Virtual Reality and Libraries–is this a thing?

We watched a video for class during our last unit (graduation, here I come!) that was a combination Q&A/conversation between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oculus’s Michael Abrash that was one of the most interesting ones we watched all semester. They were there to discuss Facebook’s purchase of Oculus and the future of VR (virtual reality) and it really has me pretty psyched about the possibilities that VR brings to the future. It’s on the longish side, but it’s below if you want to check it out yourself:

This has inspired me to look for ways that VR and libraries have (or can) interact with each other. The possibilities are endless! Some ideas include:

  • Virtual travel–we actually tried this, though not a super-sophisticated version, at one of our recent Youth Services Group meetings. Using cardboard virtual reality goggles and library-owned iPods, we got to explore the Eiffel Tower. It was a super-inexpensive version–I think the app we were using was a free one–but still really neat!
  • Gamification–I wrote about my experience with this as a teacher here. Looking around online I found an article from the IBM website that talks about businesses using video games and VR to teach skills like leadership skill building and strategic analysis (IBM is one, of course, and the US Army–you can actually see this in their recruitment commercials if you watch closely–and Hilton Hotels, among others). Moving this concept into libraries as well can help to teach people skills within an authentic context–maybe libraries could add gamified job hunting skills to their adult programming?
  • Driver safety programs–as thrilling as those videos are that you watch in driver’s ed classes and point-reduction classes, how much more impact would it have to use VR to see the results of distracted driving, impaired driving, and so on? Both new and experienced drivers would benefit!
  • Online courses–just think how much more engagement students of all ages would have with something as simple as a class lecture if VR were involved? (Snoozing through a lecture might become a thing of the past…maybe ;))
  • Even that old classic, the View Master has gone VR. Mattel has teamed up with Discovery, Smithsonian, and National Geographic to turn a once-simple toy into an immersive experience that would be perfect in libraries.  Personally, I think just being able to virtually walk with dinosaurs or in space is cool enough, but for libraries looking for a more pop cultural experience, they also offer packs that will let you explore Gotham City and the Masters of the Universe as well.

These are just a few ideas and examples that I’ve discovered. What else have you encountered out there? What have you experienced yourself? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Online sources used:

ALSC Children and Technology committee. (2016, November 12). 2016 Trends: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – ALSC Blog. Retrieved from http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2016/11/2016-trends-augmented-reality-virtual-reality/

IBM. (2009, October). IBM – Serious Games for Smarter Skills: The Future of Learning. Retrieved from http://www-01.ibm.com/software/solutions/soa/newsletter/oct09/article_seriousgames.html

Lambert, T. (2016, February 24). Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience » Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2016/02/virtual-reality-in-the-library-creating-a-new-experience/ 

Making Reading Social?

goodreads-case-study

I’m a huge fan of Goodreads. I’ve been using it since I first discovered it, in March 2011. I was very excited to find a way to keep track of my reading that didn’t involve having to carry my “book journal” around with me and finding somewhere to keep the older, filled up versions of them–because yes, I need some other way to keep track of what I’ve read beyond just keeping it my brain…I’ve read too many books, and have too much stuff in my brain already not to have outside help, sadly. 😉

I primarily use it to keep track of the books I’ve read, am reading, and want to read; if I’ve read a book and posted a review on my blog, it will be reviewed on Goodreads too. When I first found the site, I did get somewhat involved in some of the social aspects of the site–I responded to some friend requests, joined a few groups, and followed favorite authors. Even though I’m on Goodreads pretty much daily, I’ve never gotten super active with the social parts of it–if I don’t “know” someone, either in person or virtually and they either 1) don’t answer my “Why do you want to be my friend on Goodreads?” question (either at all or satisfactorily) or 2) have far more friends than books listed (or just very few–or horror above, no–books) I probably will ignore their friend request. I’m really on there for the books, and could take or leave the social bits of it.

(There really is a lot you can do with Goodreads widgets and social media/blogs–I do have fun with that. Here’s the widget for what I’ve last done on Goodreads; hopefully when you see it there’s nothing too embarrassing listed down there ;))

I am interested, however, in the idea of connecting my library to Goodreads and seeing what could be done there. Back in 2007, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) teamed up with Goodreads in order to give libraries more visibility on the web, and it’s something I’m definitely going to be taking advantage of in the next few months. There’s a how-to page for getting your library on Goodreads here. So far I’ve done the first item–made sure our information is up-to-date through the Library Spotlight program–but that’s it. I need some free time when I can watch the webinar about creating Library Groups pages–and time to actually take care of a Library Group page!–and I don’t see that happening until after graduation. Since our system just got a new online catalog in the past month, and one of its newer features is being able to click through to a book’s Goodreads page from its page on the catalog, I think it’s definitely an idea whose time has come.

LT

Another book site that I use, though not as frequently, is LibraryThing. I sometimes review books on it, and have been known to enter the monthly contests for ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) but am not as rabid about keeping it current as I am Goodreads. Part of this is because the publicists/PR companies that I work with on my (other, the book review one) blog who require us to submit links to our reviews specifically ask for Goodreads ones, partly this is because I’ve used it more and longer and am just more comfortable with it. When I worked at the library of a county correctional facility I had thought that maybe I could use their TinyCat feature to try and catalog at least some of the books we had there (there was NO catalog system at all at the time) but it is an online-only system, and I was unable to access the internet while on the job. I had hoped it would have some kind of software that could be downloaded into my office computer, but no such luck.

So…how about you? Do you use social media-style book sites at all, either privately or with your libraries? If so, which ones and how? Any suggestions?

MLIS Group Work and Our Social Media Site Presentation (Instagram)

As the culminating event of unit 5, we (small, student-created groups) had to turn in a written report and PowerPoint presentation about the social media platform of our choice.

I–like many of my program mates–have done the entire program online, which makes group work somewhat challenging, to say the least. Planning takes on a whole new level when one of your group members, for example, lives on a military base in Germany and the other two are in New York state! A challenge to be sure, but overall it’s been a positive experience. One definite positive is that having to “get together” with a variety of people who could be…well, anywhere…is that I’m starting to get really good at figuring out all the different ways to “meet” people virtually and collaborate on group projects.

Email is, of course, the easy way–we all have school emails and are supposed to be checking them once daily minimum. In my experience, though, it’s not the most satisfying way to communicate with your group, especially when you’re getting down to crunch time on your assignment. There’s often a delay, for one thing, between when a message is sent and when it’s received and/or responded to. Often all the members of your group aren’t on and responding to emails at the same time, and it can be frustrating if you have a specific amount of time in your day to devote to working on a project and no one else in your group is responding to your emails during that period of time.

What has worked best for my groups has been planning ahead for real-time collaboration through Skype and/or Google Drive.

Skype has been especially great for collaboration meetings. The bigger and/or more diverse your group is, the more challenging it is to find times that work for everyone, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Being able to chat live about your project is crucial for making sure everyone’s on the same page and knows what their and everyone else’s responsibilities are for the project. It’s so much easier to have a discussion (or debate!) when you’re actually listening to your other group members–often much is lost through mere written communication, where it’s often easy to take what someone has said the wrong way or out of context. Skype group meetings, in my opinion, have really helped to bind my groups together and resulted in much better projects.

Working on projects as much and as long as possible in Google Drive has really helped too. Having one document–a paper or a slide presentation, for example–that everyone can contribute to individually on their own schedules AND all at the same time has really helped to keep my groups on target. The comment feature, which lets you highlight a portion of the text and then have a conversation about it–either in real time or separately–allows you to make suggestions and have discussions before changes are made and also often results in better projects in the end because of greater collaboration. If two or more group members are on the same document at the same time, there is also a chat feature that also enhances collaboration. The only downside to using Google Drive is that when you have to convert your final product to a different medium (most of our projects need to be turned in as MS Office products) you lose a lot of the collaborative functions of the platform because it’s no longer a Google product. This makes the last few days with that project a bit trickier.

For our 503 project, my group decided to take a look at Instagram. I was pretty happy with the choice, because it was one platform I didn’t know much about already but one I was definitely interested in. The bulk of our collaboration this time was done through emails and Google Drive. I’m pretty pleased with the results, though I wish I’d been able to wait for my voice to be back 100% from my recent cold before having to record my parts–time and grad school assignments wait for no man (or woman!), however.

What platforms have you used for team collaboration, and how have they worked for you?

Gamifying Life?

Unit 5 had us watch two TED Talk videos about online gaming which were both interesting in their own way. The first one, except for the fact that the presenter is about fifteen years older and much more articulate than my son, could have been given by him. So many of the points he makes about online, social gaming I have witnessed by watching my oldest and he meets and interacts with people online through games. He’s been invited to weddings (in Germany–he didn’t go, because hello, he works at a supermarket and doesn’t make the kind of money that would let him travel the world…yet) and has shared in the real-world triumphs and challenges of people he’s only met virtually. He’s talked about so many of these people so much that I feel like I know them.

The second talk was a homeschooled boy (who again, is more articulate than my 19-year-old son, darn it) who gave a truly impressive talk about the connections he’s made through online gaming and what he’s learned about WWII through one. This second talk was the one that really got me thinking about the ways that gaming can and has been changing the ways things can be done in our increasingly online world…how life is being gamifyed.

I actually got in on the gamification of learning several years ago when I was a private school junior high teacher. Through a BOCES program and a grant, I and several other junior high teachers brought our students into the Islands of Enlightenment virtual environment space for education. The original program was one based on Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl in which students virtually explored and interacted with the building and neighborhood where Anne and her family were in hiding during the second world war.

Here’s a brief video introduction to the project, or you can visit the website here. I brought two classes with me to explore and learn in this virtual environment, and they had a great time.

The second stage of the project moved us into medieval Europe. I only was able to work with one group of students with this one, because our school closed shortly after its implementation. The following (much longer video) goes into more detail about the three OpenSim projects that the Islands of Enlightenment group went on to create. The third project pulled a local history aspect into the program, focusing in on the Darwin Martin House designed by Frank Llyod Wright right here in Western New York.

I have to admit that between this class and looking back at all that I did as part of this group, I am more than tempted to get into contact with the project coordinator and see how he feels about collaborating with libraries…

Another aspect of life that has been unexpectedly gamified has been writing. Again as a teacher I brought my students into the crazy world of NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program (there’s an adult one too here) where authors write mainly on their own but are part of a larger online community as they do so. Writers can be as social (or not) as they choose throughout the process; I have to say that the more involved in the community you are the more fun the whole process is. Writers can earn badges along the way, compete in Word Wars and writing sprints, and join in a worldwide race for the “win” at the end of the month. Libraries have already gotten into NaNo, by becoming “Come Write In” spaces and sponsoring programming based around it each November.

The online community Storium has taken the idea of social writing even further by making storytelling an online multiplayer game. There’s an online tutorial here that explains things much better than I ever could. Storium started as a Kickstarter campaign, at which point they discussed creating a more kid-friendly version for use in schools and libraries; other than a “playtest” for schools from 2015 here, though, I’m not sure where that idea stands at this point. I think that as it is right now it has potential for use with library teen groups, at the very least.

What do you think? Do you play video games? Have you found other fun ways to gamify things, for yourself or for your libraries? Tell us about it in the comments!

Did You Know? August is Read-a-Romance Month!

Did You Know? August is Read-a-Romance Month!

If you read romance (and even if you don’t) you NEED to check this out. August is now officially Read-a-Romance Month!

Bobbi Dumas, book reviewer, NPR journalist, and romance reader has put together this awesome event. Each day in August, THREE (3!) romance authors post on her site, telling why they read and write romances. Readers are encouraged to comment on their posts, and many of the authors actually respond back! (Kristan Higgins didn’t respond to me personally, which I’ll eventually get over. But Sherry Thomas and Marie Force did! Squee!)

There are giveaways galore too, and a store to buy merchandise to celebrate…it’s the ultimate destination for romance reader fangirling! (And if that’s not already a verb, as Word seems to think, then it should be–especially this month!)

Check it out!

reader-badge-1-purple

New Release and GIVEAWAY: Claimed by Stacey Kennedy (Book one of Club Sin series)

Loveswept books has a new book out today from author Stacey Kennedy! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter drawing (link below) for a $50 Visa Gift Card and author swag too!

NEW RELEASE ALERT!!


CLAIMED Book Blurb: 

A novel of erotic discovery and forbidden desire that goes beyond Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Presley Flynn is ripe to experience her secret fantasies… and Dmitri Pratt wants nothing more than to fulfill them. Once inside the elite Club Sin in Las Vegas, Presley is nervous but excited—and determined to surrender to her every desire. Dmitri is her Master, and his touch is like fire. With each careful, calculated caress, he unleashes her wildest inhibitions, giving her unimagined pleasure.

Presley is different than the other submissives Dmitri has mastered. The BDSM lifestyle is new to her, and so are the games they play at Club Sin. From the Start, Presley stirs emotions in Dmitri far beyond the raw purity between a Dom and the perfect sub. For the ecstasy they share goes beyond the dungeon, igniting a passion that claims the very depths of the heart.

CLAIMED is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

Find CLAIMED on Goodreads


ABOUT STACEY KENNEDY

Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She loves in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy, Supernatural, True Blood and Lost Girl.

PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF CLAIMED:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  iBookstore  | Google Play  | Random House and other retailers

Connect with Stacey

Facebook | Twitter  |  Website

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEWAY: Click here to enter for a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card and swag from the author!

EXCERPT:

“Master Dmitri doesn’t expect sex.” Cora grunted. “You’ll keep your clothes on.”

Presley Flynn scanned the foyer of the snazzy mansion and looked for something to hold on to as her roommate, Cora Adams, hustled her down the corridor. With a little shove, Cora added, “You wanted this, remember?”

“Clearly, I’ve lost my damn mind.” Presley pushed back against Cora’s hands, trying to hold her ground.

The mansion was pleasant, with thick dark wood on the trim of the doorways and gentle burgundy-painted walls, but it did nothing to settle her nerves. Beneath her feet, located in the basement, was the elite BDSM dungeon, Club Sin. “Maybe I need to go to a therapist. Or skip that part and go straight to the nuthouse.”

Cora stepped in front of Presley, and her big blue eyes, lined with dark makeup, sparkled. Her long chocolate-colored hair fell over her black blouse, and her red lipstick covered pursed lips. “You told me you wanted to join the dungeon.”

Presley snorted. “You said I was a long-lost submissive who needed the lifestyle. Which, apparently, is so far from the truth, since why am I on the verge of puking all over this fancy hardwood floor?”

Cora smirked. “Please don’t puke on Master Dmitri’s floor.”

“Okay, great,” Presley muttered in total agreement. “See, it’s best I leave.”

She turned to get the hell out of the place when Cora grabbed her arm, pulling Presley back in front of her. “One chance, Presley, that’s all you get. If you leave now, you won’t be allowed to come back.”

Cora walked forward, and Presley found herself matching her stride. They passed a grand wooden staircase on the left, leading to the upstairs. A huge wrought-iron balcony curved around the entire upper floor, which led to numerous doors used for God knew what.

They strode by an oval-shaped dining room, and Cora added, “There’s a reason why you read so many BDSM erotic novels. There’s a reason why it turns you on. And there’s a reason why you made the decision to come with me tonight.”

Stopping near the doorway to the office that Presley had been avoiding for the last five minutes, she inhaled. “You’re right. I did come here for a reason.” To surrender to her every desire. “I don’t want to walk out the front door, but—” She pointed toward the office. “I’m scared shitless to walk through that door.”

“Of course you are.” Cora grinned. “Your darkest, most secret fantasies await you in that office.” Without another word, she spun on her heel and headed down the hallway in the opposite direction.

“Do you plan on coming in?”

Presley started at the powerful low voice that seemed to draw her forward, giving the fearful butterflies in her stomach a flutter of excitement. Her feet moved without thought as she entered the office, which looked much like a library.

Books filled the shelves at the far end of the room, along with a grand wooden desk. A computer and telephone and other office accessories sat on top of it. A sleek black leather couch was situated straight ahead, under the bay window.

“Ah, she finally decides to enter.”

Presley froze, as time halted. The man never raised his head to look at her, but he didn’t need to. His presence filled the room, making her entirely aware of him. He sat at the desk, his head bowed toward the paper he’d been reading. With the slight curve to his mouth, he stole the air from her lungs. He was hot.

As the owner of Club Sin
and
the president of Las Vegas’s top casino, Dmitri Pratt matched the mansion with his wealthy exuberance. Hard angles defined his jawline and cheekbones. His lips were lush and sculpted and his nose straight-edged. The sleeves of his black dress shirt were rolled up on his muscular forearms, displaying a tribal dragon tattoo on his left arm.

When she didn’t move, Dmitri stated, with his eyes still focused on the paper, “Take a seat on the couch.”

Exhaling slowly, she shed the tension in her chest as she made her way to the leather sofa and sat down. The coolness of the upholstery against her heated skin came as much needed relief. She crossed her legs, doing her best to portray confidence.

In front of this powerful and experienced man, she didn’t want to show her apprehension. In fact, she’d never been this uncomfortable around men, but Dmitri wasn’t simply a man. He sexually dominated women, and as a Dom, he did the kinky things Presley had only dreamed of fulfilling.

He signed the paper, then he lifted his head. Presley forgot the world around her, absorbed in him. His piercing blue eyes gazed over her from head to toe before his focus returned to her face. The depth of those eyes pulled her in with the intensity of how he watched her. No, how he studied her. He didn’t give her a quick look but a long examination.

Under his stare, her body went mushy and hot. Flames flickered through her veins as he stood from his chair and approached. Her fingernails bit into her palms as her heart rate increased. His muscular frame didn’t fit his fluid gait. Each step he took exuded authority, like a lion on a hunt, but appeared graceful, with controlled power.

She scanned the thickness of his shoulders beneath his black dress shirt, and she noticed how the fabric clung to him, detailing the valleys of his muscles. Glancing lower, she found the rest of him to be more of the same—powerful and masculine. His black slacks, held tight by a leather belt hung low on his hips, hugged his thick thighs.

Stopping in front of her, he stared at her with impressively intense eyes, and a strand of his stylish blond hair hung across his forehead. “So, you’re Cora’s friend? Presley, right?”

The commanding nature of his voice made her breathing erratic. This man had the capability of making her feel giddy as a schoolgirl, as if he were her secret crush who’d noticed her at last. “Yes, that’s me.”

Dmitri’s mouth twitched, and he tucked a finger under her jaw, tilting up her chin. “Welcome to my home, Presley.”

She shivered at the stern yet gentle hold. “Thank you.”

He slid a finger along her jawline, cocking his head, and his study of her touched the center of her soul, awakening her body in a foreign way. As if, for the first time in her life, a man looked at her and truly saw her. His examination made her bare, totally exposed to him, and unusually vulnerable.

Locked in a stare she couldn’t break free from, she wiggled in her seat, unable to stop herself, then she froze. After another shift, she couldn’t ignore the damp silk between her thighs. How was that even possible—nervous one minute to undeniably turned on the next?

Dmitri’s eyebrow arched, and that sexy smile returned. “Pretty little thing, aren’t you, doll?”

He removed his hold and she quivered, and her body hummed with desire. The memory of his touch remained. The path his finger had taken was scorched into her skin, and the heat within only intensified as she drew in his masculine scent, edged with sandalwood.

Watching the twinkle in his eyes increase, she cursed herself for being entirely too obvious. Or maybe she should curse him for being so talented at reading people. To calm down, she glanced around the office, looking for something to take her mind off of her response to him.

It was hopeless.

The home seemed like a fairy tale all in itself. Along the dark taupe wall across from her were four huge canvases forming a solid picture of a lone tree and a moon, reminding her that she was out of her element. “That painting is beautiful.” Enormous and expensive. “Did you pick it out?”

Dmitri followed her gaze for only a moment. “Do I look like the type of man who’d know about art?”

She licked her dry lips, staring at his sculpted mouth that held the mysterious smile, and she admitted, “Kind of.”

“No, doll, I couldn’t care less about it.” He winked. “That’s what interior decorators are for.”

Dmitri deftly turned and strode toward the watercooler in the corner of the office. Presley frowned at his back. Perhaps she had misread him and he wasn’t as fancy as she’d thought, since he seemed amused by her response.

After filling a tall glass with water, he returned to her and offered her the glass. “Here, drink this, love.”

“Thanks.” She accepted the glass, and settled the cool glass on her lap, not sure she’d get the water down her dry throat.

Dmitri leaned in and gazed into her eyes dead-on. “I didn’t give you the glass to hold. I gave you the water because you need it. Drink up, Presley.”

The stern set of his jaw indicated he wouldn’t relent, so with a shrug, she sipped the water. The cool liquid rushed through her mouth and down her throat, easing the tightness as she swallowed. Maybe she needed that more than she’d thought. He gave a firm nod. “Better.”

As he sat next to her on the couch, his thick thigh brushed against hers, and a spark blasted through her, causing her cheeks to warm. The side of his mouth once again curved as he stared at her blush before those intense eyes zeroed in on hers. “Now, then, tell me a bit about yourself.”

“Well—” She focused on their conversation and away from how incredible his body felt against hers. “My parents are still together and have a good marriage. I grew up in Apple Valley my entire life, but I moved to Vegas about four months ago to live with my ex.” She took another sip of the water and realized she’d almost opened a door she didn’t want to go through. Gathering her thoughts, she looked at her hands, clenched around the glass, and continued. “That’s a story not worth repeating.” No way in hell would she tell him about her ex-boyfriend, Steven Moser, on whom she wasted eight years of her life. “Let’s see . . . I’m twenty-five and have no kids.”

Dmitri raised his ankle over his knee, drawing her focus to him, and she noticed his body shaking in silent laughter. Maybe, with Steven on her mind, her defenses were already on high alert. Or perhaps Dmitri made her feel way too inexperienced and even too nervous in this erotic adventure she’d entered, but her glare came fierce and instant.

He frowned. “Would you like to try that again?”

“I have nothing else to say.” She shifted against the couch, realizing now that she deserved his mirth. In this place, she might as well have a halo over her head. “That’s all there is to know about me.”

“No, Presley.” His eyes were dark, firm, and cold. “In my house, my guests don’t glare at me.”

Had he honestly noticed her glare? Most times when she glared at Steven, he didn’t see it or didn’t care enough to ask what had upset her. “I—”

Dmitri’s eyes narrowed. “If I’ve upset you, tell me, so I can address it. Don’t give me nasty looks that I don’t deserve, considering I’ve hardly said a word.”

The authority in his voice made her insides quiver. It was the meaning in his statement that spoke to something deep inside her—I see you. Even if what she’d done bothered him, he didn’t overlook any of her actions. For the first time in a long time—possibly ever—she wasn’t a shadow, a person everyone passed and never truly looked at, and that made her speechless.

However, at his firm look urging her to continue, she took his advice and asked, “What did you find so funny?”

He dropped his ankle from his knee and turned to face her. “Your little rundown there.” His stern expression melted away to a charming smile, drawing her full attention to his kissable mouth. “I didn’t mean for you to tell me everything about yourself, as if I were hiring you.”

Just kill me now!

His eyes softened, as did his voice. “I meant for you to tell me why you want to join the dungeon, considering you look incredibly nervous.”

She almost rolled her eyes but stopped herself. “Right, I guess that’s what you’d want to know.” Shoving her embarrassment away to fret over later, she put on a brave face and lifted her chin. “Well, I read a lot of erotic romance books and . . . um . . . Cora has told me about the lifestyle, and you see, it . . . ”

With a gentle hold, he gripped her chin, tilting her head downward. “Arouses you?”

He dropped his hand and she nodded, and the water in the glass rippled in waves from the tremble of her hands. Gripping it tightly, she bit her lip, which didn’t ease the flickers of mortified tremors.

“What about BDSM arouses you?”

His intense study reached into her soul. She squirmed against the leather couch, and her skin flushed wicked hot. “Err . . . the sex stuff.”

One sleek eyebrow lifted. “The sex stuff?”

She followed the line of his brow along the masculine contours of his face. While his eyebrow arch looked simple enough, it portrayed a statement of curiosity, and he was beautiful. “You know, being tied up, dominated . . . and um . . . other stuff.”

Dmitri considered her in a way that made her feel as if he noticed every flaw on her face. “I’m going to be blunt with you, Presley.” Before she could inquire what he meant by blunt, he added, “I’d appreciate if you stay quiet while I talk. After I’m done, we can discuss what I’ve told you.” He waited for her nod, then he continued. “A Club Sin submissive can be restrained with ropes, cuffs, chains, or anything that can be used to bind a person.” His grin became devilish. “Doms enjoy being creative.”

Sweet Jesus!

“In a scene, you might be flogged, paddled, whipped, spanked, or caned. You could find yourself tied to a Saint Andrew’s cross, tossed over a spanking bench, or attached to any other device located in the dungeon.”

Damn her body for flushing at those choices, and damn his wicked expression declaring enjoyment. She took a big gulp of the water, which this time didn’t help the dryness in her throat.

His eyes twinkled. “If it’s within your limits, you might have intercourse in the dungeon or be asked to give oral sex; if your Dom is especially pleased, you could find yourself climaxing in front of a crowd.”

Her mouth dropped open, but he seemed not to realize or care. He added, “This isn’t a sex club meant to have vanilla sex. At Club Sin, you are the submissive and are treated as such.” Drawing in a deep breath, he allowed her a minute to process before he said, “There are no slaves at Club Sin. We have submissives who, outside of the dungeon, are equal in every regard. In the dungeon, you are the bottom in the relationship and will need to accept that. You don’t make decisions. You don’t ask questions. You do what your Dom tells you to do.”

A shiver slid down her spine. Not at what he said, exactly, but how he said it. The heated look in his eye and the stern tone portrayed a confidence that her lower half appreciated. Which had been part of the battle, excitement at the thought of a man controlling her, yet she’d been raised to have a voice and thoughts. Meshing the two desires and wants was confusing at best.

His head tilted. “Submissives at Club Sin are expected to be submissive only while in a scene. Meaning you’re not expected to be in high protocol at all times in the dungeon, as in kneeling at your Dom’s feet and avoiding eye contact. These are the rules I’ve put in place at Club Sin, because they’re what I prefer. To be a member, everyone must follow that rule.”

He once again let her process it all before he said, “Of course, you are to respect all Doms with proper address; mind your manners; and be respectful to other submissives. But we are not a club that expects high protocol, unless that’s something your Dom requires of you for a punishment.” That ridiculously sexy eyebrow arched again. “Do you understand?”

Presley nodded and wiggled in her seat, trying to ignore the heat swirling between her thighs. All of what he said were things she’d read about, fantasized over, and the idea that she’d play the submissive role made her burn.

“Some submissives like things others don’t, and that’s why you outline your limits when you sign the dungeon’s agreement. That part of play at Club Sin is nonnegotiable. Your limits will never be broken. If you want to change a limit, you’ll have a sit-down with me to discuss it. I may agree without hesitation, or I might request that I watch you in scene first if the limit change is drastic.” He casually picked a piece of lint off his pants. “What you do in your private life is your business. Here, in the dungeon, what you do is my business, since I’m the owner of Club Sin. All clear?”

She nodded, managing to close her parted lips, but she was unable to look away from his eyes. There, in their depths, she found something so intoxicating, so centered. Dmitri appeared to be the most put-together man she’d ever met in her life, so sure of himself and his choices, and that was even sexier than his muscular frame and gorgeous face.

He flicked the piece of lint onto the floor. “If you don’t follow what has been asked of you, you will be punished. If you refuse your punishment, you will be escorted from the dungeon and not allowed to return.”

Her breath became trapped in her throat, and as if he read her concern, he added, “A punishment can be a spanking with a hand or a paddle, a night spent wearing a gag, or whatever the Dom thinks is appropriate for your disobedience. But no punishment would ever exceed your limits. One thing you can count on is your punishment will be fair.” He tucked her hair behind her ear, smiling gently. “Now tell me how you feel about what I’ve told you.”

“It’s . . . well . . . I . . .” She swallowed, shifting through all the confusion coursing through her veins. Her body burned so hot that she wanted out of her skin. Her mind warned her how insane it was to agree to something that could, in fact, lead to a punishment.

After a moment, she realized the winner of the internal battle was glaringly obvious, because it was why she’d come here tonight. “God forgive me, I liked it.”

Dmitri gave her a long look before he threw his head back with laughter. Her embarrassment quickly turned to anger, and she stood so fast that the water spilled on the floor. “Stop laughing at me! This isn’t funny.”

He slowly looked at her. His eyes had darkened. He rose to his feet with a powerful grace, taking the glass from her hands, and slamming it on the end table with a clunk. “To your knees.”

In a swift move, she dropped to her knees, cringing when she connected with the hardwood floor. The second the pain eased, she realized what he’d asked and what she’d done.

Had she honestly responded to Dmitri without a single thought? Was she seriously kneeling for the man at his feet? And why had he told her to kneel? Because she snapped at him, or maybe she’d glared again? Her mind raced to understand what had happened in the last couple of seconds, but failed miserably.

Dmitri’s shiny black shoes rested in front of her, and his rich masculine scent wrapped around her. He didn’t move, nor did he say a word.

She did the only thing she thought would be appropriate in this extremely awkward moment. She whispered, “I’m sorry.”


Act Like You Love Me by Cindi Madsen (Book two of the Accidentally in Love series)

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Title: Act Like You Love Me
Author: Cindi Madsen
Series: Accidentally in Love
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 stars

Brynn McAdams had a rough time of it in high school, and has never gotten over that fact. Two events in particular have stuck with her through the years, bringing her fresh pain whenever she remembers them: accidentally flashing the entire school during a dress rehearsal (this earned her the nickame McFlasher) and getting turned down for the prom by her crush, high school superstar Sawyer Raines. Time has passed, though, and she’s more poised, more confident, and a pretty good actress. Or is she?

Sawyer Raines has returned to his hometown temporarily, to help out his mother by fixing up his late father’s lake cottage and his aunt by directing the community play that she’s the costume director for. He’s a screenwriter, and has had some success in Hollywood–though a very bad experience with an ex has made him leery of relationships with actresses.

Sawyer doesn’t recognize Brynn at all when he first sees her starring in the production of The Importance of Being Earnest, though she knows who he is immediately, and lets her old resentment of him show. Sawyer can’t understand her attitude, yet finds himself drawn to her looks and acting ability. Brynn makes the decision not to tell him who she really is (she doesn’t use a fake name or anything, just lets him believe that she’s been living in LA that she hadn’t grown up in the same small town he did) and that “acting” like she’s in a relationship with him would help her get ready for the real thing eventually–she’s had some problems in the past with relationships. Add to that her older brother’s advice of NOT being herself to get a guy, and Brynn’s plan of attack is starting to look like a bad idea all around.

This book had some cute moments–in particular, I loved the scene where Brynn and Sawyer “meet” for the first time (he thinks–of course it’s meet again, in reality)–and Brynn’s web of lies results in some funny situations. As a whole, though, I just couldn’t really connect with the two main characters. They spent way too much time inside their heads, and what was going on in there didn’t always make sense, at least not to this reader. Brynn’s refusal to get over her high school years in particular began to drive me crazy. More than once in the novel her assumptions about her past were proved wrong, yet she continued to cling to them. Even when given a darn good reason for Sawyer’s “rejection” of her in high school, she still felt angry about it. It was frustrating. Sawyer too was a little over-the-top with his anti-actress stance, though he at least was more willing to put aside his preconceived notions in favor of the possibility of a different reality than Brynn was. Living in a small town myself, it also seemed odd to me that Brynn’s and Sawyer’s mothers could know each other well yet not realize that their children had gone to high school together. How had that never come up?

Cindi Madsen is a new-to-me author, and while this book didn’t quite do it for me, her writing intrigued me enough that I’m definitely willing to give another of her books a try in the hopes that it was just this particular heroine’s story. The first book in the series, Falling for her Fiance, sounds cute (plus, I really do like the friends-to-lovers troupe), as does the next, Cinderella Screwed Me Over (with that title it has to be entertaining, right?).

In a nutshell: this story has an interesting premise and some cute moments, but the characters fell flat for me. Three stars for the ideas, if not their execution.

(I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)