Friday, March 16, 2018

First Fantasy Novella by Best Selling Author Christopher Rice



One Thousand and One Dark Nights--Once upon a time, in the future… I was a student fascinated with stories and learning. I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast library at my father’s home and collected thousands of volumes of fantastic tales. I learned all about ancient races and bygone times. About myths and legends and dreams of all people through the millennium. And the more I read the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually become part of them. I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I would not be telling you this tale now. But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off with bravery. One afternoon, curious about the myth of the Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar (Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade, the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand women. Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had never occurred before and that still to this day, I cannot explain. Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to protect herself and stay alive. Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales. And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more. And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that he might hear the rest of my dark tale. As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before you now.

I loved the idea of participating in a series based upon the concept of the ancient stories--so fantastical that they kept alive the storyteller just so that the King would keep Scheherazade alive to tell another one...

When Christopher Rice was asked to participate, he chose a fantasy story that is quite lovely and romantic tale as its characters meet what could be a ghost, a genie, or other magical person who offers a candle to the young woman who happens to visit his store one day... This erotic tale has just three characters--that are humans that is...Cassidy, Shane and Andrew... This is their story...


Two-and-a-half-years, she reminds herself, keenly aware, once again, that ever since she became a business owner she’s tended to round down her every accomplishment, accomplishment, as if no achievement of hers will be good enough until Cassidy’s Corner is out of the red and fulfilling Internet orders from all over the world. Then everything will be better; then she will earn the respect of her husband’s fellow architects at Chaisson & Landry, men and women who currently see her as nothing more than a housewife with a love of long novels and a codependent friendship with her gay best friend. And then she will never have another insecurity in the world. Ever. If she’s not careful, this cruel, self-defeating line of thought will wash away her ambitions with the speed and ease of the rain sluicing through the gutters overhead. She’s not a teenager anymore. She has no business blaming others for the terrible pressure she places on herself at the start of every workday. And if she doesn’t watch herself, she’ll make it Andrew’s fault, too. If he weren’t so driven and successful, she wouldn’t feel the need to compete. And if he weren’t so goddamn handsome, then she wouldn’t constantly feel like she didn’t deserve him, that other women were whispering things behind her back, things like, “What’d she do to land that one? Does it involve splits?” It is fear that tricks her into seeing the blessings in her life as obstacles. It is fear, plain and simple, that twines its black fingers through the love and respect she has for her husband, pulling it apart until its strands look like chains. And nothing good in her life has ever come from treating fear like a teacher. Worse, these thoughts are just painful distractions from uncomfortable, everyday realities. Owning a business is a lot harder than she thought it would be. That’s the long and short of it. And it’s just easier to indulge paranoid fantasies than it is to balance the books, conduct bi-weekly inventories, and stay abreast of trade conventions where she might find that rare, expensive specialty item that will snag the attention of a tourist from Atlanta or a Garden District housewife wandering the Quarter after brunch at Galatoire’s. And then there’s what happened during Mardi Gras...
~~~

Since I had just finished reading Rice's latest book, I remembered that I had one other story on my long TBR list by this author...and pulled it up! It is superb...

Was it the stress Cassiday was feeling? Or was there something that was beginning to happen within her home life--with her two men--her best, and gay, friend, Shane, since childhood and her husband, Andrew... Perhaps she was so tired when she feel asleep that she entered into a magical fantasy dream... But as each moment continued, Cassday was questioning, this can't be real, even though they were all quite surprised at what had happened after drinking too much at the Mardi Gras... Now her heart and mind were torn...

If it was a dream, it was so real... It started when she was hurrying to pick up materials for a job and it had begun to rain...As she was passing a shop delicious smells flowed out to her and she stopped...The shop keeper quickly saw her and invited her in to wait until the rain slowed... As soon as she was in the shop and her materials were stacked on the floor, she turned and went to a specific candle--it was as if she was drawn into the flame itself as it produced smells she at first couldn't identify. Then she realized that there were hints of both of the men who were important to her. How strange that she would think that, because surely it was made of various scents to produce this unique assault on her senses...

The shopkeeper talked to her and immediately insisted that she take the candle as a gift--that he made candles for specific people and, surely, this one had been created for her... Later, he gave instructions...and she followed them...

And that's when the magic began and the three gold-sprinkled spirits visited...

Do you enjoy erotic fantasies? I would quickly tell you that, in my opinion, it was the writing of the author that made this story so fascinating... Setting the story within a fantasy allows readers to consider how the story affects them. The story, the timing, are elusive, suspenseful... How do we define and reveal love to those closest to us? And is attraction the basis of love, or does love evolve from friendship and caring? Readers will undoubtedly be left with thoughts--intriguing thoughts...

I think I was most interested in the inner introspection of each of the three characters as each chapter changes from one person to another. Do we ever really share our most intimate thoughts, needs, desire? If not, can true intimacy occur? In what form? The story is more exploratory in psychological musings than the average erotic tale... To me that was surely a bonus which makes me highly recommend it for those who read explicit erotic fantasies...


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