Devil’s Descent Reviews by AsianCocoa

Estimated reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

I’m crazy, crazy late on this but I wanted to share these two awesome reviews by the gracious AsianCocoa.

Here’s a snippet of what she thought of Devil’s Descent I: purgatory:

Julian and Lily have a love hate relationship with each other. As a reader I had those same feelings for these two characters. I wished both of them would just finish each other off. But at the same time I was completely captivated by their perverse obsession with one another. Oh and the sex scenes were jaw-dropping, twisted goodness.

Here’s a little bit on what she thought of Devil’s Descent II: impure:

I was fascinated and sickened by the way Julian treated Lily. At times I felt sorry for her but then at other times I didn’t want to care. They both torture each other with their murderous threats against one another. Julian is a total sociopath and treats Lily with a cold, evil, detached manner that sent chills through me. Despite their twisted mind games with one another, I still hoped that there really was just a little bit of real love between them. I mean they really were perfect for each other.

Please visit her site to read the Devil’s Descent I: purgatory review and the Devil’s Descent II: impure review.

Devil’s Descent I purgatory review by Book of Secrets

Estimated reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

I’m a little late on this but I wanted to share this awesome review of Devil’s Descent I: purgatory by Book of Secrets. Here’s a little snippet:

We get to see first hand Julian’s sociopathic behavior as he tries to claim his living doll for his own once again.  And Lily is as twisted as he is, because she craves the pain he gives her. I enjoy angst-filled characters who take me on an emotional roller coaster, and Julian and Lily fit the bill perfectly. I hated them and loved them as the same time.

Mission accomplished, y’all! Please visit Book of Secrets to read the rest.

Suicide Doll Review by Book of Secrets

Estimated reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

Hello, Angst Junkies! Suicide Doll fans will be pleased to know Book of Secrets has reviewed Suicide Doll. Here’s a snippet:

Suicide Doll is a complicated and grim love story, with a very fine line between love and obsession.  It’s about searching for redemption when it seems like a hopeless pursuit.  It’s about discovering that the life you thought you had was a lie.  The characters are dreadful and seductive at the same time.

I’m still reeling in bliss from this review. Visit Diana’s site to read the rest! Review: Suicide Doll by Claudia D. Christian

Love Unfortunate Review by RemittanceGirl

Estimated reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

Love Unfortunate has been reviewed by RemittanceGirl. Here’s a snippet:

Ordinarily, I don’t read romances and Love Unfortunate is most definitely a romance, but a truly twisted one. There is a brilliant lushness to Claudia D. Christian‘s language and a constant subtextual tension that pulls you through this desperate tale with an almost calculated cruelty. You just know it isn’t going to end well, but getting there is going to be delicious from start to finish.

Visit her site to the read the rest! Love Unfortunate: Dark, Bittersweet & Sexy as Hell

The Splinter – Review

Estimated reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Hello, Angst Junkies! I bring you another review for the glorious Remittance Girl. She’s taken me to the Japanese underworld, the steaming outposts of Cambodia, and now back to my home country of the United States in the “The Splinter.” Familiar the landscape may be, but as always, Remittance Girl takes me on a psychological journey. This time into the realms of self-flagellation.

Republica Press describes “The Splinter” as:

For thousands of years, man has sought experience of the divine. He has found strange and sometimes shocking ways to achieve it. Dolores Gutierrez has had visions since early childhood. Convinced that God is calling her to holy orders, she has modeled herself on Teresa of Avila, a medieval saint. But it is pain, not prayer, that brings her visions.

Acutely aware of the dark history of his own religion, Father Steven, the sensible priest of her parish, is certain that Dolores is far more in need of psychiatric care than a nun’s habit. He seeks the help of a colleague, Brother Simon, to assess the disturbed Dolores.

Uniquely qualified to counsel the young woman because of his own struggles with self-immolation, Simon takes on the task only reluctantly; he is not convinced his own demons have been put to rest. Is God really speaking to Dolores, or is it something else?

The Splinter” is 65 pages in PDF form and 18,708 words.  We have Dolores, a young girl fanatically devoted to her faith, who sees pain and blood as the ultimate sacrifice and proof of faith. Everyone around is unnerved by her fanaticism, yet, unsure of what to do.

After all, Dolores loves God. How can you discourage that?

Father Steven, a priest who describes Dolores as

She was just too – it was hard to find a word for what she was – devout? Fanatical? She was too fascinated by far with the harsher aspects of Catholicism.

sees the unhealthy notes of her love. So he sends her to see Brother Simon, a man who has carved the proof of his extreme devotion on his body and face. From there, Dolores and Brother Simon alternately become Tempter and Temptee for one another until the very end.

I would describe this book as less erotica and more a psychological study. The writing is strong, the characters sharp, and the self-violence unflinching. While “The Splinter” did not necessarily hit my kink button below the waist, it did hit it above.

I often wonder why I seem to like my sex rougher, crude, and a little bit violent. This taste doesn’t necessarily run along the flowery meadows and whispers of love that many of my fellow gender seem to celebrate.

Was it childhood trauma? Not enough love? Too much pressure? Daily violence? Or was I just built that way?

The Splinter” brings those questions to mind as I examine Dolores and Simon. Why are they the way they are? Why does extreme pain bring clarity and peace to them and the many like them? Why does pain show love?

I’m left with no concrete answers nor am I expected to. Remittance Girl presents us a view into someone else, not as a cautionary tale or a seedy thrill, but as a way to say, “People are different. We all have that quirk which makes us feel isolated and unworthy of love. The peace comes from finding those who are built the same. It is then you feel the beauty of who you are.”

Thank you, Remittance Girl, for writing non-judgmental pieces like this.

You may purchase “The Splinter” at Republica Press for $2.99 in Adobe PDF, MobiPocket, and ePUB formats. The Splinter Kindle edition is also available on Amazon.

Comfort Food – Dark Erotic Review

Estimated reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

Hello, Darling Beloved Angst Junkies! Today I am sharing a review of a “Comfort Food” by Kitty Thomas. Warnings first as taken from Kitty:

WARNING: This is not a story about consensual BDSM. This is a story about “actual” slavery. If reading an erotic story without safewords makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent.

I’m confident you’re still with me, Angst Junkies. After all, this is exactly the kind of stuff we like. Right?

Kitty describes her book as:

Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. Told in the first person from Emily’s perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.

Comfort Food is 97 pages long in PDF format and comes in at 52,396 words. This book truly is unlike anything I’ve ever read before and this is why I want to share it with you.

Let me first begin with this comment. First-person narrative is not something I enjoy. Typically, if a book is first-person, I leave it alone. Why? I find the writing takes the easiest way out. I believe it lazy and uninspiring.

Kitty puts me in my place promptly.

The controversial themes in this book—kidnapping, mental conditioning, victimization, coercion, sexual fetish—are not lazy or uninspiring in the least. Kitty forces us into Emily’s head with an enviable skill that makes us her. We’re not drowning in ridiculous details that do nothing to push the story forward. Everything we read is there for a reason, even if we’re initially unaware of its meaning.

Emily is like so many modern women. Talented, career-oriented, successful. I liked her character immensely. She was honest and refreshing in her observations.

In the movies, there’s always a way out. It doesn’t matter where the bad guy traps you, there’s a way out. You can pick a lock, or use some kerosene, a match, and some sort of fuse and make a bomb to blow the door off. You can crawl out through the ceiling tiles, or smash a window, or find some weak point in the wall and start chipping away at it with a sharp tool you just happen to have in your pocket.

My cell was a fortress. It made the movies seem very contrived. It really isn’t that hard to create an inescapable fortress if you stop to think about it. All you need is a solid floor, walls, and ceiling, and one exit using fingerprinting and retinal scans.

Emily isn’t an escapist character which all our super-spy fantasies can channel through. There is no false, spunky heroism or zingy one-liners that so many authors employ just to prove how “bad-ass” their female lead is. Emily is who she is—flaws and all. Intelligent, observant, and above all, honest. As such, I could trust her and focus on the chilling story she had become part of.

Given the non-consensual subject matter, the Captor is a wonderful departure from what one would expect. It’s no secret I write with the psychological implications in mind always. I often admit I began writing simply because I couldn’t find what I wanted to read in print or ebook. Too many times have I seen an unusual storyline sacrificed because of a lack of care/understanding to the psychological ramifications of the plot. So imagine my giddiness to find another writer who not only understands the need for cause and effect, but balances it so beautifully.

The Captor is God-like with his benevolent madness. We aren’t allowed into his mind for much of the book, so I found myself dissecting everything, alongside Emily, in order to read him. It would’ve been so easy to make him violent and domineering through physical strength and threat. The fact that he isn’t is quite brilliant and gutsy.

The erotica is descriptive but not gratuitous—which only goes to emphasize the captivity is beyond sex. What we have is seduction, Angst Junkies. We are compelled to understand the Captor and Emily’s emotional motivations in turns. Whether you agree or enjoy the ending is debatable and quite depends on your mindset. I loved the ending and if there is a request I can make it’s this: MORE! A vignette, short, novel—whatever.

In closing, Kitty’s undeniable skill takes this book from ordinary slave-literary-porn to something so very special. I encourage you all to purchase “Comfort Food.” Kitty currently has a $0.99 sale going on until the end of May so go get it now! You won’t be disappointed.

EDIT 8-12-10

Kitty’s Amazon sale is over but you can still purchase this title at Smashwords.

Kitty Thomas Interview

Estimated reading time: 8 – 14 minutes

Hello, Angst Junkies! I have the sincere pleasure of interviewing Kitty Thomas. Her debut book Comfort Food is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It deals with non-consensual captivity and the dark obsessions that such conditioning brings about. With that said, I welcome Kitty to let us peek into her wicked mind and share with us how Comfort Food came about.

Did you set out to write a provoking novella?

Haha! You don’t start with the easy questions do you? Yes, and no. I hoped it “would” be thought-provoking, but I knew there was a big risk it could come off way different from what I intended. I’ve been pleasantly surprised those who have read it have responded to it so well.

Was the ending clear from the moment you set “pen to paper” or did it come as a surprise?

Yes. I knew the ending going in. I’ve read so much erotica in this vein that seemed to me like a morality play. Like “This is the ending that makes the most sense for these characters and this story, BUT we’re going to do this other ending instead because it’s more politically correct.” And I thought, screw that. In a sense Comfort Food is a very dark and twisted romance. So I knew where we were going from the beginning and I think that helped a lot because the entire book leads up to the ending and it was all about getting these characters in the right place emotionally for the ending I was working for.

How would you answer critics who would suggest you’re glorifying negative, dangerous behavior?

I would say knee-jerk reactions rob them of getting something from the book. There are two layers of things going on here in Comfort Food. There is the “fantasy spank material” level, the “rape fantasy” which is one of THE most common sexual fantasies out there and has nothing to do with “actual rape.” Since no one can want what they don’t want.

The second layer, and perhaps the most important layer, is the metaphor. Which is why someone who isn’t “kinky” can appreciate the book. Because the real question is… Are you really free? Who is your master? Because chances are really damn good that you aren’t as free as you think you are. We all try to live in this sanitized world where everything has been twisted a certain way to be “morally good and proper” but at what expense?  Also, as to the issue of nonconsent, most good erotica has some level of nonconsent, it just isn’t as blatant. But it’s the exact same thing. I challenge anyone to point me to a good erotic novel that has no elements of power or threat involved.

As a writer of unusual, dark romance, I often use beautiful specimens of the male gender to contrast against their ugly behavior. Did you consciously choose to make the Captor beautiful for the same reasons? If not, do you think Comfort Food would work as well if he wasn’t so handsome?

Yes. I’m not sure if CF would work as well if he wasn’t so handsome. I think the story could still logically work from a psychological perspective, but I’m not sure I could have gotten the reader to go along with it.  But yes, the fact is, in a different time and place, under different circumstances, she would have readily gone out with him. We are so quick to assume someone “pretty” can’t be a monster. I almost shudder at the number of women going home with good looking men they JUST met on the questionable premise that “he’s hot, so he’s not going to hurt me.” I mean, huh?

I am typically not a fan of first person. However, the way you used it absolutely pulled me in. Do you feel Comfort Food could have been told in third person or would it have lost its impact?

I really don’t think it would have worked outside of first person. I needed people to be completely committed and inside Emily’s head. I wanted readers to go through the same emotional trip that Emily goes through. And I think without being fully inside her head it would be harder to understand and believe how she got there. Also, with her captor refusing to speak to her, we’re flying with almost no dialogue. The thoughts inside her head and her narrative voice, help to keep it from feeling like “OMG LONG BLOCKS OF TEXT WITH NO SPEECH.” Which, much of the time, until a certain point of the book, it is.

I see Comfort Food as a love story. Dark, obsessive, unconventional, but a love story nonetheless. What has reader reaction been to it? Do they see it the same?

I think so far you’re the only person who sees it that way. But it “is” a love story, in it’s own twisted and messed up way. Without the laws of society and convention, if these two people were the only people on the planet, all the “oh noes that’s morally wrong!” would fall away. In the absence of a society to be offended by these people, what they have works well for them. Though most readers who go in expecting to be squicked or upset by it find that they aren’t. And possibly THAT upsets them. I’ve gotten some confessional emails along the lines of “I feel so bad for liking the ending.”

I think our society needs to deal with the issue of “thought crime.” When we’re so tied up inside we can’t even THINK a thought without freaking out, it’s a bad sign. To use one example, Japanese society is one of the most free when it comes to allowable pornography, much of it in the “nonconsent” realm. And yet their actual rape rate is lower than ours. I think we all need safe outlets. At root we are all animals and when everything stays pent up inside all the time, maybe that’s not such a good thing when it comes to interacting morally in real life with others.

Comfort Food explores the personal power of letting go. Do you think the relationship described within could ever exist outside the confines of fiction?

I don’t think it exists in a kidnapping scenario. The reason I don’t think that is because the particular wants and needs of the male character coupled with the particular wants and needs of the female character made things ultimately work. That just doesn’t happen in real life. But, there are couples who voluntarily enter into slavery-like relationships that people on the outside would look at as abuse. And I’m not talking about totally consensual BDSM games. I mean total power exchange. Couples where there is no safeword and one person has given the other person total power.  I guess we could argue all day about whether or not total power has ACTUALLY been exchanged in these situations. I think in some cases it has, and in some it hasn’t. I think some people have a “need” to own and some a “need” to be owned, and if people can do it without breaking any laws or harming others, that’s their business and their private life. I do think in real life though that it has to be totally consensual up front. I just don’t think there is any kind of justification for taking a person against their will into something like this.

What was your goal in writing Comfort Food?

I really wanted to write a book about ownership that wasn’t going to say the standard shit we’re told because to even THINK anything else is anathema. While I absolutely do NOT endorse anyone doing anything to another human being against their will, it doesn’t mean you can’t think a thought or write a book. I have a pretty stern disclaimer at the front. But the truth is, anyone whose reality and morality buttons are screwed up so far that they have to be “told” it’s fiction, was going to do whatever crazy crap they’re going to do, with or without my book.

Who would be the ideal audience for Comfort Food?

I really don’t think there is an adult audience outside of psychos who shouldn’t read it, honestly. If they can handle adult material in a book at all, I think nearly anyone can get something out of the book because it’s not strictly spank material. It’s that metaphor thing. And questions are asked which I think we all have to personally answer in order to figure out our own level of freedom in our lives and in society.

What is your favorite moment and/or scene?

My favorite moment/scene is the ending which I can’t describe without giving it away. But otherwise I liked how he cared for her throughout the book. I think part of what softens the blow of the whole thing is you can read it and see that this particular monster has some layers. He seems to have no desire to cause her actual physical bodily harm, and he seems to be working to set things up to create the least amount of emotional trauma while moving her to the place he wants her to be in emotionally with him. The book, and the monster are both surprisingly gentle and nonviolent. There is no yelling, or pushing around, or throwing things. There just is no “violence” as we normally understand it. It’s all coercion. But the threat for disobedience is never actual “violence.” So violence is kind of off the table here, and I think that may make it seem even more upsetting because it’s easier to not hate him when he’s not physically hurting her. He never holds her down and “makes” her have sex with him. Absolutely every step of the way she agrees to because he’s created a scenario where him not touching her is far worse than him touching her.

Even when standard BDSM props are introduced like whips and riding crops, he’s not being “violent” with her. He’s opening her up to a physical experience that might “hurt” a little but isn’t truly harming her because he has no intent or desire to harm her. He wants to keep her. And he wants to keep her healthy. And it’s an experience she’s decided is preferable to the alternative. And by that point she trusts him not to harm her. At least enough to go along with it. Because she always CAN opt out. It’s just her opt-out clause is a bare cell and chicken noodle soup. So yes, it’s all coercion, but none of it is particularly “violent.”

I think if he was violent, the book wouldn’t have worked because the point of it would have been obscured too much. And frankly if he was a violent man, I wouldn’t *want* her to end up with him, even in a fictional context. Because I don’t think that would really be a satisfying ending. I want readers to want these two people to end up together. Not because of right or wrong but because of what these two characters need and because it’s fiction.

The Waiting Room – Erotic Review

Estimated reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

Hello, Angst Junkies! In my quest to find intelligent, psychological, dark angst fiction, I bring another review of the marvelous Remittance Girl. Her latest novella The Waiting Room is described as:

…We are all animals, Sophie, all of us. We think we are so smart—masters of our destinies, yes? We lie to ourselves that we have control. But if it does not rain, we die of thirst. If it rains too much, we drown…”

Everyone needs to discover his or her own special place in the world, but Sophie has found it almost impossible. Late one night, in the tumbledown waiting room of a derelict Cambodian train station, she meets a stranger who offers to change her life.

Having seen how fleeting and cruel life can be, Alex has found his own way to deal with its uncertainty. With the help of Marcus, his mentor, he has come to believe it is only through artificially imposed order and physical discipline that one can find a semblance of serenity.

Alex is certain he knows how to cure Sophie of her existential angst. But lurking beneath his altruism, does he have his own agenda?

It is erotic. It is dark. It deals with Dominant/Submissive themes. All the stuff we love, right?

I find myself in a mental flurry because there is so much to say about The Waiting Room I am unsure where to begin. I want to approach this review as less of a personal experience and more of a review but it is very difficult Let’s see how I do.

The Waiting Room is 122 pages in PDF form and comes in at approximately 40,361 words. Remittance Girl (RG) uses language in a way I can only describe as sticky. The words remake a crumbling, crude backdrop into a poetic extension of the characters Sophie and Alex. (RG has written a companion piece in this posting for those interested.) The settings stick to you, exposing this grimy world with poetic simplicity. I have never been to Cambodia but I feel like I would know Battambang Central Station, the dingy room, and the dusty streets at first glance. The setting is a mirror of opposition. The uglier the backdrop, the more honest Sophie and Alex’s interactions. It is definitely a third character in this wrenching tale.

So what happens?

Sophie, a woman who practices surface-normality with discomfiting ease, meets Alex, a German tourist, in a broken-down train station. What begins as a daring masturbatory encounter in an empty room morphs into an introspective study of walls. Walls that people put up and walls that others are inspired to climb.

Sophie is the builder who continuously stacks brick after brick. Alex is the architect who can see her structure’s weakness.

The narrative flows between Sophie and Alex’s experiences and Alex’s recollection of those experiences to his mentor Marcus. We soon see Alex is not an accidental tourist of sorts who stumbles over Sophie. Chance happened, Fate stepped in, and Alex seized the moment.

Alex saw Sophie—the secrets, the numbness, the WHY as to what she is.

Alex wants to free Sophie. He uses his body and hers in ways that on the surface can be seen as kinky play but in reality is the language of true communication. Alex doesn’t allow Sophie to hide from him. He sees her anger for what it is. He sees her pleasure the same. Whether he enters her with fingers, mouth, or cock, Alex is always searching for the truth, for another brick to slide out.

Eventually, he offers her three days of giving herself over to him. Sophie, despite her misgivings, accepts. Thus the tale of self-love begins.

The D/S between Alex and Sophie is a beautiful dance to watch. The dance isn’t about hiding our flaws or searching for perfection. It’s about honesty and how truth is an ever-fluid thing. Alex believes he knows exactly where and how far to take her. He missteps. Sophie, trusts him even when she may not trust herself, and finds her faith tested. When she falls she hits the ground hard. If you enjoy reading about D/S then you’ll find yourself seduced.

Which brings me to the erotica. It is hot. Hot y’all!

RG proves herself to be the master of all things wonderfully dirty. She takes these sexual acts, ones we’ve either all read or experienced a million times, and makes it fresh. I felt trepidation as Sophie lay over his knee for the first time. When Alex finally slid into Sophie, I felt the long-ago thrill of welcoming a new lover again. Their last scene together…oh, my! I only wish I was taller so I could try it out myself. Hell, I might have to rig several pillows to get some height so I can do it. Wanna know what it was? Go read it! :)

End thoughts? Alex wiggled into my mind. I came into The Waiting Room expecting a hot D/S story. I left it stripped. The story stirred up questions in me, ones that had been there for years. Just like Alex didn’t allow Sophie to turn away from her truths, I wasn’t allowed to turn away from mine. I strongly, strongly suggest anyone who is looking for erotica with depth to read The Waiting Room. It is worth the mind-fuck. Truly. Honestly.

You may buy The Waiting Room at Republica Press for $4.99 in Adobe PDF, MobiPocket, and ePUB formats.

You may also buy The Waiting Room at Amazon.

Gaijin – Erotic Short Review

Estimated reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Remittance Girl (RG) is an erotic writer talented way beyond my humble attempts to describe. She is unflinching when it comes to probing the sexual darkness in humanity. Among many themes, she’s written about the discovered eroticism found in ritual cutting, despair in addictive fornication, and the lengths a woman will go to make sure her lover doesn’t leave her unsatisfied again.

To say I enjoy her work is an insult. She inspires me to take my craft to the next level. In her words, I find desperate beauty in the midst of ugliness. So when I read via Twitter her latest release at Republica Press I knew I absolutely, positively must buy Gaijin.

I have NO regrets. I loved this short and I got far more than my $2.99 worth. Now, I must convince you how exquisite Gaijin truly is. First things first…

Warning: Gaijin contains non-consensual sex/consensual sex/light violence/language. It is meant to be read by adults with an open mind.

Still with me? Good.

RG describes her latest work as:

When Jennifer left the cold and damp of London for the sparkle and bustle of Tokyo, she imagined she’d fine a world full of cherry blossom festivals, ancient tea ceremonies and Geishas. What she got instead was a cramped, shared apartment, harassment on the subway and a mind-numbing job as a hostess at the Blonde Chick Bar in Roppongi.

With a single, unintentional insult all that changed. She wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped by Shindo: a sadistic Yakuza demi-god who doesn’t take his loss of face easily. Caught between his hatred of all things foreign and a growing obsession with this blonde gaijin, he is determined to make her pay for her rejection in sadistic and degrading ways.

‘A woman’s lot is to endure,’ says the fox spirit in her dreams, but Jennifer wonders whether there are indeed fates worse than death. Little by little, she finds out.

Gaijin is 76 pages long and hits 21,100 words. RG hooks you in from the first sentence and doesn’t let go. Her palette is swift, poetic, and violent. Strangers to Japan see this alien world through eyes marked with confusion, fear, fascination, and lust. Personally, I am repelled, fascinated, and adoring of Japanese culture. I feel RG intuitively allows the readers to express those very same emotions through Jennifer.

A stranger in a strange land who shuffles into a world within a world, proving centuries-old mythology isn’t dead—it’s only adapted.

The erotica deliberately cuts in certain passages, swathes us in others. Shindo’s motivations, sparse as they may be, fascinate me. Pebbles of information lead us toward his past, giving the reader bits to ruminate over but not enough for conclusion. Jennifer’s docility and defiance undulate like the shadows on a wall. They are as difficult to predict as Shindo’s moods.

The ending can be controversial depending on what Gaijin invokes with you. I won’t say which way I fell but I will say that I wasn’t ready for the story to be over. I really, really wasn’t. It goes without saying that I look forward to RG’s next work. If you buy this ebook I’m sure you’ll be waiting right alongside me.