Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Sarah Frantz

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

Posts by Sarah Frantz:

A Farewell From Sarah F

A Farewell From Sarah F

I started writing for Dear Author because I wanted to share my absolute fangirl love for Anah Crow’s brilliant SM romance, Uneven. Jane kindly published a Guest Review and then generously invited me to join the DA reviewers. I’ve been reviewing for DA ever since (3 years and 8 months).

Reading for and writing the reviews have kept me sane and made me utterly crazy. They’ve helped my academic work and kept me from it by keeping me up all night reading. I’ve discovered authors whose work I adore (K.A. Mitchell, Heidi Cullinan, A.M. Riley) and books that made me want to scream in anger and frustration — thankfully more of the former than the latter.

As much as I adore reviewing for DA, though, things have shifted in my life. For various convoluted reasons, I’ve started a business, Alphabet Editing, doing freelance fiction editing and BDSM consultation for authors. I’ll be working with self-publishing authors on their upcoming novels, and in the last two days, I’ve contracted with Riptide Publishing to work as an editor for them. As such, Jane and I came to a completely mutual decision that this presents too much of a conflict of interest for me to continue as a DA reviewer.

This step in my life would not be possible without my time at DA. Reviewing for DA helped me recognize wooden dialogue and dubious motivation at thirty paces. But I’m now transferred my reviewing skills to editing, hoping to catch those problems before the books are published, rather than after.

I will not be leaving the DA community — spending time with you guys is too much a part of my regular daytime procrastination — but I’ll be participating in it as a reader, just like the rest of you. And I might still be sharing with you some brilliant books (NOT ones I’ve worked on!) through some more Guest Reviews, bringing my time here full circle.

I want to thank Jane and the rest of the DA crew. I want to thank all you authors out there for sharing your characters and their journeys with us. But most of all I want to thank the DA readership. You guys are the best. I’ll still be sharing books with you, I promise. Just in slightly different ways.

Twitter: @sarahfrantz
Email: alphabetediting at gmail dot com

REVIEW:  The Saturnalia Effect by Heidi Belleau,Violetta Vane

REVIEW: The Saturnalia Effect by Heidi Belleau,Violetta Vane

Dear Ms. Belleau and Ms. Vane.

I found this story by clickingclickingclicking through the various posted responses to our post about M/M romance and Fan Fiction. Heidi gives good blog and then I was intrigued, as I always am with prison stories, by the short she wrote with Violetta Vane. This story is fabulous, I’m so thrilled I found it, and I can’t wait for more from this pair of authors.

The Saturnalia Effect by Heidi Belleau,Violetta Vane

Click for a larger NSFW image

Troy is very young (early 20s) and in prison for 40 years for following where his more dangerous twin led, which is into a jewelry store heist that ended with the death of his twin after the twin killed a cop. At the beginning of the story, Troy’s being threatened by a prison leader and his heavy into killing another inmate. The short story (56 ePub pages, 23K words) tells of Troy’s relationship with Daniel, the guy he’s supposed to kill. Daniel’s an ex-mobster who’s turned over a new leaf in prison, but is even more of a lifer than Troy. He takes Troy under his wing, both sexually and protection-wise. And despite the setting, it’s a sweet, poignant love story between two men with nothing left to lose.

This summary doesn’t do much to explain how GOOD this story is. The writing is brilliant, gripping. The characters are engrossing. The story’s told entirely from Troy’s deep third-person perspective, but Daniel’s still a great presence.

Two weirdnesses:

1. If you buy the book direct from Storm Moon Press, it’ll come with an outtake, a blowjob scene from the middle of the book. Reading this scene after reading the story, I can’t understand why it was taken out. It’s integral to the establishment of the characters of both Troy and Daniel and to their relationship dynamic. It makes the betrayal later in the book more devastating, it makes the ending more magical. This is a perfect example of how erotic scenes, when done right, can NOT just be cut out without damaging the rest of the story.

2. The ending is a HFN/HEA, but only through a measure of magical realism that is hinted at, but by no means an integral part of the rest of the book. This book is firmly contemporary-set, but the only way these men are getting their HEA is through paranormal mumbo-jumbo, so it’s necessary to the book, worked in well, but a little unusual. My literary self both loved the implications of the way the ending was done, but had also enjoyed the story and characters so much that I would have been content with a non-HEA ending. And I never ever ever say that.

Grade: B+

P.S. Cover is horrible, but I love that Troy is actually depicted as Middle Eastern, as he is in the book.

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