Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review- The Cliche by Lillith Payne

The Cliché
by Lillith Payne
2009
Contemporary/ Lesbian/ f/f-bi/ Erotica
Short Story- 9K
Ebook

Buy it Loveyoudivine Alterotica Press ($3), Fictionwise ($2.25, ARe ($2.70)

Fiona was guilted into representing the family at a destination wedding. Trying to make the best of the situation, she decided she was ready to have a weekend affair with a nice man she’d find at the reception. Having found her choice, she’s blatantly disappointed by his leaving her for a well endowed woman.

Trying not to show disappointment, another guest approached her, a woman who’s self-confidence overwhelms Fiona. After spending time with Sunny, she finds she’s attracted to the woman on a new level. Never before had she contemplated the touch of another female. Sunny intrigues and shows her choices aren’t always written in stone. Experimenting can be much more fun when your partner understands how your body works. She intended to have an affair, but she never imagined it would be with a stunning woman.

The Cliché is a short little erotic quickie that was fun and satisfying to read.

In this case, the blurb is pretty accurate so I’m cutting straight to the chase.

I picked up this book for several reasons: first, I’ve never read any books from this publisher, which has more than a few f/f books and I wanted to see if their books are any good--- second, I liked the blurb on this one; it’s a story about a woman who’s never been with a woman before, and well, those are my favorite kind--- third, and I’ll be honest, this epub charges way too much money for their ebooks and they’re all over the place with the word count to price ratio, so I chose this one because it had a higher word count for the price.

For the most part I really liked this story. It’s a nice fantasy; an inexperienced woman getting a chance to try new things in an open, non judgmental environment with an experienced woman who’s very easy, but erotically seductive.

Sunny, who’s a lesbian, finds herself attracted to Fiona and gets Fiona’s attention by sympathizing with her about being brushed off by a guy who was flirting with her. While Sunny is talking to Fiona she drops little sexual innuendos that Fiona picks up on but dismisses until Sunny walks her back to her hotel room. There Sunny comes on to Fiona and Fiona finds herself getting turned on.

What was really yummy about this is that although Sunny is a bit sexually aggressive at first, she’s very patient and open with Fiona for the duration of the weekend. She just lets Fiona explore and play with her body as Fiona feels comfortable to do.

And Fiona, somewhat shocked that a woman is turning her on, ignores her own embarrassment and angst about her sudden forthrightness in asking Sunny if she can try things with her. This story is basically one sexual encounter after another and how these two interact is very steamy. But at the same time it's very relaxing actually because both are willing to just allow and experiment.

The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the constant use of the word “lips” for labia. I kept getting it confused with real lips. I mean, maybe it’s not sexy, but I’d rather read “labia” than lips. And Lillith Payne kept vacillating between using lips, a lighter euphemism, and very graphic language. This kind of thing drives me a bit crazy because it holds back the heat level, while trying to be erotic. Either go full on erotic or stay sensual, otherwise it’s frustrating.

That said, the sexual scenarios are very titillating and for the most part, nicely written. It’s a short story so there’s not much character development but these two characters are good together. And although it’s not a romance, it’s left off in a decent way with maybe some possibility of some future meetings between the two.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- Very hot f/f, dildo, dildo anal.

Grade: C+



20 comments:

Cathy in AK said...

I also like the "new to you" sexual explorations. You seemed to enjoy it but only gave it a C+. Can you say why?

I had to wonder about orgasmic rating descriptor "dildo" (no, not about dildos themselves, I'm not THAT vanilla :). Assuming Sunny was also a visitor to the "destination" setting, I can just imagine how the TSA agents would react to inspecting their bags. Or would it be put in carry-on? : )

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy-- I guess I should clarify my rating system on the side bar better. I tend to grade (very) short stories a lesser grade in general unless they're exceptionally well written with character development and a plot. This story was basically a few sex scenes and very short.

Also, while written OK technically, it had some funky to me language which I tend to add points against. Especially in the sexual euphemism dept.

What I liked about it and why my review came across as positive is that I got off on the sex scenes.

But I feel writing good sex and getting me going as the main thing that made me feel good about a story is not enough to give it a higher grade.

About dildo- I usually try to list sexual situations just so that people can know if it's something they want to read or not.

I never thought about the dildos in the bag. I guess if you check your bag it's OK because it's scanned without you being there.

It'd be pretty embarrassing I think for a TSA guy to go through your bag and find that. I have seen little flashlight key chain vibrators, which could probably pass. :O

kirsten saell said...

You just have to have the right attitude. There's the TSA dude, holding your dildo and asking you what it's for, and you just raise one eyebrow and ask him, "If you need a demonstration, I'd be happy to strap it on. I've heard some guys are into that..." :P

As far as grades, I'm so picky when it comes to the calibre of the writing. A strong story alone won't hold me--even for 45 pages. And frankly, there's a lot of f/f out there that is not very strongly written--weak prose, bad character development, and sex scenes that are laughable.

It's sad, because it's one of my favorite genres, but I find f/f and f/f/m have a much higher dnf ratio than m/f or even m/m/f for me.

Oddly it's the same with porn. A good f/f porn clip is SO hard to come by--even the men with the cameras can't seem to get it right. Sigh.

MB (Leah) said...

You just have to have the right attitude.

I wonder if a large dildo would be considered a dangerous weapon? snort

I'd be more concerned with a TSA agent confiscating (scarfing) it for themselves. I'd just put a label on it. "My Anal Dildo" Buwahaha! Maybe they wouldn't even touch it then. snort

And about ratings, I think I used to be a lot easier. But when I think about a full on novel that is complexly and well written, with great sex, romance, world building or whatever-- getting the same A grade as a 5-10K story with little or no plot/character development just because it's a fun book with sex that got me going, I just can't do it any more.

Ergo,I give many f/f stories a C range rating because most of them are very short and not that well written. But that doesn't mean I didn't like them.

I changed the rating key to reflect that.

Cathy in AK said...

I can understand such a short story that doesn't have space for indepth character and plot development to be graded on a slightly different scale than a full length novel. I guess I took that into account before hand and mentally skewed *my* idea of a grading system. I'll look at the sidebar from now on : )

And I had no issues about your putting dildo in the sex rating. In fact, I do appreciate the listings. They do exactly what you intend for them to do.

OK, funny airport dildo story that I swear to god I just remembered (must have been blocking it out). After RWA Nationals in Reno, my friend gave me a purple dildo as a gag gift (ok, I'll let you chuckle over the "gag" part for a minute). So I pack it in my suitcase and try not to think about it. Horror upon horrors, my bag is lost. I'm sweating as the baggage claim person asks me what's inside while my very proper s-i-l stands near, but I don't mention the "gift". For the next 24 hours I'm a wreck, thinking that if the ID tag is lost on my bag someone is going to open it so they can verify my ownership. Luckily, the bag, with ID intact and apparently undisturbed contents, made it's way back to me.

kirsten saell said...

I'm less forgiving of the vagaries of a short story in e-format than in print, unless the story is part of an anthology with very strict word count requirements.

I've read I don't know how many reviews of ebooks that stated something along the lines of, "I think the author could have done much more character development/plotting/worlbuilding/etc, but because she was constrained by the novella length, I'm letting it go."

That may be a valid excuse with, say, HQ category romance, but in e, a book can be EXACTLY the length it needs to be. Many epubs have minimum word count requirements because they know it's next to impossible to write a do any story justice in less than 15000 words. Whether a story is a 15k short, a 30k novella or a 50-60-100k novel is entirely up to the author.

I've been asked by my editor to add description (500-100 words) to flesh out the setting, but I've never been asked to cut. I start out with a WC in mind, and quite often, as with Bound by Steel and The Chancellor's Bride and my current WIP, that estimate goes out the window 3/4 of the way through, because the wordcount serves the story, not the other way around. And I write tight.

I've bitched about this before to Leah, and maybe that's why she's less forgiving of short stories that are short on crucial elements. Because, frankly, in epublishing, there isn't much excuse for it.

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy, your dildo story is really funny. I'll bet TSA find all kinds of kinky things in luggage. But even more interesting that your friend gave you a dildo...LOL

I kind of had the same thing happen when I lived in Japan and was smuggling in some Playboy mags for some Japanese guy friends. It was illegal to show genitals in mags/pics or porn in Japan at that time. I stuck them between text books for school, but my luggage was lost,the same situation as you. I still had to go through customs anyway, but the guy barely looked. I think he felt bad my luggage was missing so he was nice. But I was sweating it for a bit. LOL

I just changed the explanations of the rating system because you're not the first to ask me about it. So I tried to make it a bit clearer.

MB (Leah) said...

Because, frankly, in epublishing, there isn't much excuse for it.

Yes, I've become less forgiving as well because frankly, you shouldn't be selling a story that's not really fleshed out. If you can't flesh it out then it's too short. It can be done. I've read some really well written short stories that have blown me away and they get A's. But they are rare.

I've read much better stories on Literotica quite often, which are free. So I've come to be a bit pissed off at spending money on such short word counts.

And to be honest, I did feel a bit resentful about spending $3 for this story. There were a few stories with even less word count for more money. WTF? So for me, that story better rock my socks for that. The cost goes to part of entertainment value of a book as well.

I wanted to try this pub though, so I coughed it up.

MB (Leah) said...

Just to clarify though, I don't punish an author in a review ultimately for the ridiculous price of a book. I blame the epubs. So my review wasn't a reflection of my resentment of the cost.

kirsten saell said...

Oh, totally. Unless it's a co op pub like eXessica(sp?), or a self-pub book, the price is entirely up to the publisher. There are some pubs I hesitate to buy from because their prices are simply too high. I wonder if I'm the only one, and if maybe they'd get a lot more sales if that $6.99 novel length ebook was priced at $5.49.

J.A. Konrath just self-published one of his books on Kindle only, priced at $2.99, and he says profits from it are $100 a day and climbing--and I assume he's likely not making much more than 50% on each sale, if that. That tells me low prices can and do produce volume sales, and it makes me wonder why some epubs' prices continue to be out of my comfort range. I am cheap, but hey, I know I'm not the only cheapskate in the world who reads books.

But as I said, word count is pretty much at the author's discretion. The parameters for most epubs are pretty broad in that regard--Samhain takes WCs between 16 and 120k, IIRC. Plenty of wiggle room there. Any place that sells fiction of varied lengths will give an author some leeway on WC. In fact, with most of the pricing structures out there being based on word count, and royalties based on list price, you'd think padding a manuscript would be a more common problem than shortchanging one...

kirsten saell said...

I ought to read up on Loveyoudivine--maybe they're an author co op like eXessica?

Cathy in AK said...

RE: TSA/luggage
I saw a show once about things that were left at baggage claim or confiscated. At one airport there was a good-sized box filled with fur-lined handcuffs the TSA folks had taken from carry-ons. You have to wonder what the passengers were thinking when they tossed those into their bag. Last minute decision? Left in bag from an earlier local "pleasure trip?"

I can't recall why I was given the dildo. Because my husband travels a lot? I dunno. And I'm not about to ask : )

I agree that the electronic format should give an author room to develop more regarding character and plot. So maybe they get less slack? I don't necessarily read short stories, so I'm not one to say. I do admire someone who can write a full-blown story in a limited space. Something I can't do to save my life : )

As for pricing, I don't blame authors for them either. I do think it hurts them, however, when full-length e-novel is as expensive as the print version. I'm sure someday that will be more reasonable, but then I'm more likely to stick with print. Sorry trees : P

M. A. said...

WC seems to be a pretty fluid issue in e-publishing.

I've been advised by well-meaning e-author friends that lower WC's equal higher sales. This is (supposedly) because the average reader does not want to invest the time commitment in plowing through a full novel-length e-book.

The shorter works do seem to sell better Maybe it's because they're faster reads or because they're cheaper. But frequently, reviewers express dissatisfaction with lower WC works.

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy- I'm preparing a blog post comparing ebook prices of the major epubs that sell f/f.

What I've noticed is that the shorter the WC, the higher the WC to price. Epubs are asking a lot of money for a shorter WC.

Novel length ebooks still run around the same price as a PB novel. But the short stories and novellas are comparatively costlier.

Personally, I like short stories and Novellas because frankly, my attention span is that of a monkey. I can only read for like 10 mins and I need to do something else or I get agitated. So a novel really has to be engaging to keep me interested for the length.

Also, I'm a slow reader and a novel can take me days to read. Whereas, I can pop off a Novella in a day and short story in a couple of hours. It gives me more sense of satisfaction that I get through a few books instead of one long one. LOL

At the same time though, yes, I have less patience with bad quality short stories and tend to judge them a bit harsher.

M. A. said...

"What I've noticed is that the shorter the WC, the higher the WC to price. Epubs are asking a lot of money for a shorter WC.

Novel length ebooks still run around the same price as a PB novel. But the short stories and novellas are comparatively costlier."


A lot of "hack" type e-authors churn out frequent short works (whether a compromise in quality occurs is subject to reader opinion.) The shorter works do tend to sell better than lengthier stories. Simple economics = high demand for an item affects its cost.

As a writer I'm very frustrated when a reviewer of my novella length works compares them in structure and quality to full novels and expresses dissatisfaction.

I just received a new review this weekend for "The Garden House." The reviewer gave it an "average" rating, praised the love story, characterization, and detailed setting...then went on to complain that the story did not better develop the paranormal elements (vampire mythos,) and that Leonor's family relationships were not expanded upon "but that this was probably done to keep down the word count."

What offended me was that she had no criticism of the book's quality or entertainment value; so far as she was concerned, it was a well-written novella. She seemed to penalize (rating) the novella for NOT being a novel.

I've gotten the same response to another novella. Some reviewers laud the style, storytelling, character development, and so on...then complain because the story lacks the greater detail and development of a lengthier work.

It's like being told, "Your oranges are very nice. You obviously put a lot of care and effort into cultivation and produce excellent quality. Your oranges are sweet with beautiful color and texture. I like the smell and I like the taste...But it would be so much tastier if it was an apple."

kirsten saell said...

It's like being told, "Your oranges are very nice. You obviously put a lot of care and effort into cultivation and produce excellent quality. Your oranges are sweet with beautiful color and texture. I like the smell and I like the taste...But it would be so much tastier if it was an apple."

Oh, that would drive me batty. Especially since my own taste as a reader leans toward sparsity of detail. I don't need or want to know every aspect of a mythology or history--just the parts that pertain to the story, and if there are no glaring inconsistencies, I'm good with not knowing every last freaking thing about everything.

My own books, well, I've had readers tell me, "I wish you'd gotten more into the details of the history/mythology, or explained more about the religion," or whatever. And it's cool that they're curious, but then again, I only include the details of the worldbuilding that are pertinent to that particular story. I mean, when you're writing about thugs and whores and thieves, religion isn't even peripheral to their lives, really, let alone a big enough part to justify getting all explainy.

Those readers will have to wait until I write a story where all that stuff is relevant. And that will happen. :)

I have found that because word counts are more rigid in print (because of cost/benefit stuff) you find a lot of padding that just bores me to freaking tears. It's frustrating, then, when word count is not an issue, to find so many short ebooks lacking in even the basic requisite elements for a romance.

Short works that provide enough depth for you to care about the characters are HARD to write. You did a wonderful job of that, Mia. Give me that, and I don't give a damn from vampires, frankly.

MB (Leah) said...

MA- I'm sorry, I addressed my last post to Cathy but it was you I was addressing.

You bring up some valid issues, one that obviously affects me when I review because I do judge a short story in a different manner. Even more so an erotic short story because lets face it, an erotic short story is going to be mainly sex.

It's a difficult thing and I an understand your frustration in that. Every reader wants something different. Less sex, more sex, more plot, more love story, less plot... and I guess you can't please everyone.

But I do know, not the authors fault, when I spend more money on a short story and there's not much to it, even though I might like it, I just can't grade it on equal footing with a Novella or Novel.

And I'm not talking about a 15k, which is enough to write a well rounded story I think. I'm talking about those 10k and less. Still there are some authors who are amazing and get a lot packed into such a short WC. But it's rare.

The shorter works do tend to sell better than lengthier stories. Simple economics = high demand for an item affects its cost.

Well, I think if they do sell better it's because psychologically a reader is seeing a price tag of $2-3, which visually looks great.

But they are not really looking at the WC. And in doing the research for my next blog post I found that many epubs leave out the WC. How convenient for them and not the reader. It's easier to spend $2.50 on a book than $5, but people forget that they aren't getting a special deal. No, they are getting screwed over. And once readers wake up to that, it pisses them off. Like it's slowly doing in my case. And more and more ebook readers are becoming savvy to that.

I do admit that there is a resentment about shelling out $2.50 or more for less than 10K. It's like I'm being insulted and that does impact somewhat on my overall feeling of a book, especially if it sucks eggs.

I loved your book. I thought it was well written and really managed to express a lot and in a good way. But I didn't put the price of your book on the review page as I do for everyone else because I really thought anyone who would see that it's $6 for a 31K story would pass it up before even reading about it. I thought it would work against you.

Readers do pay attention to that kind of thing. I do.

I hope that epubs wake up because I do think it's affecting authors' bottom line and their ability to sell their work.

M. A. said...

Those readers will have to wait until I write a story where all that stuff is relevant. And that will happen. :)

That's right. Give 'em what they need, not what they want.

Less is more. : )

Short works that provide enough depth for you to care about the characters are HARD to write. You did a wonderful job of that, Mia. Give me that, and I don't give a damn from vampires, frankly.


Thank you! I've come to feel very "tender" for "The Garden House" because the genre is such a "b*stard stepchild" in the ebook readership. I don't pretend it's the greatest book in the world, but I hate seeing it undermined (for being F/F, for being a novella, etc..) LOL...One reviewer raved about the book, but downplayed the erotic content as "subtle." I was scratching my head and thinking, "Geez, did you want full descriptions of the color and viscosity of body fluids?"

kirsten saell said...

I was scratching my head and thinking, "Geez, did you want full descriptions of the color and viscosity of body fluids?"

hehe. I do, but I'm weird that way. ;)

I think of my own tastes and pet peeves (redundancy and superfluous info being a couple of big ones), and I'm forced to conclude that if a book is too sparse for me, well, that's a problem.

I often see reader/reviewers write, "It was a fairly short book--only 50 pages" but 50 pages tells me nothing. 50 pages single-spaced in 10 pt text is going to be a LOT more story than 50 pages of double-spaced 14 pt. Word count is the only meaningful way to measure the length of a story. And I'd much rather be able to say, "the story was exactly as long (or short) as it needed to be," than even worry about WC.

That said, I want some bang for my buck. For $2.50, I want at least 15k, and if we're talking erotica or erotic romance, there had better be a decent, non-cursory sex scene for every damn dollar I spend. Shallow? Perhaps, but unapologetically so. :)

M. A. said...

I think of my own tastes and pet peeves (redundancy and superfluous info being a couple of big ones), and I'm forced to conclude that if a book is too sparse for me, well, that's a problem.



I relate to you, but on a different avenue. I admit I enjoy big "meaty" books. I read lots of classical literature, and my historical research usually has me stuck reading some dry, lengthy, meticulously detailed letters/documents/reports.

I don't mind "losing myself in the details" of a good book. So, if I'm reading, and I consider it "overdone," it's definitely overdone.


"That said, I want some bang for my buck. For $2.50, I want at least 15k, and if we're talking erotica or erotic romance, there had better be a decent, non-cursory sex scene for every damn dollar I spend. Shallow? Perhaps, but unapologetically so. :)"



Nothing wrong with being honest about what you want. :)