“Ready or not, here I come,” she whispered to her reflection in the mirror.
She walked carefully down the corridor to the elevator and waited, waited, waited for the doors to open. Finally, the elevator arrived and then slowly transported her to the ground floor where it disgorged her and six other hotel guests into the lobby. A quick scan of the lobby revealed that her date was waiting. He smiled faintly at her in acknowledgement, she nodded back. Well, if she was a minute or two late, too bad, she thought.
She turned at the sound of her name on the executive vice president’s lips and said, “Yes, Mark?”
“You look very nice,” he said, dispensing with the polite courtesies. “Where are you going?”
“I have a debt to settle, remember?”
“You have a job to do—the job you were hired to do,” he reminded her sternly.
Again, anger ignited and began to simmer.
“I am doing my job, honoring the debt incurred in obtaining entrance back into the hotel after an unplanned and ill-advised expedition into the city that the board insisted I accommodate and accompany,” she hissed at him.
“Moderate your tone, Cassia,” he chided. “Frank is far too busy to be occupied with administrative work.”
“I have your debt to settle,” she said, enunciating carefully.
“We’re in, all’s good. Ditch the guy and do your job.”
Cassia thought she’d go cross-eyed with exasperation and not a little anger. She said nothing, not trusting her tongue. The executive vice president seemed to realize that she was at the edge of losing her temper and forced the decision: “You’ll either do your job at the banquet or you can consider yourself unemployed.”
Cassia blinked. Still not trusting her tongue to remain civil, she turned on her heel and walked toward the tall man who waited for her, impeccably and elegantly garbed in what had to be a custom tailored tuxedo. Dimly, she realized that her palm itched. Probably to slap her client. She resisted rubbing her hand against her dress so she wouldn’t muss the lace and silk. Thuggery must pay very well, she thought nastily and clenched her fist.
Vladislav straightened from where he leaned against a faux marble pillar in the hotel’s opulent lobby as the woman walked toward him with short, jerky strides. Fury vividly colored her cheeks. He thought she looked magnificent. A smile tugged at his lips and it apparently did nothing to soothe her for she only drew herself up straighter and looked him dead in the eye, even though she was several inches shorter than he even with the stiletto heels.
“Let’s go,” she snapped.
Keeping his amusement quiet, he reached for her free hand—the one that was clenched into a fist—and brought the knuckles to his lips. He gently pressed his mouth against the skin and was rewarded with a small gasp of surprise even as her fist relaxed. He looked into those incredible violet eyes and was satisfied to see the militant glint soften. He turned her hand over and pressed the palm against his mouth. Again he whispered the words of claiming, his lips brushing against the warm skin, and then there was a sting and a tingle followed by a soothing lick.
“Stop that!” she hissed at him, tugging unsuccessfully to free her hand.
He licked her palm again just for the taste of her. Then gently kissed it and released it. She snatched her hand back and glared at him. She glanced behind her and flushed at the looks of leering speculation and contempt from conference attendees who witnessed that little display. Cassia’s shoulders dropped and she asked quietly, “Can we go now?”
I recently tried reading an author's 4-book collection of romances and didn't finish it. It wasn't a "dark" romance, which typically means the male main character falls under the category of antihero and usually makes a living through illegal means (assassin, 1-percenter biker, mafioso, etc.). However, it did feature BDSM relationships between the heroes and heroines, as many dark romances do.
I just don't get it.
I keep going back to sample those stories that sound intriguing, but the BDSM inevitably turns me off as does the usually execrable writing. The popularity of the sub-genre lures me again and again to figure out why it's so popular. The sub-genre has acquired a reputation for poor writing, a reputation that--if what I've read is any indication--it deserves.
Many romance readers like these stories. That's fine. However, I find myself wondering why the heroine doesn't kick said hero to the curb when he imposes rules upon her and controls her life up to and including the way she dresses and what she says. Why is it acceptable for a man to turn a woman over his knee and spank her or even flog her? In any other scenario, we'd call that domestic abuse.
For instance in one story within the unfinished book I deleted from my Kindle, the hero orders the heroine to only wear skirts and strip off her panties and bra when she comes home from work. She disagrees with him on another matter, for which he punishes her by ordering her to strip entirely when she comes home from work. The heroine, a supposedly intelligent woman with a graduate degree, complies with a meek "yes, sir" and no objection.
What the hell?
Not only does this jerk control what she does, he wants to control what she thinks. Were my husband so lacking in intelligence as to have ever made the same demand of me, my response would have been along the lines of "I'm outta here" accompanied by a few choice profanities.
I can't see a relationship in which one party is a puppet and the other the puppet master as being in the least acceptable. What kind of woman, assuming she has two brain cells to rub together and free will, accepts that kind of relationship and likes it? How does any such person maintain any semblance of self-respect in such a relationship?
I just don't get it.
Many of my own books deal with themes of independence, free will, and redemption. Even with the randiest, most controlling heroes, my heroines assert themselves as individuals who can think and act as independent, intelligent human being (or perhaps not human, but you know what I mean). My heroines may comply with their heroes' demands--and, yes, sometimes they're forced to comply--but they don't become puppets.
At least I think they don't.
Atlas from The Barbary Lion, starts out as one of these controlling jerks, but his one true love slips his leash. Sindre from Bear of the Midnight Sun imposes control over Miranda so her alter ego, a polar bear like his, doesn't destroy the human within the soul it shares. Diego in The Eagle at Dawn actually does control Miranda's physical body with disastrous consequences--a violation she has a tough time forgiving. (Well, wouldn't you?) She, too, manages to escape, trading pampered luxury for free will and hardship. I could name a few more, but you get the idea.
Such heroes, whether from excessive possessiveness or protectiveness, evolve to understand that the women they love have minds of their own and those women can (and will) act accordingly. Their women become partners, not subjects obedient to the arbitrary law of one man.
That issue of free will confounds a lot of parents and childhood "experts," too. Protests of "But I told him not to do that" and behavior modification through manipulation forget that children have minds of their own and often act in ways detrimental to their best interests.
But I digress. If you want to read more on that particular topic, I suggest you head to John Rosemond's site.
No doubt I'll try yet another such book with an intriguing story premise and delete it without finishing it. No doubt I'll realize--again--that I just don't get it.
MFRW Author 52-week blog challenge
This week, the #MFRWAuthor 52-week blog challenge wants participating authors to discuss whether social media is friend or foe. The answer, as with so many other things, is "It depends."
The undisputed king of social media is cats. Cat pictures. Cat videos. Anything to do with cats. Even people who don't like cats like cat pictures and cat videos.
So, what does that have to do with the topic at hand? It:
I think the rampant popularity of cats in social media is partially responsible for recent scientific research broadcast by major media about feline behavior. Quite simply, more people are paying attention to cats and want to know more about them, primarily because they've become omnipresent in our lives.
Of course, those of us who are cat aficionados already know how wonderful cats are. Now we (finally!) getting scientific proof.
(Don't get me wrong, I like dogs. I just prefer cats.)
I see this as an example of how social media can turn the tide of awareness and opinion. It can be used for good: e.g., the surging popularity of cats. Or it can be used for evil: false accusations of President Obama not being qualified on constitutional grounds to be president. (This is not an endorsement of the former president or of any political affiliation.)
When it comes to books and authors, we depend on social media to build awareness and, one hopes, pseudo-relationships with readers. We want readers to like us so they'll buy our books. We want readers to trust us so they'll buy our books. We want readers to know our names, because purchases often hinge upon name recognition.
Like many swords, social media has two edges. The downside or back swing of the stroke is that defamatory, cruel social media can destroy an author's credibility. One brutal review can sink a book.
The question of social media being good or bad fails to acknowledge the nuances of the medium.