Cheri Reviews The Art of Mapmaking by Thalia Fand

I don’t normally review erotic romance because it’s rare that I read it anymore. But I received a request from the author along with a free copy from audible. I do have a weakness for audiobooks. I also have affection for Dog Ear Audio, the publisher of the audiobook, so I figured I’d give it a shot. If I didn’t like it, I’d only be out a couple of hours but if I did, I’d enjoy myself and give a bit of exposure for a new author (I think. I haven’t checked if she’s written more) and Karen Wolfer’s great company.

The Art of Mapmaking is a short erotic romance that takes the reader from Sara’s dreams of seducing intelligent and attractive performer Casey to their coming true. I don’t want to say too much since the entire book is less than 2.5 hours long.

I was happy to get to see some relationship development before the sex started. I liked both of these women and was happy that they get together. I don’t think that’s a spoiler since, hello, it’s a romance. The sex was well done and we got more buildup than I thought there would be, which was a nice surprise.

I have to say that having someone act out sex in an audiobook is something that may take me a while to get used to. The narrator, Marie Debonair, did a great job. I felt like a voyeur and, because I have a strange affliction, giggled and laughed at every “pussy” mention. The moans and shudders and climactic exclamations were awesome and very authentic sounding. I kept thinking that if it had been me recording it, it would have taken hours because I’d have been on the ground laughing.

So, bottom line, I think anyone who enjoys erotic lesbian fiction will enjoy The Art of Mapmaking.

You can download a sample or purchase The Art of Mapmaking by clicking here. Click here to listen to a sample of the audio.

Kitty Reviews Best Lesbian Erotica 2014

Everyone deserves access to a decent erotica collection. Cracking open a box of naughtiness, sometimes sneaking a peek at the story titles or authors to skip ahead to a sure thing, lingering over a particularly hot tale, realizing you’ve neglected a few chapters because you keep re-reading that one scene. Or maybe that’s just me.

In an effort to be disciplined and comprehensive, I decided to read Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 from cover to cover without any detours. But I’ll be honest: my itinerary included a lot of u-turns back to Teresa Noelle Roberts’ “Birthday Butch.” In my imaginary collection of “Kitty’s Finest Lesbian Erotica Tales Guaranteed To Make You Purr (but only if you like a little kink with your smut),” this story gets an immediate invite. Ms. Roberts, let’s talk.

I suspect recovering Catholics will find that Catherine Lundoff’s “Reunion at St. Mary’s” will put an extra crackle in their communion wafer. Sinclair Sexsmith’s “A Good Workout” was just that – to the point and rather athletic. I sweated a few calories away just reading it. “Run, Jo, Run” by Cheyenne Blue is a sweet and complete story in which the making of love moved my cynical heart.

“Imaging” by Sharon Wachsler brought forth a peculiar response from me. I actively disliked the narrator so much that I didn’t enjoy reading about her sexual shenanigans. But then I realized I was letting my secret wish to root for a woman “overcoming physical adversity” obscure the fact that the “heroine” was a total (metaphorical) dick. Suddenly, I could enjoy the nasty fun as her ex and friends administered some justice.

It may be my imagination, but this particular collection features more non-erotic stories than usual. Anamika’s“Bridge Line” and Dolar Vasani’s “My Bagandan Princess” are well-written – the women and the specificity of their environments lingered in my memory – but the erotic moments slipped by quickly. “Stitch & Bitch” by A.L. Simonds was also “story-heavy” but it’s the one I most wished would be developed into a novella or novel. Priya, recycling the yarn from her ex’s sock to reclaim herself, meets living-on-the-edge pro skater Luisa. One “upright and bossy,” the other tenacious and vulnerable beneath the bravado, and together I wanted to read more, more, more.

Nairne Holtz’s “Call for Submission” and Amal Arabi’s “Tongue in Cheek” both went for an unexpected ending with a smirk. Only Arabi’s story worked for me. I’ll nominate it for sexiest and smartest intentional tease, but thank goodness I could flip back to “Birthday Butch” right away…

D.L. King’s “Big Lesbo Cupcakery” was a hoot and a half, the intensity of “What I Need” by Xan West scared the crap out of me (which probably recommends it to some readers), while Cheryl Jimmerson’s “Nocturne” and Diana Cage’s “Hey Stranger” just left me worrying about the relationships of all involved.

And then there’s “Mommy Is Coming,” an erotic screenplay from Sarah Schulman and Cheryl Dunye that was made into a film. This is smutty farce. Personally, I prefer a traditional narrative or watching a film to reading the stage directions, and I found the big reveal a crushing turn-off even as I saw it coming (so to speak). Maybe a live dramatic reading, though?

As more and more erotic collections zero in on specific themes – Sacchi Green is releasing a second erotic collection about lesbian cops this year – I appreciate the Best Lesbian Erotica series as an annual grab bag of erotic adventures. Now, please excuse me while I consider a proper gift for the birthday butch.

You can download a sample or purchase Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 by clicking here.

Kitty McSaucerton Reviews Uncommon Romance by Jove Belle

Please welcome Kitty McSaucerton to the C-Spot Review team!

After reading Jove Belle’s new book Uncommon Romance, I’m convinced that the novella is the perfect length for thoughtful erotica. I usually dislike “erotic novels” because the plot serves as flimsy filler between sexual encounters. Too often I am exasperated to the point of flinging my kindle (gently) across the bed, then tap, tap, tapping the ebook reader screen until an erotic short story anthology gets down to business quickly and efficiently.

Uncommon Romance includes three novellas that take full advantage of the longer-but-not-too-long story length to invest me emotionally and thoughtfully into the characters’ relationships. And, of course, some crazy sexy encounters fully engaged me, too. Ahem.

“Raw Silk” asks the question “how do two women in love negotiate bringing a third woman into their bedroom?” June and Ashlyn write a full essay on this over nine chapters, in a game of pursuit, resistance, negotiation, and hot, hot sex with the “other woman,” Kat.

I loved almost everything about this story: the glimpses into June and Ashlyn’s home life, the way they initially use Kat as fantasy material, and then Kat discovering who in the relationship has the power to say “yes” to sex. I even liked how Kat is a one-dimensional character with only sex with June on her mind, because then I didn’t worry about any hurt feelings when clearly June and Ashlyn are using her for their own sexual lubricant. I was truly emotionally invested in the couple’s romantic relationship. My only quibble: June and Kat meet in the workplace, and I had to willfully ignore the career implications (a common problem in lesfic and, dare I say it, lesporn).

“On Her Knees” made me blush deliciously. This is one intense story, with Abby meeting her high school crush/nemesis Simone at a work party (cue my HR anxiety again). The viewpoint switched between the two women, and they both work through some serious anger and desire issues. I loved the short scenes between Simone and her therapist, whose observations are pointed to a painful but necessary degree. Simone’s sessions made me laugh sympathetically. Why, indeed, did she end up wanting to snuggle with Abby after their raw sex? And is Simone just continuing to repeat her history of screwing straight girls? (Or, in this case, girls who are gay men’s beards at work?)

This novella’s sex scenes are front and center: Simone on her knees after placing Abby on the trunk of her car outside a party; Abby appreciating Simone’s “serious blow job” technique; and many other moments that surround Simone bemusedly telling Abby, “Oh, the things I want to do to you.”

Yet their relationship has an honest arc to it. While I never quite grasped what happened between them in high school, their conflicts and need for each other simply work for me. I found the ending, or rather the point in their developing relationship at which the story ends, to be immensely satisfying and hopeful.

The third story, “Hollis,” had a former life in shortened form as part of the anthology Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations. Jen and Hollis are two confident women who know what they like, and – to both their satisfaction – Jen’s skills in following orders perfectly matches the controlling dominance of Hollis. In some ways, I prefer the short story because my imagination filled in the “before” and “after” encounters between homicide cop Jen Lassiter and FBI trainer Hollis. Like any story developed past my own mental images, I couldn’t help but feel a disjoint between the author’s vision and my own.

The original short story dropped you quickly into a “take the perps down and cuff them” training exercise that served as rough foreplay for Hollis and Jen’s private power games afterwards. While the longer novella didn’t push my erotic buttons as much as the short story, I loved it for one specific piece of dialogue between Jen and her awfully young and naïve training roommate Reeva. As I highlighted this glimpse into why Reeva was recruited by the FBI, I realized something else: Sometimes I bookmark sex scenes in lesfic romances, but I really love highlighting smart dialogue and turns of phrases in erotica. Using that standard, Jove Belle’s Uncommon Romance is smart erotica, indeed.

Oh, and thank you, Jove Belle, for the scene where Hollis makes Jen say aloud “You do not have the power to ruin my career.” Finally, safer workplace sex.

You can purchase or download a sample of Uncommon Romance by clicking here.

December Book Binge – Week 1 or What I Did During Christmas Hiatus

For some reason or other I haven’t been reading as much as normal. It could be the fact that after three years, I got cable installed in my house and now I spend an inordinate amount of time watching Chopped and Iron Chef along with the odd sprinkling of Storage Wars, Parking Wars, Love It or List It, Dancing With the Stars, and others I’m too embarrassed to admit to. I’m beginning to remember why I decided against getting cable when I moved three years ago. Now that I’ve pretty much satiated my curiosity about what everyone seems to be watching all the time… and the fact that most shows are doing the “fall finale” thing … I’m back to reading and went on a bit of a e-book buying binge.

It seems that there is always a slew of new books released every month through BSB, Bella, and many of the other publishers and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on reading them – and in some cases increasingly disappointed when I make selections that are disappointing reads. So I figured I’d do a quick look at several new releases and give my first impressions.

This week’s reading was kind of a catch-all, running the gamut of speculative fiction, romance, uber, and erotica. At least I didn’t get stuck in a rut.

Silver Collar by Gill McKnight

If you haven’t read the Garoul series, stop reading this review and start reading the books. Seriously. Silver Collar is the fourth book and I like the way that the series and McKnight’s style is evolving. There’s still a wonderful undercurrent of humour in this one, especially with some cameos from Hope and Jolie (and yes the damned dog), but also a darker more serious tone, similar to Indigo Moon. Luc, the villain from Indigo Moon, is on the run – but not making it far as the mysterious illness is sapping her strength and her rationale. She ends up trapped by a scientist who is intent on revealing the Garoul’s secret to the world in order to avenge her father’s death years ago. Luc and Emily are at odds though most of the book in a “who’s got who” kind of struggle. I was curious to see how McKnight would handle transforming the manipulative and amoral Luc from Indigo Moon into a hero of her own story. It works well – pitting her against Emily who has no problem standing up against her and pushing right back. There were a few “Really?” moments in the book, but McKnight is adept at mixing in a bit of absurdity and I found myself more than willing to suspend my disbelief, giggle a bit and eagerly move on with the story. This is definitely a strong addition to a great series and I’m looking forward to seeing more of all the characters she’s introduced so far.

Crossroads by Radclyffe

Rad’s newest medical romance delivers what you would expect – hot doctors, emotional baggage, romance and HEA. Crossroads takes place in the Philadelphia and we get some cameos of characters from past books set here – Jett, Linda, Honor and Quinn. I have mixed feelings about having past characters make appearances in new books – there are fans of Honor and Quinn that love the chance to check in on their fave couple to make sure things are still going great; but, the scenes with Honor and Quinn detract from the budding romantic relationship between the protagonists.

The main characters are new – Hollis Monroe, the gorgeous and dedicated obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancy cases, and Annie Colfax, the lovely and wilful midwife who has some trust issues when it comes to doctors. There’s quite an obstacle for them to overcome early on and, refreshingly, they seemed to manage it like mature adults rather than wringing the angst out of it for half the book. This is a solid romance and it was nice to see the relationship build between the women rather than the instant soul mate attraction that sometimes rears its head in lesbian fiction. At the same time, Crossroads doesn’t deliver the same slow burn smolder that Fated Love or Turn Back Time did. I enjoyed this one more than the last few of Rad’s books – it had a believable plot and characters that were given time to develop – and I really do think she shines when she writes medical romances.

I just hope I never have to have surgery if I’m in Philadelphia, because none of the Doctors there ever get a good night’s sleep.

Love Match by Ali Vali

Love Match started out as online fiction and I will admit that it sold me on Ali Vali as a writer and got me to buy her early published works. With the published version of Love Match, Vali has made some changes – added a bit more exposition about both the characters and switched up a few things in the plot to give it a bit of a different flavour. It is still definitely an uber story and it managed to bring back all the things I loved about reading uber – the smart and sassy characters, snappy dialogue and a good dose of humour. There’s still some uber trope that irked me, but overall I quite enjoyed reading the more polished version and was quite happy that I took the plunge and bought this one.

When Parker King, a champion player both on and off the tennis courts, meets Sydney Parrish, a rather stern and serious commercial pilot, things get off on the wrong foot. Despite this, the sparks start to fly and Vali spends time developing both the characters and their growing romance. Sure, Parker is broody, rich and misunderstood and Sydney is spunky, stubborn and cautious to risk her heart again… but it’s a lesbian romance and its roots are uber. It works. There’s a few subplots conspiring to keep our lovers apart and injecting the requisite amount of danger and suspense. At times I kind of wish Vali skipped these and focused more on the developing romance. One expanded subplot didn’t sit well with me and I suspect that it was added and an extra justification but I found the additional POV distracting from the main story and it was a bit distasteful.

Summoning Shadows:A Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novel by Winter Pennington

Is it just me, or is it rather hot in here? This is the second in the Rosso Lussaria series and I would strongly recommend that you read Darkness Embraced first or you may be a bit lost. This is a different kind of vampire series, breaking from the current norm of having the vampires living openly or at least among humans and sometimes other supernatural creatures. In this series, the Vampires are isolated in their Clans, with little to no communication with other groups and next to no integration with humans – very unlike her Kassandra Lyall
series. I found both books in this series (and the Kassandra Lyall series) to be thoroughly enjoyable thanks to Pennington’s writing style and the characters.

Summoning Shadows picks up shortly after Darkness Embraced, with another attack on the Clan. Epiphany, Renata and Iliaria, after a good long roll in the hay, set out to forge alliances in order to protect the Rosso Lussaria and other vampires from the rogue Dracule who seems intent on destroying them all. It was nice to see the characters leave the Sotto – one of my main complaints with the first book is that it all took place in the underground home of the Rosso Lussaria and there was little interaction with anyone or thing outside that rather insular world. The second book expands the world and we get lots more action and world building – and I’m quite fascinated with the Dracule and Azrael. The characters are more than engaging – even the ones you aren’t supposed to like – and as the main character, Epiphany’s confidence in herself as well as her own powers is further developed.

This is a book that I would classify as bordering on erotica – there is a fair bit of very hot and heavy sex in it and a bit of kink. If that interests you, definitely pick this one up. If it doesn’t, you may want to give it a try because Pennington’s writing is strong enough to keep a good balance so that the sex doesn’t overwhelm the plot and her characters are compelling. Just don’t read it on the bus.

** All these books are available in e-book format through and Kindle books are released a few weeks after the paperbacks come out.**

Cast the Card Anthology from Storm Moon Press

A month or so ago, I had reviewed Burn the Brightest which was a standalone story from Storm Moon Press’ Cast the Cards Anthology. Reading a story outside of a themed anthology can be a bit odd as the author is normally inspired or writing towards a particular theme – in this case the Tarot. I’ve since received the entire anthology from the publisher and have had the opportunity to read all the stories in context of the over-arching theme.

Cast The Cards is an eclectic six story collection which includes general fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy and all would fall into the erotic-romance with a variety of pairings from F/F, M/F/M, and M/M. Some stories are more graphic than others, but the sex isn’t the focus of the stories – rather the characters and relationships.

It’s interesting to see how each of the authors incorporates the themes of their chosen cards – some are pretty easy to find the inspiration and symbolism whereas others are a bit more subtle. This makes a rather fascinating theme for an anthology as the reader can enjoy the stories as they are or try to look deeper into how the cards shaped the stories and characters. The Tarot is meant as divination but also of introspection – there are so many interpretations to the cards and their relationship to one another and to events in the reader’s life can alter them dramatically.

As in most anthologies, some stories were stronger than others. There was one that I had some difficulty getting through, but it was more likely because of the subject matter not really being of much interest for me. I think the stories with a more fantasy theme were stronger but, once again, that’s more likely my own reading preference showing through. If you don’t mind mixing up your pairings, there are some good stories in this one. Overall I liked it, and one was a stand-out for me with two more coming in as a very close to stand-outs.

Burn the Brightest by Emily Moreton (The Fool) – reviewed here:

The Direction of the Greatest Courage by Erik Moore (The Hermit) The Hermit is a card of knowledge, usually self-knowledge and the acceptance of what one knows and doesn’t. This is a pretty straightforward story (forgive the pun) of a young man entering into a poly relationship. The first few paragraphs resonated with me and made me give this story and the character a bit more attention that I normally would have. One line “Being a bisexual woman is hard enough, but to be a bisexual man is to be erased.” made me stop and think a bit. In this story, Jason knows what he is and struggles with how to balance his attraction to both men and women against the rejection he’s received from partners, and society, in his past.

The Grief of the Bond-Maid by Janine Ashbless (The Hanged Man) The Hanged Man symbolizes self-sacrifice for a higher goal and the chance for renewal. This story captures this theme in the quest that Sjofn, a Skien Witch whose evil wizard master has pulled an Odin, hanging himself from an Ash tree in order to become all-powerful, and she is desperate to find a person who can help her thwart his plans in time. The spirit of the person who she is led to is a Griffin, half lion-half eagle, and it turns out is actually two warriors – Thorkell and Bjarni. Together, they set out and travel through the nine Norse realms that the wizard has replicated in order to stop him. I liked this quite a bit – how can you not love anything that incorporates Norse Mythology? Unfortunately, as this is a short story, what happens in each realm is glossed over and I would have loved more details to have been provided.

Surrender by K Piet (The Tower) The Tower is a card of change – conflict and disruption, often a bit of chaos as the walls come crumbling down – but also of personal transformation. This is an apt card for the story which is a BDSM story in which Aaron, a Dom, finds the tables turned on him at a club and he becomes the Sub. Aaron’s experience causes him to question a lot of his assumptions about BDSM and the roles within it. This is the most graphic of the stories and if you are not a fan of BDSM it may not be for you.

Blazing Star by Marie Carlson (The Star) The Star is the card of Sanctuary and hope, bringing renewed understanding, confidence and peace of mind. This was my favourite. Some short stories are self-contained with a beginning, middle and end. Blazing Star seemed to drop you in the middle, give you glimpses of a much larger story and then leave you with a yearning to know what led up to the events in the story and, more importantly, what happens next. I wasn’t dissatisfied with the story in the least – the author did a great job of whetting my appetite, but I think this one would make a very cool novel. If the author never writes a novel based on this, then this still makes a very cool short story. I’d classify this as Urban Fantasy and I think this story incorporates the Tarot them quite well. Breaking from her family’s tradition of being Hunters, Bea is a mind-reader and spell-caster who has stepped back from the active battles and provides a sanctuary to those who do Hunt. Hope, her lover, returns to her, devastated at not being able to save the family she had been sent to protect and troubled by some unnamed trouble that seems to be brewing. Blazing Star seems to be an oasis in-between the larger story that happens outside the pages of this story, but is wonderfully self-contained with enough glimpses and hints to do a fascinating bit of world-building without even leaving Bea’s home.

Oneiros by S L Armstrong (The Moon) The Moon symbolizes dreams, imagination and the unconscious mind and can be the fear of things past come back to infect the present or future. At the same time, the Moon can illuminate secrets and hidden truths. Caleb is a young man, recently diagnosed as HIV positive, who finds a haven in his world of dreams, where is seduced by Morpheus. Unable or unwilling to deal with what is happening in his life, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Morpheus’ desire. As is always the case, seduction by a God rarely turns out well for the human and Caleb continues to withdraw from the waking world despite the efforts of Scott, a man he meets in the doctor’s office, who offers him an anchor of friendship and love. I loved the premise of this one and enjoyed the story but I must admit I felt bad for Caleb’s cat.

Nights of Silk and Sapphire by Amber

When I encountered the story for the first time, I put it away almost at once: a writing exercise in erotic love scenes? And set in a quasi 1001-nights context? Gawd…

The other day, however, I read a remark on Facebook which was full of praise for the story, and that made me curious.

In brief, Dae, a daughter of a well-to-do family, is captured by slave traders when she crosses the desert of Jaharri. After Zafirah Al’Intisar, Scion of the great city of El’Kasari, eliminates these traders (because they had been unwise enough not to follow the laws of the desert), Dae becomes part of Zafirah’s harem, but she makes it clear from the start that she will never *ever* engage sexually with her new mistress. Lucky for her, that Zafirah is not into forcing herself onto the unwilling.

Of course, Dae’s attitude changes over time; her sexual awakening and her growing respect, later attraction, for and to her “captress” build the ground for the erotic love scenes the story was written for in the first place.

And whadda-you-know, despite my misgivings I actually liked it. Not only did the authoress treat the subject with taste, she also built enough material around it that a real plot could develop. As Amber herself says, “what was to be a short tale quickly grew and evolved into what I consider to be a fairly good … story”, and I have to agree.

I can’t help being reminded of Chopin’s etudes: music to tax the abilities of a pianist, but still nice to listen to.

A very interesting read.