Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review- Pain Au Chocolat by K Christine Martin

Pain Au Chocolat
By K Christine Martin
April 7, 2010
Lesbian/ semi contemporary- from 80’s on/Interracial
Ebook- Createspace

Buy it Smashwords, Amazon

Catherine still had her French accent despite twenty four years in the US. She was forty two years old, divorced, and restless. She had started 'Le Café' and worked hard to support her only child. She thought of beginning a new way of life. 'Perhaps in France', she told herself - until she met Anna. Both women discover a passion that is always challenged in pursuit of their dream to be together.

This is another self published book that I picked up on Smashwords. There are a few reviews of this book on Amazon and they pretty much all say things like (paraphrasing) heart wrenching, touching, great love story, I cried, I laughed, etc. So I thought it can’t be that bad even if I’m not totally up for mushy, sappy or over-the-top pull the heartstrings type of stories.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Yes, it is emotional. It will take you through the gambit of feelings and some not too pleasant. If you’re up for an intense ride, then this book will hit the spot. It’s a love story that goes through all the trials of a long term love including the things that get in the way of relationships or cause them to falter at times. But it’s also a tale of enduring love, a love that rides the waves and survives. That is, until it can’t. And I think this will upset most romance readers, especially those who would read this for the love story and want only the good feelings. Fair warning.

For this reason, I think I have to claim this book more as a chick lit/ Oprah book hybrid and not a romance book. It comes across more as a factual story of someone’s life and therefore, it’s a more realistic portrayal of a love story with its warts and all.

On the level of how I experienced this book emotionally and how it read to me, I found it very compelling. I was sucked in by the author and invested in the characters and their lives. This is also a story that goes into territory not usually explored, a 22 year age difference as well as cultural/racial differences. I found that the issues around these things were covered in quite a bit of detail and realistically portrayed.

Catherine is a French woman who has a café near Mount Holyoke College in Mass. She’s in her 40’s and her son, a part time instructor in another college and her daughter-in-law help her run the place. She’s long divorced and hasn’t found anyone to love in all those years. The students come and go and she likes being around them, but one particular girl has attracted her, a young, extremely beautiful Filipino girl.

She doesn’t understand why, but she slowly finds ways to have contact with her, to the point of stalking her in a minor way while she’s in the library. At first she thinks it’s just because she’s vivacious and cute, but slowly Catherine realizes that maybe it’s something more.

Anna is a naïve and spoiled young woman who’s going through college to please her family. They are a traditional Filipino family and all the members work for the family business. She will too when she graduates. Her older brother is quite protective of her and pretty much criticizes every one she dates, kind of controlling her on that level. So she ends up kind of lost and screwing around, not really getting serious with anyone.

She notices Catherine and knows her from the café and starts a friendship with her. They spend almost a year hanging out all with Anna being clueless that Catherine is pining over her. Anna ends up staying with Catherine during the summer vacation so she can work and Anna then realizes that she feels more for Catherine than just friends. The rest is basically they get together and deal with all kinds of family homophobia, anger, separations, acceptance and cultural/age difference issues.

Ok, first, I thought the love story and how they came together was beautifully written. I really believed that they really ache for and desire each other. However, I couldn’t believe that Anna and Catherine would get close to begin with and why no one questioned them hanging out together all the time before there was ever a love affair.

Anna is really close to her roommate, who is down to earth and cool and I couldn’t believe she never once asked Anna, what’s the deal? It seemed that neither Anna nor Catherine had anything in common. After a while, Anna hangs out solely with Catherine, ignoring all her friends and school work to the point of almost failing so again, why no one questioned what a 20 year old would be doing spending all that time with a 42 year old was weird to me.

I do love a May/Dec love romance, I do. But in this case, while I bought the love story, there was a part of me that felt a disconnect due to the age difference. And contrary to the usual, it was Anna who was fearful of Catherine leaving throughout most of the story.

I feel it would have been good if the author got a bit more into Catherine’s head. While not written in first person POV, most of the story is told from Anna’s POV. I just didn’t get where Catherine was coming from and I think that’s why I felt a disconnect. I kept putting myself in Catherine’s place and wondered what I would have had in common with a 20 year old when I was 42. Nothing. So I had a hard time with that even though I myself have been in relationships with a huge age difference.

On the technical side, the writing quality is very good I thought. I enjoyed the authors voice in this book and resonated with it. I read the first half pretty quickly, which is something because she wrote this story in linear format. I’m not too fond of linear story telling. It gets tedious and boring after a while with TMI. And I don’t mean TMI as in too much personal stuff, I mean it in that every detail of someone’s life is shared with the reader and it gets boring. I started skimming in parts because there were things that I felt not pertinent to story or which really didn’t add to it in there.

This is the author’s first book and I think linear story telling is a newbie thing. I also find it often in lesbian romance so I’m not sure what that’s about. Couple that with this reading like a biography in some ways and you get what didn’t work for me.

Still though, if you’re in the mood for something that will grab your heart or make you cry and feel good or if you’re in the mood for a full on real drama, this book will do it for you. And as I mentioned, I really liked the way the author presented this for the most part. I’d definitely read another of Ms Martin’s books.

Heat level- 0- barely mentioned sex scenes.

Grade- B-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review- Wings of Equity by Sean Kennedy

Wings of Equity
by Sean Kennedy
July 2, 2010
Steam punk/ gay (m/m)/ lesbian characters
Ebook- Dreamspinner Press

Buy it Amazon (paper) (Kindle), ARe, Dreamspinner

The truth is that those who make a difference usually get martyred. What good are you dead?

Ezra Kneebone is most at home in the skies, piloting his airship with his best friend Jazz, even if it doesn’t quite pay the bills or warm Ezra’s empty bed. Those same skies are also the territory of a man known as Icarus, who uses his metal wings to steal from the rich and feed the poor. Icarus and Ezra could be soul mates but for one thing: Icarus has a bounty on his head, and Ezra is desperate for money.

Against the wishes of Jazz and her partner, the formidable Lady Bart, Ezra is determined to get his man… in more ways than one. But when Icarus saves Ezra’s life, Ezra realizes he would be betraying a hero—and his heart—if he turned Icarus in. Unfortunately, the bounty is tempting more than one hunter, and Ezra will find that loving a fugitive may mean becoming one too.

I know this blog is for reviewing f/f, lesbian or f/f/m ménage, but I thought I’d do a review of Wings of Equity because essentially one character Jazz is almost as prominent as the main character Ezra. Moreover, Jazz’s relationship with her partner Lady Bart also has a lot of page time considering this a m/m love story.

This is also my first steam punk book. I’ve always wanted to read one; it’s just never happened. It’s a sub-genre that I’m very attracted to, a nice mix of historical, fantasy and technology and this didn't disappoint.

I really enjoyed this book. Due to time constraints and reading other books in between, it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to finish, but not because it's boring. On the contrary, I read a little bit every night before sleep and to be honest, I’ve become attached to the characters and story. To the point that I’ll miss the mad adventures of Ezra and Jazz now that it’s come to an end.

Ezra and Jazz own a small ship (flying) that brings in a decent living doing runs for businesses. They’ve created a design of a ship that would be affordable to the average person, but need the funds to start up their business to mass produce it. Jazz’s lover, Lady Bart, is a rich socialite and has offered to give them the start up money, but Ezra is more bent on capturing a local Robin Hood for the bounty on his head to use as the seed money.

Jazz is against this, but goes along with Ezra anyway. In case you’re wondering, they argue and fight with each other throughout the whole book, but it’s a can’t live without you type of love and support for each other. They find Icarus and even capture him briefly but things go wrong---everyone else is trying to capture Icarus as well--- and Ezra and Icarus are stuck together in a fight for their lives. Of course, during this time Ezra and Icarus find a mutual attraction happening, so what will Ezra do?

Icarus is a local country man who’s been robbing trains carrying monies of the government and rich folk, and distributing them to the poor. He’s designed a set of wings that help him fly; easily maneuvering around the skies and ships to evade capture, but his time is running out. While being a local hero, everyone wants him for the reward money. So he lives a life of robbing and hiding, never being able to come out.

What I loved about this story is that even outside of the fact that steam punk is not reality anyway, certain elements in this story were really out there over and above that. Sometimes it’s nice to not be so logical and go with the flow just for the whimsical adventure of it.

Ezra is a likable character. He’s ambitious but is kind of lost in his personal life. He’s gay and can’t seem to find a steady partner, so he goes to Whiskey town to slake his needs with male prostitutes. But he wants something more satisfying. He’s hell bent on finding and capturing Icarus, but after meeting him it’s not so cut and dry. Icarus isn’t the typical bad guy and… he’s totally hot.

Jazz and Lady Bart are a colorful couple. Jazz is a rough and tumble girl who wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress and Lady Bart is one of those proper on the outside, adventurous on the inside type of women. They really enjoy each other and their relationship throughout the book is very entertaining. There’s even a small scene between them in their bedroom, but very mild with hints of how they enjoy each other. Surprising since that’s almost non-existent in m/m love story.

Icarus was the most provocative character of them all. He’s also the most mysterious and hilarious. He finds it amusing that everyone is out to get him and even after being captured, in several situations, he’s got a sense of humor, which makes in very endearing. Out of all the characters, we get the most background on him, and yet, he’s a character I wanted more on. Well, besides Lady Bart who is also captured my imagination.

While the characters are fun, what made this book for me was just the overall way this story was told. It’s absurd and crazy and not very close to reality at all. I mean, the fact that Ezra even thought he could capture Icarus when everyone else was out to get him was ridiculous. Who thinks like that? That’s like the local city folk thinking they could capture Jesse James. Both Ezra and Icarus get shot and are told to take it easy, but they act like Indiana Jones, and do all kinds of insane things without care when normally sepsis would have set in and they’d be dying.

The characters survive all kinds of calamities: the Lilliput being crashed into and fired at, fires on the ship, getting chased, beat up and they manage to escape trouble every time…. all absurdities that the mind wants to question, and yet, I loved it. It was a joy ride for me and nice change from all the reality based contemporaries I read.

I also liked that Jazz is just as important to Ezra as his lovers. She’s his sidekick as well as co-partner and they feed off of each other. It’s nice to read a m/f relationship that is like a marriage, but is about good friends who love each other. And it’s nice to read a female character that goes against the grain.

The only thing that bugged me through this whole story was that “pecker” was used for penis or cock throughout the whole book. I don’t know, that just doesn’t conjure up anything but snickers in me.

I recommend this book for several reasons. It’s a light, entertaining read that you don’t have to think too much on. The characters are enjoyable even if not too deeply characterized. And the relationship and characterizations of Jazz and Lady Bart are as prominent as any f/f or lesbian story.

Heat level: 4- softer graphic m/m sex.

Grade: B+

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review- Her Majesty's Maiden by Michelle Houston

Her Majesty’s Maiden
by Michelle Houston
October, 2010
12.3 K words
Ebook- Phaze Publishing

Buy it Phaze

When Margaret Dudley joined the ranks of Queen Elizabeth I as a gentlewomen, she never expected the whirlwind of changes that occurred in her life.

Expecting to retreat to the background, to serve her sovereign with integrity and devotion, she never dreamed she’d find herself embroiled in a world of jealousy, lust, and betrayal.

Or that she would experience a love that surpasses all.

OK, I’m going to say it. The first book that I read of Ms. Houston’s didn’t leave me with a great impression. I have bought other books of hers that I haven’t read yet since then. But this book in particular attracted me because it’s really rare to find a f/f historical. So I bought it and unlike the others, didn’t leave it on my shelf to read at a later date.

What a nice little story this was! It’s got all the elements to make it not only erotic, but fun to read. Like a typical fairytale story with greed, passion, and evil doings. Although it’s a short story, it was written with no big gaping holes or areas left untouched with a nice flow in the story telling.

Margaret was born illegitimate. Having no prospects for marriage due to this, she ends up as one of the queen’s ladies to serve her in her private quarters. As soon as she sees the queen in person, she’s enthralled by her. As the days wear on, serving her, she finds herself feeling something she can’t explain for the queen.

Queen Elizabeth takes Margaret under her wing straight away. It’s pretty clear in this story that Queen Elizabeth has been having lesbian trysts with some of her other ladies and it’s pretty clear that she has more than special feelings for Margaret.

Of course, there is evil lurking in the wings as the other ladies have found their favor displaced by the Queen’s affection for Margaret and back stabbing events go on, which throws a wrench in Margaret’s life as the queen’s favorite and maybe even her status as a free being.

I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of this story. I’m not talking about actual people or events, the author does write a disclaimer that she took a lot of liberties with facts. I’m talking about the language used, whether or not ladies to the queen were set up to be married while in service to the queen or the status of illegitimate children of the upper crust. I don’t know much about these things, so if you do, this is something that might push your buttons or not.

Strictly from a visceral experience, I thought the characters came to life in a real way. Queen Elizabeth is somehow how I’d imagine someone of her status would be. She’s commanding, she’s soft but dominating with Margaret and acts on her basest of emotions at times flying into a rage at any perceived slight. She’s really smitten by Margaret and that comes through. She’s also extremely jealous and thinks that everyone will fall in love with Margaret.

“Breathlessly, she waited for the order to leave the royal bed, and found herself instead curled up against Elizabeth’s side. “Oh, my darling, I know that I frightened you, but you pleased me so well tonight. Libby, precious Libby, I want to drape you in diamonds and emeralds and have you parade naked everywhere we go so that I can watch the envious eyes follow us, knowing that they can never have you. Yet, I find I cannot bear the thought of anyone else’s eyes on you but mine. Even my beloved Kat, who is as a mother to me, I want to blind her for having seen the beauty of your mons.”

Margaret is the type to know what she wants and doesn’t think twice about how she acts. She’s madly in love with the queen, but not just in a lustful way. She just adores her and is willing to be her servant, both in the real way and sexually. She has no desire to look anywhere else or to explore the fact that as a lady of the queen, she will be set up for marriage.

The interactions between the two are sweet and hot at the same time. I’m rather fond of stories in which both parties feel an intense passion for each other and this comes through in this story. I can't help it, I'm a bit of a sucker for that type of love in books, one in which deep loyalty is part of the passion even if it borders on obsessive.

The dynamics do change with them over time and Margaret takes more liberties in controlling the relationship. So it’s not all the older/younger power dynamic. This is an HEA story. Not just an erotic dalliance for the Queen or Margaret, which I liked.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a conflict in a love story caused by evil manipulations of an outside person so that was actually refreshing for a change.

Bottom line, I enjoyed this book. It left me feeling good and like I was fully entertained, which is what I want in a book.

Heat level: 5- graphic sex, strap-on.

Grade: B+

Edited: So I put in the original review that some readers might be squicked by the age difference between the Queen and Margaret. For some reason I had it in my head that Margaret was only 14, but she was actually 19 when she went to work in the court. Apologies to the author for that mistake. I've revised my review taking out that part.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming Out Day- celebration with GLBT romance books

Today is National Coming Out Day and Dear Author is honoring the GLBT community with a huge give-a-way of GLBT romance books, generously donated by authors and publishers.

So head on over there and read Joan's information filled post about Coming Out Day and maybe win something as well.

And amazingly, there are quite a few f/f, Lesbian books up for the offering. It's a great chance to try out a new author for you as well as maybe that first lesbian love story for you.

These are the list of f/f, lesbian that I know of in that listing.

All the Adriana Kraft books
Jennifer Fulton's book
Jlee Meyer's book
Jove Belle's book
Julie Cannon's book
K.B. Cutter's book
Kim Baldwin's book
KT Grant's book
Meghan O'Brien's book
Radclyffe's book

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review- Higher Learning by Kris Starr

Higher Learning
by Kris Starr
Oct. 6, 2010
Contemporary/Erotica/Menage- f/f/m, f/f, m/f
34.3K words
Ebook- Ellora’s Cave

Buy it EC

Work on Anne’s master’s thesis is going well until her world is spun off its axis by the stunningly beautiful and very sexy Leslie. Interviewing this woman about her sexual history is turning into an exquisite form of sensual torture, but somehow Anne can’t find it in herself to stay away. On top of that, Leslie’s scorching kisses and electrifying caresses bring long-buried feelings and painful memories to the surface. And it doesn’t help that Anne’s boyfriend Michael is willing to let Anne do a little experimentation.

Anne’s obsession with Leslie begins to spiral out of control, affecting both her work and her relationship with Michael, until all that remains is a possibility that Anne both craves and fears. But not everything is as it seems and it turns out Anne’s not the only one keeping secrets.

I’ll start out by saying that this is no ordinary erotica book with lots of sex. Nor is it a love story, although it does have some of that element. This is a story about the healing of a person who has had traumatic first time sexual experience and how it has affected her adult years as well as her sexuality.

You might get the impression from what I just said that this is a heavy book. No, it’s not. It’s rather beautifully written, with nice flowing prose as well as being highly erotic. But the story does have some elements to it that really pushed some personal buttons of mine. So I’ll be honest in saying that this review will be colored by that.

The blurb is pretty accurate, so I’ll go on from there.

Anne is somewhat damaged sexually. She’s aware of how it’s affected her but doesn’t walk around with a poor me attitude. At the same time though, she’s not very clear on how to change it or deal with it. Nor is she really sure she wants to dredge up a painful past. But due to her thesis subject, things are coming up for her.

She and Michael have a loving and supportive relationship and she’s been open with him about some past desires for women. She’s told him all about her traumatic experience, so he’s well aware of what’s going on with her and he’s been open to her exploring with women. Even with that past, she and Michael do have a healthy sexual relationship, so cue the music, it’s about a woman. They also have an agreement that nothing is to be hidden. No lying about anything that comes up and it seems this is an honest, open relationship.

While doing the interview with Leslie, Leslie shares that her first actual sexual experience was with a woman, a girl in high school. This both excites Anne but disturbs her to the point of trying to ignore Leslie even though they have more to do on the interview and Anne is constantly wet just thinking about Leslie. So there was some nice tension created with that. Enough to keep the pages turning, while not being trite.

Leslie is one of those intriguing characters that is full of mystery as well as intensity. She makes it very clear that she wants Anne and doesn’t shy away from trying to seduce her.

Anne shares with Michael how hot Leslie is, that she’s attracted, and this amps up the heat in their relationship as Michael tells Anne how much that turns him on as well as Anne as she imagines it’s Leslie doing those things to her. No… this isn’t a girl with girl for guy story, although there are some scenarios in this story like that.

All along though, the constant reminders of Anne’s trauma kept me kind of on edge and angsting actually. To be honest, I didn’t want to hear about some molestation or rape or anything like that, so I kept reading with some feelings of dread, knowing it would be exposed.

I was also dreading that it would be some lame, contrived issue that I’d feel ripped off after reading, thinking, oh puleeze, really? I won’t spoil it, but it’s a very realistic situation. So I wasn’t disappointed that it was a dumb set up, nor did I get overly emotional upset about it although YMMV.

Due to Anne’s thesis being about first time sexual experiences, there are several f/f/m scenarios that get told to her from other interviewees. So Ms Starr managed to get quite a bit more sex into this story than might be necessary or needed. However, all of these stories push Anne psychologically. So I felt these stories were part of what she needed to hear even if she stayed clinical through the interviews.

The bad: Betrayal. Although this story is ultimately about healing, there are betrayals on several levels and this bothered me. I also have issues with people who think they know better than others what is good for those others. It’s rather dangerous and arrogant IRL to mess with someone psychologically to get them to a psychological breakthrough even if you love them and are trying to help, especially if they haven’t asked for help. And the way it was done in this book definitely pushed quite a few of my buttons.

In the end, it was fine. Ms Starr did make it right and I was left off with a better feeling of what went down and that Anne used it to her advantage. And the author did address the unethical way in which things were done and how wrong it was. But I still have mixed feelings about it. IRL, I don’t know that I could get over that kind of psychological manipulation to help me get over some trauma even if it did help.

Ultimately though, this is what made this book more provocative and substantive taking it outside the realm of the usual in erotica. I am rather turned on by characters who are psychologically complex and this story totally delivers on that level. I’m am tired of reading sex with no substance to it. I like to know what drives and motivates a character and Ms. Starr excelled in that. I’d love to read a story she would write that doesn’t involve sexual trauma as an impetus for character growth since it was done very well in this story.

And I’ll be honest, the sexual scenarios were highly erotic, really steamy. Although written fairly graphically, the prose is clean and fresh bringing the characters, sexual scenarios and dialogue to life in a seamless an appealing way.

I recommend this book if damaged characters and character growth mixed with hot sex is your thing. But also if you want erotica with a grounded, real story and not just sex for sex. I will definitely pick up another book by Kris Starr.

Heat level- 5- graphic sex although mainly vanilla. Sex to plot ratio is high. M/f, f/f, f/f/m.

Grade A-


I saw this book on the GLBT promo blog. It's kind of rare to find a f/f or lesbian in an historical setting, so I felt attracted to this. I haven't bought it yet, but I will.

Her Majesty's Maiden
by Michelle Houston
Buy it Phaze
October, 2010


When Margaret Dudley joined the ranks of Queen Elizabeth I’s gentlewomen, she never expected the whirlwind of changes that occurred in her life.

Expecting to retreat to the background, to serve her sovereign with integrity and devotion, she never dreamed she’d find herself embroiled in a world of jealousy, lust, and betrayal.

Or that she would experience a love that surpasses all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stop the Bullying- Katie B's post

Hello all- most who read this blog also read Katie B's blog. The online romance community being small comparatively, but if you don't:

Please read Katie's last post. It's about the latest wave of suicides of gay/lesbian teens who were bullied due to their sexual orientation. To support the "It Gets Better With Time" campaign by Dan Savage:

She is donating $1 for every comment up to $500.

1/2 to go to The Trevor Project and 1/2 to The Mathew Shepard Foundation.

All you have to do is show up to her blog and comment. :-)

Review- Through My Window by Jayne Rylon

Through My Window
by Jane Rylon
Sept. 30, 2010
Contemporary/Erotica/m/f, f/f/m
Quickie (under 15k words)
Ebook- Ellora’s Cave Exotika (Erotic Fiction)

Buy it EC

By Guest Reviewer- M.A.

“Through my window, a sea of strangers swirl and retreat like waves in an ocean of humanity. I brush my hair, fix my makeup and flip on the glaring red light in my booth before turning to face my audience on the other side of the glass.”

For Star, this is another night on the job, though no two are ever alike. Adaptable and perceptive, she becomes many things in the course of one evening—whore, lover, nurse, psychologist and friend. But above all, she’s still a woman. Join her, through her window.

Through My Window isn’t a story that would normally tempt me into the purchase/read. Rylon’s style and “voice” in the story’s excerpt won me over and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. This author’s writing is superlative and convincing with exquisite, well-timed pacing.

A sultry, platinum blonde prostitute entices readers into her world, a night shift in Amsterdam’s red-light district. In the course of the evening we witness interludes with several of her clients. Jonah, a young U.S. tourist, seeks the fantasy and comfort of pleasure with a woman without pressure to perform. Rick, a local bouncer and one of her regular customers, visits Star for a rough quickie during his break. Her final clients in the early A.M, a devoted married couple, seek an anonymous “playmate” for a very special experience.

Star entertains one and all with the skill and energy typical of a true “service-oriented” personality. Rylon imbued her protagonist with remarkable depth and complexity. An unapologetic hedonist, Star clearly views her work as valuable and productive. I’ve found that many prostitute heroines fall into particular stereotypes, the nice girl forced by circumstances into the job, the love-starved woman with various emotional problems, the rebel defying society’s expectations, the hooker with the heart of gold, etc.. Rylon deftly avoids the pitfalls of stereotype and social commentary. Star comes through as a magnetic, empowered woman willing to admit she enjoys her job:

"Customers can sense I’m different than most. They recognize I’m here not because I have to be but because I want to be ... Every thrilling encounter is unique. Each partner creates a new experience as their quirks mix with mine. I can’t wait to see what tonight will bring. To adore what you do and be able to make others happy in the process—while earning fists full of cash. What more could a woman ask of a career?"

Despite her adventurous streak, however, Star maintains appropriate professional detachment from her guests, deftly avoiding particular types of intimacy and lovemaking. It’s apparent she seeks sensation and profit, not romantic involvement, but she does care about doing right by her customers.

Above all, this is an erotic fantasy about a night in the life of a successful prostitute. Neither Star nor Rylon allow sensuous storytelling to minimize the coarser realities of the business. Rylon relies heavily upon setting to this effect and strikes an impressive balance. I never forgot Star was a prostitute, but somehow her actions never came across as sordid or degrading, nor did I feel sorry for her. Star flies above the crasser details of the skin trade and invites the reader to look beyond them into that world’s beauty.

The real treat in Through My Window is Star’s final encounter with a middle-aged married couple. It was a surprise, for one thing – the book’s excerpt and teaser don’t mention any f/f/m interaction. Best of all, though, was the author’s handling of Star’s willingness to participate in sex with another female:

“Do you enjoy being with other women?” The gentleman makes a polite inquiry. Nothing crude here.

“I do service them, yes.” I nod.

“But do you enjoy it?” He stands firm on his inquiry.

“Yes, depending on the woman.”

No overdone angst or explanation accompanies Star’s bisexuality. It simply is what it is, she chooses to accept the couple’s patronage, and it results in an exquisite threesome. For multiple reasons, the ménage is both the most emotionally intimate and the most emotionally distant encounter of Star’s narrative.

Prostitutes and prostitution are frequently romanticized in fiction to the point artistic illusion can’t compete with reality. In Through My Window, I almost believe Star and her clients could be real people. None of these characters are perfect. Not all of them are young/youthful, gorgeous, with perfect bodies and fantastic libido. Even Star’s sex-kitten glamour wanes through her shift; her high heels start to tire her out. Nor are primary motives swept under the rug. Star sells sexual services and companionship; her customers clearly employ her to that purpose for sexual relief, to satisfy fantasies, or to enjoy stress-free, anonymous, no-strings-attached sex.

Editorial and technical quality are good. I tend to grade short stories more harshly than lengthier works on these points because a short story isn’t as hard to edit and polish and track continuity issues as a novel length work. No glaring errors pulled me out of the story’s spell.

I haven’t commented much on the story’s erotic content. The story’s overall tone is so erotic, the actual sex in the book flows seamlessly through the plot without competing with narrative, something all great erotica does. The erotic scenes themselves are well-written and unique, varied to suit the moods and preferences of Star’s different customers.

Through My Window is a definite keeper. It reads a little like how an accomplished prostitute should perform (I think.) It’s a well-written fantasy, both revealing and mysterious, pure escapist entertainment for a reasonable price.

Heat Level: 5 - explicit sexuality described in graphic language.

Grade: A- great story structure, compelling voice!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review- A Future for Three by Rachel Clark

A Future for Three
by Rachel Clark
March 2010
Contemporary/ Ménage/ f/f/m
16K words
Ebook- SirenPublishing

Buy it ARe, Bookstrand, Amazon (Kindle)

They've been best friends since high school, but can Emma, Casey and Jason follow their hearts without ruining their friendship? Emma and Jason are concerned when Casey comes home exhausted after a hold up at the bank where she works. When she falls silent in the bath, they both fear the worst and break in to find her sleeping. That's when Jason notices how deep Emma's love is for her best friend and he finally understands why he's never been able to tell Emma how he feels. If Emma loves Casey, where does that leave him?

Whoohoo, I found an author who writes lots of f/f/m ménage. These types of stories are so rare, that yes, I’ll read it even if it’s crap. Luckily for me, this story was pretty good. I did have some issues though that I feel will be a matter of taste or preference with readers. The words that come to mind that express what I feel about this story are sweet, purple prose.

The blurb is an accurate expression of what this story is about, so on to the review.

A Future for Three started out great. We get some background about the three characters, Emma, Casey and Jason, but mostly Emma and Jason since Casey is pretty much out of it for the first half of the book. The dialogue is is good and I was sucked into these characters' story straight away. Where it turned for me was toward the end when things started getting too sappy for me. Still though, it’s a good read.

All of them have been really good friends for a long time, but Casey and Emma have been best friends since early childhood. They are all sharing an apartment together and get on really well, and they’ve all had a platonic relationship until this point.

Emma is a late 20’s, overweight, quiet, no frills kind of girl. She’s a homebody and spends her free time in the apartment cooking or being mommy to the other two. She feels because she’s overweight and not really social, that she’s not attractive to men or anyone really. She’s been noticing lately though, that her feelings for Casey have been changing into something more than friends, but is afraid to say anything for fear of losing the friendship. So she suffers in silence.

Jason, well, I don’t know much about Jason really, other than that he loves Emma and he’s been carrying a torch for her forever. Both he and Casey are the social butterflies and go out all the time. He’s also the sweetest guy on the planet; really soft and available to the women and very loving. He tries to find any excuse to have physical contact with Emma, hiding his constant boner, also for fear of losing the friendship.

Casey is a workaholic. She's the beautiful, skinny, blond girl whom both Emma and Jason love as well. We don’t get into Casey’s head too much, but it turns out she’s loves them back even if she’s never stated it.

The catalyst for all three coming to terms with what they feel is when Casey has a traumatic experience and both Emma and Jason literally need to take care of her.

The good: All the characters get along great. There’s no big conflict and everyone is warm, loving, cozy and supportive. It’s nice to read a story in which people know what they want and go for it, no big deal or stress. It’s a good release. They are all considerate of each other, very aware and tuned in to what each other needs and life is one big happy experience except for the fact that no one has mentioned their true feelings.

The Bad: there was no real conflict or tension. The main problem they ALL face is that each thinks that they are a third wheel. Jason sees how much Emma loves Casey and feels he’s in the way. Emma thinks that Casey and Jason are perfect for each other and, well, Casey is beautiful, while she’s not. She feels she should leave so they can be happy. Casey sees how Jason lights up when Emma is there and feels she is the one in the way. However, this didn’t really get in the way of each of them coming together really, since they’ve been close all along.

This is where I complain of too much niceness. Even the ending, to me, went way overboard on nice, perfect world. I admit that I do enjoy it when characters are loving with each other, but this time a little more tension would have made this story a bit more dramatic.

The other problem I had, and again, this is a matter of taste, I found the sexual scenes were a bit too purple prosy for me. There were too many dripping and oozing this and hot, tight, hard that. The sexual scenes were also confusing sometimes; I couldn’t figure out who was doing what to whom at some points. But that’s not a big deal. I think it’s hard to keep that straight with three people.

I will say though that this is the only f/f/m I’ve read with a definite long term HEA and babies involved. Jason’s main aim in life is having many children and they all get right on that.

I know this review seems like I had more issues than good points. But overall I really enjoyed this book. None of the bad points for me were enough to overshadow the good points. It’s a rare treat to read a decent f/f/m and Rachel Clark has several of them, so I’ll be reading some more.

Heat level 5- graphically written sexual scenarios. F/F/M- ménage.

Grade: B

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