BLOG STOP: Melissa Blue, author of ‘Kilted For Pleasure’!

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Callan Baird used to laugh more than he frowned, but that was before his wife died. Now his life is duty, debts and a general apathy for anything else. And then Victoria Burke burst into his life. She’s everything he wants to corrupt. Victoria has two choices: agree to a grouchy, sexy Scotsman’s extortion or call her boss to explain why she can’t do her job. Since she’s spent the last three years rebuilding her career as antique appraiser, and this one commission could make or break it, the decision is a no-brainer. Except everything about Callan is complicated. He sees no problem turning their work relationship into a sexual one. She refuses to break her boss’ no-fraternization rule. He’s the one thing she wants and the one thing she can’t have. He’s had his one great love, and doesn’t want a replacement. His heart doesn’t agree, because she’s everything he desires. Callan will have to let go of his past if he wants Victoria to be in his future.


From ‘Kilted for Pleasure’:

“How about drinks after we’re done here? That table over there is the last on our list. You can make amends for calling me goat-fucker.”

Booze, plus him seemed to equal a dumb-ass decision. Also, she wasn’t sorry for that particular insult. “I still have more work to do. I’m sorry but I’ll have to decline the offer.”

“The same Burke who’d have likely slept on my doorstep until I signed a contract has suddenly lost her guff?” He tutted in disappointment.

He dangled that as bait, and with him this close, she only wanted to bite into his lower lip as punishment. This was bad. “The only thing I need to know about you is whether or not you can competently repair the antiques.”

“That’s all?”


“Good. I was worried there for a moment. The way you were looking at me…”

His position had forced her to hold his gaze. Heat burned in her chest, and she realized she’d been holding her breath. Letting it out, she took her time in replying—okay, she had to wait until her voice could come out cool, unaffected. “If you were the last man on earth, yada, yada.”

He laughed, and this time she was sure he’d taken her words as a challenge. She pushed him back and stood. For a fraction of a second, her palms lingered on his chest. His pecs under the shirt felt as wonderful as they looked.

Victoria snatched her hands away. Isn’t this how she’d screwed up in the first place? She’d lost sight of her goal because a man had made her swoon. She’d already gotten hoodwinked into taking care of her boss’ father. Victoria didn’t need to add sex with Callan to the situation.

“Back up.” She put a bit of steel in the words and hoped it would trickle down her spine.

He tilted his head, taking in her face. “If I misread you then I apologize about making you uncomfortable.”

Her brows shot up in surprise. She didn’t think he was the type to apologize, but nothing about him seemed consistent. He’d been a pain in her ass, gruff, impatient, thoughtful, uncaring and smart. She couldn’t catch a foothold around him, but the tension in her shoulders ebbed.

“Apology accepted.” After his nod of acknowledgment she added, “We’re at work. Let’s act like it.”

He stuffed his hands in his jacket’s pockets, his blue eyes so damn observant as he took her in. “For the record, I didn’t read you wrong.”

She huffed. They’d circled back to him being a pain in her ass. At least she’d found something consistent about him. “Tell me one thing, Callan.”

His lip twitched. “Aye?”

“Do you hit women in the head and then drag them into your cave by their hair? Because that’s the only way I can imagine you ever get laid.”

He took a moment to think about his answer. “Only the pulling hair part, but I’ve yet to get a complaint about that. So, the last thing on our list?”

Yup. That one thing was consistent. “Please, let’s get this over with.”

He laughed again. She had the distinct impression he’d taken her reply as another challenge.


About the Author

Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. Eventually she upgraded to a computer. She’s still typing away on the same computer, making imaginary people fall in love.

Where to find her online:

Buy Links:


Amazon UK

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‘Exit Strategy’ is Here!


Cover Design by: by ©


Okay, unless you live under a rock, you probably already know, but the highly-anticipated second installment to L.V. Lewis’ Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy is here! Earlier this year, I reviewed ‘Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever’ and strongly encouraged you to buy it. Well,if you didn’t listen to me then you can get it now for a mere 99 cents and then, because you’ll be fiendin’ for the second part, you can get that too! It’s ALREADY a HIT, so get in on the action.

The Highly Anticipated Follow-up to Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever!

Ex·it Strat·e·gy (noun) 1. A preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation that is likely to become difficult or unpleasant. 2. The method by which a venture capitalist or business owner intends to get out of an investment that he or she has made in the past.


Will Keisha and Tristan exercise their elaborate EXIT STRATEGY and end their unorthodox arrangement?

Assailed by demons she thought she had conquered, Keisha Beale has uttered the words to end her tumultuous relationship with Tristan White. Separated, they grapple for a time with their personal demons. However, when their lives apart become unbearable, a credible threat brings them back together prematurely.

As they seek to discover who is responsible for the threats, several seemingly unrelated incidents throw them into a tailspin. Will Keisha’s youthful indiscretions or Tristan’s un-reconciled feelings for a former sub derail their tenuous arrangement?

In the meantime, trouble in Nathan and Jada’s paradise send dramatic ripples that hint of future difficulties in the idyllic pairing.

Nothing Ventured…

Tristan uses his vast wealth and connections to correct a gross miscarriage of justice, while Keisha makes herself utterly vulnerable to Tristan and fears he has chosen to exercise his own exit strategy.

…Nothing Gained!

Will this be the end of the indecent arrangement that became a fairy tale? Or will Keisha and Tristan reveal the trauma from their pasts so they may heal and completely embrace their relationship?

Sensual, suspenseful, and still infused with the riotous levity of Triple-G and Fairy Hoochie Mama, the Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy departs from full parody with a distinctive take on love, loyalty, sacrifice, redemption, and acceptance.


Snag your copy today!



Excerpt, Chapter Seven, EXIT STRATEGY:


“Tell me again why you can’t stay?” Tristan says as we stand in front of the elevator.

“Because it’s just not a good idea. And I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Actually, you do,” he says. “Mrs. Naven found some things in the laundry after you left. Problem solved.” He takes both my hands and backs up into the sitting room.

“Tristan, we still have some things to sort out. Tonight was great, but I still don’t think I’m cut out to be your submissive.”

“Just my submissive, Keisha?”

I drop my head. “No. Anyone’s.”

“You’re afraid you’ll have panic attacks again, aren’t you?”

I feel like I’m about to be swallowed up by the sincere blue eyes tracking and pinning mine so effectively I can’t look away. “Yes. And I’m no use to you if I can’t endure the scenes, particularly the occasional disciplinary consequences.”

“What if there was a way you could?” His finger traces a gentle path down my cheek.

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I said. If there was a way we could work around the panic attacks, would you come back? For good?”

“You mean until you perfect your exit strategy? That’s what you venture capitalists call it, don’t you?”

“Ah, someone’s been paying attention at our semiannual business meetings?”

“I have a rather exacting mentor who insists on being heard.”

“Asshole,” he says and pulls me close.

I place my hands on his chest in an effort to sustain some emotional equilibrium, but he doesn’t let me go. “I’m the one who’ll be ass-out when you lose confidence in your investment and decide it’s time to diversify your portfolio again.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.” He draws me closer, palming my hips, and I get his point. Pun intended. “I can’t seem to get enough of you.”

I slip out of his arms and put some space between us. “Chemistry has never been an issue for us, Tristan. I know your lifestyle is important to you, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up.”

The truth is, I’m hopelessly in love with a man who hasn’t given me any indication that he will ever want a real relationship. Nothing has changed on that front. He still just wants just a Dominant/submissive relationship, which might enjoy a longevity his other arrangements haven’t had, but it will eventually end.

Can I really do this? I certainly don’t think I’ll become any less in love with him over time. Reentering a sexual relationship with Tristan now would be exceedingly counterproductive to the reasons I left in the first place, but I am hard-pressed to make myself walk away again.

Tristan moves so close behind me that I can feel the warmth of his skin, his breath wafting over my ear as he speaks. “We’ll take things slow—again.”

He runs a finger along my arm, and gooseflesh sprouts like ivy in its wake. I feel a pull toward him that can only be described as magnetic—my body eager to be reunited to his. Even though it could conceivably be more painful for me this time around, I’m not sure if leaving him again is within the realm of possibility. I can’t rationalize staying, but leaving becomes increasingly more difficult with each second I remain in his presence.

I turn to face him. “Slow isn’t necessarily going to keep the attacks at bay.” Or guard my heart if he decides he’s done with me.

“We’ll figure out a way to do that together.” He takes me into his arms again. “These three weeks have been  . . . just please stay.”

I look into his eyes, and all I want to do at that moment is kiss him senseless. He may not have given me a declaration of love, but somehow I know this is as close as I’m going to get with a man like Tristan White. For now.

As an answer, I stand on my tiptoes, throw my arms around his neck, and kiss him with everything in me.

Don’t Tie Me Up – A Review of ‘Black Satin’ by The Black

Black SatinThis may be TMI, but here it is: I like vanilla sex. No, love. I love vanilla sex. I don’t need you to tie me up, attach clamps to my naughty bits or whip me with anything. With a partner to whom I feel connected in the head and (sometimes) heart, I’m apt to enjoy and enthusiastically participate, even with no accessories required.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m all for consenting adults doing whatever they want to get their rocks off.  And ever the adventurous one, I’ll try just about anything at least once given the right kind of persuasion. But having said that, I don’t get particularly hot and bothered at the idea of restraints, submitting to anything or anyone, or watching others get it on.

So when The Black told me about his new book, ‘Black Satin’ a compilation of BDSM shorts, I very politely expressed my interest but didn’t immediately put it on my TBR (“to be read”) list. Still, having become well-acquainted with his writing style even to the point of enjoying a novella he wrote called ‘The Axe’ (yeah, the thing you use to chop things . . . or people, with) I decided to see what he would do with this still somewhat taboo, though increasingly mainstreamed content.

The result? I read ‘Black Satin’ in one sitting.

To limit this book to the now trendy BDSM genre-fiction is to do it an injustice. For one thing, there’s not a whole lot of B,D, S or M, at least not in the way that purists and practitioners of that lifestyle would see it. Instead, The Black takes us on a journey with several couples experimenting with physical and emotional limits in their relationships.

My favorite story by far in the compilation is the very first one, ‘OPP’ (and if you don’t know what that means you better ask somebody). In ‘OPP’, we see Baron, a character who appears in ‘With Benefits’ and ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’ engage in a sexy power-struggle with his neighbor that is a scarily accurate portrayal of how some women wield their sexuality as a weapon and how men may respond to that show of force. Someone reaches the point of submission for sure in this story, though not in the way you might expect given the BDSM label. In fact, if you’re not nearly as adventurous as some people, and believe that BDSM is code for cringe-worthy, risktaking bedroom behavior, there is nothing to fear in this book — almost all of the bondage, domination, submission, etc. is to be found in the psychological rather than the sexual elements of these stories.

My second favorite story in the compilation would be very difficult to pick, honestly, because they each had something that piqued and kept my interest. And for lovers of romance, there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into as well.  But on the whole, here’s what I loved about this book. It was not a cobbled-together series of overblown sexual situations masquerading as fiction. As is always the case with The Black’s work, the characterization was thorough, the situations believable, the stories engaging, and most were vaguely reminiscent of some situation in our own life or those of people we know.

What I liked most about ‘Black Satin’ was that in almost every story, there was a full, detailed back-story that made the sexual situations make perfect sense. At no point while reading these shorts did I roll my eyes and say, ‘Yeah, like that would happen in real life.’ It was sexy, it was arousing but it was intelligent erotica. So if like me, you like realism with your fantasy and believe that the biggest aphrodisiac is what you have between your ears and not between your legs, ‘Black Satin’ is one you’re sure to enjoy.

Happy Reading!


Blog Stop: Christopher Bynum, author of ‘With Benefits’ . . .

With Benefits Cover Master-CB-Nook[1]

I used to be a book snob. I had a very short list of authors that I read religiously and new authors only broke into my reading list via the New York Times Book Review which I started reading with my Dad when I was about fourteen. I know, I know . . . I was missing out, big-time. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to read, and to come to know some great indie authors whose talent continues to astound me. One of these is Christopher Bynum, who also writes under the moniker ‘The Black‘.

I love his work, and have never been disappointed with anything of his I’ve read, even though his work can vary quite a bit as he writes across multiple genres. I turn to one of his books when I need a boost to get me back into the writing frame of mind, just as I turn to him as a compatriot, partner and mentor in this writing life of ours. So I am so pleased to host him today, to talk about his latest work, “With Benefits“.

Welcome Chris! Let’s dive right in with the questions . . .

What made you want to write ‘With Benefits’? What did you want to say that you didn’t think had been said in similar ‘friends with benefits’-themed books?

“With Benefits” was inspired by real life events, and it’s actually a second version of the story. The first version—which I did publish somewhere online once—was a literal recounting of the real event. As I recall, some online readers were depressed by the ending. But hey, real life can be depressing sometimes. More recently I decided to write a “what if version” of that short story with a more upbeat  ending. That story became the novel “With Benefits.”

In ‘With Benefits’ Kyle and Britt become close friends very quickly though they’re attracted to each other. From a man’s perspective, why does a man sometimes NOT make a move even when he’s attracted to a woman?

There are no absolutes and this may read as insane, but sometimes a man won’t make a move because he actually likes and respects a woman. He thinks there might be more good things about her than just her body, and wants to know what that is. He still wants her physically if that’s the way he’s attracted to her, but I think that sometimes we hope that she be won’t be that easy. Again, there are no absolutes. It might also be that he’s painfully shy. Or that he might be physically attracted to her but not like her otherwise, enough to turn him off to wanting her. I’ve known a couple of women in my life that I felt were hot physically, but if I didn’t have to work with them I wouldn’t want them anywhere near me because I didn’t like them as people. None of this has to do with Kyle’s situation, however. He and Britt simply had poor communication and invalid assumptions based on what they did say to each other.

We see Kyle in ‘With Benefits’ struggle with some unresolved issues about women and their sometimes dishonest motives in relationships. This is a recurring theme in your work. Tell us why.

I didn’t set out to make it a theme, so I guess it’s my subconscious acting on experiences and observations. And, I’m all about character in whatever I write, and women tend to be more complex and more confusing when they do their dirt as compared to men. For example, men may lie to excuse the wrong they do, but they know they’re lying, and you know it, too. Women are much better at rationalizing and giving themselves excuses for why they do wrong, and they usually have half the human population backing them up as a support system. Men don’t back each other up like that, because we know a lie when we see one (“Damn, bro, she busted you.”). Sometimes women are so good at rationalization that the damaged man is left thinking it’s his fault. Again, there are no absolutes and I’m not being negative, but that stuff makes for a more interesting write, and hopefully a more interesting read.

Your books, including ‘With Benefits’ feature women who are also very realistically crafted. Not many male authors do this well. What’s your secret to writing women so well?

I’ve always liked women, so I pay attention to them. I was never one of those boys who thought girls had cooties or whatever and didn’t want them hanging around. From Pre-K—from the moment I recognized that girls were different than boys—I was fascinated, and I wanted one.  So I pay attention.

Britt is a so-called “good woman” who struggles to find a good man. What do you think about the old refrain from some women that “all the good men are taken”? Do you think that’s true?

It’s not true. Due to the impact of society and the times we live in the pickings might be slimmer, but good men are out there. I would suggest to frustrated women that if you keep digging in the same hole, you’re going to find the same dirt. You can add all your special water to it and make your temporary mud pie, but when the water dries you’ll have the same dirt you started with. I feel for women because I see how the game has changed. You’re not the prize anymore; men are, and that goes against nature. Even in generations past when women were second class citizens, they still had their feminine power, and men respected it.

Women might not have been able to vote and were paid pennies on the dollar as compared to men, but a man would pull out a chair for a lady and open a door for her and give a certain respect. If in those times one man had called a woman a bitch or a ho on the street, another man would’ve punched him in his face. Women always had that power: the power of respect for their femininity. But today too many women have given up their power. A man will only do what a woman allows him to do. So if women want things to change and want more good men, they have to take back their power. Command respect; not by mouth, but by action. Trust me, when you do, men will fall in line because you have what we desire. Yes, it’ll be hard to do because for every woman who won’t make it easy for a man there are five who will, but that’s the world we live in now. But if you do—and you stick to your guns—you’ll create more good men, if not for yourselves, then for your daughters.

Kyle and Britt’s parents feature prominently in their emotional lives and help the reader understand them better. Do you think our parents are a big influence on our ‘relationship style’? And if so, how so?

I think parents can be and should be, and hopefully the influence is a positive one. I think that what we observe in our parent’s relationship influences us as much as what they tell us about how to manage our own. In Kyle’s case, for most of his life his parent’s influence was a positive one, and when things changed it threw him for a loop. But when writing his character I felt that the recent change in his attitude would be a temporary one because by the time the change happened he already was who he was going to be. He just needed the right influence to get him back on track. I think that Britt was more solid in who she was by the time she met Kyle. Her mother raised her to be a whole person, to not have to rely on anyone else to take care of her. Britt’s first example of that necessity came from her parent’s relationship. So she made her own money and had a better living than most. The only reason she needed a man was to fill that space in her heart when she was ready for it to be filled, because she had everything else covered. Yes, she had some missteps along the way, but don’t we all?

 You’ve said often that you don’t write romance novels, but some of your books are the most ‘romantic’ I’ve read. What distinguishes your work from the ‘romance’ genre?

I don’t go into any story involving a relationship with the intent that the characters are going to get together in the end and have that romance novel “happily ever after.” I write life as I see life, which means that sometimes characters end up together, and sometimes they don’t. And if they don’t, it won’t necessarily mean that their relationship ended badly. Sometimes when my characters ride off into the sunset one travels northwest and the other goes southwest, and they’re okay with that. That’s life.

Of all your work, which stories/books did you feel compelled to write?

To one degree or another I felt compelled to write all of them. I definitely have more affection for some, either because they’re based on something experienced or observed or because I liked the base idea. But so far everything I’ve written was something I wanted to write, or I should say, needed to get out of my head. That being said, I definitely have favorite stories. One is the upcoming novel series “Nightwalkers,” and also “The Hitman Chronicles.” My current release “With Benefits” was one that I had to get out of my system in its original version. The published book version is the answer to the writer’s “what if?”

Of all your work which was the hardest to write?

Technically, I’d say a short story (so far) Western tale titled, “The Black Gun.” For years I’ve had it in mind that one day I wanted to write an Old West novel. My father was a big fan of Westerns, so I inherited that from him. With all the cowboy movies and television shows I’d watched and Western novels I’d read as a kid, I thought it would be an easy and fun write. But when I started on “The Black Gun,” I realized that what seemed like a fun and easy write in imagination would be a chore if I wanted to do it right. I wanted to write something historically accurate—from the clothes and weaponry of the time and towns that existed back then, and I discovered that I had to do a ton of research. I probably researched more to complete two short stories for that one than I have for any full-length novel, even though I didn’t use much of the information I researched.

Emotionally, the hardest to write was the first (and still unpublished) “Insatiable” novel. That’s Simon Bishop’s story.  I was going to title it “Memoirs of an Insatiable man.” The idea for the story came first, but as I began writing, real life began to mimic the fiction, so I had to put it aside because it became too tough to write. I might’ve canned the story completely, but a few months later I had the inspiration for a story about a woman who was hard on her exterior, but really yearned to be submissive. I needed a male protagonist for her story—“Elle”—and so I dusted off the Simon Bishop character and made him her guy. That got the “Insatiable” series started.

Now that you have a significant body of work under your belt, what’s your writing ambition? What do you want to do writing-wise that you have not yet done?

In the coming years I’m going to publish a lot more fiction under my real name rather than The Black, novels in every genre. My ambition is to be known not for a specific genre, but for writing things that will always be entertaining, and that will take readers away from their day-to-day for a few hours. “With Benefits” was the first of those. Next by Christopher Bynum will come “Nightwalkers,” and then “The Hitman Chronicles.” That being said, The Black has a hard drive full of first drafts yet to be published, so he’s not going away anytime soon.  Stay tuned, because fun stuff is coming from both.

If your readers want to stalk you, how can they find you?


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Nia Plays Nice

play niceI’ve never taken a poll or anything, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most writers are solitary creatures. We spend a lot of time inside our own heads to get our work done, so (speaking for myself here) conversations with real, live human beings can sometimes feel burdensome. Imagine for a moment what it might take to actually open up enough to work with another writer. Collaborating on a creative process is not something I’ve ever been particularly eager to do. I like tunneling in and blocking out the world, and at those times when I’m in that smooth, easy writing space, it feels almost meditative. So to invite someone into that space is a huge deal. And to be invited by someone else to enter their space, an even bigger deal.

When The Black invited me into his sanctum sanctorum, I couldn’t refuse. I enjoy his work immensely and respect the way he has with words so this opportunity was too big to pass up. The opportunity is this: write a series of shorts with him over a period yet to be determined, with him handling the male point of view, and me handling the female perspective.

The result — our collaboration — is Duets, a new section on both our blogs consisting of short, sensual pieces that we think will resonate with both our core audiences.

The first collaborative piece, Lovers, begins on his blog here, and continues on mine, here. We’ll do a chapter at a time until the story is complete, and then we’ll move on to the next story. It requires you to do some blog-hopping, but we promise it will be worth the while. Leave us comments, and let us know what you think, both about the story as it evolves, and about this experiment in literary à deux.

Happy Reading!

The Black is the author of Dream Girl, A Southern Belle: Forbidden, Elle (Insatiable: Book One), Golden (Insatiable: Book Two), the Passion series, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, The Rock and many other novels and novellas.

Visit The Black’s Amazon Author Page here.

Review of ‘Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever’

Books are like movies. There’s rarely ever a new plot out there. In fact, every single book ever written is probably a variation of one of five basic plots, in my opinion. So it takes some skill to make what you write seem like something completely new. It takes even more skill to pull off and maintain reader interest when you write something that you explicitly want people to associate with something that’s been done before. L.V. Lewis managed to do that with ‘Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever’ and that’s why I wanted to dedicate my last post before I go into writing mode to her book.

Here’s my review. Please read it! And then buy her book here.

Happy Reading!

Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever (The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy, #1)Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by L.V. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever is not at all what you might think.

For starters, I should say that I have a love-hate relationship with the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James. I think the writing wasn’t . . . well, whatever, but let’s just say I wasn’t impressed by her craftsmanship. But (and this is a BIG but) she had something that many writers who are great craftspeople don’t have – she had a definite ear for what resonates emotionally. Despite my eye-rolling over some of her word choices, I had genuine emotional shifts while reading the story she crafted. But this is not about E.L. James. This is about L.V. Lewis (see what she did there? even her pen name is a play on the prior series – nice), a writer who has both emotional and verbal eloquence. And to top that all off, wit as well. Not just the ability to interject funny one-liners, but true intelligent wit that comes through loud and clear in her writing.

So if I had to say what I most enjoyed about this book, it would be that. She also paired an unlikely hero and heroine in virtually unbelievable circumstances and gave them such strong voices that you could see them and believe that they do in fact exist, or that they could.

No one is more surprised than I am that I loved this book. I hate – yes hate – the term “jungle fever” to refer to interracial relationships. (And I could go on forever about why, but I won’t.) And the only time I use the word “ghetto” is to refer to places not people. And come to think of it, not even then. So I was a little biased from the outset. But as has been the case with almost all my biases, I was proven wrong. The title is parody wrapped up in irony cloaked in social commentary with a healthy dollop of humor. So that takes care of the title. So don’t be afraid of it because of that . . . now about the plot.

I know, I know. The innocent-and-the-billionaire has been done to death. First up, Keisha is no innocent. She is a smart-mouth, streetwise, intelligent and driven woman who is not about to be led down anyone’s primrose path. But having said that, she has the wind knocked out of her by the force of her attraction to Tristan White (hah! the choice of surname, again demonstrating the author’s humor)and embarks on an unconventional relationship, being indoctrinated into the exciting and pleasurable world of BDSM. And, as was the case in that other Fifty Shades series, she is as surprised as anyone that she loves “all that kinky shit”.

L.V. Lewis walks us through her internal monologue and has Keisha thinking things that you could totally imagine you might think if presented with an extremely attractive new lover who just happens to want to tie you up and “punish” you a little bit. The exchanges between Tristan and Keisha were humorous, sexy, clever and oh-so-true-to-life, considering the utter unlikelihood of the situation. And I don’t mind telling you that the sex scenes increased my pulse, I mean, considerably. And hey, I write sex scenes, so I know how clinical the writing of it can be, but the reading of these . . . let’s just say, not clinical. At all.

Having read the other Fifty Shades series, I know what is likely to happen between Keisha and Tristan, but already it’s clear that L.V. Lewis is an artist in her own right, not someone doing a cheap knock-off, because the places where she chose to depart from the other series (not just the obvious – like the interracial relationship, girl-from-the-‘hood aspect) were smart choices. So now I’m curious to see in the remaining parts of the quadrilogy where she goes. My only complaint is that there will be three remaining parts (I hate series) but who the heck am I kidding? I’m going to buy them all.

View all my reviews

Is Safer Sex Romantic?

cdmsI don’t mind admitting that I’m old enough to remember when condoms didn’t make an appearance in romance novels. Heck, I’m old enough to remember when penises didn’t make an appearance, and certainly no part of the female anatomy below the chest. Sure, there were clever references (some of which we still use today) to his “manhood” and her “feminine core”, both of which caused many, many girlish twitters at my all-girls Catholic school, lemme tell you. Still, the actual sex act was shrouded in mystery when you read romance. All you knew was that the woman’s resistance to participating in it had to be “overcome” and that afterwards, she would “glow” and simper and pretty much belong to the man who’d succeeded in breaking through her defenses (pun intended).

If you’ve read any of my blog, you already know I think all of that is just eye-rolling drivel meant to perpetuate the myth that women don’t, and shouldn’t, initiate sexual congress. And if we do, for heaven’s sake, don’t be too obvious about the fact that you liked it!

But I can’t think of any modern romances that follow that follow that awful formula any longer, and few still feel the need to pretend that women have to be chased at length and convinced that they should give in to their sexual appetites. For me, a surefire killer of my enjoyment of a book that calls itself women’s fiction, and the moment I will put it down and walk away without regret is when there is some ridiculous inner conflict where the female protagonist tries to argue herself out of having sex because she is just too attracted to the male protagonist. Now the only way that works for me is if that conflict is part of a larger conflict like, “I can’t have sex with my boss ’cause then it’ll affect my career.” But if the attraction alone is the source of her resistance, I will go on record as saying I don’t know any woman who’s that repressed and seriously doubt she exists. But like I said, the books where that happens are few and far between, because we’ve come a long way, baby . . .

One indicator of how long a way we’ve come, not just in terms of women taking charge of their sexual persona but in terms of telling the truth about love and sex, is the appearance of the condom in romances, and The Conversation about safer sex. I did an informal tally when I was reading romances like crazy this past fall and I would have to say that roughly 85% of the books I read either referenced condoms or birth control, or had some explanation for their absence. If the characters didn’t use protection, the author would work into the plot somehow an explanation for that. Similarly, if they did, it was integrated either explicitly, or by implication. As someone who used to lobby for women’s reproductive health and rights, I can’t tell you how freakin’ happy that makes me.  And if the female protagonist is the one with the condoms, I’ll give your book a one-star bonus for that alone.safersex

In a world where women are still victimized, objectified and undervalued just for being female, it’s one the coolest things that in books that are predominantly written by (and for) us, we can unashamedly use the words: clit, pussy, and dick to describe the anatomy if we so desire. But what’s even cooler is that now we talk about how we protect ourselves, and we set as a standard for young women that even in the middle of hot, mind-blowing, and sometimes unplanned sex, you gotta whip out that condom! I’ll be honest; I used to think, in real life, that condoms were a buzz-kill but then we all faced the near-Apocalyptic effects of HIV and AIDS and that woke most of us the hell up. I’m glad that awakening extends even to the people in our fictional worlds. For me at least, safer sex doesn’t turn the heat down one bit.

What do you think?