The Edge - Zander Vyne Has Jumped Off

I started this blog in 2006 with a post about the state of erotica, and my concerns over where things were headed with publishers and editors jumping on the porno bandwagon. Though most of my fears were realized in the last couple of years, a few editors remain who consistently put out strong collections of short, erotic fiction. Lovers of literary erotica (and just fine writing) should follow Mitzi Szereto, Remittance Girl, Maxim Jakubowski, and Cole Riley as they are still fighting the good fight and putting out quality work. Rose Caraway is also a powerhouse the likes of which I have never seen. She's one to watch as is Cleis Press, one of the few publishers left who still puts out unique, daring erotic fiction.

As for me, I'm turning my attention to other things. Many of you may not know that I also run a successful editing business and publish novels under another name. Though my passion no longer fits what the “erotica” genre has become, when I see a call for submissions that gets under my skin and sparks a story idea; when I see a call by one of the people mentioned above, I will send in a story . . . my kind of story. There's also a deal in the works that would allow me to co-edit an anthology collection of erotic horror. So, though I may not be around as much, Zander Vyne has too much in her to slink off into the shadows never to be heard from again.

Next up, you can read “Red House” in Darker Edge of Desire, edited by Mitzi Szereto (pre-order from any of the fine retailers listed on this linked page). Also coming soon, in Love, Lust, and Zombies, is Under a Perfect Sun, a story that was chosen as the final piece in the collection, and called “Ambitious, literary, sci-fi” by the publisher and advance reviewers. I'm proud of both of these stories, and hope you love them too.

If someday, dear reader, you read something I wrote and you shiver, you'll know I am still with you in that place where you keep the dark, scary things that cannot stand the light of day, holding your hand.

Darker Edge of Desire Excerpts

Love, passion and sex…it’s all here in Darker Edge of Desire. Gothic literature has always possessed a dark attraction ripe with the promise of the forbidden and the sensual. In Darker Edge of Desire, Mitzi Szereto takes the sexualized Gothic and ratchets it up a few notches into the danger zone, opening a door into the darker side of lust and love that only the courageous dare to venture through. Venturing even farther into the world of mystery and romance than she did in the critically acclaimed Red Velvet and Absinthe, Szereto creates an atmosphere with a distinct Gothic flavor where we explore our more forbidden desires. In these tales, love and lust (and kink!) know no boundaries, and all nature of beings—vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, ghosts, and succubae—abound. Tread carefully, danger and desire lie ahead! Includes a special foreword from bestselling author Kate Douglas and a special afterward from bestselling author Rachel Caine and my erotic horror story, "Red House", about a mysterious vampire with a bone to pick with an old priest.

Check out excerpts like this one of "Red House", here.

“Red House” by Zander Vyne

His feet made scuffing sounds on the linoleum as he shuffled from the small galley kitchen back into what served as his living room. The church provided meager lodgings, but free was better rent than many paid, and he did not require much room. He had managed to save most of his salary over the years and looked forward to retiring to a warmer clime, perhaps near an ocean where he could afford a large house and a maid to clean it.

The television cast shadows along the walls and ceiling. No other light shined, not even a candle. John liked it dark at night, after being under the bright fluorescents of the church office all day. Even the stained-glass windows tourists gasped over grew tiresome after long enough, the sun making the red glass stab his eyes like knives, causing terrible headaches.

At first, he thought the dark shape in his reclining chair was a shadow. It had to be a shadow. Then, it spoke.

“Thank you for inviting me into your home.”

“Who are you? How dare you? What do you want? Get out!” John shouted, blurting every thought in his head in his panic.

The man did not move. “Please, sit,” he said, pointing toward the small chintz-covered chair John reserved for his rare guests.

It was the Englishman, the one who had disappeared from the confessional. The one John had thought of several times since the incident. The one he’d dreamed of, much to his dismay.

“You must leave at once or I shall call the police,” John said. It never served to let anyone see your fears, or know your weaknesses. But, he had grown old, and it was harder than it once was to hide behind the mask of priesthood, especially here in his ratty old robe and dirty slippers. He shifted from one foot to the other, alarmed to find his hand shaking as he tried to point commandingly to the door.

“You will do no such thing,” the man told him in a voice so deep, and so genuinely commanding, it caused John to stand up straighter, a frisson of energy crackling down his spine. “Sit. We have much to discuss, you and I.”

John did as asked, his voice fainter as he offered one last protest. “You’ve no right to be in my private chambers.” Clamping his mouth closed, he swallowed thoughts about making an appointment, about the lateness of the hour, about custom and ritual, about the church. The strange man’s posture, tone, and very presence told him he’d have none of it.

Wearing a dark suit, white collar and black tie, his shoes shined so that John saw reflections from the television, the man looked like an attorney, or an undertaker. His features, even masked in half shadow, were arresting. Strong, angular jawbones met to form a firm, wide chin; long blade-like nose and lips managed to be sensual though they were thin.

“You’ve dreamed of me,” the man said. His expression held no animosity, yet his brown eyes glittered with fierce intensity.

A ripple of fear coursed through John’s middle. It would do no good to lie.

 ♥♥♥

Listen to Paganini's Muse

I am fanning myself over this lush, audio version of my short story Paganini’s Muse featured on the Sexy Librarian's "Kiss me Quick's" podcast (and check out that hot artwork done by Dayv Caraway!). It's truly amazing what an impact the addition of that sexy voice, the sound effects, and some music did for this story about a musician who gives up everything for his muse.

Give it a listen and then click over to the Sexy Librarian's website for more free erotica, interviews with erotica writers and editors, and book release news. Not only is she sexy as hell, but my favorite librarian also has her finger on the pulse of everything worth knowing in the world of erotica. If you're a fan and haven't visited . . . what are you waiting for?

Cover Reveal - Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance

I'm loving the classy looking art the publisher picked for Darker Edge of Desire, the Mitzi Szereto anthology that will include my story, Red House, an edgy tale involving a vampire and a priest.

I'll post a sneak peak soon. In the meantime, check out the pre-order page on Amazon for more details or to reserve your copy now.

Review: Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel


Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel
Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel by Mitzi Szereto

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the author, I read Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray as a precocious child. Also like the author, I picked up on the erotic content so skillfully buried and hinted at in the prose. Later, I read that Mr. Wilde had been forced to edit the story, and I wondered how he would have written had he lived in a different age and had been free to share more of his wildly exuberant intellect and varied proclivities. Reading Mitzi Szereto’s Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, I was pleased to be in the hands of a writer who respected and admired Mr. Wilde and his work as much as I do. I was pleased we live in a time where Dorian Gray’s story could come to its logical and more satisfying conclusion. I was delighted every step of the way because, as horrific as some of his actions were to read, they were logical and right. Ms. Szereto pulls no punches, and I applaud her for it. If you’re after a sweet romance, look elsewhere. This is the story of a man’s slide into his own personal hell, made more awful because it starts out being his idea of heaven on earth and made more beautiful by the lyrical writing that fans of Mr. Wilde’s writing will treasure.

The premise is simple. Dorian Gray (he who vowed to live a life of unapologetic decadence and depravity, somehow gaining eternal youth while his portrait aged and decayed) did not die as he had to during Oscar Wilde’s time, a time when this final punishment was demanded to offset the rest of the titillating story. Instead, it’s explained, his death was faked so he could go on delving ever deeper into his twisted desires. Few things are left out here as Dorian revels in his freedom to be just as bad as he wants to be. Some of it turned me on. Some of it turned my stomach. But, like all truly great erotica, everything contributed to the story, and it all had a purpose. It all fit. Where the original book had the cadence of a carriage ride through the countryside, this one was more like a ride on the Orient Express, a ride where the devil took the wheel a few times.
The settings are lush and varied. Paris. New Orleans. Marrakesh. Peru. Again, this plays into the sense of diving headfirst into something strange and exotic, a foreign place for most of us where anything can happen next, and nothing is off limits. There’s a lack of control for the reader that plays into the experiences had by Dorian. And then, Dorian meets creatures even more depraved and soulless than he has become and the story offers hope as it seems Dorian (who started off in Oscar’s tale as such a likable chap, don’t forget) might still redeem himself.
I won’t give away the ending, but will say that it was perfect. Exactly what needed to happen to this great literary character. Oscar Wilde would raise a glass to Ms. Szereto for penning such a fine continuation to his classic story.



View all my reviews

Review - Beautiful Losers

I'm a big fan of Remittance Girl. She writes more than just sex scenes. I'm not sure where the story took place. If it was mentioned, I missed it. The culture and place take a backseat and the focus is almost entirely on the micro world the main characters create for themselves.

In this one, she offers a story about a threesome (a triad, as it's called when three people enter into a relationship) between two "gay" men and a woman.

She does a great job creating distinct character voices, and making her gay/bi people more human and unique and not the typical stereotype. A few minor characters do fall into this trap, but it's not grating since they appear so briefly and are used as a contrast to the main characters.

The sex scenes are also thoughtful, and no two are alike. As important as the sex, are the emotions felt by all the characters, though the primary voice and storytelling is from the female involved.

There's a sense of doom throughout, and I liked the fact that I didn't see what was coming in the end despite an impending sense that something horrible was going to happen. This is not a romance or a feel good story, despite its nice message about humanity at the very end.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

My only real issue with this book, aside from some editing mistakes (which are always irritating when you purchase something from a publisher and expect more), is that it ended too soon. I would have liked to find out more about what happened after the funeral, who killed Sebastian, and how it affected his lovers. To leave things where they were felt very unfinished. So much so that I thought something was wrong with my reader and had to go to Amazon and get a page count check. Maybe there will be a sequel to wrap up the loose ends.

Despite the editing issues, and lack of a satisfying and complete ending, I'm giving this one 4 stars because of the quality of writing and the very real-feeling glimpse into a poly triad relationship.

Review - I, Zombie

I've never read a book about zombies from the zombie perspective, and I have to admit I was nervous about this one. I loved Hugh Howey's WOOL series, and I adore a good zombie book or movie, but the marketing for this one had convinced me that I, Zombie would focus on the gore to an extreme I wasn't sure I could stomach. However, I read a review that convinced me to give it a read anyway, and I am so glad I did.

Yes, I, Zombie is a gore-fest - those who are seriously squeamish or sensitive may wish to skip it. However, I don't know how you could write a zombie book from the zombie's point of view without going there...all the way there. So, kudos to Mr. Howey for doing so and still finding a way to give us the human side of his zombie's stories.

I, Zombie is a story told from several perspectives. Though all of the characters are zombies, they are all people first. Trapped in their new bodies, dealing with what is happening to them, they reflect on the people they once were, the mistakes they made, and regrets they have while dealing with their new reality.

As a mom, I was horrified by several scenes dealing with mothers, babies and children, even as I admire Mr. Howey for not pulling any punches. One of these scenes actually brought me to tears. That's something I've never experienced reading any zombie book or watching any zombie movie. Was it hard to read? Absolutely. Was it worth it, in the end? Without a doubt.

This book is not so much about zombies, as it is about our collective human experience. It's about life in a big city. It's about going through the motions. It's about making excuses for living a life full of regret. It's about loss and about so much more than the stories it contains. It's a book I will read again someday, because it's a book that made me think about my own life, my own regrets, my own failings, my own "zombieness". This is something many books aspire to, but so few achieve. It is certainly not something I expected in a horror novel about zombies. 5-Stars. 

Review - Solstice

Yay! Something different for zombie genre lovers. And, it's well written, and error free. Kudos to the author, Donna Burgess.

This was a free download. I've been on a quest to download, read, and review as many free e-books as possible. I only download items in genres I regularly read that sound interesting.

Solstice reads like the well-edited work of someone who's been at this a while. The ideas are reigned in, given direction and focus, and the characters are relatable and likable. That's key, in a story like this, to keep it from becoming just another survivors-on-the-run-from-zombies story. I'd say this one is similar to The Walking Dead in that respect - the character stories only add to the zombie story.

I had no issue with the way people become infected (the author calls people who've turned ragers), though some reviewers indicated they did. Like the best horror plots, this one doesn't spend a lot of time on "why" things happened. It just gets right into the here and now, with enough details to make it plausible. Burgess changes up the zombie mythology too - her zombies can think and talk, and this adds some really good moments and a whole new wrinkle.

The ending leaves things open for more. I hope the author delivers. I think this would make a fun movie too. 4-stars.

Review - Coming Together Presents Remittance Girl

Remittance Girl writes erotica in the grand, literary tradition of masters like Henry Miller and Anais Nin. You won't find cookie-cutter characters, tired plots, or porno being labeled erotica here. No inner goddesses, lip biting, or overused clich├ęs either. Instead, this collection offers readers a trip into other worlds and illuminates the private lives of strong women not afraid to explore themselves and the world around them. It shares other cultures and doesn't shy away from taboos, BDSM, and sexuality. No one needs any excuses for their behavior here. These stories are thought-provoking, real, AND sexy. Many are a slow burn, wiggling their way under your skin and tapping into themes other writers often shy away from. 

If you're a fan of FSOG, this may not be for you. But, if you'd like to take a trip into the world of literary erotica, holding the hand of a skilled storyteller and writer, you are in for a treat. Though each story is completely unique, the voice of Remittance Girl is strong and sure. 

Favorites - It's hard to pick from such an amazing collection. So many of these stories transported me into other worlds so well it was like taking a trip of the mind. But, these are my standouts:

Dark Garden - Delves into the mind of a woman who is both sickened and excited by her own sexual needs.

River Mother - Haunting, beautiful tale of an infertile girl in a culture that prizes motherhood above all else.

The Pipe of Thorns - Gorgeous, historical piece that perfectly captures another place and time in a fairy tale worthy of a grown-up Grimm.

The Baptism - Erotic horror incorporating religion and vampires. Scary, hot, and squirm-inducing.

As an added bonus, proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the ACLU.

*Note - I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am happy to give the collection a five-star review. It deserves every star.

Review - Limited Partnerships Omnibus

I was lucky enough to serve as a Beta Reader during the editing phases for this series. I say lucky because this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time, written by an experienced author who has a gift for adding those little touches that make her characters and plots come to life. You won't find cardboard characters here, or thin plots framing gratuitous sex scenes. You also won't find editing mistakes (always a plus!).

The Omnibus collection includes all four books in the series tied together by a few central characters. I liked all of the stories, but Charlie's was my favorite. His story kicks off the series with a bang. He's sexy in a real way, so I identified with him as someone I might actually meet (and lust after). He's no billionaire with issues who inexplicably falls for some damsel in distress. He's strong, capable and knows exactly what he's doing until his job as an escort puts him into close contact with a woman from his past. And the woman in question isn't an insecure virgin who doubts her every move. She's strong, and capable, and knows exactly what she wants . . . the unattainable Charlie. The way their story plays out has all the best elements of good erotica and romance novels. There's a real conflict, emotion, heart, and plenty of sex that's not just there for shock or show. I appreciated the way the sex scenes were full of dynamics that added to the story, instead of BEING the story.


I can't wait to read more from Louise Kokesh. 5 stars for this one. 

Review - Army Heat: The Boys of Bravo

Army Heat, by Denise Johnson, is hot! I'm new to this genre category, and found the mix of military situations, uniforms, Army lingo and the control dynamic between the Training Instructor and the soldier in training to be very realistic. And that's huge. So many books now try to hop onto the FSOG bandwagon with BDSM stuff that totally misses the mark. This book is not one of those (and it isn't BDSM at all - I don't want you to get the wrong idea). But Army Heat does craftily add D/s elements to the story because that's just how Basic Training works.

Staff Sergeant Jake Moore, the instructor, is a man in charge, in control (with good reason) so his attraction to one of the recruits is a no-no, but one he has a difficult time fighting. This adds a lovely tension throughout the story.

Candidate Little is likable and tough (another welcome change - she's not a girl who bites her lip and twists her hair and thinks she's not good enough). She's strong, capable and has a plan for her life that her attraction to Jake Moore threatens.

I'm giving the story four stars because it's short, and because I think we could have had more story about both characters to round out the story. The ending seemed a bit abrupt. I'd love to read a part two. 

Review - Mistress of the Dancing Bones

LIKED -

I read a lot of books (self-published and not), and I was impressed with the overall professional "feel" of the book. I spotted very few of the types of mistakes that often plague indie novels.

Thomas Alexander's rich descriptive passages added to the overall mood of the book. The varied elements made me think, at different points in the story, of Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkein, and George R.R. Martin.

Kick-ass heroine who doesn't need a man to save her, or one to fall in love with.

Vampires who weren't bad guys for a change.

THINGS THAT BUGGED ME -

While I enjoyed the mixing of creatures, I have a hard time with books where everyone, thing and place has a strange and unfamiliar name. I know a lot of people (especially fans of Sci-fi and fantasy) are into that. I just find it difficult to get through, and end up skimming over names a lot. In a book like this - with a huge cast of characters - this meant some of the time I had no idea who was who.

While there was a lot going on, tons of people, descriptions of a bunch of stuff, I never really felt I knew this world.

WOULD I READ ANOTHER BOOK BY THIS AUTHOR?

Yes! It's rare to find someone with an imagination this strong and the writing ability to back it up. I think he's going to get better and better with every book. This one earns a solid 4 star rating.

Review - The Princess and the Outlaw

Wow. Jean Roberta's bio says she's an English instructor at a university, and it really shows here (in a good way!). It's no wonder her stories have been published in over 100 publications either - they are that good. Whether the stories center on Amazon warriors and their secret admirers, or medieval princesses; no matter if they are set in ancient Greece or witch-hunter Salem, MA . . . there's an edge to the writing that harkens back to another era. These stories seem like classics, fables, and fairy tales.

I found myself drawn right into the familiar framework of the stories that made the erotic content all the more interesting and powerful.

Favorites? Hubris, the tale of an Amazon warrior and the girl whose fascination turns into a way of life that is so eloquently explained that I wondered how Jean managed to immerse herself in the ancient, fantasy world so deeply that her words read like they came from a real diary. Sister Mary Agnes because I've always had a hot spot for erotica that toys with the church. In this one, we meet a nun and a convent full of women harboring secrets that prove to be the undoing for some, and the salvation for others. Soul Search for its language and for taking on a disturbing era in American history and making it hot. The World Turned Upside Down for its mystery and character development and surprise ending. One of the things I admire most about what's presented here is how none of the stories are preachy, yet most share a good message about acceptance and freedom to be the sexual beings we are. The writing is clean and crisp and a pleasure to read.

I'm thrilled I was given a copy for review and happy to give this my highest rating.

Depraved: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, #2 . . . Out Now!

In Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, Book One, Oliver and Miranda discovered the truth about their unique vampire/vampire hunter genetics and clawed their way out of a world of immorality and destruction. A world seething with secrets and lies. Now, they are on the run, hunted by enemies with deadly agendas. They’ll do anything to survive and live the life they dream of, in peace. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil lurks in their family tree and must be defeated.

They must fight to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive. But there are rules. Rules that control the balance of the world. If broken, they could destroy everything. When new threats come like an inevitable storm, will they be able to fight their way out of the underworld's darkest depths? Will their love for each other be enough to save them, or will they be torn apart forever?


I Love Vampire Novels

Thanks, I Love Vampire Novels, for featuring Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, Book One today!

If you love vampire novels, and haven't signed up for their daily email featuring free and discounted vampire novels, you're really missing out. Sign up here.

Thanks Book Goodies and Wanton Reads!

You know what an introvert I am. That's why I am so very grateful to lovely people like the ones who run Book Goodies and Wanton Reads for making interviews and marketing so fun.

Book Goodies Feature on Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, Book One

Wanton Reads Interview With Zander Vyne

Book Reviews by Joyce Loves Immoral!

Joyce is an avid reader. She has over 2,000 books on her kindle and has read most of them! One of the things I love most about the indie author world is meeting people like her who love books as much as I do. She's on Facebook and posts insightful and thorough reviews of books she likes on her blog too. I'm honored she picked my book to feature. If you're like me, and you love to read, check out her reviews. You'll be glad you did.

Here's some of what she had to say about Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter -

"I truly enjoyed this story. I always enjoy coming across a book where the author has provided a twist on an old favorite. Zander Vyne has done just that. She has taken the old pairing of vampires and those who hunt them and put her own unique twist on everything. There's something so desirable about the vampire hunter that vampires can't resist. At least there is if the hunter keeps their mind shielded so vampires don't know that hot date isn't about to be their last one.


Got a stake? Prop open a window with it. Vyne's vampires are taken down with a kiss and sex. In this first book of a new series, it's as fast paced and full of action as you could want. Someone played with nature and didn't like the results. And now that the end results have come together, everyone has them in their sights."

Read her full review here.

And, just for fun, the picture above is another I used for Oliver Ripley inspiration. I went through a Spartacus phase last year, and Ganicus was my favorite character. Something about his smile, and his wounded heart just worked for me.