A Fantasy Come to Life?

We all love a good fantasy, that’s why we read books and watch movies. But we don’t often get a chance to live out those fantasies. Perhaps that’s why Halloween costumes have become so popular for adults. When I was a child, only kids dressed up. I checked a popular on-line costume retailer, and they had 3300 adult costumes available, compared to only 2000 for children. Evidently costumes for adults sell better than costumes for kids!

Fictional Characters & Sexy Heroes

What is it about fictional characters and heroes that’s so much fun to act out? The characters touch on some universal sensibility that resonates in all of us. But why so many police officers, fire fighters, and nurse costumes? These are the real life heroes/heroines. Even though Halloween is all ‘play,’ I think people often want to be something bigger or better than we are in real life. Just as we want the protagonists in our books to grow into a better person, and are inspired by that ourselves, I think people often choose to be characters that have qualities they wish to emulate. And sometimes they just want to explore a crazy or gruesome aspect of life that’s usually off-limits.

Men like the Fantasy Too

That same costume shop had 1723 different costumes for women. No surprise there. But they offered only 30 less costumes for men! Women have more leeway in their everyday dress to be flamboyant and outrageous. We can wear any color clothing we wish, and have a huge diversity of styles to reflect our personalities. Men don’t have those options. (But they don’t have the stress of all those choices either!) Although there are more choices now than years ago, men still have only half as many colors available in their clothing. And while women can wear anything from very feminine styles to rather masculine ones, men have limited options. So no wonder men like the opportunity to break out of their limited mold and wear something fun or crazy.

Sexier & Sexier

Why do women’s costumes keep getting sexier and skimpier? I’ve read comments in recent years, by both men and women, that it’s gone too far, the costumes are too slutty. But the stores wouldn’t be showing these wild costumes if no one was buying them. Just as fiction books have become steamier and more explicit, I think that’s one aspect of our personalities we as women too often shut down. Once we’re in a relationship, women are expected to be sexy for their partners, but not the rest of the time. We have to turn it off at work, at school, and certainly as mothers or caregivers. We get so good at shutting down that part of ourselves, that many of us turn to a sexy novel or movie to reawaken our sexuality. But this one time of year, we can let down our guards, and our necklines, and dress like a vixen. For many couples, that little bit of sexual freedom, and the fantasies inspired by these costumes, does wonders for their sex lives. And I’m sure the titillation of seeing others dressed in revealing costumes just adds to the fun.

Have We Gone Too Far?

Since before recorded history, humans have had festivals and celebrations where a certain amount of excess is not just tolerated, but encouraged. It’s in our nature. It allows us to express ourselves in different ways, and gives us a little reprieve from the constraints of everyday life. And if everyone enjoys it, why not?

 

Eat your way to a better orgasm!

I was cleaning out my fridge the other day – not very erotic, I agree! But I was using the time to think about a little plot issue in my latest erotic WIP, and as I removed the now rather wilted asparagus I was reminded of a post I wrote some time ago on food-related aphrodisiacs, and I’d like to share part of that post here:

Some foods, of course, are classically associated with love or sex, such as chocolate (which contains theobromine and helps produce feel-good endorphins in the brain), or strawberries (classed as an aphrodisiac since the times of ancient Rome). But what other sexy treats might be found in our own fridge or pantry?

That humble asparagus – no doubt in its less wilted form – is purported to help men reach orgasm more easily. Did you know that it was a custom in 19th century France for bridegrooms to be served asparagus before their wedding? Avocadoes are another food that are great for male sexuality – it was prized for its aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs, whose name for an avocado actually translates to “testicle”.

What about for us women, you ask? I can offer you basil, which is known to cure headaches (very useful, and I guess it tastes better than an aspirin!), and almonds, which apparently are great for increasing libido in women. Figs – one of my favorite fruits – were prized more highly than gold in ancient Greece due to their so-called “erotic” properties.

Saffron and ginseng are both reported to improve sexual performance, as do bananas (not because of their tantalizing shape, but because bananas contain the nutrients needed to boost sexual hormones in our system).

Nutmeg is another spice that apparently helps raise body temperature and has the added advantage of sweetening the breath of your loved one!

And of course, how could I forget caviar? From a nutritional point of view, it offers a source of protein that bodes well for energy levels, but from a romantic point of view, I think the symbolism of life and fertility, coupled with the delicious flavor and texture in the mouth, makes this one my aphrodisiac of choice.

So, do you really think it is possible to eat your way to a better orgasm? Are there any special foods you love? Any I haven’t mentioned here that you recommend? For a little inspiration, here is a scene involving chocolate body paint from my erotic romance, PANDORA’S GIFT:

 “Hmm.” She pretended to consider her options. “This canvas is nice and blank. Where should I start?” Her paint-laden index finger connected with his nipples. Like hard little pebbles against her cushioned fingertips, the feel of him sent a tremor right to her core. “Here?” She swirled across his ribs, down his abdomen, dipping into one of the shadowed areas that highlighted his impressive six-pack. “Or here?” She swept lower, into the tangle of hair that denoted the start of his manhood, loving the sound of the groan that escaped his lips. “Yes,” she said. “Definitely here.” She refreshed the chocolate on her fingers and curled her hand around the hard, hot center of him, stroking up toward the tip and back again.

“Ah, Pandora,” he whispered, the words coming out shaky and almost incoherent. “You’re a witch, baby, and you’ve got me enslaved.”

“I am a witch, Flint. Haven’t you figured that out yet?” She looked down, tightened her grip momentarily. “And this is one giant chocolate bar I’ve been itching to taste.”

She dropped to her knees and took him into her mouth, almost swooning at the elemental taste of Flint coated in chocolate. She felt his fingers twisting in her hair, clutching, pushing her deeper, encouraging the rhythm, heard his rumbling sigh of pleasure, then he was lifting her up and off him, grabbing her by the arms and depositing her firmly on the kitchen bench top.

“Oh!” She couldn’t help protesting. “That’s cold!”

He stood over her, eyes dark with desire, reaching for chocolate. “This’ll warm you up.”

She leaned back instinctively, spread her legs a little wider, and moaned as the body paint, warmed by his fingers, drizzled down the valley of her vulval lips, followed closely by his questing tongue. The twin sensations of hot and cold, the hard granite beneath her buttocks, the heat of his lips and tongue on her core, was like that knife edge between pleasure and pain that seemed to mark all their lovemaking. “I love it,” she said.

PANDORA’S GIFT is available at Amazon and Red Sage Publishing.

Jennifer Lynne writes sensual and erotic romance including the popular GODS OF LOVE series. MMF menage a trois romance, PLATINUM PASSION, was a Best Book of 2011 nominee in GLBT Fantasy Romance at The Romance Reviews. The recently released transsexual romance, APHRODITE CALLING, was a Book of the Month nominee at LASR and is garnering great reviews at Amazon and Goodreads. SEX CLUB SECRETS, the third instalment in the GODS OF LOVE series, will be out later this year. Find out more at Jennifer’s website.

Review: Dark Powers: Sexy Romantic Suspense

When former Baltimore PD detective, Ben Walker, is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a young waitress and part-time co-ed from a picturesque town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the last thing he wants is to partner up with the missing girl’s sister, Sage Arnold. In his opinion, family members, especially attractive ones, only interfere with objective pursuit of the facts and Sage will be a liability.

Sage Arnold isn’t sure Ben is the man for the job, despite the fact that he saved her from being run over by a truck in the parking lot of Decorah Security just minutes before their formal introductions. He’s irritable, arrogant, sexy–and claims he can communicate with dead people. With all the craziness in her family, the last thing she wants to add to the mix is an ex-cop gone to the dark side.

Ben has a dark secret to go with his dark powers. Guilt over his inability to stop a series of murders on an S & M cruise ship while he was the chief of security dogs his every step. How can he possibly become involved with someone when he is so unworthy?

Sage has had a series of relationships that have gone from bad to worse. She blames her mother’s irresponsible behavior and bad role modeling for her poor choices and for her sister’s disappearance. Sage is never letting another man take control of her life and emotions again.

Despite her misgivings, she accepts Ben as the man for the job. For his part, Ben is forced to acknowledge Sage might be helpful in the small town where everyone knows what you had for lunch, much less who you’ve been sleeping with.

They set off from Baltimore to Doncaster, the tiny waterside tourist trap. After a series of apparent attacks on Sage’s life, they are forced to stay in the same motel room for her safety. As the probe into the missing sister’s disappearance and possible death continues, attempts on Sage’s life escalate, as does the sexual tension between the two.

Dark Powers is a tale of small town politics mixed with shadowy secrets. The twists and turns of the plot and the growing romance between Ben and Sage are seamlessly interwoven by a gifted story teller. A compelling read, with just enough kink to ratchet up the sexual tension without overwhelming the story, Dark Powers is a real page turner. As one of a series revolving around the Decorah Security Agency, Dark Powers can be read as a stand-alone book. The author provided enough background to give the reader continuity without intruding into what is occurring on stage. However, after reading this novel, I’m going back to find the other ones. I highly recommend this book and give it five hot stars.

Good Role Model or Horrid Example?

One of the reasons I read paranormal historical romance is to immerse myself in a supernatural love story set in a fascinating time period. I learn more about the time and the people, while being swept away in the story with larger than life characters. I was mesmerized by the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, two heroic Biblical figures who, many say, had supernatural powers. I wondered how this three thousand year old state affair between two super powers became embedded in our collective consciousness. I also wondered about the impact of this epic romance on our lives today, who the descendants of these royal super heroes might be, where they lived, and what they might be doing now.

In my research, I discovered that despite the differences between and among cultures, four major religions, Judaism, Christianity, Ethiopian Coptic Christianity, and Islam, tell, retell and revere the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The Hebrew Bible, Old Testament in the Christian Bible, contains the story in very short form, but repeats it in two places, in 1 Kings 10:1 through 10:13 and in in 2 Chronicles, 9:1 through 9:12, as if one telling of the event was not enough. The repetition of the same tale in two places was a way to ensure the story would be found, told and retold, even if the Books of the Bible were somehow separated from one another.

As the only foreign Queen mentioned in the Bible who appears to be considered an equal to King Solomon, this mystery woman has been claimed by no less than three countries: Arabia and Yemen, where she is call Bilqis, Balqis or Balkis, and Ethiopia, where she is known as Makeda. Her role in these stories has been interpreted by many scholars in multiple ways. The Queen of Sheba has been seen as a symbol of trade, as an example of nations converted to monotheism in polytheist world, as a warning against foreign women and their wiles, and, finally, as a romance between a powerful king and an equally powerful queen.

Many scholars who interpret the Queen of Sheba as a symbol of trade, point to the significant trade routes that ran through regions under the control of Israel. All trade routes had to be protected from bandits, or the products would never reach the marketplace. Frankincense was so valuable that men who worked in the factories were required to strip and be searched before they left for the day to ensure they took none of the product home. This lightweight incense was prized all over the world and used in religious rituals throughout the Middle Eastern region, especially at funerals. The wealthier the individual, the more frankincense was used. Israel’s territory lay between the region of production of frankincense and many destination ports. Without the protection of the King of Israel, other countries would not be able to thrive and survive. Was the Queen of Sheba merely a symbol of trade and the rest of the world showing its submission to the great and wise King Solomon?

Scholars who interpreted this story as a way of showing King Solomon’s (and Israel’s) favor in the eyes of his Lord, Yahweh, and to underscore the significance of the need for monotheism in a world of multiple gods, point to archaeological evidence of multiple gods and goddesses still present in the time of King David and King Solomon. Archaeologists have found evidence that Asherah, the female goddess, was worshipped in the first and second temples of Jerusalem, alongside Yahweh. Prophets and priests opposed to polytheism may have created the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit and her conversion to monotheism as an example of what other nations should do.  Was the Queen of Sheba merely a prop to provide a good role model for other nations?

Some stories about the Queen of Sheba have indicated her origins were exotic and supernatural, with a mother who was a jinniyah, or genie. Other, darker stories demonize the Queen of Sheba and make her synonymous with Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who left him to become a soul-sucking demon and baby killer. In early times, the war over which god would prevail was a very real one, and priests and priestesses of gods opposing Yahweh were not well tolerated, even killed, on the road to monotheism. Foreign women became synonymous with foreign gods and evil ways. Solomon’s tolerance of his multiple wives’ religions was seen as a character flaw by the Yahwists. Were these stories about the Queen of Sheba created to serve as a horrid example of foreign customs?

Finally, the romance between two great and powerful heads of state is irresistible; many scholars offer strong support of a real love story. One of the strongest pieces of evidence is the use of the Hebrew word in the phrase “she came to him.” There are many different words the scribe could have used, however, the one selected has a sexual meaning, used only in the Hebrew Bible in sexual situations. The romantic description of the meeting and their interactions include such phrases as “she communed with him of all that was in her heart,” “she was left breathless,” and “king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty” makes the reader wonder what he gave her, since she was wealthy, too. In fact, the largesse of her gifts of state is over the top, even for a visiting dignitary. Was it, in fact, a wedding dowry? If so, why did she leave and return to her own country with her servants? What happened? Was this a love lost?

According to the Kebra Negast, the constitution and Holy Book of Ethiopia, Makeda, the Queen of Sheba from that nation, returned to her country with her servants and gifts only King Solomon could give to her:  a signet ring, a child, and a Solomonic dynasty that endured to the last Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie I. For the purposes of KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN, it is this story that I followed and brought to the twenty-first century via the African Diaspora.

Come with me on this epic paranormal journey into the past and present. Here’s an excerpt from my sequel to KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF, my work in progress, KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN.

Prologue

MAKEDA

AKSUM, ETHIOPIA

975 B.C.E.

Makeda clambered up the steep outcropping of rocks in pursuit of a white snake. She’d seen the creature sunning itself on a large boulder, its normally sleek shape enlarged in the center with a bulge the size of a rat, and wanted him. After a big meal, the slithering would stop and he’d be easy to catch. As soon as she caught the snake, she’d drag him down the rugged slope, and shove him in Tamrin’s face.

Stupid boy. How dare he say girls didn’t know how to catch snakes with a tone used for speaking to babies? Even though he was twelve, two years older than her, didn’t she throw a spear farther, ride her horse harder, and catch more pheasants than he did? Fish practically threw themselves on her carved bone hooks. Without a doubt, Makeda ran faster, climbed higher, fished harder and hunted better than all the other children in Aksum and many of the adults.     Hadn’t she brought down a lioness when the predator attacked a woman in Aksum? Everyone else screamed and fled, the cowards. She, a mere girl, had stood her ground and speared the big cat, saving the mother and her unborn child. Her actions had shown the men and boys she was a warrior, not just the king’s daughter.

The only animals she didn’t hunt were the red, long-legged wolves. When she was five, the first time she rode out to hunt antelope with her father and spotted the creatures, a wolf surrounded by a litter of pups locked eyes with Makeda. Frozen in time, it seemed as if the female whispered to her, “Go away. Leave me to raise my babies. Spare me and when your time comes, we will do the same for you and yours.”  At last, she pulled away from the creature’s penetrating gaze and caught her father watching her, his dark brown forehead creased in a worried expression.

“Why do you look at me in that way, Baba? Is something wrong?”

He reached over and felt Makeda’s brow. “Are you not well, my daughter?”

She shook her head. “The wolf snared me with her eyes and spoke to me. Asked for mercy.”

Her father’s eyes grew as large as eggs, and he held up the palm of his right hand. “Stop. Say nothing more of this.”

“Baba, what’s wrong?” She had never seen her father afraid of anyone or anything. The supreme ruler feared nothing. Until today.

His lips thinned into a knife’s edge. “Tell no one. Do you hear me?”

Baba had never spoken to her in such a harsh tone before. Tears rose in her eyes. She dared not speak for fear of choking on her words. Makeda nodded. And they never mentioned the incident again. Now, despite the heat baking the stones beneath her feet, she shuddered at the memory. Stop thinking about the wolves. Keep going. A few more boulders to climb and she’d have the snake in her hand.

A sharp rock pricked her palm and a trickle of blood ran down her arm. Scraped, bruised, and covered in tiny cuts, her hands seldom scarred. Her father told Makeda her mother had healed the same way and her extra toe on each foot gave her special powers. “My heart, you are my little goat.”

Tamrin shouted at her from below. The wind snatched his voice and carried it into the clouds. She glanced over her shoulder and the sight took her breath away. A shrub-strewn carpet of green grass broken up with craggy hills, a wandering river, and scrubby bushes lay beneath her. This is why the Sun God rose each morning. To admire his handiwork.

Nay! Come!” Tamrin’s shout carried to her in a gust of wind. “Soon it will be sundown.” She knew the rest. He ended everything with, “Your father will kill me and my family if I don’t bring you back safely.”

Where was all his boasting and blustering when it came to her father? Vanished like a rat in hole. She dismissed his warning with a shake of her head, pulled herself over a ledge and headed upward, closer to the sun and the snake. Lazy beast. Sitting right in front of a large cleft, the snake hissed, almost as if to say, “Come get me.”

She stood on the boulder. Two more steps and she’d pounce. One, two–just as he was within her reach he turned his head, flicked his tongue, and slipped into the cave. She followed him into the darkness, deep into the grotto, her trusty feet feeling the way. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Aha! Right there on a big boulder. One more step and–

A soundless explosion of light dazzled Makeda. Blinded by its brilliance, she stumbled back, her sure feet slipping, unsteady. Cool and slick, the wet rock walls did little to help her stay balanced. She blinked, shook her head, and gasped. Where the snake had been, now sat a giant. Even sitting down, the ferhenjee, this non-black stranger with skin the color of a young curly horned antelope, was twice her father’s size.

Mouth dry, heart hammering in her throat, her vision adjusted to the light. The ferhenjee had a man’s body with sparks circling his head like embers from a blazing fire. A nose of an eagle, large and strong, dominated his profile. He looked at her with eyes the same color of the sky in the morning. His stare pinned her to the rock floor. Behind him wings, too many to count, fluttered and stirred up a breeze. Her brow, once hot and sweaty, cooled.

Hands clenched into fists, her mind alternated between wanting to fight the creature, run away, or freeze in his sky colored stare. Immobility won. At last, it hit her. He must be the Sun God, angry with her for climbing this high. “I only wanted to catch the snake.”

The giant threw his head back and roared.

Released from his stare, Makeda fell to her knees and bowed her head. “Please don’t kill me, Sun God. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to anger you.”

“I’m not angry, child. I’m laughing.” He chuckled. “Don’t call me Sun God. It offends my King.”

She jerked her head up. The ferhenjee was smiling. “Who are you? Are you from the stars? Who is your king? How did you get here?” She took a deep breath, prepared to ask more questions.

“Stop.” His voice rumbled in her chest. A frown furrowed his brow.

She bowed her head again. Maybe she should flatten herself on the floor of the cave to please him.

“Don’t lie on the ground, Makeda.”

Tremors shook her body and her teeth rattled. Just like she had heard the wolf’s thoughts, he knew hers.

He sighed and a blast of air blew past her. “I am Metatron, servant of the greatest of all  gods, Yahweh. I bring a message for you.”

She peeked up through strands of curly black hair. “Me? Why me?”

“You have a grand destiny. Your son will rule a great kingdom.”

Despite her fear, the notion of being a mother tickled her gut and tore huge gulps of laughter out of her throat. He had to be blind. She wasn’t even a woman yet.

The creature stared at her. “You dare to laugh?”

The girl struggled to regain her self-control. “I’m never going to marry. I will never have children–”

The giant creature stood and his head touched the top of the cave. Her voice caught in her throat. He looked like her father had the day she heard the wolf speak, only angrier.

“Hear me, Makeda. You will become the mother of a nation of kings. Go home and prepare yourself. Learn everything you can about love, honor, and becoming a wise and just ruler, so you can teach your son and his son.”

“I’m sorry, whoever you are. I cannot rule my father’s kingdom unless I am a virgin. It is forbidden for me to marry.”

She was terrified of this messenger and his god, but rules were rules. Her own mother had disappeared when she was a baby. Wasn’t that enough evidence that the punishment for non-virgin queens was banishment?

“I must be a virgin queen. I was born to rule. It is my destiny.”

Sparks flew off him and the room blazed with the light of day. He grew larger and larger, filling up the space with his glow. One of his wings brushed her cheek, soft as the fuzz of a baby bird.

“You are young and foolish. You will grown and learn. Above all else, you must seek wisdom. That is your destiny.”

 

PS: If you are interested in reading more about the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, here are some books for you.

Budge, W. (Translator). (2007). The Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings). Lexington, KY: Silk Pagoda.

Clapp, N. (2001). Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. New York, NY: First Mariner Books.

Coogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z., Newsom, C.A.,  & Perkins, P. (Eds.). (2001). 1 Kings 10:1-13 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 508-509.

Coogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z., Newsom, C.A.,  & Perkins, P. (Eds.). (2001). 2 Chronicles 9:1-12 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 630-631.

Fraser, A. (2004). The Warrior Queens. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Grossfeld, B. (1991). The Two Targums of Esther. Translated with Apparatus and Notes. The Aramaic Bible, Vol. 18. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

Razwy, S.A.A. (Ed.) & Ali, A. Y. (Translator).  (2009). The Qur’an Translation. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile.