Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 123 - 13 Reasons to Read the In David's House Collection by Jennifer Leeland

Recently in the RWR, or Romance Writers Report - a romance industry journal available to members of Romance Writers of America - an article by Courtney Milan cautioned bloggers to think twice when holding contests on their blogs. Something to do with legal woes, I believe. She did point out that when the prize's value is under $10.00, there's not such an urgency to investigate. And since most of the contests I've come across are for copies of the author's latest release, that pretty much covers the blog contests in which I've taken part.

And since today's e-book collection came to me through a contest, I just want to thank Jennifer Leeland for holding it and to all the authors whose books I've been so lucky to read after winning them. Please, writers - keep holding your contests! Heck, I've had two contests myself on behalf of my cousin. They're so much fun! I'm glad they can still be classified as promotional expense and most bloggers will never have to worry about the legalities of giving away prizes like a plasma TV.

1 - In David's House is a three-novella erotica collection from Wilder Rose Press. At this point the three stories must be purchased separately, but I won them as a collection, and read them as one connected story. The connecting thread is BDSM dom David, whose handpicked guests arrive to sort out their sexual and romantic lives within the safety of his home.

I would love to see this collection packaged as one volume.

2 - Part of Wild Rose Press's Scarlet Rose erotica imprint, Jennifer's story is contemporary adult erotica using frank language and BDSM situations.

3 - The first story is The Mask She Wears. We meet Catherine, a court reporter who meets a too-dreamy-for-her lawyer at a cafe she frequents. Too bad she needs a bondage mask in order to reach sexual release. The charming lawyer is exactly the kind of guy with whom she'd never share that side of her.

Justin could swear he recognizes Catherine from somewhere - and definitely not the court room. Could this shy, reserved woman have been at one of David's parties? He can't wait until the next one, to see if his instincts about her are correct.

4 - The second story is The Secret She Keeps. We meet Tessa, already involved with Zac and happy with nearly everything about him. If only he would be a little rougher when they had sex. She's never been at ease with her own longings, to which she self-refers as deviant. All of her former relationships had been doomed to failure when her boyfriends realized they could never bring her to orgasm. But she'd never been able to speak aloud the dark fantasies which gave her true release.

Zac breaks things off with Tessa when it's clear their sex life sucks. He'd tried hard to embrace a vanilla life for her, but he needs to dominate and she wasn't the sort at all to submit to that sort of sexual expression. She wore a Wonder Woman costume to a party, for heaven's sake. But a heart-to-heart with David convinces him that it's worth a second chance to see if this woman can take the real him.

5 - The third story is The Trust She Yields. We meet Lee, a medical secretary at a fast-paced office. But no matter how quickly the workday flies by, no matter that she moved to another state, the memories of her previous relationship haunt every moment of her day. She was once the submissive to a well-respected dom, but what no one knew was how the man who imposed rules for others in their lifestyle refused to abide by them in his own relationship with Lee.

David has helped countless others to realize their own sexual beings. As a dom who opens his home to others who need a safe haven, David's generosity and wisdom is legendary. The only thing missing in all of this - for all the couples he has helped to find one another, there's been no one for David himself. Until he spies Lee in a vanilla-world bar and they recognize that thing about each other.

6 - The recurring theme in this collection is learning to accept oneself. Fighting against or denying their sexual natures has led to disaster for everyone involved. Jennifer brings out the dark moment/inner confrontation within each character with great depth, considering she's writing in a short novella format.

7 - I really, really love the power plays between the characters in all three stories. All romantic partnerships have a power play to them. BDSM couples are more up-front with this aspect. The danger with erotica is setting the true allure of power aside with the freedom to write sex scenes with truly frank language. Jennifer keeps the power dynamic front and center at all times.

8 - The rise of erotica as a major player in romantic fiction is something I'm ecstatic to see. When you consider that only three generations ago, women could not present themselves as sexual beings unless they wanted to be labelled tramps and whores, the current erotica industry is nothing short of miraculous.

The subsequent splitting of erotica into subgenres such as BDSM and menage a trois corresponds with some of the most common female fantasies compiled by researcher Nancy Friday in her studies of female sexuality.

In today's world, it's not really PC to be female and admit a desire to be dominated. For women who have it all and do it all, sometimes the greatest relief is to lay down that control to a lover. Ironically, this same desire was traditionally the preserve of high-profile men such as political figures, professionals and CEO's.

Jennifer tackles these issues in this collection. For the men as well, especially Zac from The Secret She Keeps, the desire to be a sensitive and caring partner is at war with these character's inner drive to dominate. Through BDSM, they can have both.

9 - The movement within the stories towards David's own struggle in The Trust She Yields reminded me of one of my truly favorite historical romance series by Jo Beverley - the Malloren series. The eldest brother/patriarch of that noble family makes his delicious presence known in four books before he took center stage in his own. That's one of my favorite books - Devilish. It always makes its way onto my list of favorites, and The Trust She Yields had the same build-up/pay-off for me.

10 - Jennifer really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example, from The Mask She Wears:

"She wanted him to possess her. This lover was connecting with her through the mask, the restraints, through her self-imposed limits. He was shattering her barriers.

Instead of completing the act and ending the encounter, he slowed the pace again. His touch softened. The heat from his skin burned her nerve endings as she teetered on the edge of another orgasm. She arched, and the restraints bit into her wrists and ankles.

For the first time, she wanted the mask off. She wanted to know this man, connect with him.

Never before, in the few anonymous encounters she had allowed herself, had she felt this intense need to strip away the tools that protected her from emotional risk.

Then he eased away, and his warmth, his touch was gone, and a silent scream echoed in the dark corners of her mind."

11 - I'm keeping the truly sizzling aspects out of the excerpts here, but believe me - the exquisite hotness made my knees weak.

12 - Jennifer has all three couples return in The Trust She Yields, which is a very nice full-circle for the collection. The last novella is longer and has room for a few scenes where Catherine & Justin and Tessa & Zac come to bat for Lee & David.

David is a smoldering presence in all of their stories. Their esteem for him is touching when the man who has helped all of them with their sexual healing can use a friend.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt, from The Trust She Yields. Enjoy!

"A month ago he’d been here, just like tonight, alone and relaxed. She’d glanced his way several times and noted the way he stared at her, his expression hungry. She’d ignored him, put distance between them, but he only gave her a knowing smile. They never spoke, yet, they had communicated a wealth of information.

Every Friday night she berated herself for coming back to BC’s, the downtown bar where the clientele was a little older without being snooty. However, here she sat, drinking Crown Royal and Coke in small amounts as she enjoyed the music.

Lee caught her reflection in the bar mirror. Dark, curly black hair tumbled over her shoulders in an unruly mess. Her makeup was understated, almost boring, but it brought out the gold in her hazel eyes. Tonight she wore a burgundy blouse and a black mini skirt with her thigh-high leather boots. The boots added about three inches to her solid five-six frame, and she liked the appearance of control they gave her.

It was all a lie.

Deep down, Lee wanted to lose control, hand it over, be completely controlled by another. If only she could stamp out the need to submit to another person in the bedroom, her life would be simpler. Tears pricked her eyes. She couldn’t let them fall. Her makeup would run.

'May I buy you another drink?' Her gaze jerked to the man standing next to her. It was
him. Stumbling off the bar stool, she backed away. 'I—no. Please, I—'

Fear closed Lee’s throat as she whirled toward the door. The room suffocated her. She had to get out. Had to get away. She burst through the door and sprinted for her car.

She couldn’t do it again. She couldn’t allow another dominant to control her. All that was over.


David Peters frowned as the woman careened out the door. Obviously, she was frightened. Not of men, but of him in particular. As a man who was known for his charm, David wasn’t used to terrifying women. Well, not unless they needed it.

The bartender picked up her glass. 'She wasn’t interested, huh?'

'It was much more than that,' David said, more to himself than the man behind the bar. 'She knew exactly what I was, and it scared her.'

'She’s new in town. From Las Vegas, so I understand.' Jack wiped the counter and smirked. 'It’s nice to see one who doesn’t fall in line for you.'

David glared at the bartender. 'So glad I could entertain you.'

'It’s not often I get to see you strike out, Peters. Let me enjoy it.'

'It’s not often I run into fear like that.' He threw some money on the bar. 'I’ll see her again. You’ll see. She needs me.'

The bartender shook his head. 'You’ve got the biggest ego I’ve ever seen.'

David snorted. 'I doubt that.' He sighed as he always did when trying to explain things to vanilla people. 'It’s not ego. She does need me or someone like me.' He stared at the door as if willing her to come back through it. He’d have to wait a whole week to see her again. That bothered him. Annoyed him.

Worried him.

He shoved the thought away. Of course, he wasn’t worried about a woman he didn’t even know. How could he be? She was just another soul who needed the one thing he offered. Sanctuary.

'Well, good luck.' The bartender’s smile grew faint. 'That lady has baggage.'

'Don’t we all,' David said softly. 'Don’t we all.' "

- Jennifer Leeland, 2009