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Welcome to Circlet on LJ (sticky post)

Hello and welcome to the Circlet Press community on LiveJournal! We've already got a blog over at www.circlet.com, but if all goes right with our technical wizardry... posts that appear there will also appear here. Or something like that. Or maybe we'll just fake it...
"Base & Vile Things"
by Sonni de Soto


“Tell me.” Her voice, hoarse and hushed, whispered into the sightless, scopeless space Eli no longer recognized as his room. Without his glasses, the witching hour had warped his pitch-black bedroom, distorting the familiar shapes and scales into strange shades of themselves.

“Say it.” Her tone tightened as he felt Her lean in closer. Her hot breath felt wet as it fluttered against his shivering skin. He bit his lip to seal the words back, blood touching his tongue sharp and metallic like a sacrifice.

He wouldn’t say it. Couldn’t.

Lord knew, he shouldn’t.

Eli tried to turn away, but he was dragged back by the tangled tug of his trapped strands held tight in Her hand, his scalp burning as She pulled. His teeth released on a gasp, his head forced back to stretch and expose his vulnerable throat as he gulped breathlessly.

“Tell me.”

He loved Her.

Mindlessly.

Helplessly.

“I can make you,” She murmured with a biting sweetness that sunk sharp as the nails that scratched and scored his scalp. “You know I can.”

Utterly unwillingly, he loved Her.

She held such power over him already; giving Her those words—tiny things that always felt so large—felt like too much. He could feel them bubble, like an incantation or a potion, in his throat. Felt them burn on his tongue. He bit his lip.

A part of him wanted to give them to Her. He wanted to give Her everything.

But, if he did, he wondered—worried—what part of him would be left.

Her silken weight swooped almost unbearably hot atop him, making his head rear back and his spine arch against the sensation—like a current, live and electric—that shot through him. She slithered over him, the satiny slide of Her hair spilling around him as She lowered Herself over him, the touch of Her skin a scorch along the length of his body. Each caress felt like a lash as Her ankles linked and lingered, brushing the bony bridge of Her left foot up and down and up his leg again.

Her hands crept to press hard against his chest. It scalded, that touch, as She sidled over his body, Her legs vise-like as they pressed into his hips. He cried out, the sound scratchy and weak compared to the scream caught—choked—in his throat.

Blind in the heavy darkness, he writhed against the small, but unshakable shape anchoring him down onto the comforter. Fragile fingers gripped his wrists like manacles as manicured nails dug like talons into his skin. He couldn’t see Her. Not really. Just a faint outline—a sinuous shadow—flowing, undulating over him as his near-sighted eyes strained to see.

He tried to trace the curve of Her, to touch with his gaze what his shackled hands couldn’t take. But the more he fought to focus on Her—to know the secrets of Her shoulders and spine, Her cheeks and thighs—the more She seemed to melt into the moonless night.

He lunged for Her, gritting out a throaty growl. With his hands and hips still held tight, he surged—whole-bodied and determined—toward Her, reaching for Her heat. Aching against the halted arch, he snarled as his chest met nothing.

Just the echo of Her.

Warmth like the smoke from a spectral flame.

He fell back to the bed, defeat a dull thump in the down as Her laughter, light and low, purred in his ear like a taunt. “Tell me.” The summons was a song that set his teeth on edge. Her tongue flicked a fiery lick along the sweat-slicked skin of his neck. “Tell me.”

So he did.

Like he always did.

He told Her. He loved Her.

She smiled, the white gleam almost swallowed by the dark, as She tore the confession from his mouth—his soul—on a howling moan. His whole body tightened as the tortured sound spilled out into the shadows. He jerked, his release a ragged, rough relief that left him feeling drained as Her body blanketed his.

She’s so hot, he marveled on a mewling yawn, Her skin all soft and slick heat. He should have been warm beneath Her, warmed by Her. Instead, he let his tired eyes close and shivered against Her as She cuddled closer, a fire that burned but offered no comfort. A flame that stole heat and gave none back.

God help me, he thought as he drifted off into dream, I love Her.

When he opened his eyes again, after hours of pure, peaceful darkness, he raised his hand to shield himself from the sun’s glare and sighed.

She was gone.

He could feel it.

His room was sunlit but cold. Empty and alone.

He lay back down, rolling onto his side as he touched the warm space where She’d been. The warm space where They’d been. He sunk low against the bedding, all but burying himself in the last remains of Their heat and scent.

He should leave the bed. The day shone bright and new as sunlight fanned itself across his bed.

It was time to wake up.

And he would.

But for now, while Her warmth lingered, he lay here, pressed flat against the mattress and nuzzled his cheek close, as he felt the comforter inevitably cool.

-

Sonni de Soto is a kinkster of color who loves horror’s ability to make the strange seem settled and the settled strange. Please find more of her work at sonnidesoto.blogspot.com and follow her at facebook.com/sonnidesotostories
"Before the Fast"
by T. C. Mill


Before the darkness, before the hunger, the people of Orriak donned their masks. Hidden even from the gods, they enjoyed their last indulgences. The winter would be long and even in these days of comparative advances, not all would survive. For those who would, it helped to have sweet memories.

And so when the ringed moon set for the last time until spring, an air settled over the city. A hush of anticipation. Many barred their doors, shutting their families and invited guests safely away. The rest took to the streets.

Safe or not, nobody spent the Night of Masks in comfort. But for some, these twelve hours of darkness would be worth an entire year of fasting. It was risk, it was challenge, it was adventure.

He knew all this when he went out.

Not that anything might happen free of consequences. Families could avenge insult or harm—if they knew the party responsible. The masks weren’t just tradition. But then, they could also hide someone who might otherwise be a target in the chaos of the carnival.

He was a modest person in a minor family who had no reason to become a target. He had no plans to antagonize anyone, much less to cause them harm. And whether it was foolish or not, he feared no harm himself.

He wore a dark suit that flattered his figure, thin enough that he looked taller than he really was. His mask was also black, plain velvet. He blended into the night, but not into the whirling pageantry that flooded the streets. No one collided with him by accident. A young couple took hold of his arms and pulled him into a dance, which he went along with gamely, but they released him after being outpaced by the marching musicians. Distantly he noted that the musicians went unharassed, the only group that had any form of immunity.

Before he could be dragged into more dancing, however spirited, he ducked down a side street. He continued down a maze of alleyways, until the only sounds were his own footsteps and his breathing and distantly a swelling and tuneless cacophony. He thought he’d known the city well, but this was a part of it where he had never gone and didn’t recognize.

Still, there was a sense of arrival as he turned one tight corner and found a figure standing there.

Its shoulders, beneath stiff lace in the shape of epaulettes, stiffened. Not in surprise, he thought, so much as increasing focus. Studying him.

She wore a plain mask edged in more lace—the fabric glimmered like scales. It revealed a round chin and firm mouth, which together seemed incredibly sensual. Her gown was cut full to allow movement, and as she took a step towards him, her body was not displayed so much as her physicality. Her movements, sharp and fast and powerful.

His heart hammered with anticipation almost beyond enduring.

“Good evening.” She didn’t sneer the greeting but her irony was apparent, dripping from her mouth like syrup. He licked his own lips.

Unable to find words to greet her, he settled on a bow. As he rose he saw her smile. His eyes darted down, to her hips, belted. The scabbards only proved what was already obvious by her bearing. “Your knives.”

“Do you want to see them?” Not waiting for him to answer, she drew one. The long, slender blade gleamed. It curved just slightly, tantalizingly.

“It’s beautiful…” he murmured.

She came closer, and he didn’t retreat. Her nostrils flared. Her breath fell on his cheek, then her lips, skimming over his skin in something not quite a kiss.

He swallowed hard, and then turned his face in an attempt to catch her mouth. She gasped, pulling back. He caught the flare in her dark eyes as she seemed to change her mind. Her gloved hand grasped the back of his neck, holding him in place as she closed her lips over his. He moaned as she added her tongue. Then her teeth.

His hands rested above her waist, above the belt. The hilt of her sheathed knife knocked against his knuckles as her body shifted. Her drawn knife, and the hand that held it, rested along his back, pushing him even closer.

Sensing the blade so near sent a surge of prickly excitement through him. As the kiss ended, he rocked his hips against hers, yearning for the sensation, not exactly soothing, of her warmth.

In contrast, her voice was cool. Considering. “Someone would only stride down a dark alley like this if they were completely innocent of the Fasting Customs, or if they wanted what was at the end of it. And an innocent wouldn’t wear a mask.” She stroked his, her fingertip running along its bottom edge. They both went still, otherwise, as if in morbid fascination. But then, after flirting with the one taboo of this night, she dropped her hand without revealing his face.

Her fingers skimmed down his stomach, which lurched as he took a shaking breath, then past his waist and over the laces of his trousers. She rubbed him through them, finding him already hard. When she chuckled, showing she approved, he reached between her fingers to unlace himself.

She pulled along his cock in a firm, slow rhythm. He rocked towards her, but from the corner of his eyes he saw the knife waiting in her other hand.

She followed his gaze. And he suspected she could feel his pulse pounding through her intimate grip.

“You are certain you want this?”

The question flowed thickly out of her mouth, and he answered with his own question, not mocking but ironic: “Don’t you?”

She gripped him tighter, but only for a moment—then made one more long, sweet stroke that left him aching but not enough to be distracted as she touched the blade to his chest. She cut his tunic open, and then began.

It hurt more than he had dreamed. First she muffled his cries against her palm, pushing him back against the alley wall. Her rich lips kissed the blood from his skin. Then she began to lick away the tears at the corners of his eyes, to gently kiss the lids and nibble along the line of his nose. He felt so tender that he was breaking apart, and all the while she didn’t stop, not her caressing or cutting. She quieted his last sob by sliding her tongue into his mouth.

He’d bear the marks of this night the rest of his life. The marks of her. Something that would last far beyond the fast. On any other night he might wonder if it was worth it, but her hand had closed around his cock again, and he tasted her smile as she found him still hard. Nothing in his life had ever been like this, or ever would be again. So terrible and lovely.

His hands were free; he followed the sides of her breasts through the gown, moved down her thighs, tried to work a hand under her full skirt, and when that didn’t work, she spread her legs wider and pressed against him so he could pleasure her through the velvet. She was so hot there, and growing wet. It would take very little to bring her to climax. But she broke his stroking off, dropping to her knees to lick more of the beading blood from his chest. This seemed to thrill her as much as his touch. Her next kiss stank of it, wonderfully.

Her hand returned to his cock, moved in mirror to his. It felt like they were becoming one being, in one moment; hurt and hurting, pleasuring and pleasured, with no need to ask and nothing to forgive, all fulfillment. It could last forever.

His thighs trembled and slickness ran over her fingers. A light sparked behind his eyes, and the moans she swallowed from him were of ecstasy more than pain. Her own breathing roughened with approaching orgasm.

She would release him, soon. And that was the only part he regretted.

-

T.C. Mill is a freelance editor and writer. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Circlet, Storm Moon Press, House of Erotica, and Cleis Press and on the Nerve and Bright Desire websites. With Alex Freeman, she co-edited two literary erotica anthologies under the New Smut Project. https://www.facebook.com/tcmill/


Please visit http://www.circlet.com to read the rest of our wonderful Halloween microfictions!

Hello!

Thank you to everyone who replied to my previous post. It's nice to see we still have some folks reading here and you have my sincerest apologies in regards to the content drop here the last couple of years. As I'm sure you know, you can always visit our website (http://www.circlet.com/) for up to date news but I understand that sometimes it's nice to just see stuff in our feeds as well. So in that vein I will try to post more regularly here.

One of the things we've been doing is posting Halloween/spooky themed microfictions on the website for the past week and that will continue through Halloween itself. I don't want to make a bunch of catch up posts because I don't want to fill your feed that much but I'll post tonight's when it goes live. In the meantime, if you visit our website you can easily go back and read the previous ones if you like. They are all tagged Halloween microfictions and easy to find.

So far we have posted the following stories:

And Then No More of Thee and Me by Vinnie Tesla

Heaven Sent by Jordan Castillo Price

Touring Moreau by Cat Voleur

Din-Din by Sommer Marsden

A Contract Until Dawn by Sita Bethel

Ruined by Jean Roberta

Manipulation by Trisha J. Wooldridge

Haunting Touches by Greer Thompson

Room with a Boo by J. T. Seate

Thanks again and I hope you are all having a great October!

Knock, Knock

Anyone home? Just your friendly Circlet Press editor here wondering if any of our readers/fans are still using Livejournal. I know for a while there was sort of a mass exodus from this site but lately I've seen more activity popping up. So if you're still here and you'd like to see content from us please chime in. Thanks!

The sex golem had a liquid magic heart.

“As opposed to powdered magics,” said Arianna. “Too much limp, not enough lymph.”

Veronica stared at it in wonder. No, not it. He. He wasn’t alive, but he wasn’t exactly dead, either. He was a training implement, but calling him a tool was a bit …

“Ah,” said Arianna, “I see you’ve noticed his tool.”

Veronica nodded. “Yes, it’s, um … well, it’s rather …”

“Gargantuan is the word, I think. Yes, quite so.  Molded from the still-erect remains of the Mad God Hüelly after the great battle orgy of the Second Age. This golem’s been in service of the Royal House of Pleasure for millennia.”

The Royal House of Pleasure. The House of Houses, the very last word in erotic entertainment in this, the supreme capital city of the great imperium. Bedded floors. Scented ventilation. Sex novelties and toys packed into every drawer and shelf.

“You do think you can handle him, don’t you girl?” said Arianna, motioning at the golem.

Veronica had barely been in training two years. She’d only just learned the art of dark-craft fellatio runes the month before. A novice like her? Handle the sex golem?

“Only one way to find out,” said Veronica. She paused for a moment, took a deep, steadying breath, and then she untied her dress from around her neck. Her breasts tumbled out, full, burgeoning, voluptuous. The dress fell down around her hips, and she bent and shimmied back and forth, back and forth, until she was free of it.

Arianna smiled, taking in Veronica’s perfect naked form with a sparkle in her eye. “That’s the spirit, girl. And if I’m not too much mistaken …”

The sex golem powered up in an instant. It’s fabled, godly penis rose to full erection in precisely five seconds.

Arianna timed it. “Five seconds,” she remarked. “I think he must like what he sees.”

The sex golem strode forward, his taught, tanned muscles shifting like continents beneath his skin. He had the face of an angel, save for his hungry sneer and glistening white tusks.

“Is that really all I have to—”

The golem pulled Veronica in. She inhaled. Dear gods, the smell of him! Like musk and burnt rosewood. It filled her up, made her swoon, made her go limp in the golem’s arms. His gigantic cock—no, no, gargantuan!—pressed against her thigh. She could feel it throbbing, throbbing with liquid magic-powered desire. She suddenly felt giddy. She giggled.

“Concentrate, girl! Concentrate!” said Arianna.

Yes, of course, concentrate. Veronica had a job to do.

She smiled at the golem, that certain sexy smile. She pressed her lips to his, playfully let her tongue slide over a tusk, deep into his mouth. He bit her. She cried out. He pulled her closer. The taste. Smoke, steam of ages, ancient magic, thick and heady.

The golem reached a long, slow hand between her legs. She stiffened. Couldn’t help herself, really. He slipped a finger inside her.

And then he spanked her. She yelped. He spanked again. This time she laughed. He lifted her up and threw her to the bedded floor. It hurt a little, but still, all Veronica could do was laugh.

“Is he supposed to be so … spirited?” she said.

“Well,” said Arianna, “on occasion he has been known to … But listen here, girl, you must control the situation!”

“Control. Yes, con—”

The sex golem shoved his head between her thighs. His tongue slid over her womanhood.

“Gods!” moaned Veronica. It was heat and electricity and the power of the sun. It was the long, slow tongue and the way he nibbled and chattered. “Gods.” This time it was a sigh.

The sex golem mounted her, penetrated her, slid deep inside her. She shuddered from pleasure.

“Control, girl!” she heard Arianna say, “Control, control!” Arianna dropped to her knees beside them. Instantly, the sex golem reached beneath her dress and began to fondle.

“No!” said Arianna. “No, wait! Wait … wait … oh … oh, his fingers ….”

The golem began a slow, steady rut. With every thrust, he seemed to delve deeper and deeper inside Veronica. Hot wires. Red, flaming flesh.

“Too slow,” said Veronica. “I can’t take it anymore! Faster. Please, faster!”

He sped his rhythm, harder, faster, until at last, he was pounding her into wave after wave of ecstasy. With one giant hand, he flipped her onto her stomach. He slid himself back in, never once taking his fingers away from Arianna.

Veronica tried to remember her training. Tried to remember how to maximize pleasure for her partner.

“He’s … he’s too much,” she said. “I can’t … I can’t ….”

“Who cares, girl!” cried  Arianna. “Who cares!”

The golem plunged and pounded, and his fingers slid in and out of Arianna, and Arianna screamed, and Veronica wailed, and the sex golem howled to the ceiling, to the stars, to the gods themselves, and then …

All three of them came at the same instant. The golem exploded liquid magic inside Veronica. It was hot. Tingling. Steaming and effervescent. He tensed, howled a moment longer.

And then he powered down, right on top of her. He went limp and fell between Veronica and Arianna.

The two of them lay there panting, dripping with sweat, eyes glazed over, unfocused, uncaring. It took two full minutes for Arianna to speak.

“Typical,” she said, sounding perfectly satisfied. “Right to sleep. Well, dear, what have we learned?”

“Learned?” said Veronica. “I haven’t learned a damn thing! He completely overpowered me!”

Arianna considered this. “Would you like me to give it a try this next time?”

“Next time? You? Absolutely not! I am ready, willing, and able, teacher. Just … just give me a few moments. I feel the need to gather myself.”

Veronica laid her head back and closed her eyes. Very soon, she was fast asleep, napping peacefully beside the sex golem of the Third Age.

C.P. Bonham is currently earning a Creative Writing MFA and is using the time to become the best writer she can be. She lives out on the eastern plains of Colorado with her soul mate and their various critters.

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

Call for Halloween Microfictions

Circlet Microfictions are looking for some spooky tricks and sexy treats for Halloween. Send in your best short-shorts featuring ghosts and goblins, witches and wizards, pumpkin kings and weird costumes. Who gets more then they bargained for when the knock at the door comes? What does the jack-o’-lantern see? Where does the will-o’-wisp lead us? Dig deep into the lore and traditions of our weirdest holiday, and send in those microfictions. We’ll take a selection of the very best to run in the days leading up to Halloween, and one very special treat to grace the night of trick and treating itself. For the author who best honors All Hallow’s Eve, we’ll offer up an ebook of Like a Chill Down Your Spine in addition to our usual payment of $5 or a free ebook.

So send in those stories to circlet.microfiction@gmail.com. Remember, they have to be sexy, and between 250-1000 words. (As always, guidelines can also be found here.)

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

Libby finished the last knot. “Everything feel okay?”

Jess tested the bindings on her wrists and ankles. “Marvelous.” The brass scales behind her head rattled, muffled by the pillow in between. Libby had set aside Jess’s sword, and her own tablet and torch, but it was just too delicious to resist tying her new wife to the device.

Libby took a moment to survey her handiwork, admiring how her new wife’s golden skin gleamed in the candlelight. “If our fathers knew…they’d probably be disturbed by the symbolism.”

Jess smiled, her wry expression visible in spite of the blindfold. “If our fathers were still alive, we wouldn’t have gotten married at all. Well…except Uncle Benjamin. I have a feeling he’d have been okay with it, the old lech.”

Stripping out of her heavy gown, Libby decided to keep her veil in place, just as she had left Jess’s. Her wife, being blind, wouldn’t know it was there, but it felt good to wear it. Besides, it went well with her crown, lending some softness to its dramatic points. She climbed onto the bed, straddling Jess’s thighs. Her hands meandered down her lover’s body, starting at her shoulders, running down over breasts and belly, and down to shaved mons. “You’re tense.”

“We have so much work to do,” said Jess.

Libby continued her massage, touching more deeply, squeezing her lover’s luscious flesh. “Yes. But now is not the time to worry about that. For now, let’s just celebrate.” She leaned down and kissed Jess, tenderly at first, then more deeply as the tension eased. “As Uncle Benjamin said: We’re only guaranteed the right to pursue happiness …”

Jess interrupted with a throaty laugh. “We have to catch it ourselves.”

She moved down, leaving a line of kisses on Jess’s chin, throat, and collarbone. “I hope you’re ready for a long chase.” Libby continued, sliding down her lover’s body, pausing to lavish attention on breasts and navel. She touched Jess’s sex with a light touch, teasing her mercilessly.

“Oh, I am,” Jess purred, squirming deliciously. “I am.”

A few years ago Nobilis Reed decided to start sharing the naughty little stories he scribbled out in hidden notebooks.  To his surprise, people actually liked them!  Now, he can’t stop.  The poor man is addicted.  His wife, teenage children, and even the cats just look on this wretch of a man, hunched over his computer and shake their heads. Clearly, there is no hope for him.  The best that can be hoped for is to just make him as comfortable as his condition will allow. Symptoms of his condition include two novels, several novellas, numerous short stories, and the longest-running erotica podcast in the history of the world. You can find his site at nobiliserotica.com

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

Call for submissions: Arthurian erotica

Call for submissions: Arthurian erotica

Edited by Jennifer Levine

Deadline: November 1, 2014

Everyone knows the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Tales of the world of Camelot, that fabled medieval castle, have been adapted into animated movies for children, dark television dramas for adults, Broadway musicals, fantasy novels, comics, historical fiction books, and epic musical scores. Children play at being Arthur’s knights, teenagers brood over the doomed romance of Guinevere and Lancelot, and historians debate which of the stories, if any, are fact, and which are simply legend or myth.

King Arthur. Guinevere. Uther Pendragon. Morgana le Fay. Merlin the Wizard. The Knights of the Round Table. Sir Lancelot. Sir Gawain. Mordred. Maybe you know all of these names and more; maybe you’ve only heard of a few. Maybe you’ve heard of sordid love affairs between some of these characters, or magic enchantments gone wrong, or murders and betrayals among even the closest of friends.

So many stories have already been written about the world of Camelot, and so many remain to be told. For this anthology, we are looking for both reimagined old stories and altogether newly invented ones; dalliances we are expecting and affairs we wouldn’t have imagined; familiar characters, new characters, and some we thought we knew but discover anew in your telling.

Your story must take place in the Arthurian universe, with at least one or two of the main characters we are familiar with, but beyond that, go wild. Maybe your characters are gender-swapped; maybe your Camelot is a futuristic world with knights wielding sugarcane; maybe your characters are powerful magicians, or maybe magic doesn’t exist in your world at all.

Remember that this is an anthology of erotica, so your story must have an element of sex in it (and not just any sex, but steamy sex, sexy sex, the kind of sex that leaves us hot and bothered after reading it). But this is also a collection of excellent fiction: your story needs a plot, your characters need to be fleshed out and fully imagined, your story needs to be about something.

For submission details, read on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

Passionate Plume Winner!

Passionate Plume Winner!

(San Antonio, TX) — Here at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Convention we have exciting news! At last night’s Passionate Ink party, HOUSE OF SABLE LOCKS by Elizabeth Schechter won the Passionate Plume Award in the Fantasy/SF category!

The book was up against some tough competition. Finalists in the category were:

Something New Under the Sun by L.A. Witt
House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter
Glory Dogs: Forged Through Glory by Dezré Storm
Fueled By Lust: Drusus by Celeste Prater
Legend Beyond the Stars by S. E. Gilchrist

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

Our final Dirty Book is the multiple volumes of the Marketplace series, which, after a tangled and sordid publication history, is now available in its entirety from Circlet. We got so many requests to write about the series that we decided to do something a little special for this one. What follows is three (3) appreciations by three different Circlet writers. The eponymous first volume is reviewed by long-time Circlet writer Tammy Jo Eckhart, author of the Beyond the Softness of his Fur Furry BDSM series.

What drew me to The Marketplace was a simple fascination with the idea of a formal world out there where it was perfectly normal to be an owner or a slave. I bought the 1993 Rhinoceros edition and had it signed by the author using her then-pseudonym Sara Adamson. I later got the Mystic Rose Books edition from 2000, and now you can buy this book from Circlet Press in multiple forms.

There are plenty of kinky novels out there, but even after all these years, “The Marketplace” holds a special place for me because of its groundbreaking nature. It was written by a leatherwoman, not a romance author or a wannabe, but someone who knew her subject matter. Back in the early 1990s we didn’t have a readily available stream of dubious online experts we could glance through in an hour and pull out some ideas to toss into a novel. If you wanted to know how a riding crop felt, you needed to feel it; if you wanted to know how masters and slaves interacted, you needed to meet some and spend time with them. Antoniou knew these things because she had firsthand experience and lots of kinky friends.

Fantasy novels about leather or BDSM had been around for decades when “The Marketplace” came out, but for the first time I can remember, the focus wasn’t on the fantasy or the kink but on the characters. While the novel may seem to examine the training of four potential slaves — Robert, Claudia, Brian, and Sharon — it gives enough time to their trainers, Grendel and Alexandra, and their support staff, to fully develop them in the reader’s mind. While the program is harsh, they really care about their trainees, their business, and each person in that house. For a growing dominant like me this was very reassuring to read.

“The Marketplace” also went beyond the orientation limits of most books, not only in the 1990s but also today. This international community of slaves and owners has a few hard rules, and one of them is bisexuality for slaves, at least in practice. Once you’re in the system, once accepted for sale within that mysterious world, you never know whom you might be kneeling before, or what you might be asked to do. Gender identity and role identity are fluid and best personified in majordomo Chris Parker.

From the very beginning of the novel, Antoniou makes it clear that no one should be in this world unless they are geared toward serving, not merely getting off. For those of us who felt the same way, the look into what service really means was invigorating and affirming. Service isn’t about sucking someone’s dick or taking a good flogging; it’s about doing whatever is needed and desired and taking pride in your work without letting yourself be drawn into the me-me-me mentality so many of us find in public dungeons.

Antoniou uses just enough description to get your mind working and your groin geared up for action. While you might find yourself getting aroused, you needed to keep reading to see if our quartet of stereotypical slaves could become competent servants that you’d want helping around your house. If you were submissive, you wondered if you could handle training like they did. You felt this way because this is a well-crafted world with engaging characters that grow – a rare thing for the novels found in porn shops at the time.

While the world of “The Marketplace” doesn’t exist, the feelings and needs Antoniou reveals do. That is what keeps you reading as she expands the world.

Robotica author and Fantastic Erotica contributor Kal Cobalt writes about The Trainer:

For the longest time, I ignored The Marketplace. Somehow, I’d picked up the idea that it was just another unrealistic fluffy bit of pseudo-BDSM stroke fic, like Anne Rice’s Beauty series.

For once, I’m glad I was dead wrong.

I started reading just after I’d realized that “genderqueer” didn’t fit me anymore and “trans” did. As I zipped through the books, my Marketplace-loving partners kept snickering and eagerly asking me where I was in the series, oh, and who was my favorite character?

You see, I’m also a switch, and have heard often enough that I’m impossible. (Someone I knew refused that ANY switch existed, convinced that I simply hadn’t chosen or accepted my “side” yet. This lasted until they actually witnessed me playing both ways, at which point I was christened “real.” Sigh.) So watching Chris Parker be the uber-dom AND thrill to every moment of submissive opportunity…well, I went through a lot of underpants.

This also disabused me of a writing “rule” I had absurdly failed to shed previously. In the vein of Chekhov’s gun on the mantel in the first act which must be fired in the third act, I had decided that much of the lack of invisible-minority characters in pop fiction was a simple structural problem: mention on the page that they are trans, gay, invisibly disabled, what have you, and it must serve the story, which gets complicated, and so we don’t get mentioned. Thankfully, everything from BBC’s SHERLOCK to Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK have shown how to illustrate invisible minorities — or, indeed, have that trait serve the story — with a serious minimum of fuss. As it should be. I never made the connection, though, until Chris Parker.

Until him, I hadn’t been exposed to a trans character I could relate to who was not in the story to have Trans Problems. I had never read a trans character with whom I could truly identify. As a porn author in their 30s with all of fiction at my fingertips, I’m not sure whether this is a failing of my search terms or whether Laura Antoniou was a vanguard who remains unmatched.

The Trainer gives me a blueprint, a way to properly integrate people like me into fiction without focusing unduly on one particular set of traits that, honestly, don’t get too much airtime in my day-to-day. It opens up a new vista of writing for me — something that can be personal and honest without gazing too deeply into my navel.

All that said, The Trainer has to have one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. I will not spoil it, but I do believe I pumped my fist and laughed out loud while reading, and smirked about it for days. You don’t even really know you’re waiting for it, but when it happens, you know it’s exactly what you’ve ached for all along — just like those slaves who are told, one day, that there is a Marketplace.

The Academy is reviewed by Madeline Elayne.

I have a confession to make: I’m a smut snob. If a dirty book isn’t well-written, with compelling, flawed and fully realized characters, and if the “good stuff” isn’t more about what goes in in those characters’ heads than about which bits go where, then no matter how amazing the premise or how delectable the plotline, my libido will be as limp as a wet noodle.

I also happen to be pretty damned kinky, poly, and queer, and my taste in the smut I prefer to consume tends to run that way as well. Unfortunately, I am a voracious reader, and while there is a lot of quality erotica out there, and a lot of kinky poly queer erotica out there, I find myself often having to sacrifice one for the other to accommodate my limitless cravings for more words to consume. Good, straight, vanilla smut or not-so-well written queer kinky smut can both be entertaining to read, but I have to admit that neither really does too much to make me very turned on, and isn’t that the point of one’s favorite dirty book?

Lucky for me, there occasionally comes along a book that has both my two arousal-inspiring criteria in spades. The Academy is at the top of that list. It also happens to be the only book in my list that can both turn me on, and make me cry. Word to the wise – don’t read the chapter “the Nurse” by Karen Taylor without a box of tissues handy.

The book is actually a collection of several short stories by some extremely talented contributors and woven into a cohesive storyline by the inimitable Laura Antoniou. The different voices are a huge asset to the re-readability of the book, and they have the added bonus of creating a dizzyingly diverse cast of character personalities, body types, gender identities and orientations. Best of all, it’s clearly diversity not for diversity’s sake, but because it’s more interesting, and by extension more titillating, that way. My favorite scene in the book is a conversation in which the cis-het characters bemoan the fact that they are actually in the minority in the Marketplace. Nothing has made me want to be part of a fictional world more, let me tell you!

Most importantly, though, the Academy makes me look at the fantastic tales woven into it, and say to myself “that is what I should be doing right now – making more of this!” Any writer who’s ever experienced writer’s block can tell you how important it is to keep those types of inspiration close to their nightstand…and to the bottle of lube.

Thank you for reading! Ten Dirty Books is now over, you can resume your ordinary lives as if this glorious week and a half was some marvelous dream.

However! If you want some free books to take back with you to Mundania, you can still participate in our giveaways. Post an essay about your favorite Circlet book or story below to win a print book, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook to win the Circlet ebook of your choice. The Rafflecopter giveaway ends at midnight tonight, so act fast.

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Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.