First, the bottom (ha) line: if you are a spanking aficionado, this volume offers 275+ pages of high-quality, hardcore entertainment, and I recommend...moreFirst, the bottom (ha) line: if you are a spanking aficionado, this volume offers 275+ pages of high-quality, hardcore entertainment, and I recommend running out (or clicking) and buying this book right now.
For those who don't necessarily consider themselves aficionados but harbor an appreciation for or interest in spanking and/or sexual submission and domination, you'll find here seven stories heavily imbued with the anticipation of, psychology behind, and act of spanking featuring a variety of repeating characters. Though each story is self-contained, they are connected; peripheral characters in one story show up as central characters in another, and vice versa. This gives the entire collection a lovely, familiar feel throughout while easily maintaining freshness and intrigue with each new tale.
Though these stories unquestionably center around spanking, domination, and submission, there is no shortage of hot sex in the midst of it all, as well as beautifully woven threads of the evolving relationships among the participants. The plot lines here are by no means superficial, and I finished the book with a noticeable sense of appreciation, poignancy, and affection toward and on behalf of the characters. They did not just make me hot (though they certainly did that effectively)—I cared about and felt I understood them, too.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection from Justine Elyot, experiencing her work (as usual) as engaging, evocative, and expressly hot. Needless to say, I highly recommend Seven Scarlet Tales.(less)
My unreserved recommendation of Missed Her to anyone who reads is so much a given it almost feels distracting to point it out amidst the desire to som...moreMy unreserved recommendation of Missed Her to anyone who reads is so much a given it almost feels distracting to point it out amidst the desire to somehow convey in words the splendor I experienced among its pages. More than in most instances I've ever observed, this collection exemplifies the capacity to capture moments and preserve them in the pristine purity of seamless prose.
That prose either takes what may seem ordinary moments and infuses them with exquisiteness or perhaps just outlines the exquisiteness inherent in every moment so we recognize it ourselves. Whichever it is—and maybe it is both—Ms. Coyote does it in a subtle, almost mysterious way, so that I feel it the whole time I'm reading but, looking back, do not know exactly what she did to make it that way.
The book's format lends itself to fast, satisfying bursts if that is how one wants to read it; each short is only a few pages long. Each of them is also self-contained, so skipping around is not an issue. I myself found this form lent itself to quick reading, though I also often felt so captivated that I kept reading even if I had only planned to read one or two stories in a sitting.
The moment I finished it, I could tell Missed Her is the kind of book I won't get all there is to get out of without reading more than once. I don't know if I have ever experienced that awareness more upon finishing a book. In this collection, there are the words, and then there is the sense, that which is above and below and between the words, like a presence of its own that gathers and makes this book not just a book but a part of the reader—as existent and penetrative and ever-changing as energy itself.
I've often recommended books, but in this case I implore: please, read this. I would not do so were it not difficult for me to imagine anyone experiencing life in a somehow lesser way for doing so. I suspect it far more likely that, as for me, the contrary will be the case. (less)
I'll be honest--I felt a slight twinge of apprehension about this book. I personally feel deeply disturbed by war and by what seems to be humanity's c...moreI'll be honest--I felt a slight twinge of apprehension about this book. I personally feel deeply disturbed by war and by what seems to be humanity's collective propensity to see it as inevitable. I felt a small degree of concern that I might see the final version of this anthology as filled with "us vs. them" bravado, anti-"enemy" sentiment, and/or lacking the considerable reverence I feel even a peripheral association with the topic of war calls for.
In reading this collection, I discovered my concerns to be unfounded. Never in these stories did I feel that a reverence for this theme wavered in a way I found discomfiting. This I found not only a relief but also something that noticeably impressed me, and I appreciate the sensitivity with which I feel the editor compiled this anthology, as well as the depth and sincerity the authors brought to each of the contributions within it.
I found this book beautiful, and I feel the authors in it outdid themselves, offering stories of a world with which some of us are wholly unfamiliar and possibly can hardly imagine and illuminating what is both unique to that and what is universal. The expression of this universality--namely, that of erotic and personal connection, and its capacity to arise under virtually any circumstances--is something I see as a hallmark of successful erotica writing. This volume, as I experienced it, is full of that, and I recommend Duty and Desire without any of the reservations I thought I might have. (less)
Curvy Girls exceeded even my high expectations to a striking degree. Since I thought the theme was marvelous, I expected to enjoy the book, but as far...moreCurvy Girls exceeded even my high expectations to a striking degree. Since I thought the theme was marvelous, I expected to enjoy the book, but as far as I'm concerned, Curvy Girls is truly an exceptional anthology.
There is no question that the lovers in this book find the protagonists sexy—breathtakingly so in many cases. The overt and often verbal appreciation the protagonists' admirers have for their beauty mesmerized me in story after story. As I saw it, these stories tended to come either from the angle of a larger woman who experiences comfort and contentment about that or from one who struggles with the standards postulated by an abstract society, bringing us as readers face to face with those unconscious judgments and compelling us to confront them from the inside out—all of which I see as of great value.
While this book may be fiction, it seems to me that as with much fiction, it is reflective of some part of reality. Despite various media's constant bombardment to the contrary, there are obviously individuals who perceive this way, who see non-supermodel-shaped bodies as individually beautiful and unique, and to whom it would make no more sense to fetishize such than it would captivating eyes or luxurious hair (not that those things can't be experienced as fetishes, but fetishization has not commonly been perceived as their only potential attractiveness, which has sometimes seemed the nonsensical case with larger-sized women).
I highly recommend this book for all who are at all interested in the theme or simply in discerning, thoughtful (and very hot!) erotica. (less)
Best Sex Writing 2012 is comprised of captivating rumination, information, and investigation of a society displaying, as I see it, a severe misguidedn...moreBest Sex Writing 2012 is comprised of captivating rumination, information, and investigation of a society displaying, as I see it, a severe misguidedness around the book's title subject. The variety between these pages is striking: exposes, memoir, research reports, entertainment, all mixed in with unflinching information--exactly what nonfiction literature is designed to serve. Ultimately, this book exemplifies a fearless, open discussion of sexuality that speaks of sex with consideration, enthusiasm, respect, curiosity, interest, reverence, scrutiny, and maturity--offering a volume as refreshing as it is relevant and compelling. I highly recommend it. (Full review at Good Vibrations Blog.)(less)
The Pleasure Dial was such an enjoyable read that I felt a bit sorry when I finished it! Set in Hollywood during the Golden Age of Radio, the novel ne...moreThe Pleasure Dial was such an enjoyable read that I felt a bit sorry when I finished it! Set in Hollywood during the Golden Age of Radio, the novel never wavers in its vibrant, lively pacing and flawlessly entertaining storyline. I frequently found myself caught between laughing out loud and beaming with delight at the charm and wit that abounds in the prose, from the dialogue to the description to the narrator's internal musings. (This book also includes the phrase "freelance sex goddess," which may be one the most fabulous new phrases I have encountered in recent memory—as well as the most delightful and appealing job title I have ever seen.)
The Pleasure Dial was the kind of book I found myself recalling when I was away from it with a feeling of warmth and anticipation at the idea of reading more. Truly, it was such a joyful story that the very prospect of getting back to it made me smile. The moment I finished The Pleasure Dial, I missed not only its cast and crew of characters but also the sublime mixture of contentment and excitement I'd grown used to in anticipating my next reading session.
It's hard for me to imagine anyone who appreciates sparkling, witty depictions of sex and connection—combined with simply enchanting storytelling—not enjoying this book. On the contrary, I suspect many would find it, as I did, a pure delight, and I could not recommend it more highly.(less)
Simply put, Steamlust is one of the most gorgeous anthologies I've encountered. From the first page, I was dazzled, mesmerized, and relegated to a st...more Simply put, Steamlust is one of the most gorgeous anthologies I've encountered. From the first page, I was dazzled, mesmerized, and relegated to a state of breathless arousal by story after story in this extraordinary, exquisite collection. Since I'm not very familiar with steampunk, I'm not sure what expectations I had of this anthology, but any notion of them seemed exceeded such as to render them obsolete by the end of the first story--a story, incidentally, that was one of my very favorites and which set the bar for the remainder of the collection exceptionally high.
Astonishingly--and delightfully--it met it. Each story greeted me with evocative and brilliantly clever renderings of inventive ideas and mechanisms, solidly imbued with the spirit and imagination around which I have the impression steampunk is centered. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the additions of the steampunk elements of time, inventiveness, machinery, etc., amidst the blazing hot and beautifully rendered romantic encounters this book offers. It's made me think that perhaps this is a genre of which I should seek out more, and I offer sincere thanks to the editor and authors for providing such a luscious, scorching, spellbinding introduction to it.
For anyone with any appreciation for erotic romance and/or any inkling of interest in or curiosity about steampunk, mechanical engineering, fantasy, or even historical settings, I recommend this collection without reservation and with utmost enthusiasm--and I hope with all sincerity that every reader enjoys it as much as I did.(less)
I found Death by Fiction an extraordinary novel that seems well worth the time of anyone who enjoys mystery, suspense, or simply a riveting story.
The...moreI found Death by Fiction an extraordinary novel that seems well worth the time of anyone who enjoys mystery, suspense, or simply a riveting story.
The book zips back and forth among various characters’ viewpoints--I wasn’t sure how I would experience this approach, but as it turned out, each segment created just enough suspense to keep the pages turning (fast!) without segueing into frustration at being left hanging, so to speak, to switch to a new thread. Any hint of said frustration quickly evaporated as I became riveted once again by the first few lines of the next character’s viewpoint. Though initially the multiple-viewpoint format struck me as ambitious, I found that the pacing left nothing to be desired and that in fact the chosen format seemed to exactly fit the information we receive and the way we receive it. Indeed, this capacity to view the different characters’ stories from their own (third-person) points of view contributed to the vivid characterization that was so much of what made this book shine.
I myself cringed at all the violence in the story, but 1) I suspect I exhibit considerably more sensitivity to such things than the average reader, 2) I tend to avoid things with violence in them in general (see #1), and 3) perhaps most importantly as far as this review is concerned, the violence was not gratuitous or at all irrelevant to the story--on the contrary, I understand why it was there even as I winced reading it. The story simply did not shy away from the action, conflict, or ruthlessness of some of its characters.
Overall Death by Fiction struck me as a remarkably compelling story, filled with clever twists that culminated in the final chapters with a brilliant and meticulous integration of threads and questions that had emerged from the first page. I highly recommend it, not only to those who love the thrill of mystery but also to anyone simply seeking a gripping tale. What a ride!(less)