Tag Archives: Orgasm

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Deals You Might Have Missed, Week Ending September 15th

15 Sep

Upcoming Books

Historical romance writer Anna Randol is coming out with the final book in her Sinners Trio, Sins of a Wicked Princess, on October 29th, and the print copy is currently discounted to only $4.79, so fans might want to leap on this while it stands. I love her writing (her Turkish set A Secret in Her Kiss blew my mind with its unique voice and setting) and this book, featuring a jaded spy ready to get out of the game and the feisty princess who may or may not be behind his final assignment looks like a terrific end to a great series.

Steampunk maven Bec McMaster has a new book coming out October 1st, My Lady Quicksilver, and Amazon has also been clever enough to lower the cost of this paperback to $4.79 for the pre-order period. This book, the third in her London Steampunk series, combines the elements that have made these books so popular – hot romance, a unique view of paranormal creatures, and an alternate history of the city that’s completely intriguing. I really need to review this series – you find yourself falling for these characters hard.

Contests and Giveaways

Erotic romance author Cari Quinn can always be counted on to provide a sensual and emotional story. Her Entangled novel, No Flowers Required, came out at the end of August to great reviews and if you haven’t had a chance to buy it yet, you may want to consider entering the Goodreads giveaway for a copy. This novel about a down on her luck florist and the sexy man whose family is about to foreclose on her shop is a page-turner, so enter for your chance to win prior to the September 21st deadline. Her even hotter book, Unveil Me, published by Ellora’s Cave and containing two novellas both set in a sex club, is also up for grabs, and you just might win it if you enter by September 16th.

Erotic romance writers Vivian Arend, Lauren Dane, Alyssa Day, HelenKay Dimon, Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers have banded together to for The Hot Spot Facebook page, a communal page definitely worth watching. To celebrate it’s grand opening, they are having a variety of giveaways, so check out that part of the page for more details.

Don’t you remember my telling you what a phenomenal author Laura Kaye is? Her latest, Hard As It Gets (OMG, the cover!), begins her Hard Ink series as of November 26th, but while you’re glancing at the clock, enter to win a copy before September 17th on the Goodreads giveaway. This story, featuring a former military man turned tattoo parlor owner and the daughter of his military commander who has always been off limits, is bound to have her usual blend of heat, great characters, and an emotional story that wins your heart.

For romance authors and bloggers, please note that the excellent blog Romance in Color is having a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and free advertising space and teaser promotion if you add their badge to your website. You’ll notice I’ve already done that on my sidebar, not only because this is a great giveaway, but because this blog is dedicated to heightening awareness of diversity in romance, and that’s a damn important issue. Anyone whose agreed with my lamenting about the dearth of good Native American romance or who stood up and cheered when Meljean Brook gave her acceptance speech for Riveted, you want to be reading what this talented group of readers is putting out. Even if you are uninterested in the contest, do yourself a favor and add this blog to your RSS feed or sign up for their newsletter.

Falling under the “fabulous contest” category, the announcement from Laura Kaye that several romance authors were banding together to offer an incredible prize to the writer who produces a 1500 word fan fiction piece based on one of their novels. What do you get? A free trip to the 2014 RT Convention in New Orleans! This includes registration, hotel stay and a plane ticket (between a $2000 and $3000 value) and you can use as your inspiration the work of Laura Kaye, Sophie Jordan, Cora Cormack or Jennifer Armentrout, whose website has all the details of the contest. Even the runner up prizes of signed books are wonderful, so try your hand at writing using these authors wonderful books as a base.

Fun Stuff

A lot of romance readers enjoy a fairy tale wedding, but what about if you combined your love of romance novels and weddings into…a dress? Yep, Jennifer Pritchard Bridal Design’s blog is featuring a stunning wedding dress made entirely of pages from romance novels. I wonder which ones they chose to cannibalize? Does it crackle when you walk down the aisle in it? Needless to say, there won’t be candles at this wedding.

Do you ever wonder about the pressures on romance writers to produce multiple books a year? The ever-wonderful Popular Romance project has a video clip starring editor (and professor) Sarah Frantz discussing how authors used to put out a book every couple of years, but now they are considered slackers if they do less than two annually (and that’s not counting short stories and novellas). It’s worth watching, especially the next time you’re busy thinking “where is the next one?” for your favorite series.

Yes, aspiring romance authors, it’s that time of year again – Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” mini-online conference and all-around inspiration is about to begin with the friendly editors at this publishing powerhouse coming online to coach you with each aspect of what it takes to be a Harlequin writer. Considering the amazing number of top-selling writers who got their start at Harlequin (many of whom continue to publish the occasional book with them), it’s bound to be educational and (knowing Harlequin) fun.

For your dose of science this week, the Kinsey Confidential blog is going over the literature surrounding “Why Women Orgasm: Do We Really Know?” Lots of ideas, but no definitive answers. Sadly, most men are in the same place as the scientists.

September is an amazing month for readers, particularly those within commuting distance of Maryland! This coming weekend, September 19th to the 21st, Lora Leigh and 18 other fantastic authors are having a Reader’s Appreciation Weekend (RAW) in Hagerstown, Maryland. For only $100, you can hang out with your favorite authors and pick their brains for the scoop on your favorite characters and series, particularly about their new books coming out this fall. With such fabulous authors as Dana Marie Bell, Stephanie Julian, Darynda Jones (!), Mari Carr, Sylvia Day, and Bianca D’Arc, you are guaranteed a great time.

In a related note, perhaps this time more for authors than even readers, Laura Kaye mentioned the fantastic sessions to be offered at the Baltimore Book Festival, at the Maryland Romance Writers’ stage. Taking place from September 27th to the 29th, this incredible festival (which is so much more than just romance, so bring the family) is located in the Mt. Vernon area of Baltimore where they actually shut down streets and let books take over for the weekend. Take a look at the official website for directions and more information.

Great Deals

Lisa Renee Jones’ first book in her Tall, Dark and Deadly series, Hot Secrets, is marked down to only $.99 on Amazon. Capitalizing on the always dependable romance trope of three brothers who start their own security business, this first book in the series stars Royce Walker going after the prim, beautiful ADA who always fascinated him. That she’s as hot underneath as he’s guessed is a bonus – look out villains who want to hurt her, you’ve met your match!

I know you are still sneaking looking at the People or Us magazine with all the royal baby pictures, but please know you can feed your addiction by taking advantage of Harlequin’s awesome “Royal Baby” three pack of Harlequin Desires books based around a happy royal addition. Packing 463 pages from such writing powerhouses as Caitlin Crews, Maisey Yates, and Sharon Kendrick, this $.99 bargain is a must have.

Winning the “Holy Cow Who Is Their Cover Designer!” award is Harlequin Blaze‘s three pack Uniformly Hot! Volume 1 which has three books in the Uniformly Hot! series (and this series is AWESOME) by Rhonda Nelson, Tawny Weber and Karen Foley, all writers who can be depended on for great characters and serious bedroom heat, particularly when former military heroes are involved. Only $.99 for 502 pages of rippling abs, ladies. The packaging does not lie!

You know what’s better than $.99? Free! Ellora’s Cave erotic historical Western, Five Card Stud (book 1 in the Eclipse Heat series) by Gem Sivad is now available for free for people who like a combination of corsets and guns with their sexy times. A bounty hunter and a lady gambler out for revenge provide serious heat in the wild West in this full-length novel, so take a look – it costs you nothing.

Fans of BDSM literature should pick up Love Letters 1: Obeying Desire at Amazon since that’s also available for free right now. I enjoyed the third volume of this short stories series, each of which is based on different trope or subgenre, and many of the same authors write in this volume as well.

For historical romance readers who want a little free present this week, Delilah Marvelle has a tale of a titled and independent forty year old widow who definitely doesn’t want a man in her life. Lady Cecilia Stone finds her opinion changing when she receives the help of a shadowy Russian gentlemen who offers to help her travel to Russia and stop her eldest son from marrying an actress. Pick up Romancing Lady Stone for free to find out how this intriguing tale plays out!

Whew! There’s a lot going on this week. Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

Orgasm, Inc.: What We Can Learn From a Documentary on the Medicalization of Female Arousal

16 Nov

In Orgasm, Inc.: The Strange Science of Female Pleasure, documentary filmmaker Liz Canner is hired by a drug company, Vivus, working on a female sexual dysfunction drug. She is hired to produce sexually explicit materials they can show to women trialling the drug who needed to become aroused for scientists to measure changes. The filmmaker ended up spending nine years documenting the medical industry’s approach to women’s orgasm and we benefit from this interesting (and occasionally scary).

What’s fascinating is how little the medical profession actually knows about the female orgasm – they readily admit they don’t know how it works, or even if clinically increased blood flow (like from the female version of Viagra) contributes to it. But in the United States, we are used to medicalizing any amorphous condition, particularly conditions that might be far more complex than a mere pill can tackle. Because you can’t invent a medical solution until there is a specific disorder, the FDA must approve the list of symptoms as a viable disorder before a pharmaceutical company can come up with a “cure”. In the 1990s, the FDA did just that for female sexual dysfunction, and the stock in pharmaceutical companies indicating they would pursue drug therapies to treat it soared.

What gets developed in response to this new diagnosis ranges from the interesting to the ludicrous. How many women would have an Orgasmatron (no, not the Sleeper movie version of one) implanted in their spinal column to be switched on at will? One older woman interviewed indicated she had never had an orgasm (and in fact is incredibly candid about her religious upbringing and internal battle with letting herself have an orgasm during intercourse) actually gets one of these devices inserted in her body.

Viagra, the little blue pill that changed many a man’s life, brought to you by Pfizer

The controversy is tremendous and not just around spinal implants. Many of the medical experts and doctors readily admit that many of the issues women experience are complex responses to environment, stress, and, um, expertise of their partner. Several news outlets covering the research on the “female Viagra” preferred to focus on the medical experts happy to speak about how this new path of drug therapy (no orgasmatrons were mentioned) would empower women to take charge of their sexuality, yet neglected to discuss these professionals’ ties to drug industries. In actuality, Viagra has been clinically proven to not work for women, so doctors prescribe women Viagra “off-label” since it can’t technically be used for increasing female arousal. But the idea of a pill to fix a frustrated woman wanting that orgasm during intercourse is tempting, particularly when you don’t want to do the harder work of figuring out other issues.

As for the video montage of the arousing images Canner produced? It turns out that even the placebo subjects experienced increased blood flow to their genitals using porn images. How. Shocking. And the lady who had the orgasmatron implanted? Her leg twitched great, but nothing near an orgasm was achieved.

But how much of “female sexual dysfunction” is a matter of partner expertise or an individual’s ignorance regarding their body? Many women can give themselves an orgasm because they know that 70% of women require clitoral stimulation for 15 to 20 minutes, yet movies don’t really show that, do they? This conversation reminded me of the TEDx Talk I tweeted a week or so ago by Cindy Gallop “Make Love, Not Porn“. Gallop, who admits to enjoying porn, discusses the disconnect she experiences in her relationship with younger men who think that the porn they’ve watched is an accurate depiction of sex.

Since most pornography is designed for male gratification, this proliferation of porn watching has the potential to be a problem for women (I’m guessing it’s not exciting watching that 15 to 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation in an hour long video). As I posed in my tweet, my question is: what happens when romance-reading women, who expect sensitive men who really know what they are doing and are happy to dedicate hours to their pleasure, fall for porn watching men who think that vigorous missionary position sex for five minutes is a surefire way to have a woman achieve orgasm? Neither view is realistic, so hopefully both parties will understand that each type of entertainment is fiction. I know that the survey data surrounding romance readers backs this up, particularly since the vast majority of them are in happy, long-term relationships, but I’ll admit to being worried about the porn watchers.

Sex education in America was also touched upon (no pun intended), particularly as it highlights our society’s contradictions. We’re developing an orgasm pill yet the majority of schools teach abstinence-only sex education? Canner interviewed one of the experts at Good Vibrations, the famous store supplying people with sexual aids since it’s brown paper wrapper days (there’s a great store in San Francisco for the brave browser). The doctor interviewed mentioned the historical treatment for “hysteria” when women would go to their doctors for a vibration treatment that would end in a paroxysm of relief, i.e. an orgasm. Yet little sexual education explores the details surrounding masturbation, which, if you’re a fumbling teenager, might very well be the only way you are going to get a reliable orgasm if you are a girl.

So much of the medicalization of the female orgasm is once again turning this conversation – which is essentially about women’s sexual pleasure – into something more clinical and “fixable” rather than dealing with more complex emotional and social issues which could inhibit women from achieving orgasm. With one out of six women having experienced sexual assault, 80% of women having body image issues, and the emotional and physical exhaustion that comes with caregiving and work, you begin to realize it’s amazing women have orgasms at all!

A tour of the Berman Center, headed by sex-expert and television personality Dr. Laura Berman, it was ludicrous the degree to which the “clinic” medicalized arousal. There was a “Patient Concierge” who escorted the “patient” to each professional who was part of the consult – a sex therapist visit to determine any emotional issues, and a nurse practitioner who puts vibrating probes around your clitoris and vaginal canal to see if you experience arousal, particularly while watching erotic videos. Then your concierge in her nice white lab coat can show you the lubricants and vibrators that the medical professionals recommend. The visit costs $1500 which is, no surprise, not covered by your insurance company. I think talking to the salesperson at Good Vibrations would probably be way more fun and a lot less expensive, even if you splurged on the Eroscillator 2.

The footage of the medical conference, complete with exhibit hall of new treatments, was chilling. Born-again virgin surgeries, laser vaginalplasty to make your labia look different (how often do women stare at that part of themselves!?) and special clitoral surgeries are all being added to some gynecological surgeon repertoires. A ton of fashion magazines have had articles about these procedures, but it’s unsurprising when you think that those same magazines are designed to make you feel bad about how you look and then tell you the solution, whether it be a diet plan, a makeup or skincare product, or labia surgery.

The Wondrous Vulva Puppet – $125 in silks and satin

My absolute favorite part of the whole documentary was when the wonderful woman who owned the sex toys store (she had helped Liz Canner chose female oriented porn to get her clips for the erotic video she was to show the research subjects at the start of the film) decides to go the International Conference on Female Sexual Health. She was not allowed by the conference promoters in the exhibit hall, so she rented a room in the hotel and did a presentation for the physicians and researchers interested enough to come take a look. The union of a playful approach to sexual education and arousal and the medial profession is nothing short of revelatory. I mean, seriously, the vulva puppet? I would have watched this documentary a lot earlier if I known this gem was nestled in here. What great way to help women learn about their anatomy! There is a terrific product to help women with Kegel exercises and the doctors seemed impressed with many of her products and their potential to help women maintain good sexual health.

I don’t think that there will be too much romance literature focusing on a woman struggling with the hero to achieve an orgasm, but many of these issues would be extremely valid for writers to bring up with heroine who has dealt with mental or emotional blocks like them in her past, and how a match with the right hero helps her overcome them. After all, fiction is fantasy, and there is nothing wrong with the complex event that is female arousal.

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