Jeanie Grey

About Jeanie Grey

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The Complete Lilly Frank Series

Happy October, readers! Fall has begun (my favorite time of year), the pumpkin spice lattes are back, and people are prepping for Halloween. I’ve been working hard for the past several weeks to prepare for this month, and as a result, I have four announcements to make.

NEW: Lilly Frank short stories

First Kill: Lilly Frank Short StoriesI’ve written four new short stories that take place in the Lilly Frank world, and they’re now available for purchase! This book of short stories is a companion to the Lilly Frank trilogy.

Description

Longing. Murder. Love. Vampires. Sex.

These four short stories contain everything you’ve come to expect from the Lilly Frank series.

“First Kill” – Lilly’s experiment to see how long she can go without feeding has terrible unexpected consequences.

“Lilly and Étienne” – After fleeing to France with Beth and Jamie, Lilly struggles to recover psychologically and physically from torture and abandonment, and finds that her heart too is on the mend.

“The Organization Begins” – Elias and four other vampires track down Vasily and his Blood Scion, whose decade-long transcontinental killing spree has attracted the attention of vampire hunters.

“Giovanni and Vittoria” – Vittoria has waited long enough to consummate her love for Giovanni. But their perfect night of lovemaking takes a dark turn that will change their lives forever.

Content warning: These stories contain graphic violence and explicit sexual content intended for readers 18+.

Buy First Kill: Lilly Frank Short Stories now on Smashwords or Amazon

Also coming soon to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

The Complete Lilly Frank Series

If you’re new to the Lilly Frank series, you can start at the beginning of this suspenseful vampire tale with romantic elements read your way through the whole trilogy and the short stories in one fell swoop: The Complete Lilly Frank Series ebook will be available on Oct. 10! (Note: I’m also working on a print version of The Complete Lilly Frank Series, which should be available by the end of the calendar year. Yippee! :D)

The Complete Lilly Frank TrilogyDescription

Longing. Betrayal. Sex. Murder. Love. A story about how far one woman will go to feel safe in a world without guarantees and what one vampire will do to find companionship that lasts an eternity.

The Complete Lilly Frank Series includes the original trilogy and four thrilling Lilly Frank short stories.

AWAKENING
In the two years since Lilly Frank’s mother was brutally murdered and the killer set free, Lilly has worked hard to create a safe and stable life for herself. But she’s thrown off balance when she meets Torren Frisk, a handsome stranger whom she finds both irresistible and frightening. Her growing attraction to him, coupled with his offer to help her track down her mother’s killer, threaten to unravel Lilly’s carefully constructed world. Torren’s undeniably different from any other man Lilly has ever met, but what does he really want from her?

AWAKENING 2
A newly made vampire requires a certain amount of time to get used to her new body and heightened senses. But Torren’s worried that if Lilly doesn’t hurry up, she’ll be dead before she ever gets the chance to adjust to life as a vampire. Word among vampires is that someone’s hunting their kind, and it’s not a quick death if you’re caught. This killer likes to torture the victims first, and all signs indicate that he or she is circling ever closer to Torren and Lilly.

Torren needs Lilly to stop fighting him and start trusting him. Maybe he shouldn’t have deceived her…

AWAKENING 3
Nearly fifty years after the events of Awakening 2, Lilly decides to stop running away and returns to Italy only to find the threat of a vampire civil war growing. With the help of Beth, Carrie and Jamie, Lilly learns how to face her feelings about her tragic past and to accept that, whether Torren wants her or not, her heart wants him. But when she finds Torren in Rome, not only is he still with Vittoria, he doesn’t seem to remember Lilly at all.

Can Lilly convince Torren to leave Vittoria to be with her and help the Organization find a peaceful solution to the conflict, or will Vittoria and a vampire war come between Torren and Lilly and their happily ever after?

SHORT STORIES: First Kill, Lilly and Étienne, The Organization Begins, and Giovanni and Vittoria.

Content warning: These stories contain graphic violence, language, and sexual content intended for readers 18+.

(Pre)order your copy of The Complete Lilly Frank Series ebook now on Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon

The month of October is the best time to buy books in the Lilly Frank series because…

Vampire Books for Blood

Vampire Books for Blood fundraiser for The American Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services

I’m participating in Vampire Books for Blood again! VB4B, an annual fundraiser for the American Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services, was started last year by my friend and fellow author Scott Burtness. It runs every October, and participating authors (like me!) pledge to donate a certain percentage of their net royalties from one or more of their books to the American Red Cross or to Canadian Blood Services.

As an Oregonian, this fundraiser has particular significance to me this year in light of the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon; the American Red Cross played a significant role in assisting victims, families of victims, and witnesses. Like many Oregonians–and indeed many people all over the world–I’m deeply saddened by this event, and I’m grateful to the Red Cross for its quick response to the tragedy.

In appreciation for their services in times like these as well as for all the other wonderful work they do, I’ve pledged to donate 100% of my net royalties from October 2015 sales of all the books in the Lilly Frank series (Awakening, Awakening 2, Awakening 3, First Kill, and The Complete Lilly Frank Series) to my local chapter of the American Red Cross. There’s no better time to sink your teeth into a horror novel than October, and no better incentive than knowing your money will support a worthy cause.

Learn more about VB4B and find the other participating authors at vampirebooksforblood.org.

2 Book Lovers’ Reviews Month of Horror

2 Book Lovers' Reviews Month of Horror October 2015

I’m also honored to participate in 2 Book Lovers’ Reviews Month of Horror. “The Monster” is this year’s theme, and I, along with twelve other horror authors, have written a guest post about why I write about my chosen monster–vampires. Also on the agenda are zombies, ghosts, werewolves, and many more! So whether you’re a monster-lover or just love to hate monsters, get over to 2 Book Lovers’ Reviews for new posts twice a week all month long.

 

At First Blush print edition now available!

I’m ecstatic to announce that At First Blush is now available in paperback! This release is a landmark for me, dear readers. Until now my books have only been available as ebooks, and let me tell you, I’m extremely pleased with how this came out. The At First Blush print edition’s beautiful glossy cover was designed by Liz Anderson. Behold!

Explore AT FIRST BLUSH by Jeanie Grey, a contemporary romance about reality versus fantasy in love and romance.

Book Description

“There was no such thing as a soulmate. As for the intense connection…well, it must have been her imagination. There was no man who would instinctively understand her, no man who could read her mind. No man who could turn her on with just a look or a word, no man whose touch would override her reason and turn her into the embodiment of passion. And the sooner she let go of that fantasy completely, the sooner she could approach romantic relationships with a clear head and appreciate what she had instead of pining over everything she imagined she was missing.”

SERRAN WINTERS is determined to let the fantasy of Nick Enfield go. So why does she find herself asking him to dinner while on tour with her latest romance novel? Perhaps it’s because she feels safe in disguise as her pseudonym, Jane Garfield. Besides, it’s only a couple of hours…until a hurricane leaves her stranded at his house for three days.

Despite NICK ENFIELD’s deep hurt and growing bitterness since his divorce, something about the romance author entrances him from the first moment he sees her. But when he discovers she’s married, he’s determined to resist the intense attraction between them despite her mixed signals. If only his body’s reaction to her weren’t making it so hard to keep her marital status in mind.

At First Blush is a story about fantasy versus reality in love and romance, the nature of attraction and connection, and the reasons we choose to fight or follow our impulses.

Intrigued?

Learn more about At First Blush

Buy At First Blush in paperback

Unconventional romance: a new kind of fantasy

Escape. Fantasy. Passion. True love. Happy endings.

These are the reasons many of us read romance. We want to be whisked away into a world where these things are not only possible but are inevitable.

But for whom are they possible? For whom are they inevitable?

Unconventional romance When you think about a romantic heroine or hero, what are they like? Is she feisty lady with a stubborn streak who is, beneath all the bravado, ultimately gentle, kind, and maternal? Is she petite with a trim waist, slim thighs, and generous bosom? Is he the essence of traditional masculinity: rough around the edges but financially solvent, commanding, and protective? Does he have chiseled abs, a strong jawline, and irresistible animal magnetism? Once they overcome their initial misunderstandings or prejudices, do they fit together as neatly as two interlocking pieces of a puzzle?

Over the last several years, heroines of conventional romantic literature have begun to diversify. Now they can be plump, curvaceous, and competent, like Lady Amelia d’Orsay of Tessa Dare’s historical romance One Dance with a Duke, or strong, powerful guardians, like Riley Jenson of Keri Arthur’s paranormal romance Full Moon Rising. They can be tattooed mechanics, like Mercy Thompson, the heroine of Patricia Briggs’s paranormal romance series named after the same character, or a bounty hunter and total, lovable train wreck, like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum.

But how many heterosexual romantic heroines pursue their love interests the way that heterosexual heroes are supposed to pursue theirs? How many heroines in conventional romance stories – including novels, film, and TV – are LGBTQ, have an STD, experience an unwanted pregnancy, or genuinely don’t want children?

For that matter, how many romantic heroes have love handles or are balding? How many are living paycheck to paycheck, as so many of us out here in the real world do? How many would cry at a sad movie or would pause at a crucial moment because he was uncertain which course of action was the correct one?

How many romance novels take us into the nitty gritty of life in a committed partnership? How many show us models of committed partnership that we can actually aspire to because it acknowledges that people are not neatly interlocking puzzle pieces but rather messy, evolving beings with ever-changing needs and desires?

No way. Romance is fantasy. We come to it to escape our real-life problems. We want to read about women with great bodies because we wish we had great bodies, not the one we have with rosacea and weird little red dots on our upper arms and bad knees and one boob that’s noticeably smaller than the other. We want to read about chiseled, decisive men because we’re already sitting next to a balding one whom we love but who sometimes drives us crazy because it takes him three wUnconventional romanceeeks to decide which salad spinner to buy. We don’t want to read about characters’ money problems; we have enough of our own. We’d rather read about problems that are easily resolved. We don’t want the heroes and heroines of our fantasies to have to worry about STDs or unwanted pregnancies; we want them to skip the awkward condom moment and go straight to skin-against-skin because that’s how we wish it could be for us.

I get it, and I have nothing against us writing our fantasies. But I also think that a cumulative effect manifests over time: once we read so many books and see so many movies about perky-breasted, sexually passive women who end up with muscular, dominating men, we subconsciously come to believe that these are the people for whom romance stories happen. When there’s a lack of people in fiction who look and act like we in the real world do, we start to think that passionate love and happy endings are for them, not for us. We either have to become like them (impossible for many of us), or we have to settle for something else. Something less. Because after all, romance is a fantasy genre, and we live in the real world.

I think we also start to believe that romance stories happen to fictional characters rather than are relationships we can create for ourselves.

What I’d like to see is unconventional romantic fiction that acknowledges that we can be our whole, messy, complex selves – not puzzle pieces meant to fit together – and can still have romance, passion, adventure. Stories that show messy, complex characters having messy, complex issues not easily resolved and working through them, sometimes messily. Romantic fiction that teaches us to aspire to be the heroines and heroes of our own lives and to create fulfilling and passionate relationships. A fantasy that people can relate to. Slice-of-life fantasy. Fantasy for the modern reader.

Random thoughts on paranormal romance

paranormal romance breaks conventionsI think I’m drawn to writing paranormal romance because it’s easier to break conventions. For example, in historical romance the heroine is always* a virgin. This is why Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist is classified as historical rather than paranormal romance, despite the fairies and time travel.

It’s conventional in romance too for the heroine to be smaller and weaker than the hero. He’s usually broad-shouldered and muscular; she’s dainty and needs some kind of protection or security the hero can give her, even if she doesn’t think so.

But in paranormal romance there’s no expectation that the heroine be a virgin. And it’s completely possible to have a heroine who’s a vampire, werewolf, fae or whatever who’s stronger than her human male counterpart. The romance between Selene and Michael in the first Underworld movie is an example of this.

Communicable diseases are also something you won’t see in romance. But here’s another convention that paranormal breaks, for what are vampirism and lycanthropy if not communicable diseases? This is as close to a sexually transmitted disease as you’ll likely get in a romance.

Perhaps these various conventions are on my mind right now because of what I’ve been writing lately.

In October I took the Lawson Writing Academy workshop “Getting Serious about Writing a Series,” taught by Lisa Wells. It helped me turn my attention back to the Lilly Frank series, which I hadn’t really thought much about since finishing the first book this summer. But I want to write the second book this spring, and so I needed to get my head back in it. As a result of the workshop I have greater clarity about how the books fit together and what needs to happen in the second one.

paranormal romance breaks conventionsBut now I’m also writing this other novel…which is to say I don’t actually know if I’m writing it but I’m writing some of it, which is cool. It’s a contemporary romance. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the idea came to me and I got excited about it. I generally don’t read contemporary romance anymore; there’s something exotic about historical settings and super-humans that I prefer to romance set in modern day society.

Anyway, I’m considering which conventions of contemporary romance I want to break in this one. Of course the primary advantage to self-publishing is that I don’t have to conform to a publisher’s idea of what’s desirable in a romance. On the other hand, I assume that publishers’ standards have come from extensive market research, which I have definitely not done nor have the resources to do, so it is scary to take that leap and hope people will like it even if it is quite different from what they’ve come to expect.

*True in my experience, but there may very well be exceptions. If you know of any, please draw my attention to them! I’m always on the lookout for fellow convention-defiers.

 

[Originally posted on jeaniegrey.blogspot.com on 11 November 2012.]

What is feminist romance & erotica?

feminist romance and erotica Great question from a new friend this week when she saw my blog description: “What is feminist romance and erotica?”

First let me say that there are many definitions and forms of feminism and therefore many ways of enacting feminism in one’s writing. I’m not trying here to explore all those variations, just to explain what I mean by “feminist romance and erotica” and how I intend to enact it in my own work.

My definition of feminism: the radical idea that women are equal to men. Actually, it goes a little bit beyond that. My idea of feminism is the radical idea that all people are equal, regardless of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other number of factors for which people can be discriminated against.

Because of this, my intention in my work is to treat my characters as people – whole people who do not necessarily conform to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, people who are attracted to other people, not to traditional ideas of masculinity or femininity. My intention is to explore romfeminist romance and eroticaance and sex as a part of the human experience and to challenge conventions of character, plot and language as I go.

There are too many romance novels with heroes who have broad shoulders, chiseled abs and enormous penises. There are too many romance novels with heroines who have itty bitty waists, heaving bosoms and child-bearing hips. I’m not saying these things are bad; I’m not saying there are no people in the world who fit these descriptions. What I’m saying is that most people don’t fit these descriptions (including me!), and I want them to be included. I want to show that people of all shapes, sizes, gender identities sexual orientations, etc. have romance, not just the hetero, cisgender, big-boobed and large-dicked ones.

I will admit that my work to date is relatively cis- and hetero-normative. Although I don’t consider myself to be cisgender, I do fall more on the cis side of the scale than some. And I self-identify as heterosexual and live in an enormously cis- and hetero-normative culture, and so I write from that perspective. That said, I do intend to explore the experiences of characters who are not cisgender and do not share my sexual orientation because I want them, too, to be included.

I have already talked, in a post on the language of romance and erotica, about some of my hang-ups related to the language, but I want to emphasize here the extent to which that language can perpetuate traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity. As much respect as I have for Karen Marie Moning, whose book Beyond the Highland Mists is one of my all-time favorite romance novels, every time she describes Hawk’s something-or-other as “very male,” I want to throw up. What does that even mean? Does it mean heated? Possessive? Dominating? Does this suggest that a woman can’t look this way at her sexual partner and still be a woman?

Finally, I want to challenge the convention that women’s sexuality is a passive one, that they should wait for a man to make the first move, follow his lead, submit to his dominating sexuality. In real life, I think that expectation leads, frankly, to some not very good sex. Nobody’s a mind-reader. Sex is much better when both (or all) partners are communicative and creative. (See this post for other of my thoughts about conventions of romance.)

So those are some ideas. What do you think “feminist romance and erotica” suggests? Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? If so, what does that mean to you?

 

[Originally posted on jeaniegrey.blogspot.com on 20 May 2014.]

The language of romance

LanguageRomanceQuote1 I’ve been meaning for some time to write about the language of romance and erotica, but two posts I saw yesterday have given me just the push I needed to actually do it.

So, here’s the thing. I read a lot of historical romance and paranormal romance, and am fascinated by all the different words authors use to refer to genitalia. Words and phrases like swollen sex, feminine bud, heavy sacks, pussy, manhood, feminine folds, cock and heat. There are lots of others, but you get the point. You know what I don’t see in the books I read? The proper terms: vagina, labia, scrotum, etc. Oh, every so often I will see a clitoris or penis, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

I can understand how a writer might not want to use the word vagina all the time. Why s/he might want to mix it up a bit and use slang or a euphemism to avoid overusing a word. But that doesn’t explain the absence of the word vagina.

In the post “Should a sex scene be a lesson in anatomy?” Travis Luedke argues that “anatomical language” just isn’t sexy. For him, words like vagina, labia, clitoris, vulva or areola, when in used in the context of a sex scene, “sound sterile, goofy, even vulgar and unreal.”

Two observations about this. First, I find it interesting that his post focuses on words used to describe female anatomy rather than male anatomy. I wonder: does Leudke feel the same way about the words penis, erection, scrotum or testicles? Second, the reason that the words vagina and vulva might sound “sterile, goofy” or “vulgar” is because those words aren’t often used in our society. It’s part of the body-shaming that goes on in this culture. (Need proof? Look at all the fallout after Michigan state representative Lisa Brown said the word vagina in a speech to her House of Reps.)

To say that vagina and clitoris are vulgar and unsexy but that we are not ashamed of sex or the female body sends the same mixed message that JD Roberto wishes he could avoid sending his five-year-old son about the male body and sexuality. People who write about sex – which to me seems like an awesome, sex-positive thing to do – have an opportunity here to stop perpetuating the body-shaming, to embrace and reclaim the proper terms for our anatomy. To make vaginas sexy again.

LanguageRomanceQuote2I would also like to take this opportunity to point out how the use of terms like manhood and feminine bud perpetuate gender identity discrimination. By substituting the word manhood for penis and the phrase feminine bud for clitoris, we exclude people who are male-identified but don’t have penises and people who are female-identified but don’t have clitorises.

But if we use anatomical terms, suddenly the possibilities open up. Suddenly we can have a scene wherein “she unzipped her fly and released her penis from the confines of the fabric” or similar. Imagine that.

 

[Originally posted on jeaniegrey.blogspot.com on 17 Oct. 2012]

Sex and vampires

Awakening by Jeanie Grey is a steamy, unconventional story in a suspenseful series about how far one woman will go to feel safe in a world without guarantees and what one vampire will do to find companionship that lasts an eternity.One of my readers for the first draft of Awakening remarked that vampirism is about repressed sexuality. My first reaction was, “Well maybe in other mythologies, but for Lilly it’s about safety.” She’s felt unsafe ever since her mother’s murder, and she’s attracted to vampires and vampirism because it seems to her the epitome of safety.

Consider these excerpts from the novella:

“It’s okay,” he said. “You’re safe with me. You’ll always be safe with me.”

In that moment, she did feel safe.[…] She knew he was strong, and she felt protected in his arms. He was a vampire. Nothing could hurt him; he couldn’t die. What could be safer?

* * *

She looked at Torren then. Thought of how strong he was, how he’d healed before her very eyes. He was indestructible.

“Make me a vampire,” she said, and held her breath.

My realization that vampirism was–for me, at least–about safety came when I started thinking about why I’d always wanted to be a vampire. Yes, there’s something appealing about the intimacy and eroticism of putting your mouth on someone’s neck and taking their life force into your body. And yes, most vampires are described as incredibly attractive, if not for their physical appearance then because they have some kind of sensual, magnetic presence. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

In the majority of stories I’ve read with vampires in them, the vampires are wealthy and live lives of luxury and leisure. They don’t have to work dull jobs in order to eat; they are surrounded by food sources. They seem unaffected by extremes of heat and cold. They don’t have to worry about “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” because most people can’t hurt them.

Okay, yes, in most vampire stories they have to worry about other supernatural creatures, vampire hunters, sunlight, and wooden stakes. But they’re generally smart and incredibly strong and, compared with a human woman, have very little to worry about.

All that said, what is the relationship between sex and vampires? I found myself thinking more today about my friend’s assertion and wondering if there isn’t a connection between repressed sexuality and a need for safety. Why do people, and women in particular, repress their sexuality?

Perhaps in part because of cultural norms: a woman who engages in sexual activity with whomever she wishes runs the risk of being labeled a whore or a slut in our society. She might be accused of lacking proper self-esteem. Or, in some cases, might be told she’s going to hell. It isn’t safe for her to openly explore her sexuality because she might be ostracized. (To be fair, some of these norms also apply to men these days. However, I’ve never heard a man accused of low self-esteem because he had sex with a lot of people; instead I’ve heard him accused of lacking respect for his partners because monogamy is the norm in this society.)

It also might be an issue of trust: it takes a certain level of trust to be naked and vulnerable with another person. One needs to know that one’s sexual partner will not attempt physical harm and will not say disparaging things about one’s body. In other words, one must feel safe with a sexual partner.

Sexually transmitted diseases and the risk of unplanned pregnancy are also a concern. One doesn’t want a few hours of pleasure to have unwanted, lifelong consequences.

A vampire, however, is no longer human, and therefore human norms no longer apply. Vampires are already ostracized because of their nature, and their sexual activity isn’t going to make a difference one way or the other. A vampire can defend him/herself from physical attack and doesn’t sex and vampireshave to worry about STDs. Vampires also can’t get pregnant (exception: Victor’s daughter in Underworld).

What’s my point? Well, maybe it’s that vampirism is about safety even when it’s about sexual repression. That the two are not mutually-exclusive. Maybe sexual repression isn’t actually about sex so much as it’s about wanting to know we are safe from both physical harm and from condemnation by our community members.

What do you think? Is vampirism more about sex than I’ve realized?

 

[Originally posted on jeaniegrey.blogspot.com on 22 September 2012.]

Guest post: Christina Harding on dubious consent

For a while now I’ve been pondering the phenomenon of rape or dubious consent fantasies in erotic fiction. How can women – especially women who self-identify as feminists – not only have rape fantasies but actually write about and share them? It’s a timely topic, too, what with the continued debate at the national level about what constitutes consent and some men struggling to wrap their minds around the concept of rape. A recent post on Dear Author offers an interesting perspective on the issue of rape fantasy (and why some men might compare being raped to losing a job), but I wanted to get the perspective of someone who actually writes rape fantasy. Who better to ask than my esteemed colleague Christina Harding, whose monster erotica series Underneath the Gargoyle contains dubious consent? When I first read the following guest post, I was surprised by the conclusion. I asked Christina about it, and here is a snippet of our conversation:

JG: I’ve never heard anyone say that reading rape fantasy will lead men to rape and that’s why we shouldn’t write it. (I’ve definitely heard a similar argument against gun violence on TV/in movies/in video games, but never about rape.) I’ve been thinking more along the lines of, “Rape is a horrible, traumatic experience that no woman wants to experience in reality, so why do we have fantasies about it?”

CH: I’m surprised you have “never heard anyone say that reading rape fantasy will lead men to rape and that’s why we shouldn’t write it.” I’ve had multiple authors who I respect tell me this is why they don’t write the rape fantasy. I’ve had readers try to track down my email (which is why it isn’t posted on my blog) to tell me this.

Dang! I had no idea. But this is why it’s so helpful to learn about other people’s experiences and perspectives, no? Read on to find out how Christina, who considers herself a feminist, thinks about rape fantasy in erotic fiction.

 

Embrace Your Fantasies
by Christina Harding

I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I believe that women deserve equal pay as men for equal work and that a marriage should be an equal partnership between two people. I believe that women can achieve great physical prowess, and men can be loving and nurturing. I believe that gender roles are defined by society, not biology, and so society (or rather, people) can choose in what light they want to view gender roles.

However, there have been many nights where I’ve woken up from dreams where I was so aroused that I was soaking wet. These were dreams of getting gang raped. Or forced to have sex with the most unattractive people I know. Or dreams in which I was a slave getting whipped and raped by my master. One can argue that dreams represent our darkest fantasies that we won’t let ourselves acknowledge while awake.

Underneath the Gargoyle by Christina Harding is a Catholic school girl monster erotica story

The rape fantasy, or what is called “dubious consent” in the world of erotica, could be considered the antithesis of feminism. It has been a bit of a grapple for me to figure out how to rationalize these two opposing interests.

At this point, I want to emphasize that I’ve been purposefully using the word “fantasy.” Dreams, much like fantasies, are not reality. Many little boys love the fantasy of killing a dragon, but if faced with the “reality” of a huge fire-breathing dragon, would probably feel otherwise. This is the same case with erotica containing dubious consent. The reality is that whipping slaves and gang-raping women are horrible crimes which will have lasting effects on the physical and mental well-being of the victim.With this being said, I followed a bit of a journey in learning to embrace my fantasies containing dubious consent. It started when I learned monster erotica while surfing reddit. I started reading it late at night, and at 2:00 am when I was about half way through, I found myself waking up my pleasantly surprised husband, yearning his attentions. And that was just the beginning.The more paranormal erotica I read, the more my sex life with my husband became revitalized. By finally accepting this fantasy, I was having the best sex of my life. It was not too long before we started role-playing. While this may seem more like “reality” the fact of the matter is that I’m in a loving, committed, trusting relationship, and I know that if I was ever uncomfortable with what we were doing, my husband would stop immediately. This is fantasy because we’re “pretending.” But what’s amazing is that this role-playing has brought us closer than ever before, because it requires an immense amount of trust.The last step in my path towards accepting these fantasies of questionable consent was when I started writing my own paranormal erotic series, Underneath the Gargoyle. There are many authors who refuse to write this type of erotica because they “know too many people who have been raped.” While I respect this concern, I think a psychotic man who would actually rape a woman would do so regardless of whether or not they read my work. Furthermore, the fact that I write paranormal erotica couldn’t underscore more the fact that this is fantasy.

Monster erotica ignited my sexual awakening, and so I hope my Underneath the Gargoyle series will help others by spreading the fire and arousing deep desires.

 

Christina Harding is a pseudonym. She is the author of Underneath the Gargoyle, a paranormal erotic series. She also blogs at www.christinahardingerotica.blogspot.com and tweets @tinaerotica. Christina is happily married and enjoys reading sexy stories with her husband.

Guest post: “How erotica saved my marriage” by Christina Harding

The third post in my guest post series about the value of romance and erotica is by erotica author (and reader) Christina Harding. In addition to writing erotica, Christina runs a fabulous feminist, sex-positive blog about romance and erotica, which you should totally check out when you get the chance. For now, I’m honored to bring you her contribution to this conversation. Read on to find out how reading erotica saved Christina’s marriage.
 
“How Erotica Saved My Marriage!” by Christina Harding

I greatly missed the days when I saw sex as a stress reliever as opposed to a stressor. I missed wanting sex.My path towards becoming an erotica author started in a very unlikely place. For several years I struggled greatly with a reduced sex drive. There was one period where I went three months without having sex and felt horrified at the thought of having sex again. My poor husband was going bonkers!

For those who don’t know there are many factors that go into a loss of sex drive. In my case, it had little to do with anything my husband did. I was simply not interested, couldn’t get in the mood, and generally bored by sex. I felt like it was a huge time commitment when I had a lot of other things going on. Basically, my loss of sex drive was due to stress and anxiety.

But, I was not happy about this. I greatly missed the days when I saw sex as a stress reliever as opposed to a stressor. I missed wanting sex. I also felt a ton of guilt because my husband felt really bad about it, and was internalizing my lack of sex drive as an indicator that I didn’t find him attractive. I felt like finding a way to break out of this rut was important for my marriage.

Then by a stroke of fate, I started reading erotica. Somehow, my sex drive light was lit, and I was craving the attentions of my husband again. After reading erotica for the first time, I literally climbed on top of my husband at 3:00 am, much to his gleeful surprise. A piece of lost intimacy was rekindled, and we started having some of the best sex of our marriage.

Many think of erotica as being a genre that single virgins read because they aren’t getting any action. But, I think this image is a disservice to erotica. By its nature, erotica encourages readers to become open minded about their sexuality and provides them with fresh ideas for the bedroom. Erotica can be a tool for enriching a couple’s most intimate time, and a healthy sex life can do nothing but add to a healthy marriage. For this reason, I think erotica is an important body of writing.

 

Christina Harding is a pseudonym. She is the author of Underneath the Gargoyle, a paranormal erotic novelette. She also blogs at www.christinahardingerotica.blogspot.com and tweets @tinaerotica. Christina is happily married and enjoys reading naughty stories with her husband.

AT FIRST BLUSH now available!

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Nick + Serran series, Book 1

Genre: Contemporary romance
Release date: May 8, 2015
Format: ebook
Length: 77,670 words (approx. 238 pages)
Language: English
Buy links: SmashwordsApple USApple UKKoboAmazon USAmazon UKAmazon CAAmazon AUBarnes & Noble

Book synopsis

“There was no such thing as a soulmate. As for the intense connection…well, it must have been her imagination. There was no man who would instinctively understand her, no man who could read her mind. No man who could turn her on with just a look or a word, no man whose touch would override her reason and turn her into the embodiment of passion. And the sooner she let go of that fantasy completely, the sooner she could approach romantic relationships with a clear head and appreciate what she had instead of pining over everything she imagined she was missing.” 

SERRAN WINTERS is determined to let the fantasy of Nick Enfield go. So why does she find herself asking him to dinner while on tour with her latest romance novel? Perhaps it’s because she feels safe in disguise as her pseudonym, Jane Garfield. Besides, it’s only a couple of hours…until a hurricane leaves her stranded at his house for three days. 

Despite NICK ENFIELD’s deep hurt and growing bitterness since his divorce, something about the romance author entrances him from the first moment he sees her. But when he discovers she’s married, he’s determined to resist the intense attraction between them despite her mixed signals. If only his body’s reaction to her weren’t making it so hard to keep her marital status in mind. 

At First Blush is a story about fantasy versus reality in love and romance, the nature of attraction and connection, and the reasons we choose to fight or follow our impulses.

Excerpt

Nick stepped into the bookstore, slightly dazed, and blinked under the lights. The clouds had come in heavy already, dimming the sky to a twilight despite the fact that it was only four-thirty in the afternoon on an August Monday, and the bookstore was comparatively bright. It was also, he noticed, unusually busy. A line of maybe forty people snaked around and between shelves, ending at a sturdy oak table covered in stacks of paperback books. A sign was propped upright on the table, and he could just make out the words, Author signing TODAY! Odd then that there was no one behind the table. Maybe the author was late.

He glanced next at the register and saw a second line almost as long as the first. 

Forget it. Between the crush of bodies and the long line for the register, it would take him ages to find a book and get out of here. He didn’t even really want to read tonight anyway. He’d much rather have a few beers and put on an action flick that would drown out the sounds of the storm.

He was about to turn around and walk back out the door when something—a shift in the air current or movement in the corner of his eye—caused him to look toward the back corner of the bookstore just in time to see the bathroom door open and a woman come out. As soon as he saw her, his heart kicked, his chest constricted, his breath hitched, and his pants got a little tighter in the crotch. Time slowed.

She had full, rosy lips, a round face, and a severe black bob that must’ve been dyed because her eyebrows were several shades lighter. The color of her hair threw into further contrast the paleness of her skin; here was a woman who probably couldn’t tan if she tried. She was full-figured, with wide hips, a round ass, and long legs. She wore a cream-colored skirt down to her knees, red heels, and a white button-up shirt with a high collar that opened in a narrow but deep V and showed a hint of ample cleavage. There was something unconsciously sensual in her movements as she strode across the store, shoulders back and chin level, making eye contact with everyone in her path and smiling as if she owned the place. He didn’t think he’d ever met a woman like her, and yet there was something vaguely familiar about her.

Unconsciously, Nick moved forward three steps. When she passed right in front of him, she was looking in the other direction. Nonetheless, he could make out the color of her almond-shaped eyes: a cornflower blue that reminded him of a summer sky in a painting of the Dutch countryside.

And then she was past him, leaving in her wake a faint aroma of vanilla and spice. He inhaled deeply, the tightness in his chest telling him he must’ve been holding his breath. His eyes followed her, and he was entranced by her sashaying hips as she threaded her way through the crowd. When she reached the book signing table, she sat down behind it.

 
 
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