Tag Archives: Twisted Romance

Private Words by Mark W. Tiedemann

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Private Words
Author: Mark W. Tiedemann
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 12th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: He seemed to think about it.

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Synopsis

Conny and William have been happily married for years. But there’s a catch… Geoffrey. And the power of the pen.

Thoughts

I knew that this story was going to be a little different – it’s in a collection of daemon, lustful stories after all. What I didn’t expect was that it would be far more contemporary than all of the other stories in this collection. That although there was a bit of a fantastical element to the story, it wasn’t a strong one like the other stories. Rather, it was a great little commentary about the ways in which we love and experience love.

This is not a situation in which I ever hope to find myself. In love with one man, but involved with another. Because of the man that I’m in love with. It’s not exactly healthy. And this story definitely made me constantly wonder who it was that Conny loved more. But it was also a tale of love. Not the love that I imagine for myself, but one that I’m sure does actually work for others.

I think that my favourite aspect of this short story is the fact that all of the weirdness occurs through the act of writing. The confusion, the intricacy and the constant questioning of what each character actually feels is all completely driven by the fact that William (Conny’s husband) is writing… and it makes things feel even more confusing and trippy. Which is brilliant. The pen is definitely mightier than the sword.

<- The Light That Passes Through YouThe House of Nine Doors ->

Image source: Goodreads

Heat by Melissa Lee Shaw

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Heat
Author: Melissa Lee Shaw
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Poetry, Twisted romance
Dates read: 15th April 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: The letter bore no signature.

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Synopsis

A disturbing. And kind of beautiful poem.

Thoughts

This is a seriously intense and disturbing poem. And I am completely in love with it. Like obsessed, happy, insanely in love with it. Which is probably weird… because this poem is seriously wrong. Just in that happy, easy to read enjoyable way.

I think one of the things that I liked the most about this poem was that it was focused on the submission of a man to a woman. It was completely centred upon the needs and drives of the woman in this. And the fact that the poor man is left frozen and in a truly horrible position… well, it wasn’t nice. But at least it was something a little different.

Although this was an incredibly quick and easy read. It is one that has stuck with me long after I turned that final page. It is strong, intense and kind of unforgettable. The imagery that just a few words bought to life are seriously potent and I just don’t have enough words for how amazing this writing was.

<- The Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning CloveThe Eye of the Storm ->

Image source: Goodreads

Tastings by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Tastings
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Smoke and Mirrors (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 25th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: You’re very beautiful.

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Synopsis

A male escort and a famous woman are spending one evening together. But what they want from each other is a little more than anticipated.

Thoughts

Any story that starts off talking about an escort and a famous woman is going to be a little interesting… especially when it’s in a collection such as Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers. Then you just know that there is going to be FAR more to this story that initially assumed… after all, it’s a collection about lust and romance in the shadier sides of the supernatural world.

As soon as I saw that this was a Neil Gaiman short story, I got quite excited. There is just something about his writing that I absolutely adore and it draws me in immediately. I didn’t expect the way that this story would go at all though. To start with a male escort who has the powers of mind reading and then switch that to the woman who then completely turns the tables on him… it was a very different approach. And one that I just completely lapped up. I was actually incredibly disappointed when it was all over. I wanted to keep reading about this incredibly weird sexual couple.

The use of a succubus was kind of expected for the collection that I read this in. But the double use of this power and the different ways in which it was manifested was something of a surprise. It was also intriguing when I’m fairly certain that one of the couple was killed at the end… it’s not outright stated. But that’s how I like to imagine the ending of this story.

<- A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and RainThe Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning Clove ->

Image source: Goodreads

Bird Count by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Bird Count
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 10th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: The thing about Lewis was that even when we were together I was alone.

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Synopsis

She’s stuck in a dead end relationship. One that is just easy and comfortable. With absolutely no passion. Until she finds the man… no hawk… of her dreams.

Thoughts

This was a kind of intense story. Which, considering what Yolen’s work is like… I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Yet, it also struck kind of a great cord with me. After all, it was about finding your own happily ever after. Not the expected one, but one which actually makes you happy.

The single minded obsession of a scientist is one that I recognise. It is intense and kind of terrifying at times. At least, I find it a little terrifying how single minded I can be when I fall down the rabbit hole of something that I love. It was interesting reading a short story which talks about the flipside of that coin. The partner and person who loves such a man. Someone who is an extreme of the example… but still eerily familiar.

If you don’t take the “romance” in this story too literally, then it’s incredibly beautiful. If you take it a little more literally… it’s not as beautiful, but still quite potent. Definitely the kind of story that got me seriously thinking… and contemplating. Again and again and again. I look forward to rereading this one in the future.

<- In the Season of RainsA Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain ->

Image source: Goodreads

Attachments by Pat Murphy

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Attachments
Author: Pat Murphy
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Romance, Twisted romance
Dates read: 5th March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: She laughed as she tossed a corner of the blanket over his face to hide his staring eyes.

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Synopsis

They’ve always been attached to one another. But that’s not truly how they want to be. Especially when one brother loves the others’ wife… things tend to get a bit awkward there…

Thoughts

I’ve always wanted a twin. Never wanted a conjoined twin though. That’s just WAY too much closeness. I really wasn’t expecting to find a story about conjoined twins in a collection about daemon lovers though. And, it does kind of make sense – it’s a collection of romances between those who are different. But it was still far less mystical than I was expecting.

There’s kind of a bit of an incestual feel to this story… two conjoined brothers marry two sisters. One falls in love with the other brother’s wife (who is also HIS wife’s sister). It’s kind of sweet in that whole forbidden love way… but also just incredibly complex and… yeah, incestual.

I did absolutely love the ending of this story though. There was just something about it that kind of worked… in a weird and unexpected way. It wasn’t the happily ever after that I was expecting, but it was a great ending nonetheless.

<- No Human Hands to TouchIn the Season of Rains ->

Image source: Goodreads

No Human Hands to Touch by Elizabeth E. Wein

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: No Human Hands to Touch
Author: Elizabeth E. Wein
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Twisted romance
Dates read: 13th February 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: I am the one who is imprisoned in this place.

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Synopsis

The son that she thought she’d lost has returned. And now, in her twisted way, she wants him back. But only to turn him against his father in the worst ways possible…

Thoughts

So this story is disgustingly sick and twisted. And so many levels of not okay. But it’s also kind of impossible to look away from. The way this is written is completely engaging and enthralling. Even when you are kind of totally hating the characters, you still don’t want to look away and forget about what you’re reading.

The main reason that this is impossible to put down is the horror of the storyline. Not only the manipulation that the two lovers keep doing to each other, but also the fact that they’re in an incestual relationship. It is completely disturbing and horrifying. Yet, I really, really liked the story. Very much an Oedipus kind of tale…

This is a wonderfully open-ended story. You’re not really sure whether or not her machinations worked. Whether the son is going to fight against the father. Whether there is going to be a future for the insane woman who drives this story… it is all very… well, open.

<- Midnight ExpressAttachments ->

Image source: Goodreads

Arousal by Richard Christian Matheson

Overview
Image result for alien sex book cover

Title: Arousal
Author: Richard Christian Matheson
In: Alien Sex (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 13th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: ROC
Year: 1990
5th sentence, 74th page: He tied her to the bedposts with silk scarves and blew softly onto her salty mouth, gently kissed her eyelids.

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Synopsis

All she wanted was one night of passion. Something that made her feel things that her husband just can’t… but sometimes such things come at a price… a very expensive one.

Thoughts

Everything in life has a cost. Sometimes the cost is worth it, sometimes you discover afterwards, not so much… and this short story highlights that even arousal comes at a cost. Most of the time it’s one we’re willing to pay, but in the case of this story… she really isn’t willing to pay for what she gets. And it becomes quite tragic quickly after this.

As with all of the short stories in the Alien Sex collection, this is horrifying. At first I was like, okay, being seduced by a demonic force. Been there, read that. And then you get to the conclusion. And you realise that the price is WAY more intense than anything I’ve ever read. Intense, terrifying and a great reminder that sometimes you just need to keep it in your pants and be faithful to the one you love.

Great sex is important. But, sometimes you should settle for good sex and a great relationship. At least, that’s what I got from this story – she’s on the prowl because her husband isn’t able to take her to the super high happy place. The price that she pays to get there… seriously not worth it. Like ick, ew, they did not live happily ever after.

 <- All My Darling Daughters ReviewScales Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Her Furry Face by Leigh Kennedy

Overview
Image result for alien sex book cover

Title: Her Furry Face
Author: Leigh Kennedy
In: Alien Sex (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 27th August 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: ROC
Year: 1990
5th sentence, 74th page: Annie clung to Douglas’s legs, whimpering.

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Synopsis

Douglas isn’t sure how he feels, but he knows that Annie is special. How special is yet to be seen. This is a short story that will make you incredibly uncomfortable.

Thoughts

There is a warning at the beginning of this story that says it will make you uncomfortable. An acknowledgement that it’s not quite what it should be. And it’s a warning worth listening to. The only reason that I gave this a good star rating was because the writing was so brilliant and enjoyable that I really didn’t realise how disturbed I felt until I had turned the final pages of this story. Actually, it took about half an hour to sink in how uncomfortable this story made me. And then I just sat there in stunned silence…

Some people truly don’t understand how to love what they have. In most circumstances this always comes across as refusing to settle and accept that there is love in their lives. In the circumstances under which this story was produced – it’s not such a trifling inability to accept the world. It is something far more disturbed and insidious. Which kind of highlights the horribleness of never accepting and embracing the love that you do have.

I recommend this story to almost anyone. Okay, it’s seriously disturbing and I really don’t know how I felt after I finished it. But the strength of the message and the talent in the writing is intense. It is beautiful and kind of makes you feel less horrible about what you’re reading. It’s definitely a story that you should pick up. Just one that you need to read with a warning…

 <- Alien Sex ReviewWar Bride Review ->
Image source: Amazon

I Am Heathcliff curated by Kate Mosse

Overview

Title: I Am Heathcliff
Author: Kate Mosse, Louise Doughty, Grace McCleen, Nikesh Shukla, Erin Kelly, Joanna Cannon, Laurie Penny, Lisa McInerney, Juno Dawson, Hanan al-Shaykh, Alison Case, Louisa Young, Leila Aboulela, Anna James, Dorothy Koomson, Michael Stewart & Sophie Hannah
In: I Am Heathcliff (Kate Mosse)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
Bookshelves: Contemporary, Short story collections, Twisted romance
Dates read: 18th February – 16th May 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Borough Press
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: Any sound Ellis made was nurtured, grown somehow by the floorboards and the leaded-glass windows, until even the sound of her own breathing seemed to be carried away down the landing, and passed around from room to room.

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Synopsis

16 modern fiction superstars shine a startling light on the romance and pain of the infamous literary pair Heathcliff and Cathy.
Short stories to stir the heart and awaken vital conversation about love.

Sixteen stories inspired by Wuthering Heights.

In Terminus a young woman hides in an empty Brighton hotel; in Thicker Than Blood a man sits in a hot tub stalking his newly-married love on social media; and in A Bird Half-Eaten an amateur boxer prepares for a match.

A woman recalls the Heathcliffs I Have Known and the physical danger she has borne at their hands; in Anima a child and a fox are unified in one startling moment of violence; and in One Letter Different two teenagers walk the moors and face up to their respective buried secrets.

Curated by Kate Mosse and commissioned for Emily Brontë’s bicentenary year in 2018, these fresh, modern stories pulse with the raw beauty and pain of love and are as timely as they are illuminating.

Thoughts

I did enjoy this collection, but not as much as I had hoped. Probably because I bought this before reading Wuthering Heights. Which I then hated. So although this collection went a long way towards helping me to understand just why people love the classic so much. I still didn’t really love the obsessive, twisted romance that really features throughout all of these. The darkness that is completely overwhelming and more than a little difficult to understand.

Taking an incredibly rich classic, one that has stood the tests of time and creating different storylines and modern perspectives on it is an impressive feat. Collecting all of these stories together in one great collection was thoroughly enjoyable. It definitely gave me a whole new perspective on the classic. And made me want to give it a go for a second time… maybe in a year or two when I’m a little more mellow, and less likely to hate on Heathcliff and Cathy so passionately…

 <- Only Joseph ReviewTerminus Review ->
Image source: Harper Collins Publishers

My Lady of the Hearth by Storm Constantine

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: My Lady of the Hearth
Author: Storm Constantine
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Twisted romance
Dates read: 7th April 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: In time, during our lovemaking I too began to make the sounds and Simew displayed her approval with purrs.

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Synopsis

He has the best of the world – looks, intelligence and a great big estate. Yet, something seems to be constantly lacking from his life. That is, until his feline companion becomes something much more thanks to the dark gift of a goddess.

Thoughts

This short story was quite uncomfortable to say the least. It was a really interesting tale. Certainly, one that I enjoyed reading… but not one that I felt… comfortable about at the end. After all, the romance is between a man and his cat-turned-woman. And although it could have been considered a love story, I just couldn’t get the idea that the woman in the story started out as a cat.

The first story in any anthology tends to set the tone for the rest of the collection. Even if it is of a different theme or tone than many of the other stories in the book. So, I found it quite interesting that this series started with passions that weren’t quite natural. A story about being spurned by the people you are surrounding yourself with and accepted by those that have always been there.

This story was also about respect. The protagonist willingly takes Simew into his life, bed and home. Knowing exactly who and what she was, he still chose to marry her and keep her by his side. Yet, when she didn’t perform exactly as he wished (catching a mouse in your mouth will probably make most people a little upset), he starts to pull away from her. Which is a great reminder of how we should treat the people we love – even if they aren’t quite able to fit into the perfect world view that we have of our lives.

<- Sirens and Other Daemon LoversThe Faerie Cony-catcher ->

Image source: Goodreads