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Author Archives: Kate Keene

Summer Reading – Big Fails & Small Wins

Summer Reading – Big Fails & Small Wins

I wanted and planned to have some really good romantic smut to read and recommend. Sadly, all the books I tried refused to cooperate with my schemes.

“Summer Reading” is concept I never quite got.  My reading tastes have never really undergone a seasonal variation, except that around Thanksgiving I usually dig out a book on the JFK assassination and in December I tend to reread Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and a couple of Mary Balogh’s or Barbara Metzger’s Christmas themed Regency Romances.

Of course, I grew up in West Texas, and one of the perks was that in the summers we had heat advisories so often that we stopped paying attention. We would wring out t-shirts in cold water to wear to bed.  Reading indoors during the hottest part of the day was a recommended activity to avoid heatstroke as well as a favored way to avoid snakebite.  Not exactly the idylls described in Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day.  I never got the memo that the summer heat meant I wasn’t supposed to concentrate as well as in other seasons and should read things that didn’t require too much thought or just read stories that are set on a beach.  (This led to me to discover that On The Beach was not about summertime when I was about thirteen.)  As an adult, when summer-time book displays needed to be made, I’d have to consult the New York Times Book Review pages for suggestions on what most people consider fun summer books.

I wanted and planned to have some really good romantic smut to read and recommend.  Sadly, all the books I got refused to cooperate with my schemes.  The first one, “The Forbidden Cabin” by Cheri Zee, well…the phrase ‘stinks on ice’ came to mind in the first five pages.  When the older protagonist started thinking about how sexy her daughter’s fiancée is, that wasn’t…necessarily bad.  That’s not an unusual fantasy choice.  Then, in the following paragraph she’s wondering if the young man in question has dreamed of having ‘a mother/daughter sandwich’…and that actually made me throw up a little.  That lovely thought of mature adult mother and daughter incest was justified in the text by the fact that both women have the same type of breasts.  Yes, identical breasts, that are – you guessed it, small – but not too small, and perky.  Mother and daughter have tits that are described with an adjective that is often used to describe small, yappy dogs.  I had a flashback of the time a guy told me he liked a woman’s breasts that sat up and said hello.  I told him mine say hello, take a seat, order drinks and demand to know the dinner plans.  Needless to say, the affair didn’t last long…neither did my attempt to continue with this book.  Cheri Zee couldn’t even create an entertaining Shayla Black level of bad.

The next book I attempted, Carl East’s Mature Women Volumes 1-5, (no, I didn’t make it through all five volumes)…started with sweaty a teenage boy mowing the lawn of a nice neighbor for extra money. He goes into the house to get ice water and discovers her showering and we all know the bad Penthouse Letters style story to follow.  I don’t find this set-up erotic, I find it a great beginning of a Criminal Minds’ episode in which the sweaty 19 year old ends up becoming an insane maniac who is thrown to the ground and manhandled by SSA Morgan wearing a very well-fitting t-shirt in the final act.  Which I somehow suspect isn’t what is going to happen in Volume 5.

The next attempt was The Wild and Wanton Edition of Persuasion, by Micha Persell and Jane Austen (note to authors, if you are reworking a classic, the original author gets the top billing), and it wasn’t in the dead fish smelly ice club of badness, it was just bone numbingly dull which makes the title rather sad.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has less sex, but is a much more fun read.  Just mentioning that.

The first of the last set is Kate Richards’ Spanking Ms. Whitman, which is another what an amazing coincidence to discover that the perfect man in the office that I have a crush on is into all the same things I’ve got secret fantasies about but never told anyone about and isn’t that convenient? type of fairy tale… actually if there had been a fairy in this tale, it might have conjured up some drama.  Mostly, it is mindless, uncomplicated drivel.

The worst for last book is Renee Rose’s Pleasing the Colonel, a domestic discipline type of historical romance, which for the unwary is a type of story in which everyone does the same things as a BDSM story, except nobody is allowed to really enjoy it.  People (actually, just the submissive, because the dominants are holy creatures who are all knowing and wise who never make mistakes and if they do, the submissive would never think of punishing them), are punished for being screw-ups and to improve them, just for their own good.  Not for a reason as base as finding this sort of thing exciting or pleasurable that both partners agree to do for fun. Also, this sort of thing never seems to be discussed or agreed upon in advance in these sorts of stories; the submissive is usually ambushed with a ‘You screwed up!” and given the choice of punishment or being thrown out of job, home, security, or so on, always wildly disproportionate to the transgression.

(You burned the eggs at breakfast?  Submit to this caning or go live in an abandoned chicken coop, wench!)

Of course this kind of unrealistic absurdity can work in fantasy, but if not written with care and insight only makes the characters look stupid. After the initial punishment, the submissive character is always repentant and secretly loves the dominant for being ‘strong’ (not blackmailing, intimidating or abusing their authority, but ‘strong’).  Of course, the dominant is pleased that the submissive partner surrendered but doesn’t have sex with them, even if he really would like to, because this ISN’T ABOUT SEX it’s about LOVE…to beat someone into being a better person, even though only the dominant partner knows what that sort of person is…the submissive partner is not going to give up material things, cut her hair and dedicate her life to selflessly helping the poor because of the dom’s influence in this sort of story.  The dominant is to be loved for being a whole and complete control freak which is Good For Everyone, and he (usually, there may be a story of this type with a female dominant but I have never seen one) is only dominant because he has to be, not because he enjoys it, because where would we be if we didn’t have him to tell us what to wear, how to speak, when to go to bed, what purpose to have, because nobody had a life before he showed up and only chaos would ensue otherwise…well, this not only stank on ice, it would have released an odor while sitting on an ice floe on Charon, the frozen moon of Pluto.

As a result of those fails, my main summer reading this year was catching up on Ian Kershaw’s work.  He’s a brilliant historian, and specializes in social history of Nazi Germany.  I read his first book on the subject, The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich, and his last one, Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis and the Road to War.  Both are absolutely brilliant and I recommend them whole heartedly for all history fans, just like I do the rest of his works.  However, you can’t call either one, or any of his books for that matter, light reading.  He’s one of those writers that I have to read ten pages and then I go back and read them again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I enjoy doing that.  Of course, this is also why I have the closed captioning on all the time on my TV, which also annoys a lot of my friends. Go figure.

Anyway- summer’s nearly over and I’ve still not found a racy book I can honestly recommend. What have you been reading?

 

If You Can’t Be Good, At Least Be Charming

If You Can’t Be Good, At Least Be Charming

More Racy Books for Grownup Women!

More Racy Books for Grownup Women- even if you don’t read the books, the reviews are definitely charming! And good…

Lessons and Lovers by Portia Da Costa is not a new book, even if it is a relatively new e-book.  My late husband gave a paperback version to me as an impulse present in the early 1990s when it was released by Masquerade.   Due to the house I was going to move into being condemned instead, my books are in storage so I got the ebook rather than go to the storage unit and dig through fifteen book boxes to find one slim paperback to reread.  I must admit, it’s not that great or “good”, but I still enjoy it.

James and I always said that Science Fiction and Horror always had an advantage over comedy.  A bad Science Fiction or Horror story or movie could still often be, and often is very funny – and so you can still enjoy them.  A bad comedy really has nowhere else to go.  That being said, what I have learned from erotica and romance is: try for great, hope to achieve good, if nothing else at least be charming.  Lessons and Lovers is very charming.

The story is of Lady Henrietta Miller, a younger widow, who is conflicted about her feelings for her late husband’s, and now her servant, Starr…who she is having wild sex on demand.  This was  something that began at her husband’s insistence during his final illness when he was no longer able to freshen the missus.  This made Hettie feel guilty about her high sex drive and the truth that she really enjoyed sex with Mr. Starr enormously, (probably more than with Lord Miller).    Apparently the soon-to-be late Lord Miller enjoyed experiencing vicariously by having her tell him all about it.  Be that as it may, Hettie did love her husband very much and does genuinely mourn him throughout the story.  Which is why she isn’t sure if her feelings for Starr are love or not.

To prevent these two from having an honest conversation about the whole ‘since we keep having sex all the time, maybe we should think about getting serious – or at least, taking this seriously’ situation, Hettie gets a desperate call from her friend Renata in Milan while she is el flagrante.  Apparently, Starr must be a Gemini, since he doesn’t believe that the Mistress should ignore a ringing phone.  He must also have a Scorpio moon, because he also doesn’t believe anyone should stop having sex just because they are now talking transcontinentally to a melodramatic friend.  Renata has a young cousin who she has to kick out of her villa because her boyfriend is jealous… and she just has to keep the boyfriend because she actually has orgasms with him.  Rather than telling her friend that she’s in England, not Milan and that the kid isn’t her cousin, or even I’m having sex at the moment and I really shouldn’t have picked up the phone so let me call you back, or even saying Oh, for God’s sakes Renata buy a vibrator already, Hettie ends up agreeing to let a young man she’s never met come visit.  Who has suffered some injuries on an archaeological site that has given him some memory loss.  Oh, and by the way he’s wildly curious about sex.

What can possibly go wrong with this plan?

Well, despite the distractions of delectable Darryl, advice from a well-meaning and possibly bi-sexual psychiatrist, and then the arrival of Renata herself – who discovers that it is better to choose possible step-family over a bullying boyfriend, (orgasms aplenty or not), the only real relationship with sexual or emotional depth is that of Hettie and Starr.  They are only two that the reader should care about, because the rest of this book’s cast are like a bad soap opera, but at least so bad they are amusing.  Even  Hettie herself is written way over the top, as the stereotype upper class lady but without a trace of bitchiness.   In short, what a charming lady!  Despite being a likable character, there are times when she is lamenting about her life of luxury, complete with handsome lover who is constantly available and worries that she’s a sex fiend that this reader does want to cry out, “Oh, God, me you can’t curse with these problems??”

This reads like an early novel, with most of the care concentrated on the sex scenes, which are well-written, rather than keeping the plot simple and characters well-fleshed.  It’s supposed to be a love story born of tragedy, but is way too frothy over all.  It’s not particularly good, but it is charming, and is enough of the right kind of bad. Want to read more? Just click here > Enjoy!

Racy Books- “Secret Life of a Submissive”

Racy Books- “Secret Life of a Submissive”

So, Kate's looking for a racy book that's also a good read- what to try?

So, given my perspective on the kinds of sexy books that grownup women read, I came across a book called “Secret Life of a Submissive” by Sarah K.

Now, as bad as 50 Shades of Grey was…oh, how bad was it?  In the Staff Summer Reading Program for  the Library System who kindly employed me in 2012, 15 librarians admitted attempting to read it. Only four completed it. Only one pushed on through all three books, and in her reviews admitted that the books never improved, the heroine never got smarter, the hero never stopped being a dick and that I was correct at stopping at chapter 4 of the first book and suggesting people read Alison Tyler or Portia Da Costa, or well, just about anyone else. Now, as bad as 50 Shades was, it did open a flood of straight to e-reader very bad imitations. Basically, a straight to e-reader book is like a straight to DVD release to a horror movie fan. Yes, it could be good, but more likely you will spend time in the restroom in the dark muttering, “My eyes, my eyes.”

So, I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been only $1.99.  The paperback would have been $12.99 and I’m not risking that much on a sexy book with ‘Based on a True Story’ blazed across it. If it’s over ten bucks, I better know who wrote it or it has to come with a recommendation. I work in a library. I can barely afford the book written by people I know are good. Gone are the days when reviewers could write to the publishers for review copies.

However, despite my trepidation, this did turn out to be good read. Sarah makes a funny, realistic and smart heroine in her own story. She was a woman who married at twenty and started writing to create a second income at home. She started writing romances and eventually turned to writing erotica. For inspiration she turned to milking her girlfriends experiences, since her own husband preferred sex the way he liked food: plain, nothing fancy and without any peculiar ingredients. She wrote for an unnamed British publisher that touted ‘Erotic fiction written for women by women!!’ (In America it was printed under the name Black Lace, btw.)

As she compared notes with her girlfriends, Sarah realizes that the deep, dark fantasies she’s kept to herself all her adult life aren’t all that weird. Other people had them too, and she worked them into her writing. Sometimes waking up to one realization about your life, will wake you up to more. The gulf in her marriage was more than just sexual, and her marriage crumbles apart. Writing provided an escape to avoid dealing with the cracks in the relationship, but eventually it falls apart. We have a heroine who is confronting midlife and forcing herself to examine what it is she wants and if she’s willing to try to find it.

This is a point that the book shows something very brave about Sarah, the willingness to take a risk and try for what she wants, even as she’s trying to understand what that is. A woman in her mid-forties with a broken marriage and three children in their twenties and teens. You know, one of those women that some idiot from Newsweek said is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than have a real relationship again. Oh, yeah, someone like me. Take heart, Newsweek is now so broke that they can’t afford to publish a print edition.

Sarah actually goes on dates, gets on match sites and after a few funny false starts discover some things are easier in fiction than in real life. Just when she’s debating taking down her picture and just buying some cats, she meets a man named Max.

Max is an interesting man. He’s intelligent, classy, good looking and makes a good balance to Sarah’s wit.  He’s not frighting or intimidating, he’s not into BDSM because of some deep personal damage that is waiting to be discovered. He just likes what he likes and wants to be with someone who enjoys it. As he says, “I’m a sadist, not a psychopath.”

By stages, Sarah and Max first start a relationship based on sex play, and discover, like most of us, keeping sex and emotion separate is always easier in theory than in practice.  Also, most of the things that keep us from moving forward aren’t operatic drama, but the overlapping strands of our own lives. Happy endings aren’t guaranteed, and some of the most revealing stories come from showing us how you can deal with life and love when they don’t. Also, as tempting as staying home with more cats may be, just about all of us will dust ourselves off and try again.

So, this is no 50 Shades. It’s not just better written, it’s better all around. It has characters who are honest, who act like real people and not soap opera characters shoved onto a new set.  So, damn, I got a bargain for $1.99!!  There’s also a sequel that was released last August. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE:  The Kindle version is now $3.99 – but that is still a great price for this great book! Read more about The Secret Life of a Submissive, here.

In Search of Racy Books for Grownup Women

In Search of Racy Books for Grownup Women

 My love of erotic fiction was not something I ever thought I'd have to look at like a grownup...

My love of erotic fiction was not something I ever thought I’d have to look at like a grownup. I gravitated to them because I got tired of romances with the perpetual perfect ‘first time’ scene – always hers, never his, in which everything goes off perfectly – no matter if they like each other, hate each other, or if the hero is an utter asshat. There was never any confusion, hesitation, uncomfortable silences, silly undressing moments, (which as a teenager I could never have imagined a courtly man taking tights off not looking silly), just perfect sexual bliss that always gets blasted away by some stupid misunderstanding that ends up lasting six more chapters. Then the misunderstanding would be resolved, turn out to be someone else’s fault, (usually some other woman – who always was written as being less pure than our heroine), and then have another magical sexual encounter in which the heroine has overcome any inhibitions or self-consciousness and we are sure they will bonk happily together forever. That got old, very fast.

I wanted to read stories where people actually knew what the parts were and what they did and actually enjoyed that. I liked having a hero work to prove he was a decent lover, not because the heroine had no basis for comparison. I wanted a heroine to choose a hero by more than happenstance and sticky situations. I liked reading stories in which sex didn’t prove true love, so the happy ending wasn’t always guaranteed.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that was expecting a maturity that the books available were not providing. I wanted something that dealt with relationship more realistically, something more honest, that could still be hot and fun. It took a lot of hunting and searching in those pre-internet days. There was a lot of trash to wade through before finding an Erica Jong, Pauline Reage or Anais Nin. (Want to make your smut accessible, throw poetry on it!!) It did get easier, and in the nineties there was an explosion of erotic writing for couples and women. Lots of excellent writers appeared, Susie Bright, Alison Tyler, Violet Blue, Amarantha Knight, and lots of others – who all apparently went overlooked by anyone writing about 50 Shades of Grey in the last two years. (Women want to read hot fiction, that’s new and unprecedented!  Because we all know that Story of O was only read by men in trench coats and Forever Amber was only read by people with a love of English Restoration history. Yeah, keep telling yourselves that.)

Be that as it may…as I’ve gotten older, it is harder to find stories with heroines of my age group. Yes, I can still relate to a woman in her twenties going on a personal exploration, but I just DON’T WANT TO. I get really tired of the Must Find True Love before I’m 26 motif in real life, much less in my fiction. This can be just as hard an uphill slog as doing battle with the Cult of the Perfect Virgin, a dragon that still remains unslain.

Now I know I’m not alone. Many exceptional romance writers are writing books with older and more experienced heroines now, I’m happy to say. (Though the heroes end up with more traumatic baggage for being older – not sure why that is…) Erotica is moving more slowly, mostly because of the exaggerated importance of body image perception. But I’m sorry, Alexander Skarsgaard is going to be fifty as well someday, just like the rest of us, and I know with reasonable certainty, I’m still going to think he’s hot.

I’m going to write about erotica for grownup women, with heroines you’ll enjoy and stories that will keep your interest. Join me here at HotFlashDaily.com.

Author Archives: Kate Keene

Summer Reading – Big Fails & Small Wins

Summer Reading – Big Fails & Small Wins

I wanted and planned to have some really good romantic smut to read and recommend. Sadly, all the books I tried refused to cooperate with my schemes.

“Summer Reading” is concept I never quite got.  My reading tastes have never really undergone a seasonal variation, except that around Thanksgiving I usually dig out a book on the JFK assassination and in December I tend to reread Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and a couple of Mary Balogh’s or Barbara Metzger’s Christmas themed Regency Romances.

Of course, I grew up in West Texas, and one of the perks was that in the summers we had heat advisories so often that we stopped paying attention. We would wring out t-shirts in cold water to wear to bed.  Reading indoors during the hottest part of the day was a recommended activity to avoid heatstroke as well as a favored way to avoid snakebite.  Not exactly the idylls described in Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day.  I never got the memo that the summer heat meant I wasn’t supposed to concentrate as well as in other seasons and should read things that didn’t require too much thought or just read stories that are set on a beach.  (This led to me to discover that On The Beach was not about summertime when I was about thirteen.)  As an adult, when summer-time book displays needed to be made, I’d have to consult the New York Times Book Review pages for suggestions on what most people consider fun summer books.

I wanted and planned to have some really good romantic smut to read and recommend.  Sadly, all the books I got refused to cooperate with my schemes.  The first one, “The Forbidden Cabin” by Cheri Zee, well…the phrase ‘stinks on ice’ came to mind in the first five pages.  When the older protagonist started thinking about how sexy her daughter’s fiancée is, that wasn’t…necessarily bad.  That’s not an unusual fantasy choice.  Then, in the following paragraph she’s wondering if the young man in question has dreamed of having ‘a mother/daughter sandwich’…and that actually made me throw up a little.  That lovely thought of mature adult mother and daughter incest was justified in the text by the fact that both women have the same type of breasts.  Yes, identical breasts, that are – you guessed it, small – but not too small, and perky.  Mother and daughter have tits that are described with an adjective that is often used to describe small, yappy dogs.  I had a flashback of the time a guy told me he liked a woman’s breasts that sat up and said hello.  I told him mine say hello, take a seat, order drinks and demand to know the dinner plans.  Needless to say, the affair didn’t last long…neither did my attempt to continue with this book.  Cheri Zee couldn’t even create an entertaining Shayla Black level of bad.

The next book I attempted, Carl East’s Mature Women Volumes 1-5, (no, I didn’t make it through all five volumes)…started with sweaty a teenage boy mowing the lawn of a nice neighbor for extra money. He goes into the house to get ice water and discovers her showering and we all know the bad Penthouse Letters style story to follow.  I don’t find this set-up erotic, I find it a great beginning of a Criminal Minds’ episode in which the sweaty 19 year old ends up becoming an insane maniac who is thrown to the ground and manhandled by SSA Morgan wearing a very well-fitting t-shirt in the final act.  Which I somehow suspect isn’t what is going to happen in Volume 5.

The next attempt was The Wild and Wanton Edition of Persuasion, by Micha Persell and Jane Austen (note to authors, if you are reworking a classic, the original author gets the top billing), and it wasn’t in the dead fish smelly ice club of badness, it was just bone numbingly dull which makes the title rather sad.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has less sex, but is a much more fun read.  Just mentioning that.

The first of the last set is Kate Richards’ Spanking Ms. Whitman, which is another what an amazing coincidence to discover that the perfect man in the office that I have a crush on is into all the same things I’ve got secret fantasies about but never told anyone about and isn’t that convenient? type of fairy tale… actually if there had been a fairy in this tale, it might have conjured up some drama.  Mostly, it is mindless, uncomplicated drivel.

The worst for last book is Renee Rose’s Pleasing the Colonel, a domestic discipline type of historical romance, which for the unwary is a type of story in which everyone does the same things as a BDSM story, except nobody is allowed to really enjoy it.  People (actually, just the submissive, because the dominants are holy creatures who are all knowing and wise who never make mistakes and if they do, the submissive would never think of punishing them), are punished for being screw-ups and to improve them, just for their own good.  Not for a reason as base as finding this sort of thing exciting or pleasurable that both partners agree to do for fun. Also, this sort of thing never seems to be discussed or agreed upon in advance in these sorts of stories; the submissive is usually ambushed with a ‘You screwed up!” and given the choice of punishment or being thrown out of job, home, security, or so on, always wildly disproportionate to the transgression.

(You burned the eggs at breakfast?  Submit to this caning or go live in an abandoned chicken coop, wench!)

Of course this kind of unrealistic absurdity can work in fantasy, but if not written with care and insight only makes the characters look stupid. After the initial punishment, the submissive character is always repentant and secretly loves the dominant for being ‘strong’ (not blackmailing, intimidating or abusing their authority, but ‘strong’).  Of course, the dominant is pleased that the submissive partner surrendered but doesn’t have sex with them, even if he really would like to, because this ISN’T ABOUT SEX it’s about LOVE…to beat someone into being a better person, even though only the dominant partner knows what that sort of person is…the submissive partner is not going to give up material things, cut her hair and dedicate her life to selflessly helping the poor because of the dom’s influence in this sort of story.  The dominant is to be loved for being a whole and complete control freak which is Good For Everyone, and he (usually, there may be a story of this type with a female dominant but I have never seen one) is only dominant because he has to be, not because he enjoys it, because where would we be if we didn’t have him to tell us what to wear, how to speak, when to go to bed, what purpose to have, because nobody had a life before he showed up and only chaos would ensue otherwise…well, this not only stank on ice, it would have released an odor while sitting on an ice floe on Charon, the frozen moon of Pluto.

As a result of those fails, my main summer reading this year was catching up on Ian Kershaw’s work.  He’s a brilliant historian, and specializes in social history of Nazi Germany.  I read his first book on the subject, The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich, and his last one, Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis and the Road to War.  Both are absolutely brilliant and I recommend them whole heartedly for all history fans, just like I do the rest of his works.  However, you can’t call either one, or any of his books for that matter, light reading.  He’s one of those writers that I have to read ten pages and then I go back and read them again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I enjoy doing that.  Of course, this is also why I have the closed captioning on all the time on my TV, which also annoys a lot of my friends. Go figure.

Anyway- summer’s nearly over and I’ve still not found a racy book I can honestly recommend. What have you been reading?

 

If You Can’t Be Good, At Least Be Charming

If You Can’t Be Good, At Least Be Charming

More Racy Books for Grownup Women!

More Racy Books for Grownup Women- even if you don’t read the books, the reviews are definitely charming! And good…

Lessons and Lovers by Portia Da Costa is not a new book, even if it is a relatively new e-book.  My late husband gave a paperback version to me as an impulse present in the early 1990s when it was released by Masquerade.   Due to the house I was going to move into being condemned instead, my books are in storage so I got the ebook rather than go to the storage unit and dig through fifteen book boxes to find one slim paperback to reread.  I must admit, it’s not that great or “good”, but I still enjoy it.

James and I always said that Science Fiction and Horror always had an advantage over comedy.  A bad Science Fiction or Horror story or movie could still often be, and often is very funny – and so you can still enjoy them.  A bad comedy really has nowhere else to go.  That being said, what I have learned from erotica and romance is: try for great, hope to achieve good, if nothing else at least be charming.  Lessons and Lovers is very charming.

The story is of Lady Henrietta Miller, a younger widow, who is conflicted about her feelings for her late husband’s, and now her servant, Starr…who she is having wild sex on demand.  This was  something that began at her husband’s insistence during his final illness when he was no longer able to freshen the missus.  This made Hettie feel guilty about her high sex drive and the truth that she really enjoyed sex with Mr. Starr enormously, (probably more than with Lord Miller).    Apparently the soon-to-be late Lord Miller enjoyed experiencing vicariously by having her tell him all about it.  Be that as it may, Hettie did love her husband very much and does genuinely mourn him throughout the story.  Which is why she isn’t sure if her feelings for Starr are love or not.

To prevent these two from having an honest conversation about the whole ‘since we keep having sex all the time, maybe we should think about getting serious – or at least, taking this seriously’ situation, Hettie gets a desperate call from her friend Renata in Milan while she is el flagrante.  Apparently, Starr must be a Gemini, since he doesn’t believe that the Mistress should ignore a ringing phone.  He must also have a Scorpio moon, because he also doesn’t believe anyone should stop having sex just because they are now talking transcontinentally to a melodramatic friend.  Renata has a young cousin who she has to kick out of her villa because her boyfriend is jealous… and she just has to keep the boyfriend because she actually has orgasms with him.  Rather than telling her friend that she’s in England, not Milan and that the kid isn’t her cousin, or even I’m having sex at the moment and I really shouldn’t have picked up the phone so let me call you back, or even saying Oh, for God’s sakes Renata buy a vibrator already, Hettie ends up agreeing to let a young man she’s never met come visit.  Who has suffered some injuries on an archaeological site that has given him some memory loss.  Oh, and by the way he’s wildly curious about sex.

What can possibly go wrong with this plan?

Well, despite the distractions of delectable Darryl, advice from a well-meaning and possibly bi-sexual psychiatrist, and then the arrival of Renata herself – who discovers that it is better to choose possible step-family over a bullying boyfriend, (orgasms aplenty or not), the only real relationship with sexual or emotional depth is that of Hettie and Starr.  They are only two that the reader should care about, because the rest of this book’s cast are like a bad soap opera, but at least so bad they are amusing.  Even  Hettie herself is written way over the top, as the stereotype upper class lady but without a trace of bitchiness.   In short, what a charming lady!  Despite being a likable character, there are times when she is lamenting about her life of luxury, complete with handsome lover who is constantly available and worries that she’s a sex fiend that this reader does want to cry out, “Oh, God, me you can’t curse with these problems??”

This reads like an early novel, with most of the care concentrated on the sex scenes, which are well-written, rather than keeping the plot simple and characters well-fleshed.  It’s supposed to be a love story born of tragedy, but is way too frothy over all.  It’s not particularly good, but it is charming, and is enough of the right kind of bad. Want to read more? Just click here > Enjoy!

Racy Books- “Secret Life of a Submissive”

Racy Books- “Secret Life of a Submissive”

So, Kate's looking for a racy book that's also a good read- what to try?

So, given my perspective on the kinds of sexy books that grownup women read, I came across a book called “Secret Life of a Submissive” by Sarah K.

Now, as bad as 50 Shades of Grey was…oh, how bad was it?  In the Staff Summer Reading Program for  the Library System who kindly employed me in 2012, 15 librarians admitted attempting to read it. Only four completed it. Only one pushed on through all three books, and in her reviews admitted that the books never improved, the heroine never got smarter, the hero never stopped being a dick and that I was correct at stopping at chapter 4 of the first book and suggesting people read Alison Tyler or Portia Da Costa, or well, just about anyone else. Now, as bad as 50 Shades was, it did open a flood of straight to e-reader very bad imitations. Basically, a straight to e-reader book is like a straight to DVD release to a horror movie fan. Yes, it could be good, but more likely you will spend time in the restroom in the dark muttering, “My eyes, my eyes.”

So, I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been only $1.99.  The paperback would have been $12.99 and I’m not risking that much on a sexy book with ‘Based on a True Story’ blazed across it. If it’s over ten bucks, I better know who wrote it or it has to come with a recommendation. I work in a library. I can barely afford the book written by people I know are good. Gone are the days when reviewers could write to the publishers for review copies.

However, despite my trepidation, this did turn out to be good read. Sarah makes a funny, realistic and smart heroine in her own story. She was a woman who married at twenty and started writing to create a second income at home. She started writing romances and eventually turned to writing erotica. For inspiration she turned to milking her girlfriends experiences, since her own husband preferred sex the way he liked food: plain, nothing fancy and without any peculiar ingredients. She wrote for an unnamed British publisher that touted ‘Erotic fiction written for women by women!!’ (In America it was printed under the name Black Lace, btw.)

As she compared notes with her girlfriends, Sarah realizes that the deep, dark fantasies she’s kept to herself all her adult life aren’t all that weird. Other people had them too, and she worked them into her writing. Sometimes waking up to one realization about your life, will wake you up to more. The gulf in her marriage was more than just sexual, and her marriage crumbles apart. Writing provided an escape to avoid dealing with the cracks in the relationship, but eventually it falls apart. We have a heroine who is confronting midlife and forcing herself to examine what it is she wants and if she’s willing to try to find it.

This is a point that the book shows something very brave about Sarah, the willingness to take a risk and try for what she wants, even as she’s trying to understand what that is. A woman in her mid-forties with a broken marriage and three children in their twenties and teens. You know, one of those women that some idiot from Newsweek said is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than have a real relationship again. Oh, yeah, someone like me. Take heart, Newsweek is now so broke that they can’t afford to publish a print edition.

Sarah actually goes on dates, gets on match sites and after a few funny false starts discover some things are easier in fiction than in real life. Just when she’s debating taking down her picture and just buying some cats, she meets a man named Max.

Max is an interesting man. He’s intelligent, classy, good looking and makes a good balance to Sarah’s wit.  He’s not frighting or intimidating, he’s not into BDSM because of some deep personal damage that is waiting to be discovered. He just likes what he likes and wants to be with someone who enjoys it. As he says, “I’m a sadist, not a psychopath.”

By stages, Sarah and Max first start a relationship based on sex play, and discover, like most of us, keeping sex and emotion separate is always easier in theory than in practice.  Also, most of the things that keep us from moving forward aren’t operatic drama, but the overlapping strands of our own lives. Happy endings aren’t guaranteed, and some of the most revealing stories come from showing us how you can deal with life and love when they don’t. Also, as tempting as staying home with more cats may be, just about all of us will dust ourselves off and try again.

So, this is no 50 Shades. It’s not just better written, it’s better all around. It has characters who are honest, who act like real people and not soap opera characters shoved onto a new set.  So, damn, I got a bargain for $1.99!!  There’s also a sequel that was released last August. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE:  The Kindle version is now $3.99 – but that is still a great price for this great book! Read more about The Secret Life of a Submissive, here.

In Search of Racy Books for Grownup Women

In Search of Racy Books for Grownup Women

 My love of erotic fiction was not something I ever thought I'd have to look at like a grownup...

My love of erotic fiction was not something I ever thought I’d have to look at like a grownup. I gravitated to them because I got tired of romances with the perpetual perfect ‘first time’ scene – always hers, never his, in which everything goes off perfectly – no matter if they like each other, hate each other, or if the hero is an utter asshat. There was never any confusion, hesitation, uncomfortable silences, silly undressing moments, (which as a teenager I could never have imagined a courtly man taking tights off not looking silly), just perfect sexual bliss that always gets blasted away by some stupid misunderstanding that ends up lasting six more chapters. Then the misunderstanding would be resolved, turn out to be someone else’s fault, (usually some other woman – who always was written as being less pure than our heroine), and then have another magical sexual encounter in which the heroine has overcome any inhibitions or self-consciousness and we are sure they will bonk happily together forever. That got old, very fast.

I wanted to read stories where people actually knew what the parts were and what they did and actually enjoyed that. I liked having a hero work to prove he was a decent lover, not because the heroine had no basis for comparison. I wanted a heroine to choose a hero by more than happenstance and sticky situations. I liked reading stories in which sex didn’t prove true love, so the happy ending wasn’t always guaranteed.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that was expecting a maturity that the books available were not providing. I wanted something that dealt with relationship more realistically, something more honest, that could still be hot and fun. It took a lot of hunting and searching in those pre-internet days. There was a lot of trash to wade through before finding an Erica Jong, Pauline Reage or Anais Nin. (Want to make your smut accessible, throw poetry on it!!) It did get easier, and in the nineties there was an explosion of erotic writing for couples and women. Lots of excellent writers appeared, Susie Bright, Alison Tyler, Violet Blue, Amarantha Knight, and lots of others – who all apparently went overlooked by anyone writing about 50 Shades of Grey in the last two years. (Women want to read hot fiction, that’s new and unprecedented!  Because we all know that Story of O was only read by men in trench coats and Forever Amber was only read by people with a love of English Restoration history. Yeah, keep telling yourselves that.)

Be that as it may…as I’ve gotten older, it is harder to find stories with heroines of my age group. Yes, I can still relate to a woman in her twenties going on a personal exploration, but I just DON’T WANT TO. I get really tired of the Must Find True Love before I’m 26 motif in real life, much less in my fiction. This can be just as hard an uphill slog as doing battle with the Cult of the Perfect Virgin, a dragon that still remains unslain.

Now I know I’m not alone. Many exceptional romance writers are writing books with older and more experienced heroines now, I’m happy to say. (Though the heroes end up with more traumatic baggage for being older – not sure why that is…) Erotica is moving more slowly, mostly because of the exaggerated importance of body image perception. But I’m sorry, Alexander Skarsgaard is going to be fifty as well someday, just like the rest of us, and I know with reasonable certainty, I’m still going to think he’s hot.

I’m going to write about erotica for grownup women, with heroines you’ll enjoy and stories that will keep your interest. Join me here at HotFlashDaily.com.

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