24 January 2014

Just Like Heaven


Originally published as IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE

Synopsis: What do you do when you find a stranger in your closet, particularly when she's surprised that you can even see her – and she can disappear and reappear at whim? What if she then tells you that her body is actually in a coma on the other side of town? Should you have her see a psychiatrist or should you consult one yourself? Or do you take a chance and believe in her, and allow yourself to be swept up in an extraordinary adventure?

This is the beginning of the dilemma that Arthur, a young San Francisco architect, is faced with when he discovers Lauren in his apartment.

Arthur is the only man who can share Lauren's secret, the only one who can see her, hear her, and talk to her when no one else so much as senses her presence. So when doctors prepare to end Lauren's physical care – which would destroy the magical bond she and Arthur cherish – he must find a way to save her. For, after all, it is only her love that can save him.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback (movie tie-in), published by Pocket Books, 2000; 229 pages; purchased at a library sale.

My thoughts: When I saw this book at a library sale I snatched it up, because I very much enjoyed the movie version with Reece Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. Usually (in my experience anyway), the book is better than the movie, but in this case, the book fell flat for me. The movie is a romantic comedy, but the book is more of a philosophical love story. The makers of the movie took the basic premise of the story – doctor wrecks her car, is in a coma, leaves her body and begins hanging around with the man who rents her apartment – and then changed pretty much everything else. Even the main characters' names are different in the movie.

For the most part, the book was a bit boring. I didn't connect with the characters, and none of them really stand out. We get to know the morose Arthur pretty well, but Lauren is still just a ghost at the end (metaphorically speaking), with not much of a personality of her own. A day after finishing the book, I can't remember much of it at all, though scenes from the movie are still vivid in my head even though I’ve not seen it in probably over a year.

I think I'm gonna go see if it's available for streaming on Netflix now.

17 January 2014

The Prince's Lash (Saga of the Eastern Crown, Book I)


Synopsis: Purchased by a dangerous, blood-thirsty Queen before she is even in her teens, Daniella joins the ranks of Queen Anca's "servantettes," charming and pampered young ladies-in-waiting. She uses her enchanting ways and cunning intellect to gain the Queen's favor and survive in a world gone mad.

But when she comes of age, Daniella must face the ceremony required of all new adults in the Court of the Queen of Persia: initiation at the hands of the Priest of Discipline into the Order Sangre. She prays she can prove herself well enough to survive the dark and erotic ritual.

But Daniella has a secret: her family still follows the Old Religion, and in a weak moment, she is unable to shield her mind from the probings of the Queen. Her worship at the Mass of her beloved Old Religion is discovered -an act of heresy punishable by death.

From her childhood, Daniella has loved the Imperial Prince of the Eastern Crown, son of the Empress Regina. He is the one person Daniella has ever seen Queen Anca bow before, and the Queen's fear of Nikolai is the only thing staying her hand from requiring the ultimate penalty of Daniella, whom she now regards as a heretic. He has promised to return and claim her as his agonie aperitiv - his “appetizer” who derives pleasure from pain. He does return, but not before she experiences the greatest grief and loss in her short life. Worse, his rescue only delivers her to his mother, the Empress Regina, who insists she must birth an heir to the kingdom or be hanged.

In a world full of fear and horror and blood, love scalds her with arousal and longing but no relief. Is the Imperial Prince Nikolai her savior, or has he only delivered her to a hell filled with treachery, religious wars, and a kingdom ready to revolt? Will she ever know love and peace in her prince's arms?

Publisher's Note: Originally published as "The Vampire's Lash," by Nattie Jones, this darkly-erotic romantic adventure contains BDSM elements and some violence.

First line: I loved the queen as a puppy loves its master.

Stats for my copy: E-book, published by Blushing Books, 2013. I won this book from the author after participating in Ana'sAdvent Calendar

My thoughts: I LOVE that opening line.

I've kind of drifted away from vampire romance lately, having gotten a little burned out I guess. And the world of royalty and court has never been one of my favorite genres. But this is not your typical vampire romance. It's a strange world, where vampires rule. Daniella has been a favorite of the Queen of Persia since she was a child. Queen Anca is an evil ruler, and in Persia there is no freedom of religion. Everyone must worship in the Order Sangre, the vampire religion.

When Daniella is 12, Prince Nikolai comes to visit Queen Anca. His mother, the Empress of the Eastern Crown, wants heirs one day, and it is decided that he will come back to fetch Daniella when she is of age.

There's a lot of court and church intrigue, oppression of humans, and whipping. Each court has a disciplinarian, who's job is to administer punishment. At Empress Regina's court it's Lord Vali, the Court Chastiser. Charming, often respectful, I found him to be very intriguing and was more interested in him than in Prince Nikolai. Daniella is also drawn to him, or rather to his crops and paddles. She dreads punishment yet yearns for it at the same time. Prince Nikolai spanks her, and she constantly hopes for him to do so again.

It took me a little while to get into the overall story, but somewhere about halfway through I realized I didn't want to put it down. It would be late, I'd be sleepy, but I would think “just one more chapter”. Then when I reached the end of a chapter and glimpsed the next one I would find myself continuing on. Daniella is not a heroine I can relate to, I can't imagine actually wanting to be on the receiving end of a crop. But I was certainly rooting for her to get a happy ending.

And I've already purchased the second book, which just from reading the blurb I think I'm going to like even more. 


In the Court of the Empress Regina in London, the child of Princess Consort Daniella and Imperial Prince Nikolai has been born, and Daniella's long-time servant Kiana is the child's beloved nursemaid. Dark forces, however, are at work and tragedy strikes: Kiana's father is killed saving Daniella from an assassin, leaving Kiana friendless at the Court, at the mercy of the dark rulers. Worse, Kiana's brother Galen is alone, still in Persia, in the clutches of evil Queen Anca.

Kiana realizes she must save her brother, no matter what the cost, but her attempts at leaving the court are ill-fated; she is caught both trying to steal jewels to finance the escape, and then caught in the escape attempt itself. Yet, against all expectation, the Prince helps Kiana. He could have turned her over to the dark discipline of the priests of the Order Sangre, or even have had her executed; instead, he leaves all behind and make her a devil's bargain: submit to him in every way, and he himself will take her back to Persia himself.

Kiana has no choice but to agree, even though it means putting herself at the mercy of Imperial Prince Andrew. And soon, Kiana finds herself no different than her mistress: an agonie aperitiv - an "appetizer" of pain - to a dark vampire Prince.

But unlike her mistress, she could never learn to love one such as he. Could she?

Publisher's note: The Prince's Tawse is an erotic romance of love and loss in a future world gone mad, a world in which vampires and humans co-exist. It contains erotic BDSM themes, including spanking and anal punishment.

01 January 2014

Aching to Submit

Synopsis: Though deeply in love with her husband Michael, for years Sophie has longed to give him not only her love, but her submission as well. In spite of her yearning to kneel at his feet, fear of rejection keeps her from sharing the truth with him. Though she would never give her body to another man, her need to submit drives her to seek out others like herself and learn more… until Michael discovers her deception and she fears her marriage may be over.
Despite the anger and sadness which tear at his heart when he learns that his wife has kept such an important secret from him, Michael is not going to give up the love of his life without a fight. It will take time, but he is more than ready to be the man she needs, the man to whom she will gladly submit. First, though, she must be firmly disciplined for her betrayal of his trust…
Standing naked before her husband, awaiting a punishment which will bring her to tears and leave her bare bottom red and sore, submission suddenly feels truly real to Sophie for the first time. As Michael asserts his dominance more and more with each passing day, Sophie begins to see him in a way she has never seen him before, and her desire for him seems to know no bounds. But is this just a second honeymoon of sorts, or will Sophie’s submission endure through the trials of everyday life?
First line: Sophie drew the curtains of the study windows closed.

Stats for my copy: E-book, published by Stormy Night Publications and Design, L.L.C., 2013. I won this book from the author after participating in Ana's Advent Calendar 

My thoughts: I'm going to admit right now that while I've read lots of erotica (ok, maybe not “lots”, but quite a bit), I am very very new to reading domestic discipline stories, and not really familiar with the lifestyle. At all. Which I realized more and more as I got further into this book. And I believe this book is a good primer for anyone wanting to learn more.

I'm not going to go into a synopsis of the story, as the one I pulled from Goodreads up above does a pretty good job, except to mention that there is a third character, Kyan, who owns a club Sophie goes to while Michael is out of town, and who takes her, and later Michael, under his whip, er, I mean, wing, and guides them on their journey. Kyan is an important part of the story, as he provides much wisdom and insight.

I prefer stories that are character driven over plot driven, and ACHING TO SUBMIT fits that category quite nicely. The characters are richly drawn, and likable and relateable (is that a word? My spell check thinks not.). The author gets deep into their heads and explores their thoughts and emotions. Sophie is drawn to the club, to the lifestyle, without understanding why or what it fully encompasses. She loves her husband, but after a couple of miscarriages and a move to a new country, and with Michael traveling a lot for his job, she is unhappy and dissatisfied. She fantasizes about being spanked, but when Kyan offers to do it for her, she is unable to accept, wanting to share the experience with Michael. But she is afraid to tell Michael.

When Michael does learn of her desires, he willingly steps into the role of dominant. He adores Sophie and will do anything to make her happy. But he is also nervous, worried that he will really hurt her, and then worried that there is something wrong with him when he realizes how much he likes being in charge and doling out punishment. Both characters do a lot of soul searching as they learn and adjust to the new experiences. And they also talk about it, discuss it, and learn to communicate with each other about it.

I feel that I now have a better understanding of domestic discipline. Do I want to experience it myself? Eh, let's not go that far. But I will continue reading about it, and I definitely want to read more from this author.