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Warning: Do Not Go There!
by Kimber Vale
I’ve seen it on social media. I’ve seen it on book reviews. I’ve discussed it with friends. I’m talking hard stops in your reading—you know those plot elements that can make you erase a book from your Kindle. There are as wide a variety of personal no-goes as there are books out there, but some are such common taboos that it seems only the most adventurous authors would undertake to write them.
The obvious no-no’s for the majority of readers are the ones listed on publishers’ websites under the “Things we don’t want to see in your submissions” section. Those include the niche fetishes like watersports, sounding, knife play, and rape written to titillate. Basically, the majority of readers would be uncomfortable to stumble upon those elements without warning. Some people seek them out, and whatever blows your hair back is fine and dandy. I don’t live in a glass house, thank God. That could make my porn addiction quite embarrassing. That, and the hip hop dance workout videos I’ve been doing. My lack of coordination is way scarier than blood play, I tell ya.
Generally speaking though, the elements I’ve listed above, along with a few more familiar faces, are on the Don’t Do It list.
And then there are other plot elements that can make large groups of people squirm, but aren’t necessarily blacklisted by publishers sight unseen. Abuse. Rape (not for titillation). Cheating. Inclusion of a third (or more) person in a love scene between an established couple. Humiliation in a Dom-sub relationship. There are even some people who don’t want BDSM in their books.
:-0 Shocking. I know.
The list goes on and on. Heck, add your personal Not Interested in the comments below. I’d love to read them.
Me? I’m pretty flexible in my reading. While I don’t seek out BDSM books, I’m not squicked if I happen to stumble upon a few whips and chains. I may have even written the occasional bondage scene myself. Same for ménage. Mention of abuse, or even on-screen brutality can be a necessary part of the tale an author is telling, and while a particularly gritty scene can be disturbing, I certainly don’t shy away from darker books. Usually the opposite, actually. Cheating is one I’ve run into in my reading and it can be a tough sell for me. It’s just difficult to forgive that person (or read about a hurt lover forgiving infidelity). Usually, I end up wanting to ring both main characters’ necks and the author gets moved to my Fool Me Once list. That’s if it’s a romance. If not, let the cheating fun commence! ;-)
Many people argue that all books should warn readers of potential triggers or distasteful situations. What do you think? Should they?
In my upcoming August 18th release, “Hard Act to Follow,” I’m happy to say I don’t have any of the common hard stops I mentioned above. Maybe a playful smack on the ass or two. And if anyone is out on flamboyant gays and a spicy sex scene involving high heel boots and lacy undies, here’s your heads up:
Warning: Contains a sexy, saucy, drama-dripping twink; a big, straight, overprotective, ex-brother-in-law who’s secretly in love with him; and an angsty, snarky, undergarment-melting sexy time rollercoaster ride of a story.
Read “Hard Act to Follow” at your own risk. ;-)
Kyrie is an actor with a physical aversion to telling lies, a one-eyed cat, and horrible taste in men. His ex-brother-in-law and best friend, Greg, harbors a secret crush he can’t shake. After denying his feelings for Kyrie for too long, Greg finally gives in to desire one drunken night. Come the morning, the facts get twisted. Kyrie pretends he doesn’t remember a thing—a lie that eats him alive—and Greg can’t stop thinking about how he screwed up the best thing in his life.
Before they can clear the air, Kyrie follows his dreams to New York City, but could he also be running away?
A mistake from Kyrie’s past detonates their silence, and Greg is forced to confront the man he loves. Is their new truth strong enough to support a relationship, or are they doomed to crumble under old fears? Their friendship could evolve into something a million times stronger, but maybe Kyrie’s act is just too hard for Greg to follow.
“One more drink, and I’ll walk you home,” Kyrie said.
Every warning bell in Greg’s being went off. Unfortunately, they were sluggish inebriated alarms that also thought Kyrie looked amazing in those tight black jeans.
“No more drinks.” Greg slurred his words.
“Yes, more drinks.”
“Listen, cutie. I’m goinna bed. I got a buncha stuff tomorrow.”
“You think I’m cute now? Wait ’til you see me when you’re drunk.”
“If I just said that… I must be drunk,” Greg mumbled. “One more… and you’ll be carryin’ me home.”
“Then we’ll have a beer at your place.” Kyrie tugged at him. “’Cause I couldn’t drag that ass home, forget carryin’.”
Greg slid gracelessly from his barstool, blinking repeatedly to clear his spin-o-vision. He dug around his pocket and tossed a wad of cash on the bar with a wave for the pretty bartender.
“Later, guys. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Layla called after them.
“Oh, girl, I’m pretty sure you and I do all the same things.” Kyrie blew her a kiss.
“I don’t know, Kyrie. You’re a wild card.” The barkeep laughed and shook her head.
The staff here knew them by name. This was Greg’s usual watering hole, not that he watered his hole all that much. Wow. The floor pitched under him, and he steadied himself with a hand on a deserted stool. “Way too much water for my hole.”
Holy shit he was drunk.
“What?” Kyrie turned a raised brow and open mouth toward him.
“Nothin’. You’re drunk and you’re hearin’ thinks… things.”
“Hearing thinks. I like it.” Kyrie stuck a finger gun in Greg’s face. “That should be my superpower. That way I’d know what’s going on in that fat head of yours.”
“My head’s not fat.”
Kyrie pulled him out into the street, ushering him in the direction of Greg’s apartment, just a five-minute walk away.
“No? That’s disappointing…”
Greg gave him a sideways look. That sounded flirty. Or dirty. Or… something. No, you’re drunk as hell.
They stumbled down the cobblestone toward Greg’s building. Actually, Kyrie did periodic cartwheels that left Greg wondering if Kyr had nursed his drinks more than he’d let on. Or maybe I’m out of practice? Greg briefly considered trying his hand at gymnastics in case it was a barometer for sobriety, but decided he’d fall on his face and need an ambulance. So, I must be less drunk, because Kyrie isn’t sober enough to know not to do that. It made perfect sense. Didn’t it?
Drunk or not, Greg enjoyed the tumbling act in front of him and managed to avoid being kicked in the face the entire half-mile walk home.
He dropped his keyring twice as they stood at the front door of his condo. Kyrie lounged against the wrought iron railing behind Greg, hooting loudly when he bent to retrieve the fumble.
“You aren’t helping.” But Greg was too warm and fuzzy inside to shush him, or warn about angry neighbors. The key finally slid inside the lock. He twisted it and turned the knob with a pleased laugh. Congratulations! You got your door open, dumbass!
He laughed again at the absurdity of it all. Kyrie was singing some bastardized version of an old Velveeta commercial, substituting beer for cheese. “Beer, marvelous beer!”
“Hope I have some.” Greg didn’t need any more. His filter was already moth-eaten. God knew what inappropriate secrets would spill from his lips after another drink.
“Beer!” Kyrie came from Greg’s small kitchen with two fists full of Sierra Nevada IPA. “Last two— You need to do better, buddy.”
“I try not to keep a ton of alcohol—”
“Yeah, yeah. But this is why we never hang here.” Kyrie turned around, arms spread, still laden with pale ale. “And this…” He spun around. “Is so much classier than my dump. Game nights would be sweet over on the swanky side of town, bro.”
“I let you and the other riffraff over here every other week, and the swanky side of town just took a turn for the worse.”
“Catch!” Kyrie tossed the beer underhand, and Greg barely managed to grab it with uncoordinated fingers.
“Watch it!” Greg bent to set the beer on his glass coffee table, heart thumping for a thousand reasons.
“You deserve an exploded brew for that comment.” Kyrie popped his bottle cap with a keychain opener that screamed arrest me. He dropped his keys on the table beside Greg’s beer while looking up at him with an intense stare. “Is that why you’ve been avoiding me lately? Tired of playing with the riffraff across town?” Kyrie smirked, but pain touched his voice and eyes.
“No, man. You know I’m busy as hell. I didn’t mean that about game night…”
“You totally did.” He narrowed his amber gaze at Greg. “Kilborne’s a slob, and he and Liv would lick your fridge clean. Their combined eating forces are the stuff of legend.”
“It’s weird. She does have an amazing appetite for a girl her size.”
“It’s her thyroid, lucky bitch. Big eyes and a stick figure. She looks like a freakin’ anime.”
Greg grinned, reaching for his beer as he sat heavily on the couch. He recalled its tumultuous state and set it back on the table.
Kyrie plopped down next to him, his knee brushing Greg’s despite the vacant cushion to the guy’s left. “Here. I said I was gonna get you good and drunk.” He took a quick tug and then pushed his bottle into Greg’s hand.
“I really don’t need it. I’m there.”
“You need something. To relax. Chill out. Live a freakin’ little. Something.” Kyrie knocked his knee into Greg’s and his hand slipped off the beer and fell onto Greg’s thigh.
“I’m… relaxed.” But the buzz was suddenly scattered by apprehension. Kyrie couldn’t be this close—touching him. Rubbing the inside of my goddamn thigh!
“Chug it.” Kyrie leaned over, his breath hoppy and sweet, his top lip still glistening from the last sip he’d taken. Greg sucked in a wavering inhalation.
The hand on his leg inched higher and squeezed while Kyrie grasped the glass over Greg’s fingers and led it to his lips.
Greg opened his mouth and managed to take a sip without choking, miracle of miracles.
“Good dog.” Kyrie grinned wickedly less than a foot from Greg’s face. He took the beer back and brought it to his own lips, the tip of his pink tongue darting out to lick the glass where Greg’s mouth had just been.
About the Author
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her MF work published under Kimber Vale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, and check her site for updates, new releases, and freebies at http://www.authorkimbervale.com. The blog: http://www.kimbervale.me
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