Friday, January 10, 2014

SEXY SATURDAYS WITH ANDREA AND AUTUMN: CURIO by CARA MCKENNA


 

Sexy Saturdays with Andrea and Autumn is a weekly meme created to spread the word about spicy reads. 

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Curio 
Series: Curio #1
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 9/28/11
Format: ebook
Pages: 111
Source: Author
Rating: 5 stars
 
Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.
 
When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly's intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He's a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly's interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous . . .
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12762053-curio
 

Curio is only the second of Cara McKenna's works I've read, but I will still say she is my favorite erotic romance author. Having read the utterly gorgeous and brilliant Unbound, I felt safe that I would continue to enjoy her other books. I was right. McKenna has a style that is subdued yet emotionally and physically charged. Her characters have depth and she explores them fully; Caroly and Didier were alive and conflicted and complicated and utterly endearing. The erotic moments between the two were deliciously hot, but also felt real. I love that McKenna's brand of erotic romance is just enough fantasy to take me away, but real enough that I feel a connection.
 
I personally love stories with male prostitutes or gigolos. I don't know why, it just is what it is. But McKenna takes the story of a beautiful yet vulnerable man who also uses his body to earn money and give a woman what she needs. What is so thoughtful about Didier is that he knows the way to the center of a woman and her physical pleasure, is through her mind. Curio is not a scandalous and shocking story of male prostitution and a thirty-year old virgin. It is a fulfilling story of fears and hesitations and learning to overcome them, to be brave. But as it turns out, Caroly's presence is as life altering to Didier as his is to her.
 
This series is fascinating and I cannot wait to experience more of Curio.
 
 
Favorite Quotes:

  He kissed me, soft to start. It told my pulse to slow, my breaths to deepen, my mind to quiet, he reduced us to two mouths, two bodies in this tiny corner of Paris. He fit us together like gears in a pocket watch and shut its shell, hearts ticking in time, safe in the dark.
 

  I stroked his arms, sinking back into the mood of this moment. "How does it feel for you? How do I feel?"
  A grin--shy, if I wasn't mistaken. Cute. "You feel wonderful. Warm... Your body feels hesitant," he added, "just like your heart."


  His head came up and he stared into my eyes. Something burned there. Something male and primal that made me high. Fuck feminism. I'd stay monogamous to him the rest of my life if it meant I might get to see this look again, be made to feel I was his sole possession.

 
 
Coercion (Curio, #2)
 
 
Series: Curio #2
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 8/29/12
Format: ebook
Pages: 48
Source: Author
Rating: 5 stars
 
This is the first title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

June has come to Paris. But while his neighbors are shedding layers and going out in search of spring sunshine, Didier Pedra prefers the quiet sanctuary of his garret, content to watch the city’s bustle from the safety of his windows. He’s shaped his life around venturing inside of things—inside clocks and other brass curiosities to pass a lonely afternoon, and, once the sun sinks, inside the bodies and minds of the women who pay for the privilege of sampling his other skills.

But one visitor is unlike the rest. Once a hesitant patron, Caroly is now his eager lover and a challenging but cherished companion. For weeks Didier’s indulged her questions about what other women want from him, but in words only. Now he’s ready for them to take the storytelling to the next level, and act out his clients’ most wicked desires.

Reader Advisory: This story contains forced seduction role-playing.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15732637-coercion
 

Curio ended in the most brilliant fashion, with Didier seeking Caroly. If you've read Curio, you know that the fact Didier came to Caroly speaks more than words. His phobia has reduced him to a half life, but Caroly is worth facing his fears. What comes next in the love affair between a prostitute and the woman he loves.
 
Coercion is told through Didier's point-of-view, which was gave much insight into his mind. When their story began, Caroly felt insignificant in the face of his beauty. Unworthy. But through Didier, we find that he believes the opposite. How can such a woman love a man who is frightened, not to mention the fact he sleeps with other women for money? And how does Caroly cope with that?
 
Coercion is sexy, heartbreaking, and utterly fascinating.

 
Favorite Quote:

  Beauty is a queer and unearthly power.
  I was born of my father's infidelity and my mother's consumptive infatuation. I'm a bastard and a prostitute, crippled by agoraphobia...but I am beautiful. My deeper flaws seem to go unnoticed, all cracks in the stained glass, lost amid the dazzling colors of the whole.


    She settles against my chest and as I stroke her hair I think, I love this woman. For her kindness, her oddness, for the way she looks at me. I love her for having come to seek me, and even more so for spurring me to seek her, out in the wide world. In the most literal sense, she has brought warm sunshine and cool breezes and the smell of grass and clover back into my life. And if that isn't love, I do not know what is.
 
 
 
Craving (Curio, #3)
Series: Curio #3
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 9/16/12
Format: ebook
Pages: 50
Source: Author
Rating: 5 stars
 
This is the second title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

What a difference a season makes.

In the spring, Caroly arrived on Didier Pedra’s doorstep in Paris as so many women have—ready to buy an evening’s pleasure with a gorgeous man skilled in the craft of seduction. She was a trembling virgin then, but so much has changed. It’s summer now, and she no longer pays for his company…nor suffers from the delusion that he’s as perfect as he seems. He’s a shut-in with a crippling fear of the outdoors, but he’s also the most kind and passionate man she’s ever known.

Having grown bolder with every visit and carnal lesson, Caroly’s ready to venture where she’s always feared—into the mysterious chest at the foot of Didier’s bed, filled with the accouterments to cater to the appetites of a hundred different women. Dozens of toys offering infinite delights…all hers to enjoy tonight.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15732643-craving

 
Oh now... Craving was naughty. And how I loved it. This installment is back in Caroly's point-of-view and I was happy to experience her become more sure of herself, and begin to explore the many sexy experiences Didier and his magic treasure chest had to offer. She's still exploring her sexuality, discovering what she likes, craves.
 
"My own sexuality is still forming, and before it gels I want to sample as many people's appetites as I can."
 
Didier is only too happy to help. But what I truly love about this couple is, they do not ever, ever put pressure or judgment on one another. If Caroly should happen to love something Didier offers, fantastic. If she does not, no worries, or shame will be put upon her.
 
The couple is still forming their relationship in a very relaxed manner. Didier is slowly acclimating to venturing out, but his way is not steady. Caroly is dealing with the fact her boyfriend is still a prostitute, and dealing much better than I ever could. This series continues to captivate me.
 
 
Favorite Quote:

  "I want you." I've never not wanted him. Even in the moments when he frustrates me, I would never wish I were elsewhere. He's a hundred things to a hundred women, a different pretty bauble reflecting their unique tastes. But he's my kaleidoscope. I want to keep turning him, discovering new patterns, seeing him through new eyes.

  Because it's a relief to let someone see me so helpless. To admit my problem to people is one thing, but to actually let someone see what it does to me...And you've seen that, and you're still here." His voice goes strange and thin, and he clears his throat. "Anyway. For a hundred reasons, you make me want to be a stronger man."

 
 
 
Reversal (Curio, #4)
Series: Curio #4
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 10/24/12
Format: ebook
Pages: 51
Source: Author
Rating: 5 stars
 
This is the third title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

Didier Pedra can read a woman’s body like a book, sense her deepest needs and satisfy her every craving. It’s his job, after all.

But drop him in the center of Paris, the only city he’s ever known, and he’s lost, reduced to a trembling wreck by agoraphobia. When the world feels too frightening, he eagerly escapes into sex, that realm he could navigate blindfolded. Except one of his lovers—Caroly, the only woman who doesn’t pay for the pleasure of his gifts—insists she prefers the real Didier to the capable, seductive fa├žade. She urges him to let her lead for a change, so he can confront the fears that haunt his mind through the familiar safety of his body.

A night’s cathartic reversal, when the masterful tutor submits to his student’s darkest curiosities.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15732648-reversal


Reversal puts up back in Didier's head and oh my holy hell this book was deliciously wicked. Hot; featuring one of the most...surprising (?) and sexy scenes I have ever read. I just... I can't even really let myself think on this one too long at one time because I fear my brain will overload.
 
Reversal continues with Didier's struggle with his condition, and his desire to become a man who can live a full life with Caroly. One aspect I really appreciate about this series is that it's not an easy journey. Didier isn't magically cured by love, though love does help him strive for more. Against all the odds of the strange relationship, Caroly and Didier are becoming a stronger couple. He's with her on her sexual self-discovery, she is with him as he works to overcome his phobia.
 
Reversal was beyond sexy, and a very hopeful story. I just cannot get enough of the Curio series.

 
Favorite Quote:

  "Is it just you here with me, now?"
  "Yes, just me." I open my eyes, turning my head to meet her gaze. "Just us." Just me, stripped of everything, stripped of my maleness, even.
  The motions slow, turning deep and focused. "Good," she murmurs. "You're all I want."
  Her words caress me far deeper than any physical touch could. They cradle my heart in cupped hands. She can have that, that and so much more. Whatever she believes this malfunctioning man has to offer, it's hers.
  And I'll tell her so. Soon.
 
 

Confession (Curio, #5)

Series: Curio #5
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 11/21/12
Format: ebook
Pages: 51
Source: Author
Rating: 4 stars
 
This is the fourth title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

Caroly has waited forever to fall in love. An American now living in Paris, she’s finally found what she craved all those lonely years—a passionate, sensitive man, more gorgeous than she’d ever dreamed, and just as beautiful on the inside.

The only issue? Well, that small matter of him being a prostitute.

Didier’s job is more than a calling. It’s a beloved craft, a chance to soothe broken hearts. It’s also a crutch—the perfect vocation for an agoraphobe, never forcing Didier to leave the safety of his flat. Yet the role he used to cherish has soured since he met Caroly, his admirers now feeling more like enablers. It’ll take a leap of faith to cast his fear aside in favor of a future, but when the alternative is to risk losing the woman he loves, he might discover he’s braver than he ever knew.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15732651-confession
 

Confession is a turning point for Didier and Caroly. The time has come for feelings to be declared, changes to be made. This story is a celebration, of his progress, her openness and happiness and their love.
 
What continues to strike me with the Curio series is how beautifully McKenna has constructed her characters. Didier is not just a prostitute, he is an artist, a teacher. Caroly is not only a woman who's protected herself from rejection, she is a woman strong enough to support and help the man she loves, she is an appreciator of beauty in all it's forms, she is strong and confident in herself.
 
McKenna's writing is sheer perfection. Her prose stuns me with its beauty. She's taken what could have been a curious and unbelievable premise and created an perfectly tender and thoughtful love story.

 
Favorite Quote;
 
  I could choose to feel insecure about Didier's experiences, and to resent those patrons for what they enjoy with him. Or I could continue to borrow their tastes and come to appreciate this man through the fantasies of a hundred different women, and view his experience as an enrichment, not a dilution. People are afraid of what a lack of variety will do to their attraction when they settle down, but Didier is countless lovers in a single body, all mine to peruse and sample without even so much as ogling another man. I hope I'll be the same to him.

 
 
Exposure (Curio, #6)
Series: Curio #6
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: 12/26/12
Format: ebook
Pages: 52
Source: Author
Rating: 5 stars
 
This is the fifth title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

Love can drive a normal man to extraordinary feats—inspire him to scale a mountain, swim an ocean, brave a raging fire.

Didier Pedra wouldn’t consider himself a normal man, but an unexpected romance has changed him nonetheless. A severe agoraphobe, he left his flat for the first time in years to prove himself worthy of the woman he loves. A long-enabled prostitute, he’s now given up the clients who’ve warmed his bed, padded his bank account and coddled his disorder, ensuring he need never venture outside the safety of his home.

For Caroly, he’s taken the ultimate leap of faith—boarded a train to travel farther than he has in half a lifetime, so they can celebrate the start of their future together with a trip to Provence. There are no gains without struggle, and this love is a prize worth fighting for.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15732656-exposure
 
 
Exposure is the end of the Curio series, and we are back in Didier's head. His agoraphobia is not fully behind him, may never be, but he is no longer living half a life. This story is the beginning of Didier and Caroly's new life, in a way. He's no longer being paid for his body, he is traveling for the first time in many years.
 
Exposure is a beautiful ending to such a fascinating series. I've tried to explain this series, and how it makes me feel, but can honestly not do it justice. Once again, I can only praise Cara McKenna for the brilliant author she is, and leave it at that.
 
But Caroly and Didier will never leave me.

 
Favorite Quote:

  The monogamy I never thought I valued has grown magnetically attractive and changed my priorities. As much as I've cherished the years I spent with those women, their company enabled me. It fed my bank account but also my crippling anxiety, and a time has come when I finally prefer to feel frightened and alive rather than safe and numb.


  And what I want matters, I remind myself. With this woman, my desires count.
  For years I've molded them to complement my clients' needs, or cast them aside entirely. I've stifled them for the sake of longevity, warped them to cater to borrowed appetites. It's a hard habit to break, setting aside my old roles. They became my identity, in time. I was a chameleon, adapting to the wants of whoever came to my bed. A mirror revealing their deepest, darkest needs. But Caroly's told me she doesn't want that--not every night, at least. She wants to be with me, not merely a reflection of her own preferences. A true lover, not merely a performer.

 
 
Purchase the Curio Series
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble
 
 
 
About the authorCara McKennaCara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. A little dark, a little funny, always emotional. She also writes red-hot romance under the name Meg Maguire. Her wonderful publishers are Ellora's Cave, Harlequin Blaze, Loose-Id, Penguin / Intermix, and Samhain. She loves writing sexy, character-driven stories about strong-willed men and women who keep each other on their toes, and bring one another to their knees.

Cara was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award nominee, and a 2012 Golden Leaf finalist.

Cara is represented by Laura Bradford, of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Before becoming a purveyor of red-hot romance and smart erotica, Cara was a record store bitch, a lousy barista, a decent designer, and an overly enthusiastic penguin handler.

Cara now writes full-time and lives north of Boston with her bearded husband. When she's not trapped in her own head she can usually be found in the kitchen, the coffee shop, or jogging around the nearest duck-filled pond. She is a very proud member of the Romance Writers of America® and her local New England Chapter.


Website  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads
 


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8 comments:

  1. Oh girl, it seems to me you really enjoyed this series. You know I'm not huge erotica fan but to say I'm not intrigued would be wrong. Hope you'll enjoy more books but your fave erotica author. Great reviews, Andrea :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Goddamn, how many books are there? Lol! This author has some balls...literally! Balls in your face on the first cover in his pantaloons was kind of gross BUT the story sounds almost sweet as well as hot! Love, love LOVE your reviews!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah - McKenna just blows me away with how much emotion she packs into her stories. They have hot sex but it's not about that.

    This --> "But what I truly love about this couple is, they do not ever, ever put pressure or judgment on one another."

    They were so perfect because of that! It gave them time to explore their relationship and what they wanted from life and each other without some contrived blow up or forced solution.

    As you know, this is one of my favorites and I'm SO glad you read and enjoyed it Andrea!

    I tell everyone I know that even if you don't think you like erotica - read Cara McKenna.

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOL on your comment about loving to read stories with prostitutes & gigolos. They can be fascinating mainly coz I don't know how they do what they do without getting too involved. You're really on a roll binge reading series after series here, packing quite the punch with your reviews, lady!

    P.S. I got legal affairs, it's a plus that it's free. I can finally try SBennett. Happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This series sounds like a wonderfully wicked way to spend a day, Andrea! I love a great story to go with great sex, and it seems McKenna does an excellent job at creating complex characters and an impressive story around all that steam. :) You know I added Unbound to my TBR because of your review...Curio is also going on there. :) Excellent reviews, my dear!

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  6. These sound like a great series of books. Male prostitutes are interesting. I love how both of the main characters help one another, and grow stronger throughout the series. I like how you described the story as having just enough fantasy to take you away, but still very realistic. Awesome set of reviews Andrea! I can't believe how fast you can read and write reviews. I'm totally envious :)

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  7. I like quickies. I should go ahead and grab these. She's really your favorite Erotic Author? I liked Unbound, but your statement surprises me. LOL

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  8. Oh, man--I just binge-read all of these within 24 hours this weekend. It was SO much better and sexier and more romantic than I expected--I hope people give it a chance! The quotes you picked were awesome.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    ReplyDelete

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