Ice Cream Lover Review

I grabbed Ice Cream Lover on a whim after seeing its release posts on twitter. It looked cute and I’m a fan of ice cream and erotica so, why not? I am so glad I did! If all you get out of this Ice Cream Lover review is that I loved it and you should read it, I’ll consider my work done (there’s your little spoon for tasting).

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Ice Cream Lover Review - book cover featuring male east-Asian model with shirt open and muscular chest and abs.

Book Summary

I hate ice cream. Ever since my fiancée left me at the altar and skewered me in her bestseller “Embrace Your Inner Ice Cream Sandwich: Finding the Positive You in a World of Negativity,” I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff.
Unfortunately, my five-year-old niece is a budding foodie and her favorite place in the world is Ginger Scoops, a cutesy Asian ice cream shop. Since I’ve been looking after my niece a lot lately, I’ve spent too much time there, sipping black coffee, refusing to eat ice cream, and trying not to look at the owner, Chloe Jenkins. Chloe is obnoxiously cheerful, and I can’t stand her.
Naturally, I end up kissing her.
But I’ve sworn off women after the fiasco with my ex-fiancée, and I’m convinced I’m no good at relationships. Still, with Chloe I’m tempted to do the impossible: give love and ice cream another chance…

Ice Cream Lover is the second (stand alone) romance novel in the Baldwin Village book series by Jackie Lau. It is sweet and erotic contemporary romance with a good dose of comedy. The main characters include grumpy cinnamon roll Drew (the narrator of the book’s teaser) and bisexual Chloe who struggles with being mixed race.

The Author

Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels. Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gelato, gourmet donuts, cooking, hiking, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

I love that Jackie is an own-voices author and you can really feel her love for her books and characters when you read her Tweets and in her books.

Why I Love This Book

While I love quirky, foodie, erotic romance, I have to admit the thing that made me fall in love with this book is the main character Chloe hooking up with Drew.
As a bisexual cis-gendered woman married to a cis-gendered man, I struggle with my sexual identity. Seeing a character that is bi and enters a committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it was heartwarming.
So often bi women in erotica who “become lesbians” or who fool around before going back to their hetero partners and read as non-committal or riding a fence.
It was just really nice to see someone who is somewhat like me. That Chloe’s choosing to enter into this relationship with Drew does not make her less of a bisexual or turn her heterosexual.

Foodie romances are awesome. I love the cozy conversations about flavors of ice cream, meals and desserts shared, and how the whole story revolves around sharing and conversation. It was so relaxing to read and, I admit, it made me grab ice cream and check out some new flavors (and crave some old favorites).

[Ice Cream Lover Review Spoiler alert] I also really liked Drew’s background issues. I have once been that self-help reader who poured over books/movies like Eat, Pray, Love or Under the Tuscan Sun.
Reading Ice Cream Lover and watching the way Drew struggled with being “that guy” who’s failed relationship was smeared all over a book and mainstream media – who was written as a horrible person rather than someone entirely human with good qualities as well as flaws – I thought back to some of the books I’ve read.
Those men talked about in self help books and biographies/memoirs – they were human. We only get to hear one side of their story. Looking back at my own failed relationships I’d certainly hate it if that was poured out on the best seller list and I was made to be some monsterous ex.
It was a very unique take on a character and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I Didn’t Love About the Book

It made me spend too much on ice cream…worth it. But no, seriously, if you’re gonna read this book, have a favorite on hand.

Grab Your Copy

If you enjoyed my Ice Cream Lover Review, be sure to grab your copy and a pint of favorite ice cream.
Comment below what you thought of it and your favorite ice cream flavor!
For more erotic romance reviews, click here.

Their Troublesome Crush: A Review

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disable queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Their Troublesome Crush Review

I fell in love with Their Troublesome Crush when I saw the cover art. It depicted beautiful art and colors that caught the eye in general but seeing a romance novel that proudly showed not just one but two fat characters, right there on the cover! I squealed in delight and didn’t care who saw me wiggling with happiness. At that point I absolutely had to read this story.

What’s really cool is the author, Xan West, interviewed the artist, Hannah Aroni. It was fabulous to see inside her head a little regarding a cover that will probably be in my top 3 for a very long time.

The Author: Xan West

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat white Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.
Xan blogs about trans representation in literature, kink, queerness, disability, and writing on this site. Xan also occasionally blogs at other places on the web.

This is not my first Xan West story. I reviewed Best Lesbian Erotica 2019 and their story “Trying Submission” was excellent. Very much worthy of making them a finalist in the John Preston Short Fiction award. You can read my review of that particular story and book (and click through to order your own copy) here.

What I love about West’s books is also the lessons I receive about writing. I am inspired to make my own writing better when I read their work. Just the inclusion of content warnings, cover descriptions for readers that have difficulty seeing, and how they write diversity across the board gets my writer gears turning.

What Did I LOVE About The Book

From the very beginning, I was attracted to the main characters. Ernest is adorable and sweet. I’d have tea with him any day. Nora is sweet switch I am totally digging and I wish I’d met people like this in my early days of BDSM exploration. Even the side characters give me all the warm and fuzzies in their loving care for each other and the main characters.

Unafraid of Fat and Disability

There is a scene in the story where Ernest visits Nora’s home. The space and Nora in it are described beautifully, especially regarding her size. Nora becomes bigger, fatter, more relaxed in her space. The room and furnishings are chosen and arranged to accommodate her size and her mobility issues. Ernest takes all this in, the details are given to the reader unflinchingly without being grotesque. Its how I wish other fat and disabled characters in other books were portrayed – described with love.

Nurturing Care and Access Intimacy

Access Intimacy and Care are what really shine in Their Troublesome Crush that I’ve yet to see in many romances. Not only does West take care to write very real and diverse characters with a variety of needs BUT they also write characters that take care of each other with their needs in mind. My heart grew three sizes when Ernest makes food with their dietary needs in mind.

I’m gonna veer off subject for just a second but one of the first things that endeared this book to me was the very beginning scene when Ernest is trying to decide about ordering cupcakes knowing Nora is diabetic. He can’t decide if ordering the variety of sweet treats would be putting her out or if not ordering them would be stepping on her own autonomy in making decisions about what she can and cannot eat. I nearly cried. I’ve had friends, dates, and family make decisions for me “for my own good” regarding food (I’m not diabetic but this was done regarding other things like my weight and lactose intolerance). Its painful and makes me feel like a child in a not-good way. Seeing a character go over this and choose to allow the other character make decisions for themselves was beautiful and I’m grateful for this scene.

This care goes beyond food and is also revealed in Ernest’s relationship with his Daddy and with his friends. He has very clear, previously discussed, signs when he needs space due to his autism and/or gender dysphoria. His loved ones see these signs, understand that, and act accordingly. This seems simple but its not often I read a book where a Dominant grants the submissive space and its not made into a complicated mess to further the plot line. Instead it shows the love and care between characters, reveals some of their polyamorous connections and understandings, and is just damn real and sweet.

Foodie Fan

I was impressed by the fact that West did not shy away from food in their book, like many stories with fat characters do. In fact, the book is quite the foodie romance. It starts out with cupcakes and moves into dinners, tea service, and more. I could almost sing “These are a few of my favorite things” just with this theme of the book.

The only thing that could have made this over the top even better was recipes for those cupcakes and sandwiches and other treats available in the back of the book. I’d cook up a storm in my kitchen to celebrate this book.

BDSM

Something that West does well in Their Troublesome Crush as well as in their short story, Trying Submission, is show BDSM, specifically the D/s dynamic as well as bondage, without making it overtly erotic.

West keys into something many people don’t always understand about this lifestyle – BDSM isn’t always about sex. You can have a very fulfulling BDSM experience or dynamic without including sex. This is revealed in West’s work without detracting at all from the romance or emotion in the story.
I’d love to see more of this discussed in BDSM romances.

Polyamory

Its so rare that I run into a story that truly shows polyamorous relationships in the variety that they can create. Often what I read is harems or reverse harems or close triads that all start with the main character finding love with all of them from the beginning. Their Troublesome Crush shows two characters, already in a polyamorous relationship as metamours for their shared partner. It also shows how their friends, ex lovers, etc interact with this relationship dynamic.
As a polyamorous person, I believe the characters and relationships were very believable and could see it mirrored in the polyam communities I’ve been part of. Its a complicated ballet that I think West executed perfectly in their writing.

Final Reader Thoughts

West includes a fantastic content warning at the beginning of the book as well as on their site page for Their Troublesome Crush. The following is just an additional bit of input for those wondering if this fantastic novel is right for your bookcase.

It’s not a deterrent from reading the book but Their Troublesome Crush did make me have to do some research. I’m not Jewish and I’m also not all that into showtunes. The story focuses on Pesach (Passover) and the main character, Ernest, is a big fan of show tunes (he’s even writing his own musical). So when there was a reference I didn’t understand, I’d pause my reading and do a little search about it online.

Let me emphasize that this research is not necessary to enjoy the book but I like to fully immerse myself in a story and that meant looking up words I didn’t understand and listening to songs I’d never heard before. This was actually a pretty cool experience and I don’t begrudge the book for it at all.

#FatSmutFriday Fat Erotic Romance!

We need fat representation in erotica and romance! So here are some amazing books and authors bringing it!

We need fat characters in erotic romance! Seeing representation of fat people in loving, sexual, passionate, sweet, kinky relationships helps de-stigmatize a whole group of people that are otherwise widely believed to be “gross” or asexual at best. Many, MANY of use are sexually active and enjoy or want to enjoy wholesome romance and sex lives. Seeing ourselves in erotic romance literature helps normalize that and its just plain hot

So I took to Twitter and I asked for Fat-Positive Erotic Romance. I was so happy to receive a number of authors sharing their books and links.
(I also received some nonsense and fatphobic bullshit but I won’t linger on that beyond saying, this shit happens every time a fat person steps out of the shadows and requests body positivity and that really had got to fucking stop, k? thanks).

Fat-Positive Erotica and Romance

I will admit some of these I have not read (yet) and if there are any stories here that are fatphobic, fetishizing fat people, or triggering without a warning, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.
If you have a romance story that features fat characters either as the protagonist or love interest, please let me email me at TheSmutGeek @ gmail . com

Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West

Xan West has some amazing books! I reviewed their short story in Best Lesbian Erotica 2019 and I’ve been hooked on their writing ever since! You can also read their amazing article on why they cara about Fat Characters in Erotica here. Their Troublesome Crush doesn’t disappoint. Its a sweet romance between two fat characters that also covers BDSM, disability, access intimacy, and more. My review of this book is coming soon but know that it will be a rave!

Taste of Honey by May Moore

With words good girl echoing in my mind I skipped through the buttons with one hand. My shirt opened, revealing all my flesh, cleavage bulging from a black lacy bra. Jonesey responded with a throaty groan, put his arms around me and skilfully undid the clasp. My boobs spilled out directly into his waiting hands. He twisted the nipples and squeezed the flesh, obviously revelling in their size and weight. I could see the need in his eyes and allowed my mouth to open with desire, no order necessary.
Read this sexy tale for free on Bellesa!

From Scratch by Katrina Jackson

Welcome to Sea Port, where the town baker, cop and fire chief fall heavily in lust.
I have to admit I’m a sucker for foodie romance especially when there’s a small town and a love triangle!

Last Minute Lust by Sorcha Rowan and Meg Pickles

Sorcha Rowan never fails to bring the heat in her erotica. She is one of my fav erotica peeps and I was very excited to learn that she’d written a tale featuring a plus size babe.

Madness by Catherine Winters

While her books are not romance with the happy endings traditional sense, there are fat characters and plenty of sex along with some fabulous writing. I highly recommend checking out the rest of her work as well.

Love with a View by Paige Peterson

Romance on the sweet side.
Will Audrey and Gabe, her new love, be able to battle the issues? Or will he runaway with her heart?

Desperation at the Office by Hara Surya

Content warning: pee kink.

My Smut

I have a few stories that feature fat characters. All of my Nerdy Dirty Curvy series focuses on fat heroines as does my Arctic Steam short story. You can read more about them and buy your own copies here.

Tarot Poetry: An Interview with Marjorie Jensen

Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology is a diverse collection of 78 poems, including original verse and new translations by contemporary writers and Tarot readers. The book can be pre-ordered through the publisher, Minor Arcana Press.
Tarot poetry began in Renaissance Italy with artists like Teofilo Folengo. Many famous poets–including T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, and Marge Piercy–have used Tarot in their work since. Our era is now blessed with our own poetic creations as those featured in Arcana. Editor Marjorie Jensen has brought many of these amazing poets together from an international community including Rachel Pollack, Tanya Joyce, Cecilia Llompart, and Sierra Nelson.

PictureMarjorie Jensen is an educator, writer, and Tarot reader. Since completing her Master’s degree, she has taught (Tarot) poetry and prose workshops at U.C. Berkeley and has edited several literary publications, such as 580 Split. Her published articles include “Structuring Sonnets and Tarot Spreads” in Tarosophist International as well as “Cards are Told” in Unwinnable Weekly. She is also a contributor to Spiral Nature.
See more of her writing and featured Arcana authors on Tarot Poetry WordPress.

I see that you are both a tarot reader and a lover of books as well as an editor. What got you into tarot? Would you mind sharing with us your favorite tarot deck? 
My mom reads Tarot and gifted me my first deck—the Aquarian Tarot—when I was about fourteen. My paternal grandmother read intuitively with playing cards, so I guess you could say my love of reading cards runs on both sides of the family! Currently, my favorite decks are the Paulina Tarot, the Wizards Tarot, and the Rider-Waite-Smith.

What initially inspired the Arcana Tarot Poetry anthology? 
When I started writing my unrhymed sonnet sequence based on the Major Arcana, I wanted to read an anthology of Tarot poetry. I like research, and I found a number of books and poems by individual poets, but no one had created a volume of Tarot poems that brought together multiple authors. So I decided to make the book I wanted to read.

Minor Arcana Press calls Arcana a “muse: enchanting, inspiring, and empowering.” What are some ways that the tarot has inspired and empowered you? 
I love writing with the Tarot and using it in writing workshops. Collecting Tarot is like collecting art (but generally on a much smaller and cheaper scale), and I find art to be a wonderful muse. Also, I feel that the Tarot enriches my spiritual practice—my private rituals as well as the spiritual connections I make when reading for others. 

Arcana is described as “groundbreaking” in its uniting poetry and tarot. Before this project, you published articles like “Structuring Sonnets and Tarot Spreads” in Tarosophist International. Do you foresee a trend of combining tarot with poetry, art, and literature in the future? 
There are some deep connections between Tarot, art, and poetry, going back to renaissance Italy, and what we are able to do now with the internet allows niche communities—like Tarot poets—to come together and be seen. One of the things I enjoyed with this project was seeing how writing from people who spend more time in Tarot circles harmonized with writing from people who spend more time in poetry circles. Both poets and Tarotists give readings, but now a little more light is being shed on how similar those readings can be. And I think this light will continue to grow.   

When this book first came into view to the public it was being crowdfunded through Indiegogo. Why did you and Minor Arcana Press choose to use crowdfunding for the project initially?
Indiegogo did not make its crowdfunded goal, how did this effect printing and publishing the book?

Minor Arcana Press is a small non-profit with a limited budget, so we thought that crowdfunding would be a good way to help cover printing costs and other costs of making the book. Not making the Indiegogo goal means we will be publishing fewer copies of the book. Later this year we will also be putting out an e-book edition so more copies can enter the world, but we will have a very limited press run of paperback editions. Also, not making the goal inspired amazing generosity—for instance, Mary K. Greer offered to waive her fee for the introduction. Gifts like hers made it possible for us to still put out a small press run of physical copies.

What was it like working with authors and artists like Rachel Pollack (one of the poetry authors), Siolo Thompson (who did the interior art and front cover) and Mary K. Greer (who did the intro to the book)?
In addition to Mary’s generosity, and both her and Rachel have been wonderfully supportive. They have also been very accessible and welcoming. Anne Bean, Minor Arcana Press’ layout designer, worked more closely with Siolo than I did (I believe they knew each other before this project because they are both based in Seattle). I feel very blessed to have so many talented women involved in this project—I have been inspired by their words and images.

Some of our readers are both tarot enthusiasts and writers. As an editor, what advice can you give them if they are interested in writing for a project like this in the future? 
Be yourself. After reading hundreds of submissions, I think the best poems draw on personal experience/experimentation/style. The worst seemed to regurgitate all the clichés about Tarot. Utilize the Tarot to find your distinct voice.

Minor Arcana Press is having a launch party for Arcana on August 26th. Will you be there? What can readers expect at this online shindig? 
I will be there! The launch party will be held at Hugo House in Seattle—I’ve never been to Seattle before. There will be Tarot readings as well as poetry readings, and I hope we will be able to post some pictures/videos online. I’m planning on having similar events in other locations, especially Oakland (where I live). 

Will there be more like this anthology in the future for us to look forward to?
I really enjoyed making this book, and would be interested in creating another anthology in a couple years. In the meantime, I plan to finish and publish my Major Arcana sonnets (which are nearly complete!). And I have some fiction that my muses are demanding I work on after that, so my next anthology might end up being a multi-genre collection with drama, fiction, and essays as well as poetry.