Kristina Lloyd’s Undone: the ‘unsuitable for Amazon’ review

My copy of Undone arrived with strict instructions from the author herself:

‘Promise that you’ll read it in order.’

Well, of course, Kristina. How else would I read it? Do I look like the kind of person who trawls books looking for an immaculately written blow job or any hint of anal? Maybe don’t answer that.

Kristina has her reasons for not trusting me. Her second novel, Asking for Trouble, is my favourite erotica novel ever. It never leaves my bedside table, and it rarely leaves my actual bed. I lent it to the boy when I wanted him to understand what turns me on. I use it when I need reminding how to write well. It’s a superb work of erotica, but it more than holds its own as a piece of fiction outside of the genre. It’s taught me how to write characters, how to describe place … wait, I’m reviewing the wrong book.

Anyway. Asking for Trouble is the reason Kristina doesn’t trust me. When we first started chatting via Twitter, I confessed that I’d owned it for months, years even, before I fully pieced the plot together. Why? Because the sex in it is so hot that I’d been ‘reading’ (wanking over) the sex scenes time and time again, and figuring out the plot using a mixture of guesswork and logical deduction. That’s how you have great orgasms. It’s *not* how you read a book.

So, good girl that I am, I obediently started Undone at the beginning. Like, right at the beginning. With the dedication.

I’m not totally sure what the etiquette is regarding mentioning the dedication in a review. It sort of feels like it’s not fair game because it’s not part of the story: the story is *not* about Kristina’s life, the dedication presumably *is.* But anyway, here’s what it says:

For Ewan, for being generous with the measures.

For that to make sense, you kind of have to know that the book is set in a cocktail bar, and, bad reviewer that I am, I haven’t filled you in on the plot. But the cocktails aren’t really my point. Lana and Sol, the characters in Undone, aren’t Kristina and (presumably) her partner. What they do have though is affection and respect for each other that underpins all the sex in the book and proves the publishing industry wrong about everything it holds true about erotic romance. And for me, the stunning simplicity with which Kristina writes emotion and affection is captured wholeheartedly in that dedication.

Unlike most of what Black Lace publish these days, Undone is described as ‘erotic thriller,’ rather than ‘erotic romance.’ It really, really bothers me that we’ve come to understand erotic romance as being synonymous with billionaires, helicopters and fifteen-million page contracts. The reason I picked the dedication as an example of Kristina being so much more than just a sex writer is because it’s too hard to pull out an individual quote from the novel itself that proves that this is romance too: the whole text is shot through with the depth of Sol and Lana’s feelings for one another.

Not that those feelings cast any kind of soft focus glow over the sex scenes. When I first started reading Kristina’s work, I picked it up by chance: in those days I’d read pretty much any Black Lace book. Since then, I’ve learnt a lot more about my own kinks and consequently, become a lot more discerning in what I read, erotica-wise. Even in a year and half’s worth of blogging I’ve discovered that I’m not as vanilla as I thought I was: I identify as submissive far more strongly than I did at the start, but I know more about what kind of sub I am, too. What I’d call ‘formalised kink’ – beautiful rope work, toys, spankings, the word ‘Sir’ – none of that really works for me. I like improvised bondage, bruising, shame – and Undone is very much about the last of those things. Not that it doesn’t have stunning S&M kit in it – Kristina has certainly done her research into handcuffs – but it feels much more about the psychological aspects of kink than her last novel, Thrill Seeker, did.

It’s a massively intelligently-written book, but if I flick through my copy now and find the bits I underlined, it’s the visceral quality of the sex that means I’ll probably return to this as wank-fodder almost as often as I do to Asking for Trouble. Again, it’s difficult to the pluck the best bits out of context, but I particularly loved the following:

Specks of purple and green glitter shone where he’d rubbed against my make-up. I thought of the ways in which we become each other’s bodies, how a punch becomes a bruise, how fluids mingle in kisses and how I take him inside me, the boundaries of our selves no longer sealed and whole.

And then, a little later, this:

He raised himself over me, his cock bumping at my entrance. He grabbed my wrist, pinning my arm awkwardly above my head as he drove into me. His bulky shaft pushed me open, my heavy, wet insides clinging to his thickness. I cried out, as thrilled by the hand squeezing my arm as I was by the cock surging into me. He shoved high and hard, his fingers tight around my wrist.

So, do I recommend it? Hell yes. But do yourself a favour and take Kristina’s advice. Read Undone in order, as much for the thriller plot as for the sex. Don’t look for (or post!) spoilers on Amazon. It’s better that way. If you must know though, the super hot anal starts on page 221.

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Guest Post: Kristina Lloyd’s Main Man

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kristina Lloyd’s fiction. I love her writing style, her unashamedly hardcore approach to erotica, and perhaps most of all, her male characters. Which is why I’m delighted to have her here today to talk about the hero of her new novel, Undone. Over to you, Kristina…

Undone Kristina Lloyd

My new novel, Undone, is set in a cocktail bar, and the main man is Sol Miller. Several months into writing the book, it was pointed out to me I’d named him after two brands of beer. I swear this wasn’t intentional! I briefly considered changing his name but by then it was too late. He was Sol Miller through and through.

Sol is a Jewish ex-New Yorker , now resident in the UK. I wanted him to have an ordinary, American name so spent time diligently researching common Jewish names before, yup, inadvertently naming him after a couple of lagers. In the current erotica publishing climate, Sol is perhaps unusual because he’s not a billionaire. (I’m sure I’m not the only person with zero erotic interest in wealth.) He’s a former IT guy, taking a step back from a stressful career and doing casual labour at a building site in Saltbourne, the town where my protagonist, Lana Greenwood, has her cocktail bar.

I love writing about mysterious, possibly dangerous men, and creating female characters willing to play with fire. Lana meets Sol at a weekend party in a manor house. While drinking in the garden with friends, she’s directed indoors to fetch another bottle of wine. Here’s a brief excerpt where Lana describes their first meeting:

“The stone utility room was cool and shadowy, an Aladdin’s cave of alcohol. Sunlight filtered in through a small, grimy window, casting a meagre sheen on kegs, crates and exotic, multi-coloured bottles. I blinked as my eyes readjusted, goosebumps stippling my bare arms.

In the veiled light, a shirtless man stood before a tall American fridge, head bowed. He rested one hand on the matte silver door, while the other angled a pint glass at the ice dispenser. He wore canvas knee-lengths, slung low on his hips, and his dark, sweat-soaked hair was hooked behind his ears. He was powerfully muscular but not unnaturally chiseled, and a small roll of softness edged his waist. Ice cubes clattered into the glass. The bars of his ribs pumped below wet spikes of hair in the pit of his raised arm. His torso glistened, a soft curve of light resting on one shoulder. Beads of sweat trickled down his chest . A couple of droplets fell, making dark spots on the flagstones.

I shivered. Laughter and the clink of glasses from outside grew faint, as if I were sinking under water, the world fading out of reach. He stood straight, glancing at me. For an instant, the light around him was magical, a diaphanous haze pricked with glittering motes. His chest hair was plastered to his body, and his lower lip was smeared with blood, a glossy violet bulge distorting its shape.

‘You see any cloths around here?’ His accent was American, a sexy, sonorous drawl, and a  slight slur marred his words. He stepped into shadow and slid open a flaky, wooden door beneath an old Belfast sink. He bobbed down to peer in, holding the sink above for balance. Down his left side, from underarm to hip, was a tattoo unlike any I’d seen before. To be accurate, there were several tattoos but they formed a picture, or a panel, depicting a stemmed dandelion head gone to seed. The images were as delicately rendered as etchings under tissue paper in a botanical encyclopaedia. Single, fluffy orbs drifted from the spiky round flower, as if a breeze were blowing tattoos across his body. I half wanted to reach out and catch one, then I could make a wish.”

Lana and Sol exchange only a few words but Lana immediately thinks she’s got him sussed: simple, straightforward, sporty, fun. Not her type at all. She’s forced to reevaluate her opinion when she hooks up with him and another guy, Misha, for a threesome. She starts to suspect there’s more to Sol than meets the eye, especially on the morning after when Misha is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Lana has reason to believe Sol may be implicated in the death. She knows the wisest thing would be to steer clear of him but she’s finding him increasingly hot and intriguing. So of course, she follows her groin rather than her head. And I totally would, too!

If you’d like to know more about Undone, please hop over to my blog for an excerpt, and check out the other stops on my Sexy September blog tour.

 

Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.

About Undone

When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand. One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?

Undone is published on Sept 11th, 2014. Pre-order with Amazon: Amazon UK paperback :: Amazon UK Kindle :: Amazon US Kindle :: Amazon CA paperback :: Amazon CA Kindle