Elle Reads

Elle Reads (4/24/21)

I’m gonna skip the whole “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while” thing because 1) I shouldn’t apologize for having a life and 2) releasing your first book is kind of a lot. And I did say I was gonna ignore the internet and hibernate, so at least I’m consistent.

I did want to share some “Post-Release” thoughts and feelings but honestly I haven’t quite parsed everything out in my head, even though it’s been a few months. It’s tough to sit with the feeling of releasing your story into the wild and just waiting, soul-bared. The short version is I disconnected and tried to stop thinking about “all that self-publishing stuff” for a while. I wrote a lot. I read a lot. I listened to a lot of music. And then it was March, and I had a deadline coming up for my next book release (which is also now out), and now I feel like I have better footing underneath.

Sooo, with that said, here are some wonderful things I’ve read lately that are still banging around in my head.

First up is The Starian Cycle series by Iris Foxglove. Shown above are the first three books; The Traitor’s Mercy and The Duke’s Demon are both available now, and The Prince’s Vow comes out on June 22, 2021.

I found The Traitor’s Mercy while searching for some satisfying m/m BDSM smut, and I’m still shocked I stumbled upon something I absolutely adore for a multitude of reasons. Not only did this scratch an itch, I became an instant fan of the writing style, characters, and the world splayed out in this story. This series has five books planned, and as of writing this post there are currently two available to read.

The first book, The Traitor’s Mercy, takes place in an alternate universe with a biological imperative kink. That was a new one for me, but oh, it’s delightful. The citizens of this universe are either natural doms or subs, alignments which have political implications, as well as sexual, within the noble hierarchy.

The first book follows Sabre, a man whose family has been executed for treason to the Starian crown; though, at the last minute, Sabre’s life is spared. He’s then paraded into the center of town for one of Staria’s pleasure houses to claim.

Enter the House of Onyx, led by a former courtesan who’s paid off his debt to the most notorious pleasure house. Laurent de Rue is unique, self-made noble in Starian society, and his House of Onyx caters to the more unique interests of Starian nobility – more on the S&M side of BDSM – and Laurent discovers that Sabre is a true masochist, a rarity among courtesans.

World building can be overwhelming for me, but The Traitor’s Mercy eases you in. And the CHARACTERS—the other courtesans of the House of Onyx are all distinctive, charming, and often hilarious. A big cast in a fantasy setting can also be overpowering, but each one is given appropriate screen time, and the banter prevents any dull moments.

If you love the idea of a found family of sex workers in a lavish and political fantasy world, with some delicious BDSM scenes thrown in—please, please, start reading this series! The second book, The Duke’s Demon, holds up to the same level of artful prose, with a lovely gothic environment and an extremely endearing demon.

Novae is a webcomic by a duo known as Kaiju. It seems like I started this comic ages ago, but I keep coming back to it because it’s so fucking gorgeous and amazing (and still ongoing!). Full color, tantalizing artwork, interesting characters—this is one of those comics where every page has me in awe at the artistry and the writing.

This Paris-based historical romance features an apprentice astronomer named Raziol, who’s studying under Christiaan Huygens, a real life Dutch astronomer from the 1600s. Raziol is soon introduced to Sulvain, a mysterious mute man who turns out to be a necromancer, the last of his kind. As Raziol and Sulvain grow closer, they get swept up in a series of strange and gruesome murders that occur in Paris, with other magic-wielders (called Magoi) showing up as either friend or foe.

Aside from the art being utterly breathtaking, there’s true beauty in laying ancient scientific discovery alongside magical elements, showing where the mysticism and wonder overlaps between the two. And Raziol and Sylvain’s story is tender and sweet—even as Sylvain beings to admit what he is, Raziol’s curiosity of the unknowns in the world render him less easy to frighten away.

Novae updates on Mondays and Thursdays but has plenty for any new reader to catch up on. If historical queer romance with a side of fantasy is your thing, please check this webcomic out post-haste!

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