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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Iím Easy, But Iím No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

by Sierra Cartwright

Book Review by Lisabet Sarai



Signed, Sealed, DeliveredThe training of a slave is a classic scenario in BDSM literature. Authors from Pauline Rťage to Molly Weatherfield have detailed the painful progress of would-be submissives as they learn how to serve their masters. Sierra Cartwright's erotic romance Signed, Sealed And Delivered is a worthy contribution to this literary tradition.

Alana Simmons, a high-powered American businesswoman, knows what she wants. She has experimented with kink in clubs, at parties and in casual relationships, and found it exciting but ultimately unsatisfying. She knows that there must be more; she wants to experience real submission, real surrender. Direct as always, she uses her hacking skills to discover the private email of legendary British slave trainer Sir Ethan Kendall. She convinces the reclusive dominant to take her as an apprentice slave for a fortnight.

Signed, Sealed And Delivered begins with Alana's arrival in London. The initial scene had me clapping my hands with delight. She's forced to wait, nervous and uncertain, until long after all the other passengers have dispersed. Finally a stern, handsome man appears and orders her to give him her passport, return ticket and her formal letter agreeing to the training. Then he requires her to discard everything else that she has brought with her, including her expensive designer handbag. Alana finds her first lesson in obedience difficult indeed, especially when she learns that the man is not even Sir Ethan but only his trusted chauffeur Thomas.

Many tales of slave training focus on the physical trials inflicted on the slave: vicious beatings, painful immobility, humiliation, exposure, exploitation. Ms. Cartwright understands that, fundamentally, submission is not physical but psychological. As she illustrates in this wonderful first scene, the essence of submission involves letting go. The aspiring slave must learn to release everything—expectations, fears, inhibitions, privacy, personal desires—and trust her Master to lead her to greater knowledge and fulfillment.

Sir Ethan, the quintessential dominant, intuits what Alana needs even when she is blinded by fear, embarrassment or pure orneriness. He uses both physical and emotional tactics to strip away her defenses and open her to the true meaning of service. Signed, Sealed And Delivered includes plenty of hard-core scenes involving whips, paddles, canes, nipple clamps, butt plugs, gags, and all the other paraphernalia of BDSM. However, these props should not distract the reader from the personal interactions between Ethan and Alana as he strives to educate and enlighten her. He can be cold, mocking, or sadistic, glorying in her pain, but he never forgets that she chose to submit to him, and that he has a responsibility to deliver on his promises.

Ms. Cartwright paints Ethan as a commanding but enigmatic figure, introverted and morose after suffering a severe war injury that has left him partially crippled. He lives in his country house, alone save for Thomas, who is combination handyman, friend, lover and slave. Ethan is jaded, worn out by the process of training all the slaves in his past. When Alana contacts him, he is in retirement as a Dom. He agrees to train her with great reluctance.

Indeed, getting Alana to submit requires all his skill and ingenuity. Ms. Cartwright manages to steer clear of another stereotype in the slave training genre, the notion that someone is a natural dominant, "born to be mastered". Alana has a deep-seated desire to submit, but she's also stubborn, rebellious and amazingly hung-up for a woman with her supposed experience. (In particular, her resistance to female-female activity was a bit hard to believe.) Ethan and Thomas find Alana to be quite a challenge, a very different sort of woman from the slaves they have mentored in the past.

Gradually, Alana falls under Ethan's spell, learning to trust him, coming to achieve her greatest joy in pleasing him. It is, however, a rough road. In one of my favorite scenes, Ethan requires Alana to be observe the punishment of another slave, Celia. Celia, who has graduated from Ethan's school of servitude, is everything that Alana is not: graceful in her bonds, prompt in her obedience, genuinely grateful for her punishment. This sexy scene could have been written as pure titillation, as is so often the case in this sort of tale—oh, goody, a chance to have a nubile new body chastised and ravished, and with some girl-on-girl action to boot!—but the author makes it do double duty, allowing Alana to reflect on the differences between her own faulty submission and Celia's near-perfect surrender.

I was having a wonderful time reading Signed, Sealed And Delivered, seriously appreciating Ms. Cartwright's insight and subtlety. However, then the book ended abruptly, with a sudden flip in the direction of romance clichés that left me a bit disappointed. In my opinion, there are at least two missing chapters. The book needs a chapter in which Alana, nearing the end of her contracted fortnight, suffers acutely at the notion of returning to her empty, superficial previous life. After two weeks with Ethan, Alana is not the same woman who stood by the baggage carousel in Heathrow, expecting a spanking. She has become devoted to her Master; the thought of leaving him should be unbearably painful. The second chapter would show Sir Ethan struggling with his attachment to the headstrong but genuinely submissive American that he has promised to send home, and wondering how to reconcile his attraction with his principles as a stern Dom.

Instead of these critical transitions, Ms. Cartwright has a quick scene in which Alana tears up her contract and declares she's not going back to the States. Ethan and Thomas good-naturedly agree and they all jump into bed together in a traditional ménage à trois that has almost completely lost the edge that distinguishes power exchange relationships.

Despite this rushed and rather implausible conclusion, overall I found Signed, Sealed And Delivered to be intelligent and entertaining. The book is one of the first romance novels I've read that treats BDSM with the depth and respect that I believe it deserves. In a world awash with copycat tales that portray handcuffs and nipple clamps as nothing more than naughty toys, this is a significant achievement.

Lisabet Sarai
August 2008


Signed, Sealed And Delivered
(Total-E-Bound, eBook, 2008; ISBN 978-1-906590-10-9)
Available at: Totel-E-Bound


_____
© 2008 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: lisabets_list-subscribe@yahoogroups.com



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Two
Review by Spooky

Fallen
Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
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Deep Inside: Extreme ...
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Dirty Girls
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Hide and Seek
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Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
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Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Possession
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Spanked
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Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
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Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
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Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Novels

The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Incognito
Review by Donna George Storey

Nicholas
Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Phantasmagoria
Review by Ashley Lister

Reckless
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
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Gay Erotica

Backdraft
Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Leathermen
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Non-Fiction

America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
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Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy