Well, hi there, stranger. Long time, no see. I’ve been working hard on my life and my fiction writing and have neglected you shamefully.
I’d been debating about whether to continue the Irreverent Book Blog. After all, there are lots of people out there giving their opinions on books. What’s decided me is the same thing that started this in the first place. I wanted to share a book and author I love with you.
Through an eddy in the space-time continuum, the original blog entry where I introduced you to a friend of mine is now no more. Because of quantum, or some similar thing. However, with the recent release of her newest work, I feel the time-line is back on track, and so I will go forward from here, just as if there had always been a Romulan daughter of Tasha Yar flying around in a Warbird somewhere.
I have already talked to you in brief about my friend Emma Jameson. However, what you may not know is aside from Rosemary O’Malley, Emma is my oldest friend. We are closer than any two people who rarely see one another and communicate via the internet probably should be. We are no strangers to this separation, and have been writing from Florida to Tennessee since snail mail was the only method of so doing. I can promise that this blog would not exist without her, nor, probably would I. It is extremely rare that a childhood friendship can stand up to separation, distance, and all the changes adulthood brings. I’m very grateful for my friend.
As one of her oldest fans, and staunchest supporters, one might considered me biased in the case of her work. So, as always, a little more background for you.
Prior to my friend writing one, I had never heard of a cozy mystery. “Cozy” is not what I expect out of my fiction, as you all may have guessed by my choices to share with you. What in the hell was a cozy mystery, and why was my insanely talented friend writing them? The best definition I’ve heard also explains the reason. Cozies, apparently, are more “character driven”—another phrase I’d had no occasion to use prior to starting this blog—than other kinds of mysteries. OK, then, that made sense. No matter what name she is writing under, Emma’s work is always character-driven. When I say that, I mean very simply that she creates people. People you want to know, people with flaws and hearts and souls. So obviously, that’s where she needed to be.
I touched on the “Lord and Lady Hetheridge” Series of books in a prior “review and a half” that included Emma’s work. The most recent release, Something Blue, continues the story beautifully.
According to the author: Something Blue is:
Anthony Hetheridge, ninth baron of Wellegrave and chief superintendent for New Scotland Yard, will marry Kate Wakefield in three weeks. It’s inevitable-the invitations are out, the flowers are ordered, the cake is chosen. But murder waits for no man, and no wedding.
In London’s prestigious West End, a disgraced CEO has been murdered at Hotel Nonpareil, an exclusive destination. No one, it seems, liked Michael Martin Hughes. Not his estranged wife, Thora, or his defiant son, Griffin. Not Hotel Nonpareil’s manager, its head of security, or perhaps even the other two women in Hughes’s life: his future bride, Arianna, or his secret girlfriend, Riley. Still more ominously, before Hughes died, he incurred the wrath of a potentially more unforgiving foe: Sir Duncan Godington, longtime nemesis of both CS Hetheridge and DS Deepal “Paul” Bhar.
For the first time, CS Hetheridge, Kate and Bhar find themselves under tremendous pressure to uncover the killer in the shortest time frame ever. Has Scotland Yard, not to mention Downing Street, lost confidence in Hetheridge? Will the murder conviction rest on hard forensic evidence, a mountain of circumstantial details, or an impulsive theft? Find out by returning to the world of ICE BLUE and BLUE MURDER in SOMETHING BLUE, the third mystery featuring Lord Hetheridge, Kate Wakefield and Paul Bhar.
Once again, Emma gives us the people we’ve grown to love, and those we may come to dislike intensely. It is helpful to have read the other books in the series to truly enjoy Something Blue, but the story stands on its own, and is extremely entertaining.
Particularly interesting to an American like myself is the pervasive nature of the class structure in Great Britain. While obviously, snobbery is also rampant in the U. S., the general consensus is that it’s not a good thing. If we didn’t feel that way, we’d probably still be “The Colonies”. British snobbery is practically praiseworthy, and we feel every bit of it throughout this book. As Kate and Paul experience more of the class prejudice that is peculiar to their home country, I find myself pierced by it, as if it were happening to me.
All the elements of a good mystery are also present, and we learn more about the lives of the characters who do indeed drive this series. With twists in plot and subplot, the work keeps the reader moving and interested through-out. Staying up late to finish a book is pretty cliché to readers, but at 43, it is certainly more difficult to do than at 23. Nevertheless, I couldn’t put this one down, even as my Kindle was slipping from my hands. As one who often scorns romance, I even enjoyed those bits, especially because Kate and Tony can’t help but take their work home with them, which makes these scenes feel authentic.
Enjoy Something Blue! On the Imaqulotta Scale, I rate it as Heavenly!
I am stuck on what to tell you about, book wise. I am re-reading stuff, and working on my own piece. But this, this is worth reading. So, here ya go. I’ll be back with you when I can.
Well, as you folks know, real life has been kicking my butt, and not in the fun spank-y way. I lost and gained a dog and a treadmill. The new dog has his issues and the new treadmill’s in a box. I’m way behind on a project, and I am working on a piece of my own for possible publication. There are fun AND spankings in it, thank goodness. I’ve been panting to share a book with y’all however, and I decided to let some other things wait while I got started on doing just that.
I imagine there are people my age who married out of high school, got one job they’ve kept and advanced in until now, and have lived perfectly “normal” vanilla lives. I doubt there are many these days, but it’s possible such lives still exist. I would not be one of them. Mental illness leads to unusual choices, which in turn lead to places the brave dare not go. I don’t actually recall making any choices in my 20s, I just followed the boys to wherever they were going. This pattern has actually continued in my life until I turned 40. There’s something about 40 that makes you stop and reevaluate, no matter how messed up your head happens to be. It’s pretty much the halfway mark, and if you aren’t where you’d like to be, you start thinking about how to get there. If you’re ill, you start wondering if where you’d like to be is even where you really thought it was.
The point, I guess, is that I have a lot of experiences to share, and not all of them are sunshine and roses. I’ve looked under a lot of rocks for my happiness, and was amazed to discover through therapy that I never lost it to begin with. I am honest with you folks, because the reasons I may feel a certain way about a certain book are colored by my experiences. Hence this sharing, sometimes over-sharing. If you’ve lived a different life, you might not feel the same.
The book I want to share with you is a M/M erotic thriller, which is a genre I’d never even imagined prior to the indie revolution. It is one particularly designed for me, it seems. This one in particular involves the BSDM community. So a little more sharing may be necessary here.
I was involved in this lifestyle a good many years ago now. However, the person to whom I gave my trust was not well with his own choices, and did not have the slightest idea how responsible people do these things. It was a great surprise to me to learn of safe-words, and limits discussed, and contracts that either party could break. I was making scary choices for some man, as usual, and I’m very lucky I did not get more than my pride hurt. I have since learned that people can make other choices that will make both of them happy.
And so, Power Exchange, by AJ Rose. I seem to recall I read a mention or review of this by my dear friend T. Baggins, and put it on my list of books to check out when I had money to buy books. Life is often on a paycheck to paycheck basis around here, so I didn’t get back to it for a while. Since zombies have eaten my brain, it’s hard to remember exactly what I read that put it on my list, but when I investigated, this blurb seemed to have been written with me specifically in mind.
“From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images seared into his soul, Gavin has to find a way to navigate these unknown waters. With his personal life in upheaval due to a marital split, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant on the case and attention to Gavin himself, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to take a closer look at himself, his true nature, and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains? When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?”
Could I ask for anything more?! Police procedure, BSDM, AND a sexually motivated signature killer?! Not to mention some particularly erotic erotica? Although I’d had a recent bad experience with a book that I shared with you in a past review, I trust my friend T. not to steer me wrong. And I am so glad that I do.
Power Exchange is very simply amazing. From character creation to pacing, this one is hitting on all cylinders. There’s romance, an excellent coming out sub-plot, a smidge of family drama, and some beautifully described bondage that seems to fit perfectly within my own limits. Creating a mental picture for the reader does not require over-writing, and this is a concept that Rose has proven perfectly here. Dialogue is another place where a writer may shine or fall flat, and Power Exchange succeeds in capturing unstilted real life. I guess that’s the bottom line. Everything you read, whether it meshes with your experience or is wildly outside of it, comes across as entirely authentic. That’s what they say authors must do, isn’t it? Write the truth. There’s a lot of truth in Power Exchange.
On the Imaqulotta Scale, I rate this book as Heavenly.
I have a blog planned for you. Unfortunately, I also have a project that is way overdue. AND something I am trying to write. So, it may be a week or so, maybe even two. I appreciate your patience.
As longtime readers have probably noticed, zombies and zombie killers have recently eaten my brain, my homework, and pretty much my waking life. Prior to this, however, another paranormal creature ruled my heart. From my first viewing of Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, which scared the life out of me at 6, they’ve been MY monster. I told a boy on the bus when I was 9 that I was going to be the “bride of a vampire” when I grew up. My fifth grade report, complete with custom made black cover, was about vampires. I carried a copy of The Vampire Lestat in my purse my entire sophomore and junior years. I saw The Lost Boys over 100 times in theaters. From folklore to fiction, I have studied our fanged friends pretty extensively. I suppose it’s hardly surprising that I grew to be a spooky kid, and an adult whose wardrobe contains entirely too much black. As IF such a thing was possible!
Thanks to a certain book trilogy, many people think vampires are passé, a joke. I would not be one of them. I vaguely remember the uproar when Anne Rice had her vampires able to see themselves in mirrors, despite the fact that this is mostly a Hollywood affectation that I don’t recall reading in any folklore I have researched. Mess with what people “know” about vampires, which was mostly established by the late great Bela Lugosi in 1931, at your peril. Fans will lambast you endlessly. Internet humorists will create sarcastic memes about you. Of course, as I have said in the past, I am sure this troubles the authors of such works not at all. Legends deserve reinvention from time to time.
The novel I want to share with you today is the first publication of a friend of mine, Nicholai Conliff. Although our face to face meetings have been few, Nicholai’s name popping up on any social network we’ve shared has always been a reason to smile. Whether it was a blog post or merely a status update, his words always had a certain precision I enjoyed. So, of course, when he told me he’d finished his debut novel, I was thrilled, and lucky to be among its first readers. I enjoyed Unburied, and I’ll enjoy sharing it with you.
According to the author: “74-year-old Ashley Miller, a former child soldier of the German army in World War II, spends what should have been his old age in peaceful isolation: he keeps his lawn up to neighborhood standards, listens to records, sticks to his diet, longs for the faces that have left his life . . . and hasn’t aged a day since 1942.
Part historical, part literary horror, UNBURIED oscillates between past and present to form a cohesive dual narrative dismissing the tropes of paranormal genre fiction.”
Unburied reveals itself skillfully, in teasing glimpses. The historical elements are an integral part of the story, but are very immediate to the reader. This is not a typical modern vampire story, although elements of folklore are used that the casual fan might not even recognize. Epic in scope, the piece manages to be character driven. This is a moody, atmospheric, densely packed book, full of feeling. It’s not for the faint of heart. Unburied is unpredictable, because it departs from what we’ve come to expect from horror. It shies from nothing, but Conliff has not come to the table to be crass. There’s a word we don’t hear very often lately—dread. That’s just what is invoked here.
On the Imaqulotta Scale, I rate this book to be Heavenly.
So, this week, we’re going to talk about erotica. I know the subject makes some people uncomfortable, but surely not any readers of an Irreverent blog. Still, I am aware that even those who aren’t made uncomfortable by it often feel it is less legitimate than other forms of expression. After we talk a little, I’ll tell you why I don’t agree.
You may have noticed from my attempt at amusing anecdotes that I was not an “average” child. I was exposed, at an early age, to a variety of inappropriate material. Adults seemed to find it amusing when I’d pick up the Playboy magazine. I think they forgot I taught myself to read by age 4. No one grabbed the Penthouse out of my hands either, when I would sit still for a half hour deciphering “Oh, Wicked Wanda” and trying to figure out what in the hell was going on. I think their first cause for concern was when I found the Hustler under the bed, where they had at least tried to hide it, and attempted to act out things I’d read from The Story of O.
This was not the only source of “erotica” available to a young person with a good vocabulary. Everyone and their grandma read romance novels, and those were, in some cases, nothing much but prettied-up period porn. As I grew, I discovered the clean, beautiful work of Anais Nin, and the dense lush work of Anne Rice, whose very prose was erotic, even outside of the genre. As we read, so shall we write. I wrote about sex before I ever had it. After beginning to write, often terrible things of the fan fiction variety, I discovered others who wrote such things. In the world of fan fiction, I was exposed to homoerotic literature, and devoured it as readily as any story I loved. It was pretty to imagine these things, and reality, at first, was a grave disappointment.
So, what am I saying here? Certainly not that we should perpetuate puritanical attitudes about sex, or even quash childish curiosity. However, there are appropriate levels to anything. Talking to each other is the only way we figure all of that out. Talking about sex, especially to our children, is difficult depending on one’s background and upbringing.
This is exactly why I believe erotica is as valid as any other form of expression. We are sexual beings, and if we can’t talk about it, at least we can read and understand that others have been through the same sorts of things. All human experience should be the purview of the author.
Appropriate or not, erotica is literature that seduces and arouses, as opposed to porn that is like a semi-consensual quickie in a truck stop restroom. Notice, I said literature. Hence, there must be a story, in which adult things happen to happen. If your story starts out “So, there I was….” chances are you’ve written some porn. I have no objection to porn; the internet is certainly full of it.
As I have shared my thoughts with you, I’d like to share some authors and work that I have admired and at least one piece that I think misses the mark.
One of my favorite authors of erotic literature is a close friend of mine, currently writing as T. Baggins. T. writes M/M erotic romance, brilliantly. Whether writing a grim tale of prison love, in Protection, a modern day Coming Out/Cinderella story in Something Different, or a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant love story which manages to discuss politics, coming out, and death, and in a realistic and sometimes amusing way, called “Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay)”. T’s work is heavy on character, sparkling at conversation, and is erotic to boot. If your mind is open, or you already know you enjoy M/M stories, read T.’s work. I highly recommend it.
Recommended to me by T. was Beg (Los Angeles Nights) by C. D. Reiss, and I was grateful for the recommendation. I liked the fact that Monica, the first person narrator of this novella, refuses to put her work aside for romance. Again, there’s story AND passion. Great fun.
An author new to me, Ruby Red is a name to watch. Although Fill Me Up (Hollywood Pearls, #1) is a short story, it creates fully realized characters, and hot erotic action. The adventures of Lillie Kensington will continue, and I’d recommend them.
Now, the one that I think misses, and why. I will admit I didn’t finish it, for exactly the flaws I’ll detail. Love The Sinner, by Avril Ashton, had an intriguing concept, of a cop and a criminal drawn to each other against all reason and taboo. My issue was simple. Lust at first sight is perfectly possible, but love at first sight? Don’t stretch my credulity too much. When you add in the fact that these men are from opposite sides of the law, I need a little more to believe that they’ll fall in love instead of just in bed. This one jumped ahead too fast. I couldn’t get my disbelief off the ground.
Erotica is exactly as valid as other forms of expression. An author owes the reader honesty, even while spinning talks. Honesty can be found in every genre, and creates enjoyable reading!