December 24, 2012

Review: O Come all ye Kinky edited by Sarah Frantz

Looking for kinky Christmas season themed Femdom reading? Well, this isn't exactly it, but it's close enough to be satisfying. This is a fun collection of heart warming stories, just long enough to keep you entertained, but short enough to read in quiet moment (if such things exist at Christmas).

Of the 8 stories, 6 are M/m, 1 is F/f and then there is a M/F/m. The F/f and M/F/m are rather anomalous - I don't really understand how they fit in. If you want to read about men and women in the same book, then why not a F/m or a M/f story as well? I don't really get it. A purely M/m book probably would have made more sense to me. If you can get yourself into the headspace of the appropriate man and enjoy the stories, these are good fun and pretty hot. If F/m is the only way you can enjoy kinky Christmas fun, then these will not be for you.

Anyhow, the stories.

Twas the Night by Ava March (M/m)
A period tale of a gay couple, I really enjoyed this. Sweet, obviously, with a nice telling of the tentative push and pull of a developing relationship - that moment when both parties realize that yes - you're for me. Love that.

Tree Topper by Jane Davitt (M/m)
An argument about whether a fairy or a star is the right tree topper is the prelude to a bigger row about whether Stan will really accept Martin as his Dom. This was great too, for a similar reason. The insecure Dom and big misunderstanding isn't a trope that I particularly like, but here it works well.

Fireworks by Katie Porter (F/f)
Set on New Years eve, this is another well known trope of the repressed 'nobody loves me because I'm unworthy and scarred' dominant. I'm not so keen on either this trope (especially in females) or F/f, so this wasn't particularly for me.

Candy Cane by L.A. Witt (M/m)
In Candy Cane there is tension as the couple try to escape family to be on their own for Christmas. And there's a sexy male sub being caned with peppermint candy. Awesome.

Submissive Angel by Joey Hill (M/m)
I was looking forward to this, as I love Joey Hill's F/m full length novels. But I'm not so sure about Hill's short stories. I found this story a bit too heavy handed, cliched and smaltzy. Calling the submissive 'Ange' and have him dance in the snow - just in case you didn't get it HE'S AN ANGEL - he's the perfect submissive who will unlock Robert's frozen heart. I felt rather like I was being beaten around the head by sentiment. A total lack of subtlety. I also squicked every time Robert called Ange 'Kid'. I couldn't get into Robert's dominant headspace, despite most of the story being in his third person pov. He just seemed like a bit of an emo whiner. Also - both men were big cliches of gay men (braces? Kind to children, fancied by giggling women?). Sorry. It wasn't for me. Your milage may vary.

Open Return by Elyan Smith (M/F/m)
The story involves Zack going back for Christmas after 10 years, to his small-town teen loves, Laura and Scott, a dominant pair. His recollections are a bit disconcerting and read like typos until you realize that this is a trans story (the he/she issues, as well as Zack having a pussy). The relationship between Scott and Zack is emphasized, at the expense of Laura and Zack. Laura always seems like a bit of an afterthought, a tag on. There's very little dealing with the issues of 1) running away for 10 years, and all the emotions (including anger) that might bring up 2) small town prejudice (there's an incident, but it isn't resolved) 3) potential jealousies that might arise in a 3 way relationship 4) how Zack might be explained to Laura and Scott's kids 5) what happens next? The ending is sex scene, which presumably is a HFN, or is perhaps intended as a HEA. I'm not convinced. 

His Very Last Chance by Kim Dare (M/m)
If New Year is about anything, (aside from fireworks and getting drunk) it is about redemption, correcting mistakes, forgiving and forgetting and starting again with misconceptions corrected. Drew messed up. He boasted that his Dom wasn't into love and romance (making him even more Dom-ly, of course). Kingsley is upset that all the little ways that he's indicated to Drew that he values him beyond anything or anyone else have gone unnoticed. He's hurt and angry (mainly at himself). After licking his wounds alone over Christmas, he decides that New Year is make or break, and orders Drew to meet him. I really enjoyed this story, and found Kingsley's Dom headspace a very pleasant place to be (via the third person). He is nervous about finally revealing himself, but more sarcastic and sadistic than whiny. And the descriptions of the het up sub are nice. I wouldn't mind one of those over New Year.

If I had my time over, I'd have read to the end of Candy Cane, then skipped to His Very Last Chance, and ended with a nice sexy Christmassy feeling of things coming right, despite all too fallible human nature. B-

December 16, 2012

Fifty Shades of Women taking Control: Hidden Femdom in Romance

I think that women in control is more common than we think and becoming more common. In bed as well as outside of it, women have more agency than at any other time in history. Obviously, there is a some way yet to go (the rant about how women are seen as less competent than men was last month). But there are lots of things to celebrate, many ways that women take control in novels in subtle, hidden ways. One might almost say, fifty shady ways that women are more dominant than we realize. ;)   (Actually, it's going to be three today. Otherwise this will be yet another TL;DR).

Women in control does sell, can sell, in romance. That was my conclusion last month and I'm going to try and justify it. Exhibit A is a romance book that is in practically every top 10 romance novels of all time. Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels isn't even kinky, it isn't subtle femdom, but it is an example of a heroine in control. Jess is the together, competent and clever one in the relationship. She seduces Dain, outwits him, takes everything in her stride while he is left reeling and ultimately he gives in and just does what she says. In a kinky re-write of LOS Jess would be the dominant, even if sometimes she let Dain be the top. Loretta Chase books are full of strong women who tell their men what to do. Chase's latest book, Scandal wears Satin, features a smart, competent woman and a man whose main strength is braun rather than brains. Yes, of course these books are vanilla through and through, but hidden in some of the most popular books is women taking the lead in life. Taking the lead in bed is a logical corollary.

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant, unlike LOS was published this year, features on plenty of top romances of 2012 lists and is wonderful subtle femdom. Any book that features a man who gets turned on by servicing a woman in a Queen/stablehand dynamic and refers to clubs in London where men would pay to be scowled at, surely counts as subtle femdom. The hero is confessedly a feckless idiot and the heroine is severe and bends things to her will. This isn't a book that is as universally liked as LOS, but it has had considerable acclaim this year, along with an acknowledgement that even last year, it might not have been published. A Lady Awakened is a step forward for romance as a genre.

Finally, why have I included a cheap reference to Fifty Shades of Grey? To me, (not having read FSOG), it seems like the antithesis of femdom. A weak, silly girl and a stalking, obsessive alphahole man. And yet I noticed that the image on the official FSOG sex toys is of a woman dominating a man (top right). This is pretty interesting, as it is seems to be the direct opposite of what FSOG is about. What this image suggests to me is that, one: it's women who are instigating BDSM type activities in the bedroom (by buying the toys) and two: women are turning the toys they buy on their men. FSOG is rather interesting from this perspective - the book may be all about a weak woman, but the consequences, the talk about it, and perhaps even the merchandise IS ALL ABOUT WOMEN. Ana is the embodiment of naivety, but for the women who read FSOG, it is all about knowledge. And everyone knows, knowledge is power.