Review: Highland Pursuits by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

because-beards-coverI read “Highland Pursuits”, Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s contribution to Because Beards, a charity anthology that benefits The Movember Foundation, a few weeks ago, and I have to say that I gobbled it up.

de Maupassant’s novel, The Gentleman’s Club, as well as her collection, Cautionary Tales, established her as a singular voice in the erotica, as did her tireless work surveying erotica writers on all aspects of the genre and craft. She’s become, in a very short time, one of erotica’s leading authorities and champions, so the bar is set quite high on anything she writes. Unsurprisingly, she not only meets but exceeds all expectations once again with “Highland Pursuits”.

Emmanuelle de Maupasant’s erotica is truly different – intelligent, cheeky, sexy and full of the sly charm, qualities that are especially on display in “Highland Pursuits”. It’s as if Stella Gibbons (who wrote Cold Comfort Farm, a snarky, hilarious romp through the English countryside in the 1920’s) had written an erotic romance, with it’s sophisticated, modern girl shipped off to the wilds to make her way.

And yet, for all its tongue-in-cheekiness, the main character truly is modern in that she allows herself different sexual experiences without guilt or shame. By the time the story comes full circle to its properly romantic ending, you have the sense that she has become a young woman in full possession of herself and that any marriage she makes will be one in which she can autonomously enjoy both her own sexuality and that of her husband.

Based on the strength of “Highland Pursuits” I’m greatly looking forward to reading the rest of the collection now that it’s released, all the more so for it’s raising funds for, and awareness of, men’s health issues. Emmanuelle de Maupassant is one of my favorite authors writing in this genre, and I’m pleased to say that my estimation of her grows with every story I read. She is brilliant and different in the best of ways. If you’re looking for “erotica for the discerning mind” she cannot be bested.

Benefit research for men’s healthy issues and Buy Because Beards! It’s available in ebook form at Amazon and Amazon.uk

On Hidden Power: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

News, News, News!

The Swallowing Mansion, Maddie Aflame! Book 1 is now available!

 Not to get all bossy and pushy, but GO BUY IT NOW! You can find it at Amazon, Amazon UK, and at Go Deeper Press.

 And now, for the final post in the Maddie, Aflame! series…

maddieaflamecover300For this final post on Lana Fox’s newly released series, Maddie Aflame!, I want to focus on one of the story’s strongest messages—finding power in weakness.

It won’t spoil anything to say that Maddie struggles with more than an oppressive government with an conservative agenda. She has Combustion Syndrome, a disease that, when triggered, causes her body to combust from the inside out. While the ability to heal is part of the Syndrome, episodes leave her burned and weak, and are, quite honestly, a little terrifying.

By the time the book opens, Maddie has become hyperaware of what triggers the Syndrome and why, but the its aggression has caused Maddie to shrink into herself and fear what is, essentially, an integral part of her body. It doesn’t help that Combustion Syndrome is widely viewed as an affliction and misfortune. It’s certainly not seen as an asset. But, in a lovely turn of fate, the disease that she fears and considers her greatest weakness, may be the only thing that will help her save the people she loves.

As Maddie progresses through the book, she learns to stop fearing the disease and draw strength from it. Sex plays a large role in this and, as she awakens sexually, she finds incomparable power not only in the Syndrome, but in the many ways she can wield it as a defense. She just needs to learn to trust herself.

Maddie’s relationship to Combustion Syndrome also mirrors the struggles faced by the queer community in the series. When the book opens, being LGBTQ makes you vulnerable to attack and victimization. In fact, being queer is seen as a weakness to be exploited and eradicated. But…the vulnerability that comes with being queer in this world is also a source of strength, just like Maddie’s disease.

The sense of strength and unity that the LGBTQ community forms in response to its vulnerability is one of its greatest strengths. In fact, it’s that reactive inner strength that pushes Aud, Raj, Pike and Maddie to tap deep wells of compassion, and it’s that compassion that allows them to fight back.

It’s a useful message for all of us because we all have things that make us feel weak, or vulnerable or at a disadvantage. Life would be much easier if none of us were different, or had challenges to contend with. But we would also be missing opportunities to exercise strengths we didn’t know we had. As a journey of discovery for Maddie, it’s a wonderful lesson for everyone, and the fact that it’s wrapped up in a sexy, fast-paced, cracking adventure, make it all the better.

Other Posts in the Maddie Aflame! series:

On Queer Marginalization: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

On Conformity & Defiance: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

Ghosts, Tech  & Swallowing Mansions: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

 

 

Ghosts, Tech & Swallowing Mansions: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

maddieaflamecover300In my last post on Lana Fox’s new series for Go Deeper Press, Maddie Aflame!, I talked about how sexual fluidity and identity are woven into different aspects for the story. For that post, I focused on the characters, their sexual and gender identities, and their relationships to each other. This time around, I want to focus on the world those characters inhabit.

I’ve written before about how hostile and rigid Maddie’s society is. Right at the outset, the novel’s greatest threat is the systematic assimilation and eradication of LGBTQ citizens. Lana Fox’s dystopia draws deeply from gritty urban fantasies while maintaining a light in the darkness through its characters and their relationships. Yes, magic and tech are used against queer people, but they are also wielded by those same people in defense of themselves and those they love.

So, let’s start with tech. For all that spirituality plays a serious role in the story, technology is right there beside it, helping the protagonists navigate their hostile environment. The tech that appears in Maddie Aflame! is either put to destructive use by the government (think viruses, mind manipulation, and surveillance), or it’s used by the protagonists for protection and communication. This balanced portrayal of everything technology can be, from a literal lifesaver to a tool of oppression, forces the reader to take it on contextual terms, something Lana Fox also asks you to do with its characters.

In a world with sentient buildings and conditions like Combustion Syndrome, where science and spirituality are woven through life in equal measure, ghosts play an interesting role. Maddie’s mother’s ghost comes to her to warn her at various points. Another character hears ghosts and can talk to them. One of the protagonists chooses spiritual over corporeal form. Ghosts are afforded more rights and protections that living queer citizens, and all the while, they represent the societal no man’s land queer people inhabit in the physical world.

In fact, ghosts and spirits gorgeously highlight a number of things in Maddie Aflame!

The ghosts underscore the fluidity I talked about in the last post. Maddie and her friends blur the lines of traditional relationship structures, binary sexual orientations and gender identities. Likewise, the ghosts blur the lines between two static worlds—that of the living, and that of the dead. Their active presence in the story sends the subtle message that not only are the lines of existence blurrier than laws and customs admit, but that bodies (with all of their markers and expectations) are temporary – the soul that occupies the body is what lives on in the world.

And then there’s the sentient mansion. While I don’t want to give too much away, it’s a metaphorical masterstroke that deserves a mention. The mansion, which, for all intents and purposes should be just a normal house, is a feeling, sensing thing, more creature than building, cognitively speaking, as it responds to the emotional state of its occupants. Like magic, tech and ghosts, the mansion bridges a gap and blurs the line between expectation and form to defy its own weaponization, making it not only a compelling character in its own right, but a powerful metaphor for the breaking of traditional worldviews in favor of wider possibility.

In the end, that is one of the most universal messages in the series—that your physical self is not, in reality, a boundary against inhabiting your full self and loving people in the way that is right for every individual relationship. The supernatural elements in Maddie Aflame!, are fabulous allusions that works on every level, particularly because they are woven into the fabric of the world with so much care. The society Maddie lives in is draconian in its adherence to tradition. It makes absolute sense that shadows of an alternate way should defy control and drift around its streets.

Stay tuned next week for my final installment of this short series on Lana Fox’s Maddie Aflame! And stay even more tuned for the first book in the series, coming very, VERY soon from Go Deeper Press!

Other posts in the Maddie Aflame! series:

On Queer Marginalization: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

On Conformity & Defiance: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

UPDATE:

Maddie Aflame! Book One: The Swallowing Mansion is now available!

Go Deeper Press

Amazon

Amazon, UK

On Conformity & Defiance: Lana Fox & Maddie, Aflame!

 

maddieaflamecover300In last week’s post about Lana Fox’s upcoming new series, Maddie, Aflame!, I looked at the roles queer marginalization, community and found families play in Maddie’s world. This week, I’d like to springboard off that topic and talk about gender stereotypes and sexual fluidity, and how they play out in Maddie, Aflame! Hell, while we’re at it, let’s talk about fluidity in relationships too.

One of the most interesting things about Maddie, Aflame! is that the tension between rigid conformity and humanistic fluidity is one of the plot’s main drivers. The antagonists go to great lengths, including kidnapping, murder, and torture, to impose a rigidly traditional social structure on the populace. And yet, beneath that structure, individual people reject conformity in favor of boundless self-acceptance and love. It’s that sense fluidity (in gender and emotional / sexual relationships) that ultimately helps our heroes counter the rigid traditions that threaten them.

It’s a bit tricky to talk about without spoilers, so forgive me for being a little circumspect as regards plot. What I will say is that, while the governing body responsible for the kidnapping and oppression of queer citizens tightens it’s net over the course of the book, Maddie and her friends and lovers slowly discover freedom in their conscious lack of conformity.

When we meet her, Aud, a spiritually minded young woman whose sexual identity defies labeling, is in a loving relationship with her boyfriend, a trans guy named Raj. With these beautifully drawn, deeply humanized, stereotype-defying characters, even the expectation of a traditional relationship is undermined when it’s revealed that they’re non-monogamous. And, while this is new for Maddie, they are so accepting and positive that she finds herself falling for them both.

Their relationship, as well as Maddie’s (absolutely fucking lovely) relationship with Pike, another member of their group, opens her eyes to new ways of engaging partners both sexually and emotionally. In Raj and Aud, she finds two people engaged in a healthy non-traditional relationship, while the fact of their queerness poses a real, imminent threat to their safety. And yet, Lana handles their relationships and identities with such grace that their fluidity acts as a counterpoint to the negativity that surrounds them. These are people who defy the stereotypes attached to the queer label by replacing it with love and openness.

This is an important thing. Maddie Aflame! is a damn sexy series, but it’s also a story that I would hand to anyone, including older teens. It depicts LGBTQ characters and alternative relationships in such a warm, accepting way, that it gently, but effectively, makes the point that labels are tools, not identities. Far more important than a label, is the freedom to be who you are and love whoever you love without falling victim to the fear of gender or social conformity.

The fact that Maddie is attracted to Aud and Raj, doesn’t make her attraction to Pike, a cis male, any less plausible. In fact, her relationship to each of them can best be described as “human” in the very best of ways, defying the constraints of gender, sexuality and even the corporeal body.

We hold onto labels to define ourselves, and labels are incredibly useful. But the defiance of concrete labels through sexual and emotional fluidity is a healthy thing, just as healthy as its traditional converse. The themes of identity, defiance and conformity show up in various genres and in various forms, but I’ve never seen them approached through the lens of gender and sexuality with such openness and frank compassion. It’s both supportive and subversive, and that makes it something special.

We need more portrayals of non-traditional relationships in fiction. We need more characters that aren’t defined by easy-to-digest sexual labels. We need variety in story telling that better reflects humanity in all its various forms. In short, we need more advocacy and education and, though not the point of erotica or sexual literature, the fact that it is such a meaty part of Maddie, Aflame! makes me respect both the story, and its author, all the more.

Next week, I’ll be tackling one of my favorite topics in any genre – world building. Stay tuned….

Update:

Maddie Aflame! Book One: The Swallowing Mansion is now available!

Go Deeper Press

Amazon

Amazon, UK

On Queer Marginalization: Lana Fox & Maddie Aflame!

Disclosure:

I’m in the privileged position of not having to promote a project unless I truly believe in it, so when I do promote a novel or series, it’s because I’d be shoving it into people’s hands if I was still worked in a library or bookstore.

Over the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to read large, addictive chunks of Maddie Aflame!, Lana Fox‘s (a-maze-ing) new work for Go Deeper Press, so I can say with total honesty that I’m a fan. While you may not get Vulcan-level objectivity from me, you can bet that everything I say comes from a place of genuine excitement and admiration.

 

maddieaflamecover300This post is the first in a short series on Lana Fox’s new series, Maddie Aflame! The first book comes out in October, so in the weeks leading up to its release, I’m going to look at some of the ideas and themes Ms. Fox explores in this genre-bending story of a young woman with a dangerous gift.

In an attempt to avoid spoilers, I’m just going to toss some high points at you:

  1. Gorgeously complicated, sexy as fuck characters that break gender stereotypes, sexual stereotypes and all of your grandma’s ideas about what a loving, stable relationship looks like.
  2. A massively oppressive society that values sexual homogeneity more than the safety of its citizens.
  3. Lots of sexy times (in lots of sexy ways).
  4. A mansion that swallows people. No joke.

All of that was enough to pique my interest (especially the mansion. It’s rad), but there’s a lot more to it than sex and hungry houses.

In Maddie Aflame! Lana Fox created a story that draws from the political and cultural realities permeating LBGTQ lives (as well as the cis / straight lives of the people who love and support the LGBTQ community) today. While the story is a sexy, fast-paced adventure through a dystopic, alternate world, the themes that underpin the series reflect serious issues like sexual fluidity, “otherness”, and the struggle to find strength in what the world considers a weakness.

What I especially love about Maddie Aflame!, is that it features something that’s been largely lacking in erotic literature—queer-centered, empowering, inclusive portrayals of characters in their late teens and early twenties. Young adulthood is a challenge, even more so for people who may not conform to societal norms. The fact that Lana Fox tackles those issues here, and did it without sacrificing the book’s compulsive readable-ness is, quite frankly, fucking impressive.

Like I said, I’m a fan.

So, now that you have a spoiler-free sense of the series, I’d like to tackle one of its central themes—queer marginalization and the sense of community that emerges from oppression.

When we meet Maddie, she is fairly alone in a hostile world. She suffers from a dangerous medical condition, her mother’s passed away and her father is gay in a rampantly homophobic society. In this series, LGBTQ people experience everything from institutional and legislative marginalization to violence in the streets. And then they start disappearing.

But inside this social pressure cooker thrive small pockets of community—found families that span every aspect of the LGBTQ spectrum. When Maddie goes on a date with Aud, a girl she’s in a class with, she stumbles into one of these found families and enters into a romantic relationship with Aud and her partner, Raj, that is one of the most supportive and inclusive I’ve ever seen in erotica.

And that’s when everything starts to happen, and Maddie takes her first steps towards freeing both herself from the oppression of her condition, and her society from homophobic repression.

So, here’s what I love about this set-up. The world Maddie lives in is practically defined by queer marginalization. In fact, the overall threat in the series is the eradication and assimilation of LGBTQ citizens. But just as in real life, the marginalized group responds in a beautiful way. Just as with the Stonewall Riots and the early days of AIDS, community becomes a coping strategy and as a strength.

 Marginalization has another effect as well. While oppression is (obviously) meant to weaken a group, small acts of defiance signal a strength that allows emotional and sexual bonds to form—bonds like Maddie’s with her found family of lovers and friends. The fluidity of her relationships with Aud, Raj and their friend, Pike, give Maddie a safe place from which to embark on a rescue mission (see, the people-swallowing house) and explore her body’s ability to generate fire, a condition she’s always seen as a disease.

In a world where magic swallows deviants whole, Lana Fox created the ultimate response—a loving group of people who are committed to each other’s well-being and safety. As in real life, those bonds celebrate the strength inherent to the marginalized community, while underscoring how important it is to take part in and support it.

Next week, I’ll be looking at sexual fluidity and how it informs people and relationships in Maddie Aflame!

Update:

Maddie Aflame! Book One: The Swallowing Mansion is now available!

Go Deeper Press

Amazon

Amazon, UK

New Release: Dollymop

51vle-LgzDLI’m going to be upfront here. Even under the best of circumstances, I’m terrible at promotion. It’s ridiculous – sort of like the professional equivalent of my epic inability to accept a compliment. The problem with that is that when I can’t accept a compliment it’s just awkward for me and the lovely person saying nice things. When I fail on the promotion front, it often means that other writers and their very good work go unacknowledged, and that’s not right. Hence this post.

Nearly three years ago, I submitted a story to Rachel Kramer Bussel for an as-of-yet unnamed anthology themed around female fantasies. I remember rifling through a lot of ideas at the time but what I finally wrote surprised me.

“Dollymop” is about a woman who doesn’t fantasize about fun stuff like threesomes or public sex. She fantasizes about loving herself. Or rather, she fantasizes about loving her bony, too-thin body. She gets fitted for a corset unable to imagine how it could work with her tiny breasts and narrow hips. But it does work. It works beautifully. And the experience changes her relationship with her body in a tactile, sexual way.

“Dollymop” is one of the first erotic stories that I wrote from an openly personal perspective. While it is entirely fictional, the protagonist’s struggle with her body image is one that I’ve had for years. And her experience with corsets mirrors how pivotal they were in my own sexual awakening.

There aren’t many editors who would choose to put a story like “Dollymop” into an erotica anthology, which is why I’m grateful to Rachel Kramer Bussel for including it in Begging for It, recently out with Cleis Press. As with all of her anthologies, the stories run from sweet and reflective to joyfully filthy and everything in between. But what they all have in common is a respect for what women, as individuals, want, and that’s something I am incredibly proud to promote.

Excerpt: from “Dollymop”

“So,” Cat said, as they meandered around the showroom. “If you could be anything, what would it be?”

“Beautiful,” Faye blurted out, before covering her mouth with her hands. Cat stopped walking and looked up at her. Even in her platform boots, Cat was half-a-head shorter than Faye.

“You know you are, right?”

Faye shook her head, mortified.

“No…that’s not what I mean.”

Cat looked at her, waiting, giving her space. If this was part of how she sold corsets, Faye thought, she was very good at her job.

“I mean, that I want to feel beautiful. I want to feel sexy. Like…like a woman, I mean. I’m not…look at me. I’ve got no curves.”

To her utter humiliation, Faye felt like she was going to cry. Cat pulled a little square of silk out of her pocket and handed it to her.

“You know, honey, a corset isn’t going to do that.”

Faye’s heart shrank. Seeing the look on her face, Cat went firmly on.

“Let me start again. What I mean is, a corset can give you curves—hell, it can do things to your body that will make you fall in love—but it can’t make you feel beautiful. You’ve got to do that yourself. Right?”

Faye nodded. “Right. I know.”

“But,” Cat went on with a cheeky grin, “I’ve got something that will goddamn help you get there. The Dollymop.”

“The Dollymop?”

“The Dollymop. C’mon. Take a look.”

Buy the Book!

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, you can find Begging for It HERE.

 

Call for a Good Cause

I don’t generally share submission calls but I’m making an exception in this case. Delilah Night is putting together a charity anthology for Coming Together to benefit Project Linus, an organization that provides homemade blankets and hats for children in crisis. The anthology is called Under the Mistletoe and it will release this December, just in time for the holidays.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m donating a story to Under the Mistletoe and I’m doing it for two reasons – Delilah Night is putting it together so you know it’s going to be good. More importantly, I think it’s important to give something back, and if helping an organization that provides for kids in crisis isn’t a good thing, I don’t know what is.

So, if you’ve got a winter-themed, hot little something-or-other rattling around in your brain, now’s the time to pull it out. Winter is sexy, the editor is fabulous and the cause is incredibly good. Pop on over to Ms. Night’s site and check out the official call and guidelines. You’ve got til September 1st to get your story in, so get crackin’, baby. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. (Yep. Totally had to do that ☺).

Guest Post: Delilah Night is Capturing the Moment (And there’s a Contest!)

I don’t tend to do a whole lot of promotion, mostly because I decided a while ago that I wanted to focus on authors and projects that I’ve read and honestly love. In the case of Delilah Night and her new release, Capturing the Moment, I can happily say that both apply. 

This may sound a bit over the top, but Capturing the Moment, is a big, delightful delight. Delilah hit the perfect balance between sex and romance, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t finish it feeling glowy, happy feelings. I definitely recommend it (and the everything else Delilah has written). But before I take over what should, by rights, be a guest post, I’m going to stop there, and let you hear from Delilah herself. 

Take it away, Ms. Night!

Blurring the lines between fiction and reality—RJ edition

I’m so excited to be on your blog today, Malin! I am a tremendous fan of your lyrical, beautiful prose. I’ve gotten to know Malin in the blogosphere and Twitterverse, and she is a delightful friend. I hope all of you will enjoy my post, and stick around for the contest!

For my guest posts this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about how much of myself and my husband can be found in the characters of Meg and RJ. I wrote about Meg and I for F. Leonora’s blog this past Tuesday, and today I’ll be discussing the similarities (or lack thereof) between RJ and my husband.

RJ (Oh, la la!)

RJ (Oh, la la!)

Ways in which RJ and my husband are similar.

  1. The most obvious is that they are Indian American men in a relationship with a white woman. I’ve written before that I write interracial romance in part because I want to couples like my own connecting emotionally and sexually on the page.
  2. They both have curly hair. When my husband’s hair is freshly washed and he hasn’t messed it up over the course of his day, it curls into these perfect ringlets I’m a little heartbroken neither of our daughters inherited.
  3. The snark. RJ and Meg banter in part because of the way my husband and I do. We use tv/movie quotes on each other frequently. My husband even snuck a quote from Babylon 5 (nerd pride!) into his wedding vows.

Ways in which RJ and my husband are nothing alike.

  1. Look, I love the man, but he is *not* as smooth as RJ.
  2. My husband would not enjoy a trip to Cambodia. He’d spend the trip complaining about the lack of decent cell service. Which is why I left him in charge of our offspring and went by myself.
  3. He has less of a connection to his heritage then RJ. My husband does not speak Hindi, like Indian food, or watch Bollywood movies. Going to an Indian restaurant with me is reserved for things like my birthday. The scene below would never happen in real life (although the restaurant is real and the food is awesome).
Curry Walla (yummers)

Curry Walla (yummers)

A Tase of Capturing the Moment.

“Curry Walla? You found Indian food?” She licked her lips. The man knew her weaknesses.

“I found excellent Indian food. The chapattis are better than my mom’s, but if you ever say that, I’ll call you a liar. Do you want to eat there?”

“We’ll do Khmer for dinner?” That way she could feel guilt-free about not eating the local cuisine for lunch.

“Of course. Come on.”

The man behind the counter looked up and greeted RJ in Punjabi. RJ answered, dropping into English to introduce Meg. “Meg, this is Saroj. Saroj, this is Meg.”

“Nice to meet you. You’re far too beautiful for this one. Run away with me instead.” Saroj winked at her.

“If the food is all Arjun says it is, I may have to take you up on that, Uncle.”

The proprietor laughed heartily, indicating they should sit. He passed them menus and spicy papadam to snack on while they decided what to order. After teasing RJ in Punjabi a bit more, Saroj left. He returned with their beverages, took their food order and departed for the kitchen.

“Leave it to you to find the best Indian food in a city,” Meg said.

“Yup,” RJ replied happily as he drank from his mango lassi. He lowered his voice. “Besides, if you’re planning to continue jumping me all day, I need a substantial meal to replenish my energy.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, how awful for you to be at the mercy of my lustful intentions.”

“I do my best with the burdens that have been thrust upon me, babe.”

RJ was right—the food was excellent. Meg caught sight of the owner grinning broadly at them when RJ fed her a bite of his beef jalfrezi, and she blushed.

“Saroj thinks I’m your girlfriend,” she told RJ.

“Wife,” RJ corrected her. “I told him I should be so lucky.”

Meg froze. She had been planning their wedding right up until she’d decided to end the relationship.

Capturing the Moment Cover

You never forget your first love…

Meg and RJ were passionately in love. But that was six years and a broken engagement ago.

Meg has only one day in Siem Reap, Cambodia, before she must leave for her sister’s wedding in Bali. She fulfills her dream of taking a photograph of the sun rising behind Angkor Wat, one of the oldest temples in the world. But her joy is short-lived when she turns around to see RJ standing behind her.

RJ threw himself into work after Meg ended their relationship. He’s built a successful business, but it’s a hollow victory. He’s come to Siem Reap to win back the woman he’s never stopped loving. But first he has to convince her to spend the day with him.

Meg is as physically attracted to RJ as she ever was. Maybe the secret to finally getting over him is a one day only, no strings attached fling.

Can RJ win Meg back, or will she love him and leave him?

 Capturing the Moment is on sale everywhere!

Bio

After 30 years of snowy New England winters, Delilah Night moved to steamy Southeast Asia. While she doesn’t miss shoveling snow, she does miss shopping for bargains at Target.

In 2014, Delilah visited Cambodia for the first time and fell in love with Siem Reap. Many of her misadventures from that vacation (including the one with the monkey) made their way into this story.

Connect with Delilah on her blog,) Twitter, or Facebook

Contest—Win a free copy of Capturing the Moment!

Which fictional character is your fictional crush? Leave a comment, and I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Review: Cautionary Tales

Cautionary Tales: Voices from the EdgesCautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a massive fan of fairy tales and folklore, I knew I was going to enjoy Cautionary Tales. Emmanuelle de Maupassant has a talent for replicating the style and voice of traditional fables while applying them to stories that are entirely new. The thing that I loved most about this collection was that, while all of the stories are original to the author, they carried the familiar weight of existing traditions. These are not the Disney-fied narratives of the early 20th century. de Maupassant’s tales draw from Eastern European legends while her voice and narrative style evoke everything that is dark and wonderful about the original Grimms’. As a result, I kept getting the uncanny feeling that I should know the stories in the collection, even though they twisted and bit and surprised me again and again.

All of the stories are excellent, but one stood out among all the rest for me – Against Faithlessness. de Maupassant strikes the pitch perfect balance between rapacious sexuality and moral justice by using one to feed the other. It’s a fantastically imagined story, one that draws from the dark, nasty traditions of justice, edification, and simmering sexuality common to folkloric traditions. I also appreciated that, in addition to the tales themselves, de Maupassant provides additional materials such as a glossary and a beautifully informative introduction. While the collection can certainly be enjoyed without delving into them, these extras provide a wonderful context for the curious reader.

As with her novella, The Gentleman’s Club, Emmanuelle de Maupassant has done something unique with Cautionary Tales. She’s taken a literary tradition and transcribed it for the sexual landscape of the present day. No one does this as well as she does, and I look forward to reading much more of her work.

Buy Cautionary Tales

Superotica Advent Calendar: Day 22

Medieval woman in ermine

Art by Percy Anderson

By now, it’s no secret that I love Christmas. For an agnostic/atheist, (I go either/or because neither label feels quite right), I start to feel festive in the middle of November and keep gearing up right up to the 25th. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy what has become an annual tradition in the erotica / sex blogging community – Tamsin Flowers’s Superotica Advent Calendar.

It’s a little different every year, and 2015 is no exception. This year she invited a handful of writers to contribute, and then opened up the rest of the calendar to submissions. The result has been pretty fantastic – a month full of work by established pros and promising newcomers covering everything from romance to filthy, hot fucks and achy D/s.

My contribution is a story I’ve had rattling around in my head since last Christmas when Rose Caraway asked me to contribute a story for her XXXmas edition of the KMQ podcast. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is my favorite medieval narrative – one that I’ve always thought would lend itself really well to an erotic adaptation – but it wouldn’t come together last year, so I wrote this instead, a slightly silly, but kind of endearing (I hope) retelling of A Christmas Carol.

Fast forward to this November when Tamsin asked me if I wanted to contribute to the calendar. I immediately thought of the Gawain story, but what had begun as a light, tongue-in-cheek bit of porn called “The Green Knight” had become, over the 12 months I’d let it sit, something a little more serious, with a little more bite. “The Green Lady” was no longer about a sexy, morally embattled knight, but, rather, the woman sent to tempt him. Click HERE or on the image above to read it. I hope you enjoy. And if you’ve missed the rest of the calendar, definitely check it out – there’s some amazing, and really hot, work in there.

Lastly, but certainly not least, if you have been enjoying the Superotica Advent Calendar, please consider donating to a homeless shelter or charity. Tamsin has provided links to two in the UK and one in the US –  Crisis, The Albert Kennedy Trust and the Coalition for the Homeless.

Or, if you have your own favorite charity, please consider donating there. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for many of us, but there are still a lot of people for whom circumstance hasn’t been so kind….

And finally, I want to wish everyone a peaceful, merry Christmas. May the holidays bring you comfort, joy and lots of sexy, good things.

xx.M