Archive for February 19th, 2014

The Chocolate Temptation

Warning: This is not going to be a well-reasoned, sane or calm post. This is essentially going to be me gushing about one of my favorite auto-buy authors. That said, I’m going to jump straight into squeeing.

I loved this book. I adored it.

I love all of Laura’s books because she has this disconcerting tendency to shove her hands straight into my ribcage, grab straight for my heart, and start manipulating it the way a master chocolatier might handle his art. When I read her books, it’s almost always a non-stop roller coaster of fear and vulnerability. I feel like I’m out there in the character’s heads, with my heart hanging out there for everyone to see, and I’m afraid, so afraid, that one misstep means that my heart is just going to go splat and they’d look at it like a mis-plated dessert and sweep it into the trash without a second glance.

I usually read her books on the edge of my seat, both waiting for and fearing every moment. I hold my breath, not quite believing, even as I do believe, that I will fall safely into warmth and love.

So, I’m Asian American. -ish. I was born in Taiwan and came to the US with my parents when I was two. English is essentially my 1.5 language. That might give you some hint of why Sarah spoke directly to and from my heart.

I finished The Chocolate Temptation today and I was almost trembling and on the verge of tears for parts of it.

Laura’s deft at handling emotion — she juggles heavy topics, hot sex, disarming vulnerability, and above all, realism of emotion and truth in a way that stuns me and holds me almost motionless.

Sarah’s background with her mother being Korean, the reality of her mother having fled from Korea to come to the Us for a better life, and Sarah’s many experiences with being the child of an immigrant, the green card child, having always to be an example of her race and gender, and all the beautiful, sad, painful, wonderful details of what all that means — Laura weaves them in with a light hand, touching just enough to shape and mold, but never in a way that feels forced or brittle.

I love that Sarah’s aware of her background and cherishes it and knows how it shapes her without it being the entirety of her being. I love that Laura touched on her being American and that’s how she sees herself without fanfare. I love the delicacy with how she paints a picture of just how we can be molded by our parent’s pain and sacrifice into who we are, from pain into self-inflicted pain, but how it’s not abusive but simply is. How there is no choice there. No choice for your parents and no choice for you and how that’s simply life. How perfectionism cuts deeply into yourself even as you embrace it both because you must and because perfection is what you always want to strive for because you understand what pain is and perfection is an imperfect balm for that pain but it’s all we really hate.

When I read Laura’s books, she keeps making me think that she has a direct line into all my secret fears. Being torn between a parent and the self and the feeling of having a perfectionist parent who you can never quite fully please. That need to escape, when you both love someone so utterly and yet you are so drained by the loving that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Being split between two places, not quite feeling at ease in either, desperately looking for home and so afraid of what love means in pain and sacrifice.

Laura was on my auto-buy list already, but she fully has my heart now because she’s put voice to the core of me in a more beautiful way than I’d ever imagined.

Thank you, Laura, so much, for putting this into the world.


Goddess in Waiting Ch. 4


I took a page from his book and popped into Alexandro’s garden without waiting for him to respond to my telepathic knock, Raphael in tow.

He looked up from his laptop. Blue eyes weary, he sighed.

“You know.”

He didn’t acknowledge Raphael and I was in no mood to play at niceties.

“You couldn’t have warned me? What did you and Dawn expect, sending me off like that? Did you guys want the earth to be wiped? Did your triplet doing it once before make you more sanguine about it happening again?”

“Dawn doesn’t know. She doesn’t have this problem, with all of Inari’s kitsune that she can call upon.”

“Nice to know that I can put her back on my New Year gift giving list. So what gives with you? Why didn’t you say anything?”

He flicked a look at Raphael.

I half-turned. “No repeating anything that goes on in this conversation.”

Raphael exhaled. “I told you. I’m not here to function as a spy. Now, if you can deal with your cohort, we can be about our business.”

Alexandro’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think I like him.”

“The feeling’s mutual, I assure you. You’re the reason the numbers are in such disarray and why this is necessary.”

“Break it up, boys. No time for that right now.”

I stared at my friend and tapped my foot. “Well? Raphael mentioned Watchers. What do you know of them? I thought your angels did your grunt work for you.”

His broad shoulders moved in what could be a shrug or apology. “There’s not nearly enough of them to go around. Used to be that you couldn’t walk over a patch of grass without one of the angelkin standing over it, whispering. Now? They’re spread extremely thin. The demons are gaining power as we hurtle toward the end of days and I need them on the ground, in battle, not sitting around transcribing deeds.”

I pinched the point between my brows. “We computerized that ages ago. You know that.”

This time, the movement was a definite shrug. “Actually, I don’t. We don’t talk shop, you and I. I did wonder on occasion how you managed to keep up with your exploding population, but it was always a passing query.”

I threw up my hands. “It never occurred to you to ask? What, did you just hide your head in the sand and hoped it would all sort itself out?”

“Amarantha. There are many things I will put up from you because you are one of my oldest remaining friends. However, do not mistake my tolerance for weakness. There were sufficient Watchers. Perhaps not enough, but sufficient. Then the computer age happened and I thought that the problem was solved. It’s only been very recently that someone has started killing my Watchers.”

“How recent?”

“Before, it was slightly below replacement rate, well within the bounds of normal Fate and death. In the last five years, however, a pattern has emerged. Someone is deliberately and systematically targeting them. They go through each city in sweeps, killing off some with every turn, leaving just enough so as not to cause an immediate uproar. Earlier this year, they’ve abandoned all semblance of covert activity and have begun a genocide.”

“What’s your solution?”

He slashed me a sardonic smile. “What makes you think I have one, Amarantha? After all, haven’t I been drifting this for these few millennia without one?”


“Ever so heartless. No wonder your title is known as a synonym for ‘cold bitch’.”

Raphael stiffened at my side.

I only sighed. “Alex. How much of the brew did you drink?”

“Not much. Just half.”

With about fifty cups to the barrel I’d gifted him a thousand years ago and one cup sufficient to lay low even Ares, he was well beyond drunk.

I walked up to him and cupped his jaw. “That’s going to hurt, Alex.”

He turned his face into my hand and kissed my palm. “When does it not, Amarantha? Knowing what I did, that I sent you on that task, I couldn’t remain sober and keep what remains of my sanity. I’ve failed them, Amarantha, and I’ve failed you. How is a man supposed to live with that knowledge?”

Pain twisted in my heart.

I leaned in and kissed his forehead. “Fall, Alex. It’s past time.”

Tormented blue eyes raised to meet mine.

“You’ve put it off far too long and you’re losing perspective.” And sanity. I held those last words in my mouth and swallowed them.

“They’re in hiding. They know what’s hunting them is likely one of us and they’ve covered their tracks well. I could set angels upon their path, but that could lead others to them. The journals of those slain have been uploaded to the Cloud. I have Mikhail upon the trail of the killers.”

“Has he reported back yet?”

“He is following a lead.”

“Let him know your plans and Fall, Alex. I will take care of it.”

“My Watchers…”

I cut him off. “You won’t do them any good in your current state.”

If I didn’t get him to Fall now, while he was under the effects of the brew, it simply wouldn’t happen. The last thing I needed right now was a semi-sane, self-hating deity of his stature. If he went on a rampage….

Every so often, we needed to Fall to regain enough humanity to continue as gods. We would be reborn to an earthly mother and grow much as human children would, except much, much slower. The slow growth allowed for the gradual regaining of our godly memories without rising insanity.

“Always trying to take care of others, Amarantha. When will you allow yourself to Fall?”

“When I’m done with this ridiculous task you and Dawn set me, Alex. Now, will you go, or will I have to drug and push you?”

“I have informed Mikhail that he is seconded to you. He will apprise you of all he knows.”

“You will be safe, Alex?”

His mouth quirked. “I am not quite so far gone that I would deliberately choose a poor birth-mother. I still have some conscience left, believe it or not.”

I slanted my mouth over his in a brief kiss, erasing his cynical smile. “Don’t make me worry.”

The smile he gifted me then was one reminiscent of the godling who’d braided phoenix feathers into my hair thousands of years ago. “You always worry, my dove.”

He brushed his lips over mine. “I will be safe and I will let you know when it is time for me to return. In the meantime, speak to the Reverend John Miller in Arlington, Massachusetts. You know which one.”

Alexandro took a step back and lifted his goblet from the table. He raised it in a salute, then drank it down. His eyes closed. The cup fell from his hand. His entire body shimmered to light and fragmented into shards of rainbow.

A single feather floated down through the air. Crystalline, it looked as if it were made of sapphire filaments with a shaft of diamond.

I caught it in my hand and stared at it for a moment before tucking it into my pocket.

“Let’s go.”

Raphael studied me for a heartbeat. “To Arlington?”







What would you do during your last seven days on this Earth?

Thinking on this question makes me realize anew that I’m really an extraordinarily lucky person. I have a vague bucket list of things I’d like to experience one day, but nothing of the sort where I’d pull out my life savings to do if I knew I was only going to live seven more days.¬†


I think I’d write out my will first and update all of my beneficiary information. At this point in time, it’s likely to all go to charity. Specifically, probably to Doctors Without Borders. I’d set up notifications that would post to my online social media accounts informing people as to my death that would post the day after my supposed death day. Day after so I would have the chance to cancel them if a miracle happened.

I’d hire someone to clean the house and car, thoroughly. No sense in making grieving people clean up after your mess. Then I’d figure out where I wanted to die and pull out enough money from my retirement accounts and savings to cover it. Right now I think I’d want to find a quiet cottage somewhere in Scotland by the sea.

I’d have one last dinner party with all my friends and then I’d fly back to Taiwan to see my family.

Then I’d spend the rest of my days quietly doing whatever the fuck I wanted, alone. I’m thinking I’d need to find a pretty town by the sea. A place with coffee shops and restaurants with great food. Small boutiques to duck into and explore.

The interesting thing for me, thinking about this, is that right now I think I would like to die alone. I wouldn’t want to tell anyone that this was happening because I wouldn’t want to deal with their grief and their questions. At the point where I’m dying, then I’m going to make it all about me and part of that is I would want to be in a position where I don’t have to take care of anyone else and their feelings.

The only friend I have currently who I’d consider taking with me and letting in on the secret is Thene. I’m thinking that she’d be good for long ¬†rambling walks, quiet meals at the local restaurants and being sane and sanguine about what’s coming next.

I probably won’t, just to spare her. I’m not sure that I’d be thrilled to be recruited to be someone’s companion for their last days before death and have to deal with the after details. Perhaps I’d walk into a hospital, day of, and let those who know how to cope with deaths of a stranger deal with it.

I’d write long letters to everyone I thought I would be leaving behind, in the hopes that I could alleviate their grief. I might or might not spend some of my time writing, since I don’t know how much I’d care if I only have seven days to live.

Part of me realizes that this sort of plan might sound very selfish. I’m essentially deciding that probably no one will have a chance to say a final goodbye and I’d be withholding information that I’d probably rail at someone else for keeping from me.

But you know what?

If I’m dying, then I don’t give a fuck.

You never know what’s going to happen in this life. I could tell you that I have seven days to live and the next day get the terrible news that my boyfriend was killed instantly in a metro accident. Nothing is certain.

I can only live each day to the extent where I will not regret having spent a day on what I spent it on.

I can only be as good a friend as I know to be and always say farewell to my friends and family with love and my best wishes.

If I’ve done that, if I manage that — then I don’t think it matters if there’s a final goodbye or not.

Besides, I don’t truly believe that it’s a final goodbye.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that souls who are drawn to each other will be drawn to each other through time and space. There will always be another meeting, should you and I wish it. There will always be more chances for love.