Camellia book review: A sensuous tale of F/F spanking

  • Title: Camellia
  • Authors: Cari Z. and Caitlin Ricci
  • Print length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Less Than Three Press
  • Publication date: May 7, 2014
  • Rating:
  • 4 gingersnaps (out of 5 gingersnaps) for content(1)
  • 4 gingersnaps for craft(2)
  • 5 gingersnaps for its handling of kink themes(3)
  • Comprehensive score: 4 gingersnaps (recommended)

Review copy provided by Less Than Three Press

Although I rarely write book reviews of my peers, Camellia by Cari Z. and Caitlin Ricci caught my eye during KT Grant’s Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the teaser posts and looked forward to the book’s publication. F/F spanking…what could I not like?

The periphery details:

Formatting is well-done, the pdf file automatically comes in a size optimized for reading, and the chapter links worked on my Kindle. I would have liked a table of contents with links on my pdf copy, but that’s a small complaint. There were a few errors in the manuscript, but overall it was cleanly edited.

The book:

Danny Breaker lives at home with her rowdy brothers and parents while working as a model. She auditions for a job at a kink convention, meeting the elegant Lucy Culpepper. Lucy teaches tea appreciation classes at her store, and she also enjoys demonstrating her expertise while modeling clothes her friend designs. After screwing up the first interview in a hilarious bit of comedic writing reminiscent of I Love Lucy, Danny manages to earn a second chance to impress Lucy. While working together at the convention, Danny learns more about Lucy, the world of kink, and her budding desires.

The positive:

Camellia’s best point, hands down, is its characterization of the two women who dominate–pun intended–the pages and readers’ hearts. While Lucy’s family backstory is drawn along skimpy and perhaps unnecessary lines (it read too much as a crib sheet to understanding Lucy in a few short sentences), the brief glimpse into Danny’s family life was drawn with perfect comedic timing and understatement. We are struck, as Danny is struck, by Lucy who conducts her life with grace, graciousness, and good taste. The growing fascination of Danny for Lucy is written with exquisite sensuality and longing. We respect Lucy, as Danny does, because she attends to Danny’s needs and slowly, cautiously introduces her to the joys of kink. It’s not easy to write a dominant woman who comes across as both caring and powerful, but Lucy is a joy to behold. She is the perfect foil for Danny, who is impetuous, innocent, and at times crass.

Camellia’s second-best point is its sensuous, loving descriptions of Lucy and Danny negotiating their new relationship within a professional and kink setting. One description of Danny transforming a crawl into an act of seduction was particularly well done. Another is the pitch-perfect response of Lucy to Danny’s insecurities.

The background descriptions of the costumes for the convention, the friendship with secondary characters Natasha and Lillian, and the attention to detail in setting each scene pay off for the reader. At times, the book reaches an atmospheric, almost fairytale quality.

The not-so-positive:

While the writing technique was overall quite good, some sentences read a bit awkwardly. An odd misstep was the description of one costume as “Asian-inspired.” To put this in perspective, it would be analogous to describing a dress as “Caucasian-inspired.” In the context of the detailed notes regarding Japanese teas, the odd reference jolted me out of the story.

I won’t mention details to avoid giving spoilers, but a few plot twists concerning the tea ceremony made me raise my eyebrows. Yes, they worked well dramatically and highlighted Danny’s growing trust of Lucy. However, given the cost of quality tea and Lucy’s profession as a tea expert, the episodes did not ring true. But since writers have taken artistic license from the beginning of time, this is only a small point.

My main complaint about this story, however, is the gratuitous sex. While the book is labeled as containing “some explicit content” and I understand such scenes help with marketing books for sale, I found the first sex scene disappointing. It did not further the plot, it was not necessary, and it broke the atmosphere so exquisitely created by the first chapter. Z. and Ricci demonstrate talent to evoke nearly limitless sexuality in their understated, subtle, intelligent prose. Danny’s first scene meeting Lucy conveys sexual appeal to far greater effect than the first sex scene. In effect, the first sex scene cheapens the narrative and brings it down to a voyeuristic level. The uncomfortable tension between the graphic sex scene and subtle sexuality detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Were Camellia an average erotic novel, the reader might expect such a scene. When Camellia begins by setting the bar high on class and intelligence, however, the first sex scene feels like pandering to a different type of reader than it woos with its other chapters.

Conclusion: Camellia enchants with its characters who walk off the page and into readers’ hearts. While the narrative stumbles in playing too hard to the “sex sells” market, its happily-ever-after ending is sure to charm those looking for a love story with explicit themes.

  1. Content refers to the themes and structure of the book. For fiction, this includes macro elements such as the book’s premise, character arcs, and how well the conflict and resolution fulfill the promise of the book. For non-fiction, this refers to the information that is conveyed.
  2. Craft refers to the level of writing technique, ranging from clarity of text to carefully edited prose.
    .
    Additional note: The combined score generally is a mathematical average of the three ratings, unless an individual rating is especially low or high.
Advertisements

Spanking the Cockroach: a new Kat & Natalie story!

Yes, that’s right! Head over to Kat-Sitting to see Kat and Natalie’s latest adventures. This particular story does not contain spoilers for those of you who have not read Lighting the Way yet.

Lighting-the-Way

Lighting the Way (Kat and Natalie, Volume Two)

College roommates, best friends, and family. Can Kat and Natalie find a way to stay together…without killing each other?

Kat Astra knows one thing: everything is her fault. A dead-end job. A fear of confrontation. An inability to speak up when necessary. Desertion of her best friend in her time of need.

Natalie Mestecom knows one thing too: everything Kat does is Natalie’s fault. The relationship rule is simple; Kat has problems, and Natalie fixes them. But what worked in adolescence becomes more complicated with adulthood, and new developments in their relationship challenge these roles. Kat is no longer sure whether she is willing to be disciplined according to Natalie’s rules, and Natalie is no longer sure whether she is worthy of Kat’s trust.

Can Natalie allow herself to be vulnerable? Can Kat believe in her own strength? Can Natalie believe in Kat’s strength? How will they, each in their own way, learn to move beyond guilt and blame in order to forge a new relationship together? In order to make peace with themselves and each other, Kat and Natalie reconnect with family, re-visit memories of their past, and make plans for taking steps forward in the future. To light their way home.

Monday Morning Fika with Alice Dark: A former Catholic schoolgirl’s aphrodisiac

Today we have the irrepressible, mischievous, and oh-so-naughty Alice Dark! I’ve wanted to host Our Lady of F/F Badness for quite a while, but her pesky day job kept getting in the way. Can you imagine? Hmph! She was the first author of F/F spanking I met, and I’ve adored getting to know how that evil little mind works. (Case in point: her avatar includes a naughty–quite possibly poisoned–red apple.)

She has quite the treat for us today! We’ll get a peek at how she got started writing, and she’s even going to show you an excerpt from her newest release. All I can say is “Phew!” that she hasn’t written another Ana-gets-spanked story. A girl has to have some protection. 😉

Enjoy Fika today!

Good morning, my pets. If you’re reading this, it’s likely Monday, and I’m grumpy. I haven’t had my coffee, haven’t spanked anyone, and I’m at my day job.

 

In many ways, that’s why I’m a writer. I want to free myself from Monday mornings and the dreaded cubicle farm.

 

I’ve been a writer for as long as I have memory. I still remember my first unfinished novel – “The Energy Man” – scrawled in #2 pencil in my composition notebook. I was about 6 years old, and I got an F in English, because I couldn’t tell the difference between a noun and a verb. I could write up a storm; I have natural talent when it comes to stringing together words and thoughts. But to this day, I have issues picking out nouns, verbs and adverbs. God forbid you ask me to diagram a sentence.

 

Over the years, I moved on to different types of writing, and a string of unfinished novels lies in my wake. I’ve written horror, science fiction, fantasy and romance. I’ve dabbled in poetry, and had many angry young feminist poems published under a pseudonym.

 

But I don’t think I really came into my own, till I put it all aside and turned my pen to lesbian fiction – in particular, spanking fiction.

 

I’ll back up a little at this point. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools as a young lady. The nuns in those days had permission to paddle our backsides when we were bad. We got the ruler across the hand for simple misdeeds, like being late to class or talking back to a nun. A full-on paddling was the result of one of the greater sins: smoking, cutting class, cursing (especially saying the big GD! You could get caught saying fuck, and have a 50-50 chance of the ruler across your palm; but saying Goddamn was big ticket to a paddled ass!)

 

Sometime in my teenage years, I figured out that I liked girls better than boys. Yeah. That was a major sin in those days that I kept to myself till I got to college. And college was the real eyeopener. I breezed through a series of affairs with lipstick lesbians and college girls just wanting to “try things out.” It wasn’t till I met Sophia that I had (and still have!) a real relationship.

 

Throughout all of this time, I struggled with mainstream writing – the typical man and woman story – in some kind of fantastical world. I liked vampires, eschewed werewolves, and tried to get the fey to act right in my stories. I also put pen to some of the most vicious feminist poetry written. But I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t getting published.

 

I’d always heard that you should write what you know; I was trying to write what I thought would sell.

 

Several years ago, I sat down and penned a short story about the spanking relationship that Sophia and I have. I don’t remember the story, and it’s long ago lost. But I posted the story to one of the spanking newsgroups – the old Usenet. For those who remember newsgroups, I believe it was alt.sex.spanking.stories. The feedback was immediate! Lots of horny girls and boys across that little section of the Internet posted about how much they liked the story, and liked that it came from my own life.

 

See, Sophia was raised Catholic, too, and she’s no stranger to the paddle. We didn’t know one another as kids, but if you listen to us talk, you’d think we were raised together. Us Catholic kids of a certain generation have some stories to tell! (By the way: the boys got the cane. *giggle*)

 

In all my years of publishing, I’d never had much luck with publishers. At least not the ones who paid for my writing. I’ve had poetry published in respectable journals – but poetry doesn’t pay. So when I wrote down my first spanking story – Heather’s Caning & Humiliation – I published it through Smashwords. Part of the caning story is true, and it’s based on Sophia’s and my lives. Parts are made up – kind of as I envisioned it, if girls got the cane.

 

That was three years ago, and that book is still selling on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Folks in the UK love caning stories, as long as you have a knack for the lingo. (For gosh sakes, you have to know what a “fanny” is, if you’re writing for the UK audience!) And after all the years of trying to get something published, I finally made a few dollars with my words.

 

I was hooked. Sure, I only made about 10 bucks that year, but it was a start! Sophia and I blew the money on a bottle of wine, and we celebrated. My next book was again based on our lives: The Caning of Misty Day. That book stepped further into dreams and wishes. Believe me, none of the nuns in my school were that pretty! (I think all of the pretty nuns are on TV, or in Mexico!) It’s been a long haul since then, and I still self-publish my books. I haven’t looked for an actual book publisher, ’cause I’m too impatient: I like to put my books out for my readers as soon as I’ve finished them.

 

Sophia and I have tried many of the things I write about: paddling, caning, OTK, figging. Yes, we’ve tried figging. Sophia likes the feel of the root, but it’s just so damn hard to carve! If I’m struggling with a sex scene, we give it a go in real life. I like to experiment, and so does my girlfriend. We’ll try almost anything, so long as it’s not too dangerous. And then I write about it.

 

That’s our aphrodisiac.

 

So there you have it. I write lesbian spanking fiction in hopes that one day I’ll be able to quit this damn day job and give up Monday mornings. And also, because it’s what I know, and I like it.

Blurb

Diana Street is a no nonsense private detective who spanks her way through a high profile murder case, while making love to the women she meets along the way. Wayward females learn that Diana has little patience with those who break the rules; and men in need of an “attitude adjustment,” fall into step when Diana snaps her fingers. Along the way, Diana solves a murder and delivers sweet spankings to everyone who needs them. WARNING: Contains mature adult themes among multiple partners, BDSM, spanking, anal play and explicit sex. STRICTLY for adults ONLY. All sexual acts depicted are consensual and between adults aged 21 years and over.

Excerpt from Spanking Detective

A moment later, the door swung open. “Diana?”

Damn, Ruby looked good. Her thick, blond hair was loose and flowing, with big curls that caressed her shoulders in honey-gold waves. She had very little makeup on her clear skin – only the slightest hint to highlight her prominent cheekbones and eyes. To complement her natural beauty, Ruby wore an emerald-green, short-sleeve chiffon dress with an irregular hemline that was cut above her knees. I caught flashing glimpses of her long, beautiful legs. Flat, strappy sandals completed the effect.

Ruby was a knockout, and she was right on time.

“I like a woman who’s prompt.” Carefully, so as not to jostle my broken ribs, I leaned back in my chair and surveyed the beauty in front of me.

“We have an appointment,” Ruby said. “I didn’t want to be late.” And then she did the damnedest thing. Slowly, like a dancer, she spun in a tight circle. Once. Twice. Three times, and the chiffon dress flared out like a flower. “How do I look?” Her lips quirked in a smile, and she elbowed the door closed behind her.

I got up slowly and walked around the front of my desk. I leaned against it and cocked my head. Ignoring the lovely bait so beautifully presented, I got right to the point. “You owe me.”

In three short strides, Ruby covered the distance between the two of us. One hand encircled my waist, and the other gripped the back of my neck. She pulled my face close to hers. Our lips were a rush of lust and moans – a kiss that was a tangle of tongues and desire. As Ruby probed my mouth, she let go of my waist, and let her hand run up the outside of my corset. Her fingers closed on my breast, and she rubbed the soft flesh, pinching the nipple, already hard with my need for her. Our tongues slid along one another’s teeth, and I relished Ruby’s taste in my mouth. I couldn’t get enough of her. I felt like I could get lost in this moment. The two dead men were but fading memories, better buried and forgotten. All I cared I about was Ruby’s touch. Her taste. Her body arching into mine.

Ruby’s fingers wandered, and she let go of my neck and breast. She fumbled with the laces on my corset. It was a simple bow at the back that held the leather together, and Ruby quickly undid the stays. Groaning, I allowed the corset to slip down my body, then slither between us to the floor. Pain bloomed fresh in my ribs as Ruby pulled me into a tight embrace. I didn’t mind. Pain is my friend; it lets me know I’m alive.

Ruby pulled back a scant inch. Her breath was hot in my mouth. “I feel safe when I’m with you, Diana,” she said. She brushed my lips with hers. “If I fall, I think you’d catch me.”

For a not-lesbian, Ruby had adapted quickly to girl-on-girl love. I closed my teeth gently on her bottom lip and teased it with my tongue. Her blue eyes were wide open, and I felt myself falling into those depths. She wasn’t the only one who was feeling safe. I’m the kind of chick who can kick ass and shoot a man dead, but at that moment, I felt fragile in her arms. I closed my lips on hers again.

Links to Alice Dark on the Web

Web site http://www.bentalice.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/BentAlice
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alice.dark.39
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3355211.Alice_Dark