January 25, 2013

Femdom Books on Sale!!!

Great femdom books on Sale! We love books on sale!

Seriously, at this price, I can't imagine how you can afford not to buy this book. I gave it an A-

This is a classic novel, so there will always be free copies of it around. Reputedly it's femdom. I've not gotten around to reading it yet, so if you get to it before me drop in a comment saying what you thought of it. 

I don't think this is actually a sale, but it's a reasonable price for this book and it is essential femdom reading. I gave it an A

For any Brits in the audience: 
Go and get it now. I gave it an A-

I gave this a B+ and it's probably the femdom book of 2012 as far as I'm concerned. 

I haven't read this, though I heard it's quite pain intense. Again, it's labelled as femdom by Mischief books. 

Another Mischief title labelled as femdom. I'll be reviewing this, so I'll let you know about it. 

January 20, 2013

Book Misdescriptions - why is female agency over emaphasized in blurbs?

I read a lot of samples. I read samples of books that look like they might be femdom. I read samples of books where the blurb suggests that they might have a really awesome strong heroine who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to ask for it. Much of the time (most?) I'm wrong. The book or novella might sound promising, but it usually becomes quickly obvious that it's not even subtle femdom.

The disjoint between the book description and the actual book is not unusual, I know. Romances are famous for having titles/covers/descriptions which bear no resemblance to the story inside, especially in the lines of Greek billionaires and virgins. But let's look at an example, because I think the disparity is more important here than the normal hair color and ethnicity mistakes that are typical in romance novels/descriptions. There are plenty of books which say they have strong heroines, but she's actually weak and TSTL. But this also happens in BDSM books - women are represented in the blurb as being more dominant than they are in the book. For instance, here is the description for The Breaker's Concubine by Ann Mayburn:
Prince Devnar of Jensia is goaded into raiding the wrong space ship, springing a trap that captures him for use as a Royal pleasure slave, a Concubine, on Kyrimia. He vows to do everything he can to escape and keep from forming a psychic bond with his captors that would render him absolutely and totally in love. This proves difficult to do when  the female Breaker assigned to turn him into a Concubine, Melania, is the epitome of his perfect woman.
Melania has been raised and trained to help reluctant and abused Novices to break through their personal blocks and attain the ultimate prize of becoming a Concubine. When she is given Devnar to train, she finds herself in danger of doing the forbidden and falling in love with her Novice. This angry, scarred, and utterly seductive male tests her self-control like no other.
Devnar and Melania find themselves at the heart of a galaxy wide political battle that will test a love that they must not acknowledge, and cannot live without, to its very limits.
Very early on the heroine thinks about how she likes to relax by being submissive and the book continues along these lines. But the cover, with the hero in a collar, cuffs and submissive pose does nothing to dispel the notion gathered from the blurb that this is essentially a book about a man submitting to a woman, rather than vice versa. I think that this is essentially the same issue as the strong heroine one - it's an over-representation of female agency (in this case dominance rather than strength and intelligence) in the description.  

This is a philosophical as well as a practical problem. In a practical sense, it's frustrating that books I think I will enjoy turn out not to be what they were represented as. But philosophically, I think there is a wider problem: blurbs represent women as being strong, in control and having agency, but the book itself frequently has a weak, silly TSTL girl. I think there are several potential reasons for this.

  • Readers want strong women, but authors haven't gotten with the program yet, and so the publishers represent the heroine as being different from how she really is.
  • Readers think that they want strong female characters, but actually like stupid and or submissive female characters. 
  • The publisher and author genuinely believe that women behaving stupidly and or submissively is a strong heroine. 
The difference between the first reason and the second is how satisfied readers are with the book after they have read it. This is a difficult thing to judge. Instinctively, reviews seem like a good way to assess readers satisfaction. But, as I've already said, I read an lot of samples and decide that the book is not for me. I don't write reviews of these books, so my annoyance at the disjoint between book description and content isn't represented on review sites etc.

It's also possible that readers want their heroines to be idiots and 'strong' or 'feisty' is a shorthand for that, rather like 'virgin' is shorthand for 'nice'. Worse still is the idea that maybe people genuinely believe that in a woman, TSTL = strong. The really worrying thing to me is the idea that this disjoint could be propagating the idea that heroines who are TSTL are actually strong and independent.

I really hope that publishers and authors will realize that book descriptions really matter - and that books described as having strong heroines can actually have strong heroines.

What have been your experiences with book misdescriptions? Why do you think that female agency is over emphasized in book descriptions and under delivered in the book itself?

January 17, 2013

Femdom-ish Book Review Round-up January 2013

As ever, there's a bit of news, some new potential reads and plenty of questions this month to welcome in 2013.

The closest thing to a potential new femdom release I've seen this month is Vampire Meltdown by Storm Savage. The heroine sounds quite promising: She likes wielding power over men—teasing them—killing them. Having said that though, I've got a post brewing about the problem of books that look like promising femdom but quickly reveal themselves to be the normal rubbish.

I've had a comment asking why I haven't reviewed any books by Carmenica Diaz. The short answer is that I didn't know about her. Billed as Elegant Femdom Fiction, there are a mix of novellas and short stories. From reading the blurbs, most seem to centre around a male submissive asking his vanilla wife to dominate him and her miraculously turning into the Dominatrix of his dreams. It's not a trope I'm that keen on and neither am I particularly tempted by the prices ($9 for 22k words is rather a lot imho). However, I think that some readers of this blog might be interested, so if anyone reads any of her stuff please do drop me a line and say what you thought of it.

I've also been asked for a recommendation for some romantic femdom porn - the movie sort. I generally prefer my porn written and so this isn't really my specialist subject. Perhaps you have some ideas?

Over on the legendary Girls Rule, Subs Drool tumblr, Mistress Maria reveals her impecable taste in books. She recommends a couple of books I've rated as A s here, as well as Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys: A Novel by Eric Garcia.

What was your Christmas reading? Have you found any great new books in the new year?


Over at DearAuthor, Jane has reviewed Vanilla on Top by C.J. Ellison. It sounds like as ever, a promising premise turns out to be male-dom/vanilla dressed as femdom. Pity. It's a nice cover. In fact, it's another perfect example of cover and book description misrepresentation that I discussed in my last blog post.

January 3, 2013

Review: The Sweetest Revenge by Dawn Halliday

We have all read wonderful stories about the handsome rakes and dashing scoundrels; the debauched dukes, the wicked earls, and the roguish viscounts. In these stories, the mad, bad aristocrats find the woman who ultimately tames them, who turns them into a monogamous man, a loving husband and father.
I have always wondered, though, what happened to all those women who came before that woman who tamed him? What happened to those poor souls he debauched and ruined? How did they survive the scandal? How did they go on after the rake left them behind?
This is the story of three women in that exact situation—three women who’ve been the victims of one rake who has compromised them all. These three women have decided that enough is enough, and while they can’t take on society, perhaps—just perhaps—they can change one man. This is the story of his reformation.
The author's prelude, along with a man tied up on the cover, made me pretty excited about this book. An original concept and so obvious. The whole thing of promiscuous men being glamourized, this one woman being 'different' and all the women of his past just melt away has always bothered me. And who could resist this?:
This book does not shirk away from the dark consequences of a dissolute rake’s behavior. It contains rough language and erotic situations. You’ve been warned.
The biggest strength of this book is the concept - original, it had me wondering how things were going to sort themselves out. Telling you about the plot though requires some spoilers.

Three wronged women from Lord Leothaid's past kidnap him: Isabelle, Anna and Susan. Isabelle was Leo's young love, but after he writes her an explicit letter which is intercepted she is ruined and exiled. He didn't come for her. Anna's ruin is more recent; Leo slept with her then ran away when he realized that she was a virgin. She was shunned by her family and ended up as prostitute. Susan was ruined in a different way; she was emotionally destroyed. A widow, Susan and Leo took up together and she began to fall for him. Leo squashed her hopes cruelly and consequently Susan doesn't believe in love or men. Susan is angry at Leo's treatment of all three women, as well as all the other women he's discarded.

So they kidnap him, to give him some uncomfortable treatment to go with the uncomfortable truths. Revenge, in other words. Susan orchestrates his physical discomfort - a cold cellar, bread and water, her beefy french lover to beat him up. Anna's revenge is humiliation. She brings him almost to orgasm then leaves him tied up with his pants around his ankles and frustratingly aroused. (Fun! Hot! Yay!) Isabelle's main role is to be the timid wet blanket. Okay, actually, I think the idea is that she provides emotional torment. But she does this completely passively - she touches his foot gently and he is inexplicably set afire and remembers his first love, now dead, who broke his heart so thoroughly that he became a complete bastard. Can you see what is going to happen? Oh yes.... Poor Leo. He thought that his 'Belle' was dead, but everyone lied and conspired to keep them apart. This is frankly improbable.

The main romance is Belle and Leo's convoluted route back together. Realizing that Leo knows who Belle is and is besotted, Susan plans the perfect revenge: Belle will seduce and desert Leo, breaking his heart like his has done to so many others. Without this inspiration, I'm not quite sure whether Susan's cold floors and progressive feminist reading and Anna's increasingly kind sexual torture would work. Well, not the way they were doing it. I think a lot more could have been made of Susan and Anna's revenge. Instead, the focus is on Leo's desperation to see Belle and the unravelling of the past relationships of the protagonists.

There are also some sub-plot romances for Anna and Susan. Poor old Susan has no character or plot development at all. She begins widowed, with a lover and a cynical attitude towards love and marriage and ends exactly the same. Susan is pretty sane although her advice to the other two women is rather questionable. Anna on the other hand seems remarkably unharmed by her traumatic year as a prostitute and falls immediately into the arms of Lord Archer, a rakish compatriot of Leo. Susan goes to all the trouble of giving Anna a new, respectable identity, only for Anna to throw it all away by becoming a mistress. Susan is annoyed and points out that Lord Archer is no better than Lord Leothaid. But Anna acts like an impetuous child, insisting that she is 'healed' and wants Lord Archer. The mind boggles.

The other sub-plot is the rivalry between Mr. Sutherland and Lord Leothaid. They compete over women, and that ends up including Isabelle. Mr. Sutherland is set up as the villan who led Leo astray and then tries to steal away his first love. Susan encourages Isabelle to become Mr. Sutherland's mistress (I'm not sure about the wisdom of this advice) and when Leo doesn't come for her, Isabelle gives in. Now is the time for even bigger spoilers than I have already told. Look away now if you don't want to know.

It's the end of the book, Susan and Anna consider Leo 'cured' of his misogynistic and unacceptable behavior. Leo has been searching for Isabelle and begs Susan and Anna to tell him where she is. Susan throws his own words back at him:
"Go find a whore, then. That'll satisfy. All women have the same basic parts, after all, don't they, my lord?"
Anger rose within him, an instinctual response. She mocked Belle, said she was no better than any common harlot.
That doesn't sound to me like a man who has gained any respect for the situation that women find themselves in when men take advantage of them. By throwing back his own words at him, Susan doesn't (imo) suggest that Isabelle is a 'common harlot', but that every woman deserves more respect than Leo previously gave them. It seems to me that far from having any change of opinion or sense of remorse over his treatment of women, Leo is still an idiot.

It doesn't get any better. Leo arrives at Mr. Sutherland's house, just in the nick of time to stop Isabelle and he consummating their relationship. And he's furious. They fight over her and she stands there wringing her hands like the object girl that she is.
***End Spoilers***

The problem for me is that this isn't truly a story of redemption or reformation, as Leo is still a dick. It isn't an effective story of revenge either. This book takes a revolutionary premise and then tries to execute it in a standard cookie-cutter romance novel way. It's a pity, because even without the amount of kinkiness that tying up a Lord in your basement invites, this is nearly inspired. The emphasis is just too much on the rather boring and sappy Isabelle. I think I would have liked to see her show some gumption and run off with Mr. Sutherland, but no such luck. She lurrrves Leo and so he gets much better ending than he deserves. Nobody really gets the revenge on Leo; not Mr. Sutherland, Isabelle, Susan or Anna. Everyone except Mr. Sutherland ends the book pretty happy and I think that is supposed to represent that they have forgiven him his misdeeds and moved on. Personally, I think the victims of rakes deserve rather more revenge, sweet or not, than these characters got. This book suggests at, but doesn't deliver, what a rake really deserves in terms of punishment and redemption.


January 1, 2013

Review: Three Stages of Love: Lust by TC Anthony

With an undeniable urge to dominate her new boss, her own lust-filled fantasies lead to a transformation that shakes her to her core. But when Alexander challenges Eva to satisfy her carnal urges, she is forced to choose between her career, her desires, and an unconventional and lustful relationship. Consumed by fear and forced to maintain control at all costs, Eva must decide if having it all is worth risking her career, her world, and possibly, love.

That's was what attracted me to this book. An undeniable urge to dominate her new boss. Sounds good - a conflict between bedroom and real life power, with all sorts of kinky and emotional tensions. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any evidence of the story that is described. I actually checked the synopsis several times, because I couldn't believe it was the same book. So there are two plots here - the one that is described and the one that I read. I'll describe the one I read. Presumably your milage may vary given that I clearly read a different book to the one in the synopsis.

Eva gets drunk in a bar with her friend Samantha, sees the sexiest man ever and drunkenly propositions him after falling over herself, literally. Her drunk friends desert her with a complete stranger. Sexy bloke chivalrously sends her home with his private driver (because he's loaded, obviously). 26% through the book all that had happened was that Eva had gotten drunk in bars with her PA, fell at the feet of and then been sent home chastely by a man clearly intended to be the hero, and talked a lot about how great she is. Over a quarter of the way through and I was still yet to see any evidence of Eva being dominant, no actual lust or sexy sex ('bad sex' with the token boyfriend isn't quite the same thing) or almost anything except Eva talking a lot. Mainly in bars while getting drunk. Getting drunk is not a good spectator sport, and even less fun when reading about it. She has an ill friend with cancer, who she visits and talks to a lot, presumably to show what a lovely, kind person she really is.

Eva also seems to be submissive. When eventually, Alexander gets around to appearing again, Eva spends her time thinking about how she wants him to spank her, fuck her against the wall, dominate her, etc. etc. (Yawn.) We hear about what a strong, dominant, spunky woman she is, but it's all tell, not show. I see no evidence of Eva being clever or dominant around Alexander. There's a phrase for this: she talks a good domination.

The tension is (or presumably would be if the plot ever actually moved on) that Eva doesn't believe in love. She was named after a poem about a woman who is totally obsessed by her tragic love, doesn't do anything but pine away in her life and then dies. Eva is determined to not be like this and thus avoids love. Unfortunately, Eva is also sooo desired by everyone and sooo amazing in bed that any man who has sex with her falls in love and spoils her 'sex only' rule. (It was surprising to hear that said, in all seriousness, in the first person.) Alexander on the other hand has never brought a woman back to his bachelor pad, has never licked out a woman - essentially there are a load of awkwardly contrived ways that Eva is "special".

The end for me was 56% of the way through; Eva is proving what a sexy, kinky minx she is, and she says this:
"Well, the salespeople at the adult store know me by name - I get a friends and family discount. I'm not offended by a little role-play and a light whipping on my behind, nor do I mind givinga [sic] whip or two. I like to be creative, you know...silk ties, showers, stone walls. And I can play the boss who happens to have a cup of ice on hand or the employee who knows exactly what to do with the boss's cup of ice."
"Ice." Alexander was intrigued. 
Wow. You kinky girl - silk ties and showers. The problem really is that although she says that she doesn't mind a bit of switching around, we have seen absolutely zero evidence of this in the first half of the book. I think that actually, this is closer to a permutation on the (dreaded) FSOG stalker billionaire man storyline, except with a sexually experienced woman. So instead of the stalker billionaire being the authority on everything, she is the more kinky, sexually experienced one (though not really kinky, because then she'd be bad). Admittedly, this is a different take to the standard Harlequin Modern nonsense. Eva isn't a virgin, which is good. But Alexander is still the dominant, even if Eva is rather topping from the bottom. As a remake of FSOG with the sexual experience (though not much else) reversed, this has its merits. As femdom, it doesn't work at all.

Maybe if I'd seen some latent dominance, or a dominant attitude towards Alexander (as opposed to the pathetic, inarticulate (and at first, literally speechless) pool of liquid lust that she turns into), I would be more convinced. Maybe if there was less tell and more show, I would be more convinced. Maybe if the plot moved at a pace faster than glacial timescales. Maybe if more happened in the story, that wasn't hanging out in bars passing notes like teenagers in class. Maybe if it was better written. Maybe if there was some of the advertised dominance and lust. Maybe then, I would have finished this book.