THE BODYGUARD Delivers Sexy Intense Feels & Brainy Scheming Brits

Netflix’s new show THE BODYGUARD is edgy and hot.  David Budd is a Scottish sergeant, back from duty in Afghanistan, working in Protection Command as a bodyguard.  His marriage has dissolved and his temper is a ticking time bomb.

Yet he’s got to hide his PTSD-ish unravelling to keep his job.  When on duty, he’s relentlessly vigilant in protecting the Home Secretary in London.  [The Home Secretary is the British equivalent of Director of the FBI.]  Her code name is Lavender and as she’s shuffled around London in cars to meetings with the Prime Minister, etc, David is all square chin, clenching jaw muscles and cold eyes. Yet later, when he discovers his estranged wife has started seeing someone those cold eyes melt with pain.  There’s a real throb of sensitive agony in this moment***.

David starts off charged up, and grows in intensity through the first few episodes.  He must stuff his intensity into ramrod vigilance ‘whilst’ on duty.  Is he going to explode? Is he going to implode? Should his wife be afraid of him? Should his boss?

Or is protecting women at the utter core of his character?

It’s a shivery role to play.  Many women in power surround David in his job—(what dream world is this? I like it.) And the actresses are great. I enjoyed Gina McKee as a stiff cool beauty in The Forsythe Saga.  It’s a surprise to see her cast as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit.   Pippa Haywood was a joy in Green Wing, here she plays the Chief Superintendent Lorraine Craddock, Head of Protection Command and Budd’s superior. Again this is a very different role for her–and I like her in it.  Both women occupy senior positions in Scotland Yard, and while I want to root for them, David is sleeping with their biggest enemy and each is a bit (A bit? Ha!) manipulative.

At a certain point (but you knew the show was going there) things heat up between the Home Secretary aka Julia Montague and Our Man.  Their passion is problematic–not just in terms of clashing of employer/employee relations–but there’s also a real clash in political points of view.  Love it! What guilty fun watching two people have sex with a shot of guilty bitter regret.

At this point in the show our hero David seems #SorryNotSorry.  We’ll see if that’s because he’s formulating Very Bad Intentions or what.   We think David is a hero–but is he?  One side of his personality is straightforward and sincere.  The other side has been embittered by war and is unravelling.  He carries homicidal rage towards the vain-glorious politicians who demanded the f*ck fest of what happened in Afghanistan.  Richard Madden** is very believable as a reasonable, caring good guy.  He’s even better as a man tempted to do bad things.  Will his inner demons come to rule?

**You probably know this Scottish actor from Game of Thrones. I *knew* he looked familiar and it tickled the back of my brain for the longest time.

***I admit that while I love an unfiltered Scottish accent, it defeated me at times during the first few episodes. In the end I put on the close captioning (in English).

Promise of Fire Giveaway…

wickedbouchet_giveawayIf you haven’t read Amanda Bouchet’s first book PROMISE OF FIRE you’re in luck! To celebrate the release of her second book BREATH OF FIRE this week, I’m offering a giveaway of her first book (in print) along with a copy of my first book, WICKED APPRENTICE (also in print.)

All you have to do to enter is to like my fb author page at this link.  Good luck!

Protective Heroes & The Second Shift

FeministinsideHeartHey y’all! I just love this blog called ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS.  Have you ever checked it out? I love intelligent writing, and people who don’t take for granted that Romance is just shallow fluff of no value.  Jackie C. Horne raises some really interesting (sometimes problematic) discussions of great romance novels in relationship to feminism.


And I’m responding to it below.  First she talks about women ceding control in romance novels–especially BDSM romance novels.  Is this a metaphoric cry/protest against inequalities on the home front when so many women come home from their day job to a second shift of domestic work? Then she wonders why women are so gaga for the protective hero when (I’m assuming here) we live in such a safe, affluent country where most women in suburbia are usually not needing a body guard.

While I don’t necessarily AGREE with Jackie–

(Who’s safe? I think it really depends on your socio-economic class and neighborhood–but as someone who calls the police on a Saturday night every time I’ve heard gunshots in my neighborhood, I think Jackie’s making some pretty big assumptions here.)

–I certainly respect the points that she’s making. Since I’ve thought a lot about these issues, I had something to say that highlights my own observations and experiences with women and with the value of romances.

Here’s my response to Jackie’s blog post:

Regarding the second shift — I don’t think it’s a form of protest on the part of women to cede control, I think women who respond to this trope are overwhelmed by all the responsibility and want a small break from it, at an economic price point they can easily afford.

That said — as you put it: why aren’t they rebelling then and demanding social justice and more equality? On the home front I think the problem is one of power: of women liking the power so much.  They like being the ultimate one their child goes to automatically–that’s power. The buck stops at Mommy. Friends talk to me about bedtime and say “It’s like I’m the director of the bedtime play.” and they enjoy that feeling of directing the family activities. “You’re not going to dress her like that, are you?” they say to their husbands, who has to turn around and go change the child–Although this undermines his feelings of competence and engagement as he fathers, or at least undermines his feelings of authority in the family–women get a power rush from that too.

I see their ceding power with romances exactly the same as powerful white men in authority cede power to a dominatrix for a lunchtime hour to set aside the burden of responsibility for a while.  Only romances are a lot cheaper.  That’s not to say ultimately women wouldn’t be better off with more domestic equality–it’s just to say here’s an addictive component that gives them something for staying in this cycle.

And finally, I don’t morally judge these behaviors — I just note them as part of the machinery we’ve built in our society.  I think of romances as little happiness machines, providing a sense of fulfillment, entertainment, and easy emotional catharsis to the masses.  Plato would surely disapprove, but having seen too many emergency waiting rooms in my teens, I felt like one woman pulled me through — Georgette Heyer.  So I can’t easily dismiss the power of good romances can do, given how much sh** the fates can deal out to women in life, –and in ways that have nothing to do with female equality.

Regarding protectiveness:  I’m fascinated by this.  Have you read Zero Empathy by Simon Baron Cohen (cousin of the comedian Sasha Baron Cohen?) He talks about the Warrior Gene that they’ve found in studies — a gene that men have which allows them to feel empathy for a small circle of people and zero empathy for “the other” i.e. enemies.  These men make exceptional soldiers who can kill people without feeling trauma, but can also come home and be a husband, raise their children with tenderness and empathy, etc.

I wonder if there is a corresponding gene in women that seeks this Warrior Guy out? (Just wildly speculating here)  I mean, evolutionarily speaking, he’d be perfect, right? Providing protection from enemies, but safe with the children.  And I wonder if we’re tapping into that evolutionary thing when we get all hot n bothered by the protective hero.

The other response I have to your post is that while so many women in America aren’t facing abduction and forced incarceration (though which women are we talking about? There are problems with sex trafficking in America just like there are across the world–but these women aren’t in affluent and suburban areas perhaps) for the majority of women in America there is a predominant culture of rape to deal with.  What is it? 1 out of 4 women have faced some kind of situation that left them traumatized afterwards?  Certainly that’s a lot of women in our culture, and I can see why a protective male hero would appeal to them.  Maybe when our rape culture changes that trope will fall out of favor.

Okay, it’s back to work for me.  (No rest for the wicked.)

3 Problems w One Night Stands & Romance

BarA quick note — Over at Lady Smut, Alexa Day posts her blogs on Sundays.  My responses to her posts are often the length of full blog posts, because she puts these really great profound topics out there, and there’s just so much to say in response.  So, f*** it, I’m just gonna start posting my responses here.  Why not, right?

Okay, so this week Alexa Day posted on

Easy Come, Easy Go: Are We Good With One-Night Stands?

In which she advocates for them, and bewails America having issues with a single woman who only wants to get it on, yo.

Yeah, I agree with her, a single woman who’s got the itch to boink and wants a one night stand should be able to do so, and walk away without taking a hit from society.  I also agree that the neurotic complex America has around women and one night hook ups is multi-layered and profound. Here are FOUR REASONS WHY society shakes it’s heads over women and one night stands:


Some women don’t really want a one night stand–they want more of a connection with a guy but they’ll boink right off the bat simply to get his time and attention. This I’ll-take-what-I-can-get-and-hope-for-the-best happens perhaps out of loneliness, or perhaps on the oft-deluded hopes that the sex will be so ravingly wonderful the guy WILL call them the next week, etc. So when their secret hopes are disappointed, then chagrin, upset, and scorned-fury follows. Men sometimes experience this too.  At any rate, I think some tsk-tsking over one night stands is due to feeling that some (most) women are setting themselves up to be hurt, to get the short end of the stick, etc.  It’s a protective response.

Men and women like this should just stay away from the one night stand world–clearing the field as it were.

QUESTION: is it the man’s or woman’s ethical responsibility to appropriately vet partners and avoid the women/men above who deep down — or not so deep down are expecting/wanting more? The real conundrum is this: would the vetting time it takes to ethically clear someone take longer than one night, thus defeating the purpose of a one night stand?

At any rate, a lot of guys and some women know they’re gonna get burned with the false pretenses kind of one night stand partner mentioned above, and yet they never learn. Sigh.


Then there are women and men out there having one night sex for other reasons. Competitiveness is one I think.  The younger generation often wants to show she’s bad-ass. She wants to show that she can f*** just like the guys do.  That she can f*** just like her girlfriends and earn her equal bragging rights. She wants to show she’s not all talk and no action, so she sucks it up and puts it out there. But that doesn’t mean she’s getting off, and come Monday even though she’s bragging she’s not cringing a little on the inside.  I’m not saying all women go through this, but I’d bet at least 25% do.  Guys too. The worst of the worst is having to have sex with someone because your wing-girl/guy has dragged you along, and you’re stuck at someone’s house over night in someone’s bed, and there are expectations on the part of three other people that you’re going to put out and you cave rather than make a fuss for everyone. This makes me cringe.

Alexa would greatly benefit by all these women just clearing the field.  Another problem Alexa mentioned is safety.  But there’s a problem for one-night-standers that lies somewhere between the perfect one night stand experience and escaping a serial killer.  I’m talking the skeeze-ball in hiding.


You connect with a handsome guy over pricey drinks –a single doctor no less, and a liberal, animal-loving, beemer-driving stud.  But the next morning you wake up in bed with a married, part-time car salesman,who doesn’t remember your name much less what political party he said he voted for last night, and asks you to crawl out the door past all his hunting trophies before his wife comes home with the kids from visiting her folks.  Next week you get a call from him next week because he’s got an STD and passed it on to you. Yes, I’m talking the Mr. Cringe.  Some of us are more sensitive to Mr. Cringe than others. Some no doubt, see Mr. Cringe as merely the price of doing business.


Finally — I myself just never reached that place of sexual sophistication, maturity, and self-sufficiency until looooooong after I was in a committed relationship to handle anything like a one night stand. I mean, some people–like me–just can’t handle it. We’ll walk away feeling empty.

On top of that, I’ve yet to be able to contemplate physically wanting a guy to the point where I didn’t care what he was like on the inside.  Fantasizing about a guy’s outsides is one thing, actually rubbing my sensitive bits against him when I don’t know what’s going on behind those eyes is another. I’m too over-sensitive and overly vulnerable to handle it.  (Which is not to say that people who have one night stands aren’t sensitive and vulnerable. Just not in this way.)

Nor have I ever reached a place where I don’t care that a guy doesn’t care what I’m like on the inside.  Back when I was available I had a perception problem. I felt like I was SO different on the inside from what I looked like on the outside, that a guy being attracted to me based on my looks just left me cold.

Now I see that sometimes people can be cool and humane with each other and boink just for boinking’s sake and that’s enough. But ultimately, I’ve always been challenged with simple interactions like that.

I’ll admit that I’ve drunk the romance cool-aid, ladies and gents.

Click to buy.
Click to buy.

I’ve been talking about Anne Calhoun’s LIBERATING LACEY here lately — which folds right into this discussion.  In this book, Lacey, goes out to have a one night stand and boy does she ever — with a younger guy who’s a cop.  But she wishes it would go on, and it does!  Then she wishes it would go even further–and it does!  Then she hits that point where she realizes that a) she’s never going to be able to have another one night stand–clearly she’s the kind that needs attachment to go through with sex and b) she worries that if the relationship doesn’t continue to grow and deepen, she’ll get really badly hurt.

Not to fear — because this is a romance fantasy and this guy wouldn’t begin to dream of letting her go.  LURV IT!  The book’s resounding popularity speaks to the fantasy I mentioned above–where the guy who has a one night stand with you and just can’t quit you cause the sex is so hot.  The book’s success shows this fantasy is alive and well throughout the heartland.  The more people realize this IS a fantasy and act accordingly in their best interests, the better.

Summer Fun: Stylish Vampire Movies


imagesIt’s summer and it’s hot! I’ve been reading Travis Leudke’s The Nightlife San Antonio

(it’s free on Amazon right now, btw.  We’re talking fast paced erotica. The main character is an ex-soldier/possible sociopath who saves petite vampira with all the Mexican Drug Cartels after her. Think of it as lite dark erotica, if that makes sense.)

–which was making me think of True Blood.  That started me thinking about all my favorite vampire movies–and how some are set in the heat (True Blood and Interview With A Vampire take place close to New Orleans) and some are dipped in cool.

Since it’s hot outside, this is a list of stylish vampire films dipped in cool.  They are all as pleasing to look at as they are to experience.

UNDERWORLD 1 & 4 –Kate Beckinsale is sleek and chic in her portrayal of cold, pissed off Celine, who shamefully falls for a lycan in this action adventure film. (Why only two out of four? Because 2 was a less good version of 1 and 3 went back into the past and wasn’t Urban Fantasy. 4 is not as good as 1 but it’s not bad, plus it has Theo James in it.) imgres

THE HUNGER –Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and David Bowie star in this 80’s minimalist classic of rich NYC vampires, bittersweet betrayal, and how the more things change, the more they stay the same.images-1

NOSFORATU THE VAMPYRE — A German film, by a famous German director, with famous German actors. (Note the references to the paintings of the Pre-Raphealites!) A romantic, suspenseful film.  This is the film that Coppola tried to imitate with Keanu (what was he thinking???) images-3

SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE  — If you’ve seen Nosforatu, then this movie takes on even more layers–but it’s not necessary. This film is two parts edgy, one part satire, one part daffy, one part scary.  You really don’t know just exactly what’s going to happen next.images-2

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN — Vampires, Swedish style.  images-4

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE — Cool vampires looking back while avoiding death in a toxic world.  I could look at Tilda Swinton and her hair all day.  Meanwhile, Tom Huddleston sends me.images


Sharing the Love

Hello Monday!  I just wanted to celebrate with you, dear readers, how great things are in general and share the love.  I’ve been offered a contract for my fantasy romance WICKED APPRENTICE! We have a Goodreads giveaway for our Lady Smut Anthology HERE. Plus, there’s talk of a sequel in the works for ‘Sexsomnia’.  Woot!


I’ve also really been enjoying all my romance writing pals lately.  I feel super blessed not only by their company and their advice, but one of the best benefits of having awesome romance writing buddies is that they are full of excellent reading recommendations.  So this week I wanted to pass them onto you.

Adriana Anders is a huge fan of Anne Calhoun.  I read Calhoun’s work LIBERATING LACEY yesterday and (fanning myself) I really liked it! It was fast, hot, and the hero was grrrrrreat! It was full of the best kind of sugar-kink.  Yowza.  If you are a fan–as I am–of classy erotic romance, then this book is for you.

Click to buy.
Click to buy.

Newly divorced Lacey Meyers wasted too many years yawning through sex in the missionary position. Now she’s looking for a hookup with a man who can make her shatter. What she gets is a hot younger cop with handcuffs…and he’s not afraid to use them.

Need I say more?  Adriana also poked at me and everybody else she knows to pick up Cara McKenna‘s book AFTER HOURS because it was .99 cents. I’ve read Cara McK’s work before.  She’s a great writer–intelligent and sexy-hot.  She’s a bit more gritty than Anne Calhoun, and loves her bad boys, but keeps away from skeeze.  I followed Adriana’s suggestion and got it pronto. Isn’t the cover yum?

Click to buy.
Click to buy.

Elizabeth SaFleur meanwhile, recommended Annika Martin whom she met at the Romantic Times conference.  Annika has this whole kinky bank robbers series.  I got the first one for free: THE HOSTAGE BARGAIN.

Click to Buy.
Click to Buy.

Liz Everly is into everything Susanna Kearsley.  Hey, and you know what? So is Adriana Anders–both are completely obsessed with her, so even though it’s not exactly romance–it’s more women’s fic/lovestory I checked out THE WINTERSEA.  If you like your romance with a bit of the woo-woo factor, a takes-place-now-and-in-the-past-plot, and a lotta Scottish seaside scenery, then you’ll be gaga for this book.

Click to buy.
Click to buy.

Meanwhile, Sue London wanted me to check out Cara Vance, specifically THE NECROMANCER’S WIFE and so I am — and will report back soon.  I have to say, looking at Cara’s books I love the REALLY great sounding plots–just my cup ‘o tea.

Click to buy.
Click to buy.

Lydia Strom has an incredible love life. There’s just one small problem: she died three years ago.

Somehow her husband has found a way to bring her soul back for short periods. Each time Lydia awakens, she’s in control of a different body. 

But not everything is as it seems. As Lydia explores her new existence, she begins to suspect that her husband has been keeping secrets about his past, their marriage, and her death. Now she must confront these mysteries head-on.

Finally Joanna Bourne didn’t exactly recommend this book.  It was more like she said “Oh my goodness, look at what Liz Carlyle has written here!” It’s really funny — because Liz Carlyle’s book cover looks so tame for a historical — no hot naked man-flesh on the cover, no naked backed woman falling backwards out of her open dress.

Not so tame after all. But I'll bet you're curious. You know what to do.
Not so tame afterall. But I’ll be your curious. You know what to do.

Yet apparently it’s got some super-duper hot kink in it. Who knew, right? She’s raking in the one star reviews from her usual readers who are all like “riding crops and anal! WTH?!?”

But hey, maybe this is the start of a new direction for Liz.  Can you tell exactly what kind of sex you’re getting with this blurb?

New York Times bestselling author Liz Carlyle creates her darkest, most sensuous story yet, as a delectable but desperate governess runs headlong into the path of a notorious rake.

Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose daring exploits are only whispered about. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap, then stalks out, references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is burning.

Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty—but the latter is no use to a servant. Her circumstances are desperate, and with Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . . her body.

But when fate sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice—draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.

So my ducklings, that’s the Monday report.  Back to revisions for me! Hope you all pick up some of these great reads and enjoy the rest of your lovely week. Let me know what you thought xoxoxo, Madeline

P.S.  Fun fact: In 2012, my average blog reader read an average of 37 of my posts. Isn’t that crazy? Mmmmwah! Love you guys!