For WipItUp Wednesday, here’s another excerpt from The Last Rancher. This one is darker than the one I shared last week, but I hope it’s a good taste for the side of this story that’s not all cow-milking and sexytimes (you HAVE been warned lol):
“Ember, do you think it’s just the Brotherhood that are involved in this?” His question surprised me.
“Regular people don’t have an interest in crap like that, they’re far too busy with football player exchanges or the latest music.” It was inconceivable that regular people would be involved in this.
“All regular people?”
“Sure, I mean… that stuff’s pretty all-consuming. Even my companion-doll used to think sports were important.” I remembered her voice fondly. She had been my best friend growing up. My parents even used her as a babysitter regularly.
“Companion doll?” Hadley looked baffled. I realized he probably never got one out here.
“When I was a kid, I was sent a little talking doll. Every child got one when they turned three. I called mine Sherry. She had a touchscreen in her stomach, and she taught me to read and write, how to do a bit of math, and every day, she reminded me at the right time to do dance-along with the big purple cartoon dinosaur on the TV. Sherry would do the exercise with me so I was never lonely.” At my words, the expression on Hadley’s face grew darker. “When I got older, she used to find other robot dolls nearby to wirelessly connect to. She would always seem to connect to robots with owners who shared my exact interests. That’s how I met three of the girls on the skating team, before I joined. Sherry even had a camera in her eyes so I could make videos of my day.”
Hadley sighed. “Novara just gets more fucked up every time you open your mouth.”
“Hey! She was my best friend growing up. I guess those dolls were everyone’s best friend until they were old enough to go and meet people. I shared everything with her.” I was eager to defend her. Sherry had left me with nothing but good memories.
“Why?” His question irked me.
“She wanted to know. She asked me questions about my day, what my parents had been up to, that sort of thing.” It had been nice. She had been the only thing in my life that had ever taken an interest in how I was doing.
“Holy fuck.” He ran his hands through his hair; a sure sign he was stressing.
“What?” I didn’t understand his reaction.
“You had a talking doll that spied on you and trained you to do exercise and vetted your friends before you ever met them.”
Now it was my turn to stare at him. Bile rose in my throat and the ground seemed to sway beneath me. I shook my head. “No. That’s not fair. Not Sherry. You can’t take Sherry away from me. She was my friend!” I began to cry because I realized what he said was true.
He put his arm around me and reassured me. I just wanted one thing to be real from my whole life before I met Hadley.
“It’s going to be okay, Ember. I’m going to fix this, I promise. I’m sorry I asked. If they controlled everyone that much, I don’t think they trusted them enough to let anyone else in on what they were doing to people.”
“Hadley?” I was still sniffling. I felt so despondent.
“How can we fight a secretive boys’ club who can do that to twelve million people? There’s only two of us!” It seemed like such an impossibly huge undertaking, and we weren’t anything special. We were both honest and hardworking, neither of us were especially smart, and we didn’t fully understand everything about our opponents. They, on the other hand, were smart enough to enslave a whole city, they understood everything about both of us, they knew exactly how everything in the city worked, and they didn’t play fair.
“I don’t know, babe, but we’ll think of something.” He kissed me on the forehead and his determination warmed me a little. “I promise you, we’ll think of something.”
* * *
That’s all for this week’s, but The Last Rancher is out on Saturday, and I am fizzing with excitement to share it with everyone!! In the meantime, I made this:
Hi Guys it feels like forever since I last participated in WipItUp Wednesday, the blog hop for sharing works in progress!
This week I want to give everyone a little teaser for my upcoming futuristic dystopian western erotic romance, The Last Rancher. If you’d like to get your hands on a bigger excerpt, sign up for my newsletter here:
Spoiler alert… there’s a longer, steamier preview going out in my very first newsletter on Friday 15th September, and it’s exclusive for newsletter subscribers, so don’t miss out!
This story is dark. I’ve been joking a lot on Facebook that the heroine is the only person in this book with a higher body count than the hero by the end of the first chapter. But it also has its less dark moments. Here’s one of them. After nearly being killed, Ember is trying to get back to her city to warn everyone that the city’s leaders are kidnapping women and hunting them for sport on live TV (everyone thinks the contestants for this “game show” are picked at random and just leave the city after). Hadley, however, wants to keep her safe because she’s badly injured and the city is 200 miles away, and there’s no roads any more because no-one ever leaves the city:
The moment Hadley left the house, I went to the window and watched him. He sauntered toward a big shed, then emerged with a large bucket of something. It looked like he’d be gone for some time. I decided to seize my chance and, knotting the sheet above my breasts, I stepped outside.
Blinking in the sunlight, I looked in every direction. There was a little patch of trees opposite the porch, and beside it, there was a big wooden shed. The cowshed beside it was even larger, and there was also a huge, rusty vehicle with eight-feet-high wheels. The deflated tires were cracked and covered in green moss. Further down, I saw the first field, with a neat wooden fence and an open metal gate. Beyond, there was green grass and those stout black and white animals like the one I’d seen in the forest. In the opposite direction from where I stood, the forest pressed in on the clearing where the house was.
Everything was so big out here, and yet, the surroundings were all so short and flat. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen so much sky; it seemed to cover the entire world like a big dome, with flat-bottomed clouds floating between the sky and the fields. When I breathed the air, it seemed softer, and filled my lungs more than I’d ever experienced before. I never expected the countryside to be so nice. On the TV, they always showed it as a vast wilderness where only the few remaining species of wild animals lived. It was beautiful, and I wished I could stay here and take my fill of the natural beauty. Would I ever tire of it?
It smelled so strongly of things, too. I only had to walk a few steps to sniff something different. There was the food scent from the kitchen, the horrible bathroom-like stink coming from one of the sheds, a creamy scent from another shed, the smell of petrol from the enormous rusty vehicle, and a sort of woody odor from the forest. I couldn’t even recognize some of the other things my nose had discovered.
It would be amazing to run through the open fields, toward the distant blue mountains. Before today, I’d only seen such things on the TV. If there wasn’t such an important reason to get home quickly, this would be a tranquil place to be. Unless I warned everyone about what The Brotherhood were doing, though, they would hunt someone else down soon. They ruled the city, maybe even the continent, and they weren’t worthy of that.
I remembered my cousin with another stab of fury. No-one else should have to go through what she and I went through, and no-one else should have to die like that. Those men were so evil. I was still more than a little horrified by the fact I’d killed them, but there had been no-other choice, and part of me was disturbed by the fact I didn’t feel as bad as I ought to about what I’d done.
All over, my body ached, and pain seared across my wounds. Tuning out the soreness and the anguish, I watched Hadley walk across the field with his bucket. When I turned to go in the opposite direction, I realized I wasn’t sure which way the city was. Ploughing on anyway, I shakily climbed the fence toward the forest and tried to run, but my limbs wouldn’t do what I wanted them to. My legs were still too stiff to take my weight at that speed. When my left knee buckled, I stumbled, crashing loudly onto a fallen tree branch which cracked with an ominous snapping sound.
Not to be deterred, I scrambled to my feet and continued moving. I traveled about two hundred yards from the house before something wrapped around my arms, between my elbows and, on one side, the gauze covering a bullet graze. Constricting my body, it tightened around me; at first, I thought it was a snake, as I’d seen plenty of movies where snakes did this to people.
Looking down, I saw a rope. I tried to struggle out of it, but some pressure was steadily pulling me backwards. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Hadley holding the other end of the rope. Patiently but firmly, he reeled me in.
“Never lassoed a lady before,” he told me with a twinkle in his eye. I didn’t know why he looked so amused, there was nothing funny about this. I glared at him and tried again to free myself.
“Get the fuck off me! I have to get back. Don’t you understand? I have to!”
“Nope.” He stood his ground.
Heaving on the rope with all my might, all I succeeded in doing was unbalancing myself. I landed unceremoniously on my bottom and felt my face getting hot. It was mortifying.
Hadley held out a hand for me to take. I shook my head and got up by myself.
“Such a gentleman,” I grumbled sarcastically.
“Suit yourself. You’re still coming with me. Will you walk, or do I have to carry you?”
“Go and fuck yourself,” I growled, wanting him to understand that he was getting in the way of me doing something really important. The lasso had been humiliating, and I was now in a thoroughly bad mood and ready to go thermonuclear on his ass.
“I’d much rather fuck a pretty young lady such as yourself, but what’s that got to do with getting your pert butt back to my ranch?” He was acting like I hadn’t explained this problem enough already, or maybe he just didn’t care.
He was still so unflustered, it was infuriating. I growled and tried to get out of the rope again. He tutted and shook his head. When he stepped forward, I lashed out at him with my semi-restrained arms. I had been so close to escaping that the disappointment burned at the back of my throat as he hoisted me in a fireman’s lift, still lassoed. He wrapped the spare rope around his left shoulder and ambled back to the ranch as if he wasn’t carrying a one-hundred-twenty-pound woman in his right arm.
My legs would barely obey me, but still I kicked them, fighting against him with everything I had. It was pathetic that I lacked the energy or strength to fight him off, and every time I tried, pain surged through my wounds and stiff muscles. He swatted my ass several times, hard, filling my body with a searing fire. It was similar to the incredibly delicious sensation that made my muscles tingle when I got a second wind after I thought I had run as hard as I could. My sore glutes gave up and I accepted that he was in control for the time being.
* * *
Now, what might a strong rancher do with a naughty city girl who won’t listen to old-fashioned good sense? Hmm… I wonder… Actually, I know exactly what comes next and it took a lot of self-control not to post the next 2000 words or so here, because OMG I’m just itching to share this story with you all!!
Stormy Night Publications are having a 5th Anniversary Giveaway of over 40 books, including Her Daddy and Her Master, which is available here (you may have to scroll). Sadly, Instafreebie won’t let me download any of their books from where I am, so this came three days too late for me to get any free books.
We arrived in China last Saturday. Since then, we’ve been trying to get everything set up for living here but mostly got railroaded by my husband’s new job, which comes with a huge gamut of mandatory social engagements.
I got offered a job as a librarian based on a random conversation one evening, and started working a couple of days later.
My husband’s job is pretty intense, which we knew it would be, and my job involves some on-call work because I got employed based on my tech skills.
The main problem with moving here has been this: I knew it was going to be the arse end of the world, but everything’s so much harder to do and some really simple things are impossible.
My YouTube channel, for example, has had to go on hold because I can access their search page, but I can’t access my own channel to manage my videos or upload new ones. Sorry.
The new time difference makes it EVEN MORE difficult to be online when everyone else is, because the Internet in China frequently goes down in the afternoon/evening due to so many people being online. Many sites in China are blocked by their government and free speech is heavily censored. Even using means to get around the Great Firewall of China, so many websites are precious (yes, including some of the places hosting author websites), and won’t let me access their sites because they’re racist or xenophobic something. Luckily my site is self-hosted so I can still get to it.
Then there’s the problem with mailing lists compiled through MailerLite, who won’t let me view their site at all or unsubscribe from people’s mailing lists. Not only can I not use their site to manage/design my own mailing list (which I was sorta counting on), but I also get all these emails I can’t read from authors about new releases I can’t buy (I suspect I’m also not receiving a bunch of emails because I was signed up for some ARCs that never materialized; not that I can download them any more since Instafreebie won’t let me get books from them).
So I’m using MailChimp for my own mailing list and am extremely glad that SNP does their own emails because I can still get the free serialized novels. If you sign up for their big Instafreebie giveaway, you can access this stuff too!
Amazon China doesn’t sell any books with even slightly racy content and anyway, I can’t buy any Kindle books from any Amazon site, because the billing address for my card no longer matches with a country where I could buy books. Amazon is really precious about who can buy Kindle books from which sites, which you might not know if you’re American and used to being able to buy books from every buy link you see. If I get my card and Kindle account relocated elsewhere, I won’t be able to access all my old Kindle books from UK Amazon.
Mostly, though, I’ve been feeling a bit depressed the past few days. I don’t know if it’s because the sun has gone in (this is the rainy season but it’s not really rained much… thanks global warming), or something to do with jet lag, or because the full reality of my situation has finally sunk in, but my mood plummeted quickly since Friday when I was quite happy. I literally have no energy to do anything today and I just want to go back to bed and cry.
I’m living in a foreign country with no local currency or means of getting any. I’m working here without a visa so I won’t even get my own salary paid to me. I still don’t have a tax identifier for my writing, and without it, I will eventually have to stop writing. I miss my rabbits. The food is hit and miss. There’s no chocolate here and crisps come in weird flavors like squid (you can also get fried squid flavor. I don’t really care to find out if its different, I’m still not eating it). They have things that look like donuts but they’re chewy and I’ve eaten sweeter bagels than these “donuts”. I’ve only been to a shop once, however, since I got here, because we’re in a ginormous industrial district. I don’t know how to get to an ATM to get money out because virtually nowhere accepts western cards and banks don’t have ATMs. And, after making the decision 2 years ago that it was in the best interest of my mental health to not have an in-person sort of job ever again, I went and took a job. Admittedly, it’s an interesting job, but it comes with a raft of regular overtime work. So I now feel very pressured and after a week of all this, it’s really getting me down.
It’s also not helping that I can’t use Facebook Messenger very easily and sometimes Facebook itself doesn’t load at all, and people don’t like writing emails. So I’m now getting left out of 90% of the conversations I was previously a part of. 🙁 Thanks, guys.
Also, my phone hasn’t worked since I got here and I can’t talk to anyone I knew IRL in the UK, including the person who has my rabbits. I got given a new sim card for China Mobile but I don’t know how to set up the payments for it, because I don’t have a Chinese bank account, so it doesn’t work either.
Then there was the saga with the washing machine which I detailed on Facebook. That got me down a lot.
I sent back the edited version of the Last Rancher this weekend and I was filling out the cover form when I realized it was fundamentally pointless trying to give the amount of detail I usually provide. 4-6 hours of work gathering images etc has become 12+ hours. For every book. I just don’t feel like I’m listened to so it’s not worth it. In fact, a lot of the times I try to help people are completely wasted because no-one listens to me until something goes so badly wrong that it’s a ballache to fix. And sometimes not even then. I guess this was the work-from-home version of that time I just got up and walked out of my job.
I finished another project this weekend, too. Now I only have one more project to finish of the ones people were expecting and which had deadlines, then I can… do what? Tick off the empty days stretching before me as they fill up with doing stuff for other people, while I get further away from the things I wanted to do. None of my story planning is working out at the moment, I’m getting about 30% through each of the books I need to plan, and thinking, ‘now what?’ then changing to something else. I just can’t see the shape they should be right now, if that makes sense.
I feel like I’m constantly wrapped up in this cellophane of obligations for other people, constantly trying to break through it to reach out and touch the things I wanted to do, and every time I tear a hole in the cellophane, a new layer gets wrapped around me.
I should be happy. A lot of things are still going to plan with my writing, and yet, I actually feel like a large chapter in my life is closing before I’m ready for it to go. I feel like something inside me is tearing apart, and I’m not sure I actually want to write any more. I’m not sure I want to do anything. I hate getting hit in the face with depression.
We need to talk about a site called “Brutally Honest Review.” To be brutally honest, they’re brutal, but not that honest. I also want to talk about trash-reviews in general. It’s a misconception that every piece of negative criticism is accurate, and they’re trying to cash in on the fact that people love drama and negativity. I love my reviewers and my editors, and I treasure their constructive criticism even when I don’t want to hear it, but this website’s MO is ridiculous.
This website gets its jollies from tearing down other authors. Unfortunately, anyone can start a website and attempt to establish authority by reviewing books. Their criticism is mostly unconstructive, and they copy-and-paste sections of reviews. It’s like they only know three things to complain about, but they keep reiterating them like the apocryphal loudly rattling empty can. My book got off lightly compared to other people’s, and perhaps I should be glad of that. Generally, I don’t dignify shitty reviews with a response because I’m too lazy to care, but when I saw the reviews they had given to two of the best authors I know, I decided this was worth talking about. I’m a Gryffindor at heart, and it gets me into all sorts of trouble. Hold onto your knickers, because I give as good as I get.
This website is a scam. First off, their whole schtick is someone’s idea of a clever affiliate marketing business concept. There are so many websites out there which make bread-and-butter from mindlessly giving five star reviews to every book that comes their way, so why not go in the opposite direction? One star virtually everything! That’ll get readers. I would imagine most of their site’s hits come from the authors whose books they reviewed. I’m not linking to them here because I don’t want to improve their Google Page Rank (how high they come in search results; determined by how many people link to their site from other sites).
Something I never talk about on my author site is the fact I also run a successful beauty blog that uses Amazon Associates, a special Amazon scheme that lets you make a commission from pointing readers in the direction of products that you recommend. Beauty blogging is sorta like authoring only with a lot of fake-nice and more cutthroat bitchyness. It’s also highly competitive and oversaturated. To stand out in beauty blogging you have to work hard. It took me 2 years to get my blog to where it’s currently at, and most people quit beauty blogging after the first month, very few last more than 6 months. It’s not easy and making money off it is nearly impossible.
“I hate beauty products” is a concept that newbie, inexperienced beauty bloggers occasionally come up with. “I hate beauty so much, but everyone always tells me how beautiful I am, so I’m going to deign to tell you all about beauty. It’s such a chore. Sponsor me on Patreon or send me free products to review!!!” Funnily enough, they fail to understand that their biggest audience base are other beauty bloggers, and that by pissing them off, and by dismissing the most important thing in most beauty bloggers’ lives, they’re dooming their business to fail.
This is exactly what Brutally Honest Book Review is doing. There are lots of websites like it out there. They also offer a manuscript appraisal service and, perhaps I’m cynical, but I would suspect that any glowing reviews on their website are written for authors who paid to use their services. It’s interesting that someone can put themselves in a position where they think they can establish authority by alienating any and all of their potential customer base. It’s a shame, because I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing and I work damn hard to make each book better than the last, but this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about when it came to other people’s books I’ve read.
A lot of their criticism seems to center around things that erotic romance readers don’t actually want. High plot tension is a no-no in sweet/light erotic romance Over-complicated plot is also a faux pas. They fail to understand the difference between light and dark ER, and how the tension and emotional journey of the reader are different in both cases. If they don’t understand that, how can they accurately appraise a manuscript?
From an educator’s point of view, it’s also bad teaching practice to critique something in such a destructive manner, without providing anything constructive, particularly when phrases of their reviews are simply copied and pasted. In particular, I don’t think publicly shaming people is the way to encourage customers to get their manuscripts appraised. I suspect that they trash-review books as padding for their otherwise dull website, because they don’t have enough people paying them for a manuscript appraisal, so they don’t have enough books to say nice things about. Also, when you’ve registered the name “brutally honest review . com” I would imagine that compels you to not see the positive in anything.
Tony Robbins has an interesting object lesson in this. He tells clients, “Look out of your window and pay attention to every single brown thing you can see. Really focus on all of the brown.” Then, a minute or two later, he asks people to name all the red things they saw. When you only look for brown, that’s what you see, to the exclusion of all else.
After reading their reviews of other people’s books (books I have read and enjoyed) I certainly won’t be sending them my work. Not that I need to, when I have a fantastic group of people around me who tell it like it is, and who don’t go out of their way to bring me down. I have three books currently in the bestseller charts, and one of my books has been in the top 5 on UK Amazon for 3 months. I wrote a number 1 bestseller in May. I’m not trying to be arrogant, I’m trying to explain why I don’t trust this reviewer’s opinion. They’re out of touch with what readers want and they don’t understand the erotic romance audience. And that doesn’t make me trust them to accurately appraise my manuscript with commercial acumen.
One particular thing they seem confused about is that they apply very over-simplified literary criticism (the sort reserved for undergrad essays on works such as The Great Gatsby, Ulysses, and Kafka) to genre fiction. It is incredibly rare for literary criticism to be a useful tool when reviewing erotic romance. I reviewed The Wild yesterday (the book that got banned from Amazon and Smashwords), and I remarked on how extremely unusual it is that literary criticism works for erotic romance. Of all the books I’ve ever reviewed, The Wild is the only one I’ve applied any heavy literary criticism to. Literary criticism is for the next Great American Novel. You know what doesn’t sell? The next Great American Novel. You know why? Most people don’t like it.
Here’s why: When you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, are you more likely to buy orange juice and cheese or caviar and lobster? Even if those things were cheaper, would you want to eat them all the time? I wouldn’t. Give me the orange juice! And I’m okay with the fact that I usually write orange juice. I love it, in fact. It’s what I want to do. I want to write the best damn orange juice in town. I’d much rather write orange juice than caviar, because orange juice brings joy and happiness to so many more people, and nourishes their heart in a way those books with “layered, too-broken” type characters (who don’t have sex because it interferes with all the existential ennui) never will. These sort of reviews are as silly as someone complaining that orange juice doesn’t taste like caviar. If they want caviar, they’re in the wrong aisle of the supermarket. Orange juice sells more because it’s what people want. Even people who do enjoy caviar probably drink more orange juice than they eat caviar.
You know who I trust to know whether I’ve written something good? My publisher. It’s in their best interests to publish work that sells, and I know they’ll always tell me if I’ve written something that’s below par, and they’ll offer me constructive suggestions on how to improve it. My fantastic editors Jamie Miles and James Johnson at Stormy Night Publications have worked with me to develop and improve my books into the bestsellers that they are. My second book? They turned it down. It hurt like hell at the time because I really believed in that story. But that tells me they have high standards that are specific to erotic romance, and I trust their opinion.
Interestingly, “Brutally Honest Book Review” also provide Amazon affiliate links for every book they pour hate upon. They get a commission on anything you buy within 24 hours of clicking an Amazon link on their site. I’ve worked with Amazon Associates for long enough to know what those affiliate links look like. When I dislike a beauty product, and feel compelled to write a bad review (which I do when it’s true), I don’t provide a buy link, unless I feel people need to see the thing I’m talking about (placenta face masks, for example… that fell into the ‘OMG look at this gross thing’ category), at which point, if I hated a product or never tried it, I provide a non-affiliate Amazon link. This is because I want buyers to know that I only want to make a commission by helping them find something they will like, which I believe in, and which is worth selling.
Steve Jobs said “don’t sell crap” and that’s my entire philosophy both with authoring and beauty blogging, and when I worked for Avon that was my philosophy too. People trust me, buy from me, and work with me because I don’t abuse that trust. If you 1-star hate a book, why would you then try to sell it to people? The entire site is a money-making scam, and if I wanted a manuscript appraisal outside of my bubble, I’d rather get in touch with any of the amazing editors I’ve met on Facebook, because I’ve seen the books they’ve edited, and I know that they know what they’re talking about, than this vitriolic person who fundamentally doesn’t understand or seem to enjoy erotic romance.
The thing that gets me the most about intentionally bad reviews is that they negatively impact on good authors, and I’ve seen this before when I used to work in entertainment (yeah, all the bitchy games in the author world are NOTHING compared to working in the commercial entertainment industry). When reviewers, ticket holders, directors or stage managers treat performers like a mindless object with no feelings (and no need for sleep), it can leave performers at the point where they can’t actually perform any more. It breaks my heart to watch this happening to people and I hate that some people feel the need to hurt people like this. I suspect some people simply revel in doing this to other human beings. I would argue that those of us writing BDSM erotic romance get it more than other people, as I have a hunch that a lot of people make the assumption that we’re fair game because we write submissive women. Of course, fundamentally not understanding BDSM or spanking is not becoming in a reviewer of BDSM erotic spanking romance. Yes, that was a bastardization of a Gor quote. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.
Authors, like performers, are necessarily more sensitive than other people, because to produce an authentic experience, we plunge into the entire spectrum of human emotions. If we don’t know how our characters will react to a situation, how can we write that? With the exception of people who have learned about human behavioural patterns such as psychologists, we have to empathize and emote with our characters. That makes us a little more sensitive to criticism, especially when we put our heart and soul into a book.
Some of my books get 1 star reviews and I don’t even care. It’s a fair cop. I learn to write as I go along, because I learn from doing. Other books get 3 star reviews and I’m ready to stab someone. Sometimes, I care too much about my work. I have to, to write better books. I take valid criticism on board, especially when it comes from my readers and from readers of other erotic spanking romance books, but I don’t see a problem with venting about ridiculous reviews because otherwise they fester. Not everyone who reads a book is qualified to write about it, even people who also write books or appraise manuscripts. Anyone can set up that as a business without needing qualifications or professional accreditation. Full disclosure: I haven’t taken an English class since I was sixteen.
My verdict on Brutally Honest Review? One star. Would not recommend. It’s a worse business model than the authors with fake Amazon accounts who dump shitty reviews on good books (waves at the haters at the back). If they want to do better, they should take a good hard look at their intended audience and adjust their business practice accordingly, potentially registering a grammatically correct domain name whilst they’re at it. Pissing off your client base isn’t the way to build a business.
That’s the end of my ranty clapback. I said it all because it needed saying and honestly I wouldn’t have cared if Brutally Honest Review hadn’t shat upon good authors I know. Imma stop bitching now and go back to adoring puppies and unicorns and stuff.
Now for a palate cleanser courtesy of Britney and Taylor Swift:
Once again, huge shoutout to all the people who provide useful criticism of my work, like my ARC readers and Jamie Miles and James Johnson at Stormy Night Publications!*
Lots of love,
*Disclaimer: All thoughts in this opinion piece are my own and have no endorsement from my publishers.
After all the playground-like rumors, this book is not what you think, and it’s not what I expected. I bumped this to the top of my reading list because I thought I was going to want to delete it from my Kindle for iPhone after I finished it.
I want to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible but there’s things in here that might lead you to guess what happens in the book. The biggest spoiler I have shared is on a separate webpage that I’ve linked to in this review. It’s still not the full story. So if you currently fully intend to read this book, go read it (you can get it here) first or instead of this review. But promise me something. Finish it. If you start this book, you have to finish it or you will be left with the wrong idea. Anyone who 1-star reviewed this book and didn’t actually finish it doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If you don’t plan to read the book, or you’re unsure, read the rest of my review. Especially if you’re one of the people who heard all the rumors about what’s in this book.
There’s some things that color my review, and if you’re American (or not me) you might feel differently about those same details in the book. The legal age of consent in my country is 16. I left school at 16. At the time, that was pretty normal. I went back again later, but post-16 education was the exception rather than the rule. In working class Scotland, you’re basically an adult at 16. 16 for us is 18 for Americans. Linguistically, “woman” refers to anyone over 16 in Scotland. We drink at 18, not 21, btw. If you’re brainy and go to university straight from school, you usually start at 17 not 18 (although you *can* start at 18 with the English qualifications, which are different to Scottish ones, and then you often skip the first year of uni). Everything’s different here. So the main character being 17? Wasn’t weird. She was well over our age of consent and I didn’t have a problem with that. Hell, most of the women I knew from school were a long way into their second single-parent pregnancy by 17, and on the waiting list for a bigger council house. If this book had BDSM in it, I’d feel differently, because I draw the line (in the sand) at 18 for BDSM. There’s probably all sorts of arguments that can be had about that, but at the end of the day BDSM requires a higher level of emotional maturity than regular sex, and BDSM is something a lot of much older people can’t cope with.
The second thing that colored my judgement is I’m at heart, an anthropologist (I missed my true calling in life because I’m never going to train/work as an anthropologist), and when they’re presented properly, other lifeways fascinate me.
Third, I never met my father until I was 16, he died when I was 27, and my mother (died the same year) was generally out of her head for one reason or another. I have no concept of what it would be like to have a male parent who you live your whole life with, let alone what a father’s love looks like to a child, or how that transitions into how people relate to their adult children; I only know it by its absence and by what I used to wonder about what it would be like to have a dad.
Last, I withheld judgement until I’d read the entire book. And, if you choose to read this book, so should you. This book is not for the narrow-minded.
When I picked up this book I didn’t know what was in it. Normally, I won’t read the specific things it seemed to be heading towards. However, this wasn’t written like an erotic fiction, and I personally didn’t find the sex scenes sexy (it didn’t have any BDSM to speak of; there was 1 spanking scene and it wasn’t framed in BDSM. Vanilla sex doesn’t do it for me at all). I think I was more interested in the way this relationship developed. This book strongly reminded me of Berkoff’s Kafka plays, Sophocles’ Elektra/Oedipus, and other dramatic works that only the graphic novels by Alan Moore and Warren Ellis have ever rivalled for me. Unvarnished reality of human nature, catharsis, that sort of thing. Not something I regularly find in romantic fiction and not something I necessarily often want to read but I occasionally like being stretched. I hate quoting from my own books but I think this quote from His Little Earthling kinda sums up how I feel about books like The Wild:
“…reading the book was like being hit in the face with a door[…]for some reason, she’d really enjoyed reading his story anyway.”
See, on one hand, it seems like you’re reading a story about a man who is willing to risk everything for love (like, even more everything than everything) and outside the cultural norms of our society that’s kinda sweet. And on the other hand you’ve got the internal destruction of a man who knows that what he’s doing is wrong.
Or does he?
And at the same time you’ve got this willing Lolita character who drives forward the story and single-mindedly goes after what she wants, consequences be damned. And she definitely fully believes that this isn’t right. My brain constantly shut down during the sex scenes and I sorta skimmed over them. I couldn’t quite reconcile the discord between what was happening on the page and my own feelings about people doing that.
There’s a type of BDSM scene that I tend not to partake in because it’s so hard to get it right. It’s called a “mind fuck” and usually it means that the dominant does something to make the submissive think/feel differently towards something than they would if they were in possession of all the facts. That’s what this book does. Very well. The last time I read a book which used information and character truths like this was Jodi Picoult’s Her Sister’s Keeper. See also: That’s not an erotic romance. But it left me with the same feeling at the big moment.
I also liked the author’s use of tension. This book had me turning the pages from page 1 and I stayed up late last night to finish reading it. I am going to have to go over specific scenes and pay more attention to how the tension was done because it wasn’t too tight (I hate when things are too tense with no payoff) but it was tight enough to keep the story moving. I wanted to know what would happen next, even when I didn’t want to look to find out what would happen next.
The other thing about this book is that it really sticks two fingers up at the pseudo-incest genre of erotica/erotic romance and draws attention to its hypocrisy. I don’t want to kink-shame, but I don’t find incest or pseudo-incest remotely sexy. I’ve never been a fan of all that, “No, wait, it’s okay, she’s my stepdaughter” stuff. Call an apple an apple. I’ve always been very uncomfortable with stories like that. I don’t like the way they try so hard to pretend it’s normal, and they never actually stand up and address the fact that they’re depicting a relationship between relations that, okay, aren’t blood relations, but are still relations. They justify it with meaningless titles that don’t actually settle it. I mean, for me personally, it’s too weird to imagine having sex with someone who fucked my mother. From the other side, I couldn’t imagine being in a three way with a mother and a daughter, either. It’s just goes beyond my limits. I think that’s what gets me more than anything about pseudo-incest or incest. I’m happy with the caregiver/little dynamic between consenting unrelated adults, but not double dipping. Why is that seen as okay culturally but some meaningless DNA thing suddenly makes that SAME situation unacceptable? I don’t think it’s okay to dress incest up and deny it and pretend that it’s not what it is, and there’s a whole subgenre of erotic fiction that does exactly that, and those pseudo-incest ones are really trying very hard to sexualise that relationship. And let’s be fair, “she’s 18” is often secret erotica code for, “she’s not 18” in many of those same stories.
Like, culturally, it’s okay to have sex with some guy who sexed your mom and who you lived your whole life with, because he’s your stepfather, but it’s not okay if their sperm made you. It’s a huge double standard. And The Wild seriously does tell this whole double standard to go fuck itself in the most beautiful way. These are things I’d never really thought about particularly deeply until I read this book, and I feel like I’ve gained an understanding of one of humanity’s nuances from reading it.
This book went the complete opposite way to those pseudo-incest books. It never even tried to pretend this was okay or normal, and I liked that it grabbed the main issue by the balls and squeezed. I think it’s an absolute joke that Amazon and Smashwords banned this book, especially when (spoiler that will ruin this whole book if you ever planned to read it).
See? This book is less risque and less taboo than A Song Of Ice and Fire (or Gor, there’s sex with a 14 year old in at least one of those books) but because it’s an erotic romance and because there’s no disclaimer at the beginning of The Wild explaining something that would spoil the whole book (and let’s be fair, the author is probably quietly reveling in the notoriety that this book had to go underground and free speech ‘n’ stuff), it got banned.
I don’t feel like this is so much of a free speech issue because what she wrote wasn’t actually as bad as it could have been, especially if you see the spoiler above. I mean, it’s sorta a free speech issue because the book was silenced before anyone could know the full story. More than that, it’s an issue to do with how books are marketed and how ebook authors are unfairly held to a higher standard than print authors. And that’s what I take issue with. Incest and underage sex SHOULDN’T be on Amazon according to their own rules. But they are on Amazon. They’re everywhere. Paedophilia? George R.R. Martin. Incest? George R.R. Martin. Rape? George R.R. Martin. The Wild is pretty tame by comparison. But that’s okay because GRRM’s a “real” author and we’re not. Westeros is a fantasy world and the middle of nowhere in Alaska, a place most people haven’t been, is somehow more real. Careful, people might start re-enacting this shit. That’s what Amazon seems to be saying by its actions.
By continually policing an arbitrary line between traditionally published and indie authors, they are reinforcing the idea that ebooks are not real books and that romance authors (mostly women) aren’t real authors and that we have to follow a tighter set of rules because we’re somehow less responsible than men. But, y’know, being mostly women, we’re all pretty used to double standards in what we can do versus what non-women can do, right?
Another wider issue that The Wild throws up is the fundamental meaninglessness of some trigger warnings. I have PTSD, so I know what it’s like to be triggered, to not be able to get something out of your head for days on end and to feel like you’ll never get far enough away from the thing you’re running from. Because it’s everywhere. I don’t think overly-specific trigger warnings are actually useful. They can end up being a ridiculous spoiler-laden laundry list that ruins the book for other people. I like trigger warnings to be vague, something that says, “If you only like soft fluffy stuff this is not for you,” or, “If you like it hard and scary, this is for you.” But The Wild sorta stuck its finger up at that and used the trigger warning as more of a challenge. The starting assumption was that you wouldn’t want to read this book because of all the stuff. I think it mostly delivered on that, but it didn’t necessarily go as far as I thought it would. I didn’t expect to finish this book but I did.
So overall, I did like this book, it was well-written and thought-provoking in a number of ways, and I liked the fact that it called out the entire pseudo-incest subgenre very eloquently. But I didn’t find it sexy, and the fact it got banned by Amazon AND Smashwords is kinda confusing and nothing short of hypocritical compared to some books. I’m glad this book exists.
Tl;dr: If you start The Wild you have to finish it. Don’t believe ANY reviews that didn’t read the entire book. They are not in possession of all the facts.
It’s WIP it up Wednesday, the blog hop where we share works in progress or recently published! Here’s my contribution:
My latest story, Reformed by the Scotsman, came out on Saturday, and I’ve got another exciting excerpt for you here. It’s the morning after Adeline breaks a window (and cuts her hand on broken glass) trying to escape from Edward’s house in Edinburgh.
After breakfast, Edward took Adeline into the drawing room and bade her stand before his desk.
“Do you know why you are being punished?” he prompted. It was bloody obvious, but he wanted to hear her say it.
“Yes. I damaged your window while I was trying to leave. I’m awfully sorry, you know.”
It was impossible to repress his laughter that time. “The bally idea that I gave a hoot about the pane of glass! You are being punished because you paid no mind to your own safety, both in breaking the glass and in attempting to climb out of a second floor window. Are you aware of the height of the ceilings in this house? They are fifteen feet! Including the height from the floor to the windowledge in the guestroom, that’s a thirty-three-foot drop to the ground. Do you know what happens if you fall from that height onto hard pavement?”
She shook her head.
“You would quite probably die.” He let that sink in. “Bend over my desk, I am going to use the tawse. It seemed to be moderately effective yesterday; I think you just need more of it.”
To his surprise, she got into the prescribed position without any argument, and once she was there, it was a simple matter to fold back the silk chemise before he slid her knickers down. She had a lovely, heart-shaped bottom, with cute dimples at the top.
He would love to spend hours caressing that delightful rear, teasing the white skin, and gently swatting her sit spots until she was writhing with desire and begging him to fill her with his manhood. He was already growing hard from considering the things he’d like to do with her while she was in this position.
Not today, however. Today was about her dangerous behavior. He picked up the two-tailed leather strap and walked around behind her. He lined it up on her bottom then drew it back and smartly spanked her sit-spot with a loud crack.
She drew a breath and he was pleased that her bottom seemed to take on a red stripe almost immediately. She was so resistant to showing him when she was in pain, but he saw her adamantly fighting her own responses. The swat had undoubtedly taken effect. He slowly counted to ten in his head, then brought the tawse down on her cheeks once more. She uttered a slight moan then stifled it. If he were to get past her pride so he might change her without breaking her, she was going to require careful handling.
Barely counting to three, he landed the tawse slightly above the last stroke, and she issued a strangled cry. He suspected that, in her case, there was a very fine line between what would be effective in improving her behavior and what would be too extreme, but eight strokes would suffice this time, he decided, as he aimed the fourth one over the crest of her buttocks, then waited again as she began to breathe more heavily. He heard the effort it was taking for her to stop herself from making a fuss, and decided now was a good time for a change of pace.
The next two were spaced out, slow, and he had time to appreciate the sight before him. Her glowing bottom had taken on a delightful shade of pink, contrasting wonderfully with her pale skin above and beneath. Between her legs, he eyed the little line, like a split peach, where her sex stood out between her sparse blonde fur. It seemed to glisten slightly with her juices, and he felt his own arousal rising harder as he contemplated her, positioned over his desk like this.
“Punishment becomes you,” he murmured, then brought the tawse down once more. She yelped this time, and again at the last stroke. He left her over his desk for a moment. He was pleased that she was responding to this treatment; yesterday she would have been trying to run away by this point in her correction.
And if you want to know more, you can get the book here
I am super-duper-loop-the-looper-ally-ooper excited to announce that Reformed by the Scotsman is out now!
Here’s the beautiful cover by Korey Mae Johnson:
Here’s the blurb:
When her scandalous behavior finally forces her wealthy parents to take drastic action, twenty-two-year-old Adeline Hawthorne is sent to Edinburgh to live in the home of her father’s friend Edward Wolstanton. The stern Scotsman is tasked with correcting the recalcitrant young lady by any means necessary, and it isn’t long before Adeline is taken over Edward’s knee for a painful, embarrassing spanking.
Though she quickly discovers that her new guardian will not hesitate to punish her as thoroughly and shamefully as he sees fit–even stripping her completely and applying a leather tawse to her bare bottom when she attempts to escape his custody–Edward’s firm-handed dominance arouses Adeline deeply. She soon finds herself wondering what it would be like to have such a man as her husband, but will he ever see her as more than a wayward girl in need of reform?
Publisher’s Note:Reformed by the Scotsman includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.
So I missed the deadline to participate in WipItUp Wednesday this week because of all the work I had to finish for my university course. Now it’s done, I have a scorching excerpt from Reformed by the Scotsman, my new book which is out Saturday (5th August). It’s the 1920s, it’s Edinburgh, and Adeline Hawthorne is getting spanked by Edward Wolstanton, to whom she was sent to be reformed:
Feeling furiously embarrassed and extremely hot, she turned her head away from him before she recovered her scathing sarcasm.
“Like what you see? Bet you collect magazine-pictures of girls in their underthings, don’t you?” she said.
Instead of wrong-footing him or provoking a series of denials, she seemed to have galvanized his will, for he chose that moment to sit in an overstuffed armchair and pull her over his knee. The position was not lost on her, and she inhaled sharply in horror because there was only one thing anybody did once they had a girl over their knee, bottom upturned, face and feet near the floor. Her black silky knickers almost completely protected her bottom cheeks, though, so even if he really was going to spank her like an errant schoolgirl, it couldn’t possibly hurt.
Telling herself there was no possibility that stuffy, proper Edward would really spank her, she yelped when his hand connected loudly with her bottom, resonating throughout the room with a loud clap. The sting was instant and seemed to cover most of her right cheek. He brought his hand down over and over in a brisk pace, raining hard swats of fire over her bottom cheeks before she opened her mouth to protest.
“How dare you? When my father hears about this, you’ll be sorry!” she protested, trying to avoid the spanks. She was infuriated. How dare he punish her like a naughty child? She shifted around on his knee hoping to escape, but he held her firmly. A warm glow flashed through her nether regions as she realized he had bested her.
“Your father gave me express permission to use any means necessary to improve your attitude, young lady, and that is what I’m doing.” Edward spoke calmly. His voice didn’t match with the flurry of sharp swats he was subjecting her sit-spot to.
“No! He wouldn’t! Not if he knew you were… doing this to me!” she retorted hotly.
“I don’t think he was especially interested in the details,” Edward said. She kicked and wriggled and generally made a nuisance of herself attempting to inconvenience him as much as possible during this spanking. Truly, she was unable to escape, and part of her liked being thoroughly helpless while someone held her to account, not because she had conceded to their pathetic protests, but because they had the guts to overpower her and compel her to obey. There was a strong sense of satisfaction that accompanied the feeling of helplessness. Her underwear grew wet and her nipples hardened in response to being forced to submit.
Horrified at her weakness, she buried her emotions and fought him with redoubled effort. It hurt, though, and despite the fact she didn’t stop fighting him, his swats gave her pause for thought. How long would he keep this up? Could she fight back for longer than he could spank her?
“If you continue resisting me while you are over my knee, and threatening to tattle to your father, I will give you some letter paper once this is over and I will stand beside you and make you write a letter to the Earl of Hathersedge detailing exactly what I am doing right now, including how you are dressed, how your bottom feels, the color it has turned—a tantalizing pink, if you care to know—and what, precisely, you did to earn the punishment, starting with the rummy business at the train station.” Edward paused spanking her and gently caressed her bottom. It burned so much that it even felt pink, especially when he touched her.
He continued outlining the potential future punishment as his fingers trailed along her skin. “I will then expect you to address it and take it to the post office where you will tell the postmistress that you are writing to your father to inform him that you are in disgrace, although you will kindly spare her the details as I wouldn’t want you to offend her sensibilities.”
He landed some particularly hard swats on the skin between the top of her thigh and her bottom cheeks and she growled in frustration. It was so undignified and she growled at the sharper sting as his hand connected with the sensitive skin there.
As if his threat of humiliation and enforced spanking weren’t bad enough, he leaned down to her ear and quietly murmured in a low voice, his Scottish vowels piercing his otherwise refined English accent, “Of course, when writing to your father, you can leave out the fact that your knickers are soaked through.”
Oooh I can’t WAIT to see what you all make of this story! I don’t write many one-on-ones (although there are more to come), so I really liked having more space within the story to explore the characters’ thoughts, feelings and backstory in greater depth than in Captured by the Highlanders. I’ll be sending copies to my ARC readers the MINUTE I get the files from the publisher, and the cover is being finalized as I write so I’ll post that tomorrow!
I know I don’t talk about my relationship that often, but this past week I’ve sort of come out (in a few different ways) with the fact that I’m not in a scening BDSM relationship, I’m in a 24/7 one. Partly, I had to explain that my husband dragged me off the computer on Tuesday, I wasn’t allowed online for 2 days except to go on Google Scholar, and I now only have three hours on Facebook between Friday and Monday unless my thesis is finished before then, because I got in trouble for not focussing on my work. I brought it on myself. There’s a stopwatch beside my laptop telling me I have 2 hours, 8 minutes of that Facebook time left. Usually, however, my relationship isn’t this obvious.
I’m not supposed to wear my collar every day, and a lot of the time my life looks (mostly) like other people’s. If you visited my house, you might find it strange that I always kneel on the floor to eat meals, and a few other similar things, but to all intents and purposes we’re just two people.
Where it comes into the foreground is when I misbehave. My husband won’t do anything overt (e.g. spanking) in public because, obviously, the public haven’t consented to being part of anything, and they would quite probably be distressed if they saw me upended over his knee on a park bench (not that he hasn’t done that, just not while there was anyone around).
This week, however, I’ve been a complete and utter brat for no better reason than because I’m ridiculously stressed and, being a type A, I can’t let go of the work I’m trying to get done, but I can’t let go of all my day-to-day tasks, either. I had a meltdown yesterday because he had to take over making lunch after I’d started (I wrecked an egg, then I wrecked a second one immediately after).
On an intellectual level, I know it’s ridiculous, but I always feel like it’s a fundamental failure if I can’t get the submissive stuff done, because that should always be my number one priority. At the end of the day, it’s the permanent thing that underpins my entire existence and I feel like I’m having to let things go a little at a time when I need structure and discipline more than ever, because of the pressure I’m currently under.
The day before yesterday, I yelled at him to shut up when he was feeding the rabbits because it interrupted my train of thought while I was writing a paragraph of dense academic discourse. It’s not okay. I know I shouldn’t behave like this. I can do better. That was immediately before bed on Thursday and he was too tired to punish me. I told him that meant I’d gotten away with it because he *always* forgets if he doesn’t do it immediately. He told me he was going to do it first thing in the morning. I was like, “go on then,” but I was sure he would put it off again.
Friday morning, I awakened to the covers being hurriedly whipped off me. Then pain exploded across my bottom (I sleep on my front). I pulled my earplugs out in time to hear the second stroke of the cane landing on my bottom, and buried my face in my pillow so no-one heard me. He went for ten strokes, then told me there’d be another ten if I didn’t get up *right now*.
So I did.
For half the day this made me feel reassured and well-behaved. Then the incident with the eggs happened. To be fair, I did figure out much later that I’d gotten so upset because I was trying to make him lunch, trying to help him when he had a busy day fixing things in the garden before the new people move into our house, and I wanted to take some of that stress off him because I feel really bad about the fact my academic demands currently mean I can’t do any repairing or much cleaning. That’s on top of the fact I’m a DIY disaster. In hindsight, getting so upset that my cooked eggs went wrong, and running upstairs and crying in bed when I *know* I’m supposed to sit on the stairs when I’m too upset to do something wasn’t my best move. He was actually going to let me off all of that because I got back downstairs before he counted to 10. But later in the day, my emotions got the better of me again and I stupidly lost it over some gravy. So I got spanked on the spot then told he was going to do it later, as well.
Later came, he was too sleepy. This time, I *knew* what was coming in the morning but I actually dropped off to sleep easier. So, again, this morning, I got awoken with the covers being pulled off and the cane landing on my rear. It was twenty strokes today, of the big cane. Sitting is progressively getting harder.
Then, at lunchtime today, I managed to throw a cuddly unicorn at him. It was stupid, I know that. I’m not 6. My behavior seems to regress to it when I’m under a lot of stress, though, and so I’m currently flipping between asking his opinion on my interpretation of postmodernist feminist theory and throwing unicorns at him.
So I got spanked more at lunchtime. At least he’s been aware this week that what I really, really need is structure and certainty, and unlike other times in the past when I’ve been mentally falling apart, this time, he hasn’t backed off and avoided me, he’s challenging me every time, and I’m responding better to it. It’s defusing quickly, and after each spanking I have to apologise, explain what I am apologising for, and thank him.
I’m in a LOT more trouble this week than I have been for about a year, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, but I’m feeling significantly less distressed than I usually do under extreme stress, and I feel like I’m making more effort to behave better, and more than that, I feel like I’m achieving it. I’m not behaving perfectly yet, and maybe I won’t until all this academic stuff is over, but at least I’m not falling apart, and I’m so grateful that he is facilitating this at the moment because otherwise I’d be crying under my desk and burning copies of Foucault whilst cursing the dumb pretentious philosophy dude in all my favorite French cuss words at this point (I know, irony).
Also, here’s my latest YouTube video. I recorded it in May and saved it because I knew this month or last month would be too hectic to make a video. It’s an excerpt from His Naughty Little Housewife which is also sort of ironic, given my current situation.
What do you mean that’s not irony? Stop watching Castle already (sidenote: have you seen Castle? It’s great)!
So we are immigrating to Asia soon, and our house has been a flurry of activity (which is why I’m not getting this blog updated as many times as I’d like), alongside my nearly-finished MSc thesis and the two books I’m editing before I send them in (you’re gonna LOVE these).
Anyway, one issue we’ve had is that we’ve been taking stock of our sex toys. Restraints, buzzy things, swishy things, hitty things (that feather on a stick that seemed like SUCH a great idea but only got used twice then hung up as a decoration)… we had about four big stacking crates, and a homemade cane stand the size of one of those umbrella stands.
Long story short… it won’t fit. We can’t put all of it into a suitcase and get it to the other end, even IF we didn’t want to wear clothes or shoes, or read real books written in English when we arrived. My suitcase is mostly books and shoes, as I suspect these are the things I’ll struggle to find (I have hulking great ginormous feet). On top of that, some of it was getting old, some of it was stuff he had before he got me, and some of it never quite did what it was supposed to. I know, domly doms aren’t supposed to buy sex toys that don’t do what they said on their online listing, but it happens to all of us from time to time, and sometimes you don’t find out until LONG after the returns date has passed.
We have to get rid of all this stuff and pare down to the essentials. At this point, I could list on one hand the stuff we use more than once a week, and on two hands the stuff we use monthly. We’re at a point where we know what works best so we tend to gravitate towards that. I’ve already chucked out about 50 liters of defunct sex toys, old rope, out of date lube (I am chronically indecisive; when I want to try something new, if I can afford it, I tend to buy a selection then stick with my favorite FOREVER, and if I can’t afford it, I don’t buy any because the decision is too hard) etc. Unfortunately, we lost two canes already this year. He broke one when he hit me with it too hard and it snapped, and I broke one when I reached back and snapped it and I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY I DID IT. Then a third cane somehow got deformed in the place we keep them, and now it doesn’t cane so good. So we’re down to one cane. At the same time, our riding crop is showing serious signs of wear and the shiny leather surface has worn through in many places to that green-gray suede-like stuff underneath.
So, on our way back from a wedding, we found ourselves in a sex shop off the side of the A1(M) motorway last week (as one is wont to do). This place was huge, it had entire aisles of things.
While I was getting excited over the possibilities of getting one of those giant inflating butt plugs, my husband was weighing up the merits of the unanswerable question: Cane or crop? So he summoned me over and I was still holding a remote control vibe I’d found that looked like awesome fun, and he made me hold out my hand in the shop and SMACK! That riding crop was SERIOUS. I don’t know if ours has softened over the years or if it was ever as hard as that one but holy smokes, my hand had a red welt on it for ages after and driving the car the rest of the way home was entertaining to say the least (I mean, I was literally giggling). The lady behind the counter was highly amused, and I suspect we’re not the first people to try implements out in the shop. And I didn’t test that inflating butt plug.
Did I mention he was wearing a 3 piece suit with a waistcoat and I was in one of those wedding guest dresses (no hat. Fancy hats do NOT suit me)?
What did he buy? Both. Cane and crop. Brand new. Super-mean. And they fit in our suitcases.
I hope Asia has lots of soft squishy cushions to sit on.