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!

Elle Reads

Elle Reads (1/30/21)

Well the first month of 2021 is almost on the books. Oh and my first book is releasing on Monday 2/1/21 so maaaaybe check that out?

For this week’s readings, I have only one question: Do you like flirty bad boys falling for the precious nerdlets in their life? Yeah, I thought you might. This week I re-read and finished the webcomic Long Exposure by Mars Heyward and read the book Smash & Grab: RELIC #1 by Maz Maddox.

Long Exposure is the story of Jonas Wagner, a senior in high school who gets paired up with his old bully, Mitch Mueller, for an environmental science project. They decide to investigate a flood that once wrecked their town and end up stumbling into a seemingly abandoned, fenced off area of the forest where they both gain surprise superpowers! From there Jonas and Mitch navigate high school, concerned friends, shitty parents, a suspicious black vehicle that seems to follow them wherever they go, and coming to terms with their feelings for each other.

I started this comic ages ago and remembered I hadn’t checked in on it in awhile. Then it took me about 20 minutes to track it back down because I’d forgotten the name and also hadn’t bookmarked it. But I found it and it’s now COMPLETE! There are also print editions available at Indy Planet, which offer some additional gorgeous cover art.

Long Exposure is a quintessential soft, nerdy boy meets hard, angry boy love story. The art style is grunge-y and incredibly unique. The characters are relatable, especially Jonas; I really appreciate a protagonist who is not conventionally attractive. It gives the comic an edge of authenticity, as if it could have happened down the street in your own hometown. Now that Long Exposure is complete, check out the Mars’ upcoming webcomic, Ride Or Die, or support them on Patreon!

In Smash & Grab, paleontologist Simon is working late in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History on preparing a newly-discovered fossilized dinosaur egg when he’s attacked by mysterious and scary men in black. Then he’s rescued by a snarky bat-wielding punk with a pink mohawk named Dalton. After a quick explanation that the fossil of Simon’s focus is being sought by a cartel-adjacent fossil collector, they escape on the road to avoid capture. Oh and did I mention Dalton can also shape-shift into a raptor? As Simon and Dalton road trip south from New York toward Dallas to escape the vicious hitmen after them, they start catching feelings for one another.

This was the first book I’ve read that went anywhere near the “shifter” trope. Smash & Grab is so full of charm and personality and man, I really have a thing for flirty, tattooed bad boys, I guess. The plot and action scenes in this story are solid, as well as the relationship that blooms between Simon and Dalton (Dalton’s “Pretty Simon” pet name now lives in my head rent free). Given that this one is part of a series I’m very excited to read the next installment.

Also, if you are more keen on listening to your stories, an audiobook version of Smash & Grab was released this month.