Underwater Explorations


Eden, my science fiction story inspired by The Twilight Zone, will appear in Underwater, The book cover reveal is today. The anthology releases sometime this fall.

Here's the official blurb:

When was the last time you came face-to-face with a mermaid?

Ever explore a hidden underwater cave or been haunted by an unearthly creature? Did that passionate childhood fantasy turn into a real, sexy encounter? When was the last time you discovered a bell concealing the entrance to a faerie mound? Have you wondered what would happen if New Orleans was entombed in radioactive water?

UNDERWATER features sixteen exploratory tales that delve into decrepit landscapes and strange magic, inhuman heroes and crushing experimentation. Two-thirds of the world is submerged—experience what happens within, from the fantastical and erotic to the horrifying and triumphant, UNDERWATER showcases stories that will inundate readers with uncharted territories.

I Like to Watch

When Rose Caraway, 
AKA, The Sexy Librarian, includes your story in an anthology, it's kind of a big deal. No, it's a really big deal.

So, I am extra tickled to say I Like to Watch is in her new book, Tonight, she's Yours, GET IT NOW

Gifts, all Year

One of the best things about being a writer is sharing the love of books with others. This year, I'm thankful to every friend who helped me plot, every beta reader who found a typo or mistake (silver for vampires, anyone?) or spent their valuable book time reading or reviewing something I wrote. I am especially grateful to the Facebook beta-readers and writers group "The Slush Pile" for hooking me up with so many readers eager to offer their thoughts on early drafts of my work.

And I'm grateful to be included in ML Doyle's list of her favorite beta reads this year. She's a talented writer, and a bit of a badass in real life, so her female characters are always strong, smart, and sexy. She's my go-to reviewer, and I was so excited she included me along with DL Molles (who just landed a major publishing deal). I ate up his zombie series, and I can't wait to read his new book, Wolves.

Enjoy the holidays, everyone, and thanks for sharing your love of books all year long!



Bespelled: Tales of a Vampire Hunter - Sneak Preview

The thrilling conclusion to the bestselling "Tales of a Vampire Hunter" series. 


Oliver Ripley is older, wiser, and harder . . . a vampire hunter mutant drowning in pain and excess and guilt, hell-bent on punishing himself and taking down as many vampires as possible in the process. Once more, his enemies draw close, setting an irresistible trap. But, Oliver no longer wants to run. A different man now, immoral and depraved, he's become the very thing he swore he would never be. Fearing nothing, with nothing to lose, he seeks only revenge, and leaves only death in his wake. But when everything changes, can he find the human soul within himself in order to save our world and protect the innocent victims of a demonic plot as ancient as the universe itself?

Here's a steamy sneak peak:

CHAPTER ONE


Bangkok, Thailand

Oliver Ripley exited the limo and stepped into another world, a place peaceful and serene. A winding brook babbled over rocks, and fragrant white flowers bloomed along a stone pathway. Sculptured faces of ancient Asian gods gazed at him from jungle-lush foliage. Silver chimes tinkled and exotic birds chirped. Oliver did not let the Zen-like calm shake his resolve to do the violence he’d come to do.

“They are ready for you.” A delicate Thai woman met him where the stone walkway widened and became a patio. Tonight, she wore a ruby-red silk traditional Chakkri dress shot through with gold thread. Her black hair glistened, coiled low on her neck.

She walked briskly down a wood-planked dock, over the gently rippling turquoise-blue sea to a large pavilion flanked by two more just like it, filled with people. His audience. The ones who paid his rent with their twisted desires.

He wondered what it cost them to indulge their morbid cravings. Judging from his cut, it had to be a pretty penny. And what of their souls? Did they carry what they witnessed with them, like a dark secret, or did they manage to leave it behind in a way Oliver never could?

The nameless Thai woman left Oliver in the empty center pavilion and backed away from him, bowing low out of respect and maybe a touch of fear.

The party had been going on for a while. Some people were already naked. Others lounged fully clothed and intent on Oliver’s every move.

Oliver waited until the sun had gone down, and that twilight time had come when the clouds were dark purple, black and blue. Under a bruised sky, he would do what he’d come to do. He hoped, as he did every time, this would be the last.

He lifted his hand, calling for silence, which came swiftly. The crowd was eager for the show to begin. “Bring me the girl,” he said.

A woman in the audience yelped, setting off the nervous laughter of others in the audience. All eyes were on him and the girl who walked slowly toward him, like a bride, down the narrow dock and over the water that sparkled now in the moonlight.

She was young and very lovely. Shades of brown. Autumn. Shaggy, red-brown hair, cocoa skin, doe eyes. Naked, and unbound, she walked to him, stopping a respectful distance away, meeting his eyes. On her finger, she wore a large ruby ring that marked her. Vladula. Her breasts were tiny and her legs long. Hair formed a triangular thicket between her thighs. In the black coils, bits of red caught the light of the oil lamps lining the edge of the pavilion.

“Why are you here?” he asked her, not speaking the words aloud, but pushing the question into her head as they gazed at one another for the first time—vampire and vampire slayer, hunted and hunter, instantly connected.

The audience need not hear this part, the truth they had not paid to witness. But Oliver had to. “Are you prepared to die?” he asked, when she did not answer, speaking aloud this time.

A woman in the audience shrieked. This was part of what they paid for—the sense of danger, being so close to a real, live, honest-to-goodness vampire and vampire slayer, facing death made palpable and entertaining because it wasn’t their own. Aware they were in the presence of creatures capable of taking their lives, quickly and efficiently, had they the desire. Sex and death and danger formed a wicked cocktail, an addictive drug. Most, of course, thought it was an act. A snuff film performed live for their twisted enjoyment. Made more interesting by the roles played—creature-feature monsters come to real, sexual and deadly life.

“I want to die.” The girl’s voice rang out in his head and then repeated out loud, soft and sure.

The crowd cheered.

Oliver looked away from the sadness within the girl’s eyes and watched as a middle-aged white man with a huge cock shoved a small blond woman to her knees and pushed himself into her mouth, gripping her long hair, his shifty eyes glued to Oliver.

“Why?” Oliver looked once more at the girl, pushing his voice into her mind where no one else could hear him.

“I didn’t ask for this. I’m scared.” Tears spilled from her eyes as she spoke the words aloud.

In the audience, clothes were shed, tops lifted, nipples sucked, cocks stroked. This was what they’d come to see. This was what they’d paid for. This was what they wanted. Sex and danger and death.

“Fuck her,” someone said, their tone that of one already in the throes of pleasure, impatient for their climax.

“Kill her,” another shouted, their voice gruff with a darker excitement.

Oliver spoke aloud, as the vampire girl had. “You desire it fast and hard. Quick.” He leaned down, closer to the girl, his lips almost brushing hers.

The audience’s collective excitement hung heavy and alive in the air, like an electrical storm. The sounds of flesh slapping on flesh sounded a drum-like beat that seemed to echo the pounding in Oliver’s heart.

The girl trembled. Her eyelashes swept down as she looked away, but she stayed in place, standing before him begging him to kill her, save her. Pushing the words into his head.

Oliver sighed. She was another too weak to free him from his curse. Another who only begged him to put her out of her misery, with no idea of his. Weak she was, afraid and suicidal. A victim of the vampires, a fledgling with no Master. A Vladula.

He slipped his hand under her hair, his thumb resting on the frantic pulse fluttering in her neck. The hairs on his arms rose.

“Please. End it.” She opened her eyes. They were dry now, determined.

“Would that I could end it for us both,” Oliver said softly, too softly for anyone else to hear.

His hands on her shoulders told her what to do. She sank to her knees, mouth open before him, those huge eyes still begging him. Her voice was silent, but in his head, her thoughts flowed as his slayer soul reached out and easily snared her newly made vampire essence and the small nugget that remained of the girl she once had been.

He saw into her mind as if watching a movie. She showed him how they’d come for her in a dark, underground parking garage. Arms loaded with books, fumbling for her keys, she had been an easy victim, lost before she hit the ground. And then, the man with a black Mohawk, who wore a leather collar, studded with silver spikes. Spike Vladula. Blood. Voices as she lay dying. “The key. The doorway . . .” as the vampire took her over, brought her to the brink of death, and then eased her back. In the end, dying, afraid, she’d drank the blood, heard the strange, senseless words. I don’t want to die, she’d thought then as she did now. But I can’t live like this.

“Why?” Anger and sadness flooded him. Seeing the man who’d killed his daughter, even in this girl’s memory, filled him with murderous rage. He yanked her head back with a fistful of her hair.

“If I have to live like this, I’m already dead.” Her voice was a scream in his head.

She answered the wrong question, telling him why she wanted to die, as if he didn’t know the gut-wrenching torment one such as she felt trapped by abilities she never asked for and didn’t want. She did not know why Vladula had picked her, why she was here, or why she was about to die.

Guiding her hands to his cock, he held her fingers in his, showing her how to do it. His anger, her fear, their shock and confusion, on stage before people who now fucked all around them, eyes glassy, drunk on forbidden pleasures, had quickened his breath and hers. His flesh surged upward, driving into her seeking fingers. His fury adding to the tension.

Her lips appeared bruised, swollen like her nipples, sweet buds tight and high despite the balmy ocean breeze. Her thighs parted. She looked up at him as if no one watched them. Her eyes locked to his fingers as he slipped buttons free of leather and wrapped his fingers around his cock.

The memories running through her mind as his soul enveloped hers like a cocoon could be nothing but truth. She could not hide anything from him in the throes of death as he took her life. But what did it mean? Why would Vladula send a messenger with no message? Or a message that made no sense? If she had been able to lead him to Spike, Oliver wouldn’t have been so irritated. He’d simply kill Spike and anyone stupid enough to be with him. As it was, being tipped off about his cover being blown just meant he’d have to leave Bangkok so he’d be free to hunt without the distraction of dealing with Vladulas. Though killing them was enjoyable, he preferred to do it on his terms, and on his schedule.

Distracted, Oliver watched a man shoot a thick stream of white over a curvaceous woman’s breasts as the dying vampire girl worked Oliver’s own hard flesh as if the thick appendage she sucked was her lifeline. Her moans vibrated along his shaft.

Pleasure peaked, and around them, the air began to glow and spin. Energy whipped the colors into a rainbow swirling around them. A cloud of pure life-force shimmered around vampire and vampire hunter.

A collective gasp swelled from those who watched. Could they see it? Feel it? Oliver thought they must, on some level, though most still convinced themselves it was an elaborate, very expensive show.

“Beautiful,” someone said, wonder in their voice.

Inside, where none could see, and only Oliver and the girl could feel, their souls spun together. Oliver’s dipped inside, finding her essence fresh and young, innocent and blameless. A life too soon taken away, condemned. His heart contracted. Pity flooded him. As tears flowed from her eyes, and his seed filled her mouth, he felt her at her core. He knew her as if he’d been with her always. From her first steps to the ones that had led her here. And he cared. He cared enough to free her.

Gratitude shone in her eyes as she realized what was happening to her, even as the light within them dimmed, and his slayer soul began to extinguish the faint light still clinging to life within her.

The crowd roared its satisfaction when the girl slumped to the stage.

As the last spark of her life began to fade, and Oliver waited for the cold, dead stare he knew well, a frisson split off from the cyclone of their combined energy, as if seeking to escape death, untethering itself and fleeing the girl, spitting and stinging as it slammed into Oliver like a fist punch to the chest.

At his feet, the girl jerked as if shocked by jolts of electricity. Her chest lifted, back arching, breath gasping. Her eyes flew open, and her scream seemed to shove the foreign, contaminated thing deeper into Oliver.

His slayer energy swelled, a hurricane circling the vampire curse—for surely, that’s what the crackling thing was—smoothing it, containing it, and absorbing it until it winked out, not even a smolder remaining.

At his feet, the girl stirred and opened her eyes. She blinked. Confusion furrowed her brow, her thoughts as jumbled as his, and still wide open to him. Not a hint of vampire curse tainted her now. Somehow, Oliver had danced with her soul and seduced away only the vampire part of her, leaving the girl as pure as before she’d been attacked and used in the Vladula’s war against him.

Despite his confused astonishment, Oliver scooped the girl up, tossed her over his shoulder and left the stage. His long legs made quick time up the dock.

The tiny Asian woman met him, passing him the usual, small pouch containing his pay. She bowed low, not meeting his eyes, not remarking on the limp girl he carried.

In the driveway, the limo waited as it always did. The breeze fluttered perfumed flowers, and night sounds whirred. The noise of the crowd, dressing, whispering in low voices, seemed far away, soon locked beyond the insulating world of the limo. Driving down streets clogged with cars, red and white lights streaking by, it was silent. Oliver was left alone with his jumbled and raw emotions, the strange girl sleeping on his lap, nestled under his jacket, her face peaceful. She’d passed out.

For Oliver, the torment over what had happened was quieted by the shrieking of awakened inner demons. Closing his eyes, he let the memories consume him.

(Releases December 19th)

Under a Perfect Sun Excerpt

Any zombie fan can imagine loving a zombie. Who didn't cry when Carl had to shoot Laurie in The Walking Dead, even though we all hated her? But Lust? For a zombie? Uh. No. No matter what. I've never read a book or seen a movie or TV show where I had even a fleeting attraction to any zombie character (and I've read and seen them all because, like so many people, I love a good zombie story). So writing a zombie tale where someone was hot for the undead was a writing challenge, pure and simple. Could I come up with a concept that even I would buy into? One that wasn't funny (because that would be easy). One that was romantic even, but bittersweet.

I think the answer is . . . yes. Under a Perfect Sun is more sci-fi than erotica. More apocalyptic than horror. I haven't checked out the other stories in the collection yet, but knowing Mitzi Szereto, they are unique, well-written, and each one its own treasure.

Here's a wee sneak peek of mine, taken from Part Two:

Five Years later

Tesla died today.

I said before that no one ever went out, and that’s almost true. I went out once. I’ll never do it again.

The others—that’s what we called the people like the driver, and Michael now—had taken down the people who came to the Biosphere. I guess everyone in Tucson knew about the place. They came in droves at first, and we watched through the heavy-duty glass of the dome as they were taken down, eaten, turned into others.

After the people stopped coming, the others hunted javelina, mice, and stray dogs and cats.

The cat had wedged herself against one of the outer doors. I saw her from the cornfield, a ball of red fur jumping onto an electrical cable attached to the outside of the building. The others saw her too. They’d turned from the path above the dome, and a pack had started down the steps.

The door was a few feet away. The others at least thirty feet from the cat. I couldn’t watch. Not again. I had the cold bar of the bolt lock under my fingers before I could think it through. Yanking open the heavy steel door, I lurched to the side, scooped up the cat, all teeth and claws then. She shot out of my arms. I went after her. At the corner, she stopped, cowering against the concrete, her back arched and her hair standing on end.

“Here, puss, puss. Come on, baby. It’s okay.”

The others were ten feet away. Tears blinded me. I would have no choice soon but to leave the cat and save myself, and my friends—I’d left the door wide open.

I lunged into the corner and grabbed for its fur. Catching it at the neck, I yanked it up and away from me. It hissed, and the others moved faster as the sounds of something alive and struggling reached them.

“Jesus Christ, Sam!” Richard shouted from the open doorway. “Drop the fucking cat and run! Now!”

I ran, but I didn’t drop the cat. I named her Tesla.

She wasn’t young. She wasn’t old. She lived for a long, and seemingly happy, time with us. Still, her death—from old age by all appearances—took us all by surprise. We buried her in what used to be the rainforest dome. Everyone cried. We hadn’t seen a cat, a dog, or another person except others outside the glass in a long, long time.

After, we opened the jars of wine we’d put up with grapes from an unusually good crop. We’d been saving it for a special occasion, and this seemed as good a one as any.

We drank until dawn. In the middle of it, just for a fleeting few minutes, I was happy. Content to sit in the kitchen and drink homemade wine, and reminisce about a cat.

“Have you thought anymore about what Richard talked to you about? About Michael?” Christina asked.

Everyone else had gone to bed. We were alone in the kitchen. A candle burned between us on the table. I was drunk. Christina blurred when I looked at her.

I closed my eyes, resting my head on the back of the hard metal chair. “Yes. I think about it all the time. About him, all the time.”

“You love him.”

I nodded, without opening my eyes. “Yes. I do.”

“You know, he loved you too.”

A hot surge of anger flared in my chest. Opening my eyes, I found my eyes still blurred and my tongue quick. “You don’t know anything about him. About us!”

“Look. It was no secret I had a crush on Michael. He was smart, gorgeous, and funny. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? But he loved you. I admit it. I flirted with him. A little. Just enough, you know, to know maybe he thought I was cute too. I didn’t mean any harm, and he wouldn’t have any of it. All he talked about was you. He loved you.”

“Stop talking about him like he’s gone! You want me to do this thing, but you’re talking about him like he’s not even here!”

“He’d want this, Sam. He’d want to be a part of something bigger than just keeping him alive because you‘re too chickenshit to end his suffering.”

I stood up, knocking my chair over. It clanged on the tiles, bouncing off my shin so hard it would make a mark I would not find until later. “You don’t know what he’d want!” This time, it was tears blurring my eyes as I ran away.

Alone in my apartment, I cried on my cot.

I had no pictures there to remind me of Michael—I hadn’t realized when I packed that I would need them—but he was all I thought about. His smile was becoming hazy in my memory. Did it tilt to the left or right? Were his eyes more sky blue or robin’s egg? The thing in the cage in the basement was Michael now. I’d come to accept it, and thought of him now like that—restrained, tested, drugged, bathed, fed, and always growling, always mindless, always staring with those vacant eyes.

What would Michael want? Would he have wanted to be studied the way I finally had allowed? They were gentle, kind, and did nothing to hurt him, but still...would he have wanted to be a lab rat? Would he want all this to mean something? Would he just want to be dead?

Would he feel me, if I went to him? If he was drugged but aware, still, and unable to hurt me, would my touch reach him in a way nothing else had? Would it be that flash fire, hot, quickening that came over both of us like a fever; sudden, and only cooled when we fucked, the world dwindling away to nothing, every problem I ever had gone when he touched me?

I’d never needed a man the way I had Michael. I’d never let down my guard so much, trusted as intensely or loved as fiercely. He’d returned it all and then some.

I owed him. I needed to do what he would want if he were able to tell me.

Why didn’t he write that down in those fucking notes he took before he turned into one of them? Why hadn’t he told me what to do? Had he not realized this might be it? The end? No hope of rescue, of a cure, the human race facing extinction.

READ MORE


Love, Lust and Zombies Cover Art

The paperback version is now available for pre-sale on Amazon, though it won't ship until September 2015. Mitzi Szereto is, hands down, my favorite editor, so I know this one will include some killer stories.

"Let’s face it: zombies are hot, and baby, they’re getting hotter. Although not the most traditional of sex symbols, zombies are truly coming into their own, even landing on the silver screen in romantic roles, not to mention ambling and shambling across the pages of novels and television screens. Gone are those one-dimensional scary characters from George Romero’s grim and gruesome flick Night of the Living Dead. Zombies now have a lot more to offer to the non-zombie world.

From the bestselling novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the hit TV series The Walking Dead, zombies are taking over as a source of entertainment. So isn’t it about time they had their more...err...romantic and sexy sides showcased?"

I've written before about my inspiration for the story I submitted, Under a Perfect Sun, and I was thrilled to hear it was called "literary and ambitious, sci-fi" by the publishing company. I was also honored to learn that it had been picked to anchor the book. Pretty good for a story that started as a writing challenge for me, and with a question . . . could I write a story that involved zombies and sex that also provided a logical explanation for the deed? 

The Edge - Zander Vyne Has Jumped Off

I started this blog in 2008 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.



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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.