Dec 10, 2014

Elena de Cespedes - A Hemaphrodite persecuted for lesbianism

One woman's fight for her sexual identity and freedom!  

In 16th century Spain, Elena de Cespedes was the child of a Moor slave. She was sixteen when she got married, but the marriage did not last very long and her spouse soon abandoned her, leaving her pregnant and alone. Somehow, she fended for herself long enough to give birth to a son. To support herself and her son, she left him in the care of her mother, and went to Granada to seek work to support them all. As a woman, however, Elena would find it very difficult to survive, and that worried her. But Elena had an explosive secret! Beneath her skirts, in a addition to her female organs, she was hiding a penis. So she decided to become a man. 

Chaning her name to Eleno, she dressed as a man, and set off for Granada where she aquired some modest lodgings. The landlord's wife took an interest in Eleno, and before long, things got heated and they began an affair. As luck would have it however, their affair was discovered and in the heat of a scandal surrounding his gender, Elena was forced to flee. 

Proud of her manly prowess and strength, she joined the army and fought successfully for several years. She even got wounded in battle. Tired of war, still dressed as a man, she travelled to Madrid, hoping to learn how to be a tailor. She found lodgings in the home of a surgeon. Instead of cutting and sewing cloth, the surgeon took her under his wing and she was taught to trim hair, amputate limbs, and let blood. She earned great respect as a healer.  

Elena fell deeply in love with a young woman and proposed marriage to her. But the affair with his landlord's wife continued to haunt him and Elena was forced to succumb to a gender examination, and then another. In both, she passed the test and was confirmed a man. Elena and his bride were married by a Catholic priest. 

The rumors about her gender would not die, and Elena was forced to endure yet another gender examination. This time, the results were vastly different and it was determined she was indeed a woman. Now she became truly an object of curiosity and earned great celebrity not only because she was a hemaphrodite, but also because she was a miraculous healer. Elena and wife were charged with lesbianism. Elena was further charged with fraud and sent to face the dreadful Spanish Inquisitors. Her marriage was immediately annulled and Elena was brutally whipped with 200 lashes. She was convicted of devilry and was sentenced to death by burning, but her sentence was commutted to 10 years in a hospital working as a nurse.     

Dec 2, 2014

Royal Kisses of Death

With great power can come great corruption and evil. Here are two royal women who gave the kiss of death to their lovers - Margaret of Valois and Catherine the Great. Their tales will make you shiver with abhorrence.

New France - guilt, shame, and forgiveness

In the dangerous wilds of New France, a young couple struggles against wicked intentions, murder, obsessive love, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies, and a world steeped in corruption!


Nov 18, 2014

Princess of Legends - The enduring romantic life of Pocahontas

The story of the 11 year old native girl who saved the life a famous soldier of fortune

About the Book

A new historical novel from the author of The Sekhmet Bed

The Tidewater

To the nation of Powhatan, it is Tsenacomoco, rightful home of the Real People. To England, it is Virginia Territory, fertile with promise, rich with silver and gold. Against the backdrop of this wild land, the fates of three unforgettable people collide:

John Smith

An outcast among his own, despised for his low birth and his unchecked tongue, his is the only mind capable of solving the deadly puzzle of the wilderness. Smith knows the only hope for Jamestown Colony lies with the Powhatan people. He knows, too, that they would rather see the English starve than yield their homeland to invaders. 


Disgraced and embittered, he sees in the English a chance to restore his reputation. He knows the invaders can be used to expand his brother’s empire and improve the lives of the Real People. He knows, too, that such a tool can turn in the hand, and become a weapon pointed at the heart. 


Though not of royal blood, she dreams of becoming a female chief. When the English build their fort on her father’s land, she finds an opportunity to rise above her lowly station. But she is young, and doesn’t understand the implications of the game she plays. When at last she realizes the English are a force beyond her control, she must choose between power and servitude – between self and sacrifice – for the sake of her people and her land. 

Control of the Tidewater can only rest in one nation’s hands. It is a conflict of desire and hatred, of friendship and fear, of stark ambition and desperate survival. 

Mirella Patzer

For her second novel, author Libbie Hawker recreates the historical details of the life of Pocahontas. Tidewater is a sweeping story, incredibly detailed, wonderfully alive, and a story that at times is joyous, but often dark and heart-wrenching. Just like the lives were of the new settlers and the native people that struggled to accept them. What impresses me most about this novel is the author's talent for drilling deep into the head of the characters, bringing to life their feelings, secrets, and most private thoughts. Truly, this is a beautiful book about a legendary woman whose legend endures to this very day. A raw but honest depiction of this fascinating woman. 

Nov 16, 2014

Hoyden of the Week

Who knew one needs to practice before putting on a thong? 
Wonder what the front looks like...

Nov 13, 2014

The Scandal that haunted and ostracized poor Effie Gray

The beautiful virgin who was repulsive to her husband

Effie Gray

Effie Gray was a great beauty. She was born in Scotland, and was raised in the same house where her grandfather committed suicide. Her parents encouraged a marriage with John Ruskin, the son of their long-time friends. 

John Ruskin

But on their wedding night, something went drastically wrong and Ruskin never consummated the marriage? Why? Well, no one knows for certain, but it is rumored because Ruskin was repelled by his young wife’s body, her pubic hair, her menstrual blood. In a letter to her father, Effie wrote:

"He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason...that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person…."

It is no wonder that with such a horrible start to their marriage, it was doomed to deteriorate. Years passed, and Ruskin still had not touched his beautiful wife.  

The couple travelled to Venice where Ruskin was researching a novel he would entitle The Stones of Venice. While Ruskin delved deep into his studies, Effie enjoyed herself and socialized. It was there she met a handsome Lieutenant named Charles Paulizza and a friendship soon blossomed between them. Ruskin even encouraged it, hoping an affair would give him cause to rid himself of her and the marriage they were both trapped in.

When Ruskin and Effie returned to Scotland, she modeled for her husband’s protégé, a Pre-Raphaelite artist named John Everett Millais. 

John Everett Millais

Love soon bloomed and when they returned to London, Effie left Ruskin and returned to Scotland and stayed with her family. She wrote a note to Ruskin, enclosed her wedding ring, and told him she was going to seek an annulment. They had been married for 5 years, and she was still a virgin.

Of course, the court case set tongues a wagging. The annulment was granted and a year later, Effie married John Millais. She bore him eight children, in between acting as a model for her husband who depicted her as an icon of beauty and fertility.

In the meantime, John Ruskin sought to remarry a teenage girl named Rose La Touche. 

Rose LaTouche

However, because of the scandalous allegations in his previous marriage to Effie, Rose’s parents were so concerned, they wrote Effie a letter seeking more details. Effie did not hold back. She described Ruskin as a oppressive husband, and the engagement was called off.

Effie was her new husband’s greatest fan. She supported him in his work, managed his career, raised her children, ran the home, and maintained a very busy social schedule despite the fact that her scandalous annulment from Ruskin excluded her from many social functions. She was banned from being in the presence of Queen Victoria. Being ostracized socially bothered Effie and her husband. Years later, as Millais lay dying, through the Queen’s daughter, he begged the Queen to allow Effie to attend official functions.

Little more than a year after Millais died, Effie also passed away.

For a comprehensive, fictionalized account of Effie's life and famous husbands, Duckworth Publishers presents:

The Scottish beauty Effie Gray is the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in an unconsummated union. She would fall in love with her husband's protege, John Everett Millais, and inspire some of his most memorable art, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie's family letters and diaries to show the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman whose charm and ambition helped to shape the careers of both her husbands. Effie Gray is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the greatest paintings of the Victorian era.

In the biography, The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, author Suzanne Fagence Cooper takes us into Victorian England, Venice, Italy, Scotland, and into the heart of the scandal that haunted poor Effie her entire life.

Based upon a treasure of preserved letters, Cooper has recreated Effie’s life in great detail. The book is a comprehensive commentary on the life of this fascinating young woman who had been so shamed and berated because of her first husband’s neglect. I liked the fact that three possible reasons came to light regarding Ruskin’s strange behavior towards his beautiful wife. And I found the plight of Effie’s sister, Sophy, regarding her mental madness and anorexia very interesting.

Numerous photographs are included in the book. My only disappointment was in the physical paperback version I was provided, the typesetting and fonts were so incredibly tiny, it made reading extremely fatiguing and trying. This knocked me out of the story. As I received an advance reading copy, I hope that the publisher has rectified this problem. Or I recommend purchasing the book in e-book format avoid eye strain.

This was a terrific story and definitely worth reading. It is so good it has been made into a movie, which only adds to my belief that this is definitely a book worth reading. An incredibly fascinating tale about a very courageous woman!