Archives: femdom

Book Review: Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale

I cried happy tears while reading this story.

That fact might prove embarrassing, since

a) I am not the type of person who would be expected to weep sappily over romance novels, not least because

b) I am a sadist. Literally, a dominant sexual sadist.

But here I am, all salt-watery with a tissue in hand, because

c) the heroine of this novel is a dominant sexual sadist–and also a youthful ingenue who finds herself in way over her head when she’s revealed as the last scion of a medieval Italian noble house, and joins forces with a beautiful assassin who overcomes his tragic past to devote himself to her and her cause.

I was once a somewhat ingenuous young heroine, though Ancestry.com hasn’t revealed quite such revelations in my family history. If I’d discovered this book sooner, I wonder what it would have done for me. Probably sparked a lot of light bulbs–though I may have taken it in stride. A voracious reader of everything from romance novels to Westerns to science fiction to historical mysteries, I was just starting to think of stories as something that could apply to my own life. Only once I did did I realize how few romance novels captured the experiences find most romantic.

And then Shadowheart gives me this:

He held her look. With a slow move, like a lazy caress, he touched his fingertips to his shoulder, to the place where she had bitten him. Instantly she felt a spring of hot sensation, a violent dream of her power to mark and wound him as he arched under her hands. He smiled at her, a mere hint in the greenish light of the storm.

Elayne looked down, snatching a quick breath, as if the atmosphere had closed upon her.  …She had never in her life before wanted to hurt any creature. It was not anger, though anger was a part of it. But it was more than that, more–it was all twined and twisted with the way he looked beneath his lashes and smiled as if he knew.

Shadowheart, pp 159-160

Even before he gets very far in his redemption arc, Alegretto’s already enchanting me with his submissive seduction, or seductive submission, or whatever this is–it just made me curl my fingers over my mouth and tear up. I didn’t even realize such active, teasing submission was a thing I could want in my relationships, fictional or otherwise. And Elayne’s reaction is described so beautifully, with complexity and sympathy. I never thought I’d see a woman’s sadistic desires written in lyrical, opulent romance-novel prose without having to write it myself.

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Upcoming stories

My cup overfloweth. Contracts are signed, edits are underway, and I just discovered that I’ll be sharing the tables of contents in two upcoming anthologies with some very excellent people.

Your cup might overflow as well, dear reader, because in each of these anthologies I have two stories.

In MoFo’s third anthology, Religion (originally Sacrilege), my stories are kind of different from each other, but between them cover plenty of my Roman Catholic influences.

“Deliver Us” is about what happens when you get exposed to bondage through B-movies about exorcisms, and your girlfriend is an ex-Catholic who once wanted to be a priest.

(When your boyfriend did become a priest and you want to rescue him from his decision, you get A Last Touch of Grace. Comparing that story in 2016 to these stories in 2017 probably reveals something interesting about my spiritual journey.)

“Annunciation” is a semi-autobiographical novella in flash about growing up queer in the Catholic Church. Novella in flash might be a slight exaggeration, but I’ve recently fallen in love with the form and its cousins after reading Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages for Youeven if I didn’t manage a “true” novella of the appropriate length and independence of the composite flash pieces, it was fun experiment. The format might also be influenced by the 5 + 1 fanfiction genre, in which case we have “Five times I* believed lies the Church told me about gender and sexuality and one time I figured it out,” I guess, or maybe “Five times I really missed the fact that I was queer and the realization(s) that put me right.” Not only was “Annunciation” fascinating to write (I said these stories “covered a lot of my Roman Catholic influences,” but what I learned most is how much is left to uncover), I also got a little angry. In “Deliver Us,” too. That seemed to fit MoFo’s call, which includes “a preference for Catholicism—the eroticism and hypocrisy are built right in.”

The narrator of “Annunciation” first identifies the androgynously-illustrated Gabriel as female, “So to me, the Annunciation was always a matter of two women together in a bedroom. “

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