Masochist Mine – Review of Sweetwater by Lisa Henry

cover50235-mediumSweetwater by Lisa Henry

Thanks to NetGalley and Riptide for the review copy. Sweetwater comes out on Sept. 29, 2014.

From the author of the 5-star rated Bliss comes a tale of love and loss in the American West. Set in Wyoming Territory in 1870, this book stars main character Elijah Carter, a partially deaf young man who’s only just coming into his twin passion for penis and pain when he meets cattle rustler Grady Mullins, and his entire world starts slipping away.

The tragedy, murky loyalties, and general goings on of Sweetwater mix with the ignorance and the everyday heroism of it’s citizens in a rich tapestry that winds its way throughout the book. Antagonist Harlan Crane, a saloon owning sadist with a tight grip on the local economy and a penchant for young men who like to be tied down isn’t really the true villain anymore than Elija’s perpetually drunk and verbally abusive boss is the villain. The real fight in Sweetwater is mans own struggle with himself.

When tragedy sweeps through Elijah’s life, he is faced with a choice: Remain (at least outwardly) the good, simple boy he’d been brought up to be, or give himself over Harlan’s ties, his belt, and the pleasure in the pain. As in most situations where only two choices seem evident, there’s also door number three, the mystery door. Does a self identified sinner like Elijah deserve to be happy? Can a criminal like Grady really go straight, so to speak? What matters more: love or vengeance?

Like Bliss, this book is well written and like Bliss, it takes chances, which I love it for. On a technical aspect, Sweetwater actually feels better written than Henry’s earlier work, and I love it for that too. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering my feelings on the creative mind behind these books, but I’m so glad to see an improvement in writing from book to book. Unlike the average ebook erotica writer, who gets as good as they get and then stays there, turning out the same level of work every time, I can see the development of a true craft in process. It’s actually inspiring.

The fact that Elijah’s masochism doesn’t magically disappear with the right lover also endeared the story to me. I’ve been reading a few books where it seems like the main characters sexual tastes change when they meet “the one.” Lately for the vanilla main character to discover their kinky side when they finally meet their soul mate. A guy goes from feeling weird about anything short of a peck on the lips if it’s not under the covers in an entirely dark bedroom to straight up public mouth-fucking his dude in the back of a book store (or something), and that somehow proves that they’re made for each other. Of course, this may well be a backlash against books that had hot, kinky sex in front to titillate, but switched to deep kisses and longing gazes in the moonlight for the true love bits.

Either way I like the strong kink-positive vibe I’m getting. There is such a thing as loving masochistic sex, and you are worthy of that careful attention, my friend. This is a very affirming book.

5 out of 5 stars, of course.

Play The Mouth Music

I forgot to write a blog. Below is every synonym for cunnilingus in the Sex Lexis, a dictionary of sexual terms.

clitorilingus, cunnilinctio, cunnilinction, cunnilincto, cunnilinctus, cunnilingtie, cunnilinguate, cunnilingue, lambitus, orolabial-stimulation, SLANGONYMS, AND EUPHEMISMS, barking-at-the-ape, bikini-burger, bird-washing, bite-the-dog-end, blow (job), blow-some-tunes, boating, box-lunch, box-lunch-at-the-Y, brush-one’s-teeth, brush-teeth, bush-dinner, canyon-yodeling, carpet-munching, chew (it), chew-the-she-fat, chow-box, clam-dive, clam-diving, clam-lapping, Connie-Lingus, cunning-linguistics, cunt-lap, cunt-lapping, cunt-sucking, cuntino-filet-with-white-sauce, dine at the Y, dining at the YMCA, dinner-beneath-the-bridge, dipping-the-brush, dive (in the bushes), dive-a-muff, dive-in-the-canyon, dive-into-it, do-it-the-French-way, don-the-beard, donning-the-beard, doormat-bashing, drinking-at-the-fuzzy-cup, drinking-from-the-furry-cup, eat-beaver, eat-fur-pie, eat-hair-pie, eat-muff-pie, eat-a-tuna-sandwich, eat-a-tuna-taco, eat-out, eat-seafood, eat-pussy, eat-squirrel, eat, eat(ing) at the Y, eating-a-kipper-pie, face-fucking, face-job, face-the-nation, fall in love, fanny-noshing, feathery flick, fifty-nine, fifty-nining, fish-dinner, French arts, French culture, French-job, French-kiss, French-lessons, French-love, French-sex, French-tricks, French-way, French-head-job, Frenching, fur burger (furburger), fur-pie, fuzz-sandwich, fuzzburger, gam, gamahuche, get-down, get-head, give-a-blow-job, give-a-face-job, give-a-length-of-tongue, give-face, give-good-head, give-head, give-skull, go-boating, go-for-sushi, go down on, go-down-and-do-tricks, go-south, go-under-the-house, go-way-down-South-in-Dixie, gorilla-burger, gorilla-in-the-washing-machine, growl-at-the-badger, growl-at-the-biter, growlbite, hair(y) pie, hairburger, hat-job, have-a-box-lunch, have-a-mustache, have-a-tuna-sandwich, have-box-lunch, head (job), husband’s-supper, kiss-it-(down), kiss-somebody’s-down, kneel-at-the-altar, labial-titillation, lap-cunt, lap-it, larking, larro, lay-the-lip, lick, lick-a-chick, lick-a-clit, lick-the-slit, lick-twat, lickety-split (licketysplit), licking-anchovy, licking-the-beaver, lingual-stimulation, lingual-titillation, lip-reading, lip-service, lip-work, lunch-at-the-Y, make-mouth-music, moustache-ride, mouth-job, mouthlove, mouth-music, muff, muff-barking, muff-dive, muff-diving, muff-pie, muff-munching, muffet, mumbling-in-the-moss, munch, munch-the-bearded-clam, ocean-pinking, one-man-band, oral-job, parting-the-fuzz, picnic, picnic-on-it, picnic-up-on-it, playing-in-the-sandbox, pug-noshing, punch-in-the-mouth, pussy-nibbling, red-wings, sack-lunch, scalp, sea-food-dinner, shrimping, sip-at-the-fuzzy-cup, play mouth music, sit on a face, skin-dive, skin-diving, smoking-the-fur, sneeze-in-the-basket, sneeze-in-the-cabbage, sneeze-in-the-canyon, speak-Low-genitalese, speak-in-tongues, talking-to-the-canoe-driver, talking-to-the-boat-people, telephone-the-stomach, tip-the-velvet, swing-low, tongue, tongue-bath, tongue-fuck, tongue fucking, tongue-job, tongue-sushi, tongue-wash, tonguing, trim, trimming-the-hedges, tuna-taco, velvet-buzz-saw, wearing the beard, whistle-in-the-dark, whistling-in-the-dark, whistling-in-the-weeds, worship-at-the-altar, yodel, yodeling-in-the-gully, yodeling-in-the-canyon-(of-love), yodeling-up-the-valley,

You thought this was going to be about butts, didn’t you? I’m more than just a one sex act pony, you know.

I’d Rather Be Reading

I have this problem where I don’t consider how minor changes might affect my performance. For example, it was 90 fucking degrees in Portland today, so the idea that I couldn’t just chug my way up the crazy fuck-off hill at the end of my dog walk like I usually do never occurred to me. And now my head hurts so bad I kind of want to stab myself because I’m at least 30% sure a stab wound would hurt less.

Here’s a drawing. It’s all I can do.

2014_07_04_lazy_day

I wish it was cool enough to snuggle on the couch with a blanket and read. I used to never understand that shit when I lived in LA. Like, what the fuck are blankets even for? You don’t know. They’re amazing. On a cold, rainy day with a blanket on my lap I am finally, for the first time in my life, a comfortable body temperature.

Twink Back the Night – Review of “Home the Hard Way” by Z.A. Maxfield

cover50620-mediumHome the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

I have to admit that I wasn’t that interested in Home the Hard Way when I first saw it on the NetGalley shelves. Disgraced cop returns home to his twinkey childhood best friend and attempts to solve an old mystery sounded like pretty standard fare.

How these things usually go is this: the twink feels hurt after being abandoned by his straight crush, and the not-so-straight crush has to man up and admit their soul-mate level bond after one or more amazing blow jobs from his slightly embarrassingly femmey “bro.” At which point, closet case straight cop turns into a gay rights activist, but never has to deal with any real danger or adversity and life goes on as normal because people are just so damn happy about love.

Home the Hard Way definitely puts the old convention, if not on it’s ear than at least on it’s knees. When Dare Buckley comes back to his minuscule hometown in the Pacific Northwest, he expects some degree of animosity, both for the scandal that sent him running home, and for the apple carts he plans to upset in the 15 year old mystery of his dad’s uncharacteristic suicide. But what he doesn’t expect is his former best friend Finn Fowler. Finn was the little brother Dare had always wanted, someone to protect, someone to look up to him and boost his confidence with hero worship. But something’s changed… for both of them.

Diminutive and openly gay, Finn is used to keeping secrets and taking care of himself. So by the time his boyhood crush comes back to town, he’s quick with the brush off for a man who couldn’t possibly reconcile the starry-eyed kid he was with the confident, leather dom he’s become. He takes no time to figure out that Dare wants him, even that Dare craves discipline, but the idea that they could have more than secret sessions in the dark both terrifies and excites him. It’s untested waters for them both, and when Finn becomes involved in a murder investigation, it looks like Dare’s poor decision making has come back to bite him in the ass. Or can he really trust this man he loves, but doesn’t know?

I fucking loved this book. The idea that the little gay kid would be holding all the cards while the masc. cop who left him behind would be the needy wreck was entirely novel for me. The leather component took me completely by surprise, and was incredibly hot. Character development is top notch. There’s no good guys or bad guys in Home the Hard Way. There’s no cut and dry answers, either. Just people trying to find their way in a sometimes cruel and uncaring, but also sometimes genuinely beautiful, generous world. The alliances and secrets that hold us together, keep us apart, and make up our lives are a character in and of themselves.

The slow burn tension and suspense had me compulsively skipping to the bottom of the screen. The murder mystery and the romance vie for attention, which is just how I like the levels in my romance/mystery combos.

If I had one complaint, it would be that it seems like Riptide (of course this beautiful piece is a Riptide release) has no intention of publishing this on the Kindle store. It’s paperback or nothing on Amazon at $17.99 for regular users, and $15.99 for Prime users. If you want a kindle format, it is available on the Riptide site for $7.99, and well worth the price.

I just ran a test of their shopping cart process, and while nothing is as easy as the Kindle interface, Riptide doesn’t make it much harder than it has to be. As long as you know your Kindle address, and you’ve submitted the riptide address as an approved email on your kindle account, you can send the title to your Kindle by clicking a button next to the book in your “My Account” section, then entering your Kindle address into the field provided. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to save the Kindle address, or make sure that future epub purchases go there automatically. That would be on my wishlist if they want to continue to keep epub off the Amazon marketplace.

5 out of 5 stars

Ghosts of Our Past – Review of “Second Helpings” by Charlie Cochrane

cover48960-mediumSecond Helpings by Charlie Cochrane

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Stuart is still recovering from the death of his partner, Mark while Paul is struggling with the long distance relationship equivalent of lesbian bed death: cell communication blackout. When Stu’s dad and Paul’s mom become an item, Paul suggests they meet in order to suss out the character of his possible new step brother, he ends up sussing more than he bargained for. Is Stuart really ready to be over Mark? Does four weeks of no texts from Ben really qualify as a break-up? These are the kind of important live questions that are asked and then answered in Second Helpings.

I ended up calling the two main characters in this book Not Ben and Not Mark. As far as I could tell, every conversation they had was about their exes. When they first meet in the pub to sniff each other’s butts, it ends in a big growley huff. They seem to bicker at the drop of the hat. I got the impression that the writer was wondering how two men in such different places in life would possibly get along, and in the end it seemed like she didn’t really know. So the characters, being thrown together without an essential spark, turned to bickering to fill the void.

I did like all the Britishisms. For some reason everything seems more clever when written with an English accent. I also liked the setting and the premise. I wish that there had been more character development.

This being a romance more than an erotic story, the steamy bits, as the Brits would say, were more tepid than I usually go in for, but it was sweet in the end.

At $3.99 it’s not bad if you’re looking for something to knock out before you go to sleep, but I can’t recommend it over other similarly priced books. For example, the works of A.M. Arthur would be a better bet.

3 stars out of 5

Wasted Again

Today I got fired from the job I didn’t want. As far as I can tell, it’s because I said fuck and someone more important than me heard it and got upset.

All I really know is that I got a good review, everybody seemed pleased, nobody said anything, and then on my way home the man from the staffing company called and said they felt I want professional enough.

Tell me something I don’t know.

It’s hard to feel bad about it. Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad, but not about the job. I feel bad about myself.

I did the same thing I did more than a year ago with my last corporate job. Not the cussing. I did that too, but at least there it was only one in a long line of reasons I wasn’t their kind of girl. Here too, I suspect. I have this habit of deciding how something is going to be (successful, awesome) and then I will contort myself to make that true no matter what other facts present themselves. It’s a good habit when the deck’s stacked against you and you’re just trying to survive. It’s a terrible habit when you’re dealing with everyday life issues.

For example, I know I’m good at recruiting and pitching for myself. I also know that I actually enjoy pitching for myself. So, I take a gig doing it for someone else because why the hell not, I like doing this, right? And I have some doubts about their process, and their angle is the opposite of mine, but I tell myself that it’ll be good to learn some range. Like a lot of things I try, it turns out I have some skill, so at least I look normal, but something’s grating on me on the inside. My principals and their principals are not lining up, but they’re close enough I think I can fudge it. So I try, but it’s obvious I’m not fitting in. And instead of accepting that, and then either keeping my head down, doing my time and going home, I push harder to be good, to get it right, and that never ever works.

I can push myself to overcome a lot. Poverty, ignorance, even physical and emotional boundaries have fallen to this idea that I can do anything if I only work hard enough. But the one place this is never effective is with myself. By which I mean my core self. I used to think that one day I’d grow up and stop being this loud, naive thing. But that’s not really how it works

I only ever seem to become more myself, whatever I do. And honestly, I’m at a point where I’m just glad that the trend seems to be towards the positive end of my character traits rather than the negative.

Because this same inability to admit defeat, to the point of a full on rejection of any and all adversity can be a very good thing. It’s only when the unstoppable force of my will meets the immovable object of reality that we seem to have problems. As long as they’re parallel, we’re fine.

But the prospect of trying to fit in where I don’t fit, and the inability to calmly carry on when I can’t have what I want, or even what I think I should have turns me into an idiot. Or maybe a genius. It did get me fired from a job I didn’t like or want in the first place.

This is an excellent opportunity to feel very sorry for myself, and the fact that my dream of being universally loved and adored isn’t as on track as I want it to be. But that sounds kind of exhausting, and I have a lot of other stuff to do. Now that I lost this time consuming, underpaying, and altogether way too shitty contract, Ill be needing something to replace it. Which means that I’m about to up my own pitching to superhuman levels trying to get that work back.

If anything good came out of this, it’s that I am more committed to my own pitch than I’ve ever been, and I’m unafraid of giving a bad pitch, or even for being yelled at or treated rudely for it. This was good training and practice.

A Man, A Mech, A Mission – Review of Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

cover48039-mediumNoble Metals by L.A. Witt

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

This will be the third L.A. Witt book I’ve reviewed. The first was Capture & Surrender, the second was Static, both received fairly high ratings, and now that I’ve been doing this for awhile, I honestly think they should have gotten at least one more star each than what I gave them. Or half a star more, since I was still using a 10 star system at the time.

From what I can tell this is a Riptide re-release of a book published by Carnal Passions back in 2012. The galley came with the note that it had been “edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.” If I hadn’t read other L.A. Witt books, I would think this wasn’t that bad. I can see her trademark care-taking of her characters very clearly here. But in this book it seems to translate into a strained, politically incorrect paternalism.

Robert Belton is a whore who would be a gold miner. Stuck in a muddy steampunk Seattle, he’s too delicate for the men who don’t want him, and too wary of the men who do want him to accompany them on their voyage to the frozen, gold-laden North. Everything changes when he meets and befriends Dr. John Fauth. Hot on the verge of the next great scientific breakthrough, Dr. Fauth has little funding and a similar distrust of the rough trade miners looking to hire on to a team.

It’s a match made in heaven, or at least it seems like it at first. While nothing in the character’s actions outright say that John looks down on his new lover’s former profession, the frequency with which it is brought up, particularly during sex, started to creep me out. Even though both men are shown to be more than capable, professional and intelligent, I got the impression that we’re meant to feel like Dr. Fauth has saved Robert from his unfortunate position. This even after Robert literally saves Dr. Fauth on at least one large occasion, and then again several other times.

The rest of the plot is good, and I think that some chances were taken by putting the characters in some serious peril. If the relationship wasn’t so squiggy, and in fact, even if the dialog between Robert and John didn’t seem to focus almost 100% on whoring, I think I’d be far more likely to be on board.

Even with the addition of the 10,000 words, this is still a pretty short book. For $4.99 on Kindle, I have to say that there are much better offerings from L.A. Witt alone. Pay two more dollars and get Static if you haven’t read it already.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Adorable Small City Boys in Love – Review of “Maybe This Time” by A.M. Arthur

cover47561-mediumMaybe This Time by A.M. Arthur

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

I was already nearly a chapter into Maybe This Time before I realized it was the sequel to No Such Thing, which I reviewed here. Former main characters Alessandro and Jaime make several small appearances throughout this second book, but they’re largely background noise to the main romance between bar tender Donner and rich kid Ezra.

Finally starting to recover from the loss of his boyfriend over two years before, Donner has just started to come back to life. He’s relaunched the activist charity that they had previously done together, and he’s met a new guy who seems like someone he could save rely on.

When it comes to recovery, Ezra seems to know the definition of the word, but he has no understanding of it. Still smarting eight years after some serious trauma, and living off the guilt payments his parents send him, he’s been joyfully unattached since his first serious boyfriend left him for someone “less complicated.” He drinks, he fucks, and he has a big screen TV. Basically, his life is perfect until Donner shows up to throw a wrench in the gears. The wrench of emotionally healthy monogamy.

The honest, clear communication skills I appreciated in No Such Thing are back in Maybe This Time, but I kind of get the feeling that someone close to the writer advised them to dial down the mystery and dial up the relationship drama (the exact opposite of what I’d have wanted) because there’s no real B plot here. Certainly not to the same extent as there was in the first book. So what we have is great communication, and a healthy reliance on internal turmoil to create drama, rather than the random yelling, mind-changing, manipulative bullshit character flaws so many lesser authors will use. But, we do have a few weird yelling and/or spastic emotional moments that result in Donner and Ezra not feeling as natural to me as Jaime and Ale did.

I can’t tell if A.M. is having a hard time writing about the somewhat broken protagonists because they themselves aren’t an abuse survivor, or if it’s because they are, and are afraid to really reach into that pain. Either way, the emotional process the characters went through feels a little like a puppet show. They hit a lot of the right marks, at the right times, but I had a hard time believing their emotional state. Unlike in No Such Thing, where the saccharine innocence of the characters was like the beating heart of their development.

That said, I still liked this book. I still want to know what happens to the rest of the series. I have a feeling I know who book three is about, and I am damn interested in the seeds that were planted. Hopefully by book three there will be some more development in terms of what trauma, recovery and relationship negotiation in the light of that might look like. But even if that doesn’t change at all, I’ll still be happy to read it.

At $3.03 for Prime members and $3.99 for regular Kindle users, this is a steal. There’s not much better at that price.

4 out of 5 stars

How to Talk to Cops So They (Probably) Won’t Kill You

Don’t yell at the cops, people. Don’t gesture at the cops. Don’t look cops in the eye. Cops are more scared of you than you are of them. Speak in low, clear tones. Conjugate all verbs and enunciate your words. Keep your hands as still as possible, and in clear view. Avoid tremors. Gently lower yourself to a face down position on the ground at their feet. Take slow, deep breaths. This is not the time for hyperventilation. If you must cry, do so as quietly as possible.

This comes up because, as they do, the police have murdered another unarmed man.

Just to let you know, I haven’t actually watched this whole thing. It was too disturbing for me. So if he jumps up and starts threatening that pile of officers somewhere between the part where he stutters “I can’t breath” and the part where his body goes limp, I take it all back.

Maybe if every person would just lay the fuck down when the cops come around, we’d have a lot less unnecessary death. And isn’t that what we all want? The chance to die in street violence that isn’t caused by the police? Or perhaps to live long enough to contract a cancer our insurance company won’t cover the treatment of? This is America. I have a right to suffer heart attacks that aren’t Taser induced.

White people: carry on. Unless, of course, you’re poor, disabled, or otherwise disenfranchised. In that case, you better get your white ass on the ground down here with me.