Monday, May 11, 2009

Review- Writing Skin by Adriana Kraft

Writing Skin
by Adriana Kraft
May 1, 2009
Contemporary/ Erotica/ Ménage f/f/m/ Interracial
360 pgs. - $ 6.99

Buy it eXtasy Books

What would it be like to be romanced by not one but two potential partners, simultaneously?

Luci Parker has finally achieved the career of her dreams as an erotic author – but the only romance in her life these days is in the books she writes. Long attracted to both men and women, Luci despairs of ever finding just one person to settle down with. Owners of a South Side Chicago bookstore, Chai and Frank Ferguson eagerly devour Luci's books as fast as she can write them, and now they wonder if she might be the woman they've been looking for.

Frank is deeply in love with Chai but knows she'll never be complete without a woman to love as well. Can he match the passion of not one but two exquisite and complicated women at the same time? Will Luci even want him? And if Chai truly falls in love with Luci, will there be room for him?

I follow a GLBT promo blog and this book came up on it recently. Even though I seek out this type of book, I hadn’t heard of the author/s before, so I was very excited because this type of story is exactly what I want to read and it’s so hard to find. Writing Skin is about three people, two women and a man, who want to have a committed threesome for the long haul.

Luci is an erotic romance writer who is bisexual. She’s single at the moment having lost her last love, a woman, because this woman wanted kids and marriage. She’s attracted men equally, but for some reason they don’t love her and every relationship she’s had with a man has gone sour after they had sex.

Chai and Frank are a sexually open couple who like to experiment and experience different types of relationships. They are very happily married and love each other deeply. Chai is bisexual though and she would like express her need and love for a woman by bringing another woman to their relationship, which Frank is open to.

Both Chai and Frank have read Luci’s books and have used her sexual scenarios for titillation in their own relationship and feel that she might be the one they can share their life with. When Luci meets Chai she’s immediately attracted and agrees to try a relationship with them.

This isn’t an easy review for me to write because I had many mixed feelings about this story and it hit me more on an intellectual level, making me think a lot. I’ll do my best though.

The Plot: The main points of this story are Chai and Frank trying to seduce Luci to be their partner, and Luci needing to work out some personal issues to go along with it. That’s it. Most of what is going on here is lots of sex between the characters, relationship discussion, and Chai taking Luci on shamanic spiritual journeys to help her find out what her problem is so she can be open to her and Frank.

There’s also a strong, pervasive spiritual element/ theme to this story as well, which I feel some readers might be good with if they are into that kind of thing. It didn’t work for me although I got that the authors were trying to instill that this threesome is spiritually sanctioned by the universe, making it special and fated to all three.

The characters: Luci is younger than Chai and Frank, who are in their 40’s and it’s mostly from her POV that this story is told. She’s rather innocent and passive on some levels as she lets Chai push her spiritual agenda on her when she had no spiritual leanings to begin with and felt nothing wrong with herself before meeting Chai and Frank. At other times though, she’s very aggressive and assertive, especially during sex. She’s also very clear that she’s not going to join Chai and Frank until she’s good and ready, which I rather liked.

Chai is a shark. Or that’s how I experienced her. I really felt that she wants Luci and pushes for that, but there was a certain calculated-ness about her and how she went about it even though she's very spiritual. I felt her to be the main controller in the relationship dynamics between all of them even though Luci is the one who will decide whether or not to be with them.

She also practices shamanic rituals and seems to not do anything or make any decision until she consults the spirit guides. Because of this, I couldn’t feel who she is really and I wished she would have let her hair down, gone wild, shown her vulnerability and not been in control all the time because I think she's a very complex character.

Frank was barely a blip on this map. He’s a really nice guy but I didn’t feel anything about him, what makes his blood boil, gets his juices flowing. He’s just so accommodating and easy going and it felt more like he’s just there to comfort and service the women. I appreciated though, that he wasn’t a man who was in this for the “ooh, two hot women to service me” angle.

The Relationship/romance: Here I had some mixed feelings. What I liked was the intent of Chai and Frank to share their lives with another woman in a permanent situation. It was set up in a very respectful manor, meaning that all parties were to be in agreement about everything and that everything should be above board. The authors addressed several issues that can come up with a threesome, like jealousy as the characters discuss this and how to deal with it and I liked that.

Chai and Frank are very clear with Luci right from the beginning that to start, no two would have sex without the third present. These three are getting to know each other and agreed upon boundaries was a good start, I thought.

Another good point for me was that I felt the characters all felt very comfortable about expressing what they want sexually without judgment. It was very freeing for me to read that.

What went wrong for me here though was that everyone was so polite and respectful to each other that I felt the passion and raw emotion of love sex was choked to death. Kind of like if you’d say to your partner, “may I fuck you,” “Yes you may, I’d like that very much”, “thank you.” There’s no intensity or fire in that and sometimes too many rules and conditions stop the organic energy flow of a relationship.

I think the authors were really trying to set up a threesome in a way that IRL might be a good way to go about it, but this threesome relationship was overly talked out and intellectualized. I wanted to feel that these characters would die without each other and that never happened.

As far as the sex went, this is erotica and there were plenty of graphically written sexual scenarios. However, some of the expressions were off putting. Mainly many descriptions of female juice being copious and abundant.

‘"That a girl." Chai stroked relentlessly, strumming her until Luci squealed her name. "Look at you. You’re gushing for me." Chai quickly withdrew her finger and covered Luci’s flow with her mouth gulping in her essence.’

I’ve never been with a woman on that level so I don’t know, but by those descriptions and wording it’d be like guzzling a whole gallon of liquid, which is not something I want to imagine.

You might think with the criticisms I offered in this review that I wouldn’t read any more of Adriana Kraft’s books. You’d be wrong. I will get more of Adriana Kraft's books because even with those issues, I still felt that the authors were trying very hard to make this a beautiful, erotic romance that readers would love to use as titillation or foreplay as they express in their biography.

They do write very erotic sex, which did get me going a few times. But as a female reader, I need more of an emotional and passionate connection between the characters to get really juiced, even in erotica, and the heavy spiritual elements in this book got in the way of that. Maybe it was just this book that missed the mark for me but I’ll keep trying though because I really want this type of story and I wish authors like Adriana Kraft to keep writing it.

Sex rating: Orgasmic because there are many really graphic sexual scenarios. f/f, f/f/m, strap-on anal with man and DP with strap-on, anal, and toys.

Grade: C


JenB said...

Another C? Bummer! Are these authors completely missing the mark when it comes to audience recognition? I just don't get it.

But I do have some positive news for you. :) I found a really good blog last night--a bisexual girl who does some personal posts, some toy reviews, and some smokin' hot little stories.

Should keep you entertained while you're scouring the interwebz for some decent books. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you it's not safe for work. ;)

MB (Leah) said...

Jen, now that I think about it, I think one of the problems is that really, only smaller epubs are willing to take on f/f, f/f/m because of its lack of viability.

And a lot of these smaller epubs many times just don't offer the same quality in editing and writing as the more well known established ones, although they have their clunkers as well.

This book wasn't bad and I will get more from this author anyway.

Most of the A grade books I've read are more print lesbian books and such which are well established with good quality books.

Like how almost all the Black Lace books I read are an A for me. The writing, editing and story telling quality is exceptional even if the stories are out there many times.

And with Samhain, I almost always get very good quality as well. EC has been very iffy these days so you can't always go by that and I've read some really good quality from small epubs as well.

But I think generally smaller epubs are more willing to offer stories that are of a lesser quality in general, which I don't begrudge because authors have to start somewhere.

So I think that's part of the problem and why many of these books are getting C's from me.

I'll check out that's girl's blog, sounds good! And how do you find these things???? LOL

JenB said...

Noble Romance just put out a call for lesbian stories. Let's keep our fingers crossed that some decent ones pop up:

And about that girl's blog... The first time someone on Twitter linked to it for a review of a really odd-looking vibrator. The second time I went to another girl's toy review blog and saw that it linked to this one. So I found this girl's blog completely by accident--TWICE. It was fate. LOL

Her short stories are scorchers. A bi girl who likes bi guys...oh yeah. Hot.

MB (Leah) said...

Oooh... bi girls with bi guys? My ultimate story!!! LOL

Most books I've reviewed are from Phaze, and a few from extasy, but I think I'll move on to Torquere for a bit and see what kind of books they offer there.

That would be great if Noble did some. I only read one book from them, and it was pretty good.

JenB said...

I think Torquere has some decent ones. Jodi Payne is a good writer. Better than Gelt was cute.

I generally try not to buy from TQ, but if you find anything good I'll be happy to break my own rule. :)

MB (Leah) said...

Hmm.. Ok, I'll bite, why not from TQ? Email me if you don't want to publicly say. I've never read from them, so I have no experience yet.

kirsten saell said...

I think you had the same problem with this one that I sometimes have with BDSM books. Everything is just so orchestrated and planned out, and that lack of spontaneity can kill the passion.

I mean, there can be a huge difference in how "Please, let me fuck you," can feel, and that all depends on what's leading up to it.

And there's a kind of calculation that bothers me in a lot of menages I've read--I've had issues with some m/m/fs where two men bring a woman into their relationship (especially if it's because there's a shortage of women on their planet or something). The whole thing ends up feeling mercenary. There's got to be a middle ground somewhere.

I much prefer it when two people fall for someone just because. When they didn't realize there was something missing until they found it. And when it all just sort of organically works, without tons of mapping everything out.

When two characters have been happy together for a long time, I don't know whether it should be necessary to have the "never without all three" rule, either--they should be secure enough and trust one another enough to just kind of let things develop on their own.

And I admit, I like seeing how the characters sexually relate to each other one-on-one, as well. Helps me get to know who they are.

MB (Leah) said...

Actually, that rule that they all be there for any sexual interaction was just until they got comfortable and really decided to cement their relationship.

In fact after they did get comfortable they did try out just two together to see how it would work. So they didn't intend it to be a rule forever.

That said, that was towards the end of the book and there were times when the two women were together and they are getting hot and heavy but broke it up because of the rule. I just found that so frustrating because when two people are feeling the juice that's when it's really passionate. Not when it's all set up as you say.

kirsten saell said...

In fact after they did get comfortable they did try out just two together to see how it would work. So they didn't intend it to be a rule forever.But then again, even that plays to the whole planning/decision-making angle. The whole "We've all discussed it and we think we're ready to try this two at a time," thing. I don't care from ready. I don't want negotiations and diplomacy. When things are all mapped out, as an author, you lose the opportunity for a lot of good conflict that might not be what you'd want in real life, but is the lifeblood of a good story.

Do it before everyone's ready--bring in that conflict. I think it can be much more interesting dealing with things like jealousy and hurt feelings when they happen, rather than planning ahead to avoid them. In real life, you plan ahead. In a book, I want that turmoil.

Perhaps this is a case of the realism getting in the way of the fantasy?

JenB said...

Oh, it's nothing private. Teddypig, Karen Scott, and Mrs. Giggles have already talked about it.

TQ is rumored to have some questionable business practices...owners writing under several pen names and editing their own work (which would explain the HORRIBLE editing at TQ), owners' , . I determined several months back that my money was better spent elsewhere. But I still support my favorite TQ authors--Chris Owen and Jourdan Lane, in particular.

I think Kirsten would like the Bad Bad Girl blog too. ;)

MB (Leah) said...

Perhaps this is a case of the realism getting in the way of the fantasy?Maybe so. And you are right, there was no conflict, which is what makes the coming together juicy.

Luci in this case is the only problem. She has issues, but it wasn't something that caused the characters to be conflicted or to work things out. In fact Chai and Frank are so together with no issues at all with each other. They seem to be fine with everything basically.

In this story I really do think it's like what you said, all the spontaneity was sucked out of this romance and it was too set-up and calculated. Even down to the planning of Chai to get Luci to go on shamanistic journeys to help her see the light.

I think I would have loved it if those spirits would have said, "are you crazy girl? You're insane getting with a couple, it's all a bunch of hooey and you will be smote if you do." I wonder what Chai would have done then? Some part of me really wanted that things didn't all work out so easily.

MB (Leah) said...

Jen- ah, OK, I remember. I guess I was getting to the point of running out of options. There just aren't that many, as you know, for f/f and I've read most of the Phaze ones.

JenB said...

Oops, part of my comment got deleted and I don't remember what it was supposed to say. But I guess you got the idea. Poor attempt at multitasking. :)

MB (Leah) said...

I got what you meant, I think. :D

Cathy in AK said...

From reading the set-up, I anticipated the conflict of a pairing before the probationary period was over. Now THAT would have cranked things up.

Luci's inner conflict is fine, but we need external conflict too.

MB (Leah) said...

Luci's inner conflict is fine, but we need external conflict too.Exactly Cathy!

There was no conflict really for anyone other than Luci having some commitment issues.

I really was itching that one of those characters feels something intense, like fear, anger, jealousy, any kind of emotion!