Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Commitment. One Day at a Time (#twelvesteps #marriage #commitment)

Just for Today meme

He's a chic lit cliché: the guy who can't commit. He loves the heroine, truly he does, and they're clearly compatible, in bed and out, but somehow he can't quite take that step. He can't make himself pop the question and join his life with hers happily ever after, 'til death do us part.

Actually, it's not a literary myth. My sister's husband was like that. It took five years, two breakups and some therapy before they finally tied the knot. I'm not ridiculing him. It was a painful and difficult process for him to get to that point. Commitment often is.

However, if you don't commit, you go through life skimming the surface, flitting from one person or activity to another, never experiencing the depth and beauty that's available. Commitment brings emotional and spiritual rewards that are well worth the pain.

The general understanding is that “commitment” is a kind of transition, a phase change, a final stepping over some line. Before you make a commitment, you're in one place. After the act, you are someplace else altogether. You commit and then you breathe a sigh of relief. That's over.

That's not the way it works, in my experience.

As I've shared in other posts, I was anorexic in my late teens. After the acute phase was over and I returned to college, I still had anything but a normal relationship with food. I still weighed myself daily. I binged on calorie-free items like cantaloupe, cabbage and popcorn (without butter). I felt guilty whenever I ate a real meal.

To try and cope with these behaviors and feelings, I joined Overeaters Anonymous. OA is a twelve step program modeled on AA for people who have food-related disorders or addictions. I already knew something about how AA worked, as my mom was a recovered alcoholic. The first of the twelve steps, revised for the OA context, reads: “We admitted that we were powerless over food, that our lives had become unmanageable.” That was me. I wasn't overweight, but food was using up way too much of my mental and emotional energy.

In AA, you make a commitment to stay sober, to abstain from drinking alcohol. No one forces you to do this, by the way. You can come to AA forever and keep drinking; the heart of the program is that you, personally, must decide to become sober. Of course one can't abstain from food. The OA equivalent of sobriety, called “abstinence” is to eat three healthy meals a day with nothing in-between.

I made a commitment to abstinence. I tried to stop my bizarre food behaviors. I tried to release the fear of getting fat. It wasn't as easy as it might sound.

One motto of the twelve step approach is “Just for today”. The idea is that if you tried to commit to never drinking again, ever, that would seem totally impossible. You would sabotage yourself before you even began. So, wisely, the twelve step approach advises that you simply commit to being sober (or abstinent) today. Today is all you have anyway. You could be dead tomorrow. So don't worry about what you're going to do in the future, or how you're going to survive. Focus on where you are. Focus on now. Make a commitment for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Simplistic as it sounds, this approach seems to work.

I've come to believe that this is the essence of all commitment. For romance fans, “commitment” usually brings to mind marriage. I've been married more than 30 years now—even though I never expected that I'd marry at all. It's true that my marriage is a bit atypical: we have no children, we are professional colleagues as well as mates, in our younger days we were not sexually exclusive. I suspect my marriage is easier than those of many of my readers. Still, there are times when I get fed up with my DH and really want to walk out, slamming the door behind me. (I'm sure he feels the same about me every now and again.) Or I worry about the future, as we are both getting older (and he is eleven years older than I). How will I manage if I have to be his caretaker instead of his companion and co-conspirator (as we promised in our wedding vows)?

Then I stop myself. I remember that I've made a commitment to love him, share my life with him, take responsibility for him, as he does for me. But I don't need to think about forever. I only need to reassert my commitment now, today.

This is the way that all good marriages are built, in my opinion. One day at a time. Commitment is not a single act, but a process to be repeated each day. That makes it easier—and in realistically, making a commitment today is all we can ever do.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review Tuesday: Playing House by Willsin Rowe (#BBW #romcom #review @WillsinRowe)

Playing House cover

Playing House by Willsin Rowe

Amazon Digital Services, 2016

Let me begin with full disclosure: Willsin Rowe is not just any author. We’re members of the same group blog (Oh Get a Grip) and he has designed several of my favorite covers (most recently for TheGazillionaire and the Virgin). I’ve also edited one of his books (Her Majesty). So I can’t pretend to be a totally objective reviewer.

At the same time, anyone who follows my reviews knows that I may try to be diplomatic, but I am always honest. Given the small, tight-knit community of erotic authors, it’s inevitable that I know many of the authors whose books I discuss. Generally, I won’t post a totally negative review; if I really don’t like a book, I’ll pass on the entire process. However, I have no qualms about pointing out what I see as the weaknesses in the books I do decide to discuss—and tough as it may be to accept, I expect friends who review my books to do the same.

Now that that's out of the way... on with the review!

Green-eyed red head Lucy Featherstone has a sharp wit, a warm heart, and passion for order. Whether she’s sorting the stock at her beloved used bookstore The Lost Books Home, doing her regular Saturday house cleaning, or making herself a cup of tea, she likes things a certain way. She lives her life by her own rules, stifling her impatience with others who lead less well-organized lives.

While her store offers Lucy with spiritual and intellectual sustenance, it barely provides the financial support she needs. Without her housemate and best friend Toni’s assistance, Lucy wouldn’t be able to cover her mortgage payments. So when Toni reveals that she’s moving in with her fiancé, Lucy comes close to panic.

Fortunately, Toni has a solution—one might even suspect, a devious plan. She has found a substitute to take over her place and help Lucy pay the bills. The only problem is that the new roommate just happens to be a guy, and one of Lucy’s top rules, since her cheating boyfriend Cameron dumped her and moved out, is “no smelly boys”!

It doesn’t really help that Mark is drop-dead gorgeous as well as polite, considerate, and a gourmet cook. He’s not even all that messy, for a male, and actually, he smells divine. His very presence puts Lucy on edge. When he’s away from the house, though, shagging his fashion model girlfriend, she feels even worse. Lucy is torn between her attraction to her spontaneous, uninhibited housemate and fury at her own weakness.

Romance is mostly about the journey, not the destination. From the first time Lucy first exchanges wise-cracks with Mark, we know they’re destined to find happiness together, despite the vast difference in their personalities. The fun lies in their torturous progress toward their HEA.

Willson writes crisp, energetic dialogue that crackles with intelligence and wit. More than once I found myself laughing out loud at Mark’s and Lucy’s interactions.


Standing up, I walked to the kitchen, drawing in a little of his lovely scent as I passed him.

And, um, how come I didn’t hear your car?”

Parked across the road. For a quick getaway.” He came right up beside me, far closer than I thought I could handle. “Anyway, I wanted to whip up a garden salad and maybe an orange cake before heading back to pick her up.”

Suddenly it was my mouth growing wet. “Cake?”

And salad.”


You’re a classic, Luce.”

The way his words lit me up inside was amazing. Yet it still made me feel more than a little pathetic. I was supposed to be a strong, independent woman with goals and power and yada yada yada.

At that moment my mouth ran away from me, leaving my brain lying in the gutter, drunk on its cocktail of horny hormones. “You need any help?”

He cupped my chin in his hand and looked me up and down. “I don’t know, soldier. You think you’re up to the challenge?”

I struggled not to tremble at the touch of his warm hand. It took me a moment to find my breath, and a little longer to find my voice beneath it. “Well, you know my reputation. On at least three occasions I poured cereal without causing salmonella. And I once opened the right end of a can of soup.”

Little wrinkles of delight appeared at the sides of his eyes and he released my chin. “Cool. Why don’t we get started? Grab a knife.”

He opened the fridge and dug into the veggie crisper, while I turned to the cutlery drawer and chose a knife. When he turned and stood, he placed lettuce, tomato, carrot, capsicum and red onion on the counter. Then he looked at my hand and burst into laughter.

Sorry, Lucy. I meant a real knife.”

This is a real knife.”

Of course it is, and it would be perfect for denting Brié.”

I’ll dent your Brié, mister.”

He strode to the corner where the knife block stood and pulled out the biggest one we had. So very male. “Now this is what I’m talking about. Here, catch.”

Though he made no move to actually throw it, I leapt back and shrieked. “Oh! You asshole!”

Still, I couldn’t help laughing along with him. The big, stupid, delectable oaf.

As if I would. Ah, you’re a lot of fun, Luce.”

And you’re a very big little boy, Mark.”


At the same time, the author shows readers the conflicts and confusion that stand in the way of their getting together. In this tale, men and women really do seem to come from different planets at times, given how they misunderstand one another.


It’s just the way it is. I see it all over the place. You girls hold the balance of power over decent men when it comes to sex. You know we’re not gonna take without permission. You have the prize between your thighs and you dangle it in front of us just to get what you need. God forbid you should acknowledge a man might want anything more than just perfect pussy.”

Wh-why are you being such a prick? You haven’t listened to me at all! You don’t know what…” There was no way to finish that sentence without it sounding like a lie, and a ploy for sympathy. If I told him now about Patrick’s heavy-handed thuggery, it’d sound like nothing more than an attempt to worm my way out of his bad books.

Mark hooked his towel around his neck, letting his shoulders droop. Though it seemed any anger he’d been holding was now at least watered down, still he kept his back to me as he spoke.

I–I’m sorry, Luce. I really don’t mean to be a prick.”

You clearly just have a natural talent.”

Please. You’re just making me crazy.”

Oh, I am? It’s all my fault now? When it comes to crazy, I don’t think you need any help there, Marky.”

I’d only wanted a reaction. Using the name that woman called him was just my way to get him burning up again. Maybe I thought it would remind him that he wasn’t without sin when it came to
relationships. But really, if I was honest, I just wanted to scratch him somehow. And I’d gone far deeper than I’d ever meant to, clearly.

He whipped around and stared at me like I’d peed on his Mustang, his deep brown eyes turning darker than his coffee. His frown was etched sharper and deeper than I’d ever seen it.

I wanted him to speak. Even if it was a shout, or an insult, just tell me what he thought. Tell me I was a bitch or a cow or whatever, because I already knew I’d proved that. He didn’t make a sound, though. Without another word he swiveled on his heel and marched, naked and wet, out of the bathroom.

Hey! Don't traipse water all through my…” But before I could finish he'd already shut his door. He did it quietly, but with an unmistakable clarity. No slamming or thudding, just a crisp click that felt more like a fuck you than even a fuck you would have.


The thing is, there are serious issues keeping the two lovers apart, even after they’ve surrendered to their mutual attraction and had some of the wildest sex you can imagine. The conflicts in this tale are mainly internal (though there is a villain of sorts, a creepy stalker type), but they’re plausible. This is what relationships are like—complicated and very, very messy. No wonder Lucy’s so distressed!

This realistic portrayal of their developing relationship sits a bit uneasily with the more cartoonish aspects of the book, in particular the over-the-top portrait of Gabrielle, Mark’s status-obsessed, fashion model girlfriend. Lucy’s concern about unsanitary nature of taxi seats struck me as overdone, too. I’m sure the author intended to portray Lucy’s love of order as a personality quirk, not a pathological obsession, but this detail made me wonder. Clearly it’s difficult, though, to write an extreme character without going over the line into stereotype or ridicule, especially when that character is intended to be funny.

Then there are the sex scenes. Mark’s and Lucy’s lust-filled couplings heat up the pages with delicious intensity. At the same time, the raw, almost violent nature of their sexual interactions felt a bit foreign to their personalities. There’s a dramatic difference between the mood of these scenes and the rest of the book. Indeed, the characters themselves seem to share some of my bewildered disorientation when they come back to earth after their fierce encounters.

Still, as a reader I felt a huge sense of satisfaction when Mark’s and Lucy’s mutual attraction finally overwhelmed their scruples. That moment is one of the great joys in reading erotic romance.

Before concluding I want to comment on another satisfying aspect of the book. Like many of Willsin’s heroines, Lucy is a big girl, with lots of flesh on her bones. Although she’s not overly paranoid about her size or weight, she can’t help feeling inadequate next to slender, perfect Gabrielle. Mark eventually makes it clear (via both words and deeds) that he adores Lucy’s body. It’s rather difficult for him to admit, though, that what he wants in a woman is so much at odds with what society says he should want (i.e. Gabrielle). I applauded his insight and courage in recognizing how blind and immature he’d been—and how much that blindness cost him, emotionally.

Playing House by Willsin Rowe is an intelligent, light-hearted romance seasoned with a healthy dose of humor, and spiked with some intensely passionate sex. If you like dialogue reminiscent of Bogart and Bacall, a curvy heroine with a mind of her own, and a sexy, sensitive hero, you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sneak Peek: Oysters and Pearls by Mitzi Szereto (#erotica #literature #zombies @MitziSzereto)

Oysters and Pearls cover

[One of my very first published stories appeared in Erotic Travel Tales, edited by Mitzi Szereto. I'm delighted to see help her get the word out about her latest book! ~ Lisabet]


Acclaimed author Mitzi Szereto explores the many complexities of desire, love and lust in this rich and varied “best of” collection of erotically charged short stories compiled over the course of her literary career. In these seventeen provocative and often witty offerings, she travels expertly between genres with tales that explore both the light and the dark sides of sexuality. Oysters and Pearls gives the reader a glimpse into worlds that are as ordinary as they are fantastical and mysterious. Like a skilled lover, this sensuous and imaginative compilation will leave you wanting more.

Publication date: Nov. 15, 2016
Available in trade paperback and e-book
Published by Midnight Rain Publishing
Genres: Literary Erotica, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Length: 213 pages (print version)

Oysters and Pearls: Collected Stories is available at Amazon and other fine booksellers: 


From “Bakewell, Revisited”

With the approach of lunchtime, the pub gets busier. I glance up from the muddy depths of my stout and notice a woman standing at the bar while the publican pulls a pint for another customer. Her fingers drum the aged wood—the only indication that she might be impatient for the man to get on with it and serve her. She’s dressed in typical country fare: brown corduroy jeans, beige Fair Isle sweater, earth-caked hiking boots. Probably one of those hale and hearty types on a walking excursion, although I see no evidence of the requisite rucksack and walking sticks. She shrugs her heavy brown coat from her shoulders and whips off her plaid scarf, which—surprise, surprise—has brown woven into it.

Wild waves of chestnut hair. Creamy skin. A rosy blush on the cheek turned toward me. I stop breathing.

It can’t be. It can’t.

But it is.

Drink in hand, she turns around, apparently searching for a suitable place to drop her over-garments and partake of her half pint of what looks to be cider. A ray of sun from the window by my head catches on the contents of her glass, turning it to liquid gold. She spies me at my lone table and her eyes widen. “Um, aren’t you—”


Without waiting for an invite, she settles into the chair adjacent to mine. The chair with the wooden seat made shiny by generations of pub-crawling bottoms is now being made shiny by hers. The thought causes a fluttering that begins in my abdomen and spreads lower and lower until I have to cross my legs within the confined space to quash it.

You all right? It’s been so long…” Mundane words, but nevertheless exciting. Her accent still has the north in it—that curious Derbyshire-Yorkshire crosshatching with the dropped thes, and the sommats in place of the somethings. But then, she probably never left here.

I nod. I don’t need to be reminded of how long it has been. The evidence shows in my face. My eyes. Not hers though. She’s still beautiful. Still young. Even after two decades I can taste my desire for her. It’s as strong as it was when we picnicked among the dead of Bakewell. I watch her lips move as she offers me small talk. I feel a dampening as they form the vowels and consonants that make up speech. A trickling in my armpits and groin, followed by a stirring. A pulsing. A staccato beating. “Do you still live here in Derbyshire?” I manage to ask.

Never left,” she says with a smack of her lips, which have the delicate tincture of Belgian strawberries. “Why leave heaven?”

Heaven. Yes, it might be to some. It never was to me though. Not as long as my desire for her remained frozen on my fingers and tongue. Frozen in my genitals.

Advance Praise for Oysters and Pearls

The strength of this collection lies in its imaginative grasp of the wide variety of cultures, landscapes and emotional engagement of the reader as well the sexual.” ~ Tobsha Learner, bestselling author of Picture This

Mitzi Szereto is the dynamo of the erotic world. Writing, teaching, editing; all part of a day in the life of erotica’s most spicy personality.” ~ Maxim Jakubowski, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica

Lovemaking and the erotic are difficult areas to write about without being twee or self-conscious or embarrassing or just falling flat on your face. Few writers handle such material with the intelligence, joy and humor of Mitzi Szereto.” ~ Sir Arnold Wesker, FRSL, playwright and author

About the Author

Mitzi Szereto ( is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog of humorous essays at Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (, and a web TV channel Mitzi TV (, which covers the “quirky “side of London, England. Her books include Phantom: The Immortal (co-authored with Ashley Lister); Rotten Peaches and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles, a cozy mystery/satire series co-authored with celebrity author bear Teddy Tedaloo); The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Love, Lust and Zombies; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire and Getting Even: Revenge Stories. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 was the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She divides her time between the Pacific Northwest and the UK.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Snog 255: The Understudy (#bdsm #sundaysnog #giveaway)

The Understudy cover

Oh, but I’ve got a sexy post-Thanksgiving snog for you today! This excerpt comes from my BDSM erotic romance The Understudy. I have to say, I find it incredibly exciting. I hope you do, too.

If you like sensual power games like the ones Geoff plays with Sarah, leave me a comment. You could win your choice of one of myshort BDSM erotic romances: The Understudy, Mastering Maya, or Challenge to Him. (Don’t forget to include your email address in the comment.)

When you’ve recovered from my snog, head to Victoria’s for more steamy Sunday kisses!

Is there a future in playing stand-in to a slave?

Sarah Gladstone was thrilled to be offered her first real acting job at the Berks Summer Playhouse. She never expected to be working with theatre legend Geoffrey Hart. The charismatic actor quickly brings her under his spell, not to mention his control, as he initiates her into the dark delights of BDSM. He offers her far more than physical pleasure; they share a level of intimacy and trust beyond anything Sarah could have imagined.

According to the rumours, though, Geoff's heart is taken. Renowned actress Anne Merrill, his long time partner and submissive lover, has severed their relationship and Hart has escaped to the Berkshires to lick his emotional wounds. With her youth, inexperience, and girl-next-door persona, Sarah knows that she can't compete with the glamorous theatre veteran. She fears that she's just a substitute for the real object of Geoff's affections. As he draws her deeper into his intoxicating games of dominance and submission, Sarah wonders if she's willing to settle for the role of understudy in this perverse passion play.


I gasped when I saw the contents. “It’s true!” I blurted out.

Hart came up behind me and looked over my shoulder. He didn’t touch me, but his mere presence was overpowering. “What’s true?”

I heard laughter in his voice. I pointed at the leather restraints and the rubber paddles, my hand shaking. “That—that you’re kinky. Into S and M, just like Adele said.”

I prefer the term ‘D and S.’ Dominance and submission. My focus is on the exchange of power, not the administration of pain. Though I’m not averse to using pain if that’s the right thing to do.”

The right thing to do?” I turned to face him, hiding behind my indignation. “Are you joking?”

He was close, too close for comfort, deliberately invading my personal space. I tried to step backward. I succeeded only in banging my shin against the luggage rack.


His eyes drilled into me. “I’m completely serious. D and S is not a game, despite the way it’s portrayed in popular culture. It’s not a fashion statement. It’s much, much more, a new way of being in the world. A doorway into a new kind of relationship, deeper and more intimate than anything you can imagine.”

Right,” I muttered. I couldn’t bear to look at him. I stared down at my sandals, feeling the blush crawling up my cheeks and across my chest. “I’m sure that’s what all the perverts say.”

He caught my chin under his forefinger and raised my eyes to his. I trembled when his skin met mine.

I can’t pretend it’s not exciting, of course—trying new implements, pushing the sub’s limits, testing her devotion. But that’s not the main point.”

I burned in the heat of his stare. I felt myself begin to melt, the crotch of my jeans growing damper with every beat of my pulse. I didn’t want to listen but I couldn’t hide my fascination.

He stroked his thumb across my cheek. I held my breath, wanting him to stop, dying for him to go further.

Aren’t you curious, Sarah? Wouldn’t you like to drop your diligent, high-achieving, good little girl persona and find out what’s underneath?”

I couldn’t answer. How did he know these things about me, this man I’d met less than a half hour ago? Did he really understand the way I’d pushed myself in college and grad school, working for the top grades, following the rules, determined to succeed in my chosen path despite the odds? Did he know that I hadn’t had a lover for nearly four years? I hadn’t had time. Anyway, I’d been all too aware of the fact that everyone around me was both a colleague and a competitor.

I saw compassion in his chiselled face, mingled with lust.

I know you, little one. I know what you really crave. What you really need. Open yourself to me and I will fulfill the desires you don’t yet dare to admit, even to yourself.”

He didn’t wait for permission. He simply claimed my mouth as though it was his by right. I struggled for a moment, as his strong arm snaked around my waist and pulled me to his chest. Then I let go, let his tongue slide between my lips and his fingers slip under my shirt.

His mouth was muscular and insistent. I tasted his expensive liquor and his foreign cigarettes. I was in some kind of trance, swooning as he devoured my mouth and stroked my bare back. I felt him fumble briefly with the hooks on my bra, then blissful relief as my breasts were set free.

My nipples throbbed, aching for his touch. He released my mouth and held me at arm’s length.

From now on, you will not wear a bra.”

Raising my shirt, he palmed my breasts, flicking his thumbs over the rigid tips. Each flick sent electric currents sizzling down to my engorged clit. New moisture flooded my pussy. I could smell myself, like tidal flats baking under the summer sun. His flaring nostrils told me that he caught the same scent.

Is that understood?” He pinched a nipple and pain arced through me like lightning. Then like thunder, pleasure rolled in.

Ow! Oh…!”

His hard thigh pushed into the gap between my thighs, stealing my answer. I tried to nod. I was ready to agree to anything as long as he continued to touch me. He kissed me again, forcing me open and plunging his rude tongue down my throat.

Shameless, driven, I ground my denim-covered pussy against his invading leg. His male scent rose around me, the cologne tempered now with the musk of his sweat. He gripped my ass and pulled me closer. His rock-hard erection prodded my belly. The knowledge that he wanted me—that I pleased him—took me to the edge. I hovered there at the tipping point, ready to topple into climax while he squeezed my butt and ravaged my mouth.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter my drawing!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Erotic Writing is Important (@ceciliatan #erotica #minorities #humanity)

A blogging colleague recently shared some excerpts from Cecilia Tan's articulate commentary after the recent election. I don't generally post things related to politics here on Beyond Romance. I'm very aware that not every reader feels the same as I do. In fact, after the results of the U.S. election, I've come to understand that some people live in a completely different reality from the one in which I exist.

Nevertheless, one thing I think all of my visitors have in common is a love of fiction. And as Cecilia explains, fiction, especially erotic fiction, is not just a frivolous pursuit or a question of writing dirty stories. It cuts to the quick of who we are.

Here's a quote from Cecilia's excellent essay:

Fiction and storytelling are important.

It's important to tell stories, to make things up and share them, because although real life autobiographical blogs (for example) are also important for claiming space and declaring one's existence, sometimes only a story can express your inner truth. Sometimes the act of creating that story reveals our truths to ourselves and without that story we never would have discovered them. But fiction is also important as the only effective tool we have for creating empathy in others. This has been studied repeatedly in multiple languages and cultures. Fiction is even more effective at creating empathy than knowing someone in real life, because although you might have a gay friend (for example) and empathize with them, living through the adventures and tribulations of a gay character in a book has a much pronounced and more long term effect. Fiction is powerful. Story is the most powerful tool we have for changing people's minds and for opening them.

Please read the entire post here: 

Then think about how much you'd lose, personally, if people stopped telling their stories.

Felix Gallops In (#lesfic #horses #romance @IamCheyenneBlue)

By Cheyenne Blue (Guest Blogger)

Like so many girls, I was a horsy kid. Model ponies, pony stories, racing around pretending I was Jill from the Jill books, or Callie from Follyfoot, and living for my weekly one hour ride at a local riding stables.

When I was thirteen, I was old enough to work at that same stables. No money, but I would work from 7am to about 4pm, just for the pleasure of being around horses and the chance of a free ride at the back of a string of beginners. I did it for the joy of it. For frosty mornings, bringing ponies in from the field, muddy legs and rugs astray, breath huffing in the winter air. For the pleasure of grooming my favourite horse in a dusty stable, hard muscles under my brush, horse hair floating in the air. When the horse would turn its head and lip at the buttons on my shirt, all soft whiskery muzzle and molasses breath. Sometimes, he’d pull those same buttons off, leaving me to sew my shirt together with the waxed thread used to repair saddlery. There was never a safety pin when you really needed one.

And the freedom. Incredible amounts of freedom. If you’ve felt the anticipation of a gallop, of keeping an excited horse reined in as you jog down to the corner, and you know that once you turn the corner and the long stretch of green opens up in front of you, you will ease the reins and the horse will take off like a rocket, and there will be mud and turf and the wind in your face, movement and laughter and the wild and free feeling of the gallop.

Horses taught me hard work too. Long hours of physical, smelly, sweaty work. Menial jobs: pulling ragwort from a paddock, mucking out stables, leading a beginner around and around a schooling ring. The joys of an outdoor life, the harshness of weather. That it’s better to use a body in a physical way than let it soften. And of course, horses taught me about facing fear and that you can do things you never thought possible.

I haven’t ridden for years now. Moving around, work, other interests meant it was pushed to one side and eventually faded. But sometimes, I still dream of horses. I dream I’m galloping, or just spending quiet time with a horse, scratching them under the mane, the gentle shuffle of hooves in straw, that warm and rich smell.

Writing my latest lesbian romance, Fenced-In Felix, brought a lot of that remembered pleasure back. Talking the language of horse, the terminology, and writing my main character Felix, her horses and lifestyle, was a wonderful experience. Felix lives in outback Australia where horses are primarily working animals. But as in so many places around the world, rural workers and horses share a close bond.

I hope you take a moment to check out Fenced-In Felix and spend some time with Felicity (“Felix”) and Josie and their lives in outback Australia. Felix is not just about horses though. It’s an Aussie romance set in outback Queensland, and as well horses, there are kangaroos, snakes, goannas, and dogs. It’s a story of friendship, trust, rural living, horse riding, hard work, moving on versus staying put, racehorses, mauve pants, campfires, billy tea and damper and, at the heart, whether love and trust go hand in hand.

Felix is the third book in the “Girl Meets Girl” series—standalone novels with interconnecting characters. You don’t need to have read the others in the series to enjoy this. I hope you’ll give it a red hot go.

By the way, I'm giving away a free copy to one person who leaves a comment. Tell me how you feel about horses... and be sure to include your email address in the comment text, so I can find you if you win!


Felix Jameson is working hard to get her outback hospitality business off the ground. Building cabins, leading trail rides and enticing tourists means she hasn’t much time for distractions—and that includes romance. But when she meets Josie, a drifter who picks up casual work as she goes, Felix is intrigued and attracted.  Josie asks Felix to board her horse, Flame, and Felix is delighted. Not only can she use the extra money, but it means she will see a lot more of Josie. Felix finds Josie fits in well into her life, and for the solitary Felix there’s finally the possibility of romance. But there’s something suspicious about Flame, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a valuable stolen racehorse. Felix knows she is falling hard for Josie, but is Josie all she seems, or is she mixed up in shady dealings?


I had two horses to do to Josie’s one, so she finished first. She came over and rested her arms on the edge of Smoke’s stall.

You’ve got plenty of space here. You could have half a dozen more horses.”

I bent to brush dust from Smoke’s foreleg. “Barn space, yes, but the land is poor. It barely supports the six I have now.”

How many have you had in the past?”

Nine was the maximum, back in the days when I took youngsters for breaking. But that was during the good years, when we had proper wet seasons.”

Word is this year could see some good rains.”

Let’s hope. Can never rely on it though. I’ve seen the land go for years without real rain, and I’ve seen it under a metre of flood water.”

I straightened. Josie leant on the door, fiddling with the thong on her hat.

I want to ask you something,” she said. “Not sure what you’ll say.”

Oh?” I tried to appear open. In truth, I had no idea what she wanted.

I like it in Worrindi. The pub’s a good place to be. Nice people.” Her mouth crooked up at one corner. The motion was fascinating. “Believe me, that is not always the case.” Her fingers worried at the thong on the hat. “Anyway, I thought I’d stay around. A while. Maybe a lot longer, if it works out. I told you I have a horse?”

I nodded, my gaze on the restless movement of her fingers.

I’d like to have her near. I was given her. Otherwise there’s no way I’d have bought a horse, not with my lifestyle. But she’s mine, and I’d like to have her somewhere close. Her name’s Flame.”

Flame. It conjured up a picture of a delicate, feisty horse, quick as lightning with movements of fire. But as tempting as the picture was, I knew I had to say no.

She sounds like a beaut horse. But honestly, Josie, I don’t think I can have her here. I just don’t have the grazing. Most likely, I’m going to have to buy hay before long, and that’s very expensive.”

I’ll pay for her agistment—I didn’t mean for you to keep her for nothing. I’ve thought about what I can afford.” She named a figure that was generous.

The money was tempting. With the extra, I could finish up the second cabin.

I shook my head. “That’s a good offer, but it’s more than you’d pay at other places. But I still don’t think I could do it if I have to buy hay.”

If it comes to that, how about I purchase the hay for her?”

I ducked down to Smoke’s forelegs again to give myself time to think. The dollars marching through my head beat a compelling rhythm, but before I fell on Josie’s neck shrieking “yes!” I had to give this more thought.

I’m a thirty-minute drive from Worrindi. It would cost you to drive out here, and you may not be able to come that often. I’m sure there is somewhere closer to town where you could keep her. If you want, I’ll ask—”

No.” She leant forwards, and her face took on a strange intensity. “I want her to be here with you. If you’ll take her, that is. She’s special. I don’t want to trust her to just anyone. I can pay, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

It’s not. I trust you.” And I did. I wasn’t just saying the words. For all her nomadic ways, Josie seemed like someone I could rely on. Maybe I’d wake up one morning with a horse that didn’t belong to me and no way of contacting the owner and no money coming in—I’d heard of that happening to others—but I didn’t think so.

I can give you a month up front. I’ll transfer it to your bank if you agree.”

It was a lot of money for someone earning minimum wage less board in a pub. Maybe she had money put aside.

If you take her, I’ll know she’ll be well looked after. Cared for. So many places just throw a horse in a paddock and forget about it until the next bill’s due.” Her head ducked, and she glanced at me from under her hat. “And it would give me an excuse to come out here. To see you.”

It wasn’t fair of her to play the flirtation card with someone who was obviously interested.

I stood up again, with Smoke between us, and rested my hands on her withers. “Look, I’ll think about it, okay? I can’t give you an answer now. I need to think about grazing, hay, and things like that.” And about you wanting to see me again. “Will Flame be okay in with the others? I don’t think it will work if she has to be by herself.”

I’m sure she will be. Thanks, Felix, for at least thinking about it.”

I’ll let you know.”

She nodded, and with a quick smile, she walked off.

I watched her go, watched the sway of her backside under those mauve pants, and tried not to think about the fact that she wanted to spend time with me.


Fenced-In Felix is available now from Ylva Publishing and from 30 November 2016 from other retailers including:

About Cheyenne Blue

Cheyenne Blue’s fiction has been included in over ninety erotic anthologies since 2000. She is the editor of Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, a 2015 finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Award, and of First: Sensual Lesbian Stories of New Beginnings.

Her collected lesbian short fiction is published as Blue Woman Stories, volumes 1-3, with more to come. The romantic Girl Meets Girl series, Never-Tied Nora, Not-So-Straight Sue and Fenced-In Felix are out now from Ylva Publishing.

Cheyenne has lived in the U.K., Ireland, the United States, and Switzerland, but now writes, runs, makes bread and cheese, and drinks wine in rural Queensland, Australia. Check out her blog at and follow her on Twitter at @IamCheyenneBlue and on Goodreads at

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Naked Heart (#bdsm #devotion #surrender #thanksgiving)

Kneeling in Bondage

Give me your body.
Give me your mind.
Open your heart.
Pull down the blind...

My head encased in fat 1970's era headphones, I hear only the music, but I understand that he is speaking to me through the lyrics. He's behind me, towering over me, his big hands resting on my bare shoulders as I listen to the album he has brought me as a gift, a British group called 10cc. I feel my heart pounding in my chest, in time with the bass. I don't know what he'll do next. The uncertainty is disturbing and thrilling.

His fingers trace a path along my upper arms, light, teasing, raising goosebumps. Then they lock onto my nipples. I gasp as he pinches hard, then twists. I remember what he told me about clamps. What he promised. He knows what I'm thinking—I'm sure it is just what he intends. I imagine his smile, behind me, full of gentle mockery.

I'm soaked and trembling. I am mortified by my own desires, desires I hardly knew I had until he exposed them and showed me who I really was.

His slut. His slave. We both know it, know that I'll do anything he asks. I trust him not to ask for more than I can bear to give.

I was twenty five. He was a year younger, but with knowledge born of years of study plus the experience of two other kinky relationships. He told me that he had had S&M fantasies for as long as he could remember. And me? I was a total innocent—not sexually, but as far as BDSM was concerned. 

Did he somehow recognize my latent submissiveness? Or was he initially just attracted by my ripe body and raging hormones, only later starting to wonder if my fantasies were the complement to his? He was my classmate in grad school. We used to flirt, but I never took him seriously. Then he left the university for a job on the far coast, and we began to write.

Postal seduction. Asking me how I felt about spanking. Sharing his desire to tie me up. Discoursing on homemade whips and the efficacy of birch switches. I pretended lightness, laughed off his outrageous suggestions, but they left their mark on my psyche.

He would call me late at night and tell me his plans for me, his intuitions about what I wanted. Did he plant my fantasies or simply lay them bare? He claimed that he was meant to master me, to open my eyes to my own perversity. Arrogant and charming by turns, he wooed me, instinctively pressing all the right buttons—buttons I didn't know were ever there. Finally, he invited me to come visit him over Thanksgiving.

Never having even touched him in a sexual way—rash, crazy, my inflamed imagination totally trumping my rational self—I agreed.

It was the best decision I ever made.

The first night, we had vanilla sex. The next nightThanksgiving night, more than thirty five years ago—was something else entirely. We tumbled together into a well of dark fantasy. He led me through a magic door into a world of intense sensation and raw emotion, power and surrender, trust and communion. Looking back, I'm still astonished by that sudden connection—so real and so true despite the fact that we were practically strangers.

He changed me forever.

Our lives ran in different tracts. We lived thousands of miles apart. I had other lovers, though he had a way of slipping into my head when I was in their arms, reminding me to whom I really belonged. When we managed to meet, our days together were a frenzy of kinky experimentation: leather belts, bungee cords, ping pong paddles, hot wax. Ultimately, though, it wasn't the physical sensations that bound me to him. It was the sense that he saw me as I was, as deviant and sluttish as he himself, and didn't condemn me. No, he liked what he saw. I could be truly naked with him; he would not condemn me. From the very first, I trusted him with my body and my fantasies. Eager to please him, I exulted when he shared his own and allowed me to fulfill them.

Our relationship wasn't easy. We were both too young to realize the value of what we had, I now believe, or to nurture it the way it deserved. Misunderstandings, recriminations—we drifted apart, and three years after our initial incandescent coupling, I married someone else.

Yet all these years later, we are still in touch, and I still consider him my master, though he would laugh bitterly at the epithet.

Lisabet Sarai the writer would not exist if it were not for him. My erotic writings began with the fantasies I sent him. Raw Silk, my first novel, is a fictionalized account of my own initiation into dominance and submission. I even borrowed some of the dialogue from his letters. From the perspective of craft, Raw Silk is nowhere near my best work. But anyone who reads it is touched by its emotional intensity.

I have tried to branch out, to explore other paths through the tangled forest of erotica. Still, dominance and submission, power and surrender, remain the themes that fascinate me the most. Sometimes I feel as though I'm writing the same scene over and over. My readers will certainly be bored. Not me, though. I'm breathless and wet as I relive those magic encounters of my youth.

Here's a short piece dedicated to him, which perhaps says more than all the discourse above.



They meet, infrequently, to perform the ritual. She waits for him to arrive, heart slamming against her ribs, stomach twisted with nervousness. When he enters, they embrace, awkwardly. It has been so long. She attempts lightness, a joke, a jibe, pretending that she does not know why she is here. Then he gives the sign - a mere eyebrow, arched in a question - and her protective humor slips from her along with her clothing.

The ritual demands much of them, the steps choreographed, but always with room for improvisation. First he binds her, with rope, or silk, or leather, ceiling-hung with thighs spread, or splayed across the bed, or bent double over a hassock. Sometimes he will position her limbs and bind her to stillness with his command alone.

Then he teases her, dabbles his fingers in her wetness, lovingly mocks her sluttishness. She melts at his slightest touch, sinks liquid and helpless into the ritual spirit, moaning just as he intends. She could drown in his rich voice, nuanced and full of power. He pinches her nipples into aching peaks, captures them in clothespins, or cinches them with rubber bands. All the while he strokes her pussy, calls her his pet, muddles the pains and the pleasures besieging her.

Next, he beats her. Here the ritual has many variants, but all with a single purpose: to invoke the purity of her surrender. She writhes under the lash, twists away from the hairbrush, whimpers as his bare palm reddens her buttocks. She does not wish to resist him; her only thought now is to please. But the pain is difficult to endure. Breathe, he says, soothing, encouraging, even as he scourges her. Open yourself. Yield yourself to me once again.

His voice is the key that unlocks her. Some barrier shatters and she floats free, each stroke of the whip an ecstatic kiss. His mind moves with hers now, sharing her agony and her joy. His breath comes in gasps like hers. His organ is granite. Now, come to me, my love, he whispers, entering her front or rear or spraying her marked thighs with his burning seed. She obeys, sliding into climax as he slides inside her, white hot fringed with red streaks of the pain.

Transcendence. Communion. Completion. They do not speak of it as they dress. There is no need for speech when the ritual is complete.

They meet infrequently. Sitting alone, on the plane or the bus taking her homeward, she savors the gaping, twitching sensations in her rear hole, the sharp echo of her stripes as she shifts in her seat, the slickness, still, in her sex. His voice echos in her mind.

Theirs is an old love. She thinks of him daily, imagines his life, her chest swollen with bittersweet aching. He thinks of her less frequently, but when he does, he gnashes his teeth, driven almost to madness because he cannot possess her. Then he recalls her sweet pliancy, her willing debasement, and his lips curve in a smile as he strums on his cock.

The ritual renews them. When she lies in a dentist's chair, or on the surgeon's table, when she wakes in fear in the night, she remembers him. Breathe. Open. Surrender. She relaxes into the fear, trusting as she trusts him.

She is sure that she will think of him, that way, when she surrenders herself into the arms of death. And then, perhaps, their meetings will be more frequent, and the ritual will be perfected.