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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices

by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing

Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun

Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry

2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido

Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Like a Thorn:
An Anthology of BDSM Fairy Tales

Edited by Cecilia Tan and Sarah Desautels

Book Review by Lisabet Sarai


BDSM fairy tales

The term "fairy tale ending" has come to signify a happily-ever-after resolution in which the protagonists' dreams are fulfilled.  The original versions of classic fairy tales, however, did not necessarily offer such perfect conclusions. Today's kids have grown up with Disneyfied interpretations of Cinderella, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, and Hansel and Gretel, light and airy, where even the villains sing. The stories offered by the Brothers Grimm, on the other hand, were, in fact, frequently—grim. Blood, pain, terror, curses, and above all, ambiguity, characterized these tales, which derived from the ancestral memories of villagers in the gloomy forests of old Europe. The prince might succeed in his quest, but something was always lost on the journey.  The heroine might not waken from her hundred year sleep.

In Like a Thorn, editors Cecilia Tan and Sarah Desautels try to tap into the darkness at the heart of many fairy tales. In these stories, the "darkness" results from the more or less perverse desires of the characters. I'm not entirely happy with the equation between BDSM and darkness, but the five authors represented in this book all succeed in integrating a storyline of dominance and submission into the plot of familiar fairy stories. Sometimes the result is a clever romp, an old classic with a naughty twist. In a few cases, the stories cut deeper, exposing desires as twisted as the thorn bushes that overran the walls of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

The most exquisite and disturbing tale in the collection is Shanna Germain's "Skin Deep", a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In this version, Belle is as gorgeous as required but is also a cruel sadist who delights in torturing the gentle, refined Beast. Despite himself, the Beast hungers for her torments, although she repeatedly taunts him, threatening to  leave him to the nice young girl who will eventually fall into his clutches and turn him into a pretty, bland, boring Prince.

They say I went willingly, and that part is true. It wasn’t for the rose, or even for the beast though―after all, I hadn’t met him yet. Would I have gone if I’d known what awaited me? Oh yes. Oh yes.

But I went for the stem, the thorns. Strong as a lash, sharp as claws. I bent the long stem of it over and over in my hands, closed my palms on their curved points until they pierced my flesh.

Oh, yes, I went willingly. Wantingly. Wantonly. A thorn in each hand.  

Another clouded and moving story is "The Last Mistress of the Chatelaine", a BDSM version of Bluebeard by Kieran Wyn Dewhurst. A plain village maiden is sent to wed a  rich nobleman, his seventh wife in as many years. Sophie is not much to look at, but she is clever and bold, by her own admission. She falls in love with her gruff, mostly absent husband and manages to resist the temptation to open the forbidden door that has been the downfall of her predecessors. Then she gives her lord the punishment he craves and allows him to expiate his guilt.

It is a strange thing to look down upon a wretch, a murderer, a drunkard, a heretic, and feel sympathy... yet I do. I do not understand what has taken place here, only that it is certainly not of God’s doing; but to be prevented from confession, from taking Communion, from grace itself does not seem holy to me either.

So vulnerable now, my proud Lord, on his knees in horseshit and straw. I am keenly aware of his need for atonement, and also of my own dark delight at his suffering, both for it and for want of it.

I kneel to face him, pushing the acrid bowl to the side, and place my hands over his.
“Husband. Look at me.”

He lifts his heavy head. I do not see a monster. I see a once-strong man burdened by his own sins, as are all humans. How cruel to make him carry them, unlightened, through his lifetime! His eyes plead with me, wet and aching, for release. My fingers tighten over his; I am filled with resolve, compassion, power... and something less noble.

I will give him what he needs. I will take what I want.

The other three stories in the anthology offer somewhat lighter fare.  The brightest is "The Princess and the Peony" by Mercy Loomis. Ms Loomis gives us a princess in thrall to her dominant ladies maid, who has hatched a plot to marry her to a gay prince. In "Cinder Feet", by Mari Ness, Cinderella is the devoted slave of her ravishing step-mother, who allows her to dance at the ball but calls her home by midnight. Cinderella rebels and marries the prince who comes to woo her, only to regret the decision for the rest of her days. Sunny Moraine's "That Wicked Witchcraft" turns Hansel and Gretel into Han and Greta, teenaged drifters who are caught stealing the witch's stereo.  Circe the witch lures them into some pervy sexual adventures, and invites them to stay with her in her house in the woods. Greta , though tempted, declines—but her relationship to the formerly uncomplicated Hans has changed forever.

The stories in this collection more or less fulfill the promise of the introduction. They are original, well-crafted, and varied. All are laced with at least a bit of darkness. My biggest criticism of this collection is that it is too short. This is the second Circlet mini-anthology that I've read, and I gather that the publisher has released a number of others in the same format, with just five or six tales, under one hundred pages. Perhaps shorter works sell better in the e-publishing domain. I don't mind reading a novella at that length. However, I prefer anthologies that offer a wider range of authors, topics and tones. Like a Thorn succeeds in its objectives, but it was over far too quickly. If Circlet can assemble five stories of this quality on this fascinating theme, I suspect that they could have managed ten, fifteen or twenty just as easily. That would have left me far more satisfied.

Lisabet Sarai
October 2009

Like a Thorn: An Anthology of BDSM Fairy Tales
(Circlet Press, 2009)
Available at Amazon

© 2009 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

About the Author: Lisabet Sarai has been writing ever since she learned how to hold a pencil. She is the author of three erotic novels, Raw Silk, Incognito, and Ruby's Rules; co-editor, with S.F. Mayfair, of the anthology Sacred Exchange (Blue Moon); and editor of Cream, the Best of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.
Visit her website, Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory for more information and samples of her writing.
Join Lisabet's List on Yahoo for exciting chat, contests, and up-to-date information on publications and events:

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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
Review by Spooky

'09 Book Reviews


A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai


A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Vincent Diamond


Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister