First, I need to tell you about Devlin Masters and Caz Bixby.
Many of you have already met Devlin. He's that sexy lil morsel who gets paid $400 an hour to fulfill the lascivious fantasies of those women who have the means to pay him. He was a LOT of fun to write... a blank slate if you will. Like Coralie, I could mold him into anything I wanted him to be.
Well, in the first book anyway. As it so happens, that rascal had a personality all his own, and he was determined to tell ME who he was, starting with the moment he sat down to play the piano. That's when I realized there was a lot more depth, and potential, to this gun for hire.
See, the thing is... I wrote Masters as sort of a... protest if you will. My bestie asked me if I would ever hire an escort, sort of a hypothetical question to test my boundaries about sex. The more I thought about it, the more value I saw in hiring a guy for sex.
Crazy, right? Absolutely scandalous. But I'm being completely sincere.
I found it both titillating and empowering to write a story where a man is committed to the idea of feminine pleasure, since, unfortunately, in our culture such things are usually prohibited. If a woman exhibits any kind of sexual liberation, like a man, she is regarded as a slut, one whose value diminishes the more liberties she takes.
I have a problem with this, so much so that I live my life in such a way that it is almost absolutely impossible to slut-shame me. I'm quite open about how I feel about sex. I mean, obviously, right? That's how I make my living. I seek to empower women to embrace their own sexuality without shame.
To say that I have a problem with how our society treats women and sex is putting it mildly. I could (and kind of have) written a book on most of the topics that I want to challenge, such as the whole "virgin/purity = value," myth, the "physical perfection = beauty = happiness" myth. In MASTERS, I go after female fulfillment in almost all its forms, using sex as the driving force mostly because that is where we are most discouraged from being empowered and fulfilled.
I'm not writing sex just to write sex. I never do. Ever. There's a point. There's a reason. And the reason in MASTERS is one of empowerment, even when it would seem that my character is powerless. Sometimes you have to learn how much you will bend to know where all those boundaries are. These are important to learn, which is why sexual exploration is such a vital part of the human experience - for both sexes.
Yet sadly, particularly in heterosexual sex, that exploration is often discouraged if you're female.
The statistics say only 40% of women in reach orgasm as the result of casual, heterosexual hookups, as compared to the 75% or higher that men and lesbian women average. I talked a bit about it on Facebook yesterday, where I posted a link about the sexual myths that we need to stop teaching our young girls, chief among them is that when it comes to sex, women are here solely for the pleasure of men. Our pleasure is an afterthought, because we don't care about it as much.
Needless to say, the Masters saga turned into a tale of sexual awakening that dares to defy convention AND permission. And there are just no men on this planet more suited to teach this lesson than Devlin Masters and Caz Bixby.
You haven't met Caz yet, he's in Book Two, MASTERS FOR LIFE, available NOW.
This is not your traditional GV triangle. In fact, I really didn't know what Caz had up his sleeve when he sauntered onto the scene in Book Two. He's arrogant. He's an unapologetic douche bag. He's openly opportunistic. He doesn't promise wine and roses, just dirty sex and lots of it. In the beginning, it isn't even sexual desire that puts Coralie on his radar. Theirs is a painfully honest relationship from the jump.
Well, as painfully honest as one can be when one is an unapologetic, cocky, opportunistic douche bag.
As Coralie peels back the layers on Devlin, Caz is right there to cast doubt on every romantic dream that Dev tries to make come true for her. He's the one who puts a time limit on her happiness, predicting that everything she wants will fall apart before the book's end.
Whether he's right or whether he's wrong... you'll either have to read the book or have someone who did spoil it for you. I shan't.
What I can tell you is that the book was a painful turn for me in many ways, kind of forcing me out of my own comfort zone regarding sex, relationships, fidelity and true intimacy.
Suffice it to say, MASTERS FOR HIRE was the fairy tale. MASTERS FOR LIFE is much more brutally honest and realistic. As realistic as I get anyway. It is one of my angstiest books by a MILE.
This angst is necessary to get you to Book Three, MASTERS FOREVER, which has now been released for pre-order. There's a reason for this, which you will discover when you hit the last page of MASTERS FOR LIFE, ready to throttle me with how it ends. Honestly I have never been more nervous for a book series to publish - and I'm not just talking about Book Two. The entire thing could either propel me forward or drop me on my ass. My stakes are every bit as high as Coralie's herself.
Again, that's your only warning.
"The author has written a very powerful and angst-filled book that I honestly have never seen from her. This feels like new territory for her and I couldn't be happier. There are so many layers and so much at stake for our heroine, I'm beyond cautious as to how it will all conclude." - Amazon review from MJLovestoRead
Indeed, it is all brand new territory. I take the liberties given to me by the Erotic Romance genre all the way to the end, mostly because I really didn't have any choice. Devlin in particular kept me twisted into knots the entire duration of writing this story. Many people who don't write don't understand how these characters often take on a life of their own. They do and say stuff to surprise you on a regular basis, even when you know - ultimately - where they're going. All the little details, and a few big ones, often don't make themselves known until you've breathed a little life into them, allowing them to whisper their words into your ear and tickle your brain with all the possibilities of what could be.
Well, Devlin was indeed Devlish the whole way through. And then Caz showed up, and I was knocked about like a pinball, as dizzy and confused as Coralie herself. They tested what I believe about sex and gratification and feminine empowerment all the while trying to take it away at every turn. Yes... it's that kind of story. Coralie has to fight for that very thing she wanted from page one of Book One: to live life on her terms.
Dev and Caz test how far she's willing to go to get it, which is further than I personally have ever gone with my heroines ... EVER.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because I feel I can. We've gone through a lot together, from the angsty, Kindle-breaking GROUPIE saga, to the bittersweet and emotional FULLERTON FAMILY SAGA. I feel like you'll understand where I'm coming from. Or, you'll need to, the minute you finish Book Two. Through it all, we peel back the colorful, blinding layers of Oz that Dev painted in Book One, to realize that things aren't quite as they appeared to be. You're going to need a friend for this, someone who understands the pain and disappointment you're going to feel.
Basically you're going to need a hug. Every bit as much as I do.
Where these guys came from, I don't even know. But what they had to teach me was eye-opening.
A bold passage from Book Two:
I had made love with several men before him, but none had ever been able to make me come. They inserted Tab A into Slot B and if that was enough to get me there, great. If not, well that’s just how it worked for women. They accepted it. I accepted it.
Not Devlin. I came every single time we had sex. Every. Single. Time. Not just once or twice or randomly like a fluke. It wasn’t some mystery. It was biology. No one would ever think to touch every place on a man’s body but his penis and expect him to “get there.” Devlin knew just where to touch, just how to touch, and what the true objective for partnered sexual contact truly meant. The job simply wasn’t done until I reached the finish line, too.
He taught me to reach it. Expect it. Demand it. Just like a man. And now that I knew that was possible, I knew I’d never go back to settling again.
Not to be outdone, here's some plain talk from Caz.
“You know, you’re not half bad when you behave like a human being. Why do you have to be such a jerk, Caz?”
He huffed and puffed with exertion. “I have a reputation to maintain,” he replied with that shit-eating grin I loathed.
“Being an asshole work that well for you?”
He replaced the weights and sat up to look at me. “Look around you, CC. You tell me.” He grabbed my water bottle from my hand and unscrewed the cap, then guzzled it while his eyes studied my face. He handed it back to me with a grin, as if he knew what kind of intimate liberties he had just taken.
I shook my head. “You just can’t help yourself, can you?”
“Nope,” he announced cheerfully. “Why should I? The way I figure it, we’re all hedonists deep down. We all constantly think about the stuff we’re not supposed to, those things you’d never admit in polite company. But we all have those moments when we pass a stranger on the street and instantly wonder what it would be like to fuck them. We all have those moments where we talk to someone, and suddenly we fixate on their lips, imaging what it would look like on our bodies, or taste like against our mouth. We’ve all had that moment when we wanted to just have fun without consequences, like fucking a stranger you don’t even know, in every raunchy way you could imagine. So why not just do it? Take no prisoners. Make no apologies.”
I didn’t say anything, so he went on. “Sure there are people who, when they think these thoughts, feel like they’re some kind of weirdo. An oddball. A deviant. And a few are. But most of us are just normal human beings, hardwired to enjoy sex for pleasure. We’re supposed to want it. We’re supposed to love it. The problems only arise when we’re told we shouldn’t want it, or that we shouldn’t have it. That there’s something wrong with us if we love it the way that we do. It’s everywhere all the time, yet our society wants to pretend like it doesn’t exist. That it’s improper, or obscene. It’s all bullshit, CC. All this perceived purity? I’ve seen the truth every time someone paid me to fuck them. And the things they want to do,” he crowed with a chuckle. “We’re not pure at all. We just lump lust behind other, more obscene sins like wrath, gluttony, envy or greed, simply because that helps us sleep at night. Like we can forget we’re all animals deep down, happiest when we’re allowed to roar. Look at what happened to you. You can’t honestly tell me that you were happier when you were following all those bogus rules of propriety.”
I didn’t want to admit it, but he was right. “No.”
“There you go. If there’s anything I teach you in these next few months, I hope it’s that. Because that means so much more than how much you weigh or how you look. Some of the best lays of my life have been ugly women who just knew how to take what they wanted.”
I scowled at him. “Way to ruin a moment, Caz. Why do you have to be such a pig?”
He shrugged. “Just being honest, pussycat. But I can see how you might not be used to that.”
So... yeah. That's Caz. Like I said, he's a cocky, unapologetic jerk. It was truly weird having him in my head for months on end. It only helped somewhat that I could use this sexy guy as the inspiration...
But I added equal parts Brian Kinney from Queer as Folks... so - you get what you get.
Are you scared yet?
You should be.
We're going down the rabbit hole with Coralie. There's a lot of symbolism in play to subtly (and not so subtly) wedge Coralie out of that restrictive "Good Girl" archetype where she doesn't belong. NONE of us do, not really, not in the way society has defined it at least. If you're reading naughty books about sex, you've likely been, at the very least, teased about it.
And if I accomplish nothing more than this idea we can be both good and feminine without being confined to being a Good Girl (as in Good Girls Don't) with this series, then that will be a huge win for me, and well worth the time I spent with two of the most frustrating male characters my muse has ever introduced me to.
Frustrating, because I couldn't stay away from them... following wherever they led, even dark places unknown.
I hope at the end of it all, you can regard them as the teachers that they were to me, even when they had a lot to learn themselves.
That's what Book Three is for...
Until then, it's time to embrace a little darkness.
If you're in the mood for something even darker, nay, scary this Halloween weekend, MY IMMORTAL is available for FREE through the 31st. How do you find love when you're a reincarnated vampire?
You don't. It finds you...
Happy Halloween everybody!