Monthly Archives: December 2016

SURRENDER cover reveal and release date!

Hey there everyone! Let me tell you a story!

Once upon a time, an author wrote a book. With every page that passed, she fell more in love with the characters. By the time the story was done, the characters fell in love with each other. The author was so proud and happy. She wanted to share the book with the world.

So, the author submitted the book to a famous publishing house. She awaited their decision nervously, but she knew, deep, deep down in her heart, that somehow the book would find its way to readers.

Then one day, huzzah! The publisher gave her a contract. They took her story and gave it a fancy package. They gave it a new title. The author was proud of her little book, even though it didn’t find many readers. She was happy if even just one person read it.

But her happiness was short-lived. Within just a few years, rumors began to swirl that the publisher was not all it pretended to be. Some authors weren’t getting paid. The publisher began to lash out nastily at any who opposed them. Royalty checks stopped coming. The author despaired.

This story has a happy ending, for the author signed a magical contract waiving her right to any of the royalties due to her in return for the book. At the stroke of midnight on January 1st, 2017, the publisher’s spell will be broken.

Which brings me to my news today. That book, a hot, historical three-way, will be re-released on January 1st. My hope is that it will find even more readers after I had to spend so long urging people not to buy the book.

So, here you have it. Victorian-era polyamory, scandalous sex, a heroine who knows what she wants…what’s not to love, right?

The cover of Surrender, with a woman's bare back draped in strands of pearls.

 

 

Deaf since infancy and condemned to spinsterhood by her father’s will, Honoria has one last chance to experience the carnal passion she’s read about in scandalous novels. She enlists an unlikely man to be her companion for five days and nights of wicked pleasures and fulfilled fantasies, never dreaming that her desire could become something far more complicated.

Esau isn’t a man acquainted with the finer things in life. Common and proud, he’d rather work on the docks than bed a rich woman for money. But Honoria is unlike any woman he’s ever known, and the only one who’s ever stirred him to tenderness—something he never dreamed he could feel.

But another man has fallen in love with Honoria. Her interpreter, Jude, is torn between responsibility and the secret desire he harbors for her. Though he’s tormented by the knowledge that Honoria takes another man into her bed every night, Jude knows that his true feelings could destroy her happiness.

Faced with an impossible choice, Honoria won’t let her future be decided for her again. And despite their differences, both men must learn to share Honoria’s heart…or risk losing her completely.

CW: Contains audist language and discussion of child sexual abuse. 

Previously released as Silent Surrender.

Surrender will be available from Amazon on January first. Additional platforms to follow. Come back to the blog on release day for buy links and an excerpt!

 

Doctor Who, Romance, and a Preemptive Case for The Doctor/Bill

Spoilers for “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

Let’s start with the obvious: this year’s Christmas special wasn’t going to top “The Husbands of River Song.” There was just no chance that the bittersweet but ultimately fairy tale ending of River and The Doctor’s time-crossed romance could be topped by our regularly-scheduled post-drought appeasement episode. But it did give us the return of Nardol, newly freed from King Hydroflax’s robot body (I do hope that The Doctor was kind enough to reassemble Ramone, as well), and it set up what’s likely to be the main conflict of the next season when we see that the Shoal has infiltrated UNIT.

But it also set up a sense of creeping dread with regard to the next companion. Once again, a broken-hearted Doctor is going to be setting off on an adventure with a woman of color as his companion, and once again we’re being set up to know in advance that The Doctor is really, really sad, because…love.

Look, I’m not one of those viewers who wants to see The Doctor fall in love with every single female companion on the show. Until the last season of Matt Smith’s run, I shunned Whouffle (a portmanteau name for the fan ship based on Clara’s quest to bake a perfect souffle). As far as I was concerned, Rose and River were the only romantic relationships we needed to see on screen (he could do what he wanted with Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth I in his own time). Doctor Who is not, as I have asserted many times before, a soap opera, and there’s a whole scope of human drama to explore outside of eros-type love. Still, I find it suspect that now, for the second time, we’re being eased into an acceptance of a non-white female companion who will not, under any circumstance, be getting romantic with The Doctor.

Much of my suspicion is based on the sheer amount of big-picture arc Steven Moffat seems to recycle from the Russell T. Davies era. Clara’s departure from The Doctor’s life mimics Donna Noble’s memory loss. His desperation and loneliness at losing Clara is an echo of his earlier separation from Rose. And, like Rose before her, Clara is in an interracial romance that’s threatened by her complicated feelings for The Doctor. When Rose was taken from him, The Doctor was too emotionally wrecked to reciprocate romantic feelings for his companion in the next series: a black woman named Martha.

While “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” doesn’t echo the story of the first post-Rose Christmas special, it does try to evoke a similar foreshadowing. The Doctor is fresh off the final twenty-four years he’s spent with his wife, River Song (on his timeline, anyway). He knows that now that they’re parted, she’ll be heading off to her death in her own timeline (coincidentally, the very first time he meets her). But the lines establishing his grief are largely throw-away, happening in the midst of an otherwise cluttered plot featuring superheroes, killer brains, the gender politics of child care and (I kid you not), a bizarre attempt to make a screaming squeaky toy an object of great sentiment. Nardol, his wife’s ex-personal assistant, is there to sum it all up for viewers at the end, after spending a couple of short dialogue exchanges alluding to The Doctor’s pain. There are no poignant words about lost love and loneliness like the ones he shared with Donna Noble after he lost Rose, but there is a very clear sense that we’re supposed to be feeling what we felt then, regardless of whether or not the script supplied it for us.

Which brings us to Bill, our incoming companion. Bill, as we know from her introduction in the trailer that debuted with “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” is a plucky, inquisitive young woman who enthusiastically travels with The Doctor through the next season. She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s funny, and if her Prince t-shirt is any indication, she’s also very cool. She’s played by Pearl Mackie, a biracial woman. Bill also just happens to be coming into the show after The Doctor suffers a romantic loss. Considering what happened the last time The Doctor lost a companion he loved (and whom he can remember), it seems likely that once again, a woman who isn’t white will be the companion who coincidentally stumbles across The Doctor at a time when he simply cannot love again.

As I said before, I agree with fans who feel that love stories aren’t (and shouldn’t be) the focus of the show. But they’ve always been there. The Doctor has been falling for humans since the sixth story aired over fifty years ago, all the way up to the 1996 TV movie, in which he whimsically considers a life on Earth with Dr. Grace Holloway. But since Martha appeared in the reboot, it seems like fans object to these relationships more when the person The Doctor has fallen for isn’t a white woman. A search on the fan fiction site An Archive of Our Own turns up only fifty-nine fics featuring The Doctor and Martha as a romantic pairing, as opposed to the 5,066 about The Doctor and Clara, the 4,899 about The Doctor and Amy Pond, the 5,867 stories about The Doctor and River Song, and the 13,101 dedicated to the romance between The Doctor and Rose Tyler.

My prediction for the next season is this: that despite the flimsy evidence presented in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” we’ll be told that The Doctor simply can’t develop romantic feelings for Bill because he’s so broken up about losing River. Fans will argue that Peter Capaldi himself said that he didn’t want to act out romances between The Doctor and his companions, conveniently forgetting that his Doctor finished the romantic arcs of both The Doctor and Clara and The Doctor and River Song. They’ll say that they’ve tired of The Doctor falling in love with every female companion, despite the fact that, since the reboot, he’s had romantic relationships with only Rose, Clara, and River while traveling with an assortment of one-off, regular, and recurring characters. And they’ll never be able to answer the simple question of why, even taking all those factors into consideration, it just so happens that the only companions The Doctor falls in love with are white women.

That’s my prediction. My hope, however, is that if there will be no romance between The Doctor and Bill, that she will have a role as important as that of past companions. Let her save the world or be fated to save The Doctor. Let her be the new Donna Noble, saving the entire universe and becoming a legend that passes from galaxy to galaxy, and not the new Martha, who saves the world at tremendous personal cost and gets a less emotional send-off than Amy, whose greatest accomplishment was literally waiting. But ideally, why not let The Doctor fall in love with a fun, cool person in a healthy way, like he did with Rose? This next season, Doctor Who has the chance to impart an incontrovertible fact that is too often ignored in media: that white women are not the only women who deserve love.

And that is exactly the kind of message that The Doctor himself would endorse.

The Trout Nation 2016 Year End Wrap-Up

Is there really a way to have a “best of” with regards to 2016? I don’t want to disparage the year too much; I think I doomed us when I did that to 2015. But here are what I believe to be the highlights of this blog (from my perspective) in 2016, though even some of the highlights are dubious. And stay tuned until the end, where I will reveal the single best and worst things that happened to me in 2016.

January

February

March

April

Like, nothing exciting happened in April.

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

The worst thing that happened in 2016:

And no list of the highlights (and lowlights) of 2016 would be complete without

THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME IN 2016:

So, that’s Trout Nation’s 2016 in a nutshell. Let’s hope 2017 is less “interesting” and comes with more happiness and cheer, so our 2017 round up is better and less bleak! Onward and upward (or, as my landlord often says, “good enough”)!

#BillyMack is dead! Long Live #MeetCute!

Mark your calendars, everybody! It’s that time of year again. What time? HOLIDAY MOVIE WATCH-ALONG TIME!

For the past several years, Trout Nation has gathered around the loving glow of the television to celebrate the season by watching that problematic Christmas fave, Love, Actually. But I’ve gotten a bit bored of it. You can only watch Rick Grimes creep on his BFF’s girl so many times, you know?

This year, we’re gonna shake it up a bit. This year, we’re going to watch Nancy Meyer’s classic romantic comedy The Holiday.

THE HOLIDAY  TWITTER WATCH-ALONG!

Friday, December 23, 2016

7 p.m. EST

movie poster for The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black.

If you’re into white people wearing expensive-looking sweaters and falling in love to Imogen Heap, this is the movie for you, boy howdy. Unfortunately, it’s not on Netflix. But you’ve got time to Red Box it, borrow it from a friend, or rent it on Amazon or YouTube. Or thief it off the internet. But I never told you to do that.

Make some hot cocoa and grab some cookies, start the movie at 7pm EST, and tweet to #MeetCute.

(Can’t make the posted time due to the Earth being to god damn big and round? Watch it and tweet anyway. We can all catch up!)

Censorship, Readership, and Rape as Romance

CW: As the title of this post implies, there will be discussion of rape in romance novels and graphic description of rape scenes.

This weekend, romance Facebook got its weekly friend-and-acquaintanceship destroying controversy. It centered around a book–that I won’t name–which featured a plotline that goes like this: a survivalist-style woodsman and unrepentant murderer finds a young female college student he likes. He drugs her, kidnaps her, ties her to his bed, rapes her, and of course, by the end of the book, she’s realized that being owned by this sexy “alpha” hero is far preferable to the life she’d planned for herself, and falls in love with him.

You’d think this would outrage me to the point of bringing back my “Don’t Do This, Ever” column, but it doesn’t. This has sadly become a trend that readers clamor for. The days of the “Alpha” hero who asserts his dominance over the heroine through his forceful personality, yet surprisingly tender heart, are over. The new “Alpha” is the one who commits numerous felonies in pursuit of you and feels no remorse for having done so.

Swoon.

This particular case gained attention through the liberal application of drama within the erotic romance community. The author–who I won’t name–is rumored to have a long-standing feud with another author, against whom she made unsupported allegations of plagiarism. As outrage over this author’s rape-as-romance spread across social media, the accused plagiarist took action–by asking her readers to sink the book by contacting Amazon. After the call to have the book removed, readers tossed around the oft-used warning that “censoring” the book is a “slippery slope.” No censorship took place in this case; while Amazon chose to stop selling the book, it remained available from other retailers. No law was enacted to prevent the sale or possession of the book, which is available on the site once more, fitted with an alternate title and new, more mainstream cover. The slippery slope is a logical fallacy, and an unlikely scenario. Many books have been removed from Amazon for quality, formatting, or cover issues, as well as for content, and it has yet to result in a sweeping ban of erotica and erotic romance across the platform. There’s a lot of cash to be made selling erotic titles; it’s doubtful Amazon would yield those figures to their competitors. And if Amazon chose to no longer sell “dub-con” or “non-con” books, that would be their prerogative as a business, not a censorship move.

But the outcry over this act of “censorship” and the motives behind it reveal the disturbing thought process of some of the authors and readers of these types of books: any criticism of their fantasy is “judging” them, and any “judgment” is censorship. “Don’t judge people for what they want to read!” more than one Facebook post demanded. “Don’t tell people what they can and can’t enjoy.” But it’s not about what they are or aren’t allowed to enjoy. It’s the fact that fans of the rape-fantasy subgenre are able to so easily distance themselves from the subject of actual rape, to the point that their defense of their kink becomes active reinforcement of rape culture and blatant victim-blaming of real life survivors.

One GoodReads review for the book includes this passage:

After hearing the outrage over this book and talk of rape and the woman being unconscious, I expected something quite horrific, but really it wasn’t. There was no violence, he never lifted a hand to her and he did everything he could to care for her and give her everything she could ever want.

There was no violence, the reader asserts, because despite the fact that the hero uses horse tranquilizers to keep the heroine unconscious while he anally and orally violates her, he “did everything he could to care for her and give her everything she could ever want.” That the hero wouldn’t have had to “care for her” if he hadn’t drugged her and kidnapped her in the first place apparently never crosses the reader’s mind. Nor does the thought that “everything she could ever want,” to most women does not include captivity and forced “breeding,” as the book charmingly describes the hero’s ultimate goal.

“You can’t judge people for what they want to fantasize about!” was a rallying cry in defense of the book. But for all the insistence that readers instinctively understand that it’s just fantasy and they would never condone or desire such behavior in real life, GoodReads reviewers disagree. One says:

(Who doesn’t like a gorgeous bearded almost-savage hunk to take control and sweep you off your feet every day of your life, right?)

While another asks:

Where can I find one? [hero] was raised differently and saw the world differently. So going old school he found a woman …..and took her. Through patience most people wouldn’t have he brought her around to his way of thinking.

If you can suspend your beliefs in right and wrong and just read to enjoy the story you will find [hero] just as hot and sexy as the rest of [author]‘s men and be glad she came up with such a hot and fun story to share with us

The reviewer clearly states that she suspended her “beliefs in right and wrong” in order to enjoy the story, but still found the hero “hot and sexy,” as well as “patient.” Ah, yes, that rare, patient man who, in lieu of conversation and the usual getting-to-know-you process, jumps the gun and kidnaps you instead.

Another reader goes so far as to deny that the drugging, kidnapping, and raping is the hero’s fault at all:

[Hero] is all alpha but he is a softy. I love how he see what he wants and goes after it (her). Is it kidnapping? Nope. She is telling the world here I am. The number one mistake most people make. If don’t want something to happen then don’t tell people where you at 24/7. Be smart. Be safe. She is lucky it was him and not someone with ill intense.

Yes, she’s lucky it wasn’t someone with “ill intense,” like a guy who would…kidnap her, drug her, and repeatedly assault her? If women didn’t want to be kidnapped, drugged, and raped, this review says, they should be smart. And if they’re not smart, then they apparently deserve what they get and should be thankful for it.

On Amazon, another reader praises the book for exposing the reality of what it takes to make a healthy relationship:

This story knocks any fluffy piece of writing out of the water with it’s basic and bare boned portrayal of what a man and woman truly need to survive happily…and a man not afraid to take what is his.

Again and again, readers and authors who were disturbed by the content of the book and reader response to it were told that their objections were harmful, sexually repressive, and childish. From an Amazon review:

*Trigger*

Get past it. This book is hot.

 

Get past it, reader who may have experienced mental health consequences due to the content of the book that, even after republication under a different title, still bears no content warnings. It’s just rape, after all, a sin on par with bad grammar in the opinion of another reviewer:

Yes there is rape and a couple grammatical errors, but that’s it. There is a happy ending and it really is a great story.

The book was marketed as not just erotica, but an erotic romance with BDSM elements. Which re-opens an entirely different can of worms that BDSM just can’t seem to keep closed in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey; our cultural understanding of what does and does not constitute BDSM is now defined by readers of a specific subgenre of romance who have likely never engaged in or researched actual BDSM. In this case, that definition now includes actual rape, as opposed to consensual rape-kink.

At the end of the day, authors are free to write whatever fantasy strikes them. Readers are free to consume it. But those readers and authors must accept that others will not be silenced so they can enjoy their fetish without guilt. No matter how it may be dressed up as “non-con” or “dub-con,” these books are rape fantasy. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying rape fantasy–as long as that fantasy isn’t normalizing rape as a romantic aspiration, and as long as readers don’t reject the notion of rape being harmful just so they can flick their respective beans guilt-free. As long as that attitude persists in romance, people will judge readers and writers who contribute to that narrative. If you’re one of those readers or authors and that judgment makes you uncomfortable, well. That’s a whole lot of your problem.

Here from Glamour UK? Welcome!

Hi there! Are you here because you saw my book The Boss in Glamour UK? Welcome!

the boss cover

 

Sophie Scaife almost ran away once, trading her ticket to college for a ticket to Tokyo. But a delayed flight and a hot one-night stand with a stranger changed her mind, putting her firmly on track to a coveted position at a New York fashion magazine.

When the irresistible stranger from that one incredible night turns out to be her new boss – billionaire and publishing magnate Neil Elwood – Sophie can’t resist the chance to rekindle the spark between them… and the opportunity to explore her submissive side with the most Dominant man she’s ever known. 

You can find The Boss for FREE on Amazon UK and iBooks!

Barbie Girl: A Musical Interlude

FADE IN

INT. JENNY’S BEDROOM – DAY

JENNY, an elegant woman of taste and distinction, eats chocolate pretzels pantsless beside her husband, MR. JEN, a strange man. They’re watching the “Top Ten Pop Songs from The ’90s” list on MsMojo. Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” plays in the background.

VOICE OVER
(on TV)
It’s doubtful it’s anyone’s favorite song…

Jenny looks pointedly at Mr. Jen, who grins.

JENNY
It’s doubtful, right?

Mr. Jen keeps on grinning.

JENNY
I just cannot believe that about you. I can’t believe that is your favorite song.

Mr. Jen is still grinning , unashamed.

JENNY
Like, it’s not in a funny way. It’s not in an ironic way. It is genuinely, and without sarcasm, your favorite song of all time.

MR. JEN
It’s a good song.

JENNY
Good?

MR. JEN
It’s the best song.

FADE OUT

THE END