Monday, November 16, 2009

Review- Birthday Girl by Paisley Smith

Birthday Girl
by Paisley Smith
November 2009
Contemporary/ erotica/ f/f/m ménage
Length- quickie (up to 15K) $2.49

Buy it Ellora’s Cave

It’s Gemma’s thirty-second birthday. She’s not surprised when her gorgeous husband Nate whips out the blindfold and orders her to bend over for a birthday spanking. What does surprise her is that Nate has enlisted the help of a friend. Another woman!

Lindsey is a sexy Bohemian artist who has starred in Gemma’s fantasies for a long while. She doesn’t know what will happen beyond this single night of scorching sex play, but for now, Gemma fully intends to enjoy every new touch, taste, sight and sound her “birthday gift” has to offer.

It was just by chance that I came across this author and book. I have a GLBT promo blog on my reader and saw that a post was written wondering about straight women liking f/f stories or not. It was a lead in to promo this book Birthday Girl. I went and read the freebie story of Ms. Smith’s offered at Ellora’s Cave and totally loved it as you can see from my earlier post. I then downloaded Birthday Girl and again, I was so not disappointed. In fact, I read it all just before going to sleep, which never happens; I’m usually falling asleep after a reading a few pages of a book.

Like First Taste, this story is sexually, steamy hot. Also like First Taste, within a short amount of space, Paisley Smith managed to convey how much these characters love and respect each other. Again, I was left with a warm and fuzzy feeling that these characters will be together for a long time even though seriously, this was one long string of sex scenes/scenarios with very little plot or characterization.

The set up is very simple. It’s Gemma’s birthday and her husband Nate, whom she’s madly and totally in love with, gives her the gift of woman in her bed for a threesome. Nate has known all about Gemma’s fantasies and desires for a woman here and there and that she’s particularly liked Lindsey, a woman who frequents Nate’s Pizza restaurant and has become a friend to both of them.

Nate found out that Lindsey, who came in alone often, was more into women and that she’d just finished a long-term relationship. Lindsey confessed to him that she’s had a girl crush on Gemma for a long time. So it’s the perfect scenario.

What was so delicious here is that Gemma, who’s had inklings that’s she’s bisexual having had experimented in college, was not completely aware of her bisexuality until she gets with Lindsey and loves it so much. I thought this was written rather nicely. She’s a bit confused about her feelings but only because she really loves Nate and how can she love both Nate and Lindsey? And is it cheating to want Lindsey when she adores Nate so much?

Being with Lindsey though, has stirred up hidden feelings for her and as the two days progress with lots and lots of sex, she and Lindsey do share what they feel, neither one wanting to let go and just have this be their one and only time.

Lindsey has been with men before but they just didn’t do it for her like women did. So she’s pretty clear that in this little threesome that it’s mainly Gemma she wants. And yet, these three seem so cozy, so open and loving that I was left with the impression that they could all work out an arrangement that would keep everyone happy. Even this was written very well. Lindsey wants Gemma and although she’s not so hot on being sexual with Nate, she does like him and is very open to working something out to be with Gemma.

Nate is just a sweet guy in the background of this story. The main focus is on the two women, both sexually and emotionally, although Nate is part of a lot of the sexual scenarios, which was totally hot. But it’s mostly about Gemma and Lindsey both getting something inside of themselves deeply fulfilled by being together. It came across as all so natural. What I liked about it also was that Nate is honest that he loves seeing his wife being sexual with a woman and thinks he’s gotten lucky, but it never came across as ever for his pleasure. It was clear all along that this was for Gemma only.

There was only one niggling little problem I had with this book, but it was so minor really. I felt that at times Gemma’s self reflecting about her sexual past to Lindsey and to herself did come across more as the author doing some self reflecting. The way it was written felt more like a real post that someone would write, rather than a character thinking to themselves. This did pull me a little out of the story because it was a bit more telling than expressing. However, truly this was so minor to the whole of the story.

And just a minor warning, Paisley Smith’s prose is a bit gritty and graphic at times. I absolutely loved it, but it will be a matter of taste.

I feel that if you’re looking for a hawt quickie that’s a lot about the sex, but even more so about hot sex with characters connecting emotionally, then Birthday Girl is a juicy, yummy read.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- f/f, f/f/m, minor anal play. I will warn some that there is some serious spanking in this book with very minor BDSM play. I’m not so hot on spanking, which is why I wasn’t that quick to jump on this book before I read First Taste. That said, it didn’t come across as heavy in the BDSM area, but more light and playful. Bottom line, if I could be OK with it, it wasn’t that intense or a turn off, but will satisfy for someone who likes that sort of thing.

Grade: B+++ Definitely a short story worth the money to me.


Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Sold me! :D

MB (Leah) said...

Katie- LOL

Her First Taste cover is getting a lot of mileage, huh? EC's screw up might just be an unintentional boon for Paisley Smith.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

You may be right! Perhaps EC knows something we don't.

M. A. said...

I like "Birthday Girl" but I wasn't crazy about it, which bugs me a little since it has some great moments. I'm not put off by the spanking--sometimes I think spanking's cute and it was definitely cute in "Birthday Girl."

The romantica was sensuous, lovingly expressed. I was a bit "thrown out" of the book by Gemma's chronic sexual ambivalence. NOTE: I'm not bugged that she's ambivalent, just that IMHO too much word count went into frequently reminding readers of her ambivalence.

A nice, short read. I see a real gift in Smith's craft and admit I'm very curious to see more developed stories from her. Well done.

MB (Leah) said...

I was a bit "thrown out" of the book by Gemma's chronic sexual ambivalence.

I understand what you mean by that, but I guess this is where it's interesting that different readers come away with different perceptions of a book.

I did think there was a bit too much internal dialogue about being with a woman and what that meant. But I experienced her mainly as being a kid with her hand in the cookie jar. I felt she's so excited and can't believe that she's finally with a woman, something that she's fantasized about, but then doubts and all kinds of other things come into it for her because she's, well, married. And how can she want both people? So I didn't feel it so much her questioning her sexuality as much as the social properness of it all due to being married.

I got that she was just totally jazzed to be with Lindsey.

So I really didn't experience as ambivalence as much as questioning now what? Since she wants to keep going with Lindsey but loves Nate as well.

I would agree though that maybe too much inner dialogue was given to her mulling it all about, which could come across as ambivalence.

But that's how it goes with books. We all pick up on different things that hit us in certain ways.

M. A. said...

I would agree though that maybe too much inner dialogue was given to her mulling it all about, which could come across as ambivalence.

But that's how it goes with books. We all pick up on different things that hit us in certain ways.

I think part of the challenge (my perspective) is that "Birthday Girl" begins as a "light" tale about a married couple indulging Gemma's bisexual fantasy. From there, it transitions to a much "deeper place," where all the "issues" come up (i.e., the lovers' various involvements with each other and other partners.)

The turn from light, sexy romp to deeper, pending romance (or romantic set-up) struck me as abrupt.

I was also a bit put off by Lindsey's motives in participating in Gemma's "birthday surprise." ("You know I've always had the hots for Gemma.") That just sort of read to me like she took the interlude very lightly, casually, and as a wish for sex. It reminded me a little of Kirsten's remarks of how bisexual women and/or lesbian women are sometimes stereotyped as being willing to have sex with anyone female.

Later on, though, the story reveals Lindsey expressing some emotional investment in Gemma and Nate. Gemma's feelings toward Lindsey seem much more transitory (IMHO.) I get that she likes Lindsey and is attracted to her and wants sex with her, but Gemma's rationalization of it as "friends with benefits" didn't strike me as romantic.

With that said, everyone's view of what is sexy and what is romantic is different. I can see how Gemma,a married bisexual woman, would view the idea of a casual female friend/playmate as very romantic and satisfying. It's hassle-free fulfillment, not "real" cheating since Nate condones it, and Gemma gets the "best of both worlds." I think the transition might have worked better if the "relationship negotiation" took place at a later time (say, a few days/weeks after the "birthday surprise" where everybody's had some time to "process his/her feelings.")

Paisley Smith said...

Thanks for the great review and the nice discussion!

MB (Leah) said...

Paisley- I'm really looking forward to your next book!

M. A. said...

Lovely stories, Paisley. : )