Thursday, January 31, 2013

Imbolc Eve, the goddess Kali and Kara Stanton

The sabbat of Imbolc is approaching - or, in some parts of the world, already here. We're getting ready to celebrate the approach of spring and, in the Irish-Celtic tradition, pay honor to the fire goddess Brigid (or Bride, pronounced "breed"). Even though that grumpy groundhog almost always sees his shadow and forecasts six more weeks of winter's chill (in the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), Imbolc always fills me with hope that spring is just around the corner.

Actually, this winter's hardly been harsh at all. I went for a walk the other night and it was 50 degrees (F) outside, temperatures I'd normally expect in late March at the earliest. I can't even really complain about the winter of 2012-2013, and the winter of 2011-2012 was similarly mild.

But though this time of year is traditionally reserved for Brigid, I am feeling the spiritual vibrations of another goddess today: India's Kali.
Not too long ago, I finished a breezy, humorous novel by Sonia Singh called Goddess for Hire. The Indian-American heroine of that novel finds out at the age of 30 that she's an incarnation of the goddess Kali.

She gets a powerful sword and sets out to vanquish evil. Another pop-cultural incarnation of the warrior woman who slays her enemies in a quest for justice? Kara Stanton.

Stanton seems to divide Person of Interest fans: we love her or hate her. Personally, I love her, the ex-Marine, CIA-trained assassin who shoots to kill without blinking an eye or smudging her lip liner. She's not evil, per se, but she is amoral. She'll do anything to survive. She reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara when she goes to dig up the neighbor's field because she's starving, exhausted, staring up at the sky and shouting, "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again!" Kara's just determined that nobody's going to fuck with her anymore.

This the promo for the episode that airs tonight. I'm scared. I'm not really worried about Reese - they're not going to kill off one of the series regulars mid-season. However, I do think there's a good chance Stanton, Mark Snow or both of them are going to die tonight. I will really miss Stanton if she finally gets killed for real.

That's assuming she can be killed. I kind of think she's another incarnation of Kali, a death goddess. That's my hope: that Stanton lives to BAMF it up another day, whether it's as part of a redemptive arc (i.e. she decides to start working for Reese and Finch on a contract basis, like another POI chick I love, Zoe Morgan) or as the villain.

If Stanton does die, I may (against my better judgment) have to start watching Annie Parisse's other show, Fox's The Following. It just premiered on Monday last week, and I've only seen the first episode, which didn't even have Parisse in it. It's about a serial killer English professor and his murderous disciples (kinda like Kali's Thuggees) who kill based on tortured extrapolations on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I'm disinclined to like the series because a) it gives me the creeps and b) it links one of the greatest figures of 19th-century American literature with gruesome killings and mutilations. Here you can read Laura Miller's article about specific ways in which The Following disses the creator of "The Raven."

(I'm rooting for the Baltimore Ravens in the Superbowl, by the way, because the San Francisco 49ers were not named after a poem.)

So please, Kara Stanton, don't leave me. I'll still have Joss Carter and Zoe Morgan, plus that psycho Root (played amazingly by the talented and oh-so-lovely Amy Acker, whom I cannot wait to see in Much Ado About Nothing). But they've already killed off the dutiful Alicia Corwin, and can you ever really have enough strong female characters? Of course not.

Note to self: write The Following parody in which crazed Jane Austen fans go around yarnbombing things, but with embroidery instead of knitting.

The other goddess I'll be thinking about today is Kore/Persephone. The copy of Cora: The Unwilling Queen that I won from GoodReads arrived in the mail today, directly from the home of its author, Amy Hutchinson. I know I need new books like I need more holes in the head, but I still can't help but squee! when they arrive.

Hungry for more pomegranate-laden books about Persephone? Check out this batch and also this one.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fantasy Casting: Person of Interest characters in The Black Dagger Brotherhood

This is my 600th post, by the way. Yay! If you're curious about how The Sultan of Monte Cristo turns out, you can read my review at Goodreads.

What happens when I have to wait until January 31st for a new episode of Person of Interest and until March for the next Black Dagger Brotherhood novel? Why, I start mentally casting the BDB universe with POI characters, of course. Why not? It's simply a matter of replacing one set of badasses with another. Just go with me on this; it's just for fun.

Can we start with the most obvious one? Lionel Fusco and Karolina Kurkova are SO the Butch and Marissa.

Finch is Wrath, the Blind King. Like Wrath, Finch works mostly behind the scenes, held back from taking direct part in battles because of his physical limitations.

Bear is George. (A Belgian Malinois is not a golden retriever, but it's a dog, okay?)

Reese as Zsadist. (This pic is from the February 2013 Men's Fitness magazine, which I have shamelessly asked my parents if they'd buy for me next time they go to a bookstore. They go to the bookstore more often than I do.)

Joss Carter as Bella.

Can you tell that Z and Bella are my favorite BDB couple?

Leila as Nalla (because there hasn't been a biracial African American/Caucasian baby on the series - or any other babies besides Leila, who has a Latina mom and a Caucasian dad. I know, I know - some of my biracial cousins are blond and blue-eyed, but none of them are this light-skinned.)

Reese for Phury too, because, as you know, Zsadist and Phury are identical twins.

Will Ingram as John Matthew.

Kara Stanton as Xhex.

Root is the Scribe Virgin.

Carl Elias as the Omega; Anthony "Scarface" Marconi as Mr. O.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Currently Reading: 'The Sultan of Monte Cristo'

This is a short e-book I found by searching the Count of Monte Cristo tag on Tumblr. You can read the review by The Fashion Insider here (the link died, unfortunately). It is exactly what I wished for: a continuation of Alexandre Dumas' classic, beginning with Edmond Dantes and Haydee as a newly-engaged couple. Under 75 pages, the e-book costs only 99 U.S. cents.

But I am highly unsatisfied by this "honeymoon" scene. (It doesn't actually say that they got married, just that she asked him to ask her to marry him.)

She also realized that it would be hard to break through the Antarctic shyness that had frozen Sinbad's ability to ravish the woman he only knew how to protect; so she would have to use more than her charm, beauty and new found prowess, she would have to make him unable to resist. 

But how did Haydee, the sheltered young maiden, develop this "prowess?" On whom has she been practicing? (Valentine, perhaps?) How did she get it in her head that she would drug him with spiked tiramisu and a hookah full of marijuana? I get that the Count would approach the virgin Haydee with some delicacy, and that she would approach him with some anticipation, but this totally seems like a role reversal.

For the first time Edmond notices that Haydee is voluptuous as she takes his virgin hands and places them on her bare breasts. "Do you know the French kiss?"

"Teach me," requests Dantes. 

Haydee leaned her mouth onto his and taught him how the French kiss.

Let's forget for a moment that we've switched from the past to the present tense and then back again. His virgin hands? Is Edmond Dantes a 40-year-old virgin? I think not; I think in The Count of Monte Cristo (the chapter titled "The Betrothal Feast") when Caderousse says, "Act towards her as if you were her husband, and you will see how she will like it," and Mercedes blushes, Dumas is delicately trying to tell us that Edmond and Mercedes have kinda already been acting like they were married. (This is far more explicit in the movie, of course, wherein Mercedes is already pregnant with Albert when she marries Fernand, and Edmond is Albert's bio dad.)

One would really imagine that Edmond and Mercedes had figured out the French kiss as teenagers.

The chapter ends with:

"No, my lover, that is only a small appetizer, the nectar is reserved for later, first enjoy the main course," as Haydee began to undulate her hips over Dantes' submissive body in gentle rhythm to the ebb and flow of the Mediterranean.

The night ended in a wonderful catharsis for the newly-weds.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh*. Awkward, and not nearly detailed enough even its awkwardness. Is the implication that they're both virgins, and the first time they had sex - him heavily under the influence of narcotics - they both had orgasms? Unlikely (at least for her). And awkward. And badly punctuated. (I added the possessive apostrophe to "Dantes," because bad punctuation hurts my brain.) Now I see why reviewers are comparing this to Fifty Shades of Grey - it's not intended to be a flattering comparison.

And also, they're not "newly-weds." He did not put a ring on it. I imagine he's a nominal Roman Catholic and she's Greek Orthodox, but they probably would've had a Catholic wedding service, on the presumption that the husband's religious preference takes precedence over the wife's. I want to read about that part.

I totally want that romance-novel cliche of the virgin in white on her wedding night - I just want it to be well-written. Or, so help me Jebus, I will write this thing myself. But I will read the rest of this book (apparently the first sequel in a 12-part time-travelling series leading up to the present day) and I will tell you how it goes.

*That's a completely legitimate book reviewer word.

P.S. Apparently by reading the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo, I missed a lesbian subplot, wherein one of the daughters of the villains dresses like a man and runs off to Italy with her piano instructor (another woman). I have got to read the unabridged version!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

OHP: Pins in Honor of Lewis Carroll's Upcoming Birthday

If you're following me on Tumblr, then you survived yesterday's barrage of Lord Byron posts in honor of the English Romantic poet's January 22nd birthday. New day, new author bombardment.

Sunday the 27th will be the birthday of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. These images were inspired by his most well-known books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

One of my favorite non-Alice poems by Lewis Carroll is "The Hunting of the Snark." If you haven't read it, you definitely should, 'cause it's hilarious. (Spoiler alert: the snark is a boojum.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I have 'Count of Monte Cristo' Withdrawal

I finished Alexandra Dumas' classic last night, despite my previous insistence that I wasn't going to read it. Reading The Black Count by Tom Reiss changed my mind, and I'm glad it did, because The Count of Monte Cristo is great. I wish I hadn't read an abridged version, but I didn't notice until after I checked it out of the library.
I didn't want this book to end.

But it does, in a really romantic way, like Romeo and Juliet if, instead of committing suicide, each realized the other was still alive and they got to be together. The young couple in question is Maximilian Morrel, whom the Count thinks of as a son, and Valentine Villefort, the daughter of the judge who threw the Count in prison when he was but the sailor Edmond Dantes. Edmond also has a beloved:

"Alone in the world?" repeated a voice behind the Count. "Why?"

Monte Cristo turned round.

Haydee was standing there pale and motionless, looking at the Count in mortal dread.

"To-morrow you will be free, my daughter," answered the Count. "You will then assume your proper place in society; I do not wish my fate to overcloud yours. Daughter of a prince! I bestow on you the wealth and the name of your father!"

Haydee turned pale, and, in a voice choking with emotion, she said: "Then you are leaving me, my lord?"

"Haydee! Haydee! You are young and beautiful. Forget even my name and be happy."

"So be it!" said Haydee. "Your orders shall be obeyed, my lord. I shall even forget your name and be happy!" and stepping back she sought to retire.

The Count shuddered as he caught the tones of her voice which penetrated to the inmost recesses of his heart. His eyes encountered the maiden's, and he could not bear their brilliancy.

"My God!" cried he. "Is it possible that my suspicions are correct? Haydee, would you be happy never to leave me again?"

"I am young," she replied. "I love the life you made so sweet to me, and I should regret to die!"

"Does that mean to say that if I were to leave you...?"

"I should die? Yes, my lord."

"Do you love me then?"

"Oh, Valentine, he asks me whether I love him! Valentine, tell him whether you love Maximilian!"

The Count felt his heart swelling within him; he opened his arms, and Haydee threw herself into them with a cry. 

"Oh, yes, I love you!" she said. "I love you as one loves a father, a brother, a husband! I love you as I love my life, for you are the noblest, the best, and the greatest of all created beings!" 

Haydee is the daughter of a prince of the Ottoman Empire; her parents were Christians from Greece. Her father, like the Count himself, was betrayed by the Catalan fisherman Fernand Mondego, later known as the Count de Morcerf. Haydee's father was murdered, her mother died of grief, and Haydee was sold into the slave market at the age of four. The Count rescued/purchased her (for the purpose of taking the young noble out of the slave market) when Haydee was eleven, and was a foster father to her since then - she's about 18 - roughly the same age as Valentine - at this point in the story. It's a bit odd that she has romantic feelings for a guy who's been her dad for seven years, but then, the extremely sheltered Haydee hasn't had much chance to meet many other men. 

Of course, I saw the movie before I read the book, and I have to come to the conclusion that book and movie are different animals, enjoyable in slightly different ways. In the movie, rather than Maximilian as a foster son, the Count has Albert de Morcerf as a bio son, and after Albert's stepdad Fernand is dead, the Count and Mercedes live happily ever after. (The 2002 movie, with the screenplay by Jay Wolpert, ends with Dagmara Dominczyk as Mercedes standing with the Count looking out at the ocean, resting her hand on her belly; I presume that Albert is getting a little brother or sister.) 

There's really no reason in the book why Mercedes and the Count can't be together in the book - Fernand's death is in both versions. He dies by duel in the movie, by suicide in the book. The widowed Mercedes, Dumas makes a point of telling us, is not only still beautiful but quite possibly more beautiful at 40-ish than at 19. She's just sad, that's all. Still, the Count leaves her behind in the book, to wait for Albert to possibly come back from a military deployment, unless he gets killed. 

We don't know - the ending doesn't tell us a) if Albert gets killed or lives, b) if Haydee and the Count get married, and if they ever have any children, c) if Maximilian and Valentine ever see the Count and Haydee again, or d) what the Count is going to do in Italy. I really wish this book hadn't ended. 

I like both endings, though. They're both good in their own ways. I like the movie ending a tiny bit better, because it has a nice symmetry if the young, happy couple from the beginning of the story gets to become the older, wiser, sadder but ultimately fulfilled couple at the end. 

Haydee's dramatic "I'll die if you leave me" reminds me of this, my current song crush.

(Make allowances for an Irish chick - it'll probably be whiskey AND his name on my last breath.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

If you took a 'Person of Interest' character to bed...Part 2

Part 1 here.

Originally, I hadn't planned on writing a second part to this, but then I got feedback from Shawarma-Palace. (I'm still too new to Tumblr to know the whole Irrelevant community by their real names.) She (please correct me if that's not the appropriate pronoun) wrote:

"Some of these points are valid, and some of them I'd like to have a little more information on why they drew that particular conclusion. I love learning about headcanon.

"I don't think Marconi needs any duct tape. He has swarm and endless amusement at everything to hold the universe together."

Naturally, when one says to the fiction writer, "I want to know more about what you wrote," this prompts the fiction writer to want to write more. Self-indulgent? Heck yeah - but self-indulgent writing is one of the prerogatives of the blogger. It's fun for me, and perhaps a good exercise, to try to understand the reasons why I made the choices I made.

Also, as kmmerc pointed out, I skipped Leon Tao. How could I forget Leon? I kinda had a thing for Ken Leung, the actor portraying Leon, when he was Miles on Lost. S.P.'s suggestion is that Leon would be "super-manic and ADD" and a multi-tasker who might turn on the TV mid-coitus to check his stocks. Leon's seeming inability to stay out of trouble for stretches of longer than five minutes, even at great peril to himself, certainly makes him seem that way. There's also a sweetness to Leon, though, underneath his surface smartass; he does seem to be genuinely grateful to Reese for saving his life.

So Leon would probably insist on going back to your place; no way would he let you see any of the secret, illegal things he's got going on at his place - and he hasn't bothered to clean up his empty Chinese food cartons in a few weeks, either. He'd make himself at home at your place, and yes, he'd probably turn on your TV without asking first, whether the two of you were already naked or not. A manic lover? Yeah, I can see that: hands everywhere, lots of position changes, unsystematic defiling of every surface in the apartment capable of supporting two rutting humans. That's what "super-manic and ADD" implies to me.

Harold Finch? That a lover would have to make allowances for his physical injuries seems pretty obvious. Canon-wise, you can't actually have Finch, 'cause he's still in love with Grace Hendricks and probably will be for the rest of his life.

Grace, of course, believes Finch to be dead, so if you could seduce her with mid-January ice cream and somehow charm your way into a date with her, I think you'd find Grace to be a little lonely. She'd want to be with you, but you'd have to make the first move, because in her mind being with someone else still seems a little disloyal to Harold. She's an artist, which means she's into aesthetics, which means she's probably a regular waxer, like Kara Stanton. (With Stanton, it's all about control. She's compelled to seek the upper hand in everything she does, and even her own body must submit to her iron will.) It's been a while since she's had a lover, so when you make Grace come, she comes hard. Is she naturally a top or a bottom? I'm not sure; she knew Finch pre-injuries, so she wouldn't have run into the situation where she always had to be on top.

It seems to be canon that Nathan Ingram likes to party; I don't think that surprises anyone. When I'mTheContingency and I played Eff Marry Kill, I said I'd fuck Nathan 'cause he looked like he'd be fun. He just looks like he'd be fun. I don't think it surprises anyone that Will Ingram is one of the youngest characters on the show. Youngest doesn't automatically mean least experienced; that's just something I project onto Will because he seems like a fairly sweet, "save the world" type. Not that you can't be a driven do-gooder and still get laid. Will is just so young. Like a young guy, Will would have tons of heart and enthusiasm (and stamina), but maybe he'd still be a teensy bit shy, inhibiting his creativity.

John Reese? I base a lot of my assumptions on a) he's still getting over Jessica, to whom he was stubbornly loyal even though they were together a relatively short time, and b) he's grateful for his friendship with Finch. Without a purpose in life, he becomes semi-suicidal? Yeah, that's a codependent person, someone who needs to be in a relationship to feel like a person at all. So, yeah, he's happy when you pay any attention to him at all.

Josselyn Carter was one of the hardest ones for me to write, and it's because I respect this character so much as a person. She seems to have the most well-developed, least flexible morality, and I respect her for that. She thinks of herself as a mom first, so no, she's not just going to hop into bed with you unless you've done something to earn her attention and proven yourself worthy. I'm a little in awe of Carter, honestly, so it's harder to get so down and dirty with her. Sex with Joss Carter requires a certain sense of responsibility - which is why Cal Beecher was never going to get it.

My Lionel Fusco theory is that the guy who maybe doesn't seem like the most traditionally handsome guy will work really hard to impress you because he feels a little insecure, and lo and behold, he's actually kind of amazing.

Now your sociopaths, Anthony Marconi and Root - just the sheer level of crazy there makes me think that trying to interact with them would be a challenge. If you really think about it, Root has probably completely sublimated her sex drive into something more intellectually stimulating to her, and sex really doesn't interest her because she hates humans, with the possible exception of Harold Finch. She may consider "Harry" the only person worthy of her attention, even though he's useful to her only as far as she can manipulate and control him. And that is why my 3-sentence fiction prompt for Shawarma-Palace was, "what I really want is for someone to write three sentences of Finch/Root angry hate sex." I can imagine Root manipulating Finch into it. I would feel bad for him, can do things to fictional characters that would be horrible in real life.

...and this Tony Marconi, clearly, does not give a fuck about anyone. You can tell this about him from how easy it was for him to kidnap Carter's son Taylor. Smarm, definitely. Endless amusement at everything? More like bottomless pit of self-interest, tinged with bat-shit crazy. He doesn't need the duct tape, but I think he just likes the sound it makes when he tears it off the roll.

Carl Elias, on the other hand, doesn't have the bat-shit crazy. He's not the impulsive type of evil; he's the cold, calculating type, and I suspect he can turn it off when he chooses to. I do think his mother's murder occupies a huge space in his psyche, and that it affects the way he thinks about women. Now, you can only push this so far - he did appear to be willing to let baby Leila freeze the death in the back of that truck, despite what he said to Reese. (Could he really have known for sure that Reese could get out of the cuffs and get to the baby? I tend to think not. I tend to think "I knew you wouldn't let anything happen to her" was a lie.) Elias isn't anybody you're going to fall in love with - hey, none of these characters are; they all have damages - but is it safe to spend a weekend with him? Yeah, probably.

Marconi's apparent loyalty to Elias also keeps Marconi's behavior in check in Elias' presence, so you could probably get both of them as a package deal for the weekend, if you were so inclined. Let's face it: unpredictability can be attractive in small doses; it's exciting. That's the appeal of Marconi.

It's also, a tiny bit, the appeal of Officer Patrick Simmons. Simmons, clearly, is dangerous, and oh-so-willing to stab poor Fusco in the back to save himself. Simmons is married and has young kids - not to mention his time-consuming involvement with HR - so you can't really date him, but you could meet him for a quickie at a cheap hotel. He would almost certainly handcuff you to something - Simmons loves control almost as much as Stanton does, and power itself is exciting to him - but he would not care if you came before he did. I'm kind of into Simmons, but I'm perfectly aware this is a masochistic impulse.

That Mark Snow would treat you with low-key hostility is based on his relationship with his CIA partner, Tyrell Evans. Snow would not let the man have any coffee (reminding us just a tad of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross). Stanton is all about control - self-control and control over whoever else wanders into her field of vision - and that's what Snow aspires to, but hasn't quite achieved. He wants loyal colleagues who carry out his orders, but obviously he doesn't get it, 'cause Stanton smells fear and straps him into a bomb vest. There's definitely an incompleteness and a vulnerability to him, but more in a cold way than in a sweet Leon way.

Alicia Corwin was the beautiful woman in the office you always wanted to ask out, but you never did, because you figured she'd probably just reject you anyway. Even if, somehow, you did get a date with Alicia, she'd kiss you good night and send you on your way, 'cause she's way too paranoid to feel comfortable doing anything as vulnerable as taking her clothes off in front of you. Rest in peace, Alicia. You deserved better than Root.

Zoe Morgan is a fixer, so of course she's going to be goal-oriented. She has a fun side, too, and her fun side would drink your good Scotch. Also, she looks like she's really good at kissing. I do not think Reese was disappointed when Zoe kissed him. (Well, maybe the first time, but only because he thought he was about to die. He forgave her.)

Nicholas Donnelly and Bill Szymanski - well, we barely got to know them. Donnelly has the hot phone-sex voice; that's about all I know. And he tried to be a good guy - misguided, perhaps, but not ill-intentioned. His lack of malice makes me think he'd be - maybe not quite Nathan-fun, but willing and adventurous. Szymanski - I don't know; I guess I'm reacting to the stern-sounding character he plays in the Geico commercials. Remember Detective Don Brodka, the store security guard who caught Bart shoplifting on The Simpsons? In my mind, Szymanski is a little bit Don Brodka.

Those are my impressions. I'm curious to read what other people think, though. Did that clear anything up, or just make it murkier?

Mr. Finch, you're doing one of these too, right?

Friday, January 18, 2013

If you took a 'Person of Interest' character to bed...

Note: For the rhetorical purpose of this blog post, I'm supposing that the "you" possesses a cis female body, like me. You'll have to make adjustments if you are cis male-bodied or other-gendered. 

I have spent waaaaaaaaaaaay too much time thinking about this, and:

If you took Harold Finch to bed, you'd probably have to go to his place, because he has all the pillows on his bed the way he likes them, so that his neck doesn't hurt. You'll have to be on top, but that's not a bad thing. He has chronic pain, so he won't really like you to put your hands on his chest and press down hard, so he'll hold your hands instead. Finch will let you do your thing and come three or four times before he does. He might let you sleep snuggled up next to him if you don't wiggle around a lot - you have to be aware of his injuries. Of course, if Finch likes you, he will go to extreme lengths to make you happy.

Nathan Ingram would be happy to follow you back to your place, and he could probably teach you a few things. Make sure he uses condoms, 'cause you don't know where Nathan has been. On the other hand, Will Ingram knows relatively nothing, You have to teach Will things, but the good news is he's really eager to learn. Nathan has to leave right away - he has an early meeting tomorrow, or so he says. Will will spend the night, and in the morning, he knows this diner where they make awesome frittatas, if you wanna go.

John Reese is a little amazed that you think he's good enough to take to bed with you. He's so wracked with self-loathing, you might see tears in his eyes 'cause he's shocked you care enough to touch him. This doesn't mean that he'll be passive, though. If you let him be on top, you might be sore the next day. He'll be a little bit sorry about that, so he'll make you pancakes, but then he'll be up in the wind. Note: make him shower first, lest the smell of his hair gel drive you crazy. Don't expect him to sleep with you, either: he's more likely to stand guard at the foot of the bed. He's immediately and stubbornly loyal to you. If you ever got into trouble, he'd have your back.

Joss Carter would not take you to bed on the first date, or the second, because she's a lady. She wants to get to know you first, make sure you're safe to bring home, 'cause not just anybody can get anywhere near her baby. If she comes back to your place, she'll be a little shy at first. She's been hurt before and she's cautious, so take your time. After some relaxed conversation and perhaps a glass of wine, when she takes her clothes off, you're simply amazed at what a goddess she is. Be kind to her, make sure she comes before you do, and make her pancakes the next day.

Lionel Fusco will have you over on one of the weekends his kid is at his ex's place. He strikes me as the type of guy who really loves oral. He'll go down on you, and you'll probably like it, and if you're lucky you'll come, but he's really just trying to get the obligation of out the way so you'll go down on him. When you do, he's very appreciative and not put his hands on your head and try to direct. You're not getting pancakes, but you won't be disappointed that you spent the night, either. Yeah, after that first session, he might have turned on the TV and watched ESPN long enough to catch a few scores, but admit it - that second round up against the bathroom counter was surprisingly - amazing. Note: Do not bring up the words "ball gag."

The guy who'd put his hands on your head and direct is Anthony "Scarface" Marconi. Scarface is a sociopath. He'll dress you in his high school football jersey and handcuff you to the old, non-functional radiator in his shitty apartment and duct tape your feet together. It's weird, but you're kind of into it as he aggressively fucks your face. He'll take off the cuffs and hand you a beer, but leave the duct tape on, 'cause later he's gonna throw you over the back of his shitty couch and get you from behind. You'll come, hard, but his apartment's way too much of a dump to make you want to spend the night.

Your other basic psycho is Root. I think she'd surprise you by being all soft and feminine. Then she'd pull out her favorite harness and strap-on, help you put them on and want you to fuck her in the ass while she calls you Harry. She'd sleep on top of you, curled all around you like a vine, and be offended when you wanted to get up and take a shower 'cause how dare you want to get her scent off you? Try not to piss her off too much. If she wants you to put on her dirty panties before you leave, just do it. Just put up with the weird messages she leaves on your phone until you get fed up and block her number.

Kara Stanton would have to be the boss. She'd march you into the shower, make you use a certain body wash and give you special washing instructions. Then she'd take you into the bedroom and show you her sex drawer because, damn it, if you can't handle this she can damn well take care of it herself. She'll show you where she keeps the dental dams and which lube is her favorite, then act like she's just going to lie there and let you do all the work, but really, she wants to give you directions. After she comes for the fifth or sixth time, she's going to fall asleep, so you might as well sneak out while you can. If you stay until morning, she's just going to give you very specific instructions on how to make her breakfast in bed.

Root shaves. Stanton waxes. Alicia Corwin? Full-bush natural beauty.

Mark Snow would not let you have any of his coffee in the morning, and would quite possibly send you out on a mission to kill the last girl he slept with (which was probably Kara Stanton). Secretly, Snow is really grateful for your attention, but he doesn't want you to know that because he sees it as a vulnerability. He masks his feelings with a subtle, low-key hostility. If you wanted any kind of a relationship, this would be a bad thing, but in a one-nighter, this translates into pleasantly rough sex.

Zoe Morgan is all about getting it done. She considers it an insult to her womanhood if you do not come at least three times, but by the end of the night she'll have finished off rather more of your good Scotch than you'd hoped. Zoe's not into toys; she is perfectly happy with just your mouth and your fingers. She gets restless trying to fall asleep in your bed and finally you just tell her you don't mind if she leaves, really. When she kisses you goodbye, she makes you feel like the single most important thing in the universe, and you know you'll be keeping her number for future reference.

Carl Elias is a complete and utter gentleman; he's treated you precisely the way he wishes his father had treated his mother. He doesn't mind if you run your fingers over the scars on his hands, but he really doesn't want to talk about them. After making out with you for a ridiculously long time in the back of his car while Marconi drives you around and around the block, you state that yes, you will come up for a glass of wine. You have to make the first move, because he doesn't want to rush you. After all this, you might expect him to be overly cautious and too gently, but he surprises you by being completely passionate and totally into you.

Nicholas Donnelly will call you up in the middle of the day while you're at work and tell you to close and lock your office door, and proceed to talk you throw the most mind-blowing phone sex you've ever had. Bill Szymanski, on the other hand, will answer his cell phone during dinner, never take off his socks, and tell you he's going out for a cigarette as you're falling asleep and then never come back. Szymanski would not get a second date, but Donnelly? Regular booty call, on the speed dial with Zoe.

What do you think? Did I get anybody completely wrong? Did I miss anyone important?

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I finished 'Fifty Shades Darker' - thoughts

You can read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey here. I'll give you my impressions of Fifty Shades Darker in a moment - but first! I have a new release that just came out yesterday.

Here's the blurb: Food and sex – sex and food: two great things that can be even better together!  From soothing chocolate to spicy meatballs the stories in this brand new erotic anthology edited by two masters of the genre - M.CHRISTIAN and ALYN ROSSELINI - feature stories by the crème-de-la-crème of sexual and literary cooking and will tickle your sensual taste buds and stir your pot of erotic thrills.

Basting lovers, cooking orgies, steaming hot encounters, straight as well as queer taste treats ... the stories in HUNGER: A FEAST OF SENSUAL TALES OF SEX AND GASTRONOMY will push boundaries everyone's pleasurable buttons – both erotic and gastronomic: these are stories that will arouse, amuse, amaze, and whet your appetite for more!


My contribution is called "Hungry Things." Follow the link to read a short sample; you'll notice the working title of the book was A Lover's Feast: Sensual Food Tales. "Hungry Things" is a sexy tale of George Gordon, Lord Byron and John William Polidori, transported to a modern setting. The physician Polidori has a consuming passion for the poet, even as Byron is struggling with his disordered eating. It's not about trying to make an eating disorder "sexy." It's about trying to love someone who's trying to rally the strength to fight something potentially life-threatening and not always rising above.

I've been fascinated with Polidori since I read Gothic by Richard Davenport-Hines.

I've been fascinated with Byron ever since 12th grade, when we read "Sonnet on Chillon" in British Literature and Mrs. Hess told us Byron was bisexual. The rest of the class was like, "No! Ew!" but that seemed perfectly natural and normal to me.

Hunger is available now from Renaissance E-Books, and it will be available from Amazon and through iBooks soon. You can get it right from your iPad or iPhone. I have not seen it pop up on GoodReads yet, but I imagine it will once it hits Amazon. (Update: Goodreads link.)

I've read the first three stories in my contributor's copy so far. "A Meal" by Susan St. Aubin is, in part, about the proper amounts and types of foods to eat so as not to ruin the sex that might come afterward. It's also about jealousy and the balance of power in open relationships. It's honest writing, and I really appreciate that. "Jeb's Wife" by Dominic Santi is about three military buddies and, well, Jeb's wife, who become a foursome when said wife becomes pregnant and insatiable. It's scorching hot - really sexy stuff. "The Sweetest Burn" by Giselle Renarde describes the erotic pleasure/pain possibilities of mole poblano - Mexican food porn in the more literal sense. (See, because when people tag posts with "Mexican food porn" on Tumblr, they're just pictures of really yummy-looking Mexican food. It's not actual porn.)

Without further ado, thoughts on Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James.

I remember that I quite enjoyed the first book, which ended with Ana and Christian breaking up. The last sentence: "I curl up, desperately clutching the flat foil balloon and Taylor's handkerchief, and surrender myself to grief." This is like The Twilight Saga: New Moon ending with the blank pages that signify Bella's depression, and I wanted to know what happened next.

Somewhere - possibly on another book blog - I read a snippet of Darker and it involved another woman. I wondered if perhaps Christian and Ana were going to let another woman into their relationship. That's not the case, though. (Spoilers if you haven't read it yet.) There's Leila, a mentally unstable woman who used to be Christian's submissive. When Leila's boyfriend dies, she becomes vaguely threatening to Ana and Christian, but mainly to herself. There's also "Mrs. Robinson," the older woman with whom a teenage Christian had a relationship; Ana considers her abusive and hates her with a passion.

But Christian never suggests adding either of them to his relationship with Ana. If anything, Ana and Christian's relationship is much more conventional in this book than in the previous one; they become engaged.

In my review of the first book, I called Christian Grey an alpha but not an alph-hole, suggesting there are reasonable limits to his controlling behavior. I don't think that anymore. Early in Darker, when Christian gets into Ana's bank account without her knowledge or permission, I really started to dislike him.

I still sympathize with his horrible childhood. I'm confident that my favorite romance heroes are the really damaged ones - see, for example, why Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward is my favorite romance novel - but that shouldn't be an excuse to give a character a pass on emotionally abusive behavior. Or should it? This is fiction, after all, not an actual relationship in which I am a participant. I enjoy Heathcliff as a character in Wuthering Heights even though he's physically and emotionally abusive to his wife, Isabella, and abusive to the woman he essentially forced to become his daughter-in-law, Catherine Linton the younger. I can't help feeling that much of Heathcliff's negative behavior is really the fault of his mistreatment by Hindley and betrayal by Catherine; they forced him into an untenable position.

In real life, I would never tolerate his behavior in a domestic partner. In life, I make no excuses for domestic violence - one instance is reason for an immediate end to a relationship, no questions asked. Fiction is different. In fiction, the author gets to control the consequences of all the characters' actions.

I'm of two minds on this, because whether it's right or wrong, I care about Ana and Christian as a couple. I didn't really love Darker - the middle part bored me, with no real crisis to move the plot along briskly. I feel like it dragged out (but that have been, in part, because I left the book at home while my hubby was in the hospital and I read it only in little snippets each day). Ana comes into conflict with her sexual predator boss Jack (the embodiment of the entitled male privilege mentality), but she handles that like a ninja, although it does seem at the end that Jack will try to get some kind of revenge on Ana and Christian. There is a moment in which it seems Christian and his helicopter are in some danger, but this isn't until almost the end of the book, and it's resolved within a few pages.

Do I want to read the third book? Of course I do - I hate to leave a trilogy unfinished. But I don't have the same enthusiasm for this series that I had when I read the first book. I can't even really remember why I liked it so much in the first place. Yet somehow, I still want to be reassured that Christian and Ana will get married and live happily ever after.

On the plus side, I don't think Ana used the word "crap" quite as many times as she did in the first book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

#WaitingOnWednesday / #OhHowPinteresting - Must-Have New Books of 2013

I'm not a usual Waiting on Wednesday blogger, but since it's still early in 2013, I wanted to get down a list of books I'm looking forward to this year. Just yesterday I found out that Dan Brown is releasing a new novel in the Robert Langdon series, to be titled Inferno, on May 14. Yay!

My mom told me if I started The Da Vinci Code I wouldn't be able to put it down, and she was right. I still love that book, Angels and Demons, and (to some extent) The Lost Symbol, and I don't care if you like them or not.

I'm also utterly addicted to J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series - that's my mom's fault, too. I eagerly await Lover at Last, set to come out on March 27

It will be bittersweet when this series ends, but I've got to read Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. Amazon says the release date will be May 7th. I wonder if it's too early to put my name on the library waiting list? I never buy the hardcovers in this series - the first ones went straight to the genre paperbacks shelf, and I still contend it was kind of rude (and money-grubbing) of Harris' publisher to start putting them out in the much-more-expensive hardcover first.

...and my mom also got me hooked on Sookie Stackhouse. It was my introduction to paranormal romance, actually.

P.S. How fantastic are the Japanese covers for the Sookie Stackhouse series?!

P.P.S. Doesn't this one look like it might be about Bella Swan and Rosalie Hale?

I love vintage book covers. Now, some pins that are just cool. This is Jack Kerouac in 1944. Kinda sexy (even though he appears to be in some kind of trouble). Is anybody else looking forward to the On the Road movie with Kristen Stewart?

Anybody looking forward to Catching Fire?

This, I feel, is pretty cute. Lewis Carroll's birthday is coming up (January 27th), so I think a full Alice's Adventures in Wonderland post will be called for soon.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Author/Book Blogger, Interrupted

Hey, guys. I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. My significant other/editor/writing partner, Tit Elingtin, has been feeling quite a bit under the weather lately. I'm trying to take care of him the best I can. Please keep him in your thoughts.

The blog, sadly, has been getting ignored, along with much of my creative writing. I'll get back to it ASAP.

In the meantime, here are a few quick links to enjoy while I'm away.

Unfortunately, Oysters and Chocolate, one of my favorite erotica blogs, is soon to be no more. If you've enjoyed it, let Samantha and Jordan know. If you want to see what I've written for O&C over the years (while you still can), click here.

This is a cool one: 11 Authors Who Hated the Movies of the Their Books

A book trailer that I think looks especially cool: For the Love of Hades by Sasha Summers

Grumpy Old Men and the Books They Hate

Bernie Madoff has surprisingly good taste in literature

Don't forget to link up your gratitude and/or catitude posts for Thank Crunchie It's Caturday with Sarah Evans.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

OHP Wednesday: It's a Love Story Baby Just Say Yes

Happy New Year! This week as I link up with from Oh How Pinteresting!, I look at that most romantic of New Year's traditions, the kiss.

The tragic kiss: Romeo and Juliet.

People say "parting is such sweet sorrow" when they're actually separating, but Romeo's "that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow" tells us he has every intention of spending the night.

The fairy tale kiss.

The fantasy kiss.

The vintage kiss.

The assisted vintage kiss.

The pop art almost-kiss.

The anime kiss.

The lava lamp kiss.

The just-married kiss.

The secret library kiss - possibly my favorite.

Did you get a kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve?