Saturday, 28 March 2020

Book Review - The Artist by Juliette Banks


Five Stars!

The Artist is the story of a nineteenth century painter, Theo and his model, Lizzie. This is the perfect setup for a romance novel because, as we all know, artists are always shagging their models. I have known this to be true since I read Judith Kranz's Mistral's Daughter when I was about twelve.  (There's quite a bit of rumpy pumpy in that book. It's possibly, on reflection, not really suitable reading for a child.) The fact that I have been to life drawing classes myself and never shagged any of the models I've painted does not in any way diminish my strongly held Artist/Model shag-based belief system.

More Artist/Model shag shenanigans

There's a lot more to Juliette Banks' story than just shagging, of course, but it's a damn good starting point. What begins, for Theo, as merely lustful urges to be slaked, soon develops into something rather more wonderful. And far more complicated.

Lizzie seems at the beginning of the book to be rather more timid and downtrodden than is ideal for a literary heroine. She isn't weak in the slightest but she is carrying a lot of very heavy emotional baggage. She has been forced to flee her abusive husband and then endure the rejection of a society which does not tolerate a married woman who has chosen to leave her husband.

Taking a job as an model for an eccentric artist is very much an act of desperation on her part. However, as the story develops, the reader discovers that the she is an exceptionally strong woman with a mind of her own.

Theo is an interesting character. Equal parts creative bohemian, trustafarian rich boy, rake and caring, conscientious employer. From the very beginning, he ensures that the destitute woman who appears on his doorstep is given a good meal and treated with dignity and respect.

We don't have to wait long for the shagging though and when it comes it is hot, spanky and well outside the acceptable norms of Victorian etiquette.

When things take a turn for the dramatic, Theo and Lizzie end up in exile in Florence, amongst a non-conformist artist community. There is a surprising bit of polyamory introduced to the story here. It's is all done so cheerfully and with everyone having such a delightful time that it's rather lovely.

Bohemian Artist types

However, their happiness is short-lived when Theo and Lizzie are both arrested as the suspected murderers of Lizzie's husband. It's a desperate situation and one which, if both parties were not in a romance novel and therefore guaranteed a Happy Ever After, would almost certainly result in a death sentence for both of them.

I don't think I am spoiling anything by saying that there is a Happy Ever After though. It's reassuring to know that these two lovely characters who have experienced more than their fair share of drama, heartbreak and misery, will finally be able to relax and enjoy their spanky sexy happy ending. They really deserve it.

Want to know more about the book review star rating system? Or find out what other books I've reviewed? Check out this page here.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Book Review - Stolen Moments by Maren Smith


Five Stars!

Stolen Moments is a fantastically good book. It also, oddly, the first book I've read of Maren Smith's where I kind of wished there was less spanking in it.

Not because the spanking in this book isn't amazing. It is. The hero, Draven Gray, is a satisfying hunk of brawn, intelligence and emotional wherewithal all wrapped up in a butcher's apron. Flora O'Bannon is a twenty-first century girl in a nineteenth century spot of bother and often in need of a bit of discipline.

The thing is though, a lot of people in the world think that a book's hero shouldn't keep putting a grown woman over his knee and spanking her bare bottom. Those people are wrong of course but there you are. Maren Smith's book is so exquisitely written, so atmospheric and so compelling that, quite frankly, it deserves to be in every bookshop everywhere. It seems almost a shame to limit its readership to our little niche corner of unashamed spankos.

Pictured: Unashamed spankos
This is in no way a complaint, you understand. You know me, I'm all about the spankings. I also love time travel, historical romance and late nineteenth century London in particular so this book pushed all my buttons, ("Pushed my buttons" sounds so much like a sexual euphemism there that I am just going to leave it and pretend that I meant to do it.)

The sense of time and place is so brilliantly evoked that you can almost smell it. The dark dingy streets of Whitechapel serve as the backdrop to Flora's extraordinary adventure as she's whisked from present day New Orleans to London in 1888 and straight into the path of Jack the Ripper.

The violence depicted in the early part of the book is visceral and bloody. Smith spares us none of the grisly details of the Ripper's appalling crimes. Which makes it truly gut-wrenching when Flora's own life is in danger because we know what the man is capable of.

Contrasting with the horror, is the natural, supportive and loving relationship between Draven and Flora. A relationship that starts, as so many great storybook romances do, with the hero rescuing a damsel in distress. In fact, Flora is not so much distressed as completely unconscious and when her consciousness does come back, her memory doesn't come back with it.

Everything about this book is great. The dialogue is a joy to read. Making the hero a butcher by profession was a stroke of genius. I've been vegetarian for the last thirty years but now I'm wondering why all romantic heroes aren't butchers? Not only can he see off bad guys with a vast selection of knives and the knowledge of how to use them, but he'll then take you home and cook you a hot meal. What's not to love about that?

"Lay one hand on her and I will personally send you straight to the devil's front gate.
We have a long-standing relationship, he and I. You can give him my regards."
Stolen Moments is fast paced with plenty of plot twists to keep the reader on their toes throughout. Yet the love affair between the two main characters doesn't seem forced or rushed. The author allows enough space in the tightly-plotted action for the two characters to get to know one another properly.

At one point in the story, Draven wonders if Flora is "simply a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time". Flora may be a woman out of her own time but, it turns out, she is in exactly the place and time where she needs to be.

Want to know more about the book review star rating system? Or find out what other books I've reviewed? Check out this page here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Splendid Isolation

We are living, as the apocryphal Chinese curse says, in interesting times. "Interesting" as in simultaneously terrifying and really quite boring. Because, it turns out, that the heroic thing to do in the Covid-19 crisis is to stay home and not get up to much.

I live with both my elderly parents so I am taking this social distancing shit seriously. The limitations I am imposing on my movements are getting revised on a daily basis. Only a couple of days ago, I believed that seeing my boyfriend and going to AA meetings (I am a recovering alcoholic) were 'essential'. Now I'm of the opinion that they're probably not.

I am staying holed up away from the outside world for as long as I have to because right now 'over-reaction' is not a word in my vocabulary. If, a few months down the line, we can look back on this and say that we all over-reacted, well, that's the best possible outcome.

And luckily the shops hadn't totally run out of face masks.

But it's all under constant review, as I said, my primary motivation here is the well-being of my parents. But I do have to accept that if too much isolation means I end up bonkers and/or drunk then that's not a great outcome for my parents either.

I am in an incredibly fortunate position. I work as a software developer and working from home is not even slightly a problem. I live in a nice house with amazing cats, books to write, and enough tea to see me through any crisis. (Happily, I have been inadvertently stockpiling tea for years.)

I know that not everybody is so lucky. But, right now, just staying put seems like the best thing I can do for everyone.

There's no real point to this post but it seemed weird to be posting spanky stuff without at least acknowledging the Corona threat.

Normal spanky spank stuff will resume from tomorrow with not one, but two five star book reviews for me to get excited about.

Any real-life spank stuff is off the menu for a while. I am going to cancel a booking boyfriend and I have for a BDSM dungeon for my birthday next week. It's a shame because, let's face it BDSM places are always the most scrupulously anti-bacced places you can go to. But sadly, it's not something that even I can claim is 'essential'.

So my spank life will be a virtual one. I have a whole host of books on my 'to read' pile and I'm looking forward to working my way through them.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Saturday Spankings - What they both needed

Happy Saturday! Which means it's Spanking Time! (Although, to be fair, any day is a good day for a spanking.)

I am sharing a snippet from my brand new book, Challenging Chelsey, which was released on Wednesday.

By way of a blurb, I am going to quote in full the lovely five star review I got from Reading4Therapy which sums the book up rather well.

Chelsey is shattered, homeless and ill after the tragic deaths of her parents and brother when she was sixteen. Six years later she is all alone in the world and found living on the street by her deceased brother's best friend. 
After a few months of comfort and care she begins to become too comfortable existing with no apparent goals or progress, so Harry implements a plan which leads to domestic discipline. Unexpected romance with plenty of steam take the reader through the process of making her whole again ending in a HEA! Read in one sitting.

“What happens if I don’t do what I’m told? Do I get punished?”

The snippet below takes place just before Harry spanks Chelsey for the first time. That's a bit of spoiler because the snippet stops before we get to the spanking bit. But c'mon, you all totally know where it's going. (Also, he doesn't actually think she's an idiot. He's just really pissed. Happily, they sort it all out in the course of the book.)

“What the fuck happened yesterday?” snapped Harry.  
Chelsey’s smile faltered, her lips quivered and there was an unmistakable look of guilt in her face. Then she squared her shoulders and looked up at him, clearly determined to brazen it out. “I had a couple of friends round,” she said. “Then we went out to a party. Is that a problem?”  
“Yes. Yes, it is a problem. It’s a problem when you fuck about in my house, smoking Class C drugs and making the place into a fucking pig sty when you’d agreed to tidy the place up. It’s a problem that you bugger off for the whole night without telling me where you are where you were going. Christ, anything could have happened to you Chelsey!”  
“I can take care of myself!”  
“No you can’t! You’re an idiot.”  
Chelsey looked shocked at Harry’s words. The hurt showed clearly on her face and was immediately followed by anger. “Fuck you!” she shouted and struck him squarely across the chest.  
Up until that moment, Harry hadn’t known what he was going to do with Chelsey. Now it seemed crystal clear what she needed. What they both needed. Without a word he grabbed her wrist and pulled her into the living room.

Buy it now at Amazon.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Check out the rest of the participants in this week's Saturday Spankings spanky blog hop!

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

New Release! Challenging Chelsey

It's an exciting day at Etta Stark Towers. My brand spanking new book Challenging Chelsey goes on sale today!

“What happens if I don’t do what I’m told? Do I get punished?”

Six years ago, Chelsey Roberts’ life fell apart when her parents and older brother were killed in a terrorist attack in London.

When Harry Ratcliffe, her brother’s best friend finds her homeless and begging for change, he offers her a place to stay and the chance to turn her life around. It’s what anyone would do in the circumstances, right? For old times’ sake.

But Chelsey isn’t a teenager anymore. Their feelings for one another grow and Harry discovers that he would do anything for this woman. Including giving her the discipline that she needs.

Harry challenges this erratic young woman to obey him and accept his punishments and through his care, Chelsey finds a new freedom and happiness which helps her overcome the demons of her past.

US Amazon
UK Amazon

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Book Review - Returning to Us by PK Corey

Four Stars

The new series of Corbin's Bend continues in great style with PK Corey's Returning to Us. This book follows Vanessa Brooks' Sub-Divided, where the heroine was a spanko who wasn't sure if she wanted a Domestic Discipline relationship. In contrast, Susan, the heroine of Returning to Us definitely knows that she wants DD. The problem is, most of the time she isn't getting it.

With their children all grown up, Hal and Susan have plenty of time for themselves as a couple. They can enjoy some 'us' time except that they're not really sure what 'us' means any more. They enjoyed a DD relationship in the first years of their marriage but life, kids and - most importantly - Hal's indifference have got in the way of that.

At the start of the book, Susan believes that Hal is going to end their thirty year marriage. Instead, Hal suggests that they move to Corbin's Bend - the world's first and best spanking-based community - so they can find their D/s selves again.

It's a make or break move and, god, I really, really wanted then to make it. It isn't straightforward because marriages are hard and being married for along time doesn't make it any less so. It just makes it easier to slip into bad habits.

Susan doesn't communicate with Hal about her feelings and Hal is way too ready to accept Susan's curt non-answers as a legitimate response.

Honestly, Hal. What are you doing? If your wife is saying stuff like "It doesn't matter. It's fine," then it almost certainly does matter and it's not fine.

Happily, the couple are in the best place in the world to find their feet. They have great mentors, supportive friends and the opportunity to really make a go of things. It's heartbreaking to see them get so close to throwing it all away.

It's an involving and relatable story. Also, as would expect from a Corbin's Bend book, it's frequently hot as hell. PK Corey writes with a great deal of maturity and insight, sensitively tackling the subject of stagnation in a longstanding marriage.

I read a lot of books that can be described as "Adult". Lots of them are even "Adult XXX". PK Corey's book is more than that. This is a book for grown-ups.

Want to know more about the book review star rating system? Or find out what other books I've reviewed? Check out this page here.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Vagina Museum: A bit small but I'm glad it's there

Vagina Museum, Unit 17&18 Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH
Opening Times: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm, Sun: 11am - 6pm
Admission: Free

I have wanted to go to the Vagina Museum in London for quite a while now. The world's first bricks-and-mortar vagina museum opened last October but even before that it was on my radar. It was a temporary pop-up affair before that and before the move to their permanent premises, they were advertising for a Curator. I

As I said at the time, I didn't know that I wanted to be a Curator of a Vagina Museum but having seen the advert, I realised that this was all I wanted to do with my life. I didn't actually apply for the job, you understand. I have no qualifications or experience that would make me a good fit for that job other than having a vagina and a love of museums. I'm not sure that the first was even a required qualification.

Yesterday, I got to fulfil at least one of my dreams by going to visit The Vagina Museum for myself. Undeterred by the soggy presence of Storm Dennis, gentleman friend and I went to Camden Market for the afternoon. Camden Market is very much a tourist destination. It's a marvellous collection of weirdy little shops and market stalls. If you want steampunk corsets, juggling diabolos or genital piercing jewellery, this is the place for you.

I feel a bit sorry for overseas tourists in London when you see them battling winds and drizzle and darkness at four o'clock in the afternoon in order to see the sights of London. But then I figure, it's probably all part of the genuine London Experience. No-one expects it not to rain in London, do they? They're probably a bit disappointed when they encounter one of our rare days of blue sky and no actual water coming down from the sky. Happily, any tourist who books their visit for February isn't risking any chance of that.

The museum itself is small. The current exhibition is "Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them" and that's all there is. There is no permanent exhibition yet, it seems. It's basically a room full of informative posters with an art installation in the corner.

My enthusiasm for the museum existing in the first place is still outweighing the fact that there isn't a great deal to it when you actually get there. I'm just happy it's there but would be nice if there were some historic items of interest in their collection. It would give the whole place a bit more substance. Even the Pencil Museum in Keswick (another one room museum full of informative posters) has the world's biggest pencil in the middle of it.

It has a smashing book shop, it has to be said. The choice of books is diverse and eclectic but all makes sense from an empowerment of women perspective.  Little Women and Michelle Obama's autobiography sit alongside A Celebration of Vulva Diversity. I bought Emma L. E. Rees's The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History.

The gift shop is witty, fun and crammed full of fannies. I may have stocked up on vulva-themed postcards.

I want to support the Vagina Museums. I'm very much in favour of supporting anything which encourages people to talk about vaginas and their very useful contribution to the world. They run a series of events which this month include Bajinga Bingo and a Vulva Cake Decorating workshop.

Overall, though, I was a bit disappointed by the paucity of the current exhibit. I came away thinking "Well, it's a bit small and there's not much to it' which is something you really don't want to be thinking after a vaginal encounter.