Nov 012013
 

Beautiful morningA few days ago Harold (my partner in life, love, and hare-brained scheming) turned 65.  He’s not much for celebrating, but we wanted to do something special. Of course we wanted to make love, but what else? We couldn’t think of just the right thing until the day before. I don’t remember now, how tattoos came up. Initially it was sort of a dare or a jest, then we started talking about tattoos as a form of submission to each other – how cool it would be to channel the energy of pain and excitement into sexual energy.

What if I gave my pain to him while I was being marked by his symbol? What if he actually brought me to orgasm while I was being tattooed? We were intrigued by the possibilities, but neither of us was sure there was a permanent mark we were willing to take on. We had feverish conversations throughout the eve of his birthday. Optimistically I made us an appointment.

The next morning we got together early. I wanted to shower and spend some time connecting, so I started up some Janis Joplin and both of us squeezed into a shower clearly made for one. I adore hot water and slick soapy skin. Things were starting to heat up.

With his cock hard in my hand, I asked Harold what he wanted sexually. Like normal, he temporized, telling me to just go with what I felt was right. I’ve been pushing him more to think about and vocalize the things he desires, so I didn’t let him off the hook.

Going downHe began to talk about me punishing him somehow. I was in an excited sexy place, so it took me a few minutes to realize that the energy had changed between us. It stopped feeling sexy. I immediately centered myself and opened up to Harold. I sat him down on the toilet seat and straddled him, wrapping my arms around him. I could feel some pain from his childhood there – something that I had triggered when we fought  last week. We talked through it until it felt okay for us both. We do this kind of thing a lot and it makes for much better sex.

We walked down to the cabin in the glorious morning sunshine, wearing only shoes and coats. The chill air on my thighs and the thrill of being naked outdoors started to make me wet. There was already a fire going in the cabin. We proceeded to have some of the hottest sex we’ve had in a long time. He went down on me until I came. I strung him up in cuffs and did wicked things to his nipples and balls. I pushed him more than I ever have before and we both reached new heights.

IMG_3613When neither of us could wait another second, I bent over in front of him and let him fuck me from behind, his arms still suspended above his head. This is one of my favorite positions. I bent over the bed, where I had all of my tools spread out. He pounded into me. I rocked forward with each thrust, my breath coming out in harsh gasps, escalating to full throated moans, followed shortly by Harold’s ecstatic bellows.

Evidently my head was bumping my phone in the final throes of Harold’s birthday sex and Siri heard our vocalizations. Her voice surprised us, “I do not understand ‘who, who, who, who.’ I could search the Internet for you.” I laughed hysterically when I figured out what was going on.

From there we drove to to get tattoos, anticipation and anxiety sharing equal space. We knew what we wanted but we weren’t sure where. We talked through the positives and negatives of every possible location. Eventually we went with what felt right for each of us.

Harold and his tattooHarold went first. You have to understand that he’s never wanted a tattoo before. The fact that he celebrated turning 65 by getting his first tattoo is very inspirational to me. I think he enjoyed the process. He got spacey in a charming way, holding my hand. Afterwards, he was proud and blissed out. I love him so much.

This was not my first dance, but I was shocked by how intense the pain was in the tender flesh of my upper stomach. It got better over time, but initially there was no way that I could have sexualized that sensation. I’m just not a masochist. What I did do, over and over, was send the energy to Harold, giving him my pain, taking his mark. He held my hand and touched my face.

After, we were so high on endorphins. I felt amazing. We had so much fun.

We went home to my darling husband, who had prepared an incredible and gorgeous conch and squid ceviche just for Harold. Joel had even managed to find Harold’s favorite alcoholic beverage, Punt è Mes, which is rare in these parts. (Have I mentioned that sometimes it is unbelievably awesome to have two partners who care about each other?) The children had all made birthday cards and gotten him flowers. More glowy happiness!

Heart and delta tattooHarold spent some time talking with his wife and I put the kids to bed. We fell into each other’s arms and the softness of bed. Tired happiness gave way to gentle kisses. deep probing kisses became grinding gyrations. Without any thought we were making love again. Happy birthday Baby and many more…

Feb 192013
 

ScalpelJust so we’re clear upfront – I’m going to be talking a lot about blood here, and how sexy it is. I don’t get off on hurting people, not really, not much, but blood… Blood is intense. Blood is personal, and beautiful, and full of life. Blood holds the codes to the body. Playing with blood in a sexual context touches all kinds of taboos and primal lusts, which is why, when I felt the need to reclaim Harold, we went for blood play.

I’m blaming my friend C. P. Foster, because of some posts she’s written lately about a scene involving blood. The ideas so tickled my imagination that I’ve been waiting for just the right opportunity to explore blood. Last night Harold and I were in a hotel to work on a project, so it seemed like a fine chance for some edge play.

Hearts on his assWe’ve played with blood before. Pretty much any time I’m menstruating is an excuse to get messy. It’s “free” blood – no pain required, but plenty of visual potential. I like the way blood looks, all shimmering droplets. I’m a little bit afraid of blood, of how much I like it, afraid of the darkness inside me that revels in blood. I’m afraid of other people’s blood contaminating me with their disease, but not of Harold. I know his body and his habits like I know my own. I know that he will take pain for my pleasure. So we play with blood.

Years ago Harold bought scalpels for all his loved ones. Some people thought it an odd gift for a person who has been known to cut from time to time, but it’s perfect. Another old friend of mine once said, “The pen is mightier than the sword, but I prefer the scalpel.” Precise detailed cutting is so much better in these cases. For precise cuts with minimal pain, disposable scalpel blades are the way to go.

bloody hearts and weltsLast night, Harold presented his ass. I very carefully and artistically carved three hearts across both cheeks. Immediately they started to bead and drip. Seeing that just makes me well up with love. His blood, freely given, is so gorgeous. But I wanted more.

I was afraid of getting blood on the sheets, so I took him into the bathroom and had him stand in the shower. I caned him, the supple slender rod spraying drops of blood in all directions. I stared at the spatters of blood on the white walls. I swung again, feeling a fine mist of his blood settle on my face. I felt wild with lust. I caned him until his ass was a mess of blood and welts. I kissed him.

We turned on the shower to wash up. Harold bent me over and started fucking me. It is my time of the month, so my blood was coming out as Harold’s cock pulled back and then blood was spurting onto my lower back as he thrusted in, mixing with water and flowing down around us. The whole bottom of the tub was bloody. It was amazing. Under different circumstances I might have been appalled, but it was simply incredible.

Cuts the morning afterLater, cleaning spots of blood off of the ceiling and the toilet, I imagined crime scene investigations. Blood can tell us so much. This was so little blood comparatively, but we made an impressive mess of it. We are the reason people are afraid to stay in hotels.

I feel like we made an offering. We gave our blood, mixed our blood in the crucible of fucking. Blood is the code of life, sex is the dance of life, and all together we are living. Isn’t it marvelous? Blood, life, sex. I’m still basking in the afterglow.

Feb 072013
 

EvoëThis morning I had an epiphany: I am not treating my body with respect. I have worked hard to have a good body image and to listen to what my body wants during sex. I eat foods that are right for me and nourish me properly, but I’m terrible when it comes to not feeling well. When I have health challenges, I do my best to ignore my body’s messages.

I am reminding myself that embodiment, existing fully in the physical self, is not just about sex. To be sure, being present in your body makes for wonderful sex, but it should carry over to other areas of life as well. When I was contemplating that, I was suddenly able to see the patterns that surround my difficulties being kind to myself when I am ill.

As a child I was in a lot of physical pain. For example, I had constant ear infections and ruptured ear drums. Once I broke my wrist and wasn’t taken to the doctor. Because there was abuse in the home, I think that going to the doctor happened rarely, like going to the hospital when my sister almost died from pneumonia.

I was taught to ignore my body’s signals, keep them to myself, not tell anyone about them. I felt ashamed because I thought that anything wrong with my body was my own fault. I was afraid that I was bad for feeling pain, and no one wanted to know about it. I was convinced that no one would believe me if I spoke, and I’d be punished for causing problems. At the same time, I was also terrified that something serious might really be wrong with my body and no one would do anything to help me.

Many of these childhood messages around illness have been further reinforced by my later experience in the culture at large. We’re encouraged to “suck it up” and go to school or work even when we feel pretty bad. People with chronic illness and/or disabilities are often looked down on. They aren’t seen as strong in this culture where we revere the ability to endure pain. I cringe every time I hear a parent tell a child to “man up” or “be a big girl” instead of comforting the hurt. We are taught that pain does not exist, or when it does, it’s weak, embarrassing, or maybe even crazy.

I think some people are drawn to BDSM because it can provide a controlled, “acceptable,” form of pain. Experiencing or providing pain in this context is letting one pain stand in for another, or granting the release of built-up pain. It’s not a bad idea, kind of like going to therapy to work out emotional pain – setting aside time to hurt. Perhaps BDSM is often misunderstood because people do spend so much time denying their pain.

Ignoring pain and sickness is occasionally necessary, as when there are no other options to take care of children, but I have made a habit of it. No, I think I never learned how to listen to my body in this way. I’m trying now. I think being aware of my body around pain and illness is going to be challenging because it brings up a swirl of emotions that are hard to sort, but I know some part of me really wants to be heard, wants to be comforted.

This shift in my way of thinking will help my body get more of what it needs. It will help me negotiate better with unhealthy impulses, such as cravings for foods I’m allergic to. Being able to acknowledging my own discomfort will let my family support me better. I’ve often felt so ashamed and scared of my own pain or illness that of course people don’t know how to treat me, which plays right into my fears that I will be punished or at least derided for malingering. If I can admit to myself that I do actually have some chronic health problems, then I can give myself permission to go about seeking appropriate support and medical help.

I want to be in my body the way I can be during sex – unselfconscious and aware. I think this will make losing weight easier, being more fit easier, and improve my overall health and happiness. I do love my body and all of the sensations I experience in it, and I want to own it all. I’m ready now to accept being embodied.

Oct 082012
 

You belong on your knees

You belong on your knees,
head bowed, hands offered up,
give me your prayers.

Beg me, please, please, please.

I want your submission, sublimation,
I will take from you your sin,
your sorrow, your suffering,
and your sex.

Will you give up everything?
I can hold all of you.

Assume that you are here at my feet
to worship me.
Do you want my full breasts,
nipples hardened with lust,
my cunt wet and welcoming?

Have you come to hurt?
Your pain is mine to have
and heal.

Come to me, little one.
I know how to play your body,
draw out hidden emotions,
make a meal out of sensation,
make you scream, and cry, and plead.

Push past your fear,
and revel in your shame.

Gasp under my kiss,
writhe beneath my hand,
spasm at the touch of my tongue,
but don’t come until I say.

Beg me, please, please, please.

Give me your prayers,
head bowed, hands offered up,
you belong on your knees.

Sep 022012
 

It is mysterious how our jangly energy can eventually come together so strongly. We feel each other acutely. We make love until we flow together, our energies combined. He feels my restless anger. I sense how much my ire invokes his distress, his need to serve and heal. I need magic to deepen our bond before it unravels. He hands me the cane.

I give him my emotion in the form of pain. It is an exchange. He takes my anger and transforms it into something beautiful. I safeguard him, give him a channel for his expression. It is an exchange. I whip the cane hard against his ass, leaving a welt. He lets loose a mighty roar and I rest my hand on his back. He is mine. He can handle this pain because it has a purpose – he is setting me free. It is an exchange. The energy flows from me to him and back again. We have found a place of extreme connection. Each stripe we raise on his ass is alchemy. We are transforming our pain into golden love.

Stripes

Sinful Sunday

Jul 262012
 
Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir

Photo by: http://thenakeddesert.artworkfolio.com/

I meet a lot of fascinating people in my line of work, but even so, sometimes a person really stands out. Meet Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir. She runs a website, sacredprofanity.com, where she talks about kink, magic, sexwork, leather, ordeals, and taboo in ways that make my heart melt. I heard her give a presentation in San Francisco last month and I think she is one of the best presenters I’ve ever seen. Tears streamed down my face while Xochiquetzal Duti spoke truths to my soul. She is a powerful priestess.

Sacred sexuality is deeply important to my own practice, but I had never before considered kink, pain, and power dynamics as potential for sacrifice, both to the divine and to the betterment of the world. Xochiquetzal Duti changed forever the way I view sex by giving me permission to fully actualize the shadow side of my sexuality. I had the opportunity to speak with her in person and have been emailing. I asked her to answer a few questions and here are her answers for all of you…

What do you mean by sacred and profane and how do those concepts shape your sexuality?

I mean those things that we can’t seem to do without, the materials we can’t seem to leave alone, that define us; our identities, our positions within structures, our way of looking at ourselves and where we stand.  Sacred and profane come together in one beautiful word; taboo.  Together those two words mean and describe the space I try to create within my sexuality.  The things that we hold sacred, how can I corrupt them?  Make them profane?  Once I’ve accomplished that, how can I make them holy again?  What has changed about them in their profane state to take away their sacredness?  What change has it caused in me to do that?

Your spirituality is deeply intertwined with your sexuality. Do you believe that to be true for everyone?

I don’t.  I think that we all have the capability to intertwine the two, and that we experience these things, but we lack the terminology to explain what we’re experiencing.  It takes someone willing to delve deeper into those moments of attempted integration; of joining all our disparate parts of self, into Self.  We can all achieve it to some degree, but more importantly, I think we need to work to bring all of our facets in our lives; our views of self as parents, friends, coworkers, etc. need to come together to be a whole person.

What are the benefits of a spiritual sex life?

The biggest benefit to me has been an ability to live an authentic life.  I don’t have to ‘hide’ facets of who I am, I just am and if the person has issues with that, I will do what I can to answer their questions but that doesn’t detract from me being who I am meant to be.  I live fully and completely in the knowledge that all parts of me see the light of day, I lose the shame that we’re expected to have around our desires, it’s very liberating.

You view BDSM as an ordeal practice. Please explain how you use the energy created through consensual sexual pain.

It’s dependent on what areas my brain and my heart lead me to.  At times, the scene is where the energy is directed; if the scene is playing to some abuse that is systemic, then the energy I create does two things, maintains the connection with the top or bottom, and goes toward ending that issue.  For example, doing a heavy abuse scene, domestic or otherwise, will lead me to use energy and intent to feed the idea of ridding the world of those issues, that today I be the only one that suffers this slap to the face and thus save that fate from a child struggling with alcoholic parents.  So much of what I think about and struggle with is how ugly this world has been made by human hands.  So many issues that we created because of our need to hold onto those sacred cows of power and prestige, the need to subjugate another so that we have pedestals to stand on, that we become blind to the suffering of the people we stand on.  I use the energy of consensual sexual pain, to try and do what I can, to end the very issues I deal with on a daily basis; most of them are based in marginalization and lack of recognition of one another’s basic humanity.

What projects you are currently working on and where people can contact you or get more information?

My most current writing projects are two essays in two different anthologies, one for the Morrighan and the other for Odin, both are currently in the gathering the works phase, so I don’t know when they are expected to reach publication.  I have articles that I write for Kink-E-Zine (http://kink-e-zine.com) and on my website, SacredProfanity.com.

The other non-writing project that I am currently investing time and energy into are the Pagans of Color Hospitality Suite for Pantheacon 2013 (and beyond?) and that can be found by this link.

To contact me, feel free to email me at xochiquetzal.duti@sacredprofanity.com and let me know that you found me through Whole Sex Life and I will do my best to respond within 24-48 hours of receiving the email.  I offer divination and ritual creation/counseling but am not a certified counselor so I cannot venture into those areas but I am a really good ear for spiritual talk and rabble-rousing.

 

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May 312012
 

Riding cropLabels get in the way sometimes. I’ve been asking myself if I’m a sadist or a masochist, as though there is a continuum with each term on either end. What I’m coming to understand is that sadism and masochism are separate things. It doesn’t have to be either/or, you can enjoy giving and receiving pain. Or neither. I’m not hung up on the labels, I just want to understand myself and be able to communicate my preferences to others.

I’m not much into pain. I don’t get off on feeling pain, but… sometimes pain is a very nice sensation in the midst of sexual play, like having my nipples pinched when I’m just about to come. The important thing is context – foreplay. I don’t like to be fucked dry and I don’t enjoy being slapped in the face over dinner, but if we work up to it and I’m in the right frame of mind, I would love to be fucked and slapped. Does that make me a masochist?

Maybe if we make a scale of masochism from 0 to 10, with 0 being no fucking way and 10 being I can’t get off without experiencing a lot of pain. Then I think I’m maybe a 2 or a 3.

If we have the same scale for sadism, with 0 being I would never hurt anyone and 10 being I whipped 3 people before breakfast, then I’m probably still a 2 or a 3. I was just starting to believe that maybe I was a bit of a sadist when I tried it out for real.

KnifeI was angry yesterday – one of those days where I just hate everyone and everything for no particular reason. I tried talking it out, first with Joel, then with Harold. I was feeling like having some rough sex and so was Harold, so I strung him up in leather cuffs. I tied up his balls and gave him a thorough work over. I started with some squeezing and light taps and steadily increased intensity until he was sagging in his cuffs.

This may seem like sadism on my part, but it’s not. No really. I love doing CBT (cock and ball torture) with Harold because he loves it. It turns me on to see him respond so much to something I am doing to his body. I like kissing him and blowing him for the same reason – he gets off on it. Harold’s obvious enjoyment gets me totally fucking wet. Am I sadistic if he likes it?

But I was feeling pissy. I thought that maybe I could work out some of my anger on Harold. For all that he loves to have his balls abused, he is not into cock torture. I decided that I would inflict a huge amount of pain on him by caning his penis, thereby assuaging my rage. I got his consent, making sure that he understood. He is a dear man and was willing to put himself in my hands for whatever I needed to do.

Cock and ball leashI was very nervous. That’s probably why I missed on the first stroke. I hit him on the chest. The chest is nowhere near the cock. I was mortified at how un-smooth my moves were. All of my anger kind of dissipated in my embarrassment and concern over the welt that was forming. Still, I gathered my resolve and tried again. This time I hit at the base of his cock, instantly forming a series of purple blood blisters. I was horrified. I actually hurt him!

This is why I say I am not a sadist. Causing pain makes me anxious, not horny. Unless of course, my partner is into pain, and then I’m totally there. I have liked pushing Harold’s boundaries, but only where it turned him on. Yes, I do amazingly painful things to his balls, but is it perceived as pain?

This is what it’s like in my head. I think about this kind of thing a lot, but it’s all just labels. In the end, the only thing that matters is what works for you and your partners. Examining my inner workings can be excruciating… and if I’m not a masochist (or a sadist), why am I torturing myself?

 

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Mar 052012
 

Evoë in the rainI don’t know what’s up with my sex life. I had a root canal 3 days ago and I’ve been in a lot of pain since. I’ve felt so much pain that I gave in and took Percocet. Normally I would avoid narcotics because I don’t like feeling muddled. I don’t want to depend on drugs to feel good. But at a certain point, the pain gets to be too much and I cave. I’ve spent much of the past 3 days high.

Percocet does weird things to my libido. On one hand, being out of pain is a relief and makes me more receptive to sexual activity. On the other hand, narcotics make me feel kind of crazy. I feel distant and detached from my body. But my body is ovulating. My cunt is super wet and ready to go. My brain on drugs considers sex in a philosophical way – contemplating the deep eroticism of touch. I am both turned on and not present in my body.

I want to be sexual. We kiss slowly and deeply. I cut his his hair in a haze of sensuality. We shower together, bodies sliding soapily in the hot spray. His hands grasp my hips and cup my breasts. I enjoy these activities, but my brain never really engages. I never take it a step further.

After 3 days of intense foreplay with little follow through, my brain starts to foment rebellion, ways to overthrow the tyranny of narcotics. I feel manic. I want wild, sudden, rough sex. I need to prove that my body is still mine. I am on fire. I struggle to feed my desire in ways that I won’t regret later. We manage to find a way to fuck long enough for me to orgasm, but it just adds fuel to the fire.

The drugs still cloud my mind. It reminds me of negative experiences, of being drugged and raped, but I am doing my best to reclaim even this feeling. I should be able to take pain medication without being triggered. I can feel sexual because that’s mine. I own my sexuality. I’m always working so hard to prove that to myself. It’s just that the drugs make clear thought a challenge.

Evoë under umbrellaIt’s about control. I don’t want to lose control and the narcotics make it hard for me to think. If I needed to quickly think my way out of a situation, I wouldn’t be able to. If I feel like someone else has my back, I can relax, maybe even enjoy the feeling of being high. Mostly, I am struggling so hard to stay in control that I am allowing myself only a narrow window. This desire for wild abandon is my attempt to open up and let go. I know that I could have a good time, even on drugs, if I just let go.

I made it through last night – trapped in my body and hazy mind, wishing with all my might to be fucked, but doing my best to be a good mom. I wanted to let go. Sadly, no chance for even a few minutes alone with my vibrator. This morning the pain feels less, though the swelling is still present. I think I’m done with Percocet. I want my sex to be clean.

 

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Nov 302011
 

in the showerI’m in agony. Well, no, not really – but I am pretty uncomfortable. There’s a burning sensation around my urethra, just below my clitoris and above my vaginal opening. I’ve been experiencing this discomfort for about 5 or 6 weeks. I’ve gone through two courses of antibiotic, which of course means that I’ve had to battle vaginal yeast infections. I went to pee in a cup a couple of days ago because I still felt the burning, but this time, there were no white blood cells, no infection.

I did some internet research on urethral pain with no Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). I found a lot of women with this problem with varying diagnoses. They talk about how difficult it is to have sex when everything in the vaginal area feels bad. They discuss all of the tests they’ve had and things they’ve tried, but it makes it sound like they will be in pain forever. I started to panic. I can’t feel like this for the rest of my life!

The physical sensations are bad enough. I have managed to keep having sex, but it isn’t as nice as it usually is. How could it be? And often, I just don’t feel sexy. The worst part, however, is emotional. This particular feeling at my urethra triggers flashbacks of childhood abuse. It makes me feel really yucky. I absolutely cannot cope with these feelings every day for the rest of my life. I’m doing pretty well a day at a time, but I will lose it if we can’t resolve the pain. How do women cope with this?

I went to see my doctor. She rocks. We talked for a while about different things that could cause this pain. Sexual transmitted diseases are a possibility. My last tests were fairly recent and everything was clean. I haven’t had any new partners. It does remind me that it might be good to check in with my partners and their partners about current safer sex practices. We haven’t had that conversation in a while and it can’t hurt. My doctor mentioned that I could have a micro-tear or something that I keep reopening with sex. That would suck. It’s possible that something I’m doing during sex is causing repeated injury. I hate this thought. I love my sex life. And I’m pretty careful – I use good lube, I pee after sex, and I use good hygiene. I find myself offering up little prayers like, “Please don’t let it be fisting.”

My doctor did a visual, vaginal, and pelvic examination. My kidneys seem fine. Everything checked out, except that my urethra burns. Ultimately, we decided to wait and see if the urine culture revealed an infection after all. She gave me a prescription for a medication that numbs the urethra. I can only use it for a few days at a time. It turns my urine a bright neon orange, makes it unwise to wear my contact lenses, and upsets my stomach, but I think it’s worth it. Love is not supposed to burn.

I’m trying to keep my freak-out under control. My doctor is working with me to discover the cause of the pain so we can treat it. It’s possible that things will resolve themselves. I’m going to keep trying to have the best sex life I can manage, including not having sex when it feels bad. I’ll keep getting through a day at a time until I feel better. There will be a time when I am not constantly aware of my privates in a negative way. My urethra just has to get better!

Nov 142011
 

A Year of Sex by Mia MartinaBook: “A Year of Sex
Author: Mia Martina
Where to buy: Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble NookApple iBooks, and Google Books

Mia Martina’s debut memoir is brilliant! I devoured the whole book in one rainy Sunday. I generally like reading about sex, but what really drew me in was her brutal honesty about herself, how appealing she is as a person. It’s easy to care about her ups and downs over the course of a year of sexploits and relationships because she seems real. Her voice is so authentic, I want to be her friend. It helps that I can totally identify with her experiences, but I’ve never read anything like this before.

Mia offers some of the best observations I’ve ever heard about sex parties. In her book she says, “Just because you can get naked and fuck doesn’t mean you’ll want to do it.” and “I’m learning that the unknowns about couples’ dynamics are the most interesting part of attending sex parties.” Both very true, in my experience. She does a great job of examining all aspects of a sex-positive lifestyle.

“A Year of Sex” is well written, which is a turn-on in itself. While the sexual content is fabulous and hot, Mia’s story it isn’t like typical erotica; it’s real life, where sex is seldom zipless or seamless. This story titillates, but is dedicated to authenticity, not getting you off (but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending). I even loved the bonus materials: a glossary of sex terms, tips for attending sex parties, music suggestions, and resources for further research. Like parting from a lover after a weekend of bliss, I’m left feeling turned on, emotionally engaged, and sated while yearning for more.