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Madeline Moore "Madeline" (Toronto, Canada)

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Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey
by Lori Perkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades sheds some light on Fifty Shades of Grey, 20 Jan. 2013
As an author of erotica, I admit that my first response to the phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey was envy. Not necessarily, "Why her and not me?" More along the lines of, "Why her and not one of us?" Because, believe it or not, erotica authors existed before E.L. James and her fanfic of Stephanie Myers Twilight Series gobsmacked the world and created a niche even more irritating than "chicklit." That niche is "mommyporn."

I read Fifty Shades of Grey It's the story of a naïve virgin who falls helplessly in love with a young, gorgeous, billionaire who somewhat inexplicably falls equally hard for her. But he's a Dominant and she isn't particularly attracted to the world of BDSM. She's just attracted to him. Christian Grey needs to Dominate because he was abused as a child, first by his crack whore Mom and then by an adult female friend of his Stepmother. Anastasia Steele has to submit to punishment because she's in love with Christian and the only way he knows how to have sex is to cause pain.

Here we have two situations that are considered no-no's in the world of erotica publishing. BDSM can be used to heal victims of abuse but it isn't (shall I say "wasn't"?) a popular plot line with editors. Similarly editors, in the main, prefer their submissive protagonists to be, if not eager, at least "horrified but thrilled" and not just plain horrified.

Finally, all the editors I've ever worked with like to buy well-written erotica, and Fifty Shades of Grey is not very well written.

So this collection of opinions on the Fifty Shades trilogy intrigued me. I was not disappointed. In the Introduction, editor Lori Perkins gets right to the point. "Some have wondered how a `classic' can be so 'poorly written.' But I contend that it is not poorly written, but rather written in an everywoman's voice, a necessary part of its success."

Holy Crap! Does this mean I should dumb down my writing to attract fans?

Perkins goes on to say, "I hope Fifty Shades will be the tip of a rather large iceberg of erotic empowerment. And I hope that these books will usher in a publishing tidal wave of female-centered, commercially successful erotica, giving women a new voice for sexual, political and financial choices. It's what we should've had all along."

But, I sputter, we have had it all along. My own novel, Sarah's Education, is about a naive virgin and an older Dominant man. Mind you he's not a billionaire and she's not surprisingly stupid, given that she's about to graduate from university . . . but still . . . it's not like E.L. James created anything new. Nor, I hasten to add, did I.

What about Story Of O? Happily, after a quick sexy set up by M.J. Rose, that very question is addressed by Tiffany Reisz, who compares the scandal in Paris in 1954, when O was published, to the 50 Shades scandal taking place right now. There is truth to this analogy and that means I have to stop and think.

Yes, Fifty Shades is nothing new but the fact that women everywhere are talking about a BDSM fantasy trilogy is.

And so Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey takes off.

It's taken me a long time to write this review, because while each piece is rather short, the rumination that follows is not.

M. Christian is the first erotica author to appear in the book and the first to address what all erotica authors are thinking about, even if most aren't willing to admit it: the money.

But this isn't a book for writers, or for readers who loved Fifty Shades of Grey, or for readers who hated it. This, like the trilogy it's about, is for everyone.

It's a fascinating, extremely well-organized, diverse and deeply thought provoking collection of non-fiction essays on the trilogy that has shaken the world of erotica like an earthquake. And the aftershocks just keep on coming. M. Christian calls Fifty Shades a "game changer" and he's right. The rules of the erotica genre have been toppled like so many knick knacks.

As Rachel Kramer Bussel points out, "Women are not simply `soaking up' this message, but analyzing it, debating it, discussing it, with their friends, family member and lovers."

This book is important, I think, to inform the debate.

I have to admit I was happy to see, among the Phds, historians, and Doctors the hilarious send-up I first read on Laura Antoniou's blog, a little piece she penned called Fifty Shades of Holy Crap!

It made me feel better to know that at least one other erotica author was willing to go on record as irritated by the runaway success of the trilogy, not because it isn't her success or even the success of one of her colleagues, but because the trilogy isn't that good. Somewhere in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Gray is the comment that I've heard more than any other from women who are not writers: "I read all three, although after the first I didn't enjoy the story very much."

Why keep reading if the experience isn't enjoyable?

Maybe the answer can be found in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey

As for me, I'm going to do what I announced on Laura Antoniou's blog: I'm going to write fanfic of Fifty Shades of Grey but I'm going to make Christian and Ana into vampires! Holy Double crap!! I'm gonna be famous!


Radical Desire: Kink & Magickal Sex
Radical Desire: Kink & Magickal Sex
by Mark Ramsden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rad, Bad I'm totally Mad for this Book, 27 May 2012
This slim (140 pages) book is part brutally honest, unpretentious and often hilarious autobiography, (page 28 is a full page photograph of Mr Ramsden's pierced penis with the caption "The author making a dick of himself with his eighth Prince Albert upgrade") part encyclopaedia of fetish (including Piercing, Corsets, Rubber, Switching and Scarification) part tour guide for fetish-loving tourists ("Some say the dungeon play (at Club Rub) is not as extreme as at certain clubs but then I don't go to a club to see perverts fisting each other. I can get that at home.") part fine visual art (all illustrations by Ruth Ramsden) and part fiction (2 kinky short stories, here's an excerpt from "Madam Petra": Sometime, somewhere, we are always together. Exchanging fragments of dreams and whispered prayers. In the long, slow, sweet dance of desire. Warmed by a pussycat smile.) and entirely satisfying.

Radical Desire: Kink & Magickal Sex, is not so much a book as it is an experience; one that kinksters, new, experienced, or jaded, should not miss.

Buy it now.

Simply Wicked
Simply Wicked
by Kate Pearce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wicked is Simply Wonderful, 29 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Simply Wicked (Paperback)
When I picked up 'Simply Wicked' I was a little worried that I wouldn't understand the story, having not read the previous titles in the 'Simply . . .' series. But I needn't have been concerned.

Kate Pearce is a real pro. She fills the reader in on previous events by seamlessly weaving the past into present conflicts. The book begins with Anthony Sokorfsky, brother of Valentin, awakening, bruised and shaken, in Madame Helene's pleasure house.

(I think every city ought to have a Pleasure House modelled after Madame Helene's. On the main floor, one can dine and flirt and sip champagne, while upstairs, the pleasure comes from the lash of a whip or the crack of the crop. I think Madame could have a franchise, were she willing to invest the time.)

Anthony hurries to Sokorvsky and Howard Shipping Company to meet his Valentin. He's come to the realization that he's had enough pain and humiliation at the hands of Lord Minshom. He also wants to prove to his Father and Valentin that he is more than a useless aristocrat. Anthony vows to change.

In a sense this is the coming of age story of two adults. One, Anthony Sokorfsky, and the other Marguerite, the twenty-three year old half-sister of Madame Helene's twins. They implore Anthony to squire their widowed sister about town. Since her husband was killed in a duel, she has removed herself from society. She mourns her dead husband and isn't ready to have sex. Since Anthony wants to change his ways, he could begin by courting Marguerite, without worrying about actually having to consummate the relationship.

What nobody foresaw was the instant attraction between Anthony and Marguerite.

From their first meeting to the last page of the book the two tentative, rather mysterious would-be lovers must deal with their past (the man who killed Marguerite's husband in the duel and what, exactly, that duel was about, and Anthony's almost evil ex-Dominant Lord Minshom)and their own sexual proclivities.

Are they a good match or would they be better off as affectionate friends? Should they be bound together forever or go their separate ways?

The plot may sound like a traditional bodice-ripper but in fact it's packed with decadent, wicked, kinky sex, sex, sex.

By the last page of Simply Wicked all the complications have been resolved satisfactorily and one is left with both a sense of satisfaction and a craving for more.

Kate Pearce is a terrific erotica author and I tip my fascinator to her.

Carnal Machines
Carnal Machines
by D.L. King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica, 30 May 2011
This review is from: Carnal Machines (Paperback)
Carnal Machines - Steam Punk Erotica

Oh how I love the cover of this anthology from Cleis, edited by D.L. King.
The absolutely ridiculous goggles with little puffs of steam and a leather strap across one eye piece and the short leather top offering a glimpse of breast: a total turn-on cover.

I confess, although the words "Steam Punk" make me want to devote my life to writing in the genre, I didn't actually understand what the genre was. A good way to find out is to read an anthology on the topic, featuring many of my favourite authors. That anthology, Carnal Machines, Steam Punk erotica, is the one.

Steam Punk involves a "What if . . . " scenario. A fellow named Babbage actually created the plans for a steam powered computer, but the computer was never built. Apparently the Victorian era just wasn't all that interested in steam powered machines.

The first complete Babbage Engine was completed in London in 2002, 153 years after it was designed. Difference Engine No. 2, built faithfully to the original drawings, consists of 8,000 parts, weighs five tons, and measures 11 feet long. (Wikipedia.)

Steam Punk stories are based in Victorian times so the language is wonderfully correct and everyone has servants. All the women wear corsets and most of the men have moustaches. However, unlike true Victorian times, in Steam Punk stories there is great interest in steam powered machines. In this antho, the machines are carnal by nature.

Consequently the vast majority of stories feature steam powered dildos. All the authors do a terrific job of capturing the language of the times. The first story, "Human Powered" by Teresa Noelle Roberts, is delightfully imaginative and as much a love story as a story of lust.

My favourite in the collection, "The Servant Question" by Janine Ashbless, has it all. The language: Her magnificent bosom heaved under its white lawn blouson, and she dabbed at her upper lip with a lace handkerchief. The conflict in the story, in which Tulliver's Mechanical Servants is asked by a certain Mrs. Petherton to make adjustments to her servant that he does not, immediately, comprehend. Not until he arrives at the Petherton household to find the Missus in a lather and much in need of his immediate assistance.
"I cannot reach the climactic state I desire!" she wailed. "Act swiftly, I implore you."
And so he does. Sexy and funny and very imaginative. Can Ashbless write a bad story?
I doubt it.

While I liked all the stories there were some that truly stood out for me. I found "Mutiny on the Danika Blue" by Poe Von Page, different (female Domme) but not particularly steam punk. The Danika Blue travels through space but it could just as easily travel the seas.

"Her Own Devices" by Lisabet Sarai was delightfully different. Lin Xiao Chung is on a mission: A sliver of moon glimmered overhead . . . One gloved hand strayed to the blade belted under her tablier overskirt. It was always advisable to be prepared. There's a marvellous twist at the end of the tale that makes it well worth reading.

"Doctor Watson Makes a House call" a promising title if ever there was one, is a fine example of economical writing. "The noise of the Steam Steed hissing and clanking away brought the butler to the big oak doors."

D.L. King's contribution to her anthology is called "The Treatment." Once Mei has Harold and Rufus in their pods with smoked goggles over their eyes, it's only a matter of time before anal rods and rubber tubing, wires and straps are in place and pulsing suction begins. Bring it on, Mei! These big boys can take it.

"The Succubus" by Elizabeth Schechter, is the only entry with supernatural overtones (except for the incubus in "Human Powered.") It's the strangest story in the anthology and lingers, so placing it at the end, as D.L.King did, was good thinking.

Carnal Machines Steam Punk Erotica, edited by D.L. King and published by Cleis Press is wonderfully written, true to the anthology's theme, sometimes playful, intensely imaginative and boiling over with steamy sex.

Dark Enchantment (Paranormal Erotic Romance)
Dark Enchantment (Paranormal Erotic Romance)
by Janine Ashbless
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashbless is at the Peak of Her Powers, 11 Sept. 2010
Fasten your metaphorical seatbelts, readers, when you pick up DARK ENCHANTMENT you are in for a bumpy ride! I am a voracious reader, but this collection of short stories by Janine Ashbless took me a couple of weeks to read. That's because I could only handle one story per night. Why? Because each is a unique, finely crafted, sexy, kinky piece that demands to be savoured. This is a collection that should not be rushed.

DARK ENCHANTMENT is a collection of paranormal stories. Within the genre, Ms. Ashbless has explored the future, the past, the present, the imagined future, the mythical past, the mythical present (!) the fantastical past...well, she has truly explored the genre of `Paranormal' excepting werewolves and vampires. Imagine that, if you will.

The stories:
Dishonour - Raihn is third concubine to Lord General Mershen. "This is a story about Lord Mershen. I want you to hear it."

Pique Dame - A ghost story that takes place at the opera, as the stars of the show fight their desire for each other.

And Their Flying Machines - Futuristic tale about a female ornithopter pilot and the gruff but sexy Chief Engineer McGregor. This could be the story that gets Janine accused of writing rape fantasies, although it's only fair to add that it's actually a love story.

Ruby Seeds - The retelling of a myth in all its original sexiness. More almost rape, although again it's only fair to add that in the original myth it IS rape. This one is also a love story.

Cold Hands: Warm Heart - Your classic ghost story, only sexed up to the max.

The Scent of Hawthorn - A Knight meets his match in the form of a Dryad.

Chimaera - Honeymooners acquire a third, whether they like it or not, who demands satisfaction before he will depart.

Scratch - Even God can't protect her from her past forever, nor can her husband. When her previous master visits, all hell breaks out.

The Red Thread - She's the only one brave enough to face the monster in the basement, until the Prince of Athens appears.

Janissaries - Eight robust warriors and one abject slave girl. Can she satisfy them all? She'd better...

Darkling I Listen - A girl passes the time by telling a ghoul an X-rated fairy tale.

Every one of these stories is elegantly written. This is the latest book for Janine, and it showcases her imagination and her talent as a writer. She's in top form.

My favourites in the collection are: 'Chimaera', for the writing, 'Cold Hands: Warm Heart', because it was so scary it made me shudder even while it turned me on, and, again, for the writing, 'Scratch', for the filthy sex in a Godly home, 'The Red Thread', for the filthy sex and imaginative prose, and 'Janissaries', which does something I've always wanted to do but didn't know how - rivals the chapter in THE STORY OF O that deals with O's first night at Roissy.

The sex in all the stories is explicit, exotic and exciting. A lot of it is rough, most of it is kinky, there's a goodly amount of m/f/m tossed in with your m/f, and plenty of voyeurism. Each story, need I add, reaches a wholly satisfying bone-melting climax. Also, many of the stories are romantic and the women in all of them know what they want and how to get it. These are, by and large, feminist fantasies.

As a writer of erotica, I admire Janine's work to the point of envy. So I must switch gears and consider her stories from the perspective of, as author Alice Munro puts it, `the careful reader.' As a careful reader, I strongly recommend Dark Enchantment (Paranormal Erotic Romance).

Ms Ashbless is at the peak of her powers. This anthology is dark, absolutely. It is also truly enchanting.

Dark Enchantment (Paranormal Erotic Romance), a Black Lace anthology.

Lesbian Lust
Lesbian Lust
by Sacchi Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lesbian Lust, edited by Sacchi Green, is a Must Have!, 11 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Lesbian Lust (Paperback)
For the queer, the bi or the just plan curious, a new anthology of lesbian stories edited by Sacchi Green is something to get excited about. 'Lesbian Lust' does not disappoint.

Sommer Marsden opens the antho with a bang. This is a talented, self-assured writer who gets under the skin of her characters and in doing so gets under the reader's, as well.'The Girl with the Bettie Page Bangs' is elegant and upbeat and the sex scenes sizzle.

Fisting makes its first appearance on page 11, courtesy of Catherine Lundoff. If you like it rough and sacrilegious her Reunion at St. Mary's will light you up like a Christmas tree.

God also merits a mention in the next tale, 'A Midwinter Night's Dream' but takes a powder pretty quick. The heterosexual rape scene in the Jodie Foster movie 'The Accused' is turned upside down as 'you' (Yes, a story told in the second person has made it into an anthology (writers take note, it can be done!) watch and then experience rough but consensual lesbian sex on a pool table. Fran Walker's tale is a fantasy suitable for any night at all.

Rachel Kramer Bussel's 'Swollen' is a beautiful story about one woman helping a single pregnant woman get used to the idea of being a mother. How? By fisting her, of course. Strange? Yup. But along with the hot kink the story is sweetly romantic. What can I tell you? RKB makes it work.

And so the anthology unfolds. 'Camshaft Cutie' by Crystal Barela gives us this lovely description, 'She had the greenest eyes I had ever seen, framed by delicate crow's feet.' Delicate crow's feet: what a delightful moment in a short, hot, sexy little number. 'August Crazies' is a story I can certainly relate to, as the air conditioner is blaring while I write this. 'The Office Grind' is another story that many can relate to, as a business meeting is organized to cheer the protagonist, Nina, right up.

The stories in this anthology are all different but almost all of them are deftly done, written by writers with a sure knowledge of their craft. The exceptions, 'Lover's Moon' and 'Canvas' are less assured but as they are by new authors Ren Peters and Kenzie Mayer,respectively, Sacchi Green is to be commended by giving them a place to start. Don't misunderstand, the stories are good,just not quite as fabulous as the rest.

Teresa Noelle Roberts' story, 'Not Afraid to Get Her Hands Dirty', injects some levity into the story of a woman, injured and on pain medication, falling dozily for her male room mate's latest squeeze, '. . . a hot, dressed-to-impress temptress femme with a screwdriver: be still my beating clit.' The second half of that sentence, 'be still my beating clit' could be taken as a summary of this anthology's theme.

'Never Too Old' is a fine story about long term partners, together thirty years, in which the purchase of sex toys is the major part of the story, while the use of them gets a short, intense page and a half of torrid description.

'Lost and Found' proves you don't have to be a femme in a designer dress to catch the eye of a hottie. The main character's luggage is lost en route to Hawaii, so when she's turned on she finds herself, '...soaking right down to my dollar store panties.'

'The Angel Connection' by C.B. Potts is one of my favourites in the antho. In this light-hearted story, Potts makes the even the most mundane objects, like the contents of a garage, brightly sexy. 'Air hoses were coiled in tight serpentine loops against the wall, rubbery reptilian red ringed round with caution yellow.'

Cheyenne Blue's entry, 'A Story About Sarah' has the deft, light, clear touch of a seasoned writer. There's so much good stuff in this story it's hard to pick, but this line moved me. 'My hands are as dexterous as a piano player's. She hums and I play.'

From the perfect harmony of Blue's story to 'The Weekend', a touching story of a couple that's come undone and is making a last attempt to connect, the anthology does a fine job of covering many of the scenarios of Sapphic love and lust, which are, ultimately, the scenarios of love and lust.

'Love and Devotion' gives us a taste of Lesbian sex, southern style, between a young woman and a much older, married lady. In this tale it's the young woman whose love is only allowed to be expressed as lust. Her married lover insists that they both stay below the radar, prompting the younger of the two to observe, 'Funny that her closet is big enough to contain both of us.'

Jade Melisande's story, 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?' is a road trip romance, as Laura rescues Keri from another hetero relationship gone wrong. Will they find each other this time? Or is Keri, always going to be the pal who rescues the gal who loves men? When the two pull into a gas station Keri awakens. 'She stares muzzily out the window.' Is muzzily a word? I don't care if it is or not, it describes exactly how I feel when I awaken in the passenger seat to find myself still on the road.

Sacchi Green finishes the antho off with her dark, moving short story, 'Danger', in which the main character is swept up in the historic raid on a Greenwich Village bath house, Stonewall, on the night that 'The queers were fighting back!' She was a nurse in Vietnam and in the aftermath of the riot, she plays medic to victims of the melee, cheers on the gays and indulges in some seriously hot sex in the alleyway with a girl in braids. That night they end up together, both vets of Nam, one a medic and the other an ambulance driver. But in the turbulence of the times there's no room for long term love, only a stubborn lust connection that might just manage to survive until the world makes room for lovers of every persuasion.

The anthology touches on how women who love women feel in a plethora of real life situations and, if that isn't enough, also offers up enough pure fantasy and romantic HEA (Happy Ever After) or HFN (Happy For Now) to soothe the heart of the romantic of, yes, every persuasion. There's a whole lot of love and sex and lust and fantasy packed into this 202 page anthology. Do yourself a big favour and grab a copy of 'Lesbian Lust' for those long, cold winter nights that are right around the corner.

Lesbian Lust

Gothic Blue (Black Lace)
Gothic Blue (Black Lace)
by Portia Da Costa
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Gothic Blue' is a Dream Come True, 2 Jun. 2007
Portia da Costa has done it again! Or perhaps I should say, Black Lace has done it again - with a reprint of her 1996 novel 'Gothic Blue.' This is a timeless novel that is as fresh today as it was over ten years ago. It lives up to its erotica label from the very start - a prelude in which we are introduced to Count Andre von Kassel and the evil Countess Isidora Katori. The spell that is cast on the Count divides him from his true love, Arabelle, for all time - or at least, for four hundred plus years, when the arrival of Belinda Seward and her lover, Jonathan Sumner, at the Count's dilapidated manse gives the slumbering, suffering Count Kassel new hope.

While his blonde, mute, gorgeous servants (two females and a male) keep Lindi and Johnny `occupied' when they're not happily occupied with each other, it is the developing relationship between Andre and Lindi that drives the story forward. Will she succumb to his advances (yes), will it be all she imagines (oh yes) will she help him in his quest to lift the curse before the equally ageless Isidora interferes? The answer to that question I leave to you to discover when you read the book.

Elements of fairy tales and magic and timeless love meld seamlessly with a whole lot of steamy sex to make this book a winner. Congratulations, Ms da Costa, on this reprint. It's a great way to launch a reader into the incomparable imagination of the lively, lovely work of Portia da Costa - and a treat for anyone already familiar with her reliable, riveting prose.

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