Review: The Quid Pro Quo by A.L. Lester (2021)

The Bradford Trilogy, Book #2

Heat Factor: There’s one vaguely uncomfortable blow job

Character Chemistry: That feeling when you have flutters about someone new but you’re not sure if they reciprocate

Plot: Simon is investigating a murder, and Walter’s close friend is the primary suspect. Also, oh shit, there’s a demon.

Overall: Everything is very stiff upper lip; I liked the serenity in the midst of chaos.

Continue reading “Review: The Quid Pro Quo by A.L. Lester (2021)”
My First Smut

My First Smut: Sharing Books Til They Fall Apart

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author A.L. Lester talks about passing smut around at school (we can relate!) and the continued joy of reading romance.

First romance novel you read:

Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz

How old were you?

I’d have been about thirteen or fourteen.

How’d you get your hands on the book?

We passed it round at school. I’ve just wikipedia’d it and it was published in 1980. The miniseries came out in 1983, and that ties in with my memories of passing it round the school common room. Eventually the copy was so battered it simply fell open at the sex scenes.

What was the reading experience like?

Piecemeal. Everyone was too scared to buy their own copies, so you read it in snatches when you could get a turn!

What made the experience special?

I think, because it was something of a group naughtiness. We knew our parents wouldn’t approve. Plus it’s got some pretty unpleasant non-consensual bits in there, which felt taboo. We also read Lace by Shirley Conran and Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. There were a lot of dark themes in my early smut reading! We felt very grown up reading such adult books and I guess that was one of the attractions.

Looking back now, I don’t know whether I even liked the main characters very much. They weren’t comfortable reads for me, although I can remember devouring the Flowers in the Attic series. In retrospect none of the characters were very sympathetic and that’s what I look for in my reading experiences as an adult.

What role does smut play in your life?

This is about my reading habits, right? :).

My current smut experiences are a lot less dark! I write books and short stories with strong LGBTQ+ romance elements, often historical and/or paranormal. They tend to be around the three-out-five heat level–I read high-heat, but I can’t write it very comfortably without my elbows itching very severely! It feels too forced.

I like to read stories with lots of plot as well as romance and I read a lot of sci-fi and historical. I like the sexual tension to stay unresolved for quite a while before the sexing begins and I hate books where the plot is down to people not communicating! This is probably down to studying Othello at school. I can remember asking ‘why doesn’t he just ask her about the handkerchief?”

So…quite a smut-based life, I’d say? I fit both my reading and my writing around a very busy family life–I’m married to Mr AL and we have two early-teenagers, one of whom is very severely disabled and needs twenty-four hour care. Our older child has quite complex needs; and I have a stress-released seizure disorder, which is super. Mr AL and I live our life in the cracks between all that really. It can be a bit grim. Writing and reading is an escape for me–that’s probably why I tend to read stuff that’s not contemporary.


Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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Thanks A.L.! We’re excited to read A.L. latest release, The Quid Pro Quo (magical queer 1920s murder mystery romance?!? sign us up!)—watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.