Smut & Activism

Persisting

Yesterday, the news of the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rocked us. 

While the passing of a renowned and respected jurist might normally be an occasion for solemnity and reflection, the real fear that so many – women in particular – have been expressing in personal conversations or on social media is more telling about the state of our governance than about RBG’s work. She was a fierce soldier for the rights of many – especially of women – and her work on the Supreme Court reflects that. 

But our fear about the future is not about what RBG, an 87 year old woman who had been fighting for her life and health for years, might have done to protect us. Our fear stems from the knowledge that we – women in particular – do not always feel safe, and the safety we do have might be taken away from us now that one of our fiercest advocates in a position of power might be replaced by an individual who actively seeks to take away those safeties. 

In this case, we don’t feel we can sit back and accept our fates, so we have decided to act. Part of our dedication to smut is the way romance stories often center female desire and sexuality and sexual health in ways not often seen in other genres – so it’s not such a stretch for us to want to see similar levels of sexual freedom and safety protected out here in the real world. 

What you can do: It’s too early to say what will happen with RBG’s now vacant seat. We are currently swinging between cautious optimism that there won’t be time to push a new justice through and debilitating pessimism because Mitch McConnell is the worst, but, unfortunately, very good at his job. One small first step you can take is contacting your senators and urging them to wait to hold any votes on a new justice until after inauguration day. Holly might have emailed Senator Cornyn quoting Senator Cornyn about the importance of waiting for the will of the people to be made clear before appointing a Supreme Court justice in an election year. (Here’s a form you can use to send them an email, set up by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you prefer to call your Senator, you can go here or call 1-701-484-0521 for a short script and to be automatically connected to your Senator’s office.) 

Volunteers are needed all over the place during elections and beyond. Please also be aware that governance begins in our smaller municipalities, which is where state resources are distributed, so it’s also important to know about the races in your state and local elections and to vote and volunteer down ballot. From the big elections to the smallest local elections, campaigns are looking for volunteers to whip votes for candidates. Voter registration drives need volunteers who can sign up new voters. Elections need election judges and other volunteers to ensure that things run smoothly and that voting rights are protected. Information about how to volunteer in these ways can get super specific, so here’s an article that discusses many ways you can volunteer. And if you’re in a blue district, you can always adopt a Senator. Holly, as a Texas resident, is partial to MJ Hegar, but if long shots are not your thing, you could throw some support behind Mark Kelly in Arizona

But more importantly, and we cannot stress this enough, we encourage you to vote. We’ve compiled some resources below to help you accomplish this if you have questions or need assistance knowing what to do in order to ensure your vote counts (which it ALWAYS does). 

Bottom line: 2020 sucks bigtime, but we’re not going to sit down and take it. 

Some voting stuff:

Elections are handled on a state-by-state basis, so it’s important to get the correct information and deadlines for your state. These are reliable resources that provide information for every state. We also encourage you to look at your state’s Board of Elections page, which is where you can find mail-in ballot tracking information if your state is allowing for mail-in voting. It is also likely the page where you can find information about volunteering to be an election judge if you are willing and able to do so. You do not have to be an attorney to volunteer or to help protect voting rights in other ways.

Voting requirements information by state: https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/eoddomestic.htm

Check your registration status (sometimes it gets deleted without voter knowledge): https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ (vote.org also has tons of information about voting in general, so poke around if you have questions)

Vote by mail requirements and deadlines by state: https://represent.us/how-to-vote-2020/

User-friendly how to vote guide by Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/how-to-vote/?itid=lk_inline_manual_12

Voting Rights information and organizations consolidated by the American Bar Association (includes some information for how to volunteer for non-lawyers): https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/voting-rights/how-to-help-protect-our-elections-and-get-out-the-vote/

Article with additional information about voting in the 2020 election in general: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/what-matters-how-to-make-sure-your-2020-mail-in-vote-is-counted/ar-BB17ZNq2

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Latinx Books We Loved

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we’re highlighting awesome romances by Latinx authors that also feature Latinx characters. For the record, some of these books are our all-time favorites, and should be read any time you can get your hands on them. 

Book titles link to Amazon. 

Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Julia’s family is warm and loving and supportive…but they are far away in NYC when she is dumped in Texas after moving there with her then-boyfriend. At least she has her job–until the foundation’s future is put at risk by corporate cuts. Rocco is the consultant responsible for evaluating the foundation, and can easily see the enormous benefit to the community. However! If he votes to save the foundation, he loses his job as a consultant. This book features just a ton of healthy and truly sexy dynamics and the writing just leaps off the page. 

Rep: Afro-Dominican author, Dominican-Puerto Rican heroine

Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez

Roxanne Medina needs to be in control. After all, that’s how she pulled herself from her humble beginnings and became a billionaire. But she also wants a baby, and she doesn’t want that baby to be saddled with all the baggage with which her childhood saddled her. What’s a billionaire to do? Buy a prince to use as a stud, of course! Lopez plays with gender roles and creates really interesting dynamics as these protagonists fall for each other and also rescue the hero’s bankrupted country. 

Rep: Latinx author, heroine with Latinx heritage, hero from Spanish-speaking European monarchy

Swing Batter Swing by Zaida Polanco

In the mood for a sexy work romance? Look no further! Marty and Jay have explosive chemistry, which they valiantly try to fight…until they don’t. There is a definite power differential between the protagonists (in terms of race, gender, class, and age, so we’ve got pretty much the whole shebang), and Polanco handles their negotiation of this dynamic particularly well. 

Rep: Afro-Dominican author, Afro-Dominican heroine

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Lina is doing just fine after being left at the altar, but she’s still a small business owner with small business owner concerns. So when the opportunity arises, she sets aside her antipathy toward her proposal partner – the almost-brother-in-law who she thinks convinced her fiance to bolt – in hopes of getting something better for herself when she wins the job at the end of the proposal. Little does she know that she’s also in the running for a totally awesome HEA. Also, there are a gazillion awesome Brazilian cultural references in this book.

Rep: Afro-Brazilian author, Afro-Brazilian heroine

PS: We seriously love us some Mia Sosa – here’s a quick and dirty primer we wrote about her books

Kulti by Mariana Zapata

As many of Zapata’s heroine’s are, Sal Casillas is a hardworking woman from humble beginnings, the child of blue collar immigrant parents, but she’s also the best women’s soccer striker in the United States. When her childhood crush becomes her coach one season, she goes from unable to talk to him, to enraged by everything about him (talk about being let down by a personal hero!) to his best friend. Sal is fierce, and following her romance is kind of awesome.

Rep: Mexican-American author, Latinx heroine

PS: Mariana Zapata is the queen of slow burns. If slow burns are your jam, here’s more info on Zapata’s other books

A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Andres

To round out our list, here’s a historical romance! Emilia Cruz, suffragette, helps to support her family by writing sensational stories under a pen name. Ruben Torres, rising literary star, pays the bills by running a gossip paper and writing mean literary reviews under a pen name. Of course, he is dying to expose the true author of these very naughty stories that have taken the island by storm…that is, until he actually gets to know Emilia (and gets over the fact that she has a tendency to push him into nearby bodies of water). Of course there are some shenanigans as everyone’s secret identity is revealed, but the characters and setting really shine.

Rep: Set on an imaginary island in the Spanish Caribbean. Latinx hero and heroine. 


Looking for more Latinx romance? We kept this list to six, because of alliteration, but we made a longer list at Bookshop.org.

Do you have a favorite Latinx romance novel? Let us know what it is – especially if it’s not on our list! We’re always looking for recs!

Recommended Read, Review

Review: Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa (2019)

Love on Cue, Book 3

Reviews of Love on Cue Book 1, Book 2

Heat Factor: Unlike Danny Zuko, Anthony can Get It at the drive in.

Character Chemistry: So much witty banter – but they also really see each other

Plot: I really like you, but you definitely don’t want a relationship.

Overall: Low angst. High heat. I couldn’t put it down.

Continue reading “Review: Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa (2019)”
Review

Review: Hex, Love, and Rock and Roll by Kat Turner 2020

Coven Daughters, Book 1

Heat Factor: 🍆🍆 (that means his firm penis leaves his pants twice)

Character Chemistry: Insta-lust, but they are both broken so they complete each other. 

Plot: Novice Witch hexes Rock God old enough to be her father. Lots of woo-woo shenanigans ensue. 

Overall: I could not suspend my disbelief enough for this one

Continue reading “Review: Hex, Love, and Rock and Roll by Kat Turner 2020”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Pursued by the Rake by Mary Lancaster (2020)

Season of Scandal Book #1

Heat Factor: It’s not throbby and there’s no slick flesh but by golly it was satisfying

Character Chemistry: It was seriously the sweetest, most adorable romance and I MELTED

Plot: Lady-in-Waiting is tricked and compromised, and then rescued by hands-down my current favorite hero (this man is like, 50% chill and 50% capable and my heart swelled so much I was concerned for my health)

Overall: After what has felt like a tiny smut slump, this absolutely adorable and totally sexy regency reminded me why I love this stuff in the first place.

Continue reading “Review: Pursued by the Rake by Mary Lancaster (2020)”
Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: Oh, Brother!

If there’s one thing that’s universal about MC Smut, it’s that The Brotherhood is the most important aspect of the club. What that means for romance is that the hero has a readily available cortege of badass bikers to get fierce when the action goes down. How they all know how to handle themselves like commandos, I have no idea…but a lot of them do have military backgrounds, so maybe that’s it.

Perhaps the best way to think about The Brotherhood is in terms of the old familial double standard: I can say whatever I want about my sister (etc.), but if anybody else says shit, I will fight to the death to defend her. In the books, this translates as: it doesn’t matter what kind of disagreements or infighting is going on in the club, every single brother will drop everything to defend…the club’s property. As it were.

For examples of this, I’d refer you to Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley or Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde, as both of those books involve direct conversations between the hero and heroine about how The Brotherhood is involved in the protagonists’ lives. (Primarily because both heroines are citizens, which we’ll discuss further when we get to the post about the women of MC smut.)

In Motorcycle Man, Tyra is kidnapped, and after she’s retrieved by the entire club roaring down the highway, Tack lays it out for her that everyone who belongs to Chaos is *safe*, because if they’re not, the club will rain down retribution the likes of which will make baddies think twice. In this instance, “rivers of blood” is the promise Tack makes. And it doesn’t matter that, at this point in the story, Tyra only belongs to Tack and barely knows the rest of the members of the club. She’s Tack’s woman, so every man in the club has Tack’s back to protect and avenge her.

Reaper’s Property goes in a slightly different direction, because Marie becomes Horse’s woman when her brother steals from the club, and Horse manages to negotiate that Marie become collateral instead of the club outright murdering her brother. (Because Horse wants Marie, not because he’s altruistic.) So the explanation about The Brotherhood comes more in the form of Horse trying to explain club culture to Marie when she’s horrified by the property patch, the relevant aspect of that conversation here being: no one will dare to mess with the club’s property, or – again – vengeance will be swift and brutal. It doesn’t matter that everybody in the club doesn’t agree with the approach the club has taken in dealing with Marie’s brother – they voted, the decision was made, and Marie was absorbed into the fold.

So, to sum up, The Brotherhood acts as an extended family, with the brothers in the club standing in for the hero when he’s not available to protect (or care for, but most specifically protect) the heroine. Buuuuuuut not for the other club women, necessarily (about whom more anon). When the brothers of the club talk amongst themselves about women, that’s usually the time that a whole lot of misogyny comes out. Which brings us to…

That’s one aspect of The Brotherhood. The other aspect is the male friendships/relationships that exist on page. In theory, this is really cool, because it’s not always easy to find romance with good male friendships. The connections between these men of the club can be really important and meaningful, and it’s nice to see men having friendships and support systems in books! Especially macho men who would rather be eaten by fire ants than admit that they have feelings. 

In practice, I find that The Brotherhood is an odd juxtaposition of a family in which everybody understands and supports everybody else and a loose association of individuals without deep emotional connections. We’ll probably get into this a little bit more when we talk about the men of MC smut, but toxic masculinity is basically an absolute must in these books. There is absolutely no room here for men who enjoy pink or tea or who talk about their feelings with anything other than revulsion. Ergo, I have a hard time believing that we’re achieving that really deep male friendship connection if men are running around telling their *best* friends that expressing feelings means that a man is “growing a vagina.”

Like I said, the toxic masculinity is REAL. 

So, to wind this down, I’d summarize all this by saying that The Brotherhood is essential to MC smut as both a cultural foundation generally and as a social foundation for the hero. There is nothing for the hero more sacrosanct than The Brotherhood. So, its existence is self-reinforcing, and it’s for the heroine to conform to the culture, not for the hero to break out of. Not that the hero wants to break out, but we’ll talk about heroes next week. 


Previous Posts in this series: