Ready to steam up your windows and glasses? Read Summer Sins, by Kathy Kulig. This erotic novel that launched in November 2013, takes the reader in the realm of BDSM as “Emma,” a tabloid writer for the magazine “Scandal,” goes under cover to write about a new BDSM club called Dark Odyssey. Sometimes, writers have to go that extra mile to a good job. In this instance, Emma has to experience the club to write credibly about it. However, she also has a secret desire to experience what the lifestyle is all about. When she meets Master Adrian Cayne, she has to convince him that she can be a credible submissive. As she submits to his tests, and starts to relinquish control to him, she also falls for the hunky Dom and wants more than just a story. Of course, there is a conflict of interests, since she now has to decide whether to follow her heart, or write the story her bosses expect. I’m not going to say more and ruin the book for you should you decide to read it, but the book includes enough steamy sex scenes to keep your interest from beginning to end.
I downloaded this onto my Kindle and read it on my plane trip to Paris. Ooh la la! With all the interest in D/s relationships generated by the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy, BDSM themes have become very popular. Although I have not personally experienced what Ms. Kulig portrays in Summer Sins regarding the BDSM club scene, it’s titilating and full of detail. She obviously did her homework. The book is really more of a very long short story, a novella. It’s a fast read, perfect for travel or a rainy afternoon. It had some truly good erotic writing (won’t tell you any specifics to spoil the tension) with a few sexual scenes (e.g. one with an electric toothbrush and plenty of exhibitionism, and voyeurism with BDSM play), to get your motor running.
My only criticism of the book is not of the writing, which is excellent, but of the erotica genre in general. Too often the relationships portrayed in these erotic novels are thinly defined. Erotica focuses on what the reader wants and you get what you’d expect — the romantic and sexual aspects of a couple’s interaction, but not necessarily so much of the other things that would normally make for a healthy and long standing relationship. The Doms are always powerful and wealthy and uber sexy, and the women are always pretty and young and innocent with an uncertain career path. As an educated, empowered, mature woman myself, I tire of hearing only of these typical love matches.” But then again, I guess when it comes to erotica, this is the sterotype that readers want. I give Ms. Kulig points for trying to add at least some dimension to her characters so that they have interests and real life situations to deal with outside of the sexual ones.
One other thing to note in this book — while BDSM sounds sexy (and it is, depending upon the what, where, when, and how), there are aspects of it that are not romantic or particularly savory, and the author balances these nicely. Alas, the plot ends frustratingly like many others in the genre, just as the couple resolves a major crisis. I wonder: what happens next? Could there be a Summer Sins, Part Two? (read our exclusive Q&A with Kathy Kulig, below, and find out)!
So who really is the “pen” behind Summer Sins? It is Kathy Kulig, a lovely woman who lives with her husband Joe, in Pennsylvania, actually not too far from where my husband and I have a weekend home. She writes erotic paranormal, contemporary romance for Ellora’s Cave (a noted publisher of erotic romance), and her non-fiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers and various on-line venues. Kathy’s sensual fiction has also been published in e-book, print and anthologies. Kathy is also a member of Romance Writers of America, and she was past President of her local chapter for Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers. She’s also a member of Liberty States Fiction Writers and other local writers groups. She teaches workshops on various writing related topics at conferences, writers groups and online.
Like many authors, Kathy has a “day job” even though she is an award-winning writer. According to Kathy, Joe is accepting and supportive of her unusual second profession. I can really related to Joe and Kathy since my own lifestyle has changed dramatically since Tony and I started Leather and Lace SPICE. I used to write mainly about “vanilla” subjects for The Advice Sisters Beauty/fashion/lifestyles website, but now I write about sex for Leather and Lace SPICE and Leather and Lace Advice, and I’m a “Sexpert” for California Exotics and an expert on the Sinclair Institute Advisory Council. If my husband wasn’t trusting, supportive , and open minded, I couldn’t do this work. As Kathy says: “It takes a special guy to be married to an erotic romance write. Joe ‘gets’ it. He supports my goals by giving me the time and space I need to write and go to conferences, workshops, and writers meetings. My success is his success because he has taken an active part along the way.”
Q- Leather & Lace: What inspired you to write erotica?
A – Kathy Kulig: I write what I enjoy reading. I like the edginess and depth of emotion found in sensual fiction. I love the hotter reads, and love writing them. In my erotic stories, I can ‘expose’ my characters in physical, psychological and emotional ways. Not that traditional romance books can’t have that, but erotic romances have a rawness I favor. I started reading Ellora’s Cave books shortly after I joined RWA in 2003 and loved them. I began writing my own and had an erotic novella and a few short stories published in small presses, but I had my eye on Ellora’s Cave. In 2007 I sold a novel and novella to them.
Q- Leather and Lace: How do your husband/family/friends view your work?
A- Kathy Kulig: My husband is wonderful and amazingly supportive of my writing. He cooks, yay!, understands the time I need to write and even goes to conferences with me. Occasionally, he even brainstorms a story or will read a chapter or two to help me out. My family is supportive of my writing, but most of them don’t read what I write. I think they’ve gotten used to it by now and think it’s cool, but erotica isn’t their thing. And that’s fine.
Q- Leather and Lace: Your descriptions of the club in Summer Sins, for example, is quite detailed. Did you have to do first hand research for this book (and others)?
A- Kathy Kulig: I had a blast creating the world of Dark Odyssey—the BDSM club which is connected to TropiX, a swingers club. I used to live in South Florida and would cruise on boats with friends looking at the huge mansions along the Intercoastal or the beach. Those mansions gave me the inspiration for location, but I needed more hands-on.
When I decided to incorporate more elements of BDSM in my books, I felt I needed to do extensive research to make the stories and the characters authentic. Besides reading fiction and non-fiction books in the genre, I spoke to authors extensively published in the BDSM genre. Some authors are also a part of the lifestyle. I also attended workshops, and a BDSM club in NY City call Paddles. Talking to people online was also helpful. It’s amazing the things you can discover online, but watch your sources if you want accurate information. I find if you’re open and honest about learning, and respect peoples’ privacy, people are receptive to answer questions. The club in Summer Sins, Dark Odyssey, is fictitious.
Q- Leather and Lace: How has writing about erotic subjects changed your views on sex and sexuality (if it has)?
A- Kathy Kulig: I think I’ve always had a pretty open-minded view on sex and sexuality. I started out reading sensual fiction and writing sensual poetry and short stories long before I even thought about getting published. The research I’ve done into the BDSM lifestyle and other alternative lifestyles has helped me better understand a variety of relationships. The depth of trust and emotion partners must have to be involved in BDSM is intense. Even if it’s just roleplaying in the bedroom, or a Dominant/submissive relationship occurring only during sex, a 24/7 D/s lifestyle arrangement or a Master/slave agreement, trust, sensitivity, communication is extremely important.
A- Leather and Lace: Is there anything else you would like Tony and I to ask you?
A- Kathy Kulig: Readers have asked if Summer Sins is the beginning of a series. I’m thrilled to say, YES!! It is! I have at least two other stories outlined and have started writing them. Other ideas for naughty happenings at Dark Odyssey keep coming to mind so I may write more. A series title won’t be approved until I complete the second book. I’m also working on another project, an erotic ménage for Ellora’s Cave. I should have that to my editor by March, or sooner. I also have a couple of projects, but it’s too soon to mention them now. 2014 should be a fantastic year! Keep checking my a blog , website or sign up for my newsletter to hear the latest.
Thank you so much Alison and Tony for having me as a guest!
report filed by Alison Blackman aka “Lace” *this report is similar to the one we are featuring on our sister web site, Leather and Lace SPICE. We have posted it with a few changes here for those who are not of legal age or who do not wish to enter our “adult” oriented SPICE site.