Saturday, July 26, 2014

BDSM Bedtime Stories Season Three Episode Eight ~ Helen Karol

Today we welcome Helen Karol to our Dungeon.  She provided us with a smexy excerpt of Intimate Knowledge. Enjoy the excerpt and then read on with our special interview.

La Crimson Femme: Welcome, Helen!  Thanks for stopping by for a little interview.

Helen Karol: Thanks for inviting me.  It is great to be here.

La Crimson Femme: What inspired you to start writing?  Did you always write spanking stories?

Helen Karol: I started writing really early because I love reading.  My first story was a short romantic ghost story when I was a teenager. Round about the same time I started reading any romance I could get my hands on and I use to flip through them to make sure they had a spanking scene.  Loads of mainstream romances did back when I was a teenager.  LOL I used to notice that the heroine often fell for a bit of a too dominant jerk and there was usually this really nice guy who was her best friend who she never fell for and I always wished she would.  So I decided to write one where she chooses the best friend over the guy who makes her overheat.  It was my first complete novel and a well known romance publisher liked it but wanted me to make too many changes.  Fast forward to 2013 and I released it as Chances&Choices my first eBook.  It is not a spanking story but it does have a number of threats and one actual spank!  I use to write stories as titillation for my partners, but it wasn’t until my Detectives&Desires series that I wrote actual spanking books.  I was an early subscriber to Bethany’s Woodshed who became the publisher Blushing Books.  I use to read the stories and think – I need to write one of these if I ever have the time.

La Crimson Femme: I used to be an early subscriber to Bethany’s Woodshed too!  Back in *mumbles 1996*.  I do agree with you.  Many times, the heroine falls for the asshole domineering jerk.  I’m glad you wrote one where it’s the best friend nice guy.  Friends to lovers is pretty popular!  What are you working on right now?

Helen Karol: Well I am one of those writers that writes more than one story at a time.  Currently I am focusing on a few works.  I am just finishing Part 5 & 6 of Intimate Knowledge.  Part 6 is the installment the Bedtime Stories excerpt is from.  I wrote the scene a while ago but had to write all the other events that happen first.  It is a romantic suspense as well so I needed to have the story unwind slowly.

 I am also working on the installments of Book 2 of Her Keeper – In His Custody (my most popular work) as well as an alternative standalone version of it as a complete book called Keeping Sara.

Most exciting I will be prioritizing a contemporary Western spanking story tentatively entitled Hope Junction.  I am doing this with one of the top well known spanking romance publisher’s and I am quite excited to be working with them!  I have been teaching full time in Germany for a few months so have not been able to give it my full attention, but will be going full steam ahead on it in July and hope to have the first draft with the publisher by August.

La Crimson Femme: Wow! You are teaching full time in Germany?  It must have been crazy this past week with the World Cup.  Since you mentioned working in Germany, if you could travel to any place, where would you go?

Helen Karol: The Moon!  My other persona is as an international teacher, so I have been lucky to have lived in a number of places on Earth.  I just love the idea of looking at the Earth from another surface.  All that quiet and solitude and eeriness just excites me.

La Crimson Femme: *chuckles* Paid to travel internationally is the way to go!  Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?  Do they talk to you in your head, demanding to be written?

Helen Karol: Oh boy do they!  Characters tend to take over in my stories and do things I had not always planned!  Supporting characters often have a tendency to flesh themselves out as I write.  Luke Kincaid, Lisa James and the Raffertys’ will all have their own stories after starting as supporting characters elsewhere.  I have had requests for that and reviews that mention a preference for my supporting characters.  Her Keeper was only supposed to be a short story, but Rick and Sara just fit together so well my beta’s wanted to see them as a full book.  At first my characters were loosely based on people I know or characters from books, movies or television that inspired me, but now they just seem to take up residence in their own right.  Sometimes they seem more real to me than the real people around me, especially when I am in the middle of writing!

La Crimson Femme: I wonder sometimes if writers end up diagnosed with dementia in their late life because of the characters yelling in their heads.  Hmmm.  So, back to more fun topics.  Do you enjoy spankings?  Do you give, receive or do both?

Helen Karol: I admit I am a spanko from way back.  Although I am with fellow author Natasha Knight – I think we need a better label! I have mainly received spankings and mostly in relationships. I have always hung around with a lot of alpha males and when I was younger, it was not unusual for male-female spankings to happen in my circles in front of friends I might add and not just in a relationships and it wasn’t hidden.  The spanking in college talked about in Her Keeper is based on an actual real spanking event at my school.  Spankings were usually an indication of romantic interest a bit like pulling pigtails at a younger age.  Probably because we were Catholics who didn’t have sex until marriage (sort of) LOL. 

I was also on the receiving end of plenty of real spankings (as opposed to playful ones) for endangering myself too much because I am a bit of a rebel and daredevil and scared the hell out of my male friends and partners with some of my antics. A particularly memorable spanking was when I skied off the edge of a run in the Rocky Mountains and ended up hanging upside down in a tree after ignoring my ski patrol boyfriend’s warning that I was skiing too recklessly.  That got me a good one.  I am also a bit of a flirt and that got me in trouble as well.  Eventually, I discovered spankings as sexual and BDSM.  I have even given a few spankings but prefer to be a bottom.  My favorite is still non-consensual spankings for misbehavior.

La Crimson Femme: Oh my word.  You ended up hanging upside down in a tree?  How on earth?  Wait, I don’t want to know.  I’ve skied many times in my life in the Rockies and I can’t ever think of how one gets stuck upside down in a tree.  I’ve ended up in paths I shouldn’t have taken and fell in waist deep of snow.  *shudders* Well, I can see why you were spanked.  *snicker* Do you go to any writing conventions?  If so, how did you like it?

Helen Karol: I haven’t yet, but I am hoping to get to some in the coming year.  I am planning to devote the next year to writing full time rather than teaching and intend to start networking a lot more.  I put off writing for a long time because I thought it might be too lonely and secluded and I would miss the travel, but conventions should help avoid that.  I love all the online contact eBook writing allows, but I think I would enjoy meeting a lot of authors and readers as well.

La Crimson Femme: I definitely recommend the conventions.  They are fun!  So we get more books coming from you since you are focusing it for next year.  AWESOME!  Now for some odd ball questions.  What is your favourite fruit and why?

Helen Karol: Peach.  Isn’t it obvious why? All that lovely round, juicy flesh.  LOL.

La Crimson Femme: *Rolls eyes* I guess I walked into that one.  *Sigh.* What is something you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid to try?  Why were you afraid?

Helen Karol: Writing as a full time occupation.  I just mentioned the main reason.  I thought it might be too solitary.  I am a people person and need the contact.  Now I realised that I have ways of meeting and networking and of course my characters keep me company.  I can hardly wait to have this year coming up to blow that fear right out of the water.

I would also really love to skydive and bungee jump but I suffer from vertigo.  Still – one of these days…

La Crimson Femme: Writing full time is pretty intimidating.  I can understand your hesitation.  I wish you the best in it!  As for skydiving or bungee jumping…that would be hard with vertigo.  But, it may be more fun!  As long as you are tethered in, you should be okay, right? 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Stone Song

Stone Song
Stone Song by D.L. McDermott

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Bards seem to be involved in the old Fae stories. In this book, a modern day singer holds more power than a person holding a gun. Sorcha is more than just a singer. She is a musician who loves all music and creates it passionately. Her grandmother knew better and didn't exactly prepare Sorcha for the dangers of her voice. Sorcha is a stone singer who can use her voice as a weapon of mass destruction. It's pretty cool and I like it!

Ms. McDermott does a great job of creating something different. It's a mix of a mythical siren plus Marvel comic book's character Banshee. Sorcha is a character who embodies the bohemian lifestyle of a musician. She is much more as she learns from the Fae. She's terrified of them and with good reason. So when Elada Brightsword offers to help her, she's suspicious. Never bargain with the Fae.

This third book spends more time world building which is good. It's good to learn more about these Druids, mages and Fae. This is still a set up for big showdown which the reader knows must happen. It's only a matter of time where the Fae Earth side must deal with the Fae stuck in the other realm.

The two main characters Elada and Sorcha are good together. I liked this pairing better than the previous two couples. It could be because I have a soft spot for the loyal Elada. Or it could be that I liked Sorcha better. She knew about this Fae world. She's been burned before and she's going in with her eyes wide open. While this is a romance between these two main characters, the secondary characters are featured in a way that makes this story better. This is why it is a 3.5 star book for me.

We learn more about Miach. We also learn more about what happened to the Fae tortured by Druids. It's a bloody history between the two of them and it's sad how power corrupts in this manner. It's not that any of them are evil per se. It's the fact that these Druids and Fae are all sociopaths. They have no emotion. They can't tell from right or wrong and they don't care. It's taking the scientist's focus on how things work to an extreme. It's scary because this Druid mentality is alive and well in the world we live in today. Ms. McDermott does an excellent job of showing this in a manner which I'm not sure all readers will be able to correlate to our reality. The Fae in their longevity demonstrate a jadedness often found in older people. It's as if they have seen so much that they lose their humanity. I like how these concepts come into play and hope Ms. McDermott explores these some more in her next book in this series. This fantasy is recommended for Fae lovers who love to be seduced by magic.

*provided by NetGalley

View all my reviews


      Stone Song (Cold Iron, #3)



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women

A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women
A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women by Kristina Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Princesses bound, spanked and sexual torments is my kind of fairy tale. In A Princess Bound, Ms. Wright brings together an awesome collection of fairy tales retold. There are seventeen erotically delicious stories in this anthology and I loved every single one of them. Usually, in a collection, I may like about half of the stories if I'm lucky. Sometimes, a collection is disappointing and I only like two to three out of the couple of dozen choices. Ms. Wright does an amazing job in her selection because every single story is seductive and well written.

Each story takes a turn with some of the popular and less popular fairy tales. Some of them are set in the days long past. Others take on a fresh look with a modern twist. Each of them have one thing in common. They contain an element of sexual yearning. Sometimes the story ends in a happily ever after. Sometimes it hints at a happily ever after. The two that stick out in my mind the most are because they involve water creatures. As a water baby, I can't help but be seduced by Laila Blake's selkie in Sealed. Just as I love the mermaid in Rose de Fer's Out of the Waves.

What surprised me the most in this collection are the sexual combinations. I thought for sure this would be all bondage with a maledom theme. Instead, there are a couple of stories with f/f dominance which tickles my fancy. There is even a taste of femdom as a modern day Cinderella takes control of her Prince Charming for a wild night. Another is the hint of femdom when Jules confronts the Fairy King in The Smith Under the Hill. Of all the ones which makes me want to read more, I must confess, The Smith Under the Hill would be the one. Why? Because the Fae are sly tricky creatures who change their mind on a whim. Will Jules survive the love of a Fae King? What delicious torments will he perpetrate on her body? How will he violate her night after night? Will he keep her on edge until she loose her mind? Or will he force her to experience orgasm after orgasm until she expires? The danger from this seductive male is what thrills and arouses me the most.

Each of these stories are well crafted. They are tightly written with a beginning, middle and an end. From start to end, this book keeps a reader simmering in arousal. It is a pleasure to read every single one of these stories. They are all different and well done. I hope another series of fairy tales will come forth from Ms. Wright. Perhaps the next set will up the ante with a darker erotic theme. Recommended for all readers who want a good erotic book to get the juices flowing.

*provided by Manic Readers

View all my reviews


      A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Poison Promise

Poison Promise
Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Ganging up on Gin is no longer a surprise. It's a given someone is always trying to kill Gin. In Poison's Promise, Ms. Estep steps it up a notch with more graphic torture. This is a 3.5 star book for me. Gin is still trying to keep her head above the water with the number of criminals trying to make a name for themselves by taking out Gin. In the previous couple of books, it seemed Gin was taking a passive stance. She is really tired of killing, especially since she isn't being paid for it. Honestly, she should be bankrolled by the local government for taking out all this trash.

In this one, the old Gin is back. It did take a painful metaphorical stab in the heart by her sister and some physical torture by a sadistic psychopathic vampire to jumpstart Gin into action. Gin is no longer playing defense. She is moving to offense and it's a refreshing turn. Doubly so since Mab Monroe's heir is finally revealed. Is it a shocking surprise? No. This new arc promises to be an interesting one. Will Ms. Estep repeat the drawn out battle between Gin and Mab with Mab's heir in the new role? Or will this take a different direction. I predict a similar yet slightly different direction. This is because Gin is older now and she doesn't have to prove herself. In addition, Gin's support group is now larger and with more elemental power.

Just when I think Gin is becoming stale, I learn more about her past and how it impacts her future. Gin is a complicated character who does the best she can with what she's been dealt. I admire this about her. Even though Gin is a killer, she is one with a conscience. She's the ultimate protector archetype. She uses her mad killing skills for good. I do like how Ms. Estep still makes Gin vulnerable. Although Gin is blessed with two elemental powers, she still does get into trouble where death is a possibility. Ms. Estep does a good job of showcasing how Gin can't do it on her own in addition to designing plausible scenarios of how Gin gets out of the mess. I like how it isn't easy for Gin. There are no magic pills for an instant cure. There is no magic wand or get out of jail free card. Still, I wonder how long Gin is going to be able to keep this up. Sooner or later someone bigger and badder will take Gin down for good. There doesn't seem to be an out for Gin unless she were to leave this place for good. She has to constantly keep her guard up. It is exhausting.

My favourite scene is a showdown between Gin and the evil bloodsucker. It's righteous and badass. It is reminiscent of a shootout at high noon. It's an adrenaline rush and I wish there were more scenes like this one. It is the highlight of the book. This urban fantasy is recommended to those who like a killer heroine.

*provided by NetGalley

View all my reviews


      Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin, #11)



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Magic Breaks

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The wait is over and it's is well worth it.  Kate returns in Magic Breaks.  This a must buy and immediately read book.  In Magic Breaks, all hell breaks loose when Hugh d’Ambray returns to start a war between the People and the Pack.  With the Pack's attention split in three different directions, it seems Hugh is succeeding with his divide and conquer strategy.

This is definitely not a standalone book.  To fully appreciate this book, all the previous books must be read.  This is the beginning of the end.  This book is the showdown we've been building towards since the very first book.  The journey has been difficult with great sacrifice and lost.  Not every character we've grown to love is with Kate as she finally confronts Roland.  Each skill and word of power Kate learned is too prepare her for this day.  Is it enough?

Duo authors Ilona Andrews outdoes themselves in this latest book.  The writing is tight and action packed.  This book moves and it keeps a reader on the edge of their seat, turning page after page.  For those who enjoy fighting, there is plenty of it.  For those who enjoy witty repartee and snarky verbal thrusts, this book is filled with them.  There are many great one-liners.  The dialog is sharp yet silky smooth.  Even though this book is filled with dark impending doom, Ilona Andrews balances it out with humour just at the right time.  Their timing is wonderful in every book.  In this one, it is perfect.

The conflict of this story is wonderfully created and then painstakingly resolved.  The solutions are not easy.  There is no win-win situation for Kate.  For Kate, it is always the hard way and choices between terrible and horrible.  How Kate handles the obstacles is very telling.  While this book is about finding a killer, preventing a war and confronting Roland, it's so much more.  The reader sees how Kate fights for everyone.  No one is irrelevant to her.  She doesn't want a single person left behind.  To her, everyone is worth saving and she cannot be ruthless to sacrifice a few for the good of the many.  While this is an admirable trait, it's hammered home how it doesn't work for an Alpha running a pack.  Kate can be ruthless but not in the manner it takes to control and lead a large group of monsters in human skin.  It's an interesting dilemma and written so well.  Because sometimes, there are no good choices.  What does one do in this situation?  Kate makes the hard choices.  She carries the burden.  She's been alone for so long carrying this for everyone.  Now with Curran at her side, it seems there may be other options. 

Unfortunately, forces more powerful than Kate blow the options away.  This story takes twists and turns which helps build a complex world rich with history.  Bringing it all together in this book and confirming all the suppositions as well as finally admitting to the open secret is a relief.  It's beautifully done.  Ilona Andrews is truly a creative and amazing storyteller.  This is my favourite book in the series to date.  The way this book ends is fabulous and makes me yearn for the next book.  This series becomes better and better with each new book.  This book is highly recommended for everyone to read. 

*provided by Ilona Andrews through Netgalley

View all my reviews

      Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Safeword Matte -- In Training

Safeword Matte -- In Training
Safeword Matte -- In Training by Candace Blevins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somebody's going to get a beating, and I know who it is. In the second book to the Matte's arc, Sam struggles with the rules she set up with Ethan. From a character perspective, I don't like Sam anymore. I still like Ethan even though the first third of the book, I wanted to kick his ass. (Okay, we all know there is no way I could kick his ass since he's a fighter, but you know what I'm saying.)

This book has me conflicted because the beginning of the book is emotionless and too clinical for me. It comes across as an anal training 201 book. Since the title is "in training", it makes sense. For me, it's a bit too dull even though it is necessary. It sets up for the next book.

Sam really struggles in this book. She struggles against Ethan and his training. For the most part of this book, it's a power struggle instead of an erotic power exchange. This never goes well for me. I don't like reading this type of situation. Does it happen? Of course it does and when two people are so strong in this manner, it is realistic. I just don't like it. I feel bad for Ethan. He's doing what he can for Sam because of what the both wanted. She's not holding up her end of the bargain. In addition, she lashes out at him in a way that really pissed me off. I've walked on eggshells around a guy before and it's not fun. Ethan has to do this around Sam and I feel bad for him.

There is a scene in here which may be controversial for some. I am going to probably take an unpopular stance. Sam had it coming. She could have avoided all of this if she just didn't have Ethan come over. She doesn't communicate well enough for such a mouthy wench. Ms. Blevins does an excellent job of showing both sides of the story. Even if I don't like how it happened, I understand why it happened and it does help show conflict between the two characters. It also shows there is lack of trust in this relationship. Without trust, how can the D/s work? It can't. So they better start communicating with each other and getting the trust back, or this is just going to go sideways.

In this book there is also discussion around a contract. Not many books go into this kind of detail. Ms. Blevins is known for contracts so it didn't surprise me. I liked it. Another thing I can always count on with Ms. Blevins is the intense BDSM. The sex and BDSM punishment scenes in this book is hawt! I really enjoyed it. Then again, I'm an anal loving slut.

The last third of the book is when it really gets good for me. We start to see more emotion and connection between Sam and Ethan. The family members start to appear and there is the bachelorette party. I liked it. I really like the transgender person in this story. HAWT! Then again I'm pansexual so it's cool for me. I go with the flow with gender fluidity. The other topic brought up is racism which I find amusing. It's not so much racism as racial prejudice. Sam's response to it is not that bad, but still uncalled for in my book. I think it's because I can see it from both sides. Plus, being Chinese, I see prejudices more frequently - from both sides.

Then ending of this book makes me yearn to read the next one. So off I go to read the next book. Ms. Blevins crafts a delightful book with flawed characters, intense anal training and exacting SM. Recommended for BDSM readers who want a bird's eye view in how TPE can be in real life.

View all my reviews


      Safeword Matte -- In Training



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Spike's Day Out

Spike's Day Out
Spike's Day Out by Zenina Masters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hedgehogs are the cutest little animals. For a person to shifts into a hedgehog, it boggles the mind since they are such little animals. Spike is the only hedgehog left. It appears something is hunting them into extinction. What can a cute little rodent do? Especially one that is in a family of bunny rabbits.

Ms. Masters does it again with a fun story of fluffy bunnies, a horny hedgehog and a sexy swan. One might think a hedgehog shifter would avoid trouble. Instead, she works with the Shifter Council to help trap those hunting defenseless shifters.

This story is fun because the bunnies with their Easter hunt steals the show. The focus is protecting Spike and yet all a reader can focus on are the plentiful bouncing bunnies. The description of how the older rabbit shifters change to help this community bonding event is precious. Usually when large clans of rabbits are together, I think of the scary Watership Downs rabbits. Now it is replaced with this endearing Easter egg hunt.

I'm never sure what kind of matching Ms. Masters will make when she pairs animals together. The earlier ones made sense. A hedgehog and a swan don't make sense on paper, yet when reading through the story, it is so good. These happy ever after romances are sweet and addictive. Each glimpse of this shifter world gives a reader a warm fuzzy feeling of happiness. This paranormal romance is recommended to those who love their happily ever afters.

*provided by Manic Readers

View all my reviews


      Spike's Day Out (Shifting Crossroads, #16)