Tag: review

Jade & Malin Talk 50 Shades

Jade & Malin, minutes from embarking on the FSoG experience.

Jade & Malin, minutes from embarking on the FSoG experience.

Hello everyone! I’ve got a bit of a departure for you today. Over the week-end my lovely partner in crime and platonic valentine, Jade A. Waters, and I saw The Movie. We got to talking about it over lunch, (of course), and decided that, in the face of so many proper reviews and opinions, we’d skip writing anything truly critical and record an off-the-cuff conversation instead. We meandered, we drifted, we laughed a lot, (we might have even snorted). Most of all, we had a lot of fun making this recording. A few notes before you press play:

1. We went into this with a particular context in mind – that FSoG is a formula romance, and the kink / BDSM elements were going to be geared for a primarily vanilla, mainstream audience. Also, R rating.

2. We tried to consider it through the lens of the audience it’s intended for, (rather than our own erotica writer / kinky person perspective)

3. The most pornographic moment in this film was the opening credits with Christian Grey’s wardrobe. See #1 on context and rating.

4. We get kind of loud at points so apologies if we laugh you out of your earbuds.

5. There are outtakes at the end! Listen on through if you can!

And now, without further ado, Jade and I talk 50 Shades. Thanks for joining us – we hope you enjoy the conversation at least half as much as we did.


Review: M by Jacob Louder

GDP014-M_CoverFinalM by Jacob Louder. Go Deeper Press, (January 7, 2015). Available through Amazon Kindle.

I’m becoming selective in what I review, mostly because I’ve becoming more selective in what I read. I’m in the lucky position of having a lot on my professional plate, so time is precious and I want to spend it well. Reading M, Jacob Louder’s new novella from Go Deeper Press, was a magnificent way to spend time.

Jacob Louder appeared on the scene last year with First, a novella that did in 60 pages what many novels fail to do in 600, (click HERE to read my review). It was one of the strongest, most impressive debuts I’ve ever seen – the perfect introduction to Nico Ericsson, Louder’s complicated, hedonistic and relentlessly likeable protagonist.

Normally, I’d have wondered about a sophomore slump with a writer who knocks it out of the park his first time at bat, but I’ve gotten to know Jacob’s work in the past year, and it is, without exception, stellar. His piece in Go Deeper Press’s Dirty Little Numbers was a standout, and I recently had the honor sharing pages with him in Oleander Plume‘s break-out anthology, Chemical (se)X, in which his story, “Thursday Threesome / Birthday Foursome,” practically bounds off the page with gorgeously depraved, sexy joy. Because of this, I knew his follow up to First would be special – I just didn’t realized how special it would be.

Nico Ericsson returns in M, a bit older, more experienced and with a firmer sense of himself. But he is also, still, the Nico from First – charming, savvy and voraciously sexual, with a level of awareness and perspective that makes him fascinating to read. He is no longer a high school boy, experiencing firsts and testing his own boundaries. He’s a French major in college with an enviable circle of friends, lovers and sexual partners, and a beautiful girlfriend named Miranda, whom he calls M. Having read First, I was massively gratified when I realized exactly who M was, but even if you haven’t read it, Louder’s treatment of her, and her relationship with Nico, will resonate because it is so intensely real.

That’s the thing about Jacob Louder’s writing. His characters aren’t icons, ideals or stereotypes. They don’t function to carry a message. In fact, if anything, his writing is anti-didactic, and therein lies it’s power. His characters are human to a degree that almost broke my heart at times. With little to no exposition, he paints portraits of people with fluid sexualities, complicated needs and intensely personal relationships to monogamy, sex and their own sexual and gender identities, all while leaving the reader space to relate on his or her terms.

And then there’s the sex. Fucking hell, can Jacob Louder write sex. I’ve been around the block more than a few times, but reading M is like a master class in sexual self-possession. There’s cam sex, good natured blow jobs and rooftop wankings with his roommate and friends, creatively hot run-ins with exes and semi-random girls, and, of course, there sex with M. It’s in those scenes that Louder especially shines. Using nothing but sexual response and dialog, he gives us stunning insight into Nico, Miranda and their relationship.

I’ve said this about Jacob Louder before, but I’ll say it again. He writes literary pornography that is important. M and First are people porn at it’s most effective best, and I can’t recommend it enough. His dialog flies, the story moves and all the while, Nico and M and the rest of the players are getting under your skin, even as they turn you on.

M by Jacob Louder is what literary porn should be – relentlessly hot, with a well of humanity that makes the sex an intrinsic part of a driving, compelling narrative.Care to read an excerpt? Of course you do! There are some great ones over at Jacob Louder’s website, Tamsin Flowers’s Superotica Advent Calendar and Oleander Plume’s review at Poison Pen / Dirty Mind. Or even better, just buy M, (and read First if you haven’t). It’s available HERE.

And for more information about Jacob Louder, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter. I guarantee you’re going to like what you find.

Review: Untouched by Annabeth Leong

Untouched Untouched by Annabeth Leong. Sweetmeats Press. (September 2014.) Available in print and ebook through Amazon and Amazon UK.

Annabeth Leong is, quite frankly, prolific. Her erotica swings from the filthy to the sublime, while her scope and vision encompass many erotic genres, from genderqueer to contemporary erotic romance. As a reader, I have learned from experience that if I pick up a story by Annabeth Leong, it is going to be good, and Untouched, her recent release for Sweetmeat’s Press, is no exception.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Untouched. The novel’s premise introduced me to a condition that I knew very little about – the fear of being touched. Leong’s heroine, Celia, cannot bear to be physically touched, and yet she longs for emotional and sexual connection, so much so that she pursues asexual romantic relationships while engaging in a fraught voyeuristic arrangement with a man she knows only as Marco Polo.

Celia’s main source of sexual satisfaction is to be watched while she pleasures herself with any number of different toys. When she meets Eli Vargas, she feels an immediate attraction. He is someone with whom she shares a powerful connection – a voyeuristic lover and an potential intellectual and emotional companion. But what happens, eventually, when Eli needs to touch her? It is this question that drives Celia’s exploration of herself and her sexuality, which unfolds over the course of the novel.

Celia is an intensely sympathetic protagonist. Her loneliness and physical isolation are palpable as she engages in raunchy, unsuccessful attempts to find connection. The sex in Untouched is relentless, but it is relentless to a point. We open with Celia fucking herself while Eli watches and then move through a powerful series of scenarios, some involving Celia masturbating alone, some in which other people, including her boss, Eli and, in one tense scene, her conservative Christian ex, watch. There is a striving quality to many of these interactions, a frustrated sort of reaching, followed by a small narrative climax, which is immediately followed by a move to the next scene. This structure uncannily mirrors Celia’s search for a more substantial sexual connection. For much of the novel, she is chasing an elusive satisfaction. She can orgasm, but she isn’t sated. She is so profoundly lonely and desperate for the thing which she can tolerate least, that you can practically feel her frustration in the ink on the page. It’s an impossible situation that she finds herself in, and it’s that tension that kept me reading late into the night.

Is Untouched raunchy? Yes. Hot? Yes. Unrelentingly, chock full of sex? Yes. But it is also an astute, precise and fantastically sensitive portrayal of a woman’s struggle with herself. I felt inherently protective of Celia’s boundaries. It was not always an emotionally easy read. And yet, Annabeth Leong maintained perfect control over the material, and proved, yet again, that erotica can do more than just turn you on. This is my favorite kind of erotica, and Ms. Leong does it especially well.

To learn more about Annabeth Leong, visit her site annabetherotica.com

And to read another excellent and informative review, examining the stone sexuality in Untouched, I highly recommend Xan West’s excellent essay, “A Stone Response to Annabeth Leong’s Untouched,” which you can read here.

(NSFW) Spotlight: Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth

Time for another installment of Spotlight, an occasional series in which I shine the light on books that I love. This time around, I’m looking at a decadent and thoroughly debauched story / photo collection by the brilliant fashion photographer, Ellen von Unwerth. It’s called Revenge, and it’s the prettiest, most artistic piece of soft-core pornography that I’ve ever come across. 

revenge16 I need to preface this post by admitting that I’ve been wanting to spotlight Revenge for ages but held off because it isn’t that easy to find, and the copies that are out there tend to be fairly expensive. I bought it on a lark when it first came out in 2003. I had no idea that my first edition was one of only 10,000. That said, I was flipping through it the other day, and was struck again by how…well, striking it is, so I decided to go ahead and run with the post and hope that anyone interested in getting a copy has some good luck or a generous Santa. xx.M

Let’s begin with the premise, because the premise says it all. An evil Baroness, (yes, I know…), takes her step-sister’s daughters and nieces in after a terrible cable-car crash devastates the family, (yes, I know…). Little does anyone know, but the Baroness is plagued by her late husband’s debts and has been forced to let most of her household staff go. All she has left is a nameless stable boy, a chauffeur named Eric, and three pouty sadistic maids.

So, the Baroness takes in the lovely young naifs, (eight in total, all legal yet beguiling in her own way), off her step-sister’s hands, but little does anyone know that these poor, poor, poor young women will be “forced to earn their keep” and take up the roles left vacant by the chateau’s departed staff. As you can imagine, a certain amount of discipline is required, much to the girls’ dismay. But the girls are resourceful, and not nearly so innocent as the

The Baroness & Veronique the maid. From Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

The Baroness & Veronique the maid. From Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Baroness assumes. Despite setbacks and misadventures, they manage to turn the tables in the end.

Revenge is the photographic retelling of the girls’ misadventures during their stay with the Baroness. As the premise implies, it’s an unabashedly over-the-top BDSM fantasy. The whole thing reads like an elaborately choreographed scene. In fact, I could almost believe this whole scenario going down during a long week-end at a private play party.

The book is signature von Unwerth – gorgeously sexual and fantastically staged. But within the staging and premise, the models are given a remarkable amount of freedom to act and react naturally. That’s what keeps it from straying into a sort of vacant, cynical exercise. It’s obvious that everyone is having a genuinely good time. While there is no doubt that this is a photo-shoot and that von Unwerth has a firm hand on every frame and angle, everyone’s hamming it up, and that’s charming. There’s no way to take the situation terribly seriously, so they don’t. The models pout and grimace and sneer like pretty, X-rated cartoons, and engage the “story” with a gusto that I find totally and joyfully infectious.

Ivy turning the tables. From Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Ivy turning the tables. From Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

As with much of her work, Ellen von Unwerth’s photographs feel like throwbacks to Weimar Berlin. The grainy, black and white images starkly highlight the girls’ pale skin, dark lips and glossy hair as they are forced to chop wood in stiletto heels and scrub floors in artistically tattered thigh highs. In fact, the entire book feels like what would happen if Vogue decided to run a unapologetically explicit sex issue. I almost never find anything this staged to be sexy at all, regardless of how aesthetically pleasing it is, but something about the book’s tongue-in-cheek, winking quality turns my head every time.

It’s that charm, more than anything, that turned me on when I first found Revenge nearly eleven years ago. On the surface, there’s a lot to get caught up in – a flagrantly abusive Baroness and her tool of a chauffeur, the lovely clutch of suffering nymphs, a trio of sly, sadistic, barely clothed maids – but beneath the sex-drenched premise and the glamor of von Unwerth’s images, the reality seemed to be that a bunch of people were getting a kick out of acting out a fabulously over-the-top fantasy, complete with crops, iron cuffs and pretty, black masks. That’s what made it impossible for me to put down.

What little text there is winks at novels like The Story of O and many of Anais Nin’s short stories, while never delving deeply into the potential psychology of the situation. This is one, very rare example of something that I think is sexy because it skates the surface of a fantasy without going deeper or darker than it has to. Forexample, the girls, who have “immaculate manners,” write the Baroness a thank you note after they liberate themselves from the chateau and leave their evil aunt in a compromising position in the village square.

Image from Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Image from Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Ridiculous. And yet…I kind of love the entire idea of that note, and of their aunt receiving her just desserts at the hands of outraged peasants who’ve been primed by rumors of her wicked ways. The fact that there is almost no story is actually one of the book’s strengths. The premise remains a premise, undeveloped and whole unto itself. Normally, I hate this. But I love it in Revenge.

I stumbled over Revenge when I was only just beginning to get a sense of my kinky side. I didn’t know much about BDSM then and, while I enjoyed sex, (a lot), I wasn’t consuming a lot of explicitly sexual material. I was still trying very hard to be my mother’s very normal, very good girl. But I couldn’t ignore this book or it’s arch, in-your-face sexuality. It was delicious and wicked and beautiful. It turned me on in so many ways, and I couldn’t put it down. It became one of those tiny bits of media that my sexuality latched onto. Something deep inside of me said, this is okay. This is good. It’s okay to want things that aren’t “safe.”

I’m honestly not sure I’d love it nearly so much if I hadn’t stumbled over it at such a pivotal point in my own sexual development. I might just have dismissed it as really pretty soft-core porn, or flipped through it and put it back on the shelf without paying what was then more than I could afford for a single book. But I did stumble over it at a pivotal time, and it tapped something inside of me like a tuning fork. It literally turned something inside me on. I didn’t know then whether I wanted to be the Baroness or one of her poor, put-upon nieces. All I knew was that I wanted to be in that book, and that was a revelation to me.

Image from Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Image from Revenge, by Ellen von Unwerth

Pillow Talk Secrets 2: Those Boys, Alphas and Doms, Oh My!

KissyFaceTalkingDirtyHello and welcome to the second session of Pillow Talk Secrets! This is Malin, your host for this round, and all I can say is that Tamsin, Jade and I have quite a chat lined up. You see, all three of just read Those Boys, which will be coming soon from Go Deeper Press – it’s the highly anticipated sequel to Alison Tyler’s fantastic novelette, Those Girls. Of course, we wanted to discuss it right away, but instead we decided to be incredibly good and save it for this session. As you can imagine, by now, we’re dying to talk to each other about it so, rather than torture ourselves any longer, we’re going to jump right in and get this party started!

Pillow Talk Secrets 2

Malin: Hello ladies!

Tamsin: Hello Malin, hello Jade!

Jade: And hello to both of you!

M: So, I don’t know about you two, but I’m dying to talk to you both about Those Boys. Should we start there?

T: Absolutely. But before we launch in, we should tell people who might not know this is the second book in Alison Tyler’s series that started with Those Girls – both published by Go Deeper Press.

J: Yes, and that we were fortunate enough to score ourselves an early copy of Those Boys – quite possibly because the Universe is just amazing – and wow are we happy about it!

The gorgeous cover for Those Boys, by Alison Tyler. Courtesy of Go Deeper Press.

The gorgeous cover for Those Boys, by Alison Tyler. Courtesy of Go Deeper Press.

M: It was a really lovely treat. There’s a lot of food for thought in both the first book, and now the second. For those readers who haven’t read the first book yet, let’s do a really quick run-down.

T: No spoilers!

M:  I would never! Okay. Summary not spoilers: it’s told from the POV of a Dom named Sandy. This man is the real deal – a Dom’s Dom. Basically, the novelette is about how he goes about initiating the lovely, slightly stand-offish Vanessa. How’s that?

J: Good – and I want to add this little piece I once read on Alison Tyler’s blog – I can’t remember her exact verbiage, but she said she originally thought Sandy was going to be a she, and then Sandy become this beautifully bisexual Dom. But the key, or the power of Sandy, was that it didn’t matter who he had control over – only that he had that control. The magic is being in his head, because he’s such the Dom’s Dom, as Malin said.

M: And there is magic in his head. You rarely see such a nuanced, authentic portrayal of a dominant in erotica, especially a male dominant, which is a shame.

T: But, I have to admit to a little disappointment with Those Girls, (shock! horror!).

J: What?!

T: Not because it wasn’t brilliant – it was! But it was too damn short! I wanted more. Straight away!

J: Oh well then, in that case…I totally agree.

T: I think Sandy’s character really came into its own, though, in Those Boys. I really got much more of a feel for him – this is a massive development on the first story and with the addition of a new character, Rem, we really get to understand how Sandy’s mind ticks….

And that’s just part of the conversation. To read the rest, in which we talk about fictional doms and a catch-all of related things, click here. I hope you do….

Review: First by Jacob Louder


First by Jacob Louder (cover image)

First by Jacob Louder (cover image)

First by Jacob Louder. Go Deeper Press. (April 2014). Distributed by Amazon Digital Services.

Every once in a while, I read something that takes me by surprise. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I take notice, because there is, invariably, more going on than I’d initially expected. This is what happened as I was reading Jacob Louder’s debut novella First, which is the first volume in a projected series about his protagonist, Nico, a fourteen year old bisexual boy who engages in a series of revelatory sexual experiences.

Before I go on, I want to outline my expectations going in, because I suspect they’re why I was taken by surprise. I didn’t know much about First beyond the fact that it’s a sexual coming of age story about a teenage boy, and that it involves his attachment to a transgender kid. I also knew that I liked Jacob Louder’s style a lot, based on his story in an erotica anthology, Dirty Little Numbers, published earlier last year. What I’d been expecting was a sexy, playful, contemporary erotic novella – something with substance, of course, but nothing terribly serious, and certainly nothing that would provoke emotional consideration. What I got, instead, is an important, though at times slightly disturbing, chronicle of teenage sexuality.

Let me say up front that First is excellent. Louder’s control of the material is very good, his empathy for his characters is obvious and his sensitivity to the issues he explores is commendable. There is nothing cavalier or sensational about this work. It’s sexual, and candid and Nico is quite charming and self aware. But the novella also goes to dark, uncomfortable places, bringing up questions of adult / minor sexual interactions, and exactly how young is too young for a child and a young teenager to engage sexually. These are questions that cannot be explored in erotica anthologies – underage protagonists are as verboten as incest, bestiality and rape in most widely distributed collections – which means that Louder goes to the places that I often wish could be examined in the context of erotica, and he does it very well. That said, it’s important that the reader understand what they’re engaging before they read the book.

Erotica can do many things. It’s the primary reason I love the genre so much. In the case of First, it challenges and questions and, at times, unsettles, very much in the tradition of the great Anais Nin, with her literary accounts of incest, children and questionable consent. It’s an important book, one that I think people should read. My only caveat would be that the reader goes in with open eyes – understand that what you’re getting isn’t simple, consumable fun. It’s not masturbatory and it’s not particularly comfortable. It’s raunchy, sexual literature, and it deserves the reader’s consideration as such.


Review: Best Women’s Erotica 2014

BWE'14 Best Women’s Erotica 2014, edited by Violet Blue. Cleis Press. (December 2013). ISBN: 1627780033

For those unfamiliar with the Best Women’s Erotica annual series, it has become a benchmark in excellence as far as women’s erotica is concerned. While the standards are always high at Cleis Press, each installment of Best Women’s is, arguably, the cream of the cream, so when I say that Best Women’s Erotica 2014 is one of the strongest in recent years, this is no small thing.

Before I go on, I’d like to share an excerpt with you, so you can see what I mean. This is from one of my favorite stories in the collection, “Monsoon Season” by Valerie Alexander.


He came over the next night like a proper date. Clean T-shirt on and a bottle of wine in his hands, which I accepted before saying, “I don’t want to open it right now, though.”

Colton looked disappointed. I couldn’t explain that I needed him sober, needed to know how willing and ready he really was for all the dark magic spells I wanted to unleash on him. Bossing him around, pulling him over my knee and spanking him, slap- ping his beautiful mouth just before he came. I had no logical reason for thinking he was sexually submissive, or that he’d done anything like that before, but then again, our animal hearts know what they know.

“Where would you like to go to dinner?” He was formal and polite.

I leaned back on my enormous black couch. “We can go out later. If we’re hungry.”

He looked at me with suspicion and uncertainty. I remembered that he was over a decade younger than me and probably nervous. So I patted the sofa and ordered him to sit with enough authority that he instantly obeyed.

His lean, rangy body felt like my property already. Like it was a time-lapse error that I hadn’t officially fucked him yet. I looked over his dark hair and sun-bronzed cheekbones, his hard tattooed forearms. My hormones careened like drunken fireflies.

“I’m going to have my way with you now, and you’re going to obey and do everything I say,” I told him. “Understand? If you have any objections, say them now.”

His body was so stiff. His voice the whisper of an echo as he said, “No objections.”

I unwrapped him like a present, pants off first, followed by his navy boxer-briefs. His thigh muscles were almost as rigid as his cock. I could guess at the kind of sex he was used to having, the masterful young seducer, suave in his technique and just a little more detached than the girls wanted him to be. Which was why his poker face was so tight with control now as I pulled the front of his T-shirt up and behind his head and then down his back to bind his arms at his sides.

Now he was porn: the naked and half-bound boy with a hard, scarlet cock. I wanted to take his picture, but we weren’t there yet. Instead I climbed onto his lap and pulled up my dress.

“Consider this an audition,” was an arrogant thing to say as I pushed my pussy into his face. But his mouth ransacked me with feverish thirst, confirming that just maybe he did like to be bossed around by dominant women. I spread my knees open as his tongue pushed inside me with such energetic desperation that I suspected it would ache later. His arms struggled against the shirt until I rapped his ear in admonition. “None of that,” I said. “Mouth only.”

His hands clenched helplessly at his sides. I pushed his head back against the sofa and pulled my hood back from my clit. I leaned back just enough to make him work for it, a test of the agility and control of his tongue, and then gripped his hair and rode his face, a dreamy euphoria melting through my cunt. Brief, searing waves broke through me, blotting out the world for a few seconds.

I fell back on the cushions and caught my breath. His eyes searched my face for a sign of approval. His cock was so hard it looked painful.


What makes this collection such a stand-out is that it mixes sex and literature seamlessly. While the stories are all, undeniably, sexy, there is a deeper, emotional resonance to them, as well.

Because the collection is so consistent, there are literally no weak links – every story deserves to be there. As such, it’s impossible to choose the best of the bunch, so instead, I’m going to give you an overview a few of my personal favorites. In addition to “Monsoon Season,” which really is a stunner, “I Hate Sex” by Tamsin Flowers stood out, not just because it involves a daring, sex-in-public scenario, but because it really is about a woman’s relationship to sex and how it changes. I liked Oleander Plume‘s “Out in the Open” for a similar reason. In it, the painfully shy protagonist exercises her sexuality online before engaging in an impromptu, RL interaction. “Toys” by Jade A. Waters is a charmer of a story about a woman with a boxful of sex toys in her closet and the man she finally gets to use them with, while “The Cake” by Ingrid Luna absolutely surprised me. At first it seems like a story about a woman playacting the role of a 50’s housewife, but it quickly flips the reader’s expectations about power, dominance and control. And yes, it prominently features a perfect, beautifully iced cake.

I could go on and on – they really all deserve a mention – but I’ll leave you with just one more, the unexpectedly beautiful and affecting “Chrysalis” by Nikki Adams. It’s about a high-powered attorney who never allows her female lovers to spend the night, until she enjoys a heated encounter with a beautiful trans woman named Zhanna. The story is both incredibly hot and sweetly tender, all while gently subverting standard gender norms.

As with the rest of the stories in the collection, “Chrysalis” displays a depth, sensitivity and prescience that prove, irrefutably, that erotica can be beautiful and powerful reflective of real experiences in real life. Based on that alone, I recommend Best Women’s Erotica 2014 – the title really says it all.

© 2018 Malin James

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