It’s a good time to be a woman

the-binding-coverWhen I published The Binding, I wrote this on Amazon:

Women in the Western world are living now through the best time they have ever known. I realise that there will be some who argue with me and accuse me of not being a Feminist, but I stand by the statement. It’s true. What I set out to do in this book was to show the changes in the way women are treated now and how they were treated a century or so ago. I started with two female characters, both of whom Society might see as somewhat dissolute though I hope their underlying humanity shines through; my intention was to compare the way one was dealt with at the end of the nineteenth century with how the other fared in the twenty-first. Then I added two men, one a model of Victorian manliness and one with some pretensions to being a “New Man”.

The story always comes first with me. My characters will make love, because that’s what people do in real life, and I don’t hesitate to show the love-making in graphic detail, but what most interests me is: How are they feeling while they’re doing it? And WHY are they doing it? People in real life have sex for all sorts of reasons, and so do my characters. In another of my books, Lovers in Their Fashion, the time is today, but still we have a man and a woman struggling to find their way to each other. There’s probably a little less sex in that one. The Unquiet House, coming later in the year, goes back to the Victorian/modern day split and is probably the most sexually explicit of all my books to be published this year.

I got a nice review from Manic Reviews:

The Binding by S F Hopkins is an enjoyable read. In the beginning I felt just Rodney and Melissa’s story. It had more substance. However, as the story went on I came around to Caroline and James. Still Rodney and Melissa were my favorites in this book. I like how the past and present intertwined with each other. There was good balance between the past and present. Readers who like historical romance stories with a happy ending and don’t mind some spice should check out this book.

But the review I got today on Amazon really made me feel I’d hit the mark and said what I’d wanted to say in the way I’d wanted to say it:

***** Five Stars Excellent Historical Erotica

I loved this book. There is an interweaving between present and past as Caroline and James are introduced, by way of handwritten letters (they used to do that), from Captain Rodney McKenna, of the Indian Army, and the diary of Melissa Blaze, the great great grandmother of James. Of what significance are these letters and this diary? Captain McKenna states “…because I desire that one, at least, of those that know me shall know the truth behind the calumnious statements of me… with instructions that they be opened one hundred and twenty years from today.”

These letters and diary are of an erotic nature that Caroline and James feel compelled to act upon. It is a brilliant premise to base a story on, similar to the 2004 movie, The Notebook. I found this to be an excellent read. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, and why.

Gotta Find a Home by Dennis Cardiff

Gotta Find a Home Cover

I’ve been subscribed to the Gotta Find a Home blog for a long time, so I was a shoo-in to buy the book when it was published. I can’t fault it. Dennis Cardiff has taken the trouble to spend a little time with, and get to know, a bunch of people most of us hurry past with head averted. He’s no bleeding-heart, liberal do-gooder—Dennis tells it how it is; and how it is is that those people who haven’t made it in Society’s competitive rough and tumble are—surprise!—human beings just like you and me. They have the ambitions, the disappointments, the loves and hates that we all have. As Dennis Cardiff teases out the life stories of his subjects, he lays bare before us a group of people who deserve his attention. And mine. And yours.

You can find the book here.

If I give you half a crown

The man in the apartment next to mine is an Englishman, a retired engineer in his seventies who has lived in the Gulf for forty years and will probably stay here till the day he dies. He likes the people, likes the climate, likes the food. Just as I do. As he goes about his daily business he often sings; it’s nice to hear him because the impression I have is that he sings when he’s happy and happy people are nice to be around.

Some of his songs were popular hits when he was young in England—the Stones, Lonnie Donegan, Elvis (I’ve never heard him sing a Beatles number; I must ask him some day why that is). (And if you’ve never heard of Lonnie Donegan, neither had I—I found about him here when I Googled a song wafted from my neighbor’s balcony: My Old Man’s a Dustman. Sometimes on balmy evenings (which in the Gulf means in winter) he takes his glass of Scotch and an iPhone plugged into his portable radio onto the balcony and I hear old Deanna Durbin and Al Bowlly tracks, which must surely be from before even his time. He has to play them quite loud because he’s a little deaf.

My neighbour was a rugby player in the days of long ago; he flies home every February and stays for about six weeks because he has tickets for every one of England’s Six Nations games. Someone who knows him better than I do tells me that the tickets come from the Rugby Football Union and an England cap rests on the sideboard in my neighbor’s sitting room, so I assume he could play a bit when he was young. And some of his songs have more in common with rugby clubs than with the broadcast media.

The first time I heard him sing this was quite a shock:
I’ll be up your flu in a minute or two
I know just where to find it
It’s called a c**t and it’s round the front
And your arse is right behind it.

This isn’t Saudi Arabia but the law on profanity here is quite strict and I wouldn’t want to see him taken in by the police. I coughed, loudly, to let him know someone could hear him and he stopped singing with a snort. It was back to Lonnie and Elvis and Ruby Tuesday for a few weeks after that.

But yesterday afternoon, at a time (to be fair) when he probably thought I was at work, I heard another ditty:
If I give you half a crown
Will you take your knickers down?

Half a crown was something else I had to Google; it turns out it was a British coin until the country decimalized more than forty years ago. There were eight half crowns in a pound so in today’s British money it would equate to 12½ pence—three quarters of a dirham where I (and he) live and not much to pay for a striptease.

He has friends but he lives alone and sometimes he’s probably a little lonely. I have friends and I live alone and sometimes I’m a little lonely. There are plenty of men here who’d be very happy to spend time with me but they’re not looking for conversation or companionship—they’d want someone to go to bed with them until they’re ready for the time when their parents arrange their marriage with a young virgin of the correct family and religious background. They’d probably want the bed time to continue after their marriage, too. I’m not that kind of girl.

I’ve talked enough to my neighbor to know that conversation with him is rewarding. Perhaps I’ll go round there one of these evenings, put a pair of panties in his hand and say, “That’s 75 fils you owe me” and see where it leads.

I don’t suppose I will. Probably I won’t. But probably isn’t certainly. A couple glasses of wine might do the trick.

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