My introduction to the "Nown" World Chronicles came about 6 years ago, when I did a lovely little interview with Donald Allen Kirch. I had the opportuMy introduction to the "Nown" World Chronicles came about 6 years ago, when I did a lovely little interview with Donald Allen Kirch. I had the opportunity to review the adventures of Ka-Ron and Jatel as they were released over the next two years, and still count the books among my favorite fantasy trilogies.
Now, as the rights to each book revert back to him, Donald is releasing them with a few minor tweaks and some gorgeous new covers. First up, of course, is The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight . . . which I am pleased to say has stood the test of time, and is still an epic, gender-bending read.
This is the kind of book that takes me back to the classic, pulp fantasy novels that I so fondly remember from my high school years. From the plot, to the characters, to the narrative voice, it reminds me at times of authors like Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock. Whereas the trend over the past decade has been towards sad and painful works of grimdark fantasy, this is a return to old-fashioned sword & sorcery fun.
As you might expect from a book about a legendary warrior cursed to live out his life as a beautiful woman, this is also a story with a fair bit of sex (and sexual innuendo), but it is done in a very clever and amusing way. Yes, Ka-Ron awakes from her transformation as an incredibly beautiful, sexually insatiable woman, but there are magical reasons for it . . . and very real consequences because of it. Aside from the sex, there are also some interesting explorations of gender here. Alternately comic and tragic, Ka-Ron’s efforts to adapt to her new situation reveal a hidden depth of maturity and sophistication that you rarely find in erotica.
Readers who find the initial sexual explorations to be a bit too much are strongly advised to stick with it, as there is a wonderfully exciting fantasy tale to follow. As they battle their way through pirates, hungry sea-dragons, a coven of vampires, an undersea realm, and an insane elven king, our heroes find new companions in the form of a wizard, a dwarf, an elf, a vampire, and a man-child upon whom both the curse and the story eventually turn. Ka-Ron and Jatel are the primary POV characters here, but Keeth, Molly, Rohan, and Dorian (especially Dorian!) round out the story perfectly.
The story does turn from comic to dark in the latter chapters, especially with the threat of an elven civil war, but Donald paces it well, knowing just when a bit of humour or sexual adventure is needed. At the same time, he resists the temptation to spice things up just for the sake of spicing things up, allowing the story to carry us along. By the end, we have formed strong bonds with all the characters, and their parting from us is indeed sweet sorrow . . . although we will see them again.
Like I said at the beginning, six years later the story still stands up, and it is just as much of a delight as I remember. In the end, Ka-Ron is far more than just a gender-swapped heroine, and her story works on all levels.
Shelley: Box Set 1 collects the first four erotic transsexual romances by J.C. Winchester, and it is an altogether lovely collection with a wonderfulShelley: Box Set 1 collects the first four erotic transsexual romances by J.C. Winchester, and it is an altogether lovely collection with a wonderful romantic progression and significant character development throughout.
In First Meeting we are introduced to a waitress by the name of Shelley, and a regular customer named Matt. The two have been happily flirting for years, but have never taken their relationship beyond the restaurant . . . until Shelley finally puts her heart on the line and invites him back to her place for a drink. Winchester does a great job of establishing the characters here, making us care about them from the start, and handles the reveal of Shelley's transsexual nature both realistically and compassionately.
With the relationship secure, Cruise of Lust sees the wonderful couple enjoying a little romance at sea. As if the gift of a cruise were not enough, Matt surprises Shelley with one run by and for an LGBT crowd. It is an environment where she can freely be herself, without the need to hide the evidence of her transsexual nature, and that leads to a wonderfully exhibitionist sort of freedom. Here we really get to see Shelley's playful side, sharing in her joy of acceptance. There is some interesting talk of LGBT relationships as well, which not only develops their relationship, but expand Matt's legal clientele.
In The Resort, Shelley is exhausted from her first semester at school, and Matt is overwhelmed at the office. Still very much in love, they decide to join their friends from the cruise to help build an exclusive forest getaway and enjoy some open-minded camping. It is here where the story really begins to open up, as Shelley continues exploring the newfound freedom to express her sexuality, and Matt begins preparing himself to confront his own sexual inhibitions. The introduction of Allie and Katie makes for a wonderful addition to the story, opening up an interesting exploration of pansexual attraction, and allowing Shelley to bring a transsexual lover to their bed who understands her needs, her desires, and her emotions.
The Cabin takes the idea of pansexuality and open relationships even further, with the two couples taking a private vacation together. With a cisgender man and woman, and the two transsexual women who love them, the variety here of experience here is wonderful. There is a testing limits, an exploration of hidden desires, and the revelation of a new level of intimacy for all. There are firsts for both Shelley and Matt that are too exciting to spoil by talking about here, but I loved the way Winchester detailed those encounters, really making the reader appreciate how different sex can be. This chapter is about far more than just sex, however, as the experiences bring Shelley and Matt even closer, bonding them emotionally.
A lovely collection of sweet romance and tasteful erotica, Shelley: Box Set 1 is an absolute delight to read.
Although it clearly shares some of the same themes as Perils of Paul: Consequences, I am not really clear on whether Perils of Paul: Initiation is intAlthough it clearly shares some of the same themes as Perils of Paul: Consequences, I am not really clear on whether Perils of Paul: Initiation is intended to be a sequel. Other than a brief mention of "humiliating experience with dominant women in his younger years" in the cover blurb, it does not appear as if the Paul here shares the history of the Paul there. It is not really important to the story, but it is something that certainly played on my mind, as I kept expecting some reference or comparison to his past submission.
That question aside, Valerie Whip has written a fun bit of erotica here, to which Annabelle Brito once again adds her sexy illustrations. Paul is a young man in college who strikes up a friendship with the beautiful Lacy. He likes her, and would like to be more than friends, so he reluctantly agrees to be part of her sorority initiation, hoping her gratitude will lead to something more.
That initiation is well done, with three young couples blindfolded, carted off to a strange house, and subjected to some kinky bondage games. It is a well-told story, distinguished as much by the dialogue as the erotic details - which included bondage, oral worship, and pegging. It is definitely edgy, riding that fine line of dubcon, and the subtle, open-ended twist at the end is a nice touch.
The TG Hearts Bundle is a collection of three transgender romances from the pen of Kella Z. Driel. Regular readers likely know her best for her sissyThe TG Hearts Bundle is a collection of three transgender romances from the pen of Kella Z. Driel. Regular readers likely know her best for her sissy and futa erotica, but the truth is Kella is an author of many talents, and she does romance exceptionally well.
The collection opens with Tammy: A Steamy Transgender Romance, in which a sweet college guy named Josh proves what kind of a friend he truly is when Tommy shows up on his doorstep as Tammy. Josh is a wonderful (and realistic) character, just as consumed with fears about himself as he is with fears for Tammy. He has trouble adjusting to the news about his old friend, but does not shy away from that pivotal moment of tenderness when it comes.
Transform Me Tonight is a bit of a kinkier tale, with more of a fantasy spin to it, but defined once again by its fully-fledged main character. Here we have Harlan, a frat boy who worries a lot about his image, but not so much that he can pass up Thursday nights with Kelly, the transgender stripper of his dreams. Theirs is an odd relationship, one with soft BDSM undertones, yet marked with an even stronger bond of romance. There is a bit of comedy here as well, and a feel-good finale that reminds us we all share secrets.
The final story here, Candy: A Steamy Transgender Romance, is an emotional story of romance and rejection, with two equally strong main characters. Roger is hard to like at first, with all his frat boy smugness and silent prejudices, but when his date proves to be a set-up designed to embarrass both Candy and himself, he shows his true colors. It is not an instant-love story, and it takes some time for him to come to his senses, but that just means his grand gesture is that much more satisfying in the end.
While Kella's stories always have a happy ending for the reader, her TG Hearts Bundle offers up happily-ever-afters for her lovers as well. Sweet, sensual, and more than a tad sexy, it makes for a wonderful read.
Sibling Rivalry is a four-part story from Mindi Harris that takes a dark, rather disturbing look at the lengths to which brothers and sisters will goSibling Rivalry is a four-part story from Mindi Harris that takes a dark, rather disturbing look at the lengths to which brothers and sisters will go to assert their dominance and claim their inheritance.
The entire story wraps up in Sibling Rivalry 4, which introduces an odd new character while continuing to escalate the threats, yet never quite follows through on most of them. It is certainly the most intense instalment, with Stephen close to breaking - physically, emotionally, and intellectually. In fact, were it not for the odd new arrival who seems to provide him with a hope (or is it a cruel tease?) or rescue, he certainly would be completely transformed. I have to be honest, I would have like a little more follow through here, and would have loved to see a post-transformation Stephanie in action, but I also understand that is not the focus. As for the final twist, I suspect it will be something of a polarizing one, certain to delight some readers while frustrating others, but I have to give Mindy credit for taking a chance and doing something different.