Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Erotica reviews of the month

Is it a bad generalization to state that married women write erotica much more conducive to a guy than single women? I admit I'm generalizing (which is never good), but when I read the Author's Note at the end of an erotica I thought was good, the author is happily married, with kids, etc. When I read the Author's Note of erotica I thought was too girly-centric or containing menage and BDSM, the authors are usually single. Oversimplification? Maybe, but one that generally holds true (in my case).

Silver Fire
, by Jeanne Barrack (***)

Intense passion for her soulmate transports our heroine Mirelle to the fantasy world Hearthome teeming with magical wizards, princes, and flying unicorns. In Hearthome, magic comes from the dust lanbeth produced from a "joining" between true mates who climax together. True mates preordained by the Fates in Hearthome are rare, and their climaxing at the same time even rarer. Hence, many in this fantasy world covet the magic dust lanbeth due to its extremely sparse and dwindling supply. Our hero is the wizard prince Jareth set Morath, son of Morath, tall and very handsome of course. Jareth calls to Mirelle on Earth and migrates her back to his own fantasy world. Once in Hearthome, Jareth and Mirelle immediately pledge their devotion to each other and they engage in some steamy sex. Mirelle is in a trance and after, she tries to help Jorath and his mentor Narik piece through the conspiracy rocking Mirelle's own family. She discovers she's actually a princess from Hearthome, ordained as Jareth's soulmate, and her royal family devastated by insidious plots and treachery. Narik suggests Mirelle's uncle who seemingly eliminated any competition for dominion over Hearthome. Jareth and Mirelle work together to disentangle the pieces clouding Hearthome.

Admittedly, the tale exhibits its fair share of silliness and senselessness but I found the chemistry between Jareth and Mirelle very passionate and it doesn't shy away from allowing Mirelle to show how much she wants Jareth. There's plenty of sex scenes and most of them are extremely heated because of their mutual desire for each other. In trying to make the people of Hearthome authentic, Jareth sometimes comes across very flaky both in his speech and mannerisms. The plotting and settings obviously leave something to be desired, but you can't argue Jareth & Mirelle's passion and love for each other one bit.

Jeanne Barrack writes a series on Hearthome, and I started reading the second installment in this dealing with Jareth's brother entitled AMBER INFERNO but I couldn't finish that one. The plotting in AMBER INFERNO reached levels of inanity and senselessness I couldn't quite stomach.

Price of Fame, by Ashley Ladd ()

This receives a zero not because it describes elements of a menage a trois or BDSM (I find little value in either) but because it's so ridiculously *girly* and stereotypically skewed from a female's point-of-view, I wanted to literally retch my insides out. Our twenty-eight year-old heroine Wenefred "Wendy" Applegate AKA Skye Blue harbors a mountain of insecurities and prejudices from page 1 to the very end. All beautiful women in this story are either air-headed bimbos (Thunder's drop-dead gorgeous wife Carly, or Wendy's band members Rain and Hail evidenced by Wendy's derogatory thoughts when Rain suggests an idea for their band, or all the ditzy bimbos in Wendy's sister's beauty pageants) or the beautiful women are extremely annoying (Wendy's beauty queen little sister Angelina). There exists beautiful, confident and successful women, but you'd never know it from this story. Apparently only plain women like our heroine Wendy has any brains as she spends the whole story ridiculing beautiful women and yet fawns over handsome, ripped men. She summarily condemns all beautiful women as dumb, she entertains menage fantasies with two hot men and yet she's insecure in a threesome with another, potentially prettier woman (c'mon, we can't really measure beauty and yet there's little doubt we can gauge the size of two dicks in a menage and she as a woman is insecure?!). All the hot men in this story are of course considerate and smart along with possessing handsome faces, huge biceps, pecs, abs, hard thighs and mammoth erections described in excruciating detail ad nauseam. I wouldn't mind so much if I didn't have to read Wendy whining about her plain looks, her family ignoring her as a child and focusing on her little beautiful sister Angel, etc., etc., etc. You name it, our Wendy has a whine ready for it on autopilot. When a hotel concierge doesn't treat her with the utmost respect and care due to a diva because she didn't have her face paint on, she whines. Nevermind two hot guys pursue Wendy the entire story (her band member Thunder and the hot Dr. Trace Cooper), she continues to whine about her plain, insignificant looks. Nevermind that she's more successful than her little sister, she constantly whines about her pretty little sister garnering all the attention. Despicably, it's our hero the tall, hot and ripped Dr. Trace Cooper who makes all the sacrifices in the end (consistently shown working out and also a high school football star who enjoyed all the cheerleaders back in the day). Though he considers the peculiar resemblances behind Skye Blue and Wendy a couple times, Trace never explores his hunch behind Skye Blue's true identity. He dismisses the notion that Skye Blue could be his Wendy and everyone melodramatically learns of Skye Blue's true identity from the media. Instead of crafting a circumstance where Trace explores his hunch and possibly turns the tables on Wendy, Trace remains a dolt throughout. Of course he's built like a body builder, he's a doctor, played high school football and dated all the cheerleaders, what more could a plain, insecure girl like Wendy want? And from my vantage point, Wendy remains ugly both from the inside and outside. Her petty grudges and mountain of insecurities never diminish. Her bitchy attitude towards Trace never ceases until the last page. Trace must chase her across the country after she lies to him about her identity and Trace must declare words of love and devotion to assuage her concerns despite media attention of her new beau, a TV star. Trace must abandon his practice in Florida and relocate to California to accommodate Wendy's illustrious career. I literally wanted to barf.

The essential premise revolves around Wendy struggling to hide her public persona from her family and friends back in Florida. She resents her family (her mother and little sister) for always making her feel secondary, and she hates her childhood crush Trace for saying he would prefer her sister Angel's beauty when they were all very little. Wendy has grown up to be the distinguished lead singer Skye Blue in the famous band called Storm and with all the face paint she's successful keeping her real identity secret from the media and her public persona hidden from her family. When health conditions handicap her aging mother, Wendy returns to her home in Florida and the girly, juvenile feeling of the story steadily rises while everything else promptly disintegrates. Her childhood crush Trace is her mother's doctor and she's Bitch Numero Uno around him. Shockingly, our doctor is a fan of Wendy's band Storm and he attends her Florida concerts dressed in tight leather and of course the Wendy's girly notions escalate. Wendy wants men to look beyond superficial beauty in women and yet fawns over beautiful men (Thunder and Trace) at every turn. She's not only petty, jealous, insecure and plain looking, but she's also hypocritical. Trace enjoys Skye Blue's attentions after a concert, completely ignorant of Skye Blue's true identity. Trace never discovers anything for himself and the story continues on its girly, stereotypical and hypocritical course.

Before the Fire, by Jaid Black (****)

I've skimmed through a few of Jaid Black's work and I can confidently say that compared to all the other erotica (i.e. Lora Leigh), Jaid Black writes one of the few erotica that guys can read as well as women. Her stories contain hot guys, but they also contain hot, smart women and the passion isn't heavily one-sided (all the pleasuring from the guy to the girl) nor the plotting too feminine (notions of tingly reactions for example). BEFORE THE FIRE comprises of futuristic, scifi elements merged with time traveling to the common setting of most historical romances, Georgian England. Although I tried not to, BEFORE THE FIRE made me laugh so many times that I have to recognize its light, passionate and humorous touches in an otherwise silly and foolish tale. If a nonsensical story makes me laugh, I have to give it props, and if the story is meant to be an erotica strictly for women, I have to laud its efforts. It's like laughing at one of Mel Brooks' silly yet funny movies (like SPACEBALLS). Some of the "magical" elements here weren't nearly as inane here as in Barrack's SILVER FIRE.

In the year 2429 AD, a new mutation of a virus threatens all of mankind distributed across various planets and solar systems. I had to laugh at the name: BV-5, or Brain Virus Five. Scientist and "planabotonologist" (a botanist for all the planets, I'm assuming) Kane Edmonds represents Commander Linder's last hope for his stricken son Egis. Linder asks Kane to travel back in time during Georgian England when there exists evidence of a "kabitross" plant which possesses herbs to combat the deadly BV-5. Kane agrees, traveling to the estates of Blackmore, where rumors abound of the Earl of Blackmore having murdered his wife. George Wyndom, the ninth Earl of Blackmore and heir apparent to the Duke of Browning, espies a thoroughly nude Kane on his land and understandably falls prey to lust instantaneously. Kane is taken aback by George's massive size and handsome countenance and asks some amusing and yet pointed questions of George. George finds a woman like Kane who doesn't abide traditional protocol and custom very refreshing. Kane tells George she's American and she seeks a plant vital to her research. George wants to court Kane formally but Kane refuses to march to the time period's pace and proceeds to shock George all the while capturing his heart thoroughly. More characters from the 1776 appear and the mystery behind George's first wife is unraveled. Kane slowly acquired new friends and family in 1776 all the while searching frantically for the plant. Again, the passion resonated and chemistry sizzled in this one minus the cloying muliebrity so characteristic of this genre.

Rainlashed, by Leda Swann (****)

This one is too fun for guys, what guy wouldn't want a hot mermaid-like creature wanting nothing more than to please him 24/7? This one is definitely skewed a little bit for guys but not nearly as bad as Agnew's DANGEROUS INTENTIONS (below) or Ladd's PRICE OF FAME (above) are skewed for women. RAINLASHED contains paranormal elements in the Regency England setting. Our heroine Maya is a "selkie," or a creature capable of shape-shifting between seal and human form though her first love lies with the water and oceans. Selkies also possess magical powers affecting the ocean. Our hero Ian Argyle, Earl of Stoneleigh, was born to the land but also shares a love of sea and ocean like Maya. Iain comes to terms with his love for Maya in the end and sacrifices a part of himself to be with Maya long-term. Maya is sexy, innocent, unabashed, and provocative -- pretty much every guy's dream and Leda Swann captures a guy's dream perfectly just this once.

The premise: Iain dreams of capturing one of the slippery selkies on the shore of his estates ever since they taunted, teased and finally escaped his clutches as a child. When Iain stumbles on some beautiful female selkies bathing on the rocks in the sun, he resolves to capture their seal skins which would effectively enslave them. A selkie would do anything to reacquire her seal skin. In fact, a selkie without her seal skin is powerless to transform to seal form and enjoy the waters. When Iain captures Maya's younger sister's seal skin, Maya barters her own seal skin in exchange for her sister's. Iain would have returned the younger sister's seal skin, it's Maya he's wanted from the moment he laid eyes on her, and he cruelly uses Maya's desperation to enslave her to him. Iain tells Maya that if she pleases him enough, he'll return her seal skin back to her. Unfortunately whatever Maya does for him sexually only makes Iain latch onto her harder and harder. The story's end satisfies as Iain forsakes part of his life on land to be with Maya, and Iain doesn't ask Maya to abandon her love for the sea and ocean permanently. Leda Swann's love for the water and ocean is evident and I enjoyed the story thoroughly.

Naughty Mistress Nita, by Jodi Lynn Copeland (**)

Conservative and a general good girl, NAUGHTY MISTRESS NITA describes Anita Roemer shedding her shell of inhibitions and discovering her sexual side in the arms of tall, gruff and handsome Zane Matthews. In spite of any expectations stemming from the title, our dominant hero Zane Matthews quickly turns the tables on Anita and she's the recipient of some of Zane's naughty ministrations, not the other way around.

Jordan asks her best friend Anita to drive to a lodge in the boondocks in order to cancel an appointment with one Zane Matthews. Jordan works as a professional dominatrix, and she's tried calling him, but there's no answer. Jordan doesn't want to leave the guy hanging since he's prepaid and so Anita drives all the way to Zane's cabin to cancel the appointment with the professional dominatrix Jordan. The entire premise is way too bizarre and Jordan goads her friend Anita that she could sit in for her, but then laughs it off recognizing Anita for the sexual prude she is. Anita walks in on Zane's empty but messy cabin and proceeds clean up the place and sleep in the bed after a storm strands her there. Fairly outrageous circumstances to be sure. Zane walks in on the professional dominatrix his buddies have arranged for him after his recent separation with his cheating ex-wife. Her conservative attire sure doesn't scream dominatrix, Zane thinks. The story has Anita shifting between her conservative self and the role as a confident dominatrix. Zane believes Anita is new at this but then quickly deduces she couldn't be a lifetime dominatrix. Like Copeland's INTO THE ARCTIC piece in the Anthology: A Faerie Tale, I smiled and chuckled at some of the amusing and humorous writing. Still, there was something missing in the sensuality (compared to Copeland's INTO THE ARCTIC in Anthology: A Faerie Tale), and the plotting and ending seemed empty.

Erotic Stranger, by Cheyenne McCray (*)

This is a full-fledged BDSM fantasy though it restrains from any menage. Corporate lawyer Teri Carter wants to drop her inhibitions for a night, have pure, unadulterated sex with a stranger who will nail her hard, long and leave her satisfied. Used to ordering and bossing others around, Teri is a closet subservient in the Dom/Sub BDSM relationship. Successful entrepreneur and Dom Josh Williams recognizes Teri in the hotel bar as a hot potential Sub. Both are attracted to one another and Josh takes Teri back to his room, ties her up and their games in bondage and pain escalate as Josh unveils his arsenal of BDSM toys and gadgets. Some of the pain Josh inflicts on Teri borders on torture and I guess I'll never understand a woman actually liking this much pain. I'm all for some butt slapping, but some of Josh's professional BDSM toys mean business. Somehow, love ensues from all this. This is, by far, the shortest of the stories amongst these reviews and offers little substance and less plotting.

Dangerous Intentions, by Denise A. Agnew (*)

This begins with some substantive prose and promise with respect to the plotting but quickly takes a nosedive for the worse. Although not as girly and woman-centric as Ladd's PRICE OF FAME (above), it comes darn close! Thankfully it forgoes PRICE OF FAME's nauseating insecurities and the heroine here in DANGEROUS INTENTIONS is really hot. But this story is interested in one thing and one thing alone: magnify the appearance of the hot, ripped guy, and detail his pleasuring of our heroine Kiley. Every time Kiley wishes to offer something for our hero Scott Danger, he brushes her off. It gets old after the third and fourth times which are so female-centric and imply any ripped, handsome guy could elicit such uninhibited reactions from our pretty heiress Kiley. Not to mention any man would love to have her doing a small fraction of the pleasuring Scott bestows Kiley; and no, after the third, fourth, fifth times her favorable reactions alone are not enough and *every* man would move on after the the woman's selfish second time. If she really "loved" him, she wouldn't let Scott brush her off so easily when she starts to return a fraction of his servicing attentions. The whole time, Kiley shoulders bruises from a prior relationship (Barclay), someone macho and handsome who looks and acts like Scott. Hence, she's reluctant to submit to him completely and commit to him. Scott has no problem loving her, giving her pleasure, and putting himself out there for her without the least bit of any expectation on her part to reciprocate (in anything).

Kiley's billionaire uncle Reginald Casey Chapman of Chapman Enterprises has some enemies and expects some trouble from his old business partner Gregory Thorson who was recently released from prison. Kiley's uncle hires Scott's agency and specifically Scott to protect Kiley. Scott is the best: he's "lean and mean," possesses the obligatory wide shoulders, ripped muscles, handsome countenance and hails from a celebrated past in secret ops and protection which would hone and tone his muscles. The story shifts to mostly Kiley's very girly and cloying perspective as Scott responds to Kiley's ad looking for a hero and having qualities of a hero. Kiley would be around the successful candidate 24/7 to observe the qualities of a hero, and that would suit Scott's purposes just fine -- to protect her of course. Kiley's uncle advises that he must protect her without revealing that he was hired to protect her since Kiley would have none of that. The story contains absolutely zero surprises, everything is predictable and the villains do some things that make Scott desperate to protect Kiley and want her more (also predictably).

His Female (Gryffin Strain 01), by Madison Hayes (**)

Another paranormal story, this one deals with a human -- our heroine Chiarra -- caught in the midst of Gryffin politics. Gryffin are fantastical creatures but essentially humanoid in form and genitalia. Both females and males have these fantastic multi-colored fans spanning their body, females are straight-waisted and flat-chested, while males' phallus stem directly from underneath and between their legs. Their arousal leans horizontal while a human male's arousal leans vertical more often than not. Also, females are common amongst the species while males rare. A male's "fold" will contain the male with as many as 8 wives. In fact, our hero Jarrk's fold consists of 7-8 women. Male gryffin can perform some neat tricks while embedded in the female and consequently the females climax almost immediately while it takes many females for the male to climax. Male gryffins covet human females because they're able to last longer. It's all very amusing and silly at the same time.

After Chiarra ventures to gryffin territory and is captured, she watches a fight between the evil Gryffin male Grat and our hero Jarrk. Our human heroine Chiarra was brought up to believe gryffin are less than human, that they're mostly animal. Grat abused and killed the last human female that they captured and Jarrk wishes to protect Chiarra from Grat's malevolence. After Jarrk defeats Grat, Chiarra joins Jarrk's fold (consisting of him and his 7-8 wives). Jarrk has no desire to force her to stay though but the maelstrom and dragons across the land prevent Chiarra from returning right away. An acrimonious disposition mars Chiarra and Jarrk's exchanges but their attraction to one another steadily builds. When Chiarra leaves to brave the maelstroms, Jarrk gives chase to help and protect her from Grat. Events progress and Jarrk and Chiarra find bliss in each other's arms. It's an interesting story if nothing else, definitely different from what I've been reading. It was also amusing at times and didn't piss me off as much as some others here.

Shadow of Moonlight, by Liz Andrews & Lena Matthews (*)

This is a werewolf story which attempts to imbue some societal culture and hierarchy to the wolf packs. Tanned, muscled and surfer-boy-like Jace McClellan is the anomaly within his own Pack, a seer of his pack, a Rakshasa as they're called. For most of his adult life, Jace has wanted Elizabeth Remington, or "Remy." Remy is a warrior, a Venator, second-in-command to their Pack leader, and she's earned her title, scars and bruises by fighting. This story attempts novelty by substituting fancy names for the various titles in the wolf packs for a meaningful setting. One of Jace's visions about a pregnant human woman could threaten the tenuous stability between wolf packs and heralds danger for the werewolves. Remy dumped her last hot, muscled lover Kellan (all the guys in the pack are obviously tall, steroid-pumped and handsome) and her attraction to Jace evolves as the pack's leader Nico orders to investigate the identity of this woman. In any werewolf or fantasy-based romantic erotica, there exists some notion of mates and here is no different. Fear of injuring Jace (because mating involves partially shifting to wolf form) prohibit Remy from mating with Jace since Jace isn't a true wolf (he has were DNA which allows him to see visions, but he can't shift into a wolf). The sex scenes were fairly one-sided focusing on Jace pleasuring Remy which I wouldn't have a huge problem with if the words and emotions from Jace for Remy weren't so much more profound than the other way around. Jace says he's intoxicated by the smell and taste of her arousal, that it's imprinting itself in his brain, that it smells and feels like home, blah, blah, blah. He tells her he loves her early and often and of course he's understanding enough to allow Remy to work out her own issues and fear of committing to Jace. The story meticulously describes Jace loving to pleasure Remy with his mouth and hands but of course anytime an opportunity for the reverse presents itself, Remy performs out of rote or they're interrupted by the pack leader Nico. The servicing from the hero to the heroine isn't nearly as bad here as in Agnew's DANGEROUS INTENTIONS, but it's still fairly lopsided, in thoughts, words, and deeds.

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