Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel Published by: Cleis Press (December 5, 2013) Reviewed by: Melissa “I am taking her, even when she is taking me.” Rachel Kramer Bussel has assembled
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Published by: Cleis Press (December 5, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
“I am taking her, even when she is taking me.”
Rachel Kramer Bussel has assembled a tome of orgasmic delight in her scorching anthology, The Big Book of Orgasms. Filled to the brim with 69 sexy stories penned by the creme de la creme of erotic authors, there is a story for everyone that is sure to insight, excite and enflame. Ranging from sweet to a wee bit kinky to downright dirty these voyeuristic silhouettes of men and women (not necessarily in that order or combination) in the throes of toe-curling passion. The Literary Vixens suggest you don’t keep all the pleasure for yourself…be a generous lover and share a bit of the action with your special someone, there’s always room for seconds;)
Published by: Mischief (November 21, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
“‘Never say never’ could be a risky adage. Risky is where the fun is, don’t you agree?”
The Golden Locket, book two of Primula Bond’s Unbreakable Trilogy, picks up right where The Silver Chain concluded, with Gustav and Serena leaving London for Manhattan in search of new opportunities for their professional and personal lives. Now committed to making his relationship with Serena flourish and deepen, Gustav is equally committed to supporting her budding career as a talented photographer. Ever the sexual adventurist, Gustav encourages Serena to “explore” her sexual wants, desires and needs by introducing her to well-heeled socialites who become clients, friends and seductive encounters. Gustav’s younger, troubled brother Pierre adds tension, plot twists and drama to the story as his machinations and obsessions threaten Gustav and his relationship with Serena. Will Gustav and Serena’s relationship survive the outside forces conspiring against them?
Once again Primula hooked me with her sensually descriptive atmosphere, complex characters and tightly woven plot. Gustav and Serena’s relationship continues to deepen and evolve in The Golden Locket and I found myself racing through the pages to find out what would happen next. The story line is laced with sultry encounters that steam up the pages while adding depth to the characters. Gustav, committed to assuring that Serena fulfills her erotic fantasies, is a mysterious, thoughtful and sexy alpha hero and Serena comes into her own as the self assured artist who is not afraid to take what (or who) she wants. The Golden Locket ramps up the tension as Gustav and his brother Pierre try to renew their relationship, but when Pierre takes his obsessions with Margot and Serena too far new seeds of deceit are planted adding tension and intrigue. Left with a startling cliff hanger, I can’t wait to read the final installment to see how the the series concludes.
Published by: Riverhead Books (September 12, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
“When I swallow the wafer, I wait for God to bloom to life in my stomach, to give me muscles or wisdom. God doesn’t seem to do this, but I’m hoping that one day He will.”
David Schickler’s memoir, The Dark Path, candidly outlines his very personal inner struggle between his love of God and his lust for women with comical, poignant and sometimes uncomfortably bracing honesty. With sharp wit, keen insight and poetic detachment, Schickler retells his most revealing life experiences as only a man who has walked the walk can. His light tone seems to effortlessly capture the essence of an introspective gentleman who, while obviously talented and intelligent, is just a regular guy who doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously in spite of the very serious nature of his spiritual dilemma. Schickler is a master storyteller who weaves his dark, stumbling path to enlightenment with suspense, light-hearted grace and humility.
Schickler unapologetically chronicles the most personal and moving experiences of his life in vivid detail. I found myself cringing, teary-eyed, but also laughing at his matter-of-fact reenactments of pivotal life lessons which have brought him to where he is today. He keeps you riveted to your seat as he escorts you through his awkward young adulthood when his true doubts about himself and his Maker unfold and the seeds of his rebellion against God’s calling are planted, to his eventual realization that he is man with wants, needs and desires he cannot deny. He lets it all hang out – from his first sexual encounters to his crazy days of beer, booze and Karate kicking, I can’t imagine Schickler has any skeletons left in his closet.
I absolutely loved this memoir and confess that David Schickler warmed my soul with his humble openness; his charming narration is clever and seductively engaging. As a mother of two young boys I was touched by his youthful innocence and later his jaded rebellion; and through his highs, lows and every misstep along the way I couldn’t help but cheer him on. A central theme in the book, do what makes you happy rather than what you feel is expected, resonated with me as a mother, a wife and a Catholic, but it appeals to all people struggling to find their place in the world. This uplifting story left me feeling it’s OK to be who I am, whoever that may be, as long as I do it with grace and authenticity. Bravo David, I can’t wait for your encore.
Written by: Logan Belle
Published by: Moxie Books (October 1, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
Claire is a devoted single mother who consistently put her son’s needs ahead of her own; but when her son Max packs up and heads off to college she realizes she has a lot of catching up to do. Unfortunately, just when Claire is ready to start living and loving again, she is hit with a devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. While Claire believes she’s handling her situation well, her best friend Patti disagrees and urges her to join a survivor support group. Things get interesting when she unwittingly sits in on an erotic reading group where she meets the devilishly good looking Justin who takes her under his sexy wing. Together they create a “sexual bucket list” to get her out of her slump and help her make up for lost time. Can these two collaborators of sexual fantasy stay “just friends?”
Logan Belle’s Now or Never struck a sensitive nerve with me. As a 40 something wife and mother of two, I often find myself last on the list. I know, I know, we’re supposed to put ourselves first so we can better care for our families, but really? I don’t know many women who can do that. As working mothers we are constantly on the go, constantly satisfying someone else’s need, but rarely our own. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, when the time comes that our little ones are grown and head off to start wonderful lives of their own, we are left behind to pick up the pieces of lives we barely remember. At this point some women find their marriages are over (and may have been for some time) or may receive a bad health diagnosis. It is here that Now or Never gains its strength.
This book has a sexy and light-hearted way of showing women of a certain age (or any age really) that life is what you make it. Forget the age, the crow’s feet, the cheating husband or even the breast cancer and live in the NOW. Claire shows us the importance of fulfilling one’s dreams, desires and truths, even in the face of crisis. Now or Never got me to evaluate my own life’s journey and it was an eye opening experience. This book motivated me to start a bucket list of my own…I can only hope hubby has been taking his vitamins;)
By: Hope Tarr & Jenna Jameson
Published by: Skyhorse Publishing (October 21, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
“Single scoop, plain vanilla, huh? I wouldn’t have figured you for a vanilla girl.”
Sarah Halliday is beautiful, has a smokin’ body and a keen mind for business; she is also known as “Sugar,” the most adored woman in porn. With a sizable bank account, a successful production company and a stack of threatening fan mail, she’s ready to hang up her thong for a taste of normalcy and a chance to help her friend who is battling breast cancer. However, when sexy, rich playboy Cole Canning eyes her perfectly sculpted derriere in the frozen foods aisle of a local convenience store, life becomes anything but simple, or ordinary…for both of them. When Cole realizes the sultry siren’s true identity, they strike up a no strings attached arrangement in which they will reenact each of Sugar’s porn flicks and then walk away. It’s a win/win for both of them in which they can enjoy her past sexual escapades without the light and cameras…but all of the action. However, when two people share a sexual chemistry that sets the bed on fire, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain unaffected. Will love get in the way of this seemingly perfect relationship of sex and lust or will love get in the way?
I was really excited to read Sugar, a fictionalized account of some of Jenna’s real life exploits, and happily I got more than I expected. It’s a well-written, steamy story with great characters, a strong plot and a whole lot of scorching hot, sexy scenes that morph into something more along the way. All I can say is, “Lucky Jenna;)”
I loved that Sarah isn’t “just” a porn star; she is smart, strong, loyal and compassionate and a great interpretation of how a woman can successfully use her body AND her mind while maintaining her dignity and self-respect. You don’t have to be a porn star to appreciate that… we’re women, we get it. Cole is a delicious morsel of alpha male who can be sexy and strong, as well as sweet. The chemistry between these two is explosive and the scenes are *ahem* shall I say, “creative?” The subplot between Sarah and her friend Liz provides a welcome bit of the warmth of sisterhood and mysterious death threats add edge. If you’re looking for a hot read that doesn’t fizzle, Sugar is a fine example of sex with substance. October 21st can’t come soon enough;-D
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Published by: Penguin Group (September 3, 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
Set in the 90s, You Knew Me When begins when long estranged friends Katherine and Laney are requested to attend the reading of their beloved friend Luella’s will. Torn apart by guilt and stubborn pride these women have barely spoken in twelve years, harboring grudges despite the love they share as dear friends. The narrative shifts from past to present highlighting their innocent, youthful friendship and their present day animosity. The reader slowly learns the turn of events that break hearts and sever trust. Can these friends work through their insecurities and hurt feelings to find their way back to each other?
I enjoyed the differences in Kitty, Laney and Luella’s characters and found glimpses of myself in each of them. I particularly enjoyed how Kitty and Laney’s personas changed in adulthood yet many of their childhood traits remained. The timid, insecure Kitty leaves small town life for New York City where she recreates herself as Katherine, the independent, high-powered cosmetics empire mogul and Laney, whose dreams of escaping her sleepy home town in search of the glamor of big city life are traded for motherhood. Luella however remained a constant and steady source of wisdom and support that was comforting until the end despite her well-intentioned mistakes along the way.
You Knew Me When is an engaging story about the friendship and love that exists among women and will warm your heart as only your BFF can. Happily, it is also a tale of mended bridges and the rekindling of lost love; but is it also a cautionary tale of how friendships can be broken through miscommunication and misunderstanding. It’s a feel good book that soothes the soul. You Knew Me When is a light, easy read that will make you yearn for the friendships of youth when life was relatively untroubled, the possibilities were endless and you were comforted by the naive belief that people never grow apart.
I couldn’t help but think of my best friend from high school and wondered where she is today; it’s a melancholy type of feeling that I think only women can understand and appreciate and I was left with the comforting feeling that it’s never to late to go home. You Knew Me When is an empowering, feel-good story that illustrates the strength, love and wisdom that women share and made me glad to be part of the club. If you’re looking for a little “girl time” You Knew Me When is the book for you.
By: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (August 20,2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
“I stood and gazed at her, and, for a few seconds, I remembered how it had felt to be that girl, free of hunger, of fear, consumed only by idle thoughts of what private moments I might spend with Edouard. She reminded me that the world is capable of beauty, and that there were once things -art, joy, love- that filled my world, instead of fear and nettle soup and curfews. I saw him in my expression. And then I realized what I had just done. He had reminded me of my own strength, of how much I had left in me with which to fight.”
The Girl You Left Behind is a poignant story of love, loss and war that adeptly illustrates how the power of the human spirt can transcend tyranny, oppression and even misguided hatred and distrust of those you know and love. It is the story of a provincial shopgirl, Sophie, and a charming artist , Edouard, who astutely identifies the hidden strength and sensuality below Sophie’s modest demeanor and pursues her with a charmingly romantic innocence. Sophie is captivated, and to some extent intimidated, by his joie de vivre, his artistic passion and masculine strength. When Sophie begins to accept their attraction she lets her walls down and the sensual woman Edouard long envisioned is brought to glorious light in his painting, “The Girl You Left Behind.” This painting becomes the embodiment of their passion, love and commitment and is so powerful it transcends time and place.
The narrative fluctuates between Sophie and Edouard, torn apart by the ravages of WW I and 100 years later when a lonely widow, Liv, owns the mysterious portrait The Girl You Left Behind, which has become her lifeline after the sudden, tragic death of her husband. The reader slowly learns the mysterious fate of Edouard and Sophia, when a coincidental series of events unites Liv with a handsome stranger, Paul, who ironically, is searching for the painting. Liv’s reluctance to give up the painting to its seemingly “rightful” owners leads her on a quest for the provenance of the portrait. Believing the painting had been stolen by the Germans during the war Paul is hired to reclaim it, putting him in the unenviable position of hurting Liv, who he has become emotionally attached to, or returning it to the supposedly rightful party.
As the history of the portrait and Sophie’s story unfolds “The Girl You Left Behind” becomes yet another character in the plot, evoking the same passionate emotions as any living, breathing soul. Unfortunately, as desperately as Liv wants to cling to the painting and her past, the rest of the world is clamoring for her to right the wrongs of the war and return the painting to Edouard’s descendants. Liv’s attempts to prove she is the rightful owner of the portrait brings her closer to Sophie’s truth, as well as her own. Sophie and Liv are identifiable through the evocative portrait as enlightened women acting with the strong moral code of their own conscience, regardless of the social outcry to do “the right thing.” Will these women find their happy endings?
I have been quoted as saying Moyes has a distinct talent for weaving poignantly romantic stories with moral dilemma and The Girl You Left Behind is yet another moving example of her beautiful, yet thought provoking story telling. I loved the determination of Sophie and Liv, as well as the painting itself. For me, Sophie’s portrait took on an array of human qualities with its haunting, empowering gaze and reiterated the importance of art, creativity and passion.
Moyes creates a stirring emotional journey which slowly unfolds as Liv researches the portrait’s origins and I was captivated by Sophie and Edouard’s romance and tragic separation. I also cheered for Liv, the lonely widow afraid to leave her beautiful past behind, but is also longing to start living and loving again. I loved Paul for his solid interpretation of right and wrong, and hoped he would find happiness.
Can we do the wrong thing for the right reasons? Moyes brilliantly poises moral ambiguity within the context of what one might do to save herself or the ones she loves. The Girl You Left Behind poses this question with passionate depth and left me comforted with a satisfyingly conclusion in which good intentions are rewarded. Treat yourself to this touching story of love, loss and loving again, your soul will be glad you did.
Published by: St. Martin’s Press (February 12. 2013)
Reviewed by: Melissa
The Gin Lovers is a sexy romp with the aristocrats of Prohibition Era NYC that boldly looks at the plight of women who one day discover that the life they lead is not the life they want. Set amongst the glitz and glamor of New York City’s elite in 1925, this racy tale smartly examines the struggles of women who were ahead of their time and dared to want more than society was willing to allow.
This soap opera-like story begins with the star studded funeral of socialite, Geraldine Delacorte. The creme de la creme of NYC are out in droves to pay their respects to the matriarch of the Delacorte empire and you are swept into a world of luxury and privilege filled with excess and splendor. But is that what really matters? The story of Geraldine’s overbearing, pompous son, William, and his naive bride Charlotte is the perfect luxe backdrop to emphasize the point that there is no price that can be put on one’s happiness, heart, or soul. Pathologically desperate to keep his family’s name in pristine standing, William pushes Charlotte into the spotlight as the new head of the Delacorte clan, while hiding away his “embarrassment” of a sister, Mae. Charlotte is charged with the responsibility of redirecting rebellious young Mae from her current lifestyle which involves flapper fashions, speakeasies and an unquenchable attraction to a particular young woman.
Real drama ensues when Charlotte follows Mae into the exotic underground world of the flapper revolution and she begins to realize just how unfulfilled she is in her rigid, loveless marriage. Charlotte is swept away by the allure of a handsome stranger who lives his life according to his own rules, a true luxury she can only imagine. Charlotte is now faced with the moral dilemma of choosing between the golden handcuffs of her stifling marriage and her dreams of freedom to live and love on her own terms.
I love Brenner’s descriptive style; she has a gift for transporting the reader to the time and place of her choosing and I for one am always obliged to take the ride. The Gin Lovers is no exception. She immerses you in the decadence of NYC high society and pulls out all the stops. I could almost hear the clinking of champagne flutes, the clatter of sterling silver utensils on fine bone china and the swoosh of lavish couture gowns.
However, The Gin Lovers is more than a showcase of pretty clothes and finery. Themes of self acceptance, class structure, honesty, trust, love and lust, infidelity and redemption are all examined within the complex relationships of this book about “keeping up appearances.” I encourage you to read The Gin Lovers not only for the sexy scenes and pretty clothes, but for its interesting depth of character and darn good plot. What are you waiting for? A Gatsby-like ride is just one click away!