Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Review Tuesday: Any Fin for Love by Petie McCarty -- #EnemiesToLovers #SmallTownRomance #ReviewTuesday

Any Fin for Love cover

Any Fin for Love by Petie McCarty

First Edition 2022

Cody Ryan wishes she’d paid more attention to her father on their shared fishing trips. Now he’s gone. As a way of dealing with her grief, she has decided to enter the Loon Lake Fishing Tournament, the way he did every year. Her boat is under-powered and her fishing expertise leaves much to be desired, but Cody is determined to honor Jack Ryan’s memory even if she has zero chance of winning the competition. She doesn’t want the help of the bossy, arrogant hunk from New Orleans who seems determined to rain on her parade. It’s just too bad if he kisses like an angel.

Louisiana Coast Guard agent Gage Connor heads to Loon Lake to escape his high pressure job interdicting drug runners. Little does he realize he’s bringing trouble with him, hidden in one of the compartments of his bass boat. As far as he’s concerned, his main problem is the red-headed spitfire who’s assigned to be his fishing partner. Cody is about as relaxing as a bayou gator, but there’s something about her that draws him, too. She definitely disturbs his peace of mind.

Cody and Gage are both nursing broken hearts from their distant past. Their potent attraction and the uncanny sense of familiarity they each feel in the other’s presence aren’t quite enough to overcome their lack of trust. Only when their lives are threatened do they come to recognize their mutual love as the only thing that really matters.

Having read the hilarious blurb, I was expecting a light-hearted romcom from Any Fin for Love. Although the book has its humorous moments, it doesn’t quite have the zany quality I associate with that genre. Both Cody and Gage have serious emotional issues, which turn out to be obstacles to their romance. There’s an enemies-to-lovers vibe as each of them seems to continually disappoint the other. Meanwhile, Gage is keeping secrets that Cody really needs to know. Plus, of course, there are a couple of brutal drug dealers to keep things on the darker side.

The prose is smooth, the pace swift. The plot has quite a number of surprising twists. Some of them work well, while others seem strained. I can’t say more without spoiling the effect, but the final reveal left me a bit incredulous. Others might be more willing to suspend their disbelief.

The small town of Loon is lovingly portrayed, as are the quirky characters who live there. Courtly Doc Taylor, twin innkeepers Velma and Delma, flamboyant femme fatale Lila Tumson and her scheming brother Zeke, local restauranteur Sadie Darling – Ms. McCarty brings them all to vivid life. The wily cajun Dougah is a wonderful creation. I also appreciated the fact that some of the apparent bad guys are redeemed by the end of the tale.

And the kisses...! This is not erotic romance, so there’s nothing explicit, but the author still manages to convey the intense heat between Cody and Gage. There are some truly swoon-worthy embraces scattered through the tale, in between the pratfalls and the arguments.

Overall I enjoyed Any Fin for Love, though toward the end I lost patience a bit with the protagonists. Anyone could see they were meant for one another. As a reader, I wanted to shake them and tell them to wake up to the obvious.

Monday, January 30, 2023

At 90? Really? -- New release from @AdrianaKraft #LaterInLife #EroticRomance #LGBTQ

Swingers banner

In case you missed it, movie star Rita Moreno, 91, recently owned up on TV to becoming aroused while filming her latest movie. The scene? A men’s football locker room featuring, you guessed it, virile hunks changing clothes.

Meanwhile, I was recently chatting with a librarian friend about the erotic romance my husband and I co-author under our pen name, Adriana Kraft—at our age. My friend laughed and told me about an elderly woman who came to her library each week to request specific books. When she warned the woman how explicit one of the books was, the woman drew herself up and proclaimed, “I’m not dead yet!”

Both these women – Rita Moreno and our librarian’s patron – are three to four decades older than the happily married pair who star in our brand-new release, Swingers Light Up Vegas. Dan and Ginger have been swingers since their children grew up and left home a few years back, and they’re in Las Vegas to celebrate Ginger’s fiftieth birthday.

Swinging at 50? Feeling sexy (and desirable) at 50? Hardly a stretch of the imagination. There are lots of swingers age 50 and older. In some larger cities, there are clubs specifically by and for the older swing set, who’ve often aged out of more general lifestyle gatherings.

I think our fictional couple could easily have found such a club on their Las Vegas trip – in fact, they were referred to it by somewhat older friends back home in the Midwest.

We’ve created this short story to feed reader fantasies with a taste of the swing lifestyle. If you like this teaser, we hope you’ll come back for more!


What happens in Vegas…

Swingers Dan and Ginger head to Las Vegas to celebrate Ginger’s fiftieth birthday. Through their friends back home, they’ve scored a free week at a posh Vegas resort condominium. They fill their days with every iconic Las Vegas experience they can dream up. But by night? They’re determined not to leave Vegas without sampling what it has to offer in the erotically charged swing lifestyle. A Vegas swing club beckons – will it live up to their fantasies?

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Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/bQN2lZ

Available at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ScribD, Smashwords


Ginger heaved a sigh and slipped on the black top. “Do you think I need a bra with this?”

Laughing, Dan shook his head. “Foolish question. When have I ever thought you needed to wear a bra to a swing club? You have wonderful breasts. They shouldn’t be covered at all.”

Of course that’s what you’d say.” Ginger chuckled. “I think this will work. I’ll wear the white shorts…the shorty ones. And if you wear your black pants, we should be quite the match on the dancefloor.”

I don’t think we’ll go unnoticed. You’re hotter than hot tonight. Maybe it’s pent up energy from that abominable condo sales pitch. If so, I should write a thank you note to those sales agents.” Dan walked over to the floor-to-ceiling window and stared out at the evening lights bathing the lazy river below in a soft glow. “This is still a great place to celebrate your fiftieth birthday.”

Ginger wrapped her arms around her husband and looked over his shoulder at the courtyard below. “It’s beautiful. And the Vegas skyline is stunning from here. We couldn’t have a better view. Being on the fifth floor is just right. And you’re right, this is just the place to be for my birthday. Who knew I’d be in such a celebrative mood turning fifty? But I am. For that matter, who knew I’d feel this sexy at fifty? More than ever, really. In my twenties, I’d never have believed it was possible.”

Dan turned and pecked at Ginger’s lips, then kissed her soundly as she responded. He pulled back. “You’re so sexy it’s tempting to stay here instead of going to the club. But we have a date.”

About the Authors

Adriana Kraft is the pen name for a married pair of retired professors writing erotic romance and erotic romantic suspense together. We like to think we’ve broken the mold for staid, fusty academics, and we hope lots of former profs are enjoying life as much as we are. We believe that love is love is love, and we often feature bisexual women and ménage in our erotic romance stories. Together we have published more than fifty erotic romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews.

During our academic careers, we lived in many states across the Midwest. We love to travel, so when we retired, we sold our house and took off in our motor home across the country. We now make our home in southern Arizona, where we enjoy hiking, golf, and travel, especially to the many Arizona Native American historical sites.

We’ve featured the swing lifestyle in a number of our erotic romance stories. We penned this short story to give readers a quick taste of swinging – erotically charged, always, and a safe place for bisexual women to express the full range of their sexuality. We’ve written an entire series of novellas set in the lifestyle, entitled Swinging Games. We hope you’ll check them out! And as always, reviews are the lifeblood of romance authors, so we hope you’ll leave one for us.

Website: https://adrianakraft.com

Blog: https://www.adrianakraft.com/blog

Newsletter: free download of our erotic romance novella Cherry Tune-Up for signing up.

Twitter https://twitter.com/AdrianaKraft

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Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/adrianakraft

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BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/adriana-kraft

Extasy Books Page https://www.extasybooks.com/adriana-kraft

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Charity Sunday: Enduring the Unendurable – #ChildAbuse #SafeHouse #CharitySunday

Charity Sunday Banner

As the first Charity Sunday of the new year grew closer, I wondered what cause I should support this month. Then I happened upon a chilling column by Nicholas D. Kristof entitled “How to help girls endure the unendurable”. I can’t link to it because it’s behind the NY Times pay wall, but if you can access a copy, go read it.

The topic is pretty difficult to stomach: the rape and sexual abuse of children. In particular, Mr. Kristof is retelling some of the horrific stories of youngsters in Kenya. The World Health Organization estimates that close to one third of all women worldwide have experience physical or sexual violence, with a much higher rate in developing countries. One survey found that for the majority of women in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, their first sexual experience had been a rape.

Kristof’s Op-Ed concludes with a plea to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, and in general for developed countries to do more to fight sexual abuse and gender violence world wide. However, he also discusses grassroots efforts to support the victims, in particular the Kenyan charity Kara Olmurani. Founded by a woman minister who was attacked and raped by multiple men on the way to her own wedding, the organization runs a safe house for sexually abused young girls. Not only do child rape victims often suffer terrible injuries, but if they manage to physically recover, they may have nowhere to go. They are sometimes evicted from by their homes by shamed relatives. They may live in justified fear of further violence from their attackers, who are likely people from their community. 


Kara Olmurani provides shelter, protection, physical and psychological sustenance to support the process of healing. It’s a tiny organization, addressing the problems of a specific city, but I believe that every bit of compassion and caring is worthwhile. And the more people become aware of the problem of child rape, the more likely it is that we can reduce its frequency, and help bring the perpetrators to justice.

So – this Charity Sunday I will donate two dollars to Kara Olmurani for every comment I receive on this post. I also hope you’ll share the existence of the organization with your friends and family. For most of us, Africa is very far away. Still, the courage of the organization’s “little warriors” is universal.

I don’t have any stories that include childhood sexual abuse. Indeed, I don’t write much about their early years. Having had a loving and supportive childhood myself, I tend to confer the same on my protagonists.

I do have one short story that captures one of my heroines in her teens, before the events of the novel in which she originally appeared. When we meet Ruby Maxwell Chen in The Heart of the Deal, she’s in her mid-twenties, a ruthless businesswoman heading an international commercial conglomerate. The short story “Shades of Red” I wrote later, wondering what Ruby had been like at nineteen.

If you’re interested, you can find this story in my boxed set Bound and Breathless (https://www.lisabetsarai.com/boundandbreathlessbook.html)



Sex with strangers? For money? You’ve got to be insane, Ruby!”

Jane’s Delft-blue eyes are wide with disbelief. Her horrified protest is loud enough to trigger tolerant smiles at neighboring tables. This is, after all, worldly and decadent Amsterdam.

I’ve already hired the window. For tonight.”

But it’s dangerous!”

Oh, please! There’s 24 hour video surveillance. The police practically outnumber the tourists strolling around the district at night. Every cubicle has an alarm in case things get dicey. The landlord showed me how it worked.”

But it’s so degrading! Once a man pays you, you’re obliged to do whatever he says. You’ve got no choice.”

I sip my cappuccino. My lipstick leaves a crimson crescent on the china cup.

Nonsense. I’ll be the one in control. I was watching the women last night. Anyone whose looks they don’t like, they send away. The men are the ones who are desperate, vulnerable. They want us so much, they’re willing to pay to satisfy their desires.”

Jane shakes her head. “If your father finds out, he’ll be furious.”

How would he find out? You wouldn’t tell him, would you?” I put on a stern face, not too different from his. Cowed, she lowers her eyes.

Of course not. Still, you know how he is. It was tough to get him to agree to this trip at all. We had to really lean on the culture aspect.”

I’m old enough to make up my own mind.” My friend’s red-gold ringlets, backlit by the afternoon sun, make her look like a Botticelli angel. I relish the thought of corrupting her. “Come on, Jane! We’ve been doing nothing but high-minded museums and libraries and concerts for the past three days. I just want some fun.”

I’m afraid you’ll get more than you bargain for.”

I certainly hope so. Look, why don’t you join me? Last night I noticed quite a few windows with more than one girl. The cubicle has a double bed, and you’re so gorgeous, I’m sure you’d be popular.”

Not a chance. Freddie would break up with me in a second.”

What Freddie doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”

Jane looks insulted. “Freddie and I have a relationship based on honesty and trust. I’m not going to do something sordid and risky like that behind his back.”

I wonder if Freddie has shared with my poor friend the fact that he has propositioned me, under pretense of being drunk, at more than one party. Innocence, I decide, is bliss, at least for sweet, loyal Jane.

At least come around with me to the sex shops, to help pick out a costume and some toys.”

I’ve got a miserable headache.” Jane sounds peevish. I worry briefly that she somehow caught my thoughts about her beau. “I’m going back to the hotel to lie down. Will I see you tonight, before – I mean, are you going to have dinner, or what?”

I think I’m too excited to eat. But I’ve got to take a shower and do my makeup, and that will be easier in our room.”

Okay, see you later. Be careful.”

You know me. The coolest of the cool.”

But I’m not. In fact I’ve been obsessed ever since last night, when Jane and I wandered through the red light district, staring at the women who waited behind the glass in their rose-tinted rooms. We wove our way through clumps of nervous, intoxicated men who were all staring, too. I could smell their sweat, underneath the beer and the pot smoke. I could feel their lust. It infected me.

They barely noticed us, two teenagers in jeans, although the tight denim in my crotch was so wet, I half-expected they’d catch my scent and turn to me. They had eyes only for the bodies displayed in the rows of windows lining the canals.

Some of the women were ripe, blond, Slavic-looking, their breasts exploding out of their lace brassieres. Others were slight, deliberately child-like in Gidget-inspired bikinis or brief plaid kilts. There was a Brazilian beauty with golden skin and coffee-colored eyes; a voluptuous African princess with strings of ruby-hued beads dangling in her ebony cleavage; a serious-looking brunette wearing dark-framed glasses who sat, shapely legs crossed, like a secretary waiting to take dictation.

Some of the women posed. Others danced suggestively, or made lewd gestures at their prospective customers. There were masked women in leather, snapping riding crops against their boots. There were women whose pierced nipples and labia showed clearly through their translucent garments.

Men clustered around the dimly-lit windows like moths hovering by a candle. Mostly they’d just look, inflamed by the mere thought of all this available flesh. Sometimes I’d see a hushed conversation through a half open glass door. Such conversations might end with the man turning away, disappointed, rejected, or perhaps simply unwilling to pay the asking price. Other times the door would open wider, just enough to admit the supplicant. Then it would close and the red velvet curtains would be drawn, hiding the rest of the dance.

Those curtained windows drew me. I couldn’t stop imagining what might be going on behind them. I knew it was a straight commercial transaction in most cases, a workman-like blowjob, or a quick, bored fuck. Still, I imagined occasional revelations, epiphanies, ecstasies – meetings of strangers pre-destined to be lovers, brief but unbearably intense conflagrations of lust, lewd and mystical connections that would live in his memory, or hers, long after the curtains were flung open again.

I’m nineteen. I’ve had enjoyable but ultimately frustrating sex with two boys my age. I know that, practical as I am, I’m a bit of a romantic. Otherwise, I would not have continued to roam the red-lit alleys long after Jane gave up and went back to the hotel in disgust. As the Oude Kerk chimed two AM, I wandered up Molensteeg and down Monnikenstraat like some horny ghost. The crowds had thinned. The curtains were mostly drawn. Some of open windows were empty, aside from the signs: KAMERS TE HUUR. Windows for rent.


Please do leave a comment. Every one will help heal the soul of an abused child.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Catching the design bug – #CoverArt #Romance #Discount @AmberDaulton1

Satin Rose logo

By Amber Daulton (Guest Blogger)

Covers to make your book shine is my motto.

Hi, I’m Amber Daulton, founder of Satin Rose Designs. I’ve been writing professionally and offering various author services since 2012, but I opened the doors to my latest business venture in January 2022, a year this month. To celebrate my one-year anniversary, my author friend Lisabet Sarai was gracious enough to let me visit her site. (Authors, I have a special offer for you. Keep reading to learn more.)

I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of learning cover art design, but I thought it went way beyond my skill set. Even though I made do by creating graphic teasers and book trailers for myself, there was still a little voice in the back of my head that kept urging me to try and create a real book cover. After my publisher returned the audio rights to me for Lyrical Embrace, I finally decided it was time to learn. 

Thanks to help from some author/designer friends, I created my first audiobook cover and matched it to fit the ebook version, although with a few noticeable differences. I was so excited and wanted to do more—and more. Yes, I’d finally caught the design bug! When the ebook and print rights to some other books reverted to me, I got my chance, but it still wasn’t enough. Then a few authors asked if I ever thought about doing cover work professionally, and I thought, “Why not?” A lot of research, headaches, and TONS of practice and work later, I’d created over 50 romance covers and built a new website to feature them.


Juggling the writing, publishing, and marketing part of my Amber Daulton brand was already a time-consuming process, and now I’ve added cover work to the mix. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but also exhilarating. How do I manage it, you might ask? Well, I break my work into parts. I write for a couple months with marketing and publishing weaved in when necessary, and then I put my writing aside for a few months to create new covers. When a client purchases a cover from me, I weave it into my current work schedule and mark it as top priority.

Currently, I have over 80 premade romance book covers available for sale. The price is only $50 each. My Premade Ebook Gallery includes Chick Lit/Rom Com, Contemporary, Historical, Holiday, LGBTQ, Paranormal/Fantasy, and Romantic Suspense. The Contemporary category has the largest selection of covers, but I plan to extend the others in the coming months.


Paperback and Audiobook covers, as well as 3D Box Set covers and Social Media Graphics, can be ordered as add-ons for each premade.

Here’s my website for more information: https://satinrosedesigns.amberdaulton.com

Feel free to sign up to my exclusive newsletter for notifications about new covers, sales, discounts, and more. New subscribers get a FREE social media graphic with the order of a Premade Cover. Join here: https://satinrosedesigns.eo.page/r2kfc

Now, to my special offer. For any author who purchases a premade ebook cover between now and February 15th, 2023, add this discount code LisabetBlog2023 in the cover request form (found on each cover product page), and you’ll get 10% off the ebook cover purchase. If for some reason the cover request form isn’t working or you just can’t use it, email me at amber@satinrosedesigns.amberdaulton.com and mention this blog post for your 10% off discount. I’m pretty easy to work with, so just get in touch with me any way you can. (Discount not applicable for any add-ons.)

Thank you for reading, and I hope to connect with you soon. If you have any questions, check out the FAQ page on my website or message me/comment below.

About the Designer, Amber Daulton

Amber is an author, blogger, reviewer, and cover designer. She’s been writing and creating promotional graphics for herself for years, but then she created her first audiobook cover after consulting with designer friends and diving headfirst into photo editing to learn, learn, learn. She’s created a couple of ebook and print covers for herself since then and has been getting some awesome feedback from other authors, like—
Will you create something for me?

Hence, Satin Rose Designs was born.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Join us for Charity Saturday, 29 January 2023! #CharitySundaySignup #Altruism #Marketing

Winter spruce

 Image by Gabriela Piwowarska from Pixabay

Since 2017, I’ve been devoting the last Sunday in each month to a post which features some worthy cause. Often, other bloggers join me in this effort, turning the event into a blog hop. The January Charity Sunday blog hop will take place this coming Sunday, January 29th.

Charity Sunday is a meme designed to give authors and bloggers a chance to give back to the world—as well as, hopefully, to attract new readers.

How does it work? Each participant selects a favorite charity. Before
the date, you should prepare a blog post that: 1) talks about the charity and why you support it; 2) provides a link to the charity; 3) includes an excerpt from one of your books; 4) includes the code to show links to other participating blogs.

It’s fun if you can make the excerpt relate somehow to your chosen charity, but this isn’t required.

For every comment left on your post, you commit to giving some amount to the relevant charity. The specific charity and the amount to donate are up to you. You can set an upper limit to your donation if you want.

If you’d like to participate in the next Charity Sunday
on January 29th, just sign up using the Linky List below. Please be sure that the link you enter will lead directly to your Charity Sunday post, not just to the home page of your blog.

I’ve created a new banner image for 2023. You can download it from here: https://www.lisabetsarai.com/2023CharitySundayBanner.jpg

For more detailed instructions, go here:


For an example
post, check out this link from my last Charity Sunday:


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Meeting my other hero … #Steampunk #MFRWHooks #Contest

 Amorous Couple Banner

It’s Wednesday once again, time for another MFRW Book Hooks blog hop. I’m still sharing exclusive bits from my new steampunk ménage release The Master’s Mark. Last week I featured one of Gillian’s lovers, Rafe Wystock. Today I introduce you to the other.

Let me remind you that my Toymakers contest runs until January 31st. You could win a $10 bookstore gift card, plus an ebook copy of the new release. For details on entering, see my post from last Wednesday. It’s really easy!

In this excerpt, Gillian and the Guild Governing Director Amelia Featherstone are taking a steamer from England to France, to try convincing a former Toymaker to rejoin them.


How do you train a steampunk sexbot?

Gillian’s promotion to journeyman proves she’s ready to lead the Guild in producing astonishing new erotic artifacts. Creative, brilliant, and debauched, she’ll stretch her capabilities to the limit as she juggles a talent shortage and a pair of jealous rivals. Then there’s the challenge of their latest commission—a life-sized programmable sex doll intended to replace a client’s deceased paramour.

The Hook

It was a glorious though breezy May day, the sky a brilliant blue scattered with delicate puffs of cloud. Gillian’s heart felt nearly as light as she followed Amelia onto the boat.

The Ladies’ Salon is on the upper level,” the older woman commented. “Shall we establish ourselves there and order some tea? We’ll have a fine view.”

I’d rather stay outside, if you don’t mind.” Gillian wanted to explore the lower rear deck so she could study the wake of the ship, in order to see what it could tell her about the forces on the screw shaft.

Very well. Do take care, though. We don’t want you falling overboard.”

Don’t be concerned. I’ll be careful.”

Amelia gathered her hand baggage and headed up a spiral stair to the cabins above. Gillian wended her way to the stern, where she found she was the only occupant. It was windier here than it had been on land, and colder. She had to hold on to her hat to keep it firmly on her head.

The boat had already passed the barrier that protected the harbour. The famous chalk cliffs shrank toward the horizon as the steamer’s bow sliced through the waves. Gillian had read that modern steam engines could travel as fast as 20 knots, with a fuel consumption of less than an ounce of coal per mile travelled. The swift, smooth passage was indeed a marvel.

The powerful engine twisted the water into a braided trail that stretched back toward the land. With the fine weather, Gillian scarcely noticed any rocking. She leaned over the rail slightly, trying to catch a glimpse of the sub-surface screw.

Have a care, Miss! ‘Tis a fair day, but we might hit a swell that’d topple you into the deep in two whisks of a pony’s tail.”

The tenor voice had a mellow tone and a lilt that was unfamiliar. Gillian looked up to find a tall, slim young man in the uniform of a ship’s officer standing beside her. Despite his implicit criticism, he wore a broad smile, all the more noticeable because his skin was nearly as black as the coal that fuelled the Invicta. His warm brown eyes held more than a hint of humour.

I’ve got a good grip on the rail,” she replied. “I was just curious about the screw.”

Oh?” His brow furrowed in surprise. “Why’s that?”

I’m—” she started to tell him she was an engineer, then remembered that she should be discreet about the Guild and her role in its somewhat scandalous endeavours. “I’m a teacher. I teach science in a private secondary school. And I want to be able to explain the workings of modern steam engines to my students.”

Indeed! I don’t meet many young ladies who’re interested in such things.” His grin widened, his excellent teeth gleaming like pearls. “And what would you like to know, Miss?”

Well – it’s a triple expansion design, is it not? What’s the maximum boiler pressure? Can it handle 200 pounds per square inch?”

Astonishment quenched his teasing smile. “That it can, Miss, though I’m rightly stunned that someone like you would know, or care.”

Gillian shrugged. “I’ve always had an interest in the inner workings of things.” She gave him a closer look and liked what she saw. He had the same lanky build as Rafe, and some of the same restless energy that distinguished her lover. His facial features were more angular than she would have expected; popular depictions of black men tended to show bulbous, flat noses and thick lips. His high forehead signalled intelligence, at least according to common belief. Tightly curled hair clung to his well-shaped skull.

Given Her Majesty’s far-flung empire, it wasn’t that unusual to see dark-skinned individuals around London, but she rarely had the opportunity to interact with them.

As he noticed her scrutiny, his smile returned. “Imagine I could do a bit to satisfy your curiosity, but right now I’m supposed to be working.” Arms by his sides, he gave a stiff little bow. “Jeremiah Manley, Second Engineer of the SS Invicta, at your service.”

I’m delighted to make your acquaintance, Engineer Manley. I’m Gillian Smith.”

And where do you hail from, Miss Smith?”

I – um – currently I’m working in Devon.”

As a school teacher?”

She nodded, aware that he didn’t quite believe her. “I don’t suppose you could give me a tour of the engine room, could you?”

I’d love to, Miss, but that’s strictly off limits – watch out!”

A sudden gust had snatched her hat and sent it flying toward the ship’s wake. She flailed, trying unsuccessfully to catch the fugitive headgear and in the process lost her balance, stumbling into the deck rail. Jeremiah Manley reached out, caught her upper arm in a strong grip, and pulled her against him, away from the edge.

She had an impression of strength, warmth, and energy. His muscles shifted under the well-fitting uniform as he tightened his hold on her. She found herself a bit breathless, though whether this was the consequence of her near-disaster or his masculine presence she couldn’t quite say.

He held onto her for longer than was really necessary to stabilise her position.

I did warn you, Miss Smith,” he said in that odd, musical accent when he finally released her. “The sea can be perilous.”


Visit the book page on my website for all buy links! Speaking of which, the first book in this series is still on sale for only 99 cents at all outlets. Links are here.

And I do hope you’ll visit the other authors participating in today’s hop.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Review Tuesday: Stone and Chains by Aurelia T. Evans -- #UrbanFantasy #Angels #Demons #ReviewTuesday

Stone and Chains cover

Stone and Chains by Aurelia T. Evans

Totally Bound Publishing, 2022

Abby is a night owl. As the offspring of a union between an angel and a human woman, she has a miraculous power to heal which she quietly applies in her job as an after-hours clinic nurse. When she’s finished with her shift, she walks the streets of Meridian until dawn, alert for people who need her help. She doesn’t seek out trouble, but if she encounters anyone threatened by the city’s ubiquitous demons, she’s ready for battle. Her healing abilities extend to her own body, giving her a sense of cautious invincibility.

She’s convinced she’s fulfilling her purpose in life, until she meets Charles, a devastatingly attractive incubus who claims that the father she’s finally located, imprisoned in stone on a cemetery monument, is in fact “nephil”, a fallen angel. To avoid succumbing to Charles’ sex magic, she has forbidden him to touch her, but he is both devious and seductive. Before long, she starts to believe that she harbors the same sort of darkness Charles himself represents.

When Abby discovers a cult devoted to incarnating one of most dangerous demons in existence, she crosses paths with a second supernatural being, the gargoyle Zekiel. By day he’s a winged statue, a frozen ornament on one of Meridian’s baroque buildings. By night he flies free, fighting the many evil denizens of the city as a path to his own redemption. Together, Abby and Zekiel take on the vicious and depraved worshippers of Moloch. Their mutual attraction flourishes despite Abby’s secret trysts with Charles and Zekiel’s tendency to turn to stone in the middle of an erotic interlude. But Zekiel has a secret that ties him to Charles as well.

Aurelia T. Evans’ Arcanium books are long-time favorites of mine. Hence I was eager to read the first book in her new Meridian series. I know few authors who are so expert in blending eroticism and horror or in exposing the ambiguities that arise when we try to label someone as good or evil. Thus, I stepped into her new, magic-haunted city with high expectations.

I must admit to a certain level of disappointment. Meridian, with its intimate blend of the heavenly and the hellish, provides a fitting backdrop for one of her tales. Abby’s questionable background presents many opportunities for the sort of moral twists that distinguish Arcanium. The erotic connection between her and the incubus Charles is stunningly vivid, crushingly arousing. Likewise, the history he shares with Zekiel ramps up the intensity and draws these three main characters into a intricate web of love, hate and lust.

I was hoping to see Ms Evans exploit this triangle with the deftness she’s shown in her other books. Without presenting any spoilers, I’ll just say that this is not the way things play out. I was disappointed that she didn’t develop the tricky erotic and thematic possibilities inherent in the situation, but opted for a more traditional resolution.

Romance readers might be pleased with her ending, but I felt that the inspired creator of Bell Madoc and the Ringmaster could have pushed the envelope and given us something that would linger longer in the mind, making us think more about values and choices.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Lost Wonder -- #EroticaMarket #Nostalgia #AmWriting

Sensual image of nude woman

Image by 25621 from Pixabay

Do you remember when erotica was more than just something to get you off? When writing erotica involved more than selecting a few of the latest hot tropes and “hammering on the kink”?

I do. When I first started publishing in the genre, we wanted to create original and surprising tales, mapping out unknown regions in the vast territory of desire. We used our stories to explore the many facets of sex and arousal, starting, almost always, with our own.

Of course people have always written about sex, often driven by personal kinks and quirks, but from the mid-nineties through the first decade of the twenty first century, it became more practical, and socially acceptable, to do so. Serious publishers began to produce erotic titles. This included the wildly popular Black Lace imprint (“Erotica for women by women”) and Blue Moon Books which was the direct descendant of Barney Rosset’s censor-defying Grove Press. Cleis Press, Circlet Press, and other independent houses produced best-selling, award-winning themed anthologies. Alessia Brio’s altruistic Coming Together imprint brought out more than a dozen erotica collections that raised hundreds of dollars for charitable causes. Maxim Jakubowski edited thirteen annual volumes of The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, selecting erotic short stories that had been published during the previous year. He had plenty of options from which to choose.

There were online publishing options, too, webzines like Clean Sheets, Ruthie’s Place, and of course the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. Back in those days, we had fresh content in our Gallery every month. If you’d like a taste of the quality and diversity ERWA members produced, check out the 2006 volume Cream, a collection of more than forty tales curated from Storytime submissions.

It’s easy and often naive to look back on the past and see a golden age. In the case of erotica, though, I think the products of that period speak for themselves. Laura Antoniou’s The Marketplace. K.D. Grace’s The Initiation of Ms Holly. Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords, by Cecilia Tan. Neptune and Surf by Marilyn Jaye Lewis. So many stories, all of them different, going far beyond the mechanics of sex to investigate the meaning and the consequences of desire.

Less well-known but equally representative of the time is Portia da Costa’s Gemini Heat, the sizzling Black Lace title that got me started in the erotica business. I’d never read anything like that novel, which is both feverishly hot and fantastically well-written. It includes a glorious variety of arousing scenarios: exhibitionism, voyeurism, masturbation, power exchange, ménage, anonymous sex, lesbian sex, even twins. Devouring that book, I never knew what to expect – but I knew it would turn me on. Once I’d cooled down, I began to think about all the personal fantasies I’d include, if I were to write my own erotic novel. Inexperienced though I was, I like to believe that with Raw Silk I succeeded in my joint quest for diversity and heat.

Though it was as graphic as anything published now, the erotica of the nineties and the aughts had an exuberance that bordered on innocence. We could write about whatever turned us on. There were no rules, tropes or fixed sub-genres. Calls for anthologies might articulate themes, but contributors were urged to interpret these as broadly as we wished.

We were high on the thrill of sharing our personal erotic visions with the world. Whether we were reading a wickedly sexy story by another author or producing one of our own, there was a sense of wonder in the process – mingled, usually, with arousal.

Alas, I think that wonder has been lost. The market has changed dramatically. Much of what is now sold as erotica is so stereotyped and genre-constrained that one can predict the events of the story without reading a single sentence. There’s no suspense, no uncertainty. Indeed, many of the erotic books on offer broadcast their kinks in the title. Some results from a random Amazon search on the keyword “erotica”:

  • Busty Stepmoms Swapped Stepsons And Ride Them : MOM AND SON SECRET Sex Adult Hot Threesome Menage Erotica Dirty Explicit Sex Stories
  • Explicit Erotica Sex Stories: The Collection Of Naughty Virgin, Cheating Wife, Hottest Forbidden, College Brats, Taboo Family, Dark Romance, And Many More 
  • EXPLICIT M/M SEXY STORIES: Naughty & Filthy First Time Straight to Gay Erotic Short Story Collection (MMM, Taboo Daddy Dom, Dark Romance, Bisexual, BBC)
Granted, these are extreme examples. Here are some titles from recent editions of the Excite Spice newsletter:

  • Disciplined While on House Arrest

  • Shared with My Husband’s Boss

  • The Neighborhood Hucow Hotwife

Even Cleis has added subtitles to their classic anthologies.

Yet this sort of erotica often sells well, despite the predictability. Part of the reason is Amazon’s algorithms. The more explicit you are about the content you’re publishing, the more likely it is that your book with come up near the top of a reader’s search.

Another reason for the shift is the drop in attention span encouraged by today’s world of social media and digital content. People don’t have the time or patience for browsing. Overloaded with information from a dozen different input streams, readers may prefer things to be simple: give me a hot wife story, a spanking story, a tight-virgin-big-cock story, a pseudo-incest story. Name your kink and the Internet will deliver. Exploring the richness of sexuality is a forgotten luxury.

I also believe that people’s attitudes toward sex have changed. When I started writing erotic content, I was continually amazed, almost awed, by the power of sex to transform experience. I was on a continuing journey of sexual discovery; when I began to publish my work, my characters took similar journeys, without knowing where those quests would end.

Do readers feel that way now? I doubt it. I’ve read statistics indicating that people are having sex less frequently now than twenty years ago, and that they are enjoying it less. The amount of graphic content available keeps growing, but the level of individual satisfaction seems to be diminishing.

That makes me very sad.

Everyone knows that the older you get, the more affectionately you look back on earlier times. Perhaps authors and readers three or four decades younger than I am do not see things the way I do. To be honest, I miss the lusty thrill of erotica’s “golden age” – and I’m still trying to capture it in the books I write.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Welcome the Year of the Rabbit! – #ChineseNewYear #Giveaway #GoodLuck

Year of the Rabbit

Image by Raka C. from Pixabay

Many of you might not be aware that today is the start of the Chinese New Year festival, the first day in the Year of the Rabbit. I live in Asia (though not in China), where Chinese New Year is actually a bigger holiday than January 1st. Shops in certain parts of my city will be closed for the next few days, as the proprietors visit friends and relatives. People also gather at the local temples to make offerings and pray for good fortune.

I’d like to wish everyone who reads this post a year of prosperity, health and happiness. I also want to remind you about my ongoing contest celebrating the recent completion of my Toymakers Guild series. I’m giving away a $10 bookstore gift card plus a free ebook copy of my new release.

Because today is a lucky day, I’ll count any contest entries I receive between now and Monday at 11:59 twice. Just send an email to me at contest [at] lisabetsarai [dot] com. In the email, tell me the name of any two characters in The Master’s Mark.

I will draw a winner on February 1st.

But don’t wait – for a limited time you can double your chances of winning!