Friday, November 22, 2013

The Wicked Confessions of Lady Cecelia Stanton

This is a novella in diary format of the confessions of Lady Cecelia Stanton. When Cecelia "CeeCee" Stanton marries the rakish Lord Stanton she is a virgin and knows nothing about sex. Her first time with her husband was a painful experience for her and when her trusted maid, Bess, offers to take her under her tutelage to learn the arts of bedplay she agrees and learns how to make sex a more pleasurable experience for herself. Things get complicated as CeeCee relies more and more on the love and friendship of Bess.

I really enjoyed this novella and would definitely read more from the author. I found the story to actually be a bit sad, yet very sexy at the same time. It wasn't quite as erotic as I'd liked it to have been and I'd love to see a continuation of the book or maybe just a chapter or two more. The ending did seem a bit abrupt to me, but the overall reading experience was quite enjoyable. 

I'm giving The Wicked Confessions of Lady Cecelia Stanton 3 out of 5 stars.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of NetGalley and Escape Publishing. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Hatsukoi." (Ren'Ai Rensai #2)

"Hatsukoi." (meaning 'First Love' in Japanese) is the second book in the Ren'Ai Rensai series. The series is the story of the relationship of two Japanese women, Aiko and Reina. The series spans the time of about 20 years, from their first meeting to their marriage and beyond. Even though this is a series, the books can be read out of order and they themselves aren't in chronological order. For example, in the first book "Daisuki." (I Love You) we meet Aiko and Reina twenty years into their relationship. This second book, we are taken back to the winter of 1992 when they first meet and become a couple.

Reina is spending her time sleeping her way through the Tokyo lesbian scene (nothing new there) and performing in an idol group at a scummy theater. Aiko we find studying English at a women's university and trying to ward off her creepy ex-boyfriend, Daisuke. Michiko also appears throughout this book as she hasn't yet moved back to America (in the first book she resides in California). 

Aiko is unsure of her sexuality during this time period. She's only dated men, but has never felt anything towards them. Even though she hasn't ever felt particularly amorous towards a man, she's never considered that she might not be straight. Meeting Reina, a member of the same musical group as her cousin, she's introduced to the first (two!) lesbians she's ever met. For some reason, she finds herself drawn to Reina. She can't get her off her mind. After some innocent flirting she accepts a date with Reina, but keeps their budding relationship secret from family and friends. Instead she tells them she's dating a mysterious fake man named Ren Itou. 

Reina (aka Ren Itou, lol!) is unsure if she's ready to be someone's girlfriend. Many women have tried to get her to settle down, but she loves her life of promiscuity. The only woman she has feelings for is her best friend and lover, Michiko. Anyone else (Aiko included) will just have to accept that Reina will never be monogamous. Michiko also has her own issues, which I won't reveal due to spoilers. But, I was shocked. I didn't expect these particular issues from her.

Like the last book, I have a hard time even considering this book erotica. Sure, the sex in the book is explicit and maybe every other chapter or every few chapters. But this series just seems to be so much more. As a heterosexual, I can relate to the characters and their stories. It's all just typical relationship stuff that people in any relationship might deal with (for example, Reina's lack of emotional and verbal affection towards Aiko). This series is also fun and romantic and I'd recommend it to anyone straight or gay who is looking for a slightly sexier, unique read. 

Also, anyone who is interested in Japan would love this series. I always learn so much and I love that the author focuses on modern Japanese culture. So much of the Japan we see in the media is the stereotypical ninjas, samurais, or geisha. These books are just focused on regular contemporary Japanese people which I enjoy so much more. It seems like in each chapter I learn something about Japanese society and traditions. Not to mention, some Japanese vocabulary to boot! I do wish that the author would include a dictionary of the Japanese words used throughout the book. Usually, I can guess by context clues, but having the reference point would really come in handy ;)

I'm giving "Hatsukoi." 4 out of 5 stars and I can't wait to read the next one.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Samantha's Revenge

Samantha's Revenge is a short story by blogger Amy Redd, also known as Anal Amy. Her blog is the only sex blog that I follow regularly. Since I enjoy the writing on her blog, I decided to try a few of her eBooks. This is the first I read and it was fairly enjoyable. Again, it's just a short story so not much character development or background information.

Samantha has been bullied by a guy from her high school named Fabio. For some reason, Samantha also has dated or hooked-up with Fabio several times in the past. He is relentlessly cruel to her. She decided to get revenge on him by sleeping with him. Which I don't understand at all. 

A little background info, Fabio had shared pictures of Samantha giving him a blow-job on several occasions while making fun of her weight and making her feel ugly and disgusting in front of other people. So, part of her revenge is sleeping with him and handcuffing him to a bed and she then takes pictures of him performing oral on her and writing something on his stomach about how he likes fat chicks while she rides him. Then, when she's done she just ups and leaves him still cuffed to the bed, for their peers to find. 

This short story was decent enough though, I can't say I'd "punish" my bully by sleeping with him even if we had a relationship in the past and my intention was to embarrass him. I wasn't a big fan of the characters, but I'm giving Samantha's Revenge 3 out of 5 stars. It was a quick, entertaining read and only for .99.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Daisuki. (Ren'Ai Rensai #1)

I've been wanting to read Daisuki for quite a while now. I kept putting it off because I went through a spell of trying to only read wholesome and/or religious books. I'm Mormon, an adult convert, trying to do things "by The Book", but that hasn't worked out so well for me. I still love The Church, but I also still love reading a naughty book every once in a while, too. In fact, I've decided to try and read more. Not out of some sort of rebellion, it's just what I'm in the mood for lately, no pun intended

Anyways, Daisuki is the first book I can recall reading where the main characters are lesbians. I've seen movies that focus on lesbian couples and have always enjoyed them, so why not books too? I love reading about the dynamics of female friendships, relationships take it to a whole other level. This was a very interesting read for me. I loved this book. Both main characters, Reina and Aiko, I just loved them. I wish I knew them in real life. I wish they'd turn this book into a movie. Not a porn, but a movie. 

This book offered way more than sex. I think the term used on Amazon "erotic romance" describes it better than erotica. Erotica- to me- suggests there's maybe not much romance and the point of the reader reading the book is for the sex. This book was so beyond that. It certainly had romance. It had heart. It was sweet and tender and sometimes very serious. I learned a lot about Japanese society and it's view of gays and lesbians and Japan's perception of female stereotypes and our roles in the workplace and home. Gender identity and gender roles play a big part in Daisuki. Here's an excerpt from the book:
"Maybe, after so many years of societal pressure and conditioning, Reina lost touch with her own identity. Is that sort of thing even possible? She worked, she wore business suits, she smoked and drank beer at dinner, and she loved nothing more than brandishing a fake phallus and dominating feminine women. But she didn't used to define herself by those things. When did everything change?"
Reina towards the end of the book definitely has an identity crisis. I just really felt for Reina, even though I have not had the same identity crisis as Reina, I think everyone can relate in some way to trying to fit themselves in the perfect mold of what they should be according to societal norms. There's always that cliche of how one should act or what they should like. Look, I'm having my own mini-identity crisis right now. I am Mormon and reviewing a freaking book that's not only erotic, but lesbian.

Another thing this book explores are difficulties in relationships. Aiko and Reina have a few things that cause stress in their relationship. One would be Reina's lack of verbally relating to Aiko that she loves her. Aiko would also like to- at least- symbolically get married. However, Reina doesn't feel exactly the same. We later find out that has more to do with Reina personally and less to do with how she feels about Aiko. To add even more confusion to their relationship, both Reina and Aiko have side-lovers that they see and will sometimes bring women into their bed to enjoy together. Another stress factor is that neither of their families accept their relationship- nor take them seriously as a couple- even though they've been living together for almost 20 years.

Like I said, I loved this book. As soon as I was done reading it, I bought the next one Hatsukoi. I am giving Daisuki 5 out of 5 stars. I have a feeling this is going to become one of my favorite series. I would recommend this book to anyone. It had everything I enjoy in a book. It was based in a foreign country, it explored feminist topics and gender roles, I learned stuff, and it was romantic, sweet, and fun.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Gift

The Gift is the first erotica I've read in over a year. When I originally downloaded it to my Kindle it was free  and I'm familiar with some of Harlequin's other series, so I thought, "what the heck". The four other erotic novels I've read have all been in the BDSM category as well. This one is definitely a lighter read in my opinion. Not quite as dark and twisted as Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, which is comprised of three of the four erotic books I've read.

I actually really liked the story in The Gift. I didn't realize it's part of a series called The Original Sinners and I'm now interested in reading the other books. The main character is named Eleanor and The Gift starts out with Eleanor's master dropping her off at the home of Daniel for a "seven day loan". Eleanor has never met Daniel before, but they have an instant attraction and even begin falling in love. This is complicated because Eleanor also loves her master and doesn't want to leave him even though Daniel would like for that to happen. 

Daniel seems like a really great guy to me and I hope to see them get together permanently later in the series. Daniel is a librarian whose wife recently passed away from cancer. He is very distraught and won't even leave his property. Eleanor helps bring him out of his grief during their short time together. Just the fact that he's a librarian made him seem so much sexier in my mind. Men that read... I can barely contain myself. When I hear my own guy talk about books... God, it's so attractive. Not just having reading as a hobby, but being a librarian on top of that is icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

The sex in the book was very interesting. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think the author did a great job at not making it sound too cheesy or awkward, while still making things very hot and heavy between the characters. Cheesy is always something I'm worried about in erotica especially when it comes to books published by Harlequin. Then again, most of the Harlequin books I read are the Christian Love Inspired ones. Tiffany Reisz did a great job making things very steamy and sexy while still allowing the characters to show an emotional connection, which I think must be hard to do while writing kinkier sex.

I'm giving The Gift 4 out of 5 stars.