Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Erotic Romance Burns Up The Bookshelves

Now some readers of this blog may be familiar with the fact that I write erotica in my spare time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out via a royalty statement that I even sold some erotic poetry books recently! Woah! Time to buy that French villa!

The erotic romance biz rarely gets mainstream press. That’s why it was such a hoot to see romances featured in a recent Huffington Post article.

Although I put my erotica romance career on the back burner for awhile, I recently began reviving my old manuscripts-- I have seven of 'em on my hard drive at last count. In order to get the creative juices flowing, so to speak, I reacquainted myself with some of my favorite erotic romance authors. Here are reviews of two recent Aphrodisia releases.

Sexy Beasts VI

The sexy beasts in the latest version of this popular anthology are shape shifters—men (or women) who turn into a wild animal (fox, panther, wolf, zebra, etc.) when the time is right. That’s not to say they’re split in half, like a centaur. That means they’re a man one minute, a wolf attacking a bad guy the next--and the transformation is often described in spine tingling detail by the author.

Aphrodisia, the erotica/erotic romance imprint of Kensington Publishing, released the latest story collection in this highly popular series in April. Now let’s face it. There’s only so many variations you can describe involving two monogamous human beings regardless of your expertise as an erotica writer. That explains why fantasy/scifi/superhero/ shapeshifter/group BDSM stories have crowded the bookshelves and Kindles of erotica readers everywhere. Shapeshifter erotica tends to be the most creative and the most explicit sex scenes in modern erotica romance and that’s sating a lot.

In Sexy Beast VI—three skilled erotic romance authors, all experienced in paranormal, shapeshifter or fantasy stories, combine these elements with really hot sex scenes for a scintillating read.

In the first story, Kate Douglas’ Chanku Honor is set in San Francisco, where Jazzy Blue, a young hooker with a sad past, encounters a group of tattooed and pierced misfits. She’s saved from a vicious attack by a wolf that comes out of nowhere…and then the fun begins. Jazzy discovers she belongs to a group of Chanku wolves/shapesfiters. There’s the mysterious group leader Logan, the threesome of Mik, AJ and Tala, Beth, Nicky and loner Deacon. The sex in Chanku Honor is not only hot, but very detailed, with most scenes lasting for pages, not paragraphs. There’s a hot m/m/f threesome here that goes on for quite awhile with a feisty female Tala goading on the male participants.

Lydia Parks’ Animal Instinct pits detective Rachel McNeil with Russian detective Nikolai Volsky to solve a string of murders caused by.. a man, a beast, or a combination thereof? The search for the killer takes a lot of twists and turns. There’s lots of hot sex here, and it begins almost instantly, but it’s strictly male/female-or male/otherwordly female.

Anya Howard’s Wings of the Swan deviates a bit from the formula of the first two stories in that the Saxon chieftain Rulf is all man as he admires beautiful maiden Inga bathing underneath a waterfall. He claims her as his own in a sweet but sensuous moment of love. There’s still shapeshiftng—Inga is a sensual, swan-like creature, but the pace here is slower and more romantic. Never fear, the erotic scenes between Rulf and Inga are still exceedingly hot. But whenn the evil sorceress Estheria threatens their relationship and Rulf’s life, things get downright fiery in a very frightening way.

Submissive by Anya Howard

Submissive, a full length novel by Anya Howard, takes the concept of star-crossed lovers, Gillian and Bruce, who are a bit too shy to approach each other on earth and transports them to Nemi, where slaves live for the approval of their masters and experience eternal pleasure-unless they misbehave and are tethered to one of the punishing disciplinary devices used for teaching misbehaving disciples a lesson.

Waitress Gillian meets a strange Goth girl while in a cigarette break from her job at the diner, but the girl is no ordinary club kid and seduces Gillian into an enticing world of pleasure and pain. While some of initial scenes don’t make it clear that the characters are now in an alternate universe, the characterization and assortment of doms, subs and masters soon make it apparent that we have entered a sublime world of sex and submission.

Bruce also enters the same world as Gillian and deals with hungry doms Rose Gina before finally getting to his beloved Gillian. But the road to bliss on Nemi is paved with obstacles as the lovers must deal with interfering Dhjinns, doms and slaves on their on quest to fulfillment.

Howard’s prose, even in the explicit scenes is impeccable.It makes the characters come alive You get a sense of their struggles and their true love for each other.Submissive is a romance where you root for the hero and heroine to get together. Bruce and Gillian are totally believable characters with real emotions. Gillian is feisty but not in the exaggerated way of many romance heroines, Bruce may be a dominant but he’s not macho stud. Please note that the BDSM scenes are plentiful and more often than not, punctuated only briefly by completely G rated prose.

Aphrodisia Authors Blog

Anya Howard Blog



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Last Testament by Sam Bourne Book Review

Mediating divorces instead of world-threatening squabbles between countries, Maggie Costello misses her former career and lives in a holding pattern, stuck between a boring job and an unsatisfying relationship with a control freak boyfriend. Her stint with the U.S. government ended after she made a grievous mistake that cost lives.

But the government needs Maggie’s expertise on a new crisis, and when a U.S. agent seeks her help, she complies, much to her boyfriend’s chagrin. In Sam Bourne’s Middle Eastern thriller, The Last Testament, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, an ancient clay tablet looted by a boy from a museum in Baghdad, and all types of shady assassins, terrorists and would-be assassins combine to engage the reader on a fast-paced journey.

The coveted clay tablet holds a revelation destined to change the course of Middle Eastern relations forever. Archeologist Shimon Guttman is murdered just before he gives a letter to the Israeli prime minister about the tablet’s meaning. The incident damages the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Maggie returns to the world of international relations and detective work. Guttman’s death sends Maggie — and his son Uri — on a desperate quest to find the killer(s) and decipher the true meaning of the tablet’s ancient language. A lot of wrong turns down dark alleys, cars driving off cliffs, and cyber-intrigue follows; Maggie spends time guessing passwords and decoding Second Life characters to reveal the identity and plans of the perpetrators.

The Last Testament is a breezy beach read. I finished the 436-page book in one afternoon. Each cliffhanger and revelation makes you curious to discover the “who” and the “why,” and that keeps you turning pages.

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of British journalist Jonathan Freedland, who has reported on the Middle East for 20 years. His first-hand knowledge of the conflict certainly colors this book, as he humanizes its characters from an ill-fated Arab greengrocer to Uri, Maggie, and the perpetrators who chase them. There’s even an occasional mention of the everyday horrors and tortures of life in the war zone. A scene involving a car trailing Maggie is especially wrenching.

If you like topical, political thrillers, The Last Testament won’t disappoint. It’s tightly written, though only cursory info is given on main characters Maggie and Uri. Bourne’s first thriller, 2006’s The Righteous Men, had a more detailed narrative about Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah that some critics found preposterous. The Last Testament's storyline is easier to swallow, and its slicker prose style makes it Bourne's most accessible novel to date.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lee "Scratch" Perry-Chicken Scratch Deluxe Edition CD Review

Reggae and Jamaican dub pioneer Lee "Scratch" Perry is one of those larger-than-life musical figures who fascinates young, trendy types. Perry’s latest album was produced by Andrew WK, with appearances by Moby and porno star Sasha Grey, which certainly brings his work to the attention of twenty-somethings. Yet the eccentric 73-year-old vocalist, songwriter and producer has influenced a legion of reggae and ska artists. His prodigious output ranges from solo works to production credits for Bob Marley among others, as well as dozens of guest appearances on albums by other artists.

For Chicken Scratch [Deluxe Edition], Rounder/Heartbeat Records travels all the way back to Perry’s formative days as gopher and vocalist for Duke Reid at Federal and then for Clement Dodd at Kingston’s Studio One circa 1961. Perry then struck out on his own with “I Am the Upsetter,”, entering the commendable realm few musicians attain. And now after almost fifty years of producing and performing with other ska and reggae artists, Chicken Scratch [Deluxe Edition] gives us a listen to Perry’s first recordings.

The original Chicken Scratch, released in 1989, dusted off some of Perry's earliest recordings from Dodd’s Studio One & Reid’s Federal. This remastered edition includes bonus tracks and the album's fourteen original studio recordings. The term “Chicken Scratch” refers to the short-lived early '60s dance fad — no rival to "The Twist" — that prompted the titular track. The songs on this compilation, while far from Perry’s best work overall, still guarantee a good time.

This compilation exhibits the bare-bones start of a legend in the making. The production is sparse, the vocals aren't as forceful as the Black Ark efforts, but Perry’s trademarks are all here. There's the double entendres of “Roast Duck” and “Rape Bait,” a battle with the ever-nasty “Mother in Law’ before Ernie K-Doe got to her, and an early version of “Just Keep It Up”, written by Otis Blackwell. Also, serving up a contrast of content, "Madhead" brims with skanking buoyancy while “Cannot Wrong (And Get Right)” provides some moralizing and philosophizing. And “Feel Like Jumping” should make listeners feel as told.

Perry’s back-up singers, the Soulettes, comprised of Rita Marley, Marlene Gifford Constantine Walker, add charm to most of these fledgling recordings with the Wailers providing background vocals on “Hand to Hand” and pre-Upsetter musicians lending the ska beat.

Perry still wows in concert, having performed last year at CMJ and the year before at SXSW. If you get the chance to see him, definitely check him out. Between his outlandish outfits and multi-colored dreads, pro-ganja sentiments — not to mention a kick-ass backup band — he puts on a show that keep you smiling 'til the final note.