Red Velvet and Absinthe Paperback – 6 Sep 2011
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''These stories bring out an atmosphere of intrigue, full of dark and twisted emotions we can all feel in the right light...in this case it is candle light that will inspire us... Deliciously Gothic.'' - Love Romance Passion
''This is a lush anthology of paranormal romance.... Although sometimes erotic, these stories don't skimp on the emotional depth.'' - Fresh Fiction
''Editor and writer Mitzi Szereto chose the stories, skillfully pulling together a whole collection yet allowing each story to maintain a unique voice... The collection holds a seductress in a painting, a vampire who stars in a hit television series, a doll made from scraps and wax, and the list of oddities continues.'' - Luxury Reading
''All of these short stories explore romance of a different kind, be it Vampires, Werewolves, or unexplained otherworldly creatures.'' - Vampire Romance Books
''The stories were superb and the sex sublime. This was an awesome collection of paranormal erotica, probably the best collection I have ever read.'' - Rambles
''The darkness and desires enveloping the characters within these stories makes for an altogether fascinating read. Whether it is a vampire, werewolf or spectral being there is something in all of them that you can recognize... Each of these authors will enrapt you with the depth of their characters and the complexity of their storylines.'' - Coffee Time Romance
''Altogether lovely, haunting, and deliciously decadent, you'll be snuffing out the candles long before you're done, if only to hide your own gothic touch beneath the sheets!'' - Bibrary Book Lust
''An intriguing collection of short stories filled with complicated relationships that, like absinthe itself, waver between being considered extremely dangerous and perfectly acceptable, depending on one's perspective.'' - Night Owl Reviews
''Haunting, Intriguing, Sensual, Curious, Lustful, Spellbinding, Hot... There is something here for everyone.'' - Romancing the Book
''These stories are about atmosphere and Otherness, and amping up the blatant sexual tension of the gothic classics into something more palpable. Really well done.'' - The Book Rat
''[S]exy and often quite humorous... Enthusiastically recommended.'' - Library Journal
''I urge all lovers of paranormal erotic romance to pick up this anthology! Perfect reading for those cold, autumn nights.'' - Read All Over Reviews
''Haunting, Intriguing, Sensual, Curious, Lustful, Spellbinding, Hot... There is something here for everyone.'' - Romancing the Book
''Dark, dirty, passionate, and paranormal... Great stories with erotic element firmly in place.'' - Getting Naughty Between the Stacks
Several of the stories...are wonderful because of the language. They are beautifully written, poignant and touching. I particularly liked La Belle Mort, The Persistence of Memory and The Blood Moon Kiss."- Daemon Reviews
''Scorching hot and deliciously sinful, Mitzi Szereto's collection of stories of dark and preternatural hungers will have you panting for more.'' - Adrian Phoenix, critically acclaimed author of The Maker's Song series
''The authors are all wonderful story tellers, weaving their own versions of Gothic Erotica.'' - Blood, Lust and Erotica
''Fifteen different variations on the subject of the supernatural will keep the reader entertained from the beginning to end. This book has something for every taste.''- Sensual Reads
''Having literary pieces of art and being focused on more than just the sex is one of Mitzi Szereto's styles... a very enjoyable read.'' --Pop My Cherry
Top Customer Reviews
This book has 15 carefully crafted tales each written by a different author. What do they have in common? Well, Gothic horror for starters. I hope you like vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other such delightful scary things?
But these stories are not just about ghosts and vampires, they have a bit more than just that, they have an added twist of sauciness that portrays this genre in a far more racy way - things that do bump in the night (and day)!
I enjoyed the entire book with some stories more than others though none disappointed. That is the joy of a collection, different parts will appeal to different people and I am sure other readers will feel the same. I have deliberately not described any of the stories as you will need to read them to see if they can make you gasp.
I recommend it and will happily read another collection like this by Mitzi Szereto.
Red Velvet & Absinthe, edited by the wonderful Mitzi Szereto, includes fifteen short stories featuring paranormal stalwarts such as vampires and werewolves and ghosts. Each of the stories is vivid and rich with a dark romance.
I won't list favourites because it's not fair and there were too many in this collection. A very worthwhile addition to anyone's book shelf.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A lot of people are put off by short stories, I think (and this used to be true of me) because they don't connect - there's just not enough time, not enough text, and so things end up falling a little flat for them emotionally. Many times a reader will say of a short story, 'It was good but I wish it was full-length' or 'There just wasn't enough' ... they are left unsatisfied, feeling as if they've just begun when it ends. But there are a good number of stories in here that I actually found myself connecting to, sometimes rather quickly, and I have to praise that. One in particular, "Cover him with Darkness" by Janine Ashbless, I found very intriguing and perfectly complete as a short story - I didn't want anything else from it. I just thought it was really well done, well-suited to the format, and intriguing. The same is true of "Painted" by Anna Meadows and "Dolly" by Charlotte Stein. All 3 of these stories are completely different with a different feel, but they all had a completeness to them, and a story I loved following.
One other thing I found interesting and a little unexpected was that the stories that most appealed to me and felt the most interesting and complete (and the least cheesy) were the ones that didn't have to do with vampires or weres. It's not necessarily that the vamp/were stories were bad, necessarily, but with few exceptions, I found myself caring about them less. I did really enjoy editor Mitzi Szereto's "The Blood Moon Kiss" which is one of the vamp stories, and is a fun, somewhat tongue in cheek take on vampire culture and a certain popular television show. But the standouts for me were the unexpected ones: artworks come to life, little wax voodoo dolls that could have been very creepy but were somehow sweet, fallen angels or gods or god-knows-what - there was a nice spread of creativity and world-building throughout the collection that I really appreciated.
The only real drawbacks for me were just things that aren't to my taste. Romances and dynamics that just don't appeal to me. I'm sorry, but I am just not a fan of complete submission, of anyone, to anyone. Collars and cages - aaaand I'm out. But this I think was actually probably a good thing in its own way because it shows that there really is a little something for everyone.
I think the foreward from Kelley Armstrong (yes, that Kelley Armstrong) was a nice surprise that really seemed to get at the heart of the collection and the somewhat gothic feel of the whole thing. These stories are about atmosphere and Otherness, and amping up the latant sexual tension of the gothic classics into something more palpable. Really well done.
[Side note: If you're wondering if you want to venture to read a book labeled 'paranormal erotica romance', I would employ the cock-test I used in my review of and Falling, Fly sometime back: how do you feel about the word 'cock'? If you just cringed, skip this. If you sat up straighter and said 'where?' go out and grab a copy.]
Brilliant story to start the anthology with, subtle undertones of BDSM interspersed with shape-shifting erotica.
COVER HIM WITH DARKNESS BY JANINE ASHBLESS
Unusual story that was compelling as you thought you knew what way it would go only to find out you were completely wrong. Was a bit disappointed with the ending as I felt it left the main question still unanswered.
A ROSE IN THE WILLOW GARDEN BY ELIZABETH DANIELS
A beautifully sad yet loving story that made this reader, wipe away a tear or two. This is a story that will haunt me in the very best way for years to come.
THE BLOOD MOON KISS BY MITZI SZERETO
Such a sensually erotic story that combines all the elements I love to read. So far this would have to be my most favorite and it would be nice to see this one actually made into a longer story, delving deeper into the lives of the two main characters. It is truly a well written piece of prose that does the author proud.
PAINTED BY ANNA MEADOWS
An intriguing tale of sensuous prose that at times becomes too heavy with purple prose. I liked the descriptive use of flowers but it did become tedious and made this reader lose the plot line quite a few times, resulting in having to re-read it again and purposely try to keep up with the plot.
DOLLY BY CHARLOTTE STEIN
An interesting story with an incredible twist at the end that reminded me of a story I once read when I was younger but without the eroticism Dolly has.
LA BELLE MORT BY ZANDER VYNE
What an outstanding story. Was not prepared for the twist at the end and I found I could not take my eyes off the page. The pace of the story was well set. It was as if the author was purposely writing the words in the same vein as one would make love, slowly at first then with increasing passion until the final destination is reached and released. Well worth the read!
THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY BY EVEN MORA
Extraordinary story of love, the pace was fast but not that fast that you couldn't catch a breath but when you did it was only to read more that would take it away again. I would have liked to have read more of this story as I believe there is more to Rowan and Lily's story to come or perhaps it is just the author's way of teasing the reader.
SCRATCHED BY ASHLEY LISTER
Even though the plotline was predictable, the sensuousness of the story line is what kept it afloat. Pure un-adulterated lust makes this a definite body tingling book.
BITTER AND INTOXICATING BY SHARON BIDWELL
This was an interesting tale, filled with passion, fervor and artistry both in the descriptive use of the words and the subject matter.
TEA FOR TWO BY CLAIRE BUCKINGHAM
Tea For Two is a heart wrenching story that had this reader on the verge of tears. The poignancy of this love story and the loss that the two main characters suffer is so tenderly written, making the whole scenario come alive before your very eyes. Congratulations Ms. Buckingham for a truly tremendous and well thought out short story.
MILADY'S BATH BY GISELLE RENARDE
This story has a bit of everything, love, lust, mystery and hot passion. Without giving the story away, the protagonist comes across as a sweet little creature with the way she speaks and describes everything. Being written in first person POV, it does give you more of an insight as to what she is feeling and her reactions to what is happening. Thoroughly enjoyed this story, well done!
THE WAY HOME BY CARY WILLIAMS
As I began to read this, I was a tad confused as it seemed to be words or sentences missing, then I reminded myself that it was a galley copy I was reading so full edits had not been achieved yet. So now I can relate my views on this story. Personally I would not class this as erotica but everyone has different ideas. I feel the concept of this story was good just not well executed as there were areas within the story that would have done better with clarification and perhaps as a longer storyline, allowing the Author more flexibility to delve into the characters personalities a lot deeper.
THE QUEEN BY TAHIRA IQBAL
Brilliant, this is the only word I can think of to describe what I felt about this story. The pace keeps you right on the edge and what an orgasmic edge it is. If this was a print book then I would class this story as a page turner.
BENEDICTION BY BONNIE DEE
This was a wonderful story to end the anthology with. It gives a whole new outlook on angels and their duties whilst still giving a somewhat moral lesson about self-forgiveness.
Overall I enjoyed reading this anthology. The Authors are all wonderful story tellers, weaving their own versions of Gothic Erotica. None of the stories were repetitious; all were fresh and innovative in style and setting. My only complaint with it was the length, to me I prefer to read an anthology that is not quite as long but again that is just this reviewer's opinion.
I would give this a rating of 4 out of 5.
Cover Him with Darkness by Janine Ashbless: An account of the seduction of the young, naïve Milja by an imprisoned fallen angel. Disturbing as it is tantalizing, this story takes place in a rustic faraway land and has biblical notes. I found it absolutely explosive, and it reads almost like a folktale - 10 out of 10 hearts
A Rose in the Willow Garden by Elizabeth Daniels: Apparently this was inspired by the murder ballads "Down in the Willow Garden" and "Where the Wild Roses Grow," but being unfamiliar with both, I was really lost while reading. Daniels's effect is majestic and surreal, but the supernatural summoning in this story is too confusing for me to enjoy greatly - 5 out of 10 hearts
The Blood Moon Kiss by Mitzi Szereto: Hot! I love the southern spunk with which Szereto writes. Daytime television's most popular hunk Talen and small-town actress Christine hook up in this surprisingly refreshing vampire tale of reincarnated love and its path to eternity. The shifting perspectives aren't clearly labeled, which is a bit disorienting, but other than that, The Blood Moon Kiss is a delight of an erotic read - 8 out of 10 hearts
Painted by Anna Meadows: Benjamin, a lowly groundskeeper at Mr. Lawrence's estate, loses his innocence and discovers ecstasy within the mysterious beauty of an enchanted painting. The way he completely loses himself in a seductive art's form is fascinating. The plot is kind of confusing, but the concept, lovely - 7 out of 10 hearts
Dolly by Charlotte Stein: Ohhh this one's kind of twisted, but a fantasy you can't deny: a make-believe man come to life. Sophie imagines the man of her dreams and literally creates him: a gorgeous Frankenstein. However, that's all he is: a doll. No mind of his own, and no soul... or so she thinks. Love the perceptive tone in this one, but not a fan of the choppiness. Overall Dolly is red-hot and has an amazing implication at the end. Simply mind-bending! - 9 out of 10 hearts
La Belle Mort by Zander Vyne: Eliza, imprisoned in a dark cell for a crime she hasn't committed, comes face to face with her executioner, whom she just as well may be imagining. This one is a bit darker than the rest, but enjoyable in a devastating way. Grim and chilling, La Belle Mort follows an unlikely pair of lovers and highlights the keeping of faith and the promise of light after darkness - 8 out of 10 hearts
The Persistence of Memory by Evan Mora: A passionate lesbian story to spice things up a bit. Rowan, a healer who has the power to wipe the memory of her grantees clean, falls for the vulnerable but ever-strong Lily. The concepts of soul mates and protective duty are touched upon in this story. It's emotional and will make your spine tingle, but the plot itself is nothing terribly exciting - 7 out of 10 hearts
Scratched by Ashley Lister: Vicky must deal with the transformation of her werewolf lover, Jake... even though she might be his biggest prey. The curse this storyline revolves around is great, but the actual sex scenes are just okay - 6 out of 10 hearts
Bitter and Intoxicating by Sharon Bidwell: Wilting artist Émile finds inspiration in the eerily alluring Vérène, which propels his greatest piece yet. I found this one rather strange and didn't "get" it for the most part, but do appreciate how it combines French mythology with the essence of abstraction and the fine line between art and pleasure - 6 out of 10 hearts
Tea for Two by Claire Buckingham: Not of fan of this story about Anastasia's coming-to-terms with her fallen angel husband, Gregory because it dragged on so much. The plot is messy as well, so it took me a while to comprehend, and the sex just falls flat - 4 out of 10 hearts
Milady's Bath by Giselle Renarde: The maid of a young, impulsive lady who lusts for a beast she seeks to tame, narrates this sensual story. The actual supernatural eroticism takes place behind closed doors, while a tender female passion takes place in front--an interesting perspective! The juxtaposition of rough werewolf sex and gentle womanly loving makes for a rich story that will make you squirm - 9 out of 10 hearts
The Way Home by Carrie Williams: Darker and more sinister than the other stories, The Way Home follows the downfall of a nameless woman who finds an escape from her complicated life in a bartender whom she only knows as "Freddy." The mindless, pleasurable routine they fall into is a French paradise, but she soon discovers that this little vacation of hers won't last forever. While I'm still not exactly sure what kind of creature this story depicts, the depth and obscurity of it makes it an exemplary piece of Gothic fiction - 9 out of 10 hearts
The Queen by Tahira Iqbal: Upon a sudden attack in the King's court, Amelia is snatched out of her vampire King lover's arms, and forced to face the tragic aftermath, as well as the throne she inherits. The new Queen finds solace in the sexy but detached bodyguard, Landon; she soon discovers that between them, is lust... as well as bloodlust. The plot here would make a terrific novel, but it was just way too much to fit into 14 pages. Iqbal's ideas are ambitious, but The Queen moves way too fast; too much happens for a tiny story that's meant to be longer - 5 out of 10 hearts
Benediction by Bonnie Dee: Micah's soul is stripped bare when he seeks redemption in the form of an angel, the gorgeous Hasdiel. She alone has the power to separate him from his sins, as well as teach him to finally forgive himself. While the tone of Benediction is ethereal--perfect for an angel story--I didn't like it that much because the plot isn't novel, and the characters are rather unmemorable - 6 out of 10 hearts
Pros: Very diverse stories with all sorts of paranormal creatures and folklore // Intricate plots // Complex characters and relationships // Rich, seductive mood // Quality erotica
Cons: Some of the stories are hard to follow because they're so fantastical // Only a few stories were actually arousing ("Dolly," "Milady's Bath," and "The Way Home."
Love: "Dites-moi qui vous aimez, et je vous dirai qui vous êtes," she said. "Isn't that pretty? It's French. It means 'tell me whom you love, and I'll tell you who you are.' I read it on a tombstone, once."
-- from Elizabeth Daniels's A Rose in the Willow Garden
Verdict: Red Velvet and Absinthe is a Cleis Press classic, with lush worlds built into every story, and sensuality that reaches supreme heights. This anthology is as good as Gothic short fiction gets: dark as night and smooth as velvet. While I didn't really connect with some individual stories, the majority of them are hauntingly seductive and gloomy in the most alluring way.
Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Cleis Press!).
Review copy provided by author
Haunting, Intriguing, Sensual, Curious, Lustful, Spellbinding, Hot. All words I could use to describe this collection of short stories.
Ok, so I didn't get the chance to sit and read this one by candle light, with glass of wine. More or less, I was privileged to read it sitting in my car in the parent pick up line waiting for school to let out. A few times I wondered if I was blushing. At times I even had to set the Nook down, so I could let the short story I just read sink in. As with any multi story book, you run the risk of some being out of the park home run hits, while others seem to be a foul ball. With this grouping, each story made its way to a base . . some made it only to first base, while others were out of the park home runs.
The two stories that just completely rocked my world were: The Blood Moon Kiss and La Belle Mort. The Blood Moon Kiss finds us on the set of a popular "Vampire" show. The amount of heat that oozed off the pages of this story should have melted my Nook, I'm so glad it didn't. However, La Belle Mort, a story that finds us in a cell with a young lady awaiting punishment (hanging) for something she didn't do . . well, this story was one that I had to set my Nook down after reading. I needed a moment to just let the story sink in.
There is something here for everyone. With 15 different short stories, how could you not find something that tickles your "fancy".