UCLA Beach Volleyball: Court 4

As my Bruins fight it out for the NCAA championship today, here’s the next set of photos from that ultimately elbow-painful day in Santa Monica. That’s Mac wearing the #1 and Zap in #34.



Book Reviews: Erotic Quixotes and Groupies

Grey’s Promise
A surgeon scarred by her past finally wants to confront her repressed memories, but needs her meant-to-be but-never-happened to help her, despite how often she’d spurned him in the past.
First of all, I have a problem with this title. This is clearly her story, so why does the title feature the man?
There are three parts to this novel, one more prominent than the others; that of course is the love story. Her psychological well-being is another, while the third is the mystery of what happened to her and her family so long ago. Also present is some erotica, though even though this book is listed as such, there really isn’t very much of it here.
First, the mystery. There are more than enough clues given to make one of the characters the obvious perpetrator, so much so that I figured it couldn’t actually be this easy. In a way I was right, but after a little thinking, the real “bad guy” wasn’t hard to figure out either. The psychological stuff was done better, though at times heavy-handed. As far as the erotica is concerned, the problem is that with reunited stories they spend so much time finding reasons to not get together that there isn’t much physical loving until the end, thus making me wonder why it goes under that label.
And as for the romance, these characters went over the same ground over and over. It’s rare when a female protagonist is as stubborn as the male, but it happens here. I usually like the female leads, and I really tried to this time, but it wasn’t till the end that I was convinced she was a doctor, especially a neonatal surgeon; her personality and judgement made her seem like anything but. And I’m glad someone at the end finally called him on his crap as to why he wouldn’t go all the way with her.
It annoys me that I couldn’t like this more.

Domme Quixote
A dominatrix struggling to pay the rent for her club puts on a show and embarrasses a mobster who insults her with his attitude. Hilarity tries to ensue, but it’s not allowed.
Most stories involving dominatrices feature them having a screwed up regular life, and this one is no exception. Her desire for her security chief clouds her judgement at the worst times, but it’s her stubbornness and ego, just as much as the mobster’s, that escalate things into such dangerous situations.
But even had Don Quixote not been one of my favorite stories—seeing a fantastic version of Man of La Mancha recently no doubt helped—this would have still been a ton of fun. The sex and domination aspects were done better than the romance and mob stuff, especially the shows. There’s more than enough entertaining reading. The main character, in particular, was immensely intriguing, someone I would love to get to know better (though not as one of her slaves!).
But I kept wondering: this guy is in the mob, but he’s not the leader. She mentions she had contact with the mob when she first started the business, so she must know someone who can get Gino to lighten up. But that of course is so simple it never occurs to her. . .

In Deep: Emerald Mountain
A ski patrol boss and his new employee have a past, in which he acted like a jerk to her—though more out of neglect than active malice—and now is taking it out on her in passive-aggressive ways. When she calls him on it, the fire is rekindled, which of course leads to trouble.
I used to ski, but there’s a lot of terms here I don’t recognize. Maybe it’s stuff inherent to the rescue business, but I was definitely puzzled by “bombs” for a while, until it became obvious. This author has either done the research or grew up in this sector.
But despite the unique setting, it’s basically one of the usual stories: two people with a shared past are forced to spend time together. Everything is awkward, they try to avoid each other for what turns out to be wrong reasons, and everything would have been okay if they’d just bothered to talk it out. And yet everything turns out peachy in the end, though this one feels even more forced than most. I’m not bagging on this particular book, just that it’s an overused, by-the-numbers plot that many authors are guilty of using and abusing.
Maybe it was a simple formatting error, but headers to identify who’s doing the first person narration are missing. It gets confusing, especially when there’s a protagonist switch within a chapter.

Mission Insecure
A fallen angel has spent 800 years on Earth doing what caused him to get kicked out of heaven in the first place: sex with mortals. At least he’s not a jerk about it, using his powers to help those with sexual problems while enjoying himself. Kinda reminds me of the show Lucifer, though this character is a lot more human than the King of Hell ever will be.
In this story he manufactures a scenario to get in with a wealthy woman who’s been basically cloistered for a decade after being hurt by her slimy fiancé. Once you buy into that premise, it’s pretty good, with some hot sex scenes in its short length. As a set-up for a series it does the job, and it makes me want to read the next one, which I will soon.

Three Hearts: Seasons of Three, Book 1
Despite what the title hints at, there’s only two stories here. On the other hand, both plots feature two men and one woman, so that answers that.
In the first story, a lady breaks up with her boyfriend and immediately shacks up with her two bosses for a ménage. As the tale of a woman having rebound fun in a way she would have never imagined, it would have been fine, but the scene the morning after was too unbelievable, especially that she went along with it.
The second story features a lady having the worst morning ever getting stuck in an elevator with two flower delivery guys. There’s no doubt that if she wasn’t feeling so down after the chain of bad events hit her on the way to work, she would not have done what she ended up doing with those two guys–especially in an elevator!–but on the other hand it seemed to be just what she needed. It helped that the guys were funny; most hunks in this genre aren’t. This made the story more enjoyable, especially the guess-the-chocolate game, though that felt like it went on a bit too long. Definitely the better of the two.

Rockin’ Him Hard
A short story about a college girl who joins her friend backstage at a concert and ends up in a limo, then a hotel room, with a famous band. She picks one of them, goes off to have sex with him, then is surprised when her friend joins in. Just like that she’s inducted into the society of groupies, or whatever they call it; that’s not me being facetious, as they often use the term themselves with no derogatory meaning at all.
From the beginning I enjoyed the tone, a slight humor in what’s going on without being sarcastic. The writing is smooth, a pleasant surprise as I later realized I’d read this author before and had not been anywhere as impressed. Maybe it’s because of its shortness, but this story stood out more, just a fun hookup and move on. . . to the sequel.

Rockin’ Him Harder
Like the first one, it’s short and sweet. This time our favorite groupie has to share the hunk with two of her traveling sisters.
If you read the first one, this is more of the same. Whether that’s good or bad depends on how much you liked the first one.

Rockin’ Him Fierce
This time around the featured groupie wants the rock star all to herself, though thankfully she’s not all mean and backstabby to her gal friends. Jealousy is present but not explosive, and unlike most stories the people here actually talk to each other to work things out. There’s one big sex scene in a limo, but unlike the other stories, it’s not as much of a focus this time around.

Rockin’ Him Solo
In the inevitable conclusion, the now-in-love groupie and the also-in-love rocker go to his hotel room without any other girls tagging along; the title is bandied about more than few times. It’s kinda sweet, if you want to believe in the happily-ever-after.


Poetry Tuesday: Yellow Its Color

By Jafar ibn Uthman al-Mushafi, somewhere in the Arabian region just before the turn of the millennium. . . the one that went from triple digits to four.

Yellow its color
As if it wore
A daffodil slip
A perfume
Penetrating as musk.

Perfumed and hard of heart
As that woman I want
Mine its color, lover-color
Passionate, strong.

It is pale with a pallor
Loaned from the midst of me
And when she breathes
She breathes its deep odor.

It had grown on a branch
Ripe in its odor
And leaves by then had woven
Brocade for its mantle.

Hand outstretched
Gently I picked it
In the middle of my room
I placed it with reverence
A censer.

In ashes, fuzz
It’s golden body.

Naked in my hand
Under its daffodil slip.

It made me think of her
I cannot name
I was breathing so hard
My fingers crushed it.


Poetry Tuesday: Malediction

Japanese anonymous from the 12th century, for those who thought such feelings were a modern occurrence. . .

May he who bade me trust him, but did not come,
Turn into a demon with three horns on his head,
That all men fly from him!
May he become a bird of the waterfields
Where frost, snow, and hail fall,
That his feet may be frozen to ice!
Oh, may he become a weed afloat on a pond!
May he tremble as he walks with the trembling of the hare,
With the trembling of the doe!