What starts as a series of carnal lessons turns into more as two rivals vie for the woman of their dreams.
Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, Jaspir’s heart has always remained loyal to Lady Merlyn. When Merlyn’s fiance, Liam, approaches Jaspir for help in ensuring her happiness in the bedroom, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts. What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons and iis torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.
Jaspir has been in love with Lady Merlyn since they were children, but she has always been out of his reach. Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, his heart has always remained loyal to his true love.
Liam was promised to Merlyn in their youth, but he’s always known that he’s not the man in her heart. With their betrothal approaching, Liam seeks out Jaspir for help. Eager to ensure the happiness of the woman they both love, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts.
What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons. In a society where men are second class citizens, Merlyn is torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.
“Our time is up, Merlyn.”
“Should I buy more?”
Jaspir hesitated. He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against hers. She had his heart, but he would never be allowed to possess hers. He set her back on her chair.
“No,” he whispered. He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “No,” he said more firmly.
Another hour, another day would change nothing. It had taken years to get over her. Who was he kidding? He’d never gotten over her. He never would.
“My time is up because you have another lover coming?” she asked.
Jaspir pulled away from her, staring into her golden brown eyes. “No. There is no one else.”
She cocked her head to the side, the birdlike motion signaling that she was investigating his words. Just as Merlyn only spoke facts, she had a knack for sensing when someone told half-truths.
“I have no other lovers coming today.” Something compelled him to go on, to assure her of her place in his heart. “You own my heart, Merlyn. I have loved you, and only you, every day since the first day I met you. I will continue to love you every day of my life.”
She searched his eyes, her head cocking the opposite way as she considered every angle of his new statement. “Why is it that I believe you? There is no possible way to prove your declaration. Love isn’t a tangible thing that you can point to. It isn’t measurable.”
Jaspir took her hand and placed it on his heart. “Do you feel that? What reason does a heart have for racing?”
“It’s a fight or flight response from the autonomic nervous system.”
“Do you think I’m preparing to flee due to fear of you? Or that I’m preparing to harm you?”
Merlyn shook her head.
“Look at me, Merlyn. What do you see?”
“I see that your pupils are dilated.” Her eyes dipped lower. “Your nostrils are flaring, and you are panting.”
“I can tell you that my stomach aches when I think of you. My palms sweat and I feel light headed. Not to mention what happens in my sex organs. That’s nearly every system of the human body engaged at the very thought of you.”
“These symptoms happen every time you think of me?”
“Fascinating,” she breathed, eyes bright.
Jaspir grinned at the curious creature before him. She pressed one hand to his heart. The other she ran over his forehead. Her fingers came away with beads of sweat. Her thumb returned and traced his lower eyelid.
“I’d like to study this phenomenon some more.” She looked into his eyes. Her own pupils were large, her nostrils flared, her breath came in small pants. “May I return to make more observations?”
Jaspir regarded his longtime foe. Set in Liam’s pale face was green eyes with thick lashes, a strong jaw and a mouth with a thin upper lip, but full lower lip. Jaspir had hated this pale face for many years. He blocked out Liam’s face and focused on the man’s lips. As he did with his more unattractive clients, Jaspir pictured Merlyn in his head, narrowing his world to what these lips would do for her.
Jaspir grazed his fingers along the lips before him. They were thinner than his own. His lessons would have to account for that. “Lesson number one,” he said. “The bedroom is the only place where a man can truly rule a woman.”
Jaspir clasped the chin that belonged to the lips, eliciting another gasp.
“You need to take charge,” he said. “Be in control.”
Jaspir’s fingers curled about the neck and the lips parted as he did so.
“Merlyn thinks too much. Her head rules her entire body. If you have control of her head…”
His fingers went into the red hairs at the nape of the neck that belonged to the lips. With a firm tug, the head went back exposing the neck. “…you have control of her.”
Jaspir let his focus extend from the lips to the exposed neck. His tongue struck out and he licked. He felt the body trembling in his grasp.
“Lesson number two, never do what’s expected.” Jaspir bit lightly at the chin. “Merlyn will anticipate your every move. She can’t help it. She remembers the sequence of things. If you are repetitive, you will lose her. Do you understand?”
Jaspir watched as the lips tried to form words, but the trembling thwarted them. In the end, Jaspir was given a nod of acquiescence.
Jaspir focused on the lips once more. He nipped at them. He nipped at the bottom lip, which was plumper than the top. He nipped at the corner, flicking his tongue out. He continued this random pattern as the lips tried to anticipate his next move, each time failing to predict it.
“Lesson three, make her chase you. Once you—”
The lips cut him off. The lips Jaspir had thought so small covered his own and tried to devour him. For unpracticed lips they were warm and wanton. Perhaps Liam could please Merlyn after all. But first, he had to pay attention.
Jaspir used the hand still at the nape of Liam’s neck to yank him away. Liam groaned at the loss, his chest panting, his eyes hooded.
“Are you listening, Liam?”
Liam blinked once, twice. By the third blink, he’d recovered himself and yanked away from Jaspir’s hold, embarrassment clear on his face. “All right,” Liam said. “You’ve made your point.”
“I don’t think I have.”
Liam clenched his jaw.
“Show me what you’ve learned.”
Liam’s eyes whipped to Jaspir’s. Jaspir placed his hands in his lap and waited.
Slowly Liam raised his hands. They grazed Jaspir’s chin. The soft, un-callused fingers reminding Jaspir of a woman’s gentle touch. Before Jaspir could process the softness, Liam’s fingers tangled in his hair and wrenched Jaspir’s head back.
Jaspir barely held back his moan of pleasure. He liked it rough from time to time, but that would not do for Lady Merlyn. “Not that firm. She’s more delicate than I am. Just enough to let her know that you’re in control.”
Liam loosened his grip a fraction. He looked to Jaspir for approval. Jaspir recognized the spark of need in the other male’s eyes. How this man lived ten years under Merlyn’s roof and never stole a single kiss was a true mystery to Jaspir.
“Good,” Jaspir nodded.
The spark in Liam’s eyes ignited into the smallest of flames before he dipped his head and put his mouth to Jaspir’s throat. Liam’s movements were unpracticed and hesitant, but the heat of his mouth sent a message to Jaspir’s dick. Jaspir focused on his breaths instead of the heat climbing across his hips.
There was no way he’d be turned on by this soft-hand, unpracticed, First, virgin.
Liam nibbled at Jaspir’s lip now, his hunger making up for his lack of skill. Jaspir knew desire. He understood wanting something that he thought was off limits to him. Jaspir softened and turned his head into the kiss.
For a moment, Jaspir allowed Liam to claim him. Allowed him to taste that thing that he could never possess. To pretend for just a moment that it could be this way; that they could be together always. That they could live on a land away from society and everything tearing them apart. To live in a small cottage surrounded by impossible flowers of red, purple and green.
The kiss turned brutal as both men fought to stake their claim. Until finally, Jaspir gave a tug of Liam’s hair, pulling them apart. Both men stared at the other, panting, eyes clear, realization dawning that neither held the object of their desire.
“That’ll be all for today’s lessons.”
It took a moment, but finally Liam rose. “When do I—” He stopped and cleared his throat.
“When do I come back for our second appointment?”
Jaspir turned to him, his face a mask of unconcern. “Pick any day you’d like. I’ve cleared my entire schedule just for you.”
Author of erotica, paranormal, and fairytale romance novels, Ines Johnson writes books for strong women who suck at love.
Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!
Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.
Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.
Men of Devotion
If you read my books, you may have noticed a theme. Between the covers of many of my stories you’ll find a man of the cloth, who struggles with his feelings for a woman, and ultimately succumbs to the glories of romantic love.
An Old Testament
My fascination with priests began with the television movie, The Thornbirds. Richard Chamberlain in robes -nuff said. Its not just priests I’m fascinated with. It was an illuminating experience for me watching the Jedi of Star Wars. I even found Yoda hot! And then there was that string of movies about fallen angels where Christopher Walken was a badass angel and Elias Koteas was a former priest. Yummy. But the priest to end all priests? Matthew McConaughey in Contact!
Why am I attracted to priests, monks, angels, and even cone-headed, Buddha-like aliens? Because these men of devotion have a lot of qualities that women look for in their partners. They’re disciplined, full of grace, devoted, and they understand sacrifice.
A Beautiful Mind
Spiritual men are smart. Monks spend their lives studying ancient texts. Priests have to get a degree from college or seminary school, which can take anywhere from four to eight years. Jedi are taken as children, younglings, into the order. Other than Luke Skywalker, we know they spend all of their formative years training in the mental and physical art of the force.
Speaking of Skywalkers, Padme didn’t fall for cute and cuddly Anakin. No, she fell for the grown Jedi who began to tug at the rules of his order as he pursued her affections. We all like a rebel, a bad boy, to some degree. The man of cloth might not be the bad boy, but their situation is definitely a naughty and forbidden one. He’s pledged his loyalty and devotion to another: namely god, a goddess, or some higher power.
The Sexy Priest trope is the perfect love triangle. You have the sexy priest, the first leg of the triangle. The priest is devoted to his vows, the second leg of the triangle. And then in walks another set of legs, the heroine. Admit it: we all want to be the chosen one in a love triangle. And if you can emerge the victor over a god-figure…
I already recognize that I’m going to hell. But that’s okay, because that’s where all of the sexy, fallen priests will be!
PART ONE: THE HOLE CHARACTER
All characters have holes (notice it rhymes with goal). You open the first chapter and find a human being who believes they are lacking something crucial in their lives. Perhaps it’s the dream job, or the right social circle, or their mother’s approval, or maybe its love.
Rarely do you enter the world of a character who finds themselves whole. A part is usually missing. For the next tens of thousands of words you will embark upon a journey with that character to fill that void.
Characters fill these holes in one of two ways; with either a want or need.
Remember when you were young and you wanted the fancy pair of jeans? Think Brenda in 90210. Fresh from the Midwest, thrown into the dangerous waters of the Beverly Hills elite, and her working class parents couldn’t afford the patchwork, ripped jeans that cost the same as a car payment. But Brenda wanted those holey jeans so that she could fit in with Kelly and Donna. In Carol’s, her mother’s eyes, there was a need for a new pair of pants for Brenda to wear to school and that’s what Brenda got. Now if we watched that 20-year old episode we know what Brenda did to those new pair of jeans and she made holes in her jeans to fill her social void.
You might want a pair of Louis Vuitton, but in the end you need a pair of functioning heels to go with that cute dress.
A want is a false goal, a red herring that throws both the reader and the character off the true course that will fill the character’s hole. It takes some time and some bumps in the road before the character realizes their want is not likely what they need. The need perfectly fills the void the character has been experiencing.
Take a look at your main character(s). What is it that they need in order to be whole again? Now consider if it would serve your story for your character to have a false goal that keeps them from seeing their true need for a good portion of the story?
Next week, you’ll learn the four types of obstacles that a character might face during their course of their quest for their ‘need.’
PART TWO: THE OBSTACLE COURSE
Last week we learned that characters have holes that only ‘needs’ can fill. Before a character can see their need, they have to yearn after a want, which takes them on a bumpy ride to nowhere.
This obstacle course consists of four physical and/or internal complications that force the hero or heroine to make decisions that produce dramatic action.
The four kinds of obstacles are:
The Antagonist (Bad Guy)
A specific antagonist lends clarity and power to the dramatic structure because his primary function is to oppose the protagonist. He doesn’t necessarily have to be evil, but he should personify the protagonist’s obstacles.
Example: Cinderella’s Wicked Step Mother
Physical obstructions are just what they seem –material barriers standing in the way of the protagonist. These can be rivers, deserts, mountains, a dead-end street, or a car causing a crash –anything that presents a substantial obstacle for the protagonist.
Example: Arielle’s fin
Inner obstacles are intellectual, emotional, or psychological problems the protagonist must overcome before being able to achieve his goal. For example, dealing with fear, pride, jealousy, or the need to mature fall into this category.
Example: Fiona’s (from Shrek) appearance
Mystic forces enter most stories as accidents or chance but they can be expressed as moral choices or ethical codes, which present obstacles. They can also be personified as gods or supernatural forces, which the characters have to content with.
Example: Tiana’s (from The Frog Prince) magical transformation into a frog
Which of these obstacles will your character face? Will they face more than one type of obstacle during the course of the story?
Next week, we’ll put it all together -the character, need, and obstacle- into a scene card.
PART THREE: THE SCENE
You’ve discovered your character’s need, and potential their want, which is a false goal. You’ve learned about the four types of obstacles that can obstruct your character on the way to achieving their goals and filling their need. Now, to build a heart-pounding story where you send your character through the toughest obstacle course you can imagine, you should map out a blueprint for the course.
4 Elements of a Story
Primary character looking to fill the void in their life.
A false goal that the hero/heroine initially believes is their path to wholeness.
One of the four obstacles opposing the hero/heroine.
The true goal of the hero/heroine which will satisfy their void.
OBSTACLE COURSE CARD
In the Cinderella adaptation Ever After, Danielle (heroine) works tirelessly to gain acceptance (want) from her stepmother (antagonist) until she realizes her family of friends, including the Prince, love her unconditionally (need).
In The Little Mermaid adaptation Splash, yes I went there!, Madison (heroine) leaves the sea to be with Allen (want) but when her legs get wet and her fins come back (obstacle) she’s forced to tell Allen the truth of her existence in the hopes that he’ll come and spend forever with her under the sea (need).
In the unconventional fairy tale Shrek, Princess Fiona (heroine) hopes to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (want) who will break her curse (obstacle) until she realizes that true love is “color” blind (need).
Mystic Forces example
In The Frog Prince, Tiana (heroine) dreams of opening a restaurant (want) but her dream takes a slight detour when she’s turned into a frog (obstacle) along with Prince Naveen and learns to seek and take help from others (need).
Now its your turn. Fill out your own obstacle card for you story. If you want to take it a step farther, fill out a card for each scene!
Random Responses to Interview Questions
Over the summer, I had a flash of inspiration while on my knees cleaning the oven. I dreamed a world where men were the domestics and lived only to please women. For some curious reason, the idea stuck with me and three weeks later I’d written a full novel set in that fantasy world.
Last year, I was given an ARC of Kele Moon’s paranormal, menage romance, “The Queen’s Consorts.” I’d never read a polyamorous story before, where not only did the men fall for the heroine, but they fell for eachother as well. I craved more of this world, but couldn’t find anything to satisfy my needs. So I wrote my own.
“The Pleasure Hound series” is set in a dystopian future where women rule, men are second class citizens, and love is polyamourous. The book follows the lives of a group of monks who have trained in the orgasmic arts, but have since left their temple in the pursuit of their true passions.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
The elements of a great romance is when the hero and heroine fit each others need.
There’s a preponderance of books where pain is pleasure. And that’s okay with me -when I believe that there’s actually pleasure being had. I’ve read too many books where women are getting spanked just to get spanked. Its not clear how the act satisfies a need in them, nor is it clear that the man understands and is acting to fulfill that need. That understanding is the sexy part to me: a woman who knows (perhaps subconsciously) what she needs and a man who knows exactly how to give it to her.
The Pleasure Hound series, came into being out of this frustration. I wanted to read about a heroine who was eager to explore pleasure. I wanted to encounter a hero who was skilled in, and solely interested in, that woman’s pleasure. My monks have studied women’s bodies like textbooks. After thorough perusal of the women in their charge, they emerge ready to ace the examination.
What got you started in writing?
I come from a family of storytellers. My mother would talk your ears off for hours and my father is a songwriter. I began my storytelling career in television, where I still dabble from time to time. A few years ago I’d written a script that I thought would make an excellent book, only I didn’t know how to write a book. So I took a couple of classes and started querying. I never received a single rejection letter. Instead, I got no responses at all in the beginning! But I never gave up and I never stopped writing. Wait, isn’t the the definition of insanity?
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I’m a very bad Buddhist. I sit each week in sangha, which is similar to sitting in a church pew on Sunday. In a sangha the teacher, think preacher, will lecture on spiritual teachings and guide the group in mediation. During meditation when I’m supposed to be getting my zen on, my mind always wanders back to the teaching and turns it into a story.
What do you like to read?
Perfect heroines are boring and unrealistic to me; they must be flawed in some way. I prefer stories where the heroine’s a strong, bright, and successful in their careers but are clueless and inept in their love lives.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
If you’re serious, you’re only allowed one day off a week. And on your day off you should be plotting in your head.
How long did you write before you were published?
I went to school for producing and screenwriting, and worked in the broadcasting industry for over a decade, before trying my hand at novel writing. I wrote my first novel in 2009. It was based off a script that I wrote but couldn’t find the financing for. I was so proud of my work, but readers and critique partners noted that it was evident that I was a screenwriter and didn’t understand the mechanics of novelization. Screenwriting consists of action and dialogue. That’s it. In scripts, there is no internal monologuing and setting is minimal. I had some learning to do. Five years, and a ton of classes later, I’m finally making my debut with a novel lush in setting and internal angst.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
I love plotting. Its my favorite part of writing. I love to go into Scrivener and use the Outline tool to plan the journey of my characters. I can recite just about any plotting structure you can think of. The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat, Romance Arc, Relationship Arc…I could go on.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
The first time I tried to write a book it took me one year to write the first three chapters because I agonized over each word choice. Now, I believe in fast drafting. Vomit the story onto the page without a care for comma placement. All told, it takes me about six months from the first drafted word to the final polished manuscript.
I take three to four weeks for the first draft, which I call The Dirty. I let The Dirty breath for as long as I am able to be parted with it -usually a week or two. Then I come back and Sweep up the grammar and plot holes, which usually takes another three to four weeks.
Next I send The Swept draft out to my trusted critique partners. When it comes back I Clean it up for another three weeks focusing on my weaknesses which is setting. Finally, I send The Clean manuscript off to the copyeditor for two to three weeks. When it comes back I Polish up all the commas and rethink my overused words. Then I hit publish, and start all over again!
What genres do you write besides romantic erotica?
I write romantic erotica, paranormal romance, and fairy tale retelling romance novels. Notice the romance in each genre. I began writing YA, but realized my love scenes were too hot for teens!
What is the most you have written in one day?
The most I’ve written in one day is 4551 words. How do I know that? Because I keep a log. I record what plot point I was writing, where I wrote, what time I started writing, how long I wrote, and my word count.
I typically Fast Draft with a friend; a competitive friend. I recommend writing along with competitive people. It forces you to get the words out. I also believe in incentives and I give myself stickers when I meet my word count -a trick I learned stalking Laini Taylor’s blog.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading a nonfiction book called “Sperm Wars: The Science of Sex” by Robin Baker. The title reveals the subject matter. Its about what goes on inside a fertile woman’s body. Did you know that less than 1% of sperm is designed for fertilization of the egg? There are Terminator sperm that engage in warfare with enemy sperm from the Part-Time Lover. Its fascinating! It was research for my current The Loyal Steed.
How did you come up with your title?
I was up one night watching HBO’s after dark programing. On show called “Cathouse,” one of the ‘working girls’ captivated me. She looked like a kindergarten teacher, not anything like what I’d imagine a hooker to look like. She said that she was a “pleasure hound,” and she could sniff out pleasure wherever it might be. The phrase stuck in my head for years.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m obsessed with Ernessa T. Carter. Her book “32 Candles,” is an 80’s fairytale retelling for women of color.
What are your current projects?
There are so many stories in my head begging to get out. I just finished writing an alien erotic romance. Its called Spirited Away. It was written on a dare -of sorts. I was joking around with my critique partner about the subject matter in erotic fiction on Amazon. KDP has provided a space for creatives to write stories beyond my scope of imagination like dinosaur erotica, troll romance, and tentacle monster sex. Then, I said, “I bet I could tell a tentacular tale with a plot and a point.” My critique partner didn’t take me seriously. So I wrote it. It’ll be out this summer.
Where do you write?
I do my best writing at hightop tables where I can alternately sit or stand while typing on my laptop. A cup is a must. My favorite is soy chai, sweetened with honey.
When do you write?
I write best in the morning from 8am until lunchtime. Nights are reserved for reading.
Amazon Purchase Link
science fiction romance, romantic erotica, multicultural romance, interracial romance, menage, dystopian, LGBT, bisexual, coming of age