Dirty 30: a review

 

 

As Rose Caraway writes in her introduction to the ‘Dirty 30’ anthology: ‘There is power in erotic 51uoNnKDMtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_storytelling. Our fantasies are infinite, and just as much a part of us as our arms and legs. Between identity and desire, we are complicated and beautiful and intense. And so is Erotica.’

It’s my pleasure to have a short story featured in ‘Dirty 30’: ‘The Honeymoon’ – telling of temptation and of relationships not being quite what they  appear. My own work often explores the darker side of desire, revealing what’s unconsciously hidden, or purposefully concealed.  Stories which play out similarly tend to make me smile and there are plenty of those in this collection: cleverly structured tales that offer a wry surprise and a bold twist at their conclusion…

Among my favourites are ‘Return of the Snow Queen’ by Tamsin Flowers, and Janine Ashbless’ ‘Sweet Hel Below’. I was in a swoon with both these tales, which play into my own love-affair with fairy tales, and with Norse mythology. Exquisitely told, and seriously seductive, both stories delve the struggle within us, between light and dark. Tamsin’s story, inspired by ‘The Snow Queen’ surveys the ease with which we are tempted (albeit within a world in which a sliver of magic mirror may distort our vision and lead us astray). Janine’s portrayal of  the Norse underworld is no less enchanting, exploring our fascination with mortality, and the dual nature we each harbour: of shadows, doubt and putrefaction, versus our vitality and capacity for self-sacrifice and love.

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RA Goli’s ‘The Seer’ also draws on Norse mythology, using that rich seam of magical lore to explore universal truths: our desire to know what awaits us, and to understand what aspect of our frail humanity will bring us true contentment.

Sommer Marsden’s ‘Thunderclap’ and Malin James’ ‘Canvas’ also evoked a strong reaction from me, using gorgeous prose to delve emotional truths. In similarly sumptuous literary style is Brantwijn Serrah’s ‘Life Drawing 101’, and ‘A Polite Fiction’, by Terrance Aldon Shaw.

Meanwhile, Chase Morgan’s ‘Honey, I’m Home’, Elliot deLocke’s ‘Torrid Zone’, Sonni de Soto’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ and Michael Lewis’ ‘The Thief’ each use action and suspense to enhance their atmosphere of highly-charged eroticism.

And, I MUST mention Landon Dixon’s ‘Moby Tit’, and Spencer Dryden’s ‘The Dude’, which are both masterpieces in their own, unique style. Landon has skilfully woven his bawdy ballad of a man obsessed with breasts, while Spencer’s story, told anecdotally during  a radio phone-in, uses the brevity of dialogue to keep us hanging upon the turns of the tale, until the marvellous ‘punch-line’ of the ending.

Dirty 30 rose carawayIt’s always a delight to work with Rose, whose enthusiasm for our genre is inspirational and uplifting. I love her forthright attitude towards erotica, and sex! As an author and editor, Rose encourages us to read (and write) to liberate our sexual fantasies, to expand our self-knowledge, and to express ourselves without shame or inhibition.

Hooray for erotica!

As Rose says: ‘Erotica can be whatever we want it to be’.

The Dirty 30 anthology is incredibly diverse, well conceived and executed, and damned hot!

Time to discover your new favourites….

Find ‘Dirty 30’, published by Stupid Fish Productions, here

 

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Come Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross : a review

I read Leone RossDrag a few years ago, and I knew right then that I’d found someone special, an author with a unique voice. For me, the story is about our desire not to be restricted or categorized. It’s a battle-cry for individuality, for throwing off shackles.

The whole collection, of Come Let Us Sing Anyway, has this feel for me, that we’re seeing characters who are defiantly blazing, refusing to be constrained by others’ expectations.

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Leone’s storytelling is fearless altogether, and radiant, which is especially apparent in her portrayal of erotic themes. Her prose is, by turns, refreshingly shocking and gorgeously sensual (often, both together!) Our desire for sexual connection is right where it should be in these stories, whether thrusting itself into the limelight, or gnawing away, silently.

Leone’s cast is diverse, eccentric, eye-poppingly theatrical. And yet their actions and words are strikingly familiar. Bizarre as they are, they show us the universal truths that bind us: that we all love, and grieve, and hope, and yearn; that we all struggle, and desire.

Few writers can deliver dialogue like Leone Ross – or achieve so much with so few words. Her stories sing in the small details, her characters built in the roll of their hips and the blossom of obscenities from their mouths, often delivered in Jamaican patwa.Leone Ross Drag quote

Her prose is dazzlingly beautiful and daringly original (as a woman masturbates in a restaurant WC, ‘…even the shining tiles on the bathroom floor seemed to ululate to help her’).

As readers, we each bring our own interpretation; it’s what makes reading exciting. Come Let Us Sing Anyway is, in many places, bravely, invitingly ambiguous. It’s a wonderful thing, because it obliges us to bring ourselves to the story, to find meaning in relation to our own experience.

You may like to read my interview with Leone, here, on her influences and intentions in storytelling.

Purchase Come Let Us Sing Anyway from Peepal Tree Press

or, if you’d like a copy for your Kindle, purchase from Amazon

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About Leone Ross

Known for melding magic realism with erotic fiction, Leone Ross’ novels and short stories are original in approach, style and voice, defying literary niches and expectations of genre. Her work incorporates elements of speculative fiction, erotica and Caribbean fiction.

Leone’s first novel, All The Blood Is Red, was short-listed for the Orange Prize, in 1997. Her second, Orange Laughter, received critical acclaim in 2000, published in the UK, US and France.

Leone worked as a journalist and editor for fourteen years, holding the post of Arts Editor at The Voice newspaper, Women’s Editor at the New Nation newspaper, and  transitional Editor for Pride magazine, in the UK. She also held the position of Deputy Editor at Sibyl, a feminist magazine. Leone freelanced for The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian as well as London Weekend Television and the BBC.  She currently works as a senior lecturer in Creative Writing, at London’s Roehampton University.

Follow Leone on Twitter

Drop in to her website: www.leoneross.com

Or find her on Facebook 

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Blue, by LN Bey: a review

LN Bey was a reader of erotica long before taking up the pen, with particular attraction Pauline Réage History of O BDSM eroticato the inherent illogicality of BDSM — as LN puts it ‘the desire to be beaten, controlled and humiliated (or to do the beating) despite it making no logical sense’.

As a reader, LN embraced Molly Weatherfield, Laura Antoniou, AN Roquelaure and Pauline Réage, each with their own brand of erotic cruelty, of ‘consensual non-consent’, exploring systematized sex slavery.

AN RoquelaureAs LN explains, “In Story of O, in the Beauty trilogy, and in The Marketplace, the subs are there to serve and to lose themselves, not to be coddled before and after a spanking. It’s assumed that Masters are entitled to their slaves’ submission, and that’s what the submissives expect, and want, as well.”

317fRIVTvWLUnlike Story of O and the worlds of Antoniou, Weatherfield and Roquelaure, there are no castles or billionaire mansions in Blue, which is set in the blandest of American suburbs, where our cast of kinky suburbanites, each flawed and ego-centric, have day jobs, shop in supermarkets and battle traffic jams.

As LN explains, “I’m not a fan of overly romantic language, sweeping us along doe-eyed and swooning, with our hands clasped under our chins. I wanted to write realistically, taking what I most love about fantastical erotica and placing the scenarios into a believable setting.”

LN Bey, in Blue, presents characters each on their own quest for self-realization, usually through extremes of self-expression – through film, photography and performance, but also, as ‘artists’ of their identity, shaping themselves as living works of art (naturally, as works in continuous progress). The most obvious example of this is the character of Mai, who stands, in imitation of a statue, throughout the novel, decorating a niche of Carolyn’s home, but there are many others, less overt.

89598Blue references erotic art and fiction, creating a nod to the reader, in their role as ‘connoisseur’: we recognize ourselves in these characters who read erotica, peruse erotic art works, and indulge in sexual fantasy. Janet, the leading protagonist, begins her journey in just this way, with a collection of well-thumbed novels of ‘erotic peril’ and some coffee-table books of provocative images.

Janet engineers her entry into a fantasy, built upon expectations from her reading of sensational fiction (in this way, Blue is rather like a kinky, 21st century version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey). Unsurprisingly, she is destined for disappointment, as reality fails to match her imagination (although there are elements of her experience that do appeal to her, and keep her coming back for more). Meanwhile, Janet’s fears must be overcome, in order for her to attain self-realization. LN tells us, “She isn’t looking for love but thrills, for her fantasies to come true, even if the book is largely about the impossibility of that. She knows how she wants to be treated now (‘strictly, but not callously’) and she’s suddenly got the opportunity she’s been looking for.”

Blue is about the artistry of pain, and control, and the struggle to fulfill yearning, to gain self-realization. Janet discovers, through her ‘quest’, that she craves being dominated, being compelled to serve and to take pain (despite disliking discomfort). She is a submissive, rather than a masochist, gaining pleasure from obedience rather than from the endorphin rush of pain itself.

Blue quote chapter 14In parallel, Carolyn, a dominant seemingly in control of everything around her, struggles to control her own emotions. LN tells us, “I modelled Carolyn’s crisis on the HAL 9000 character from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. An artificial intelligence-level computer, HAL was faced with two contradictory missions; unable to cope with conflicting impulses, as in Carolyn’s case, all hell broke loose.”

The most moving chapter in Blue is unveiled entirely through phone voice-mail, revealing Carolyn’s true feelings for her submissive.

LN comments, “I’m fond of alternative means of narration. That chapter shows us relics of communication, with a different timeline. We later learn that the voicemails weren’t even effective, because he wasn’t checking his messages. She was talking to no one.”

Some of the most vivid scenes in Blue evolve around hyper-stylized film-making, where Laura Antoniou The Marketplace BDSM eroticatension is heightened, since we, like Janet, have no idea what will happen next. Speaking of the inspiration behind these scenes, LN references director Kubrick’s ‘lingering’ shots and wide angles, and his tendency to shoot people as he would objects, examining them in minute detail.

As LN comments, “Blue is a book about erotica. About people who read erotica, and how we build expectations from reading it. One of the goals of the book is to subvert the expectations that the reader is likely to have about the story and characters, just as Janet’s expectations are constantly subverted.”

Purchase Blue from Amazon

As her guests arrive for dinner, Janet is both fearful and aroused—because this is no 317fRIVTvWLordinary suburban dinner party. Recently divorced and looking for something new, Janet definitely finds it when her friend Jon invites her to join an exclusive club of kinksters whose initiation is to be the host—and the entertainment.

Before the food is even served, she’s naked and on her knees, not to mention in over her head.

Kinky and sexy, intelligent and perceptive, Blue is both highly entertaining social satire and red hot erotica.

About LN Bey

LN has lived in various cities and towns throughout the American West and Midwest with spouse and pets in tow, pursuing various creative endeavours and playing interesting games.

LN’s debut erotic novel Blue was released in 2016 and the three of five segments of the Villa series are now released.

LN also appears in the following anthologies:

Best Bondage Erotica 2015, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Love Slave: Sizzle, 2016, ed. by Dom Exel

No Safewords 2, 2017, ed. by Laura Antoniou.

 

Find LN at  lnbey.com and Viscontipress.com

On TwitterAmazon and Goodreads

 

 

 

Author Influences : Terrance Aldon Shaw

Terrance Aldon Shaw (TAS to his friends) has written more than 70 erotic short stories, 10001405_268601389969496_1314269374_nand is currently at work on a novel The Seven Seductions. His work explores the thoughts, feelings and emotions that accompany the erotic experience.

Having worked as a musician for much of his adult life, eking out a modest living as a singer and a classical composer, TAS stresses that music has been the primary influence on his writing: not just his love for classical works and grand opera but classical-influenced jazz and 70s rock, folk, bluegrass and country, hip hop and rap.

TAS asserts, “There’s nothing that equals the power of music to express emotion, to evoke atmosphere, and establish mood. This is why a film without a score often seems to fall short of its potential, lacking the full measure of visceral impact—just compare the scene in Jaws where the shark attacks the boat, first without John Williams’ music in the background, then with it. Whether conjuring a sense of existential anxiety and dramatic tension, desolation or euphoria, claustrophobic horror or the sublime vastness of space, nothing comes close to music.”

Comparing musical composition with that of writing, TAS underlines, “You have to be able to discern structure. Melody, harmony, and rhythm have to be coordinated to form a coherent statement. When I sit down to write, I consider the musical quality of the words, the prose-melodies that are created by the artful combination of words and phrases gradually built up into the literary equivalent of a symphony (that word, by the way, means ‘sounding together’). The way writing sounds when read aloud is important; if it doesn’t flow, if it doesn’t reach out and tickle the reader’s ear—if it doesn’t make music—it’s not ready to publish.”

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As to how we make music with words, TAS advises varying the length of our phrases, never letting rhythms become too predictable, and avoiding repeated syntactical patterns. He emphasizes, “Understand that each word (or each note) carries its own innate energy, like a charged particle. If you arrange words carelessly, putting similar words too close together you drain them of their emotive power.  Finally—and this is quite important, I think—don’t always play your music in the same key. Vary the mood and pace—especially in multi-chaptered works. Occasionally, dark clouds need to roll in and, sometimes, the sun needs to break through the dark clouds, if only long enough to keep the reader interested.”

He adds, “Great music has a sense of flow, an inevitable logic, leaving the impression that every constituent element is perfectly coordinated with every other. In the great operas of Wagner, particularly Die Walküre and Siegfried from Der Ring des Niebelungen, the music never seems to pause. I want that quality of sensuousness—that inevitable sense of flow—to permeate my prose and animate my storytelling .You can’t be a great composer if you only grasp what’s on the surface. You have to appreciate the way disparate elements come together. You have to see it all from the inside.”

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TAS is profoundly near-sighted, which perhaps explains his desire to evoke sensory detail. As he comments, “When you’re a storyteller, everything you see and hear and touch has its own story.”

Nevertheless, he has a love of photography, sculpture and painting, and these have influenced some of his stories directly. In Night Vision, based on his own experience, the near-sighted narrator takes off his glasses and sees a jazz ensemble ‘reduced to its essential shapeless elements of light and colour’. As TAS explains, this gave him sudden appreciation of the nature of abstract art. He names ‘the intriguingly distorted figures set in the bleak urban landscape of Di Chirico’s The Disquieting Muses’ as an influence and Jackson Pollack’s Mural, which he believes ‘evokes its own strange multi-verse of fractal layers, like grains of sand under a powerful microscope’. As he notes wryly, “If you can’t find a story prompt there, you’re not looking.”

TAS points out that theatrical and cinematic works ‘all begin with the written word’. He comments, “I’m attracted to the same qualities in film that I find irresistible in books; an evocative sense of atmosphere, and sharp narrative focus (look at Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men based on the P.D. James sci-fi novel, or Kathryn Bigelow’s dystopian masterpiece, Strange Days with its seamless tracking shots and breathtaking leaps into the realm of virtual reality). I also appreciate intelligent storytelling that does not patronize the viewer with obvious ‘set-up’ dialogue or linger on superfluous detail: I am reminded of those long stretches of silence in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, so richly detailed—a perfect example of showing as opposed to telling. And then there’s that wonderful Pixar animated film Wall-E, where the poignance of the story is heightened by the lonesome stillness of an abandoned earth.”

He adds, “I also adore movies that engage my playful side (Charlie Chaplain’s City Lights and Modern Times, The Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and absolutely anything by Mel Brooks. And . . . and . . . and!  I LOVE Joss Whedon’s stuff for its intelligent ‘meta’ storytelling, its wisecracking archetypes, and its cheeky—very intentional—employment of bathos. These are all things I aspire to in my writing. Effective scene-setting through the evocation of atmosphere, an unblinking eye for crucial detail, and an uncompromising demand for clarity of narrative.”

He also muses, “I’m moved by great dancing in the movies and I admire those who can dance well—their gracefulness is just so often a mystery to me, I can’t help but be dazzled even as I’m sad that I can’t join in with them. In my writing, I often refer to dance, employing it as a metaphor, sometimes citing the techniques, or the physical characteristics associated with dancers.”

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TAS asserts that he ‘categorically rejects magical thinking and superstition’, yet admits that tales of fantasy and magic have deeply influenced his own storytelling. Beyond early influences of fairy tales and myths, Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible, he is drawn to ‘sweeping, mythic, quasi-poetic narratives’: Stephen King’s Gunslinger, and William M. Miller’s Canticle for Liebowitz (which he callsprobably one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, and certainly a great work of humanist fiction’).

TAS tells us, “Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber blew my mind apart and put it back together in the same revelatory instant—such beautiful, daring language! Reading Anais Nin is like soaring across the astral plains and never wanting to come down again. Imagica, by Clive Barker, is a creepy, atmospheric tour de force, while Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is powerfully thought-provoking, exploring the conflict between faith and science, politics, and sex. What all these books have in common is that they’re intelligently conceived, elegantly written, evocative, colorful, always—always!—feeding the reader’s intellect while stimulating the imagination. That’s the kind of book I love to read—and certainly the kind of book I want to write.”

Other books that have stayed with him are The Engineer of Human Souls by Czech author Josef Skvorevski, which he calls ‘a tragi-comic masterpiece of sex, politics and academia as seen through the bemused eye of a cynical college-English professor and political refugee’. TAS notes that Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, ‘with its deeply sympathetic yet relentlessly unblinking descriptions of suffering’ has influenced not only his writing, but his life.

Unsurprisingly, given his musical ear, TAS also has a love of poetry. He explains, “I came to deeply appreciate poetry through my interest in classical music, and the masterful settings of the great poets by modern composers, like Benjamin Britten and Ned Rorem. When I heard a setting of a poem that affected me, I went out and bought everything I could find by that poet, looking for things that I, too, could set to my own music: everything from medieval lyric fragments, Chaucer and Shakesperare’s sonnets, to Blake, Keats, Shelly, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson, to Walt Whitmann, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Wilfred Owen, Vachel Lindsay, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, Sylvia Plath, W.H. Auden, Robert Frost, and Pablo Neruda in translation.”

He continues, “Poetry has taught me the importance of being concise and a sense of rhythm. I loved poetry long before I became serious about writing prose.”

In his writing, TAS gives us all that is ‘distilled within that secret place where love and madness meet’. He tells of what might have been; tales not only of mortality and desire, but of nostalgia, regret, isolation, loneliness and longing, lost inspiration and the search for one’s place in the cosmic scheme of things. These aspects he surveys through the lens of the erotic, inviting us to scrutinize ourselves as sexual beings: naked, vulnerable, passionate, longing. Only in so doing can we know ourselves.

As Mr. Shaw declares, writers ‘live in hope that what they write will have meaning, though it is almost always left to readers to find it’.

 

Works by the author

Terrance Aldon Shaw’s Moon-Haunted Heart comprises fifty short pieces, exploring the The Moon-Haunted Heart (print cover image) 4 - Copy (4)human condition through the lens of the erotic. See my review here.

Eight Erotic Tales print (front) cover 1Another of his short story collections is Take Me Like the World Ends at Midnight. As TAS tells us, “They say forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. These eight short stories are about the thrill of the unexpected; a handsome stranger’s touch in a dark theater, a night of passion with the most unlikely of mystery men; the sheer adrenaline rush of sudden contact; the silent promise of ecstasy.”

 

About the author

Terrance Aldon Shaw (TAS to his friends) lives in a 167-year-old farmhouse in the heart of southeast Iowa’s Amish country. His neighbours do not know what he does for a living. (Sometimes, he’s not quite certain himself.)

 Find Mr. Shaw’s reviews, musings on the craft of writing and short stories on his site: Erotica for the Big Brain

Find him also:

On Smashwords 

On Amazon

On Facebook

On Goodreads

 

London Triptych, by Jonathan Kemp: a review

 

Jonathan KempJonathan Kemp explores hungers we cannot explain and paints images not only intensely erotic, but tender.  Here, in London Triptych, he shows us the unfolding of three men’s lives, each an unravelling ribbon, fluid, twisting, looking back upon itself. Their stories are confessionals, inviting us to enter the nocturnal, hidden recesses of the psyche. Meanwhile, London’s shadows and secrets echo those within our protagonists, and remind us that we readers, too, have our untold stories.

Each of the tales within the ‘triptych’ takes place, primarily, in London, though separated by five decades. We see the details of the setting change, while the themes remain eternal: our desire for what we cannot articulate; our struggle to express ourselves freely; our eagerness to navigate the ‘geography of possibilities’; our delight in love, glorious, overwhelming and unexpected; and the vulnerability of that state.

1890s rent boy Jack Rose falls into an almost unwilling passion for Oscar Wilde, leading towards a path of disappointment and betrayal.  1950s artist Colin tentatively explores his sexuality, against a backdrop of prudery and prejudice. In the 1990s, David awaits release from prison, telling of the lover who deceived him.

Jonathan Kemp

With each interchanging narrative, we learn more of each protagonist’s history and motivations, and we see the ways in which their stories resemble one other. They do not go in search of love. Rather, it surprises them, catching them off guard. They experience transcendence and then misery: a change in their worldview.

Sex is central to the story, an enduring, irresistible force, with or without love. It is the engine driving each of our narrators to discover a version of the ‘self’ yet out of reach.

Jack Rose tells us: ‘I became a whore in order, not to find myself, but to lose myself in the dense forest of that name.’

However, love is the transformative emotion. Love enervates and destroys, bringing ultimate joy and torture. We are shown its ability to shed light on our restricted, repetitive paths.

Kemp explores what it has meant to be homosexual in a world which views those desires as dangerously inverted, and shows us the tension between pleasure and danger, when there are ‘no laws but those of the body’:

‘When you can be free, free to pursue any desire, acquire any knowledge… it’s the most terrifying place to live. It’s dangerously beautiful…’

Jonathan-KempAs ever, Kemp’s storytelling goes beyond action and consequence, or the clever use of dialogue to reveal character, or the exploration of eternal themes. His talent lies in his use of language, probing words for their secrets, for their ‘blood-beat’, for their ability to reveal ‘meaning held within the contours of the skin’. He returns, again and again, to the inadequacy of language to express the erotic truths of the body, the ‘cannibal, animal hunger’ of desire.

And yet, he, as few authors can, animates the ‘universal language of lust written on the body and spoken by the eyes and fingers’.

He shows us that sex can take us to other destinations within the ‘self’, as if ‘opening doors that lead to other corridors, and other doors’: ‘I am here without knowing how. Suddenly, terrifyingly present. Here, now, lost and hot…

Meanwhile, London itself embodies the elusive, enchanting paradox of existence. It is a place of anonymity, and simultaneous intimacy; London is the unseen, legion-faced (and thus faceless) listener, inviting the narrators to share their secrets. It is a place of judgment (all three stories bring to bear the presence of the law and prospective punishment for homosexual transgression) and of liberation. It is a place of contradictions, just as we are contradictory.

 

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London TriptychJonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London.

London Triptych, his first novel, won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize.

He is also the author of Ghosting (my review here) and 26, my review here.

Hear directly from Jonathan Kemp, on how the novel came to be, here, in an interview with Polari Magazine.

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Also, you may like to visit this article, featuring Jonathan Kemp: Men Writing Erotic Fiction

 

 

 

 

Like Water For Chocolate: a review

Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel review Exploring the burning pleasure and pain of physical desire is Laura Esquivel’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’. It is an erotic tale in the purest sense, delving the agony of repressed love, and the intense delight and suffering of which we are capable. It evokes the smells and tastes of the body, as well as those of the kitchen, showing the power of the senses to overwhelm us.

Tita falls in love with Pedro. Their eyes meet, and:
‘She understood how dough feels when it is plunged into boiling oil… The heat that invaded her body was so real. She was afraid she would start to bubble… like batter.’

Even a single look can be erotic. Pedro finds Tita grinding ingredients in the kitchen and his gaze transforms her ‘from chaste to experienced’ without even Like-Water-for-Chocolate-film-images-13fcd109-647b-4368-80dd-f6556923164touching. She is ‘like water for hot chocolate’ because she is ‘on the verge of boiling over‘ with desire.

Every erotic experience is conveyed in terms of food and cooking, rising heat, flesh seared and long simmering. Chillies appear in recipes repeatedly, symbolising the fiery heat of passion. Tita’s emotional journey is told alongside and through her creation of cuisine.

Tita’s fearsome mother, Elena, insists that Tita must never marry, being destined to take care of her until the day she dies. Pedro agrees to marry older sister Rosaura instead, declaring it as a means of staying close to his beloved, but, of course, as a servant declares, ‘You can’t just exchange tacos for enchiladas!’

Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel review Passion is contained and beaten into submission as surely as Tita herself whips eggs into meringue. Each dish provides a metaphor for Tita’s love life and cooking remains her only way of expressing her emotions, with magical results. Weeping as she beats the wedding cake for Pedro and Rosaura, her tears enter the mixture. As each guest takes a bite, they are overcome by an intense longing for their lost loves, by sadness at opportunities missed and sacrifices made. Their despair is such that they end by vomiting it from their bodies, like poison.

When Tita pours her sexual yearning into her Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, her blood mixing with the soft petals, she induces in her guests a sexual frenzy. The dish brings on a ‘voluptuous delight’, acting as an aphrodisiac so potent that Gertrudis, Tita’s other sister, feels ‘an intense heat pulsing through her limbs’. She rushes to an outdoor shower to cool off but her body is so like water for chocolate esquivel reviewpowerfully charged that the wooden boards catch fire.

Gertrudis’s sexual allure is carried upon the air to the nose of the captain of the rebel troops, Juan, who leaves the field of battle to whisk her off, quite naked, to become his lover. The scent of her ‘red-hot fire’ draws him and he recognises ‘the lust that leapt from her eyes, from her every pore’. He scoops her onto his horse and they make love for the first time, immediately. ‘The movement of the horse combined with the movement of their bodies.’

Gertrudis is so filled with amour that one man cannot satisfy her, and we hear that she seeks out employment at a brothel, before joining the rebel troops, Like Water for Chocolate a review Esquivel and rising to the position of general. There, she meets Juan once more, and they become married, fulfilling the destiny denied Tita and Pedro. In many ways, Gertrudis’ path throws that of Tita into sharp relief, she being confined to the kitchen and to watching over other family members, while Gertrudis, literally helps lead a revolution. She so firmly throws off all conventions, fully embracing her sexual nature, that we might argue that she, rather than Tita, would have made a more fascinating heroine.

Once Mama Elena dies, we hear that Tita and Pedro conduct a fragmented, illicit love affair, coupling discreetly, to avoid upsetting Rosaura. Theirs is a life half-lived. When, at last, Rosaura’s passing allows Tita and Pedro to enjoy one another without guilt, so joyful are they that they are, magically, consumed by flames, fulfilling the prophesy that: ‘If a strong emotion suddenly lights all the matches we carry inside ourselves, it creates a brightness that shines far beyond our normal vision and then a splendid Like Water for Chocolate a review Esquivel tunnel appears… and calls us to recover our lost divine origin.’

Laura Esquivel explores the tragic consequences of denying love: for Tita, who is forbidden from marriage by her mother; and, as we discover, for her mother, Elena, whose thwarted love resulted in an affair which brought on her husband’s death and sowed the seed for her own discontent and bullying of Tita.

‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is a tale, beautifully, enchantingly told, of our struggle against what is Laura Esquivel forbidden, of denial and of fulfillment, and of our helplessness in the face of desire.

 

I read in translation, by Carol and Thomas Christensen. The book was released in the USA in 1993, and simultaneously at cinemas (still shots featured here are from the film).

Laura Esquivel lives in Mexico.  In an interview with Salon Magazine, she notes: ‘I’m interested in that relationship between outer reality and inner desire. It’s important to pay attention to the inner voice, because it’s the only way to discover your mission in life, and the only way to develop the strength to break with whatever familial or cultural norms are preventing you from fulfilling your destiny.’

A.S. Byatt’s Angels and Insects: a review

Angels and Insects comprises two novellas: Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel.

As we know, the Victorian age provides the perfect setting from which to explore themes of freedom and suffocation, as well as moral hypocrisy; it is these which are central to Byatt’s first tale, Morpho Eugenia.

Angels and Insects A S Byatt Victorian fictionShipwrecked naturalist William Adamson is brought under the wing of a wealthy Victorian family and soon falls ‘in lust’ with the enigmatic Eugenia. The sheer beauty and eroticism of Byatt’s prose is magnificent:

‘She sat beside him on the bench, and her presence troubled him. He was inside the atmosphere, or light, or scent she spread, as a boat is inside the drag of a whirlpool, as a bee is caught in the lasso of perfume from the throat of a flower.’

and, later, when they are married:
‘…he felt that their bodies spoke to each other in a kind of fluttering bath of molten gold, a raidiant tent of silky touch and shimmering softness, so that long, tender silences were a natural form of communion during the mundane grey light.’

Just as Adamson has collected specimens of the natural world, Sir Harald Alabaster ensnares him, setting him upon the endless task of classification: an activity requiring meticulous ordering (mirroring the strict order of upper-class Victorian society). This parallel is taken further as we see Adamson studying ant colonies living near the house, each as minutely complex and strictly ordered as the society within the Alabaster home.

Byatt reminds us repeatedly of the contrast between Adamson’s bold past as an explorer of A S Byatt Angels and Insectsthe Amazon, and the suffocating restrictions of polite aristocratic society. However, we come to realise that the family conceals just as many secrets as the darkly exotic jungle. Eugenia, for example, may outwardly (and symbolically) resemble the beautiful butterflies her father enjoys pinning to his boards, but the behaviour we discover of her is closer to the tumbling, devouring, ruthlessness of the insect world.

The pure ‘Alabasters’ are degenerate: stifled, congealing and corrupt, trapped within narrow, inward-looking mindsets. Using more symbolism, Byatt gives us a grotesque description of Harald Alabaster’s hands as ‘ivory-coloured, the skin finely wrinkled everywhere, like the crust on a pool of wax, and under it appreared livid bruises, arthritic nodes, irregular tea-brown stains. The flesh under the horny nails was candlewax-coloured, and bloodless.’

The Conjugial Angel examines the themes of grief and transiency through the Victorian obsession with séances and the next world. Byatt quotes significant portions of Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam, which explores mortality, and decay, inspired by Alfred’s love for Arthur Hallum (who died aged 22 and was engaged to Alfred’s sister, Emily). It is Emily who stands as the central figure in the story, as heartbroken in her loss as Alfred in his.

While the physicality of Emily and Alfred’s desire for Arthur is mostly hinted at, their suffering is vividly echoed in that of Mrs. Papagay. Torn by desire for the physical love of her husband, thought lost at sea, she dreams of ‘male arms around her in the scent of marriage-sheets’.

In both stories, there are dark themes at work, of selfishness, betrayal and deceit (of others and the self) but also an element of the fantastical. Byatt draws us into the stifling world of parlours and manners, but leaves doors open to possibilities: of adventure, of love, and of reignition of self-purpose. Both novellas end with protagonists looking to the future with more optimism, with eyes cast up to the stars.

The Victorianesque language is heavy at times, as dense and complex as Byatt’s themes, but there is beauty here, and such insight. Worth persevering for.

byatt authorA S Byatt‘s novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, byatt_childrens_bookStill Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman.

Among her most recent works are The Children’s Book and Ragnarok: The End of the Gods.

Her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Elementals and Little Black Book of Stories.

 

 

 

26, by Jonathan Kemp: a review

Jonathan Kemp‘s 26 is a series of bittersweet vignettes: perfect slices of agony and ecstasy, ‘visions of excess’ burning brightly beyond the civility of language and manners, taking us on a journey of tJonathan Kemp 26 literary eroticaranscendence, of sexual gratification and drug-induced otherness.

Explicit and, often, disturbing, his scenes lead us into dark places in search of meaning, exploring our isolation and our need for connection, our yearning for intense physical experience and our desire for oblivion. Kemp celebrates the raw, terrifying beauty of sexuality, showing its capacity to ‘make and unmake the world’ and to ‘speak a different tongue’.

He explores the hunger we cannot explain and draws with tenderness love unrequited, misplaced, and abandoned: ‘The difference between what we want and what we are able to do emerges with the slow, poisonous crawl of grief.’

He gives us poignant fragments of lost love and intense eroticism, underpinned by the repeated theme of the limits of language to convey human feeling, and the role of the body in remembering its past. It is the pulsing archivist, memories ‘rippling beneath the skin’.

Jonathan Kemp 26‘I wake to find your presence still alighting on my skin, a fragment of your warmth, the weight of you still pressing, and a blurred memory of the dream’s end.’

Kemp shows us physical sensation as another language, our desire to tear open and ‘release something monstrous and wild, from the other side of language’. He voices his longing for ‘a new tongue that licks closer to the contour of bodies’.

Yet, amidst this despair at the inadequacy of language is Kemp’s thread of richly satisfying poetic prose. His images and metaphors blaze.

‘This is for when the blood turns black and burns you from the inside, for when you get the hunger – feel it unravelling within its long, dark spine of want… This is for then, for those crystalline moments when your body molds to your desires, contoured by the red heat of longing…’

Kemp has created a masterpiece, Jonathan Kemp 26 erotic fictionmoving the reader emotionally, intellectually and viscerally, our hearts captured and broken alongside those of his anonymous protagonists.

’26’ is haunting, unsettling and erotically compelling.

Kemp gives us the night folding up like a sheet of paper, sliding itself into memory, ‘to be unfolded and relived, recounted and treasured’. In ’26’, Kemp has created a book of night dreams, vivid imaginings and shadows, half-remembrances and images seared on the skin. These pages close but the emotions he stirs remain close-caught.

‘There are places only the night knows, places only shadows can show us… I walk… looking for something, looking for something, looking for something… Forgive me for not having the words to describe it, this place in which I dwell. I have tried, I have tried. I have drenched myself in words and sensations, seeking a way to make them speak to one another. This is all I have to offer.’

How do you describe a book which has such power to manipulate the reader, to draw so deep from the well that you discover yourself anew?

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London TriptychJonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London.

His first novel, London Triptych won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize (my review here).

He is also the author of Ghosting (my review here).

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.20.45“There is a deceptively relaxed quality to Kemp’s writing that is disarming, bewitching and, to be honest, more than a little sexy… As a writer, Jonathan is somewhat akin to the Pied Piper if only because there is something magical you cannot help but follow.”
– Christopher Bryant, Polari Magazine.

You may like to visit this article, featuring Jonathan Kemp: Men Writing Erotic Fiction

Moon-Haunted Heart: a review

As the author, Terrance Aldon Shaw, declares, on entry to this anthology, we see the tremble of his ‘naked soul… manic, howling, vulgar’ with its ‘white-hot wants’. He exposes every emotion, from sorrow to exultation, ‘roaring blood and brimming brain’. He gives us all that is ‘distilled within that secret place where love and madness meet’.

He tells of what might have been; tales not only of mortality and desire, but of nostalgia, regret, isolation, loneliness and longing, lost inspiration and the search for one’s place in the cosmic scheme of things. These aspects he surveys through the lens of the erotic, inviting us to scrutinize ourselves as sexual beings: naked, vulnerable, passionate, longing. Only in so doing can we know ourselves.

As one of his characters muses, when we define something, it ‘stops growing, becoming static’. In honour of this, I’ll avoid defining these little pieces of magic too closely.

Diverse in style, from dialogue bathed in the colloquial slang of the American Midwest, to 28807874richly poetic, dramatic prose, they are also diverse in content. Some capture a fleeting moment of desire, or offer a glimpse at the eternal. They unfailingly explore the human condition, in all its madcap glory.

There is cleverness, playfulness, wit and wisdom, light as well as dark. There are words that curl and dance on your tongue. Speak them aloud, and you’ll hear their music, just as the narrator voice suggests in The Purview of Small Minds (an homage to Lolita). Even a single word can delight with its rhythm and structure.

Mr. Shaw gives us wry comedy in Señor Gordo (dialogue with a willful-minded penis) and macabre humour in Drunk and Disorderly, nostalgia in A Sense of History (cataloguing a mattress’ exploits), and cheeky verbage in describing the ‘gossamer prisons’ of a woman’s underwear in Mazelblum: ‘frilly gussets and diaphanous drawers, hot-pink tangas like tulle fig-leaves, raspberry hipsters, tangerine boy shorts and sea-foam green bow cheekinis, French-cut mesh and jeweled G-strings like removable vajazzle facades’.

There is also much poignancy. The author writes: ‘Very few people have the maturity to understand that it’s our flaws, our slight imperfections, our deviations from the norm that make us interesting. These are the things that pique our curiosity and, ultimately, kindle our desires.’

There is regret for a life half-lived in Salix Sepulcralis, in which we are invited to see ourselves one day no more than a ‘mass of diverse necrotic tissues’, a ‘voiceless assortment of cells in random, untidy decay’.

Where Mr. Shaw uses poetic prose, it is lush, as in Nox: 

‘The ancients believed that darkness was a thing substantial, that Night poured into the world from below, a malignant emanation of the nether regions, filling the dome of heaven with a miasma of poisonous atoms, even as the moon cast its spell of madness from above.’

My favourite of the tales is La Sonnambula: a story of obsession, and the grotesque, told with delicious theatricality, an opera diva’s stalker at last fatally cutting off his penis and sending it to the object of his admiration, wrapped in a skein of her hair.

There is an undercurrent of the disturbing, and of the bittersweet philosophical. In A Little Death, ‘she howls as if to frighten away the dark things beyond the guttering firelight, the fears that lurk behind the mirrors she loathes to look in, the doubts that would whisper to her when she is alone.’ In Ad Astra, we feel the ‘dread of standing still, of being in one place too long, of rooting too deeply in the soil of past pain or bleak future’.

As Mr. Shaw declares, writers ‘live in hope that what they write will have meaning, though it is almost always left to readers to find it’.

These tales are the outer ripples of memories lost. Search your own past and you’ll find their echo. They float here on a ‘lawless realm of dreams’ where time ‘moves as easily backwards as forwards’. Step your way through the fragments and seek out the shards glittering most brightly. Your touch will inevitably linger, perhaps where you least expect it.

Those slivers may prick your tender flesh.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

The Author

Terrance Aldon Shaw describes his work as ‘psycho-rotica,’ exploring the ‘complex, fascinating inner world of sex’, all the ‘thoughts, feelings and emotions that accompany the erotic experience. You can purchase Moon-Haunted Heart from Smashwords and find Mr. Shaw’s reviews, musings on the craft of writing and short stories on his site: Erotica for the Big Brain.

 

 

A Review of Licked : Tales of Salt-Sweet Delight

Licked : seven tales of oral pleasure : a review

1fd25a7c1fb4e91da3a2e82318309941As Adrea Kore explains, in her interview with editor Jillian Boyd: ‘Going down’ connotes the Underworld: descending beneath. Basements, underwater caves, places of darkness and mystery… Venturing into the unknown, we yearn for a little danger, a little adventure, but sometimes also treasure, and discovery.

This anthology is devoted to the delights of sexual scent and juices slick, to our impulse to Adrea Kore Lickedlose ourselves in another, to the luscious lapping of a lover’s cream.

Kinky

Rob Rosen rises to the challenge of defining kink, in ‘Sanitised For Your Pleasure’. His futuristic, dystopian setting lends itself well to contemplation of how sexual ‘norms’ are shaped by cultural trends. In his world, pills are popped to eliminate anything deemed unsavoury, from body odour and body hair, to bad breath and dandruff. Eventually, babies are born without these ‘offensive’ extras. He imagines a society in which the human organism has no scent of its own, and no flavour. 4902cbfe47e4963927a76b1d543de84aIn such a setting, to seek out sex with smell and taste becomes a fetish in itself. Finding an arse crack tickled by hair takes the protagonist to heady heights of arousal. This is a clever celebration of the human body, in its all sweaty, hairy glory.

Intense

One of my favourite writers of erotic fiction, Adrea Kore, explores the torture of desire, of compulsion and addiction, in ‘Wet Satin Plaything’. She writes not only to arouse but to challenge us intellectually and emotionally. Her cleverly embroidered story of revenge is haunting, its prose woven with poetic refrain. Each sentence is a perfect melody in itself. Adrea Kore Licked quoteMeanwhile, her descriptions of oral sex are unsurpassed. I was left dry-mouthed and anticipatory.

Joyous

In ‘Rip’s Reward’, Marie Piper gave me my first ever reading of ‘Western style erotica’ and I found it utterly charming, as well as more than a little arousing. Marie truly had me rooting for her characters’ happiness.

Nineteenth-century_erotic_alphabet_UIntimate

Robin Watergrove’s confiding narrator voice, in ‘Just Thirsty’, bathes us in tender, sensuous prose: We’re unmoored; no voices now, too far off shore to make sense of each other’s words. I rock against her body and she pulses back against mine. Swimming in the smell of her, soaked into the sheets.

 

e-is-for-cunnilingusWitty

Dale Cameron Lowry’s ‘Sucker for Love’ begins by musing humorously on the attraction of certain flavours of the body, and his early introduction to the notion of oral pleasure: I found out about oral sex for the first time like many children my age did: by listening to BBC World Service over breakfast… it was the year U.S. President Bill Clinton scandalized the American citizenry with his sexual shenanigans. Our protagonist’s mother explains that it’s an acquired taste, like beer: ‘Grown-ups like to taste their lovers.’ she says. His childhood-self scoffs: ‘Beer smelled like wee. Genitals made wee. Never mind what anuses did. I didn’t want any of it near my mouth.’ As the tale unfolds, it is tender and romantic, satisfying and whimsical.

Erotic Soviet, Alphabet 1931, MerkurovWistful

Suanne Schafer, in ‘Feeding Her’ gives us a poignant story of how illness (and mastectomy) can change our self-image and others’ perception of us. Showing a talent for penning ‘believable’ characters, Suanne unfolds a tale with sensitivity and emotional depth.

Mysterious

In ‘Vapour, Venom, Oleander’, Jessica Taylor conjures ancient Greece, as her prophetic Sibyl of Delphi interprets the fumes of the Oracle, advising Romulus on the founding of Rome.

RevelatoryScreen Shot 2016-03-28 at 10.47.29

Let go your inhibitions and inhabit your senses. Embrace these tales of salt-sweet delight and, in so doing, discover oral pleasures anew.

As Adrea Kore invites us: ‘Get Licked. You know you want to…’

Edited by Jill Boyd, the edition is available here.

Haunted by the Past: a review of Jonathan Kemp’s ‘Ghosting’

 

How do we live with the spectres of the past: lost loves, lost children, years wasted in bitterness and regret? And, in living with lament, do we become ghosts ourselves?

 

This is a tale of how we haunt ourselves, how the torment of the past can desiccate us. It’s also a tale of unlocking self-imposed shackles.

 

Grace’s long-dead husband, Pete, has always been the dark shadow at her side, captured Jonathan Kemp ghosting revieweternally in her memories of his initial love for her, and of his physical and emotional abuse; now, she believes he’s reappeared in the flesh.

 

Looking back, to four decades earlier, we hear: ‘…with each blow, her love for him diminished. She would say she loved him but she felt it less and less.’

 

Jonathan Kemp has a talent for evoking a moment through a single image. Grace recalls: ‘pegging out their bedsheets for the first time and feeling as if she was pitching a flag on the summit of her happiness; declaring her joy to the world.’ He shows us not only a husband hated, but adored, and therein lies a tangled web.

 

There are memories too of a teenage daughter, who was lost emotionally to Grace long before her fatal drug overdose. Jonathan Kemp shows us the power of grief to place us out of joint with the world, disoriented, a form of madness, memories clanging a jarring bell.

 

Grace is adrift, failing to cope with the pain of the past. Her strategy of denial and containment has left her brittle. She’s barely breathing when we meet first meet her: a ghost of the self she once was.

 

Her cage is uniquely her own, but we all have our cages, inhabited by lovers long-ago-kissed, friends discarded, family members lost to us. They are the patterns woven into our personal tapestry, folded and put away, for what we avoid looking at we think we may forget.

 

Grace thinks: ‘What happens to all the pain you refuse to feel? Does the body store it perhaps, for a future date?’

 

I defy your heart not to ache for Grace and, in reading of her grief, to ache for yourself, for we are all haunted by the past, and by the transience of this life.

 

As Grace ponders: ‘Life happened. Only I feel like it happened without me, and I want it back so I can do it differently.’

 

As in The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Grace sees a woman crawling through the wall, trying to escape: a metaphor for her own effort to be free of what constrains her.

 

Kemp leads us through the female mind with insight, dark humour picking its way through dark themes. Grace wonders at what point her frustration will rob her of self-control. She recalls a friend of her mother’s who would carry a china saucer wrapped in a tea towel in her handbag, alongside a small hammer, ready for extraction in emergencies, to allow her to vent her anger. It must ‘go’ somewhere, or she’ll descend into madness, so she fears.

 

She pictures her thoughts as fishes, swimming inside the bowl of her skull; pictures herself ‘casting a line to catch them.’

 

At last, the mysterious apparition turns out to be Luke, whose youthful vitality and daring helps bring Grace back to life. While she locks her torment away, Luke uses performance art to purge his. Through their growing friendship, she realises that only she can release herself from grief’s burden.

 

Grace is: ‘becoming herself, and daily casting aside that fictitious self that people assume like a garment in which to appear before the world.’

 

ghosting jonathan kemp  reviewShe accepts life’s chaos, knowing ‘with a knowledge that somehow sets her free, all there is to know about life, which, nothing.’

 

The tale ends with Grace leaving behind her past, dropping her phone into the bin. She no longer feels the need for safe shelter. She’s ready to step into her future.

 

Grace notes, on visiting an art exhibition, that art is ‘a way of seeing’ and ‘a process’, ‘more than a product to be sold’. Some stories are told to enlighten us, to shine a small flame in the darkness of our haphazard ramblings, to show us the way. Kemp’s story is one such, urging us to recognise the pain we carry with us and to set it free. The pages are ‘a product to be sold’ but they are also a personal message, of encouragement to heal, and step into our own tomorrows.

 

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London Triptych

Jonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London. His first novel, London Triptych won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, 26.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.20.45“There is a deceptively relaxed quality to TWENTYSIXKemp’s writing that is disarming, bewitching and, to be honest, more than a little sexy… As a writer, Jonathan is somewhat akin to the Pied Piper if only because there is something magical you cannot help but follow.”
– Christopher Bryant, Polari Magazine.

 

 

 

 

‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – available for download from all Amazon sites – vivid flowers with text kindleincluding Amazon UK and Amazon USA. 

Stylist Magazine UK

‘Sensuous’ and ‘mind-blowing’ with ‘beautifully crafted prose’.

Twitter

‘I could not go to sleep thinking about your book. I stayed up and read it cover to cover. The most erotic novel I recall reading.’ – Guillermo Tomas

‘An elegantly written piece of period erotica. I was engrossed and highly aroused.’ – Sir to You

Amazon US

‘Erotica – and historical fiction – doesn’t get any better than this. If you haven’t read it, buy it.’ – Seattle Reader

‘A beautiful example of erotic literature – one that shows the genre to be capable of intelligence and elegance. Wonderful and truly impressive.’ – Malin James

Voracious Reader Reviews

‘Have some type of cooling method handy when you sit down to read this.  There’s just something so deliciously naughty about the steamier seedier side of things when everyone is supposed to be so stiff and proper. I simply love it. This is well-Victorian bed lady reclining erotic thoughtswritten, creative and hot. Enough said. Now, go. Run and get it, if you dare…’ – Carol

Erotica for the Big Brain

‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant brings a refreshing confidence to her writing. Her work has already begun to enrich the genre, and readers need look no further than “The Gentlemen’s Club” to understand why.’ – Terrance Aldon Shaw

victorian corset adultery

Escapology Reviews

‘The Gentleman’s Club turned me into a pool of jelly. So hot it set the bathroom on fire and a fire crew had to hose me down’ – Vikki Heaven

Amazon UK

‘A masterpiece of erotica: every paragraph has you begging for the next. An exciting story of lust, passion and romance. Sexually explicit, but not offensive; it will broaden your sexual mind and sexual appetite. If you buy one book this year, make it this one. I am in great anticipation of the follow up.’ – Pauline

csdl51lxgaa4lbt-jpg-large‘I came across this author quite by accident. I am glad that I did! I thoroughly enjoyed this erotic novella as, unlike some of this genre, it was able to hold my interest from an intellectual and visceral stand point. If only some Men of my acquaintance had similar talents! I particularly appreciated the theme of a liberated woman, throwing off the strictures of society (still resonates in this day and age)’ – Melanie

 Amazon Canada

‘This book. This book! This is the book I wish I had written. The Alice Wilkes Ziegfeld Follieslanguage…oh, the language! It grabs you and propels you smack dab into Victorian London from the first paragraph. It weaves a net about you, it draws you in. Iit has you shouting ‘yes, yes, yes,’ like Meg Ryan at the diner, because finally there is a well-rounded, well-written, exquisitely crafted story which redeems the genre.’ – Julia Rist

take a peek via the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon

Review: Best Women’s Erotica

Rachel Kramer Bussel by Laura Boyd
Rachel Kramer Bussel (shot by Laura Boyd)

Readers familiar with Rachel Kramer Bussel‘s erotic fiction anthologies know that they are guaranteed a rollercoaster ride. Best Women’s Erotica of the Year certainly meets the mark, being not only skin-tinglingly exciting but richly diverse (across ages, ethnicities and writing styles). I read the collection within a weekend, eyes bulging and, inevitably, wobbly-legged: be warned!

Among my favourites in the volume was ‘The Altar of Lamented Toys’: a cleverly-woven tale by Jessica Taylor, set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which sex toys once so beloved can no longer be charged. Paying homage to their transportational power, the story is both original and moving.

‘Alvin’s Night’ by Elizabeth Coldwell is masterfully written: the work of an author who has long proven herself in command of her words. Here, we observe the power of the long tease, of role-play and power-play. Her dialogue is faultless; her details crystal shards of anticipation.

tiffany reisz erotic fiction author erotica romance
Tiffany Reisz

On the theme of allowing our desires free reign, there is Tiffany Reisz‘ ‘The Assistant’ in which our heroine attends a masked party and, safely behind her veil of anonymity, enters into an encounter more thrilling than she could have imagined: ‘She found the prospect arousing, the thought of being passed back and forth between them’ and ‘Jack had warned her Lennon would be rougher with her than he was. But Jack hadn’t warned her it would feel this good. He was fucking her so hard now she could feel it in her stomach.’ However, she soon realises that she seeks not anonymity but more intimate connection, and her mask is, at last, lifted.

rose caraway author erotic erotica fiction literature
Rose Caraway

For those daring to enter the dark recesses of a sex dungeon, there is Rose Caraway‘s ‘Carnalarium’, in which all pleasure and pain awaits. Here, the true theme is not simply the lure of the forbidden but the agony of parting from a lover, allowing them to be free. Rose’s tale explores the nature of ‘possession’ and of love.

J Crichton and H Keyes’ ‘Revisiting Youth’, set in Tokyo, begins with an opening line commanding of attention: ‘Aya went out that night looking to feel.’ At first sight, the story is standard fare: an older woman on the prowl picks up two young men and takes them home to play. However, there are deeper themes swimming beneath: notably, how far our sense of emotional and intellectual self (and self-worth) is entwined with our sexual self, and our belief in our desirability. The story navigates smoothly towards its highly charged threesome, ending, at last, with the words: ‘Adventures only stop happening when you stop looking for them.’

Ms. Kramer Bussel’s own addition to the collection, ‘Flying Solo’ is both tender and sexually thrilling. We peek through the lens at a marriage, like most others, of mutual love and respect, except that, here, there is some extra spice in the mix. Our happy couple regularly invite a third person into their bed and, in doing so, enhance their understanding of (and admiration for) one another.

lisa gabriele  l marie adeline SECRET erotic novel fiction author
L.Marie Adeline

Also well-delivered is Lisa Gabriele’s ‘Matilda’s Secret’ (writing as L. Marie Adeline). Again, we are invited to explore the theme of an older woman’s sexual self-esteem, and the complexities of desire v. love. Recruiting men for S.E.C.R.E.T (an agency orchestrating women’s sex fantasies) we glimpse ‘behind the scenes’.

Another little gem in the anthology is Lazuli Jones’ ‘Starstruck’: what happens when, as a mature woman, you meet your teenage celebrity crush, and he measures up to all those years of hero-worship…

Rachel KB has done an admirable job of collating stories which seek to explore unusual ‘edges’ within the genre: ‘Enter Me’ by Tabitha Rayne, is both tender and raw, her heroine redefining her sense of self on having lost her hearing; Dorothy Freed’s ‘Two Doms for Dinner’ features men and a woman of much older years; Theda Hudson’s ‘Lighting the Pyre’ tackles loss of sexual libido following cancer treatment; and Rose P Lethe’s ‘Out of the Ordinary’ features a transgender protagonist.

jade a waters author erotic fiction erotica
Jade A Waters

Tara Betts’ ‘A New Canvas’ is a poetic rendering, in which we can feel the artist’s pen drawing upon our heroine’s skin. Valerie Alexander ‘Demimonde’ is sexy vignette of a woman’s secret fantasies, daring parlour games, and an illicit liaison in her carriage, in 19th century New York. Jade A Waters‘ ‘Ophelia the Second’ is a subtle journey through the attraction between actors on and off-stage, and Ria Restrepo‘s ‘Restitution’ offers a wonderful twist (no spoilers!).

rachel kramer bussel review best women's eroticaSo many stories, and perspectives, each awaiting the reader’s own interpretation.

An anthology to snuggle down with…

To see where my own saucy pen has been leading me, you may like to visit my Amazon page

Review: Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 13

As a reviewer for Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel, you can find the full version of this review there…

Editor Maxim Jakubowski has done a great job in collating tales diverse and unexpected.

Adrea Kore‘s ‘Peek Hour‘ presents a protagonist who is a ‘connoisseur of cock’ within the cocoon of public transport. With a style so very much her own, Ms. Kore writes with theatrical confidence.

Other triumphs are Kristina Lloyd‘s well-crafted ‘Bondage Pig’, which builds tension artfully and Raziel Moore‘s ‘Invisible Lines’, which explores how wounds may be opened or closed by those whose paths cross our own. Meanwhile, Remittance Girl‘s ‘Atrocity Ballet’ gives us poetic prose, raw and vital.

The most ‘disturbing’ of the tales is Anna Lidia Vega Serova‘s ‘Cancer’, which takes the reader to a far darker place. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece (translated by Lawrence Schimel).

Here is something for every taste: domination, submission, encounters with strangers, voyeurism and exhibitionism. More than a handful of these melodies is sure to resonate.

Find the extended version of this review on Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel, including notes on stories by Kay Jaybee and Rachel Kramer Bussel in this anthology.

Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 13 

Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 13  edited by Maxim Jakubowski and featuring Remittance Girl, Vina Jackson and Raziel Moore

 

For a taste of my own spicy pen, visit me at Amazon.

 

 

 

Seven Tales of Sex and Death, by Patricia Duncker: a review

 

 Hallucinating Foucault : Patricia Duncker Having adored Patricia’s ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ (1996) and enjoyed ‘The Deadly Space Between: A Novel’ (2002), I felt compelled to try this collection of her The Deadly Space Between: Patricia Duncker - a reviewshort stories.

The author writes that her intention was to ‘disturb and provoke’. To this end, I believe she is partially successful, since two of the tales, particularly, continue to haunt me.

Moreover, I’m left asking myself why, which I’m sure is what Ms. Duncker would be pleased to hear.

They highlight the erotic relationship between violence and sex, yet neither tale is arousing in the traditional sense, more inspiring horror and revulsion, and yet… there is something.
Patricia Duncker: seven tales of sex and death review‘Stalker’ is the most violent, gruesomely detailed of the seven tales, yet also manages to build a chilling atmosphere of anticipation. Reader beware.

‘Sophia Walters Shaw’ left me similarly disquieted.  Painting an alternative, yet highly recognisable dystopian future, it focuses on the dark underbelly of the sex industry and the work of hired assassins.

The last story, ‘My Emphasis’, seems an ill-fit for the theme, but that it centres on the ‘heroine’ being obliged to maintain the pretence of being a victim of domestic violence. The tale is perhaps the most well-crafted of all, engaging us in the behaviour of a great many characters and drawing out the humour of misunderstandings with a light touch – but it does not move the darker side of me.

Patricia’s ‘Seven Tales of Sex and Death’ (2004) left me wanting more: more sex, more violence, more death. These are such rich seams, enticing us to explore further: to pick apart their interwoven threads and unknot their secrets: shadowy avenues which she plumbed with such heartfelt insight in ‘Hallucinating Foucault’.

 

 

For a taste of my own writing in this genre, visit my Amazon page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

 

 

reading a book vintage retro Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – available for download from all Amazon sites – including Amazon UK and Amazon USA. 

 

Twitter

‘I could not go to sleep thinking about your book. I stayed up and read it cover to cover. The most erotic novel I recall reading.’ – Guillermo Tomas

‘An elegantly written piece of period erotica. I was engrossed and highly aroused.’ – Sir to You

 

Escapology Reviews

‘The Gentleman’s Club turned me into a pool of jelly. So hot it set the bathroom on fire and a victorian fainting fitfire crew had to hose me down’ – Vikki Heaven

 

Voracious Reader Reviews

‘Have some type of cooling method handy when you sit down to read this.  There’s just something so deliciously naughty about the steamier seedier side of things when everyone is supposed to be so stiff and proper. I simply love it. This is well-Victorian bed lady reclining erotic thoughtswritten, creative and hot. Enough said. Now, go. Run and get it, if you dare…’ – Carol

 

Erotica for the Big Brain

‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant brings a refreshing confidence to her writing. Her work has already begun to enrich the genre, and readers need look no further than “The Gentlemen’s Club” to vintage reader retro Victorian maybeunderstand why.’ – Terrance Aldon Shaw

 

victorian corset adultery

 

Amazon US

‘Erotica – and historical fiction – doesn’t get any better than this. If you haven’t read it, buy it.’ – Seattle Reader

‘A beautiful example of erotic literature – one that shows the genre to be capable of intelligence and elegance. Wonderful and truly impressive.’ – Malin James

 

Victorian in reclineAmazon UK

‘A masterpiece of erotica: every paragraph has you begging for the next. An exciting story of lust, passion and romance. Sexually explicit, but not offensive; it will broaden your sexual mind and sexual appetite. If you buy one book this year, make it this one. I am in great anticipation of the follow up.’ – Pauline

‘I came across this author quite by accident. I am glad that I did! I The Amorous Drawings of the Marquis von Bayros 7thoroughly enjoyed this erotic novella as, unlike some of this genre, it was able to hold my interest from an intellectual and visceral stand point. If only some Men of my acquaintance had similar talents! I particularly appreciated the theme of a liberated woman, throwing off the Ziegfeld-Follies-Girls-1920-Broadway-18strictures of society (still resonates in this day and age)’ – Melanie

 

 Amazon Canada

‘This book. This book! This is the book I wish I had written. The Alice Wilkes  Ziegfeld Follieslanguage…oh, the language! It grabs you and propels you smack dab into Victorian London from the first paragraph. It weaves a net about you, it draws you in. Iit has you shouting ‘yes, yes, yes,’ like Meg Ryan at the diner, because finally there is a well-rounded, well-written, exquisitely crafted story which redeems the genre.’ – Julia Rist

 

take a peek via the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon