at the lives of four white couples in a picket-fence kind of neighbourhood, one where everybody knows one another, wave "hello" every morning, and think nothing of just popping by for a cup of coffee.

Kevin and Hailey are loving couple at the heart of the story. The neighbourhood's original cuckolds, they have been happily and openly sharing themselves with Mr. Tibbs for quite a while. There is no shame or embarrassment about their relationship, and no taboos or hangups within it. Hailey is quite comfortable answering the door with nothing but pair of strong black arms wrapped around her, and Kevin is equally comfortable talking frankly and honestly to Fred about their unusual sex life. More importantly, the loving couple is equally comfortable in not just pleasing their black Master, but in taking pleasure from their actions.

There is a quote towards the end of the book where Kevin responds to an accusation that servicing Mr. Tibbs makes him gay. It is probably one of the most beautifully profound examples of being comfortable with one's sexuality that I have ever come across:

"Really it’s all about giving pleasure. The more you give, much more you receive. And of being submissive and realising how much love you have for your wife that you want to see her being loved by others too.”

As for the aforementioned Fred, he is a man intrigued by the fantasy of interracial cuckolding, but self-conscious about the reality of it. The deeper he gets into the fantasy, the more his wife becomes aroused by it, until he and Misty are making love before the living room window while they take turns watching their neighbours through a telescope. The fact that they will one day follow in Kevin and Hailey's footsteps is a foregone conclusion from the start, but watching their curiosity develop, and their fantasy become realized, is one of the main joys of the story.

Of course, no neighbourhood is perfect, but those imperfections serve to illustrate just how natural and loving a cuckolding relationship can be - while adding some necessary tension and drama to the overall story. Agatha and Ray are entirely monogamous, but he is an abusive hubby who lacks the self-confidence to allow his wife a life outside the home. As for Fran and Cleo, theirs is an equally strained relationship, marred as much by Cleo's emotional distance as his extramarital affairs. Sure, it may be a little too optimistic to suggest that cuckolding can solve all their marital woes, but the ways in which both couples become drawn into the lifestyle is entirely satisfying to behold.

The sex scenes here are wonderfully erotic, playing to all the senses. They are visually, emotionally, and psychologically satisfying, driving home the wonder and the joy that can come from an open marriage where both spouses are happily submissive to their black Master. Whether he is demonstrating the physical power of a well-hung black man driving his white cuckoldress to unimaginable heights of pleasure, or illustrating the psychological power of a white cuckolded hubby so happily submitting to the oral penetration of a pair of black Masters, Damien Dsoul knows how to delight both the mind and the body.

This is not just a pornographic tale of interracial sex - it is an erotic romance about interracial cuckolding, and makes for a significant difference.

[Reviewed by Bobbi]