Sunday, July 29, 2012

More romance, who'd have thought?

And, my newly discovered interest in romance and erotic fiction continues in this post – this time looking at two upcoming gay romance/erotica titles.  Neither of which, it turns out, were at all what I expected (to be fair, I don’t know what I was expecting exactly), but both of which I enjoyed very much.

Vaughn, Piper & O'Shea, M. J.  "One Small Thing."  Dreamspinner Press, 2012.

First, “One Small Thing” by Piper Vaughn and M. J. O’Shea.  In this delightful romance, club boy and aspiring hair stylist Rue meets sci-fi writer and socially awkward hermit Erik under desperate circumstances – Rue urgently needs to find a sitter for Alice, the newborn daughter he has acquired through an ill-conceived one-night-stand with a female acquaintance.  Erik, in need of money to bolster his diminishing book royalties, agrees to be Alice’s daytime caregiver, and this unlikely arrangement soon leads to the formation of an unorthodox but wonderfully perfect family for this odd couple.  Vaughn and O’Shea craft delightful characters, who despite their perhaps stereotypical outlines, are nevertheless fleshed out into individuals who are more and deeper than they appear and about whom the reader cannot help caring and cheering for as they find their way toward happily ever after.  Even the supporting characters, like Rue’s flamboyant friend Dusty, are interesting and developed, giving the story some unexpected richness and depth though an surprising yet affecting subplot.  The novel does not shy away from the intimacies in Rue and Erik’s relationship, indeed the novel’s sex scenes are both sweet and titillating, but they are never gratuitous but instead seem to flow naturally as part of the relationship’s (and the story’s) evolution.  Sweet, hot, and almost ridiculously romantic in sports, “One Small Thing” is a deliciously fun read for anyone (male or female, gay or straight) looking for romance outside the normal paperback box.

Lane, Amy & Voinov, Aleksandr.  "Country Mouse."  RipTide Publishing, 2012.

The second story for this post is a novella, “Country Mouse” by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov.  Lane and Voinov use the novella form extremely well, giving the reader a perfect combination of story and sex to make this a fun and interesting escapist read.  The plot summary seems designed to draw the reader seeking erotic fantasy – young American in London for the first time meets a dangerous and masterful Brit seeking a night of masterful exploration, but Lane and Voinov take the story far beyond stereotype with characters who are more than they first appear.  Owen and Malcolm, and the reader, get far more than they expected in this brief yet compelling exploration of identity, relationships, and expectations.  Deliciously-detailed sexual encounters share page time with a brief tour of tourist London, and the city herself becomes a metaphor for this burgeoning relationship.  Can one weekend encounter really change your life?  Maybe, maybe not.  But one short novella can, if crafted by gifted storytellers, change your reading expectations for erotic fiction.

ARCs received through NetGalley.

Friday, July 20, 2012

More erotica, this time with history, fantasy, and sci-fi mixed in

So, my previous romance/erotica choices were interesting enough that I went looking for more in these genres.  I don’t know if “Fifty Shades of Grey” is responsible for what seems to be an upswing in erotic publishing or if there is just increased visibility of this kind of publishing, but I’m pleased to share my three latest discoveries.

Lord Atwood's Lovers
Clancy, Eva.  Lord Atwood's Lovers.  Harlequin, June 2012.

First, another ménage a trois novel, this one a historical romance called “Lord Atwood’s Lovers” by Eva Clancy.  Part of Harlequin line called Harlequin Spice Briefs, this delightful novel is a bit short on plot, but deliciously steamy and the novella format works well to offer a fun and tantalizing read.  Unlike most other threesome erotica I’ve read recently, this one does include an active sexual relationship with the male protagonists as well as with the female lead, which made it stand out from other titles.  The basic plot is simple – the newly married Lord Atwood and his new bride enjoy teasing society with her flirtatious public behavior only to enjoy unbridled sex after such social events.  But Lord Atwood has a secret in the form of his last liaison, with a very male partner and his comfortable, indeed happy, life is threatened when his former paramour returns.  It is the new Lady Atwood, a lovely coquette who generously finds the solution that will offer all of them happiness and satisfaction.  The brevity here works with the simple plot and the story lives up to the “spice” its imprint promises; the erotic scenes are titillating and satisfying, particularly for readers who enjoy something other than the kind of bland heterosexuality found in most romances in their erotic reading.    

Goddess in the Middle

Julian, Stephanie.  Goddess in the Middle.  Sourcebooks, July 2012.

The second erotic exploration this time was yet another ménage a trois (and, really, I had no idea this idea was so available in erotic fiction), this one a paranormal romance title from Sourcebooks called “Goddess in the Middle” by Stephanie Julian.  Part of a series focusing on Etruscan goddesses in the modern world, this one is the story of the former Goddess of Health, who now lives as Amity and works as a medical aesthetist, using her remaining powers to help heal those who have suffered serious trauma.  Under threat from a God of the Dead eager to escape the underworld, Amity falls under the protection of two powerful werewolf cousins, Remy and Rom.  It is in this unlikely trio that they will find the power to defeat the powers waging war against them and perhaps heal their own damaged souls.  Part of a larger series called “Forgotten Goddesses,” this one is well-plotted and an interesting read.  While I suspect it would be best to have read previous titles before reading this one, since there were a few plot issues I had questions about, Stephanie Julian does a good job here with world-building, weaving her goddesses and associated supernatural characters into the contemporary world in a way that works for her stories.  As with some previous threesome titles, I found myself somewhat bothered by the lack of sexual inclusion of all parties, but Julian at least offers an explanation for this sexual distance by making her male protagonists family.  And the sexual scenes are expertly crafted – erotic, rich, and detailed, yet at the same time worked into the story, not added in just for titillation.  Sex is part of the novel, but it’s just a part of the story rather than its reason for being.  I enjoyed this book very much and I do expect that I will seek out other titles in this series to see how Amity’s story fits into the larger story arc Julian seems to be crafting with this one.    

Undercover Alliance

Cain, Lilly.  Undercover Alliance.  Carina Press, June 2012.

My final erotic title for this post was a science fiction title called “Undercover Alliance” by Lilly Cain.  Another series title, this one is the third book in a series called “The Confederacy Treaty Series,” but it still works well as a stand-alone title.  Cain’s world features two species, humanity and the Inarrii, the aliens who have recently made contact and with whom the confederacy treaty is to be signed (assuming, of course, that they can work out all the details) facing off against enemies both human and alien who want to stop the burgeoning alliance.  A fabulous blending of scorching hot erotica and great sci-fi action, “Undercover Alliance” is the story of a damaged Inarrii warrior and an undercover human spy who find out they need each other, personally and professionally.  Only human John Bennings can offer Sarina the psychic connection she needs to achieve sexual wholeness and thus reintegration into her culture and Sarina may be the only being able to keep John alive long enough for him to find the traitor inside the spy agency that is trying to stop the human/Inarrii alliance.  A great read for science fiction fans who enjoy sex and violence with equal enthusiasm, “Undercover Alliance” hooked me into Cain’s world and didn’t let go.  Cain’s universe is well-developed, Inarrii culture is given real depth and detail rather than being merely a quaint (or titillating) other.  Sarina is no mere sex object, but a powerful warrior and strategist, a bodyguard of real power and yes, even, humanity in her emotions and honesty.  Bennings too is no stereotype action hero, but is given a depth that sets Cain’s character development a level above much science fiction (and a lot of erotica).  I look forward to going back exploring the previous books in this series as well as waiting eagerly for the next installment.

ARCs received from NetGalley.