Wow, there’s Nothing On TV aka C-Spot Reviews: The Chained Heat Edition by Megan

Over the last few weeks, my reading increased in direct proportion to the number of cable shows’ season finales. Now that I’ve exhausted all the PVR’d episodes of various series I’ve been hoarding, I’ve started playing around with the “On Demand” selection of movies and series that was included with my cable package. Sadly, just because it’s “On Demand” doesn’t mean that it is “In Demand”.

One of the series I stumbled upon was Femme Fatales – which I thought could be interesting as I’m a big fan of the Noir genre. This anthology series is produced by Cinemax, which I didn’t discover until later is also known as Skinamax, and the first episode follows a Lindsey Lohan-like actress who’s sent to prison. Oh yeah, baby, Women in Prison. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor during the rather, uhm, vigorous sex scene between Lacey and her cellmate, Camille, I had a good laugh, seriously considered rewinding and was reminded of a few fanfic and lesfic stories. I know, I know – Women in Prison movies and pulp novels were exploitive, geared to push censor boundaries and titillate male audiences. But there are a few WiP lesfic stories that I loved – more for the absolute angst ridden melodrama than anything else (and, some hot smoldering sex behind bars). Once I thought about them, I just had to read them again. For research purposes of course.


Hard Times by Blayne Cooper From her days as Advocate in the fanfic world, I’ve always been a big fan of Blayne Cooper’s work. She has a wicked sense of humour with fast paced and imaginative plots and characters who stood out as vibrant, smart. Hard Times was one of the first “published” novels by Cooper that I read and I think it is an excellent example of successful transitioning from fanfic to publishing. Her humour is still there but there are more serious plot lines and I found the characters even more real and endearing than in her fanfic. Kellie Holloway is a privileged, self-destructive woman who ends up in prison after a drunken confrontation with the police ends in tragedy. Once there she meets Lorna Malachi, a woman who’s been incarcerated since she was a teen and has learned early how to toughen up and survive behind bars. An unlikely friendship (not really … since this is a pretty common trope in prison stories) develops and of course there’s a sizzling romance and at least one shower scene. Both main characters are flawed – making bad choices along the way and learning to deal with the consequences – but at the same time. If you haven’t read this one yet, I’d recommend it as a well written romance set in a not so typical setting .


Angel and Ice Trilogy by Susanne M Beck (Sword’n’Quill)
(Redemption, Retribution, Restitution)
Note: I read (and re-read) the fanfic versions of these books, and can’t tell you whether the published versions (issued in early 2000’s) have any major differences, editing, etc. According to Amazon, these books are still available in paper version, though the publishers that are listed are no longer in business. Fanfic versions can be found here: http://www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/redemption.html, www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/retribution.html , http://www.ausxip.com/fanfiction/r/restitution.html
Angst, romance, tragedy, deception, danger, corruption, noble sacrifices, soul mates (who are united, torn apart, reunited, torn apart and reunited again), scads of uber characters including a gang called The Amazons, lots of sex, lots of violence, an over the top plot that keeps getting more and more ridiculous, hilarious dialogue that makes the reader laugh out loud and a breathless florid narrative. I really shouldn’t … but I really love this story . This is a long series – in which the author seems to be having such a fun time telling the story from Angel’s perspective that she just doesn’t want to wrap things up and continues to throw up obstacles in the path of Angel and Ice’s quest for a Happily Ever After. And I had such a fun time reading it that I didn’t want it to end. Angel, who embodies her nickname, is convicted of killing her husband (but it was self defense as he beat and was about to rape her) and sent to The Bog to serve out her sentence. The Bog is a decrepit, corrupt and dangerous women’s prison full of gangs, crooked guards and …. lesbians. How could I not love this series? Once Angel has established herself as a person who can “get things” behind prison walls and settles in for what is going to be a long sentence, Ice returns. One of the most uber of uber characters, Ice is an assassin for the mob until she’s double-crossed and returned to prison where she resumes her leadership of the Amazons, a gang of self-appointed protectors of the innocent. Dark, brooding, stoic, noble and a total bad ass when it comes to fighting – of course she’s Angel’s soul mate. The first book focuses on Angel and Ice’s time in the Bog, the second follows them on the lam and the third continues as they deal with the aftermath of the second book. This series pretty much breaks the angst-o-meter, so be prepared to suspend your disbelief and enjoy.

Orange is the New Black
Based on a book by the same name, this is a standout new series produced and available through Netflix. I haven’t had a chance to watch any of Netflix’ other series, but they knocked this one out of the park. The actors, writing and production in this series are outstanding – something I wasn’t expecting from a company that doesn’t even have a channel on TV. The story follows Piper Chapman, a rather self-absorbed and entitled woman who ends up in prison for inadvertently being her ex’s mule in an international drug cartel. Chapman is a spoiled little rich girl, used to avoiding consequences and taking accountability for her words and actions and to say that she’s a fish out of water in prison is an understatement. Although she is the primary character in the series, I think Orange is the New Black shines through the ensemble cast. Unlike most series, each of the supporting characters back stories of how they ended up in prison is brilliantly portrayed – elevating what would normally be two dimensional, stereotypical background characters into fully developed and real women whose circumstances and choices led them to incarceration. Even better, as the series progressed, characters I liked, I learned to hate and those I hated I fell in love with. I started this series with almost no expectations – and finished it on the edge of my couch, devastated that I have to wait a year to find out what happens next.

Angel’s Heart by Mavis Applewater

The other day I came across a new fic posted at The Academy of Bards based on a “women in prison” theme – so I thought why no put together a list of fic’s on this topic. I guess that I should let you know though that I missed out on the English TV-series “Bad girls” which explains why I haven’t included any Nikki/Helen fan fic – I never caught that particular “bug”.

If you want an “education” in prison life look up “Redemption” by Sword’n’Quill (Susanne Beck) and take a walk with Angel and let her tell you the tale of her years in “The Bog”, of the righteous women of The Amazon gang who makes sure every one follow the rules and of her attraction to Ice – the leader of the pack of Amazons. You might know this story already as Incognito reviewed it back in October 2009, but I do think that it belongs on this list as I do agree with Incognito on the merit of the fic.

In “The Bog” you either wise up fast or go for an equally swift downward spin. Luckily enough Angel happens to make a narrow escape from a couple of beastly woman into the prison library very early in her “prison career”. This earns her the support of Corinne – the old and wise prison librarian – and the protection of The Amazons. It does take some time though before Angel sets her eyes on Ice but when she does, you get hit with the entire soul mate theme – of souls calling out and visions of past lives led and sacrifices made spinning around – this is a Xena Uber of the “original” kind!

“Redemption” is a drama with lots of fighting and with a very slow moving romance at its core, it’s well written, with a bit of funny dialogue at times as well as a broad storyline and a wide cast of “bad” women to entertain you. If you have amble time on your hands go look it up.

“Redemption” is the first in a series of three – the two sequels are titled “Retribution” and “Restitution”. I read the stories ages ago and I haven’t taken the time to do a complete rereading – so you are on you own with the sequels.

The very productive Mavis Applewater penned one of the first fan fic’s on the “women in prison” theme that I read. As a number of the fic’s by this author “Angel’s Heart” and the sequel “Angel Unchained” is more or less a PWP, but I think that the stories has a bit of an alt romance at heart even if the setting is a tad harsh and the “hot stuff” a bit rough and repetitive for my taste.

In the Angel’s series, you get to meet Angel and her small “family” of inmates at the Seaside Correctional Institution for Women. Angel – a three-timer doing an extended stretch of time at the facility – decides to “spread her wings” over Luann a desolated looking newbie who is unwilling to defend herself against the “brutes” in the prison. To keep Luann safe Angel has to “claim” Luann as her own and as you can imagine, this is done by public displays of sex – not once, but a number of times – those inmates has to be reminded ! But don’t worry, our Angel is pure at heart and even tough she harbours not only sexual but also romantic feelings for Luann, she doesn’t take advantage of her – it’s al just a bit of “acting” – at least for awhile.

I have no idea what a women’s correctional facility is like, but somehow I find it hard to imagine that women are as brutal or as sexually charged as portrayed in this fic, but who cares – it’s fiction right!

In “Prison Grove” by Geon Cannon the setting is almost the same, a harsh correction facility, a newbie and a seasoned inmate, two women falling in love and living out the romance and their sexual relationship under the restrictions of the prison rules. The plot in this storyline is even simpler than in Mavis’ “Angels series” as this story focuses solely on the 19 years old newbie Amy’s sexual maturing through her relationship with an older inmate. This fic is also a PWP, but with a slightly unexpected twist in the end.

A somewhat different approach is to be found in “Hard as Stone” by JL Nicky. This story is set in the 1930s and revolves around Sara (Stone) and Tammy (Twig’s) both doing time for murder. Stone is a quiet six feet tall, dark haired woman who keeps to herself, that’s until she sets eyes on the new green eyed girl Tammy, who is being pursued by “Snow and her sister White” ;-). Stone is the guarding angel that Tammy needs to survive in the The Bickett Correctional Facility, the one that will teach her how to breaking quarry rock, see to her aching back and open her eyes to the possibilities of romance. This is not a PWP – so don’t go to Bickett for hot sex. The story is a bit uneven in the storyline and with a changing focus, but it does fit nicely with the theme of “women in prison”.

If you like the theme you can take a look at three shorter fics that I’ve mentioned above, but don’t expect too much – they are entertaining enough, but not high quality neither in editing nor storyline.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/m/mavis_angelsheart.html

Redemption by Susanne Beck (a.k.a. Sword’n’Quill)

I have been reading Fan Fiction for a while and after some time it becomes redundant. Good, but not very creative. I kept on reading of course, but more out of habit than anything else. Until I found this! I have JUST found this and I am so TOTALLY excited about it!

This is, to me, a true Xena Uber, and an absolutely riveting novel. It is the story of Angel, a young woman from small town america, who elopes, trying to escape the boredom of her life. Things do not go as well as she thought they would, and her young husband becomes an abusive alcoholic. She kills him in self-defense when he comes home drunk one night and tries to rape her. An honest and truly good person, circumstances and people conspire against her and send her to prison for a 7 years to life sentence. This is her story, told in first person.

The characters you will find in this novel (and to me it is, and a wonderful one at that), are complex, full-bodied, some you’ll love, others you’ll hate, but none will leave you indifferent. There is a lot of violence, and descriptions of heartbreaking situations, courage that inspires, love and a great sense of humor.

This is probably my highest recommendation ever! I promise you will NOT regret this read.

http://www.pdafiction.com/sword.htm