Halloween Specials

Hi All

We’re really excited to bring you our very special Halloween interview, were we talk with the co-conspirators of the exciting new paranormal romance, everafter, Trinity Tam and Nell Stark.

“Nell and I never expected our romantic partnership to evolve into a writing one. One day, I was sharing an idea with her and she strongly encouraged me to write it. When I pointed out that I had never written anything longer than a short story by myself, she offered to lend her novel writing experience and co-author with me.”

Find out what makes this pair of writers tick, on both a professional level as well as an emotional one.

This Halloween month also sees Jeanne Nicholas’ review of everafter, which garnered a 4-star rating and rightly so. To quote:

“Stark and Tam have managed to scare the bejesus out of me in their highly skilled effort to introduce Valentine and Alexa, two professional students, who are thrust into the forbidden realm of Vampires and Were’s. The violent act of Valentine’s turning and the progressive changes that take place, puts the bite in the creepy word Vampiric. Deeply in love the two struggles to find the balance between making love and controlling the changes taking place that allow Valentine to dominate her human partner in body and blood.”

Just her write-up had me wanting to sink my teeth into this one.

Other up and coming reviews this coming month, will include:

• SECRETS IN THE STONE by Radclyffe

So don’t forget to stop by and check the ‘REVIEWS’ section for new updates.

Enjoy!

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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Nell Stark & Trinity Tam Interview

It’s my delight this month to be able to bring you the KBV interview with the writing team of veteran, Nell Stark, and her cohort in love as well as writing, Trinity Tam. Who, herself, is no stranger to writing; an award-winning writer-producer of movies and television.

KBV: First of all would you like to tell our readers a little bit about yourselves?

Nell: I’m a graduate student of English literature, specializing in the early medieval period, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aside from everafter, I’ve written two other books, Running With the Wind and Homecoming, as well as several short stories.

Trin: I live in New York City and work in the music industry. everafter is my first novel, but I co-produced the award-winning, independent film Red Doors, and have also written for television.

KBV: What was it that brought you together, to write as a team?

Trin: Nell and I never expected our romantic partnership to evolve into a writing one. One day, I was sharing an idea with her and she strongly encouraged me to write it. When I pointed out that I had never written anything longer than a short story by myself, she offered to lend her novel writing experience and co-author with me.

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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everafter

Title: EVERAFTER
Author: Nell Stark & Trinity Tam
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, 2009
ISBN 10: 1-60282-119-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-119-4
Rated: 4 Stars
Genre: Paranormal Romance


How far would you go to save your lover’s soul?

When medical student Valentine Darrow is bitten by a Vampire on her way home to propose to her lover, Alexa Newland, her life becomes a nightmare. She is consumed—both by a craving for human blood, and by an obsession to find her attacker and bring him to justice. Alexa is determined to be everything that Valentine needs, but when Val’s appetite outstrips Alexa’s ability to nourish her, Alexa risks her life to save her lover.  
 
Will Valentine be able to control her thirst—for blood and for vengeance? And can Valentine and Alexa’s relationship endure against seemingly impossible odds?

Stark and Tam have managed to scare the bejesus out of me in their highly skilled effort to introduce Valentine and Alexa, two professional students, who are thrust into the forbidden realm of Vampires and Were’s. The violent act of Valentine’s turning and the progressive changes that take place, puts the bite in the creepy word Vampiric. Deeply in love the two struggles to find the balance between making love and controlling the changes taking place that allow Valentine to dominate her human partner in body and blood.

“The mere thought of drinking from her made my throat ache more fiercely than it ever had. But I would hurt her.”

Alexa, the soul mate to her now blood drinking, immortal lover, fights to make sure she is keeping Valentine from spiraling into the recesses of guilt and depression in a nightmare she has no control over and has been forced to enter. Alexa becomes the provider for her mate, giving blood and strength and that binding need that only Valentine and she share. With extraordinary courage and brains Alexa finds a partial solution to some of thier challenges.

“I’ve done some research and I think I can feed Val indefinitely if I…”

Meanwhile the plot thickens with both women seeking the vampire that started this life-changing event, and the man who continues to attack others without remorse. A vampire guild and Were guild are examined and the age old question of how is it accomplished, and can it really be true that Vampires and other creatures are in existence, is more than answered.

I have to say the concepts of Vampires and Werewolves being true just creeps me out and I am not a fan of horror or creepiness in my books. I like a nice romance or science fiction story with action and magic. But the writing is superb, the characters believable, the plot strong, and although this is written in first person, first from Valentine then switching to Alexa, it was well done. I have to give these authors kudos and I’m sure this is the perfect read for an October release.

REVIEWED BY JEANNE NICHOLAS

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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The Seduction Of Moxie

Title: THE SEDUCTION OF MOXIE
Author: Colette Moody
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, 2009
ISBN 10: 1-60282-114-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-114-9
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Romance

When Hollywood-bound actress Violet London meets speakeasy singer Moxie Valette, her trip takes an unexpected turn toward love.

New York City, 1931: When wry Broadway actress Violet London and her hard-drinking cohorts venture into a speakeasy the night before she is to board a train for Hollywood, she is floored by sassy blond singer Moxie Valette. As Violet introduces Moxie to an assortment of bootleg liquor, cross-dressers, and sex shows, she vows to find a way to see her again. Moxie is fascinated by Violet in a thrilling and unfamiliar way, and the ensuing evening of bon mots, shameless flirtation, and illicit revelry is unlike anything she has ever experienced. 
 
From Manhattan to Los Angeles, both women’s lives are turned upside-down by separation, unscrupulous motion picture studio executives, self-serving agents, eccentric celebrities, and the collection of hedonistic reprobates that are their closest friends.

Well I’m satisfactorily smacking my lips after reading Colette Moody’s homage to a charming historical romance based in the wild 1930’s jaunt-de jour. What a fantastic book! Kudos to the author for her diligence with researching the history and lingo of 1930′s, adding whimsicality with the changes taking place in the sexual race of class and morality of that particular time period, and the superb burst out laughing hysterical repartee that was generated between the characters. Great romance, great plot, great cameo’s thrown in with happenstance, fantastic backdrops of New York and then Los Angeles, super sweet, sexy, fun, sensuality, and all based in the 1930’s where the author has wrapped the stars of the story around Hollywood’s crème de la crème.

This delicious book is 238 pages of entertainment between Violet London and Moxie Valette and all their twisted but lovable friends. A night out on the town right before Violet leaves sets the stage for Moxie to take in the more interesting lifestyle of eccentric, hedonistic, sexually capricious devil worshipers, although none of them have yet to mention Satan. The evening of debaucheries is an eye opener and her party is completely charismatic with the wit of a clever minx (Violet) filled with amorous intent.

A few very interesting exchanged letters leads to a lust filled romance and plenty of give and take in all the right areas. I truly appreciated the effort this author managed in taking my breath away once in a while with the blatant desire expressed between these two women.

“Violets voice was suddenly soft and raspy. “Then we take a cab back to the Garden, where I can spend a few hours making love to you.” Moxie replied “…I find it mildly infuriating that when I’m with you, you make sure that I can never have on dry underpants.”

And the conversation goes down from there…yes waaay down.

I guess I must point out the weak side of the book, it you want to really know. Why o why is Irene in this story. Lady Dulce could have been a chaperone!!! Also, for those of you who aren’t into cussing or have a weak constitution for crudity and offensive terminology such as gams, jugs, ass, cunt, snatch, penis, dick, or worse, I’d say read this for the enjoyment and just scan over the other 50%.

I was really wondering about the complete change of venue for the ending and I was a little bummed on that but since I love the characters I let that slide. All in all, I haven’t read a historical piece that rated quite this high since a fave author of the Gaslight Series began posting her work. Colette Moody has really entertained me and if I ever find me a dog named Clitty I’ll rub him all day, with laughter in my heart.

Great book! We want more. We want more.

REVIEWED BY JEANNE NICHOLAS

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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Arusha

Title: ARUSHA
Author: J.E. Knowles
Publisher: Spinsters Ink, 2009
ISBN: 978-1935226093
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Drama


Edith Rignaldi, the forty-something wife and mother at the heart of this novel, lives a life of quiet desperation in small-town Tennessee until her family falls apart and she begins to discover herself. The narrative voice shifts from Edith’s viewpoint to those of her husband Joe, her son Jeremy and her daughter Dana. All the viewpoints are handled sensitively and clearly enough not to confuse the reader.

The author knows her territory. The suffocating community of Poudre Valley, Tennessee (site of a munitions factory during the American War of Independence in the 1770s, named in honour of the French allies of the American colonists) is dominated by the Methodist morality that Edith grew up with, and its chief mouthpiece in the book is her Aunt Anna, who brings God into every conversation. Edith is a Grade Eight science teacher who considers herself conservative at the beginning of the book because she more-or-less accepts the family values that her family has practiced for generations.

During the scene-setting chapters, the reader learns that Joe is sexually frustrated and that Edith simply accepts the fact that sex only happens when a couple wants to make a baby. Slowly, it becomes clear that Joe and Edith have had a pact from the time he proposed to her in 1970. He knew then that he was attracted to men, but he wanted children and was terrified of the dismal fate of known homosexuals. He loves Edith in his own way, and she loves him in hers, so for almost twenty years they have coexisted in a marriage they both jokingly describe as “arranged.”

Joe (Guiseppi) is one of the most heartbreaking characters in the novel. Edith met him in Chicago, where she went to university, and he agreed to move to her home in Tennessee, where he was bound to be seen as an exotic outsider; his family is Italian Catholic. Soon after the wedding, Joe’s mother Isabella moved south to join the young couple. She lives next door, often cooks for the family, and bicycles to Mass every Sunday while Edith, Joe and the kids go to their own church. For years, Joe seems happy enough teaching elementary school, since he loves the innocent company of children.

Jeremy, the firstborn, seems inarticulate and unreachable to his mother, although he expresses himself by playing the guitar. He and his slightly-younger sister Dana seethe with teenage frustration and a visceral knowledge that their family is not really as it appears to be. Sixteen-year-old Dana calls most of the adults in her life “hypocrites.” When Jeremy has his first epileptic seizure, this is the catalyst that starts shaking the family apart.

Is this really a lesbian novel? Yes, but the woman-to-woman attraction doesn’t appear until more than halfway through the narrative, and then it only reaches fruition (so to speak) when Edith, her daughter Dana and their two close female friends go on a once-in-lifetime trip to Arusha, a town in east Africa where actual peace talks in 1993 failed to prevent the slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda. Somehow the horrific violence in an African country is meant to echo the conflict in Edith’s life.

Edith’s disturbing (to her) crush on Linda, a woman she met in an Episcopalian women’s Bible-study group, is presented as the real love that Edith has unconsciously been seeking all her life. Like Joe, Linda loves children so much that she has been willing to accept low-paid child-minding jobs all her life, and she has gained wisdom through suffering. Unlike Joe, Linda is sexually attracted to Edith and she literally seems like a godsend, although Edith is unable to accept a sexual relationship with her until near the end of the book.

This novel consists of several different plots which are each well presented, but which don’t create a coherent effect. The murder-mystery subplot is suspenseful and resolved in a way that is both intellectually satisfying and emotionally convincing. The descriptions of the small Rignaldi family home, in which everyone desperately needs privacy once in awhile, and where spaghetti stains and knife gouges in the kitchen floor suggest warfare, work equally well on a literal and a symbolic level.

Just as there are subtle cracks in the “agreement” between Edith and Joe at the beginning of the book, there are subtle discrepancies between what the author tells us and what she shows us. Edith claims that she became a science teacher because chemical reactions are indisputable even when shown (or explained) by a woman. However, her stream of consciousness largely consists of word-games: puns and verbal associations. She thinks more like a novelist than like someone who sees the world in scientific terms, yet we are not told that she wants to stop teaching science so that she can write a novel like the one in which she appears. Edith’s awareness of the AIDS pandemic could have led her to think about the biological processes involved, yet it does not.

The reader is teased with questions about Dana’s emerging sexuality. Is she a lesbian with a crush on her worldly-wise roommate? Is she bisexual? Dana steadfastly remains “asexual” (her term for herself) throughout four years of university. She is clearly interested in people but not in sex as such, and this seems to be a quality she inherited from her mother.

Descriptions of the American cultural zeitgeist of the 1980s and ‘90s in this book work better for this reviewer than references to American “conservatism” in the late 1960s and ‘70s. That was the era of Janis Joplin’s famous formula for staying fit: “sex and drugs and rock-and-roll.” It seems unlikely that two students at the University of Chicago in that time would be completely unaware of contemporary social upheavals: the creation of a birth-control pill that helped launch the “sexual revolution,” the Stonewall Riots that kicked off the “gay rights” movement, “women’s lib,” “Black Power” and riots in the ghettos, the slogan that “God is Dead.” Students like Edith and Joe might well have been frightened into a pact to lead a traditional life together, but they would have been aware of making a choice.

The descriptions of wildlife and architecture in Tanzania are colourful, and the conversations about the morality of tourism are thought-provoking, but the claim that the four women are going there as “witnesses” in a Christian sense, rather than as tourists, seems hollow. They are on a tour rather than a mission of any kind, and although one of the women is of African descent and has some knowledge of several languages, none of them has any chance of influencing political events in the region. The massacre in Rwanda ultimately looks like a red herring or a digression from the major issues that have already been introduced.

However, the author knows how to set a scene and introduce characters that can be imagined living in the real world. For patient readers who are not looking for lots of hot lesbian sex, this book is a rewarding read.

REVIEWED BY JEAN ROBERTA

Jean Roberta

Jean teaches English in a Canadian prairie university, where she is also a consulting editor for the literary journal.

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