Secrets and Sin | Erotica Reviews, October 1, 2015

Secrets and Sin There’s only one concept in erotica that’s more seductive, more enticing than the sex itself, and that’s secrecy. In this month’s selections, secret desires spoken aloud change forever the lives of couples—some for better, some for worse, and others for both. Heidi DuCane speaks her mind, realizing the incredible passion and enormous risk of bringing a sexy rock star third into her bedroom in Tryst, while fetish novices unearth hidden kinks in the 2015 BDSM Writers’ Con Anthology. Secrets can also serve a much darker purpose, as Wicked Release’s Jess discovers while enduring the repercussions of her deceased sister’s covert BDSM lifestyle and illegal drug dealing. Read on for more erotica that skillfully employs the art of the arcane.

Shhh; it’s a secret

BDSM Writers Con Anthology: 2015. BDSM Writers Con. 2015. 106p. ed. by Charley Ferrer. ISBN 9780996273107. pap. $10; ebk. ISBN 9780996273114. EROTICA

bdsm293015Separated into “gradients” of BDSM, this anthology commemorating the 2015 BDSM Writers’ Conference, held in New York August 20–23, 2015, begins with BDSM Light, BDSM Advanced, and a final BDSM Dark piece. In the foreword, conference founder and sexologist Ferrer brings up contemporary issues of being involved in the scene, namely the tension of the term’s increased recognition allowing for inaccurate, harmful depictions for the sake of book and movie sales. This collection is meant to titillate with a more realistic, layered portrayal of people involved in the BDSM lifestyle. Stories include details that reflect a practiced knowledge of the scene, e.g., explicit discussion of safe words, repeated safe calls or text messages when going somewhere isolated with a play partner, and distinguishing pain-based D/s from primarily sexual dominance and submission. What some contributions lack in style they make up for in content, drawing the reader in to even the most taboo of fantasies. Though a majority of the stories depict dominant men with submissive women, certain tales, such as Kestra Gravier’s “NSFW,” break the mold. Corporate professional Mathias Permian commands power and respect in his professional life but finds nothing more erotic than submitting to a woman. He has his sights set on coworker Aliz, and the two discover her dominant side. Cris Anson’s “It Takes Two To Tango” reflects the edgier content of BDSM Advanced, as Cheryl rekindles her dormant submissive nature upon meeting a seductive tango partner, who pushes her to pleasure with bondage and knife play. ­VERDICT A worthy title; recommended for collections seeking to rejuvenate their BDSM erotica holdings.

Collins, Katana. Wicked Release. Kensington. (Wicked Exposure, Bk. 2). Dec. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9781617736391. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781617736407. EROTICA

Returning to her hometown of Portland, ME, after her sister Cassandra dies, Jessica uncovers a secret life involving Cassandra’s rich boyfriend Elliot Warner (also known as Master), BDSM parties, and an underground drug ring. Jess refuses to accept that her sister’s death is simply a “robbery gone bad” and, despite the danger it might bring, is determined to get to the bottom of what she knows is murder. Unfortunately, this requires the help of Cass’s aloof dominant Elliot and Jess’s cop ex-boyfriend Sam. As the plot thickens, Jess uncovers years of dirty work that might even blow open the case of her parents’ tragic deaths 12 years earlier. Told from shifting perspectives, the novel provides a well-rounded view of its occasionally convoluted plot but could still be confusing for readers unfamiliar with the previous series title, Wicked Exposure. Suspense is complemented with heady sex scenes and the romantic melodrama of Sam and Jess’s fraught, passionate past, her odd attraction to Elliot, and her lingering flame with Cassandra’s friend Dane. VERDICT Tight writing and nonstop action promise a classic crime page-turner with thwarted love, kinky sex, and drama at every turn; the cliff-hanger ending will leave readers eager for more. Perfect for fan of thrillers with an added dash of spice.

redstarGraves, Melissa. Tainted Heart. Interlude. (Mi Corazón Sangrante, Bk. 2). Nov. 2015. 294p. ISBN 9781941530528. pap. $17.99; ebk. available. EROTICA

The lively second installment in Graves’s “Mi Corazón Sangrante” series picks up with vampire Kyle and human Brian battling to do their part for the vampire-human relations movement, while maintaining the love that rendered them inseparable in Bleeding Heart. Back in school, Kyle finds himself a supportive group of young vampires, but new friend Max tempts him in a way that is definitely not platonic. Meanwhile, Brian is forced to ponder the inherent long-term complications of dating a vampire, all the while contesting the cold disapproval of his well-to-do father. As the two men work to make their relationship stronger, a mysterious virus surfaces that manifests unforeseen illness in the local vampire population. When the virus hits close to home, the men’s love might end up a matter of life and death. Steamy sex scenes are enhanced with the added element of a supernatural connection (Kyle’s vampirism allows for ­supersenses and a telepathic link), and a well-rounded cast of diverse characters add emotional depth as the couple’s “found family.” VERDICT The exposition and attention paid to Brian and Kyle’s relationship make this a well-penned erotic romance, while the backdrop of a tumultuous vampire rights movement serves as social commentary within this tender, sexy M/M love story.

redstarGrey, Jeanette. Seven Nights To Surrender. Forever: Grand Central. Nov. 2015. 368p. ISBN 9781455589791. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455589784. EROTICA

sevennightstoremember93015Young artist Kate takes a trip to Paris, hoping that what it drains in funds, it will compensate for in inspiration. She meets gorgeous, charming Rylan Bellamy in a café after she is on the unfortunate end of a pickpocket incident. Rylan is used to getting whatever and whomever he wants, but the intensity lingering beneath Kate’s cautious demeanor attracts him in a way he’s never felt before. The two spend the next seven days slowly chipping away at their respective tough exteriors, with Kate learning the validity of her own desires under Rylan’s dedicated tutelage, and Rylan discovering that he is capable of more than perpetual one-night stands. As the expiration date on their fling looms near, Rylan struggles with the temptation to reveal the truth to Kate about his troubled past and fractured, wealthy family, knowing that his dishonesty could ruin the love that formed so quickly. Lush Paris scenery and breathtaking sex make for a truly sensuous read. Kate’s insecurities regarding her future and the couple’s difficulty with emotional intimacy will particularly resonate with the younger crowd. VERDICT Grey’s (When the Stars Align) deft grasp of twentysomething relationships and snark succeeds in the vein of author duo Christina Lauren. Recommended for fans of classic travel whirlwind romances with a refreshing modern flair.

Jackson, Vina. Winter. Open Road. (Pleasure Quartet, Bk. 2). Nov. 2015. 386p. ISBN 9781497698697. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781497698444. EROTICA

This second title in Jackson’s “Pleasure Quartet” (after Autumn) sees 19-year-old Giselle Denoux struggling with her boyfriend, ballet school, and life as a French transplant in London. Tall, lean, and strong, Giselle has the drive but lacks the natural grace and talent of many of her classmates. This frustration bleeds into her love life, in which she finds pleasure but little passion in her lovemaking with young boyfriend Olen. When infidelity and broken dreams land her back in France, Giselle finds ardor beyond measure with gruff older painter William Tremblay. He takes her on a journey of sexual discovery, namely indulging in her darkest Joan of Arc fantasies and opening her world to erotic masquerade balls in which nothing is off-limits. However, jealousy and distraction lead to a horrible accident that rips the two apart for years. Giselle spends a lifetime exploring many lands and many lovers, only to find that anonymous sex can never replace the power of the one man on her mind. Accomplished writing team Jackson (“Eighty Days” series) returns with the familiar heady, sensual prose of ­Autumn, though Giselle’s bildungsroman of reclaiming intensity, both in love and in movement, stands well on its own. The novel also serves as a love letter to numerous cities, painting seductive portraits of London, Paris, and New Orleans. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Jackson’s previous works and for readers seeking powerful, introspective erotica anchored by a tinge of tragedy.

Jennings, S.L. Tryst. Morrow Paperbacks. (Sexual Education, Bk. 2). Nov. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780062389732. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062389749. EROTICA

This sequel to Taint revolves around notoriously brusque sex guru Justice Drake’s even more notorious publicist Heidi DuCane. Heidi’s chaotic, demanding job leaves little time for work-life balance, and her lack­luster sex life with husband Tucker is a prime example. While unstable rock star Ransom Reed might be a potential client thanks to a business favor, he is definitely one of the three men on Heidi’s “exceptions list”—a group of men she has clearance to sleep with, with her husband’s blessing. As soon as they meet, Heidi and Ransom feel an undeniable attraction, despite, or perhaps owing to, Tucker at her side. Things heat up at the after party, at which Heidi finds herself in Ransom’s arms while her husband watches, her deepest, darkest fantasy made real. But this night of intimacy has long-term effects on her relationships with both men, as she battles the warm safety of her ten-year marriage with the undeniable thrill of forbidden passion. Headstrong, judgmental Heidi isn’t exactly a likable character, but her hard demeanor is justified as part and parcel of a successful “fixer” of celebrity mishaps. ­VERDICT Sharp wit laces the dramatic plot with dark humor. Loyal readers will not be disappointed by this snappy second installment in the series.

Ashleigh Williams is a freelance writer working at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering

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