Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Review Tuesday: Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley - #ReviewTuesday #Philosophy #precocious


Frankenstein cover

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley

Everyone knows the story of Frankenstein's monster, Mary Shelley's famous cautionary tale about the risks of playing God. Realizing recently that I'd never read the book, I downloaded a copy from ProjectGutenberg.

My mind was full of images from Ken Russell's film "Gothic", about the so-called "haunted summer" when Mary Shelley, her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and the ambiguous Dr. Polidori gathered at Byron's mansion and challenged each other to write a horror story. I expected lightning, gore, darkness, and philosophy from the precocious author (only nineteen when she penned the book).

Alas, I was deeply disappointed by this novel. The entire book is a one post-hoc narration (from the God-defying scientist Victor Frankenstein) embedded within another (an adventurer traveling in the Artic, whose name and history matter not at all). At one point, the tale-telling goes to a third level, when Victor Frankenstein repeats the account shared by his monstrous creation, who is both intelligent and gentle initially, craving acceptance and love, but who is universally rejected and feared.

There is no direct action whatsoever, and no detail about the methods used by Frankenstein to create his unnatural offspring. All we know is the horror he claims to have felt when he first looked upon the monster's face. He abandons the being he has fashioned, and sets tragedy in motion.

I was embarrassed to discover that all the bits I thought I knew about the Frankenstein tale were all products of Hollywood. And to be honest, I found myself puzzled by the enduring influence of this slim novel. It raises a few philosophical questions, about the nature of humanity and personal responsibility, as well as the dangers of judging based on exterior appearance, but overall, the book had little emotional or intellectual impact on me.

The main lesson I took from the experience of reading Frankenstein involved the power of culture and media to twist a story from its original form into something quite different.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Love and Secrets -- #RomanticSuspense #Giveaway #Germany @AuthorMNaidoo

Where Sleeping Lies Lie cover

Blurb

Two men... two worlds... one desperate promise...

If Anna had only known how the simple push of a button would turn her life upside down, she would never have pressed ‘Play.’

Just 22 seconds into the recording she’s hit by the realization that, if the voice in the thick German accent is right, she has been living with an unthinkable lie for the past thirty years.

There is only one way to find out: Follow the instruction left by a dead person and head back to Germany, to a life Anna has next to no conscious memory of.

To her surprise, she finds an unexpected ally in Peter, an old childhood friend whose law degree and language skills prove to be more than useful. Besides, he has the most gorgeous blue eyes and the uncanny ability to push Anna's buttons without the slightest effort. At every turn, their search for answers is littered with more lies and revelations.

Anna must ultimately decide whether even the noblest of ends, truly justify the means and whether some secrets should better stay buried.

Mystery, history, and a twist at every turn. Brilliant characters and prolific storytelling... irresistible!”


Excerpt

"Happy now?"

"I'll tell you in a minute." Peter grabbed a cookie and took a slow and careful bite. Like a wine connoisseur would taste a sip of rare, expensive wine, he chewed slowly, eyes closed, a pondering frown on his forehead. Anna waited for the verdict, patiently, while everything in her wanted to pick up a sofa cushion and smack his smug face. She had never been a physical person, but somehow he brought out that side of her. God, could he be any more obnoxious?

"And?" He just had to make her ask, hadn't he?

"Not quite…." He grinned. "But the closest any cookie has ever come. Martha would be proud."

Before she could stop herself, reflex took over, and the sofa cushion landed on the back of Peter's head. Bam!

"Ouch! That hurt!" He rubbed his head and looked at her more in surprise than pain.

"Good." Anna crossed her arms in front of her chest, jaw clenched, eyes shooting off invisible darts.

"Okay, guess I deserved that. Sorry, I'm not usually this…" He was looking for the right word.

"Chauvinistic?" Anna jumped in.

"No. Good one, but not quite." He looked up at the ceiling, still pondering.

"Obnoxious?"

"Wow. Don't hold back now."

"Irritatingly annoying?" Anna offered.

"I was going to say delightfully charming," he paused before adding, "or failing at it. Anyway, is that how you treat a friend that's doing you a favor?"

Now it was her turn to apologize. "Sorry." She reached out and offered her hand, "Truce?"

Peter took it, but instead of shaking it he held on and pulled her onto the sofa next to him. "Are we gonna do this or what?"


About the Author

M.Naidoo lives in Northern California with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs. Born and raised in Germany, she was able to draw on a wealth of memories and passed down stories for Where Sleeping Lies Lie.

When she is not in front of her computer, pounding out story lines and characters, she enjoys reading, movies, spending time with her family, and long walks on the beach - her proverbial 'happy place'. M's love for the shore line and ocean shine through in the vivid descriptions of the coast in her debut novel The Pelican.

"Juggling my life as a writer and a full-time 'real' job has its challenges. I don't get to spend half as much time as I'd like doing what I love, and there are never enough hours in the day. Still, I feel extremely lucky to be following my passion, and I am enjoying every minute of it. Getting here has been one heck of a ride!"

Like and follow M. Naidoo on social media



For information about the author, her blog, upcoming releases, and more visit www.mnaidoo.com






M. Naidoo will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Charity Sunday: CARE for Mozambique and Malawi - #Africa #disaster #CharitySunday


Charity Sunday banner

March has been rough on the world. Earthquakes. Floods, Landslides. Collapsing buildings. Plane crashes. Terrorist attacks. Honestly, if you want to make any sort of difference, it’s difficult to know where to start.

Out of all the disasters and tragedies, I’ve decided to focus on the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai on the desperately poor African countries of Mozambique and Malawi. On March 14th, this powerful storm triggered horrendous flooding and mudslides that have completely destroyed much of the already fragile infrastructure in these two nations. At least a million and a half people have been affected, nearly half a million in the city of Beira alone, which was submerged until just a few days ago.

There are, of course, many organizations working to provide rescue and relief services in the face of this catastrophe. Today I’ve decided to support CARE, which is particularly focused on the needs of women and girls. 

You can find out more about the charity’s efforts to allay the suffering of Idai’s victims here.


As usual, I will donate one dollar to my chosen charity for each comment I receive on this post. Furthermore, I’ll give away a copy my latest release, Valentine’s Visit: Four-Way Friend Swap, to one randomly selected commenter.

So please, do say something to let me know you’ve read this post!

As usual, I also have an excerpt to thank you for dropping by. Today’s snippet comes from Monsoon Fever, a MMF romance set in India just after World War I. It includes a disaster scene, which as is often the case affects the poorest and most vulnerable people.



It took nearly four hours for the auto to creep back to the plantation. Full night had fallen by the time they arrived. The rain had slackened, but it was still heavy enough to drench them, despite their umbrellas, on the climb up the path.

Jon must be terribly worried, thought Priscilla. She imagined him pacing back and forth on the veranda, peering into the night for any sign of them. Guilt weighed on her spirit, though she knew she was not responsible for the weather or the delay. Her intense reactions to Anil did not alter her deep love for her husband.

She had not, technically, been unfaithful. Still, she was honest enough to admit to herself that, if the storm had not interrupted, she would have gladly surrendered herself to Anil. In public, in a sacred space, she would have been willing—no, eager—to allow the seductive native access to her body. Her sex ached, remembering his intimate touch. She looked up at him, but she could not read his expression in the dark. Did he still want her? Would he try again?

Priscilla tried to compose herself, to think only of Jon and his concern. As the house came into view, she stopped short in surprise.

Normally at this time, Lalida would have lit the kerosene lamps and golden light would be spilling out from the windows onto the path. But the bungalow was completely dark, and silent too, no sounds of clattering dishes from the kitchen, no scratchy jazz coming from Jon’s gramophone.

Jon? Jonathan?” Priscilla voice signalled her alarm as she and Anil climbed to the porch. The door was half open, definitely a bad sign. “Lalida?” Had they been attacked and abducted by some of bandits that occasionally roamed the hills? But there was no sign of any struggle or violence.

She clutched at Anil’s soggy coat. “What could have happened? Where are they?”

Where are the lamps?” Before she could answer, he located a lantern and a box of lucifers on the mantel. In a moment he had it lit. They looked around the parlour, seeking clues.

Priscilla saw it first. The note was scrawled on a scrap torn from a ledger, and fastened to the dining room door frame with a nail.

Landslide at the village. Gone to help.” The writing was barely legible, but she recognised Jon’s hand.

A landslide! Priscilla recalled the heaps of mud and rock piled by the road on the way to Gauhati. “We must go to them,” Anil insisted, reading over her shoulder. “A landslide can bury a whole town, or sweep it away.” He searched her face. “Do you have shovels or picks? And buckets, buckets would be useful.”

In the utility shed, behind the house.” Anil was already on his way out the door.

Jon had taken most of the tools, but they found a short spade and a mattock. They grabbed them and scrambled up the slippery path toward the village, rain still washing over them in dense squalls. As they approached the site of the village, home to the plantation workers and their families, shouts filled the air. Lanterns flickered in the wet, black night.

Priscilla had visited the village several times, bringing sweets for the children and English soap for their mothers. She hardly recognised the scene of devastation before her now. There was no sign of the wooden huts that sheltered the workers. She saw only a vast sea of mud, with splintered planks and beams jutting out at odd angles. Half naked men dug frantically in the muck, looking like an army of demons in the shifting lantern-light. Children hung onto their mothers, wailing or watching the rescue efforts silent and wide-eyed. An elderly woman, tattered sari clinging to her wizened body, crouched under a tree half-crushed by a huge boulder.

Priscilla saw Jon near the far perimeter, wielding a shovel and yelling orders to the other men. She stumbled across the ex-village, the treacherous mud sucking at her feet, and threw herself into his arms.

Darling! I was so worried.” she cried. “Are you all right?”

Jonathan held her so tight she could scarcely breathe. His chest was bare and streaked with dirt. His blond hair was black with rain and soil. “Priscilla! Thank God! I’m so glad to see you!”

How bad is it?”

Bad—nearly all the houses were destroyed—but it could have been much worse. Most of the villagers were up at the shrine when the hillside gave way. We think that there are only a few people buried. We’re trying to find them before it’s too late.”

***

Please don’t forget to comment! It’s a small thing, but small things add up. And you might win a free book!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Intimacy with Strangers - #fantasy #CustomEroticaSource #WritingToSpec


Lonely street
 
This post is not about one night stands. I might explore that topic some other time: the thrill of the unknown, the intoxication with the unfamiliar, the tantalizing possibility that a random encounter might lead to a world-altering epiphany. Today, however, I’m actually talking about writing.

I publish both long and short erotica and erotic romance, in ebook and in print. I have a respectable back list for someone who doesn’t write full time. However, some of my best work doesn’t show up in the publishing history on my website, namely, the erotic tales I write to spec for Custom Erotica Source.

CES offers an unusual service. For a fee, and in complete privacy, CES provides a professionally written realization of a customer’s erotic fantasy scenario. Via an online questionnaire, the customer supplies all the details: the names, genders, ages, orientations, appearance and personalities of the characters; their relationships; the plot; particular erotic stimuli to emphasize; the type of language desired (from suggestive to filthy); and so on. Then the author (in this case, yours truly) takes this specification and spins it into a story from 1500 to 5000 words long (depending on what the customer orders).

At this point, some of my author colleagues may be shaking their heads. How can I prostitute myself in this way? How can I betray my art? Why would I surrender my creative vision and allow someone else to dictate the content and style of my work?

Well, of course the money is nice. But I do it partly because writing someone else’s erotic dreams is both a fascinating and an educational experience.

When I write something in response to a call for submissions, I have a generic audience in mind. I probably understand the type of tales a particular editor prefers. I know that Total-E-Bound’s readers are looking for something different than people who buy books from Cleis, or Xcite, or Excessica. Furthermore, the anthology theme or the focus of the CFS provides some guidance as to content and tone. Within those broad boundaries, though, I’m free to follow my imagination in any direction it leads. I know I can intrigue and arouse at least some subset of the community of readers; I really can't hope for more.

When I write for CES, on the other hand, I have an audience of one. I know exactly what turns that audience on – because the customer has shared his or her secret desires. It’s my job to put flesh on the bones of the story specification, to make my customer’s lusts concrete and then satisfy them.

To succeed in this task, I have to somehow sync my own erotic imagination with his. I can’t write an arousing story unless I see the characters and the situation through my customer’s eyes. Somehow, I have to intuit the customer’s reactions to the stimuli described in the spec and then coax myself into the same psychological state.

That’s where the intimacy arises. I don’t have any direct communication with the customer (although I am allowed to ask questions, via the management, if I see issues in the spec). Nevertheless, he (almost all my assignments have been writing for men) and I are connected, by his act of sharing his lewd dreams and my willingness to assume them as my own.

Some fantasies I’ve received as assignments don’t appeal to me personally at all. (I’m free to refuse assignments that I might find repugnant, of course. So far the only ones on which I've passed are a series involving body building. I am just not a gym rat!) Still, I’ve managed to turn them into tales that pleased my unknown reader. This requires a kind of suspension of my own sexual identity in order to connect with his. By the time I’m finished, I’m usually turned on by the tale, regardless of my initial reaction. If I’m not, I know I haven’t fulfilled my part of the bargain.

Executing a CES assignment requires a possibly surprising degree of craft. I must pace the story in order to include all details from the spec while still keeping it within the word limit. I have to guard against adding erotic elements that push my own buttons, but might not have the same effect on my audience. At the same time, I need to add sensual details, plausible transitions and especially, emotional authenticity. That’s my added value, as a professional author. If just anyone could write a compelling, intense sexual fantasy, I’d be out of a job.

What really makes it work for me, though, is getting inside my customer’s head. Watching one of these stories unfold is a weird feeling, but exciting, too. It's almost as though someone were whispering naughty ideas in my ear. I may have never considered these notions before, but when I wrap my mind around them, I begin to see the appeal.

It has occurred to me that my submissive tendencies account for some of my success in writing custom fantasies. My master once called me “suggestible”, and I suspect that’s an appropriate evaluation of my personality. The fact that I'm bisexual and exceptionally broad-minded about sex probably helps, too.

My one regret about these CES stories is that nobody else will ever read them. They belong to the customers who paid for them, not to me. I can't post them on my website. I can't even talk about the specific fantasy scenarios involved; that would be a breach of confidentiality. They're eternal secrets, between my customer and me.

The last assignment I handled, though, involved an outrageous, kinky, gender-bending scenario that turned me on from the moment I opened the specification file. My personal sex life became significantly more interesting while I was working on the tale, because of the fantasies it inspired. I had no problem identifying with my audience in this case. And yet writing that story was possibly more difficult than my previous assignments, because I had to stop my own imagination from hijacking the customer's vision.

I view my tales for CES as a sort of writing exercise. They require a level of control far beyond what's needed for a free form story written to satisfy a vague theme. I believe that they've helped me hone my skills as an author of erotica.

The real payoff, though, is emotional – the heady sense of power that comes from bringing my customer's dirtiest dreams to life. At the same time, it's a sort of ecstatic surrender, a willingness to sink into my customer's desires.

I will never know who my readers are, and they'll never really know me. For a short while, though, we're as close as lovers.



Thursday, March 21, 2019

AFTERGLOW - New contempory BDSM romance from @BreannaHayse - #BDSM #MarineBiologist #DomesticDiscipline


Afterglow Cover

If you’re an AQUAMAN and Neil Gaiman fan, you WILL fall in love with THE GENERALS’ DAUGHTER©

Marine Biologist, and USMC special ops officer, Samantha Quimby, is back with brand new adventures, and (as always) a whole lot of trouble! From a family camping trip in the Sierra Nevadas, to investigating a mysterious phenomena in the black depths of the La Jolla trench, the young woman attracts danger like a bee to honey. As if that’s not enough, Sam’s also introduced to the intimacy of both Richard's love-making and the severity of his discipline. However, neither expect that her instinctive ability to converge with the local cetaceans have an added benefit that can make even the most unpleasant event one Sam longs to repeat as the term Afterglow takes on a whole new meaning!

Sam’s not the only one receiving a stern wake-up call from the special man in her life. Teagan, her brother’s girlfriend, is coming face-to-face with the reality that Michael isn’t going to turn a blind eye to her mischief anymore than he does with his sister. Sam’s influence is rubbing off on the quiet girl, and soon Teagan finds herself in more hot water than ever before.

Will Sam ever learn to behave? This question is the ongoing theme with her family and now, her boyfriend, Lt. Richard Lewis is just as involved. The answer-

Probably not.

Finally- in the process of planning a family vacation to Florida, some old, familiar names are brought up on the ‘to visit’ list, including ‘Big Bill’ Johnson (The Game Plan), Dr. Dan Paige and Dorian Graye (The Whip Master, Billion Dollar Daddies and Northern Lights: Lena). Does this mean that the Generals might consider giving in to temptation and have an adventure of their own?

You better believe it!


Other books in The Generals’ Daughter series:




The Siren
Generals' Daughter© Book 1
**Only .99 cents or FREE in KU!**

Up a Notch
Generals' Daughter© Book 2
 
Caught in a Net
Generals' Daughter© Book 3
 
Convergence
Generals' Daughter© Book 4
 
Under Cover
Generals' Daughter© Book 5

 

About the Author



BDSM/AP lifestyler Breanna Hayse strives to give her readers truth and reality of the BDSM/Age-Play/Total Power and Erotic Exchange lifestyle.

Who am I?

I'm a native Californian gone 'wild', and had the opportunity to travel the globe and discover the world through the eyes of both a Marine Intelligence specialist and a BDSM lifestyler.

I left the service to go into hospice nursing and grief counseling, eventually working as a marriage and family therapist for those involved in alternative lifestyle development. This experience has allowed me to gain unique inspiration for my books and offer realistic plots and relatable characters.

In 2004, my husband, John, and I joined forces to work with both submissives and dominants - teaching, training, listening and loving. Our goal was to take the mystery and fear out of the lifestyle and mentor people in safe, consensual and healthy relationships.

My first book, The Game Plan, was published in 2012 and opened the door to the now-booming world of Age-Play literature. Since that time, I've devoted my 'spare' time to writing, researching, community involvement, and private and group pro bono counseling in deviant behavior, alternative lifestyle, and addiction recovery.

I was formally 'dungeon trained' as a Domme before discovering my submissive side when I joined the service. My scenarios are pulled primarily from either personal experience or observation, including spending time in BDSM clubs as the safety/medical officer. My multi-faceted background allows me to glean from many avenues and give a unique and intelligent literary experience through elements of fantasy and fiction. I also discuss the questions and psychology of the lifestyle in a manner that is fun and informative, and based on 'the real deal.'

I live with my husband, musician, and fellow-author, John Hayse, and two border collies in southern California. We practice a 24/7 D&S relationship with speckles of AP (and many trips to Build-A-Bear), and happily spend every moment together that we can. My hobbies include my puppies, hiding my vanilla salt-water taffy where John can't find it, exotic art, collecting inspirational trinkets, and developing my own paddle line. You can also see me as a featured author/instructor in professional conference settings and as a Sexpert for kinkyliterature.com.



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lines, Rules, Limits - #transgressive #forbidden #erotic


Police Line

Are there topics you feel should be unequivocally banned from erotica? Subjects about which you would absolutely never read—or write—in an erotic context? Do you believe there are some literary lines that should never be crossed?

Many people feel this way about rape or other forms of non-consensual sexual activity. Yet studies (here, for example) have shown repeatedly that many women (and some men) fantasize about being raped or forced into sexual activity. In general, these women understand that imagined coercion is very different from real rape. Finding the former arousing does not indicate a desire for the latter. Nevertheless many readers, and publishers, object to exploring this topic in erotica.

What about incest? Despite the difficulty authors experience in publishing fiction that features sexual activity between adult family members, the taboo topic is a turn-on for a significant subset of readers. The wildly popular step-brother romance sub-genre has provided a “safe” way for readers to experience the forbidden thrill of being attracted to a close relation. I personally consider this as a bit dishonest. I’ve had incestuous dreams about my own brother. I’d never act on them, but that doesn’t mean the dreams weren’t a turn-on.

Bestiality? If sexual activity involving animals is so horrifying, why are shifter stories so successful? Not to mention the cryptozoological “taken by bigfoot” sub-genre? Forcing oneself upon a dumb animal in the real world would be immoral, but the beasts in erotic fiction tend to be anthropomorphised. The human participants feel some sort of sexual connection with the horny dog or the sleek, predatory tiger. I’ve read some amazing erotica based on human attraction to animals. Does that mean I plan to have sex with my cat? Of course not.

Sex with children may be a hard line. Adults getting sexual with kids too young to object or to understand is definitely wrong. There are no extenuating circumstances. But how do you define “young”? Is fourteen too young? That’s how old I was when I gave away my virginity, to a guy who was twenty. I knew exactly what I was doing (well, in theory, at least). During the teen years, desire is confusing and inchoate, but overwhelming in its power. Memories of that period, when every emotion cuts to the quick, offer tremendous possibilities for meaningful and moving—as well as tremendously arousing—erotic fiction.

My clearest personal line involves erotic fiction that portrays inflicting serious violence, physical harm or death as arousing. I avoid such stories when I can. I’ve read enough erotica, though, to know that not everyone agrees with this boundary. Are the people who write such stuff fundamentally evil? Am I qualified to judge?

These are not easy questions to answer. If you think they are, I believe that you’re fooling yourself.

The core issue relates to another kind of line: the line between imagination and reality. Is someone who finds a taboo topic arousing in fiction likely to perform such actions in real life? I’d argue that most readers of erotica distinguish very clearly between the fantasies evoked by erotic fiction, no matter how extreme, and the life they live outside of books.

Of course there are individuals who do enact this sort of forbidden scenario in the real world. There are men who kidnap women and hold them prisoners in their basements for years, who secretly abuse grade school kids, who screw their prepubescent daughters. These people have always existed. Does our writing about the sort of crimes they perpetrate encourage these people to commit these crimes?

Does an author who writes about a serial killer encourage murderers in the real world?

How much of the horror that people express about various taboo topics is rational, and how much is based on their personal discomfort? I will leave that question open for you to ponder.

Publishers and online venues don’t want to make readers uncomfortable. They’re also worried about getting in trouble with the law. Hence, they establish various rules about what content is and is not acceptable. These rules tend to be idiosyncratic, depending on both the personal beliefs of the owners or operators and their perception of their market. For instance, I had a publisher reject one of my stories once because they had a policy prohibiting the portrayal of priests and nuns in erotica. In the romance world, very few publishers will accept any work that includes bodily fluids (“golden showers” or “scat”) even though there’s no legal reason for them to reject such stories (and it’s possible to write about these topics with both grace and heat). These publishers are convinced their readership will find such content “gross”.

Perhaps you will consider me an incorrigible reprobate, but I am in favor. I believe we should have as few rules as possible.

In my view, erotica should not only turn readers on, but should also expand their perspectives. Sex is inextricably intertwined with so many other emotionslove, guilt, ambition, shame, anger, and compassion, to name just a few. Erotica derives its singular power from this psychological complexity. It’s not a safe genre, or at least it shouldn’t be. Sometimes the most arousing stories are the most disturbing.

Does that mean nothing is sacred, nothing forbidden? That’s something each of us has to answer for ourselves. There are few, if any red lines that I can discern. Defining what is and is not acceptable in erotica is a dangerously slippery slope.

Red lines in erotica remind me a bit of limits in BDSM. Limits are personalthe activities I totally reject might be the ones that most turn you on. Furthermore, limits can change over time. Tomorrow I might consider doing something that terrifies or squicks me today. Finally, the most erotic BDSM encounters often result from pushing limitsmoving beyond the edge of what’s comfortable and familiar into new experiences and new insights.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review Tuesday: The Untouchable by A P von K'Ory - #eroticromance #dominance #ReviewTuesday


The Untouchable cover

Golden Shana: The Untouchable by A P von K’Ory
Amazon KDP, 2018

Millionaire businessman Roman Castell is accustomed to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. Females war with one another for his attention. Roman sincerely enjoys the charms of the few lucky ones he chooses — until he gets bored and moves on. He’s a law unto himself, unattached, dominant, demanding, the ultimate male predator, a generous but fundamentally cold-hearted lover who covers all his bases by forcing his playmates to sign legal contracts before he’ll bed them.

When he encounters Svadishana Lindstrom, he is totally unprepared for the havoc she wreaks on his emotions, his life and his self-image. Exquisitely beautiful, intelligent and talented, even richer and more powerful than Roman himself, Shana initially appears immune to his legendary charisma. Meanwhile, his craving for her is visceral, soul-destroying, humbling to a man who scarcely knows the meaning of the word humility. Roman devotes all his considerable resources to pursuing the woman who has fascinated him. In the first book of the Golden Shana series, The Chase, he makes some slight progress in winning her. In the second book, The Capture, he succeeds in overcoming her resistance, which derives partly from a history of sexual abuse, and binding her to him with ties of lust and perhaps of love. However, he can’t resist exercising his power over the other women in his life: his former mistress Marie, who is pregnant with his child, and Shana’s childhood friend and one-time Sapphic lover Alyssa.

The Untouchable, the third volume, opens as Roman welcomes the love-sick, desperately willing Alyssa into his dungeon. Motivated by ego, jealousy and a desire for revenge, he secures Alyssa to his bondage cross then forces her to watch as he ravishes Shana. The perverse scene, though pleasurable for everyone involved, terrifies Svadishana. Roman seems to uniquely fulfill her on every level - physical, emotional and spiritual - but she fears that under his influence she’ll lose all independence and control. She also, quite logically, foresees practical problems in their relationship, given their demanding careers and potentially conflicting business interests. She asks for some time and distance to consider their future, and Roman grudgingly acquiesces. Shana jets off to the other side of the world, leaving him alone, bewildered by his feelings, needing her as he has never needed anyone. She misses him with equal fervor, but her loneliness and desire are not enough to overcome her concerns about their future.

Meanwhile, the man who raped Shana at university (Grieg, nicknamed “Phoenix”) proceeds with his plans to reclaim the woman he views as His Girl. Roman, as might be expected, fights back with every weapon in his substantial arsenal. The middle of The Untouchable reads more like a thriller than an erotic romance, as the rivals and their respective henchmen try to outsmart and destroy each other. Only near the end of the novel do Roman and Shana reconnect, in a violently passionate, multi-chapter love scene. This reconciliation makes it clear to both of them that despite the obstacles, separation is not a viable option.

Golden Shana: The Untouchable, like the two previous installments in the series, is vivid, passionate and engaging. I especially liked the middle third, in which Phoenix and Roman basically go to war against one other. Roman shows both his strengths and his weaknesses in this segment, while the reader comes to understand the fundamental evil represented by his opponent.

Ultimately, though, I ended up feeling frustrated by and annoyed at most of the characters, with the exception of Marie and the surprisingly moral thug Garlinski. Roman, it seems, has not learned or changed much during his ardent and arduous pursuit of his golden goddess. The final chapters show that he is still as selfish, immature, arrogant and egoistic as when we first met him. Shana has demanded some space and time away from her lover and nemesis, but he barges in on her nevertheless, then blames and punishes her for depriving him and making him unhappy. This behavior does not, in may opinion, reflect true love. Meanwhile, Shana succumbs to his aggressive machismo rather than holding him to account for breaking his word. The whole scene perpetuates the sexist mythos of the magic cock that can undermine any woman’s resolve and turn her into a gasping puppet desperate for penetration. I’d thought Shana was better than this; Roman too.

How can this be true love when Roman is so dishonest? He hides the fact that he is expecting a child by another woman. He shares nothing about his experiences fighting Grieg. Indeed, if he were thinking about Shana’s safety, he’d realize she needs to know that she’s being stalked, that she’s been marked as Grieg’s victim. Roman is still unaware of the true identity of Phoenix, but he has clear evidence of how dangerous he is.

It’s clear, though, that the author considers Shana’s and Roman’s intense connection to be so powerful and fundamental that it renders all these considerations moot. I believe that she personally loves Roman as much as Shana does. This conviction comes through in the love scenes, where she lingers on every gesture and reaction.

Personally, I am not convinced. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. In any case, if you enjoy passionate romance full of unexpected twists, you should check out this book.

 


Monday, March 18, 2019

A writer’s life, in five points - #UrbanFantasy #Demons #Giveaway @Cristelle

Tour banner
By Cristelle Comby (Guest Blogger)

  1. 1) It’s a lonely job. This may be obvious to many but until you really start it is difficult to fully imagine how solitary the life of a writer can be. Almost every writer needs peace and quiet. This can be difficult to find and your tranquil writing area can be at the mercy of the phone, family and other occupations. Finding the perfect place to write is the first step. However, this will invariably lead you away from everyone you know. It will be just you, your room, a computer and in my case, copious amounts of coffee.
  1. 2) Writing takes longer than you think. You have to write, re-write, re-write again, and probably do that several more times until you and anyone else reading it will be happy. The myth of Jack Kerouac writing his most famous novel On the Road in 3 weeks on one continuous piece of paper turned out to be a lie; it was in fact years; although by then he was a best seller. Even if you can fool people into thinking the writing didn’t take a long time, like Kerouac, it definitely will. Once you think it is ready, someone will probably be ready to tell you your work isn’t.
  1. 3) It’s harder than it looks. You might think that once you have a good story in your head, coupled with the ability to write, you’ll be well away. You might. But you probably won’t. Writers are continuously tripped up by plot holes, unbelievable characters and various inconsistencies throughout the writing process. Gelling everything together into a cohesive whole can be tricky and will require revisions and edits to get the job done.
  1. 4) Unless you have an original idea about wizards, vampires or greying men then writing will almost certainly not make you rich. With royalties extremely low for each book sold some writers choose to self publish to earn more. However, that comes with its own set of financial problems as investment costs when one chooses to self-publishing are alarmingly high. But if you thought it was all bad…
  1. 5) It will make you happy. The feeling that you get after you have your printed book in your hands for the first time – something you painstakingly wrote and edited. Your labour of love. No one can ever take that happy, joyous, feeling away from you. It makes all the pains and aches worth it. Take the word of a writer who has been through it from start to finish.




Blurb

After narrowly preventing the destruction of Cold City, PI Bellamy Vale needs a rest. Or rather, he needs a plain and simple vanilla case—no monsters or otherworldly creatures involved!

When foreign businessman Eli Smith shows up at his doorstep with a thick wallet and a request to find his missing sister, Vale doesn’t think twice before agreeing.

If he’d known body-hopping demons and smoke monsters came attached to this job, however, he might have.


Excerpt

So what if it was mid-February? The way I was feeling that morning, I planned to sleep until New Year came around again. Hells, as far as I was concerned, I earned it ten times over. I put an end to a string of gruesome killings, prevented the apocalypse our former mayor intended for us, and I’d stuck around long enough to clean up the mess she and her minions left behind. All that thinking took out the last bit of energy I had. I closed my eyes, found a way to lie down that didn’t hurt too much, and let sleep throw its soothing blanket over me.

And then someone knocked at the door.

I groaned at the wrong timing but kept my eyes shut. There was no way in Tartarus that I was getting back up again so soon. Whoever it was could get lost.

The knocking came again.

It was more insistent this time. I could hear a sense of urgency to the motion. I forced one eye open and frowned. The sunlight streaming in from the window was too bright for it to be morning and the angle it bounced off the floorboards was all wrong. I opened my second eye and glanced at the clock on the bedside table…Three in the afternoon.

The hells?” I muttered, wondering where the day went while I shook my head to clear out the cobwebs.

The knock came a third time and I got up, grumbling all the way to the door. I didn’t bother to put clothes on or to tidy myself up before opening it. I was clad only in an old pair of sweatpants with a variety of cuts, bruises, and bandages on full display throughout my upper body. I hadn’t shaved in a week, and I was sure my hair was a sweaty mess of brown locks and dried blood.

Who knows, I thought, maybe the sight of me will convince my uninvited guest to let me get back to my coma.

If the man in the hallway took notice of my state, he didn’t let it show. He was tall and sickly thin under his rumbled three-piece suit. His pale skin provided some severe contrast with the purple bags under his brown eyes. He was somewhere between forty and forty-five. His angular face wasn’t familiar, and my frown deepened.

He looked like a potential client, the I-want-to-know-who-my-wife-is-banging type, but they rarely showed up to my private address unannounced. I made a lot of enemies in my professional career, not all of them on this side of the border, so my business card only listed my cell number.

The suit he wore appeared brand new, but I frowned more as I realized something didn’t add up. I was no fashion expert, but the matching of colors between the vest and shirt was off, brownish orange shirt covered by a purple jacket. Oh, and he wore a tie that matched his jacket…ugh. The light brown shoes were also at odds with the indigo blue pants. And there was the smell on the guy. It wasn’t a garbage smell—I’d been around enough of that over the last month to know it at first whiff—but there was a smoky quality about it that stood out.

I filed the information away for later and looked the man squarely in the eye. “What?” I croaked, my tongue feeling too thick and my mouth too dry.

Bellamy Vale?” he asked, with an accent that wasn’t from around here…Middle Eastern, maybe?

I jerked my thumb at the bell next to the door. It had my name on it.

The man peered down at it perplexed, then pressed the round button. A shrill ringing shot out of the tiny plastic box above the door, and the sound sent sharp needles dancing through my brain. I winced in pain.

Yeah—yeah, that’s me.” I rushed the words out, eager to make the noise stop. Damn, but my head was killing me. My odd gentleman caller took his finger off the button to look at me again.

I need your help,” he said, “to find my sister.”

I needed help too, preferably in the form of another round of painkillers. But that was going to have to wait. I waved my potential new client inside.


About the Author

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, where she still resides.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

She is the author of the Neve & Egan Cases series, which features an unlikely duo of private detectives in London: Ashford Egan, a blind History professor, and Alexandra Neve, one of his students.

Currently, she is hard at work on her Urban Fantasy series Vale Investigation which chronicles the exploits of Death’s only envoy on Earth, PI Bellamy Vale, in the fictitious town of Cold City, USA.

Twitter :

Website :


Goodreads :


Cristelle is giving away a $50 gift certificate to one lucky reader. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.