Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Being Gay in a Straight World

In the last few days I've read and watched some interesting "feelings," not opinions, about being gay in a straight world by some lesbians.

I admit that when Kirsten and I started this blog, I personally was more interested in discussing f/f romance in stories as entertainment, like I read m/f. And I'll be honest in saying that I wasn't so concerned nor did I want to make this a political blog or a blog that discusses social injustices in general. Not that I personally don't think about these things on my own and have strong feelings about them. But I wanted to keep this blog on the lighter side.

However, lately, as I follow blogs like AfterEllen and LesbianPro, I see the constant issues that come up with being a gay person in a straight world. And a lot of these posts have started to affect me pretty deeply.

How can I keep getting my rocks off on reading two chicks together, like "oh look, two women together, how cute" and enjoy all the fun part of it when I myself don't have to deal with the constant issues faced by such women? I can't.

Last week there was a picture posted on LesbianPro with a link to another post, which talked about a book done by a photographer Jeff Sheng. He's created a book called Don't Ask, Don't Tell through photos of actual military people. They are stunning and photos of real people who risked a lot by being part of this project.

Photo by Jeff Sheng- you can buy or donate toward the book

I was actually haunted and touched by this photo because it's so real. We are constantly bombarded with young, cute, celebrities who kiss chicks or who are bi and it's made out as something fun and le chique to do. But this photo is of real women who are living the daily reality of it.

Then yesterday, on AfterEllen, my two new favorite vloggers posted their video discussion about being gay in a straight world. They bring up some interesting points about the stickiness and weirdness that can happen when interacting or being friends with a straight woman. One of them points out that the assumption of a lot of straight women that if a lesbian friends you, they automatically want you, which is an interesting point. Anyway, I'll link from After Ellen because the comments are very interesting.

I like these two because they stay rather light and humorous about serious topics, which I think helps people in general to be more open to them and what they have to say.

LL 121 Being Gay in a Straight World from lacey stone on Vimeo.

Then there was this post today from mfred, a person who has commented here on LVLM in the past and whom I follow because she has interesting reviews and things to say- She rants but in a very poignant and honest way, her frustrations about being gay in a straight world. Her post was the one that finally got me to do this post. It's not a political post or rant about social injustice, it's a post from her heart about her bottom line reality and it hit me pretty deeply.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why? Why why why why?

Why is the average quality of f/f out there so LAME?

Okay, perhaps I'm being needlessly bitchy, but I recently purchased two books by Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named, one an f/f/m and the other an f/f/f. They were shorter works sold in the erotica section of an online bookstore, there was a sale going on that took a nice chunk off the cover price (which was more than I was willing to pay for works of that length) and being a glutton for punishment, I figured what the hey? Why not give them a whirl?

I mean, I'd stumbled across another short from PWSNBN (by a different author) during a giveaway recently, and it was damn good. Not everyone's cuppa, for sure, being a brother/sister story--not usually my cuppa, either, to be honest, but the story was well-written enough that the taboo of a brother and sister getting it on felt titillating and naughty and just dirty enough to jive with my mood when I read it. In fact, it was one of the better-crafted short erotica works I've read in a while.

And I'm pretty much open to anything if it's competently written--you know, with basic things like comprehensible grammar and proper word usage, as well as more advanced things like good character development, recognizable conflict, understandable motivation and a little thing called a plot, however simple it might be. I could not only accept the possibility that such a thing could happen between these two characters, I could envision it happening exactly the way it did, and despite the questionable nature of the sexual relationship, the sex itself was tender and evocative, as well as taboo and a little nasty because of that.

So being the brave soul that I am, I gave these two f/f books a try. And I want my $4 back.

The first--a contemporary f/f/m menage? Well, I'd like to tell you the f/f action was smoking hot--and maybe it was. But I don't know, because I couldn't force myself to read past page 3. Yes, page 3. I couldn't even make it to the first sex scene.

The first off-putter was the weakness of the writing: passive voice galore, too many adjectives, purple prose (when you're sitting there thinking the author used a thesaurus ten times for every page, it's too much. Not every verb needs to be a strong one, not every adjective needs to be unusual, and "salivated" is not--repeat, NOT--a dialog tag), POV issues (like when a character thinks of him/herself in ways people just don't--like the color of their hair or whether they're handsome), chronological problems (are we in a flashback? Hell if I know), and headhopping. The descriptive focus was...interesting. If I hadn't read the author bio, I'd have sworn the author was male. The last time I found such a detailed description of a woman's physical appearance (from her lip-gloss right down to the color of her toenail polish) without any description of WHO she is as a PERSON, was in a Penthouse letter.

I couldn't read any further. I just couldn't do it. There could have been scorching, down-and-dirty, girl on girl on guy scenes every page for the rest of the book, but it wasn't worth the pain of reading them. It just wasn't. Sigh.

The second book, an f/f/f, was hardly better. The writing was no more technically competent, though the lack of purple prose made it easier to read, and the descriptive focus was more non-existent than irritating. Plus, it was shorter. I managed to get all the way through. Still, I had to wonder if the author had even a basic (grade three?) grasp of grammar, and there were word-usage issues that were not simply typos (I can understand the breath/breathe thing, or the effect/affect thing, but when you have errors like perpetrate/perpetuate or palpable/pliable or whatever, it reminds me of an episode of Jerry Springer I watched once where one of the guests used the word "pensive" completely incorrectly, and then in the next ten minutes, four other guests used it in the exact same, incorrect way. Stupidity, it is contagious).

There was a little character development--just enough to make me not like any of the characters. One was an opportunistic sociopath who was happy to take sexual advantage of her friend's drunken state, the other was a passive wimp, and the "villain?" was little more than a dildo strapped to a mannequin. Again, I don't need to like every MC--some of my favorite MCs in books I've read have been total douchebags with almost no attractive traits to convey any sense of humanity. In fact, I adore the anti-heroes that abound in fantasy novels, like those written by Stephen Donaldson or George RR Martin, protagonists who are driven by their weaknesses and self-hate. But when you can't even tell who the protagonist of the story is, even after you're done, you know there's a problem.

There was no goal, motivation or realistic internal conflict to speak of--other than getting laid. The story had all the compelling drama of a really lame porn movie--like the kind where the pizza guy arrives and the housewife says, "oh, I don't have any money on me, whatever shall I do?" only without the bow-chicka-wow-wow to distract you from the bad acting.

The sex scenes were full of continuity problems (whaaa? How the hell can she put her mouth there when they're in this position? Wait a minute, I thought she was bent over the desk), pronoun confusion (who's doing the what now?), and a complete focus on physicality over emotion. I mean, things don't have to be all lovey-dovey--I'm a board-certified dirty old man, ffs, it's not like I need every sex scene to be a love scene--but for sex scenes to work there needs to at least be lust, even if it's of the unwholesome, dirty, nasty, leave a bad taste in your mouth variety. For an example of non-lovey-dovey, nasty f/f/m erotica that's emotionally gorgeous, I'd suggest The Dinner Party by Remittance Girl--I believe the theme of that was perfectly conveyed in the phrase "the corruption of innocence" and damn was it ever hot.

But nope. Nothing. No emotion, just lots of licking, fingering, dildo usage and orgasms. And with zero sexual tension, the orgasms fall flat. I mean, I suppose I could rub myself off to images of myself folding laundry and I'd get off eventually, but I'd rather think of things that make me feel emotions like, um...desire, maybe? Lust? Naughty titillation? Horrid, nasty humiliation? Shame? Shit, gimme something.

Sigh. So why is it that you can find a brother/sister incest story that's competently and engagingly written, yet the f/f stories put out by the same damn publisher have all the literary flair of the sex journal entries of a 14-year-old, illiterate boy with a bloodstream full of THC and fixation with boobies? Why?

I mean, PWSNBN has a whole list of "editorial staff", and yet I can't imagine either of these stories would have made it out of the slush-pile at my own beloved Samhain. If they had, by the time they'd endured the indignity of multiple content and line edits, they'd have been honed like soldiers, stripped of all their wannabe pride by repeated and focussed calling out of their inadequacies--"you call that a dialog tag, private!?? My six-year-old daughter could come up with a better euphemism for fucking! Drop and give me twenty words for pussy, move move move!!!"--and rebuilt into the perfect instruments for one-handed reading.

If this is the editorial offered at PWSNBN, well, I have to say I'm unimpressed. I'm guessing that the author of the incest story is rather like me--my manuscripts don't require much effort from my editor (one reason why she likes me so much)--and the book was mostly publishable right out of the slush pile.

But it's a common problem with f/f. The money, it isn't so great. Not compared to, say, m/m/f. It's largely a labor of love, and I'd imagine most writers who know their craft and have dabbled in it simply move onto more lucrative things.

But at the same time, I have to wonder if publishers who put out this kind of dreck aren't shooting f/f in the foot. I mean, I can see readers who don't think about the technical aspects of writing reading stories like this and assuming it's not the shitty craft turning them off, but the nature of the content, and not trying another f/f. More is not necessarily better, not if it's just more crap.

Sex rating?

To our regular readers, it's come to my attention that there's some confusion over LVLM's sex ratings. There is a ratings explanation bar on the right lower side panel, but from comments made to me personally and some I've seen, I gather it's confusing.

Current rating explanation:

Orgasmic- Smokin hot- graphic erotic language/situations
Wet panties- Graphic sexual language
Damp panties- Mild-- sensual language/sexual situations
Dry panties- No or barely there sexual situations

Orgasmic does NOT mean that I personally have been having orgasms while reading the book. Nor does Wet Panties mean that my panties got all wet while reading.

When Kirsten and I set up the blog, we wanted something different than the usual 1-5 heat level. And because I review a lot of erotica and erotic romance we do need some sort of rating to let readers know the type, amount, and how graphic sexual content is. I know some of our readers don't like to read graphic sex.

Personally, there's been quite a few books that I've reviewed in the area of erotica and erotic romance that have not turned me on at all, but I rated Orgasmic because of the amount of sex and how graphic it was written. Nor does the fact that I've rated something Dry Panties mean that I've not gotten turned on. It just means there's not much or no actual graphically written sexual content.

What turns people on sexually is their own business. But when I read reviews of erotic romance or erotica, I wish to know what type of sexual content is in the book and how often, etc. So I do need to have a rating system. But I can see how Orgasmic or Wet Panties comes across as a particular reviewer's personal experience of a book.

I'd like for there to be no confusion on that. And I'd like a rating system that accurately reflects actual content and not how the sex in the book personally affected the reviewer.

The trouble is, with erotic romance and erotica, there are all kinds of language. When I say graphic, I usually mean hard core terms for genitalia, sexual acts, ect. Then there's sensual language which uses lighter, more common euphemistic terms to describe sex. Sexual scenes are included but it's not hard core. It's really hard to define that when giving a rating, which is why I include actual sexual content like dildo use, or anal, or spanking, etc.

So I ask you guys, our regular readers, what kind of rating system would work well for you? I'm willing to change our system to one that is more effective to the reader and maybe less offensive or confusing.

Would you guys like something simple like a 1-5 heat rating? Or something more like a movie system G- X rated? Or something else?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review- Heart of Change by Roxy Harte

Heart of Change
by Roxy Harte
March 23, 2010
Contemporary/ Bisexual/ Lesbian/ f/f / m/f
60+ K- $5.50 currently $4.95
Ebook- Samahin

Buy it Samhain (MBaM)

True love hides where you least suspect it.

After the truth comes out about her age, forty-something porn star Simone Sinclair is handed her walking papers, ending a career that has become more extreme sport than art form. The final straw is her long-time partner’s idea to start their own international studio with a marriage proposal tossed in to sweeten the deal. After two decades of waiting for him to deliver the white picket fence, it’s not exactly the offer she was expecting.

At least she doesn’t need a man to answer the alarm of her biological clock. And when she shares a dance with Geri, one of her lesbian gal pals, she discovers she doesn’t need a man to fulfill other fantasies, either. But Geri’s not interested in touch and tease—she wants more than Simone is ready to give.

Torn between three dreams—a post-retirement career, a family, or lasting love—Simone retreats to get her head on straight, coming to one conclusion. She can’t have everything. But two out of three is worse than nothing at all…

Heart of Change was a surprisingly good find for me. While not a perfect story by any means, the author managed to keep this contemporary interesting enough for me to keep reading and care about the characters. The overall feeling I had about this book was that it was enjoyable and affected me on many levels. It’s mainly a story about growth and opening up to new possibilities through love.

What I liked:

Heart of Change started out great for me. I’m partial to a female protagonist who works in a profession considered immoral (sex trade) and who openly enjoys it. I especially like it when there’s no stereotypical justification given for it either to make the reader more sympathetic or comfortable like: using funds for school, an abusive past, they are psychologically damaged, etc. I’d rather read a character who unabashedly loves being a whore, stripper, or in this case, a porn star and makes no excuses.

So right away, I really liked Simone since I felt that she actually enjoys being a porn star and owns her sexuality.

Second, I felt that Simone is a very self aware person. This story is written in first person present tense, which normally is hard for me to read. However, this gave significant insight into Simone’s head. She’s a deep and real person, not some fluffy bimbo. She gets that her relationship with Simon is hurting her. But she also has an attachment to him that she just can’t shake. Simone also self reflects about her life in general and how she acts, taking full responsibility for her actions, which is a character trait I admire.

She loves being a porn star and has been able to compartmentalize that sex as just work having nothing to do with love and relationships. And it really hasn’t made her jaded about men and sex, although at the same time, because of it, she won’t date. I felt it good that she wasn’t portrayed as a flaky sex maniac, but as someone who has some self discipline and makes her own choices.

Simone has been meeting up with a group of lesbians at a bar for 6 years every Friday night. This I liked also because I think it’s unusual that a group of lesbians would befriend a porn star, the very type of woman who perpetuates woman as sex objects, which those lesbian friends find objectionable. However, personally, I love the idea that people can meet as humans and go beyond differences like that to be friends. So this is also something I got off on in this story. Simone is made to feel welcome and comfortable even if she’s doing something they detest and she doesn’t hide or make excuses. They all accept each other knowing exactly what’s going on.

Thirdly, another break in the usual is that Geri, out of all the lesbian friends, is the most serious and intimidating and she scares Simone because she’s been the most outspoken against what Simone does. And yet, it’s Geri who Simone starts feeling something for and thinks is the most beautiful. Since we don’t get into the head of Geri due to POV, it’s hard to tell where she’s coming from. But she’s written as having some gender identification issues, which I also enjoyed because she wasn’t just a stereotypical butch type of lesbian.

Geri herself is a top who likes to pack (wears a strap-on while going out), but feels self conscious about it. She’s very male-ish in her appearance but she never comes across as an aggressive butch type. In fact, she’s got her own stuff going on and is more insecure and tender than aggressive, even when she’s being dominant. She’s as complex a character as Simone and is vulnerable with relationship issues as well. So none of this is stereotypical, but came across as real. I feel most people are usually complex with huge contradictions so I like to read characters that don’t act in stereotypical ways. In this book that’s what we get.

How Geri and Simone get together is very sweetly written. It’s rather poignant and emotionally honest, both of them feeling something for each other but both in foreign worlds; Simone never having been with a woman or even attracted to a woman, and Geri having feelings for a straight woman and a woman who does something Geri detests.

Because of the attraction and love both women feel, they are forced to re-evaluate their own personal reality and what is true for them. For instance, not knowing the “lesbian” rules, Simone does something sexual to Geri that normally as a top she would never allow, but feels OK to let Simone do. And for Simone, being with Geri gets her in touch with that part of her that wants sex to mean something deep and spiritual.

I think because both women are so out of their normal element, they can allow themselves to change and open up to new things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t do when operating in their normal worlds. The idea that change and growth can happen in love is big in this story, which was a positive for me.

Now to the things I had issues with:

I felt the story got bogged down with too much emo stuff at times. I get Simone. I get dysfunctional and co-dependent relationships. I do. But in a story I don’t want to read pages and pages of that back and forth, trying to break away, yet keep coming back thing. This gets annoying after a while. It’s also too much reality for me and my issue with contemporaries often.

This is what went on between Simone and Simon for most of the book. He knows he can push her buttons and he does. I did feel that he himself thinks that he loves Simone and that she loves him on some level. However, it’s not a good kind of love. It’s a manipulative kind of love and throughout the story, Simone keeps giving in to Simon even as she fights for some independence. After a while I was like, “please, just dump that guy. Why do you keep staying involved with him, WHY? It’s been 20 effing years of this.” Especially since they’ve really never had a love relationship.

Then there’s Geri and Simone’s relationship. There was way too much of the misunderstanding and lack of communication trope going on. At times, I just didn’t get these two. Especially Geri. Yes, the author makes is clear that Geri has relationship issues and that she’s never been able to go far in one. But it went too far for me at times. Simone and Geri meet up, have great sex, and it’s clear they really want each other, that they love each other. And yet, they each keep taking off, dealing with business stuff without communicating what’s going on or how long they will be away. Or saying hurtful things out of fears that other doesn’t want them. What is that?!

Simone even makes huge life decisions like having a baby and moving to a foreign country without sharing with Geri first. This is no foundation for a long-term relationship.

When this type of back and forth goes on I really wonder about the relationship long term. If they’ve started out with what seems to be a complete lack of that “I want you and I need you” energy enough to stay in touch, I have my doubts about a long term deal. Although for the record, this is an HFN with a bullet to an HEA. And Geri, fortunately, is also a self reflecting type who admits she has issues but wants to work on them and through them with Simone. So no worries that they are left off in ambiguity about their relationship.

Then there’s the old “am I a lesbian?” thing that is starting to push my buttons in these kinds of stories. I do get that an up-till-now straight woman would start to question her sexual orientation when suddenly falling in love with a woman. It’s normal and natural to do so I think. But in this case, I wondered why Simone was so uptight about it initially.

Until Geri, Simone has never been with a woman. OK, first off, I had a hard time believing that she’s never, ever been with a woman sexually as a porn star. I mean it’s practically a given that as a porn star you’re going to be with a woman at some point. Especially after 20 years. But OK, let’s pretend she never was. Simone realizes after being with Geri and wanting and needing her so much that she’s never actually felt that towards a man. But she also loves cock and feels that she’s had some feelings for Simon who is a man. So is she, or isn’t she a lesbian?

We get her angsting about it for a short while. Even almost getting angry that she might be. She decides that she’s a lesbian in the end, even if she still wants cock. Why, why is this an issue that a character has to be one or the other?

Simone hangs out with lesbians. She has no sexual hang-ups really. She’s in love with a woman after a lifetime of fucking men all the time and enjoying it. Why this stressing over fitting into a specific category? Especially, why a negative fear that she’s a lesbian. What’s so wrong about being a lesbian? And what’s so wrong about loving cock, men and loving a woman as well? Fortunately, this only goes on for a short time and it’s not discussed any more for the rest of the book.

Obviously since this review is really long, there was a lot in it for me. It touched me on several levels and was not a easy breezy fluffy love story. While there is lots of sex in this story, I was more affected by the relationship dynamics and feelings between the women. I definitely recommend Heart of Change for anyone who wants a good f/f story that's not just about the sex.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- many graphically written sexual scenarios. F/f, m/f, strap-on, slight hints of D/s and BDSM

Grade: B+

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Samhain 20% off sale

Samhain is having a 20% off sale of all its books.

MBaM- My Books and More- which is the bookstore for Samhain is also discounting all of its books 20%. They don't sell Samhain books exclusively so there's a larger pool of books through them.

Enter coupon code word Shinynew

I don't know how long the sale is though, so check it out soon if you've been jonsen for a Samhain book.

EDITED TO ADD: Fictionwise is also having a sale, 30% off all multi format ebooks until 3/28

I noticed a new release through Samhain this week, which features f/f so I'll post it here. The blurb looks kind of interesting so I'm going to buy it, but can't vouch for it on any level at this point.

I do think the cover is kind of hot.

Heart of Change
Bisexual/ lesbian
by Roxy Harte
Samhain-$4.95 currently on sale

Not my cuppa and I won't buy this but I'll post it anyway as well in case it will float someone's boat

College Trouble
by Elise Kepner
Erotica/f/f, f/f/f
eXcessia- $1.99 sale at MBaM

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review- The Portal in the Park by Shara Bloodstone

The Portal in the Park
by Shara Bloodstone
Contemporary/ fantasy/erotica/(m/f)-(f/f)-(f/f/f/m) bisexual
20K- $3.75-$5
Ebook- Amber Quill Press

Buy it Amber Quill Press, Fictionwise, ARe

Springtime is blooming in Manhattan when Julie Daniels takes a break from her dance research at the Lincoln Center library. Her visit to an unfamiliar coffee shop renders an eccentric gentleman who serves up more than the average latte. After blending a little magic in her drink, he sends her to a grove hidden deep in Central Park. In addition to the usual flowers and trees, Julie discovers the woodlands also contain mythological creatures. The lusty fauns and seductive nymphs who appear have traveled through a portal in the park. The exotic creatures entice Julie into a realm of passion beyond her wildest dreams, and she embraces the carnal pleasures they offer.

When evening approaches, Julie awakens from a nap to find the magical beings nowhere in sight. And even more frightening, neither is the coffee shop, where the strangeness all began!

Julie would like to write off the bizarre occurrences as a dream, or perhaps an hallucination. But her sated body and spirit convince her otherwise. She’s left to wonder how and why this strange day began—and if it’s really ended...

I have many mixed feelings about this book. But unfortunately, mostly not very good feelings.

From the blurb: “She’s left to wonder how and why this strange day began—and if it’s really ended...”

Yeah, me too.

This story is classified as erotica, so I’m not going to get on its case for the sexual content that really had no rhyme or reason to it. It’s a pure sexual fantasy. What I am going to gripe about is what I consider to be funky writing.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the constant thinking out loud that Julie does. Most often in stories we get insight to what the character is thinking internally but not in the literal sense of saying exactly what they are thinking. When thoughts are written as if the character is actually speaking these things to themselves, verbatim, it’s just awkward. It really kept throwing me out of the story. For example:

Nothing. Just wind over tall grasses, I guess.

Arms akimbo, she completed the circle without seeing another human being.

Nobody. Then why does it feel like somebody's near?

She slid her knapsack down her back and let it fall to the ground.

Maybe I'm picking up on the two lovers getting it on, up in the cherry trees.

She let out a little snigger of laughter and froze.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear somebody just laughed along with me.

Hairs on end, she cocked an ear to the wind...nothing.

Man, I'm losing it. Let me lay down here for a while.

I mean, who does that?

The next issue I had with the writing was the awful prose during the sexual scenarios. I usually have no problem with blunt, in your face graphic sexual language, but this was over the top bad and in places, corny. Or maybe because the set up was not that great, it read more like porn than erotica. Example:

He slid her down to stand and embraced her before turning her toward the tree. He then stroked her bare ass, drawing his hand in and out of her crack.

"Mmm, this is so beautiful. I want to be inside you, in each of your holes."

He spoke between the sultry but relentless forward motion he was using to stretch her pink hole wide.

"You are such a healthy, beautiful human, strong enough to have me in you. Let me fill your beauty up in a way you have never known before. Open your precious ass for me."

While Tichi suckled her breasts and kissed her neck, Fila finger-fucked her, and Faunus pressed his cock halfway down her throat.

And corny:

Her vaginal lips were swollen, pulsing with a tom-tom beat of excitement, and she thought he had to be stimulating her clit with his hand.

"Look," he said, motioning his eyes down toward his groin. "Look at what I have for you. See how great my tool of awakening."

"Yes, but that...you're so big."

Although this is erotica, meaning there doesn't need to be a big love story, I still feel that erotica should contain some sort of emotional connection between the characters or it's basically porn. In this case, I do give kudos to the author for coming up with a creative scenario for Julie to get her freak on without consequence or need to justify to herself anything she’s done. And I actually liked this part. However, I really didn't feel much of an emotional connection between Faunus and Julie. And the main excuse it seems that the author gives for Julie getting to be part in an orgy is that it’s for her “sexual awakening,” as if there’s something wrong with her.

The words “sexual awakening” are mentioned many times in this story. First by the coffee shop owner who hints to her about her sexual awakening. Then when she slips through the portal and is in portal land, she gets her “sexual awakening” by several wood nymphs and a Faun.

Apparently though, “sexual awakening” in this instance mostly means having butt sex. Really, does having anal sex constitute a sexual awakening? This is why I feel the “sexual awakening” as an excuse is pushed on the reader by reinforcement:

Julie blushed even before asking, "And what would that be?"

"Playing, of course. Laughing, drinking, lusting. These are the things we are sent to attend to. Therefore, let us concentrate on them--and, in so doing, attend to your sexual awakening."

These words sent a shiver down Julie's spine.

"My sexual awakening? Why did you say that?"

When he smiled, unabashed sexuality gleamed in his expression.

"Bringing nubile creatures to their sexual awakenings."

She had allowed herself to get into the throes of a "sexual awakening" today, and any hesitation on her part would spoil the effect. She spread her legs to let Fila finger her, gyrating her ass as Fila plied her deeper.

"Shh, I know that," the faun coaxed. "This is your awakening, remember? I promise to pleasure you in all ways. You will be opened after this. In touch with your sexual prowess."

"All right," he said, "I'll awaken you from here."

She felt him dribbling more oil into her crack.

"Now, I will anoint you," he said.

"That's right, Amorfos, let me have you in a way no human man has ever dared. Let your awakening come. Open wide to me."

The trouble for me in this whole “sexual awakening” thing is why does Julie NEED sexual awakening? There was no background story to indicate that Julie was in need of any sexual help or that she was an uptight person sexually. Were her past lovers complaining she never allowed butt sex or sex with women? Was she herself feeling like she wanted to explore her sexuality before all this? Was she frigid? Does not having anal sex and orgies mean that you are not sexually awakened? All this interference by others telling her she needs sexual awakening was a bit weird to me. I would have felt better if Julie had just been seduced only without the insinuation that something was wrong with her.

With no reason that I could see that Julie needs this help to begin with, I also don’t get why she in particular was chosen for a “sexual awakening.” Therefore, to me, this was all a lame excuse for a whole sexual scenario that had no bearing on anything.

For me, it turned what was a good premise into something a bit more corny. Like the short beginnings to a porn flick that pretend the flimsiest excuses for the sex to happen.

Then there was the issue of Julie having sex with a Faun. During the sexual encounter, Julie notes how his fur feels against her skin. And of course, several references to Faunus digging his hooves into the ground for more leverage.

I’m sorry but the descriptions of his humongous cock and his waist down being furry like an animal kind of squicked me out. I just kept picturing Julie having sex with a goat. Not really a turn on. Maybe I’m not sexually awakened enough. Heh.

On the bright side, I rather enjoyed the beginning and ending. The set up of her finding a special coffee shop with an eccentric owner, the whole portal idea, and the end when she goes looking for where she had been, was nicely written. I feel that the author started and ended in the right direction but really veered off course throughout the whole sexual part of this story.

There’s a small part in which there is some f/f, and that’s kind of hotly written. But this is basically a m/f fantasy.

Personally, I’d have pass on recommending this book unless you like raw sexual language and descriptions and or you just want something to titillate you sexually. If you need an emotional connection, I can’t recommend this.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- very graphic sexual language, anal, DP with dildo, f/f, f/f/f/m, m/f, toe sucking, *bestiality* (if you consider sex with Pan bestiality)

Grade: D+

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interesting Topic for curious women

On AfterEllen the other day, there was a vlog done by two women, a couple, who give advice on straight girl crushing for lesbians.

First off, these two are so cute together. After watching this vid, I went to their web site and they have several advice videos that are all very interesting. Very insightful and useful for any type of relationship.

Anyway, I'm now following their blog because I like what they have to say.

Here is their vlog on lesbians crushing on straight girls. What I really liked was that they did mention that straight girls crush on lesbians and women in general as well. And the comments show that sexual fluidity is so much more common with women than men and that it can be confusing and weird to deal with at times. The link to the post, with comments here

LL 119 Straight-Girl Crushes from lacey stone on Vimeo.

And here is another vid that I enjoyed from Jessica and Lacy's blog

The title of this vlog is "What Kind of Gay Are You"-- I really loved what they had to say. It's all about just being yourself and not trying to fit a stereotype. Good words for all.

Lesbian Love ep 112 Gender Identity from lacey stone on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review- Snowfound by Connie Wilkins

by Connie Wilkins
2005- (Originally part of anthology “Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Lesbian Cowboy Erotica)
Historical/ Lesbian- bisexual/ erotica/Interracial
5K- $2

Buy at OmniLit

Connie Wilkins' western lesbian tale "Snowfound," offers a memorable cross-dressing Civil War soldier who, after the war, rescues a woman in danger in the Sierra gold country of California.

Snowfound is a very short, sweet story. Jack is really a woman pretending to be a man and is gold mining in the Sierras. No one questions that he’s woman, believing the stories that he was wounded fighting in the Civil War, making him loose his facial hair and interest in having a woman. So she/he gets by as a man.

On his way to town for supplies, his horse comes upon a Chinese woman lying in the snow almost dead and he brings her to the doc, the only other person who knows Jack's secret and someone he trusts.

Lotus can’t speak English, but it’s clear that she’s running from something or someone and has been abused. Not knowing what to do really, Jack decides to take her to his place since he/ she is feeling attracted and protective of her and he's afraid if he doesn't, she will come to real harm.

This story is so nicely written and I loved the feel of it. I’ll admit that I am partial to that time period in the US and enjoy the women passing off as a man plot. Although it’s too short and there were some improbable things in it, I was left with a good feeling. Since it’s so short, there’s really not much space for any character development and or plot, but there was just enough to give me a good idea of where every character was coming from.

There was also an erotic sex scene, which the author managed to get in there without being too contrived. Because really, would anyone feel like having sex after being almost half froze in the snow and obviously traumatized? But Lotus is a sweet character, the type of woman who only knows that to please a man is her survival. This made her come across as very vulnerable and I could see Jack getting soft on her right away. Plus, Lotus shows no shock at Jack being a woman.

My only gripe here is that I got hooked into this story, the characters, the ambience of it being a late 1800’s western type story, but got cut off at the pass as it were. I wanted more. Why did Jack dress and fight in the war as a man and continue on with pretending to be a man? What is Lotus’ story? There’s a short explanation about the Tong’s in SF spreading their control to the Sierras as well and that she might be part of it, but what IS her story? And then I wanted to know what happened to Jack and Lotus. How did they live together as a couple where one can’t speak English? Did the towns people question it? What I’m saying here is that this could have been a great story. Instead it’s just a teaser.

Little rant coming:

This brings up something that I’ve notice happening more and more. Authors who have pubbed a story in an anthology selling their story as an ebook separately. I disagree with this even though I feel more power to the author if they can do it. In an anthology you get many short stories; the whole effect is one of satisfaction. But if you just sell one 8 pg. story, the reader is going to be left feeling a bit ripped off. Or that’s how I feel even though I loved this particular story.

For whatever it’s worth though, I would recommend Snowfound to anyone who’s looking for a short, erotic quickie that will satisfy.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- graphic sexual scene f/f.

Grade: B+ for story concept and writing, C for lack of development

Monday, March 15, 2010

This and That- New Releases

I've been messing with the blog a bit. Obviously I haven't changed much really. I did add to the contributor links, the publisher links, and added "other review sites" links.

If anyone has any ideas to make the blog better, or want's particular content that they wish to see, let me know.

I'm hoping to try and start posting new or soon to be released books. Until now, I've only posted books I've read (on the side bars) or intended to read, but would like to post books coming out.

What's really sad, I went through a few of the pub links yesterday and only one pub had a new f/f release. Verrah sad.

I usually only go looking for books when I'm ready to buy, but I see adverts or blog posts about new f/f coming out here and there and let it slip through. So I will try to post new and coming releases once a month just for more exposure.

I'm off from school now until the 29th, so I'm trying to get some books read and reviews posted.

As ever, if anyone else wishes to write up a review or talk about a particular book and feels to post it here, you're all more than welcome to do so.

So for my first NEW RELEASE/ COMING SOON post here goes:

The Life Not Lived
by Michelle Houston

Sinners- Heaven and Hell Series
by Bryn Colvin
Loveyoudivine- $3

Weathering Storm
by Dalia Craig
Loveyoudevine- $2

Red Tides of Desire
by Bryn Colvin
Loveyoudevine- $.3.25

Conventional Wisdom
by Cheri Crystal
Loveyoudivine- $2

The Clash
by Crystal Kauffman
Menage, f/f/m, f/f
Loose-Id- $5.99

Forever Mine
by KD Williamson
L-Book fiction- $6- current sale

Likely Suspects
by Rosalyn Wraight
DLSIJ press- $7.99

Best Lesbian Erotica

Girl Crazy: Coming Out Erotica
by Sacchi Green
Cleis Press-$ 14.95

Awakening to Sunlight
by Lindsey Stone
Bold Strokes Books- $16.96

Long Shot
by D. Jackson Leigh
Bold Strokes Books- $16.95

In Medias Res
by Yolanda Wallace
Bold Strokes Books-$14.95

The Midnight Hunt
by L.L. Raand
Bold Strokes Books- $16.95

Last Flight of the Ark
by D. L. Jackson
Menage- f/f/m, f/f-bisexual
Liquid Silver- $5.95

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review- Scavengers: Lesbian Adventure Club: Book 1 by Rosalyn Wraight

Scavengers: Lesbian Adventure Club: Book 1
by Rosalyn Wraight
May 21, 2008
Contemporary/ Lesbian- non romance
98 pg- $11.99 paper, $7.99 ebook
Ebook- Pub: Don’t Waste Daylight

Buy it Amazon, DP books, Don’t Waste Daylight

The Lesbian Adventure Club, aka Dykes Who Dare, Scavenger Hunt

5 Couples
8 Clues
24 Hours
1 Pants-Pissing Good Time

The rules of the game are simple: trust no one, steamroll if you have to.

In the end, it matters if you win and how you play.

Series Introduction: This ongoing series revolves around five lesbian couples-from a variety of careers and at different stages in their relationships-who spend a weekend per month immersed in an adventure concocted by one of the couples. While the stories center upon the adventure, the foundation of each is built upon the gritty issues of friendship and trust between women. Told in first-person by character Kate Sutter, a newspaper reporter, the writing is crisp, and yet, it utilizes her unique perspective and peculiar sense of humor, sending it between the extremes of sentimentality and outright hilarity.

I’ve read and reviewed a few of Rosalyn Wraight’s mystery books here on LVLM and enjoyed them even if I did have some issues with the writing. The same goes for her Lesbian Adventure Club series. Scavengers is the first book in this series and sets up the tone with character development and interaction for the rest of the series.

I can’t really categorize this book as anything I’ve read before; it’s not romance, although this is a book about couples and their ongoing conflicts and relationship issues, so there are some relationshippy things that happen. I’d say this is more chick lit since it is about the everyday lives of a group of women, couples, who get together regularly for an adventure/mystery themed weekend with specific rules.

In this story, told in first person by Kate, the women go on a 24 hour scavenger hunt. They all take turns sponsoring the event and Kris and Ginny are responsible for setting up this current adventure for the group of women. They are the oldest couple, both in their late 50’s and also the longest together, 24 years, so they are looked up to by the others. They’ve chosen to do a scavenger hunt for this particular adventure. The women are given several clues during the course of the day and they all have to go out as couples and do what the instructions say. The winner is to pay for dinner for all.

I thought this is a fun and interesting concept, not one that I’ve read before to keep a story going. There’s a lot of ribbing, rivalry and camaraderie between the women as they fight to be the fastest at completing the projects. It’s kind of like hanging out with a bunch of friends during a weekend, but with a fun purpose involved.

Although this story is told from Kate’s POV, we do get some glimpses into the other characters and what they’re about. But mostly, in this book it's Kate and Claudia’s story being worked out during this weekend. Kate and Claudia have been having problems, with Claudia moving away emotionally from Kate and the group for a while now. Kate’s been upset about it, but has been at a loss what to do. What I liked here is that Kris and Ginny, being the wise older couple, are sensitive to what’s going on with the other couples and they see what’s happening to Kate and Claudia. They work out their weekend scavenger hunt to also include some things and situations that could help Claudia and Kate work things out.

So this isn’t only about a mystery hunt or game, it does have a lot of character growth within that realm, which I really liked. What I was really thankful for also, was that this didn’t go the way of the emo drama that happens often in contemps. These women are very real and fun to hang out with.

Two characters, Holly and Laura, are from Rosalyn Wraight’s other series, a mystery series that features detective Laura McCallister. I’m quite fond of Laura as a character and we get another glimpse into her private life with Holly from a different perspective, which I liked as they are part of this group of women.

Unlike the other books I’ve read of Rosalyn Wraight’s, I didn’t find any issues with the writing itself. This is a nicely written book, with lots of humor and human moments with an unusual backdrop for it. And for those who like to read lesbian stories without any sex but with some minor romance to it, this book will hit the spot.

I don't know how the other books in the series will read. There are currently 10 I believe. While I enjoyed the format for its uniqueness, I’m not sure how it would pan out over a long series. I’ll definitely read one of the other ones at some point though to see how it’s carried as the characters are interesting and I do like the concept of mystery weekends.

I think if you’re looking for something light and fun to read that offers something a bit different then you’ll like this book and maybe even the series.

Sex rating: Dry panties- there’s no sex in this book

Grade: B+

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review- Secrets Revealed (Eldritch Legacy I) by Katrina Strauss

Secrets Revealed (Eldritch Legacy I)
by Katrina Strauss
Historical (Medieval)/ fantasy/ BDSM/ erotica/ m-f/ f-f (bi-sexual)/ f-f-m/ m-f-m/m-m
60K- $6.99
Ebook- Publisher: Loose-Id

Buy it Loose-Id, Fictionwise, ARe, Amazon (Kindle)

The king's fiercest warrior, Lord Eldritch, hides his face behind an iron mask, and his tortured past beneath a hardened shell. For nineteen years the Black Magi have ruled the land; the evil king's knights enforcing the ban on all forms of magick once practiced by the common populace. And none have been more feared than Eldritch.

A young peasant, beautiful in body and soul, Inga was orphaned as child and raised to hide her healing gifts in ordered to stay free. She is plagued by nightmares of Eldritch--and shaken when her dreams take an unexpected sensual turn.

Rumors of a practicing medicine woman reach the Magi and Eldritch must investigate. He finds a strong-willed maiden who ignites his passion and stirs memories of a love long lost. Self-protective, he imprisons Inga in the castle dungeon where he may possess and keep her forever. In time Inga learns that, even in submission, she wields power over her captor. Can she inspire Eldritch to face his past and challenge the king while she, herself, resists the seductive lure of dark magick?

Publisher's note: This book is a re-edited, revised version of a title previously released by another publisher, and contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, BDSM them and content (including/not limited to tethering, voyeurism), dubious consent, homoerotic sexual situations (f/f, m/m), menage (m/f/f and m/f/m).

Wow, this story grabbed me right from the get-go and was good to the last page. I’ve mentioned before that I often use the bookmark feature on my eBookwise to highlight passages that are off to me or that I want to review later. The worse the writing, the more the bookmarks. I read this book with nary a book mark. It means that for me, the writing and story-telling was very clean, engaging and lacking in any issues that normally bog down a book for me.

I will also admit that I didn’t know that this book contained some f/f in it. That was a huge bonus! I bought this book because I happened to enjoy Katrina Strauss’ writing and wanted to try one of her m/f stories as I’ve only read her m/m. The same crisp, evocative writing, complex character development, and imaginative story-telling that I’ve experienced in the past was very present in this book as well. This book was just a pleasure to read all around.

Right, to the story. Basically, the blurb is very accurate, so I’ll go from there. The characters: all of them are so rich and juicy, especially, of course, the two main ones, Lord Eldritch and Inga.

Lord Eldritch is one of those tortured heroes, but not in that over the top “oh puleeze, get over yourself” way. In the beginning of the book, he’s cruel and powerful; he takes what he wants without consequence and he wants Inga. He puts her in a dungeon straight away and keeps her there chained to the bed. For more than a year it’s like that even though he loves her and they have sex all the time. There’s a vibe about him that is so intense and dark, and yet, there’s a spark of something else in there that comes through once in a while, hinting at something deeper, but less sinister in him.

He wears a mask at all times because he’s been cursed; his face severely disfigured from it. This is part of his vulnerability and we learn that while he’s a dominant with Inga and the most feared knight in the kingdom everyone cowering in front of him, he’s kept in his place by the current evil King who has seen his face uses it against him.

Inga is one of the most real characters I’ve read in a while. She’s riddled with contradictions and yet, there's nothing off about her in that. I really got off on her willingness to go into her dark side and be real in every moment. She calls that part of her “the snake,” that part of her that allows her baser instincts and desires to rule her. I loved it. Absolutely loved it as she goes with it without personal judgment. No Mary Sue’s in this book.

Inga starts out by becoming rebellious and using her magik abilities to heal. She stopped caring that it’s against the king and that she can be killed for it because she sees her people suffering needlessly. So right from the beginning we see her strength and inner goodness. Inga also cannot get enough of Lord Eldritch. She readily becomes his submissive sexually even as she wonders why she is so attracted and doing such things.

As the story progresses, she is asked to do things, to make moral decisions that could end up getting people killed and yet, she does so without flinching, like a samurai sword coming down swift and hard. And she easily takes the position of being a domme with Thelise, the captured daughter of a rebel leader, who plays a role in Inga and Lord Eldritch’s lives. Inga’s only vulnerability is her love for Lord Eldritch and the passion of that relationship consumes her.

The story itself is also so provocative. There are several things going on that all mesh together that create a lot of tension and mystery as fiery emotions and power shifts erupt constantly. At its core, this is a story of passion and true human emotions and what it makes people do.

The title of this book, Secrets Revealed, is very apropos. There are secrets within secrets and as the story unfolds, shocking truths reveal themselves. This kept the story moving along at a nice pace with just the perfect amount of revelation to keep the reader guessing and intrigued at the same time.

The fantasy part of this story is complex and intricately woven throughout the story. Many people of this time have magic abilities but not all have the same kind. One that plays a huge role in this is the ability to read another’s thoughts. This leads to quite a bit of power play and intrigue between the characters as they often have to deal with trying to keep secrets even in their thoughts. Inga also has dreaming abilities and as the story unfolds, she sees past events in dreams, which causes her to disobey Lord Eldritch at a certain point, creating even more edginess to this story.

OK, now for the BDSM part. I’ve said before, I’m not too much a fan of BDSM. Much of what I read in this particular genre is more or less power tripping faux BDSM written by people who are clueless just for the titillation factor, which is a huge turn off for me. However, Katrina Strauss is one of the very few authors who can take me into this world and I get it. There’s nothing offensive at all about her way of writing BDSM. Not only that, I enjoyed reading it.

I also got off on the fact that while these characters all have qualities about them that are offensive and despicable to some degree and it’s tied in to some degree with the BDSM sexual aspect to it, Katrina Strauss never crosses the line that implies that BDSM and negative character traits go hand in hand. Really, it’s amazing writing when your characters can have evil characteristics and yet, the reader can easily fall in love with them, admire them as strong, powerful beings.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I would have liked more character development on Thelise. She’s a fascinating character, who, like Inga, acts on pure passion, but is incredibly selfless, selfish and vulnerable. I guess the story is pretty much perfect as it is and to develop her more would have maybe even cost the story some. But she was someone whom I wanted to know more about why she ticked.

For those who would read this book because of the f/f in it, well, all I can say is that the scenes between the women do carry a BDSM theme to them. It’s clear that Inga and Thelise share something very intimate and loving between them. They are very respectful of each other, but it’s not an f/f/m HEA. It’s still worth it to read for that alone, even if the main love story is between Inga and Lord Eldritch.

All in all, Secrets Revealed is a well written intense and passionate story set in a violent but colorful world. For any person who is into fantasy, dark m/f love, BDSM, and medieval stories, this a definite recommend. But I also recommend this book to people who like f/f and or those who are normally not into BDSM.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- while there are graphic sexual situations, the language used is more sensual and soft around the edges. There are many sexual scenes though and of all combinations. BDSM, flogging, anal, lots of m/f, some f/f, f/f/m, very minor m/m, and minor m/f/m.

Grade: A-