Review: Switch it ON by J. H. Craig

An absolutely lovely review, by a blogger to watch!

Knows What She Wants

Full disclosure: I received this story in exchange for an honest review.

The Switch Stories by J. H. Craig follow Miss Madeline, a professional dom. But as the title suggests, there’s more to her sexuality than dominance. To my delight, there’s also more to her character. The way she acts around Jason is different from how she acts with Trey, with clients, with Ian, or with anyone else, in the most realistic way possible. She can be soft and withdrawn, strong and nurturing, or impressively badass, depending on what the situation calls for. Between her different roles and the different facets of her personality, I found her to be a truly three-dimensional character—and a likable one, at that. This gets major points in my book, because characters make or break erotica for me. When they’re as intriguing and dynamic as Miss Madeline, it’s easy to get invested in their stories.

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The Rise of the Alpha: Fiction Vs. Reality

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A quick search through the Erotic Romance genre would lead one to believe that the “Alpha Male” is the living embodiment of all women’s fantasies. So much copy is devoted to this concept, authors and readers know what they are talking about, right? As an author devoted to realism within her fictional world, I simply must protest.

The Urban Dictionary defines Alpha Male in several different ways, but the one that seemed closest to the concept I think authors are attempting to convey with this title was: 1) the dominant member of a pack of wolves, and 2) any person with a dominating personality, causing the assertion of or struggle for leadership in almost any situation. I did leave the first definition in on purpose. Younger women may not understand what is meant when a man is called a wolf, but to anyone of a certain age it connects beautifully back to the Alpha concept. In pre-Feminist days, men were indeed seen as predators, but this was confusingly backhanded praise. Your wolf assumedly would protect you from all of the other wolves. This was an age, understand, where a wolf-whistle (See how the concept pervaded the culture!) or a smack on the ass was considered a high compliment.

Then, the Rise of Feminism! We could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let him forget he’s a man! Uh-huh. This was a concept that was terrifying and confusing to the male of the species. A good male friend of mine tells me that being needed is extremely important to men. As a woman who had been called needy as an insult, I was confused to say the least. I think the confusion comes from this cultural collision. We as a species had gender roles so proscribed that they appeared to be instinct, until suddenly it was proven they were not. I could recount the reasons for the change for you, but I will let you research Rosie the Riveter and her impact on our culture. I wouldn’t want to take that journey of discovery away from you, if it’s not a familiar story. However, if we assume that my friend is correct, and men need to be needed, what did the Feminist need from her man?

Many angry men would quote “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” and use that as his excuse for douche-bag behavior until the end of time. You’ve all met men like this. They want to appear to be “Alpha” because they are secretly certain they are not. They have no concept of their place in the order of things, but they know what they wish was their place. The true feminist just wanted to be treated like a human being, and not a life support system for a vagina, or a baby factory. The sort of man who viewed us exactly that way became the one who lashed out at any sensible discussion of equality, and that was the beginning of the conflict.

On the other hand, we got Sensitive Man. He was amazing in our minds. He knew just what we needed, gave us all the emotional support of our women friends, and made love tenderly, just how we liked it. Unfortunately, men did not get an instruction manual on this. Add to this the fact that many women have no idea what they really want, and have never tried to explain it to anyone. I was recently asked this exact question, and was flummoxed by my inability to answer. Words failing me? Perish the thought.

So, should we assume that, as some have asserted, we as women covertly want to head back to those days, the days when home discipline was any husband’s prerogative? I suggest that we only want that in our fiction, where it’s safe. Many of the ladies who read about “Alphas” and are thrilled right down to their damp panties have never, ever met one, much less sat at his feet and attempted to serve him.

An Alpha in the truest sense is a transformative influence in the lives of those around him. People crave his approval. They don’t know why, and this is not just women, mind you. They seek to please him. This isn’t fiction. It’s an actual phenomenon. It’s scary to be caught up in it, especially when one has no idea what’s happening. An Alpha in fiction is like a dog we can domesticate. An Alpha in the real world is like a wolf. He may mate for life, or he may EAT your ass.

I do my best to bring you real people, but my perfect man is no Alpha. You meet one, in Switch It ON, but he is not my main male character. Jason Merrin would never claim to be an Alpha, although in many social situations he would appear to be. His buddy Joe is the Alpha, and you’ll learn much more about him in Switch It UP. Mad’s beloved Jase is a chameleon, a true Switch, someone who gives her what she needs rather than what she thinks she wants, whether that’s chicken casserole for dinner or a thorough hand spanking over the knees. Joe doesn’t require service, and doesn’t need to. He is, as the Alphas I have actually met, simply a leader. He warps the universe around him. Modern gals might be titillated reading about him, but they assume that by topping from the bottom, they’d have control of the situation. For most women, the Alpha should remain ensconced in fiction, lest the wolf devour them.          

Fun with Fetishes!

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So, this week, I started something new on my Facebook page, for 10 of my 60 followers to see if I am very lucky. I’m mostly amusing myself at this point. In addition to “What I Have Learned Researching on FetLife”, I’m now doing a “Fetish of the Week”, wherein I intend to highlight little known fetishes. This week, forniphilia.

For my Facebook Fans, I turned to the Urban Dictionary’s definition, which is as follows:  “a form of bondage and sexual objectification in which a person’s body is incorporated into a chair, table, cabinet or other piece of furniture”. I found some excellent pictures, and I felt the feature would be interesting, at least to me.

Why a “Fetish of the Week”? My main character, Miss Madeline, and I are of one accord on the subject. Shiny PVC and stingy floggers are exciting. Rope bondage is beautiful, although I am too impatient to either sit still for it, or deal with getting to the object of my attention around it. Piercing and tattooing, once fetishes in their own right, have become mainstream. However, WIITWD (What It Is That We Do—I had no idea acronyms were so beloved!) goes vastly beyond those narrow confines. Kinksters are already marginalized. Supporting others seems part of “safe, sane, and sensible” practices.

I began with forniphilia simply because it plays a part in Switch It ON. Is it my kink? Not exactly. Do I think it can be beautiful, like a careful rope arrangement or a corseted waist? I do. I thought it created a lovely image, for experienced Kinksters, or those simply curious. I hope I did it justice.

How we have sex is personal, just as with whom we wish to have it. No one should be forced to explain what blows his or her dress up. Just as I cannot explain my mental illness, my pansexuality, or the fluid state of my sexual dynamic, I cannot explain how two blue eyed parents gave birth to brown eyed me. Might I wish I were different? Maybe. Sometimes it’s a burden being this fabulous. At least I can share that joyous flamboyance with all of you! Embrace those things that make you unique, whether it’s amazing green eyes, or the ability to be the perfect table for your beloved Mistress.

What in the hell is “YKINMK”?

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YOUR KINK IS NOT MY KINK. Your fetish is not necessary mine. My best friend likes to say “Whatever blows your dress up!” which instantly calls to mind the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe, riding the steam. Which blows my dress up. Your dress may remain unmoved. And that’s OK!

As I’ve shared in the past, FetLife is one of my favorite research sites. On it, they have a feature called Kinky & Popular. A writing there struck close to my heart. The author was lamenting a lack of diversity among the images displayed, and even a lack of kink. I’d noticed that myself, and generally just stick to the writing as she did. There are many paths through the woods, boys and girls, and wolves on every one, waiting to eat you up, or beat your ass with a flogger, if that’s what you’d prefer.

All of my reviews touch on the authentic quality of my fetish scenes, and that’s directly due to the fact that I was involved with the local scene extensively for years. That same best friend performed in, and in some cases created, shows for an extremely popular weekly fetish night. She remains my technical advisor and sounding board for all things fetish.

The troupe performed highly inventive and entertaining fetish shows that perfectly balanced the artsy-fartsy with the spanky-spanky. They were appealing for precisely this reason, so much so that the patronage of the night was drawn more often from the vanilla world than from the fetish scene. Doing a show a week, they’d have to keep it fresh and diversify. OR they could do the same old, same old, wherein scantily clad pretty boys and girls would get their asses lackadaisically beaten. This is what the management chose to do, selling skin over substance. The night died.

In Switch It ON, Mistress Madeline tries to broaden the horizons of the patrons of her shows. She puts in a little something for everyone. I believe that is important in life as well as the “scene”. My thing may not be your thing, but we can respect and enjoy each other’s things. Whoops, that sounded dirty. I think that helps prove my point.

Blame it on Reedus.

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Sorry about the gap. Blame it on Reedus.

If you like Switch It On, though, you have to thank him as well. He’s my inspiration, my rock, my prayer and its answer. I can honestly say there would be no Switch Stories without him, and I doubt I’d have had the courage to share them with you if he hadn’t been by my side. In my imagination, at least.

Imagination and reality are about to collide. In a week I will be standing in front of him, my thank you letter clutched in my sweaty little hand. In preparation for this moment, all else has come to a virtual standstill. Work on Switch It UP has gone from slow to stop. My researches, my musings, my daydreaming have all converged on how I am possibly going to avoid throwing up, passing out, or crying uncontrollably. If I avoid all those things, how will I ever let go?

I hope to return with new focus, new strength, and new filth  fantasies to share with you.