Erotic horror can be a tricky genre. Striking that perfect balance between scary and sexy can be difficult, unless you have perfect control over the sErotic horror can be a tricky genre. Striking that perfect balance between scary and sexy can be difficult, unless you have perfect control over the story. Slumber Party Succubus is one of those rare stories that strikes that perfect balance, matching the atmosphere of horror with the human element of erotica.
Sakura von Sternberg opens the story on a surprisingly tender note, as Alexa and Isabelle prepare for their annual slumber party of bad horror movies and boxed wine. Best friends for years, it was Isabella who supported Alexa through her coming out as transgender, but there may be a spark of something more developing between them. When the lights go out, they discover that their shared dreams of a futa succubus are more than just dreams.
The language here is absolutely sumptuous, and the descriptions exquisite. You can feel the Gothic sense of dread surrounding the scene, at the same time as you can feel the sensuality emanating from the trio. Cold stone and sharp rocks. Hot bodies and soft flesh. The terrifying sexual dominance of Ardat-Lile and the delightful sensual submission of Alexa and Isabelle. It all works, with the fear and the drama serving to accentuate the lust and the excitement. It may have come a little too late for Halloween, but Slumber Party Succubus is still a gorgeous read.
Some stories take their time teasing the reader, while others just dive right in. Roommate's Delight is one of the latter. JC Winchester opens his talSome stories take their time teasing the reader, while others just dive right in. Roommate's Delight is one of the latter. JC Winchester opens his tale with Kylie's surprise discovery of her transsexual roommate, a moment of honest shock on her part and even more honest defensive anger from Dakota.
Despite Dakota's fears of being outed and ousted from the college dorms, Kylie is mature enough to let their emotions subside and discuss the matter later. When they do - fueled with more than just a little alcohol - we learn just how tenuous Dakota's position is, and just how little she has indulged her own femininity.
To say that conversation leads to more is hardly a spoiler, or there wouldn't be a story here. What's wonderful about the story is the way that relationship develops, moving from drunken exploration, to curiosity, to drunken reciprocation, and to something approaching romance. It's a realistic story, and one that deals sympathetically with transgender issues, further distinguished by some genuinely touching erotic moments.
As much as I do love the occasional quick-and-dirty bit of erotica, I generally prefer a well-rounded story. Take your time to establish your characteAs much as I do love the occasional quick-and-dirty bit of erotica, I generally prefer a well-rounded story. Take your time to establish your characters, develop a scenario, and build a little dramatic tension, and I'm guaranteed to be hooked. Fortunately, that's just what Soie Minou does with her first Roommates tale.
Evy is a young college student, looking to escape the chaos of dorm life as she enters her senior year. Even though Julienne seems a little cold and distant, making it very clear she's not looking for a friend, her apartment is very nice, and Evy's share of rent as a roommate is far more affordable than she anticipated. In just a few pages, Minou establishes both young women, developing some genuine personality into both characters, while building some tension between them.
When a chance encounter reveals Julienne's secret, the tension increases dramatically. Rather than immediately jumping into bed, as per the erotic cliche, the two women take the day to cool off before returning home for an honest, frank discussion about privacy and secrets. The way Minou develops the story beyond that conversation is both sexy and beautiful. There's even a touch of romance beneath the erotica, which I hope she develops further in the subsequent chapters.
In the end, Roommates is a passionate, well-written tale about two young women who are able to see beyond social taboos and enjoy one another's companionship in a most intimate, imaginative way. A truly gorgeous read.
My goodness, so many fantasies all wrapped up in one delicious scenario! College Girl Discipline is a bit of a dream come true as Paul Zante introduceMy goodness, so many fantasies all wrapped up in one delicious scenario! College Girl Discipline is a bit of a dream come true as Paul Zante introduces us to a happily married couple who have decided to experiment a little to keep their relationship fresh.
I love how Zante opens with a tease, introducing us to Shannon and Greg, suggesting there's something sexy and exciting on the horizon, but delaying the gratification until we're at their Mistress' front door, ready to play. Greg's feminization is very well done, with just enough detail to satisfy the most ardent fetishist, but not so much that it loses its realism.
The school fantasy that follows is hotter and far more involved than I could have imagined, and I absolutely love that Shannon gets dominated right alongside Greg. It's odd to find a book that appeals as much to lezdom as femdom enthusiasts, but this is quite delightful. In fact, the climax is entirely suitable to the story, and reveals just what I suspected (and hoped for) in Sierra, the Mistress' french maid.
As crossdressing fantasies go, this is about as dreamy and adorable as they get. Sure, things get a little embarrassing for Daniel, but never in a teaAs crossdressing fantasies go, this is about as dreamy and adorable as they get. Sure, things get a little embarrassing for Daniel, but never in a teasing or humiliating manner. In fact, this is a story about getting to live our your wildest fantasies, and if he’s not as enthusiastic about it as some of us would like to think we’d be in such a situation, it’s only because he’s so shy and insecure about being The Sissy Next Door.
It all begins, innocently enough, with a little crossdressing fun while his mother is out. He may only have two ill-fitting outfits and one bad wig, and he may not be ready to experiment with makeup, but that doesn’t stop Daniel from having his fun. He lets loose, dancing around his room to cheesy teeny bop tunes, never knowing that the new girl across the street has been watching. When his mother confronts him about the young woman in his room, and explains that the new neighbours want to meet her, he finds himself in something of a predicament.
Fortunately, mom is the completely understanding, enthusiastic, supportive woman we’ve all dreamed of. She’s actually excited about continuing the charade and having a daughter for a while. She christens her Mandy and takes her for shopping spree that any teenage crossdresser would die for. Like I said, it’s a bit embarrassing – especially when mom asks for a bra fitting – but all in fun. In fact, if there weren’t so much pressure to ‘perform’ for the neighbors, I suspect she would have enjoyed it much more.
It should come as no surprise that things go well, or that Mandy finds herself with a new best friend. Courtney Captisa and Claire Bear clearly had a lot of fun with that aspect, delving deep into the secret world of teenage girls. Mandy hilariously misinterprets some clues and questions, but it never leads to anything more than an uncomfortable moment. This is a fun story about fantasy fulfilment, and it’s meant to have a sweet, impossible, happily-ever-after feel.
If you’re okay with having a happy smile plastered on your face all day, and don’t mind the uncontrollable urge to go home and paint your nails, then The Sissy Next Door is a crossdressing must-read. Just so much fun!
Coming Out Like a Porn Star. The title says it all, but this is no doom-and-gloom book, full of sad and angry anecdotes about porn stars being shunnedComing Out Like a Porn Star. The title says it all, but this is no doom-and-gloom book, full of sad and angry anecdotes about porn stars being shunned and marginalized for their profession. Yes, there are some heartbreaking stories here, but even more are surprising, inspiring, and even amusing. What they all have in common, however, is their ability to humanize a wider stigmatized community - and to do so honestly.
Jiz Lee’s own story is one of past hurts and future fears, but with a compassionate core of understanding and support. Genderqueer and poly, Jiz talks about how coming out is a process that never really ends. As friends and family become more aware of your work, they also become more aware of your sexual practices and fetishes – it is one thing to know your child is a porn star, but it’s another to know they’re into hardcore BDSM.
Bella Vendetta has a fascinating tale to share, being a classically trained professional lifestyle Dominatrix. She talks about the difference between coming out to parents, your kids, your doctor, your boyfriend, and your banker – and how it changes the way people treat you. No matter how much of your extended family you might lose, however, she praises the adult industry for being “filled with open, loving folks who also want a chosen family.”
Chelsea Poe is a writer, director, porn performer, and trans activist who has led the charge against the term “shemale” in trans porn. She actually came out to her mom before ever setting foot on set, shifting the worry from acceptance to stereotypes. Performing allowed her to express her gender in a positive way, to live out her fantasies, and be proud about being queer. Her relationship with her mom isn’t perfect, but it’s full of love for who Chelsea is, and respect for what she does.
Cyd Nova works at a peer run clinic for sex workers when he’s not directing gay FTM porn for Bonus Hole Boys. He talks about being rejected for being transgender, and about covering his tracks regarding sex work long before that initial coming out. Sex work made him feel powerful and independent, and his body was his tool. Like Bella, he also talks about sex workers being a family, but counters that with sorrow for a society that considers it acceptable for families to “take away their love for their child because of a choice that they make.”
Drew Deveaux is a trans woman who has had to come out as queer, as disabled, and as a porn star. There’s so much about her identity that she’s had to choose to disclose, “coming out as a porn star isn’t as big a deal as you might think.” She talks of disclosure as it relates to her career on and off she screen, and of coming out as an ongoing process. For her, porn is about “activism through the creation of imagery” with that imagery being her body.
Emma Claire is a transsexual sex worker who is currently producing and directing TransLesbians.com, which is dedicated to hardcore trans lesbian sex. Her coming out experience is layered by the years, the experiences, and the traumas behind it. As she puts it, “coming out has never been so much as an end goal as much of a continuous process - a kind of evolution/devolution of my body and self.” Ultimately, coming out as a sex worker is superseded by celebrating herself as a trans woman and a dyke, with her career a fine line pushing boundaries while protecting herself.
Tobi Hill-Meyer is a multiracial trans woman, adult performer, and experienced consultant for feminist and LGBTQ organizations. Growing up in a feminist household, her exposure to porn began (as mine did) with a floppy disc of “grainy downloaded photos” and a “printout of sci-fi BDSM stories.” Her coming out to the wider family was entirely accidental, and actually quite comical, but also supportive. Tobi’s focus has always been on making porn better, culminating in her erotic trans woman documentary series Doing It Online (Patreon.com/DoingItOnline)
There are far more performers who’ve chosen to share their stories in the book – I’ve simply selected some of those that are most relevant and identifiable for me (and, I suspect, for reads of Transformation). It’s a wonderful collection, with enough diversity to keep it from getting at all repetitive. As you’re reading through it, though, take a few moments to pay attention to the biographies of each star. They, more than anything, reveal what a wonderfully diverse word we live in. They may all be sex workers on screen, but off screen they’re gamers, rock climbers, novelists, nurses, and more, with degrees from universities across North America.
Not only that, but many of them are parents themselves, and learning how they’ve raised their children to embrace the openness they may not have always experienced is what’s truly inspirational.
Dorm Room Secrets (Going to College as a Girl), the latest transformation tale from Courtney Captisa & Claire Bear, is an interesting sort of storDorm Room Secrets (Going to College as a Girl), the latest transformation tale from Courtney Captisa & Claire Bear, is an interesting sort of story. It's largely a realistic sort of transgender fantasy, but one with a very unwilling participant at its heart.
Kenneth is an average lazy, underachieving teenager, perfectly content to just hang out and play video games. Down to his last hope, he's initially excited when an acceptance letter arrives from Pepper State University, but furious to find it addressed to Kaitlyn. Almost immediately, his mother starts pressuring him to redecorate his bedroom for a visit from for his younger cousin Emily, going so far as to send him shopping for things like pink bed sheets, maxi-pads, and "38D bras in white, black, pink and something fun." At the same time, he finds he's losing weight (which is not a problem) and that his nipples are becoming swollen and sensitive (which is a problem).
How this is all connected is the central mystery, which I won't go so far as to spoil for you, but I will say really enjoyed the way Courtney and Claire develop the transformation and reveal the truth behind it. As we find out later, there is a larger sort of coordinated effort behind the situation, but that's not the focus of the story . . . although I would love to see it explored further. Certain aspects of it are exaggerated or accelerated, but not to a ridiculous degree, and it's all done for narrative effect.
There are some sexual scenes to the story, but this is not a work of erotica. Instead, those scenes are used to initially establish Kenneth as a normal, straight, sexually active young man. Later on, they're used to demonstrate his acceptance, and to explore his exploration of a new gender and a new life. They may be a little more explicit than some fans expect, but they are fun, tasteful scenes that really do add something to the story. In fact, a few of them are almost romantic in nature, and I think readers will agree they're precisely what we hoped to see from Kenneth/Kaitlyn.
For those readers who are sensitive to these things, there are a few editing issues that I'm sure a final round of proofreading would catch. Nothing major, but they are distracting in a few spots, especially where the wrong character's name is used, or where a word is missing. Don't let that stop you, however, as Dorm Room Secrets is a really fun story that develops its themes quite nicely.
My goodness, as much as I loved the Synthie books (sythie & synthie recalibrated), Alina X has really outdone herself with Claimed by the FutanariMy goodness, as much as I loved the Synthie books (sythie & synthie recalibrated), Alina X has really outdone herself with Claimed by the Futanari. The imagination is exquisite here, as is the level of detail, somehow making futanari sound fresh and exciting all over again.
‘Claimed by the Futanari’ is, far and away, the most fun I have had between the pages of a book in years. This is a wild and crazy story of impossible lovers and impossible sex acts, full of futanari and human cow transformations, bizarre penetrations, gallons of milk, and even more gallons of cum. It is also a story that twists in a new direction each time you think it has reached its climax, adding to both the mystery and the fun. There are elements of fairy tale horror mixed in with the eroticism, which initially seems odd, but it all fits, and it all comes together very nicely in the end. I honestly do not remember the last time I was so physically aroused and intellectually entertained by the same story. This, hon, is an absolute must read!
‘A Gift From A God’ is a different story entirely, starring a bisexual, genderfluid woman who is gifted with penis she so craves by the hermaphroditic god Agdistis. This is a story of quick, frantic encounters, fuelled by a newfound telepathic link which allows Derya to share the most intimate fantasies of those around her . . . and to force her own upon them. In some cases, it sends her would-be-lovers fleeing (I loved the scene with the horny old man on the bus), while in others it drives them to wild masturbation (I will never look at my hairdresser or barista boy the same way again). It all climaxes in a bisexual threesome where she uses that link to create a bond, opening her lovers to new experiences, and turning her boss into a cuckold cum slut for Derya and her lesbian lover. Wow.
Whether you have ever dreamed of being Claimed by the Futanari, or have simply desired such A Gift From A God, this is one exquisite collection of tales. Really, I do believe it is Alina’s best yet, and I can only hope she blesses us with more futa fun soon.
What a truly marvelous tale! The Broken Forest is a very dark sort of twist on the traditional fairy tale, exploringA dark, gender-diverse fairy tale
What a truly marvelous tale! The Broken Forest is a very dark sort of twist on the traditional fairy tale, exploring not so much the archetype by the consequences of it. Megan Derr has crafted a powerful fantasy about two powerful women, each of them outsiders in their own way, facing off against the remnants of the Rapunzel tale. In this case, however, it's a much darker fairy tale, one of madness, murder, tragedy, and lingering horrors. To say much more than that would be to spoil the story, but it's a twist that's both innovative and powerful.
While I hesitate to call this a feminist fairy tale, only because of the political connotations that term holds for some, it is most definitely a story of strong women and gender roles. Adamina is a huntress, a dark-skinned, red-eyed warrior who sacrificed herself to the magic of her destiny, serving as protector and defender of the forests within the kingdom. She's the kind of woman villagers summon when there's no other hope, but only with great fear and reservation. Her kind aren't particularly liked, but they are respected for their power. Grete, on the other hand, is a more traditional witch, a woman who lives in the forest, crafting small talismans and performing minor acts of healing for those in need. Witches are no more liked and no less feared than the Huntresses, with the prejudices and fears of the villagers slowly erasing them from the world.
The partnership between Huntress and Witch is wonderful because it works on so many levels. Here are two powerful women, born of magic, who are outcasts to the villagers of the woods. Both have a connection to the forest, and a responsibility to care for it and everything in it. Grete, as it turns out, also has a deeper connection to the monsters of the tale, owing to her role in the Rapunzel tale, while Adamina is the only woman who can soothe the poisoned, maddened beasts, coming as she does from a magically significant family.
Finally, this is a wonderfully gender positive and sexually diverse tale that doesn't make a big deal about it. Adamina is transgender, but it's neither a problem nor an issue worthy of note. It's simply part of her character. Derr makes an offhand reference to her genitalia early on, and notes the flatness of her chest when Grete is bandaging a wound, but it's of far less note than her red eyes. Similarly, the budding romance between Adamina and Grete is neither celebrated for being unique nor condemned for being unusual. It's just a friendship with sexual undertones that brings the two women together, and which drives our happily ever after.
All-in-all, The Broken Forest is just a lovely tale, the perfect blend of fantasy, horror, and romance, with two wonderful heroines. I do hope Derr continues with the theme and explores more of her fairy tale world.
The ever-lovely and oh-so-talented Carollyn Olson actually introduced me to A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes back in November, and her recommendatioThe ever-lovely and oh-so-talented Carollyn Olson actually introduced me to A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes back in November, and her recommendation carries a lot of weight with me. I can't explain why it took me so long to get around to reading it, but I am pleased to say that Dani Mitchell's transgender fantasy is everything Carollyn promised . . . and just a bit more.
First of all, I love how the narrative was structured. We actually open with a brief, somewhat ominous snippet of the Greg's thoughts as he awakens from surgery. From there, the story leaps back in time to the beginning of his journey, but Mitchell continues to scatter those mysterious surgical scenes throughout the novel. That structure adds a whole other dimension of anticipation to the story, leaving us to wonder precisely why he's been hospitalized. Early on, the fact that his father is an abusive alcoholic leads one to wonder whether it will be a beating that will send Greg to the hospital, but little hints and clues give rise to even stranger worries later on, before ultimately revealing the truth.
I don't want to spoil any of the magic here, so I'm going limit myself to talking about the initial set-up. When we first meet Greg, we discover that he is a closet crossdresser. It's nothing sexual or fetishistic for him, just a means of finding comfort and de-stressing in an abusive home. He is smaller than most of the boys, leading him to be bullied, but he has some good friends and dreams of becoming a mechanic. Eventually, he meets Kris, a beautiful young lesbian who becomes his best friend. Just when you think you know where the story is going, however, Kris disappears under suspicious circumstances, and Greg's life goes on without her for a couple of years.
Not long after Greg's dad discovers him dressed, and sets about destroying all his clothes and shoes, Kris suddenly reappears. She seems to have one of those too-good-to-be-true story of a rich relative who took her in after her parents threw her out for being a lesbian, and it's at this point that the surgery snippets get a little more weird, with talk of tattoos and making clients very happy. Greg does comes out to Kris as transsexual, but almost immediately there are some off hand comments from her aunt that add even more mystery to the situation, especially in light of how the surgical scenes are progressing.
That's all I will say on that, however, as discovering how (and why) the story develops should be up to the reader. It's a carefully structured story that's full of drama, sorrow, and moments of indescribable happiness. Greg and Kris are such a perfect couple, you can't help but want them to have the biggest, best, most happily-ever-after in history. There is such joy in their scenes together, such unrestrained happiness, that you can't help but fall in love with them. As for the other characters, Greg's dad is pretty much the archetype of a drunken bully; his mother is a surprisingly strong character, especially with her growth in the latter half of the book; while Jennifer, Kris' aunt, is more of a plot device than a fully-fleshed character, but you'll wish you had an aunt like that as well.
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes has its moments of darkness and sorrow, and does get quite ominous in parts, but you will come away from it with a smile on your face and a sweet little pitter-patter in your heart.
QUILTBAG Content: Well, for starters, we have a pair of attractive young schoolgirls making out under a tree. The first surprise is that they’re elvesQUILTBAG Content: Well, for starters, we have a pair of attractive young schoolgirls making out under a tree. The first surprise is that they’re elves, and the second is that even though Gretchen is bisexual, Heather is entirely straight. Yeah, that’s right, it’s complicated. As for Steve (it takes about 30 pages before either of the girls think to ask his name), he’s an asexual teenager who may be legitimately transgender, or who may just be a socially convenient cross-dresser. Yeah, I told you it was complicated.
Fetish Content: Technically, I guess you could say this has some fetish appeal – especially regarding cute little bisexual elven Princesses - but certainly no fetish content. It really doesn’t go any further than the suggestion of kissing or fondling.
Literary Quality: Surprisingly, this was a very well-written story that kept me intrigued right through to the end. It’s a touch surreal in its overlap of fantasy and reality, blurring the borders between humans and elves, but it actually comes across as rather normal and natural. The characters are a bit odd, but deliberately so, and their relationships are nicely developed. The language and dialogue seemed a bit mature for high school students, but that also means it’s refreshingly free of mind-numbing slang.
Overall: The story borders on the preposterous in a few areas, particularly in the portrayal of Steve’s absent father and the role of the Deputy Pam, but that’s really a minor quibble. It’s really a magical sort of story that manages to do a lot with the material. There’s almost a Harry Potter sort of feel to it, but for an older (and queer) audience. There’s some real darkness to it, and an air of sorrow throughout, but I have to give George Berger credit for seeing it through to its logical conclusion. This genuinely surprised me, and I’d love to see if find a wider audience.
Bodysuit Blunder by Gregor Daniels is one of the older pieces of mask or bodysuit fiction to find its way onto Kindles, Kobos, Nooks, and more. Plus,Bodysuit Blunder by Gregor Daniels is one of the older pieces of mask or bodysuit fiction to find its way onto Kindles, Kobos, Nooks, and more. Plus, being that it's a shorter tale, it offer a perfect opportunity ease new readers into the world of female masking.
What I like about this one is the way Daniels introduces the technology and establishes it as a legitimately passable, almost magical, form of expression. He talks about its evolution from fetish latex outerwear to realistic skin suits that leave the wearer indistinguishable from the costume itself.
The exploration and experimentation as Timothy slips into the suit and attempts to cope with how it changes his perceptions is very well-done. Daniels makes you believe that such a suit can really exist, and that it can transform an innocent young man into a beautiful, sexually liberated woman. It's comical in parts, but also extremely sensual.
Of course, this is fiction, and that means we're expected to take some liberties with both the technology and our own imaginations. Perhaps Timothy is a bit too passable, a bit too insta-woman to be believable, but that's precisely what we want such a mask and bodysuit to do. His lesbian experimentation with his girlfriend is absolutely fantastic, and the twist the Daniels introduces towards the end really makes you wonder about the consequences of swapping our your old male identity for a shiny new female one . . . but to say more about that would be to deprive you of the fun.
Bodysuit Blunder definitely takes masking to an extreme, fantastic level, but I love that Daniels does talk about about how the technology got to that point, and I think he does a fantastic job of putting the reader inside the suit. Just a fun tale.
synthie recalibrated by Alina X is actually a collection of 3 short futanari tales, the first of which is a sequel to her sci-fi debut, synthie. Surprsynthie recalibrated by Alina X is actually a collection of 3 short futanari tales, the first of which is a sequel to her sci-fi debut, synthie. Surprisingly, as much as I loved her debut, I found it's sequel to be the weakest part of the collection. It's still fascinating and fun, but it feels like 2 separate stories pasted together, without an easy flow between them. There's an attempt to weave a hard sci-fi tale into the futanari erotica, but it's not developed well enough to really work, or truly mesh with the rest of the story.
Having said that, the story does a very good job of exploring how Mike's is adjusting to his new life as synthie. We get right inside his head and discover how he feels about sex and gender, how he defines himself, and kind of role he sees himself playing in this new world.
The second story, Last Summer, is probably my favorite of the three. In it, a young lesbian 'borrows' an ancient wooden dildo from her museum's collection, takes it home, and gives into a strange, inexplicable desire to experiment. When she awakes from the most powerful, earth-shattering orgasm of her life, she finds that the wooden dildo has attached itself to her and become flesh-and-blood. The ways in which she deals with that, including the embarrassment of public erections is a lot of fun, but it's the seduction of a seemingly straight woman that puts it over the top.
The final story in the collection, The Princess and the Succubus, is a much darker tale, but one that's filled with imagination. In it we have a succubus and a sorceress, both captives of the same King, who put aside their inherent distrust to orchestrate a double-escape that involves stealing the King's power - the magical penis he stole from an incubus. Who steals it, who wears it, and where that leads I'll leave you to discover, but it's a well-written tale that has a medieval fairy tale feel to it.
Last summer we saw something new hit the shelves in terms of dystopian fiction, a novel about the rise of a Christian theocratic state, and the persecLast summer we saw something new hit the shelves in terms of dystopian fiction, a novel about the rise of a Christian theocratic state, and the persecution of alternate faiths and sexualities. While Christian Nation was an interesting read, however, it was also very dry, very black-and-white in its heroes and villains, and surprisingly misogynistic in its persecution of gay men over all others (including militant terrorists).
With The Last Circle, Gretchen Blickensderfer approaches a similar decline in the American dream, but does so with greater balance and personality. Hers is a very human drama. There are no clear black-and-white distinctions here, no perfect heroes or villains, and no hatred of one 'abomination' above all others. In fact, while faith and politics play a significant role in the transition to a Christian theocratic state, it's individual relationships that drive the central conflicts.
The story itself is structured somewhat oddly, with a contemporary first-person interview framing a more traditional third-person narrative, but it works - especially once the true identity of Gwen is revealed. It's this framing that really brings the story home, providing a sympathetic viewpoint for the reader. As I said, the other characters are not perfect, and even the persecuted heroes have traits that make you want to just reach through the page and shake some sense into them, so Gwen is important as a sort of emotional anchor. Every time we begin to find ourselves frustrated with Laura and her coven, Gwen's story reminds of just how high the stakes are, and precisely why we have to rise about petty personal conflicts.
As for Laura, she's an interesting choice for a protagonist. An emotionally distant young woman with some serious relationship issues, she takes solace and comfort in her role as coven leader. That responsibility begins to wear on her, however, once the persecution starts, and her inability to reconcile her friendships with her sense of a larger purpose causes significant tensions. It is her stubborn insistence on illegally publishing an article critical of President Palmer's reforms that puts them all at risk, and her perseverance in holding an equally illegal pagan ritual (as a protest) that puts them on the run.
Personally opposing her is a woman by the name of Shelby, once a simple, if dangerously obsessive, church group leader with relationship issues of her own. Although she has no ambitions to rise above her station in life, a series of circumstances (including several broken relationships) put her side-by-side with President Palmer as his Director of the Bureau of Religious Protection. She is a dangerous woman, full of ideas and passions, but short on reason. As her obsession grows, fed by the evangelical propaganda of her husband, Shelby makes the final confrontation with Laura and her coven a personal one, despite the fact that the world is watching, and the stakes are far higher than she's possible of comprehending.
Not surprising for a story that's primarily about relationships, this is also a story that turns on a number of betrayals - spiritual, emotional, and physical. Many of them are subtle, with larger implications revealed later on, but a few of them are quite staggering. To say much more would be to spoil their power, but it all comes back to the idea that nobody is perfect, and that what should be black-and-white is really just shades of grey. It makes for an uncomfortable read at times, but reading about such a fundamental betrayal of the American dream should be uncomfortable.
While I thought the story could use a little more description - I sometimes found it hard to visualize who people were or what was happening - that's really my only complaint. I thought it was imaginative and well thought out, with the rise of the Christian theocratic state entirely reasonably and (sadly) almost logical. There's a lovely appreciation for history here as well, with several significant events recreated or echoed in the struggle of Laura and her coven. I'm still not sure how I feel about the climax - I appreciate it, but don't necessarily like it - but, overall, The Last Circle is absolutely worth reading for anybody with an interest in the struggle for equality and acceptance.
Somehow, in my switch between e-readers and email accounts, its seems a handful of titles got lost, so I'm happy to have found both the books themselvSomehow, in my switch between e-readers and email accounts, its seems a handful of titles got lost, so I'm happy to have found both the books themselves and an opportunity to share them with you!
Rainbow Briefs is a lovely YA LGBT anthology edited by Sara Winters. These are stories taken from the Goodreads Young Adult LGBT Books Group, with each based on a picture prompt shared with the group. Although comprised of about 15 stories, there are 2 in particular of interest to readers such as myself.
The first, Designing Sam, is based on the following prompt:
A slim girl with dark hair stands in front of her full-length mirror, looking into it. From the mirror, a muscular young man with the same hair and eyes stares back.
This was a powerful, emotional story of a young man coming out to a world that doesn't understand his gender, much less his sexuality. It's a sad tale a times, full of sorrow and pain, but one with an understanding (and uplifting) ending.
The second, In Unexpected Places, is one of the few that doesn't share it's prompt. Instead, it gets right to the story, which is a far less serious, almost madcap adventure about a young gay man and the young transgender woman he befriends. You can almost picture this as a 90s movie comedy, with the two outcasts trying to survive one of those too-crazy-to-be-true days.
Over the past few months, Crystal Veeyant has quickly become one of my favourite erotica authors. She has such a sense of style, one that hooks me eveOver the past few months, Crystal Veeyant has quickly become one of my favourite erotica authors. She has such a sense of style, one that hooks me every time. It is not just her way with words, but the 'genuine' feeling I get from her stories - even when she is diverging into the extremes of fantasy, it still feels as if she has actually lived the story.
Shemale Lesbian Gangbang - Darla is definitely the most provocative of her titles (and covers, for that matter), but it is no less genuine . . . or enjoyable. The story itself is a simple one. Karen, Lucy and Trixie are three stunning transsexuals, out and proud about their gender nonconformity, who are looking to make it big on the LA porn scene. Their motivation is a big part of what I love about Crystal - these girls are not innocent or naive, they are not being forced or blackmailed, and they are not driven to desperation by a habit or vice. Instead, they are just a happily well-adjusted gang that really (really!) loves sex, and who see absolutely no reason why they should not be famous for it.
Of course, first they have to get to LA, which is the set-up for this first chapter in the story. It is an old-fashioned road-trip, complete with a female stowaway, a pair of hunky cops, and some amateur footage of a roadside gangbang to help catapult their careers. What sets the ladies apart from their cinematic competition is exactly what sets Crystal apart from their literary competition - that sense of being genuine. They honestly love what they do, and that enjoyment comes through in very scene. Yes, they are conscious of playing to the camera (just like Crystal is conscious of playing to the reader), but that is always secondary to their own enjoyment.
That is not to say, of course, that it is all about the sex. These women are genuine characters, with strengths and flaws, and there is even a romantic triangle to add some colour. Crystal has a definite flair for girl-talk, and their often hilarious conversations really serve to establish the story. You cannot help but like them, and you cannot avoid wanting to see them succeed.
Please, do not let the title or the cover stop you from giving this a read. Crystal's stories are always well-worth the price of admission, a genuine cut above the usual Kindle erotica. The woman knows how to write - and excite!
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 ofFans 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.