After the preliminary rounds one, two and three, ten stories have been judged as the best works in the erotica anthology Agony/Ecstasy edited by Jane Litte of Dear Author. Each unique story has a different focus and setting, but they all have in common the exploration of using pain in order to find pleasure. But there can only be one winner of JDAEEOA (aka "Judging Dear Author's Edited Erotica of Awesomeness"), and that winner is … Jean Johnson's “The Sybil”!
Best known for her smoking hot fantasy romance novels, Jean Johnson has been an RT reader favorite for years. (She has also picked up two RT Reviewers' Choice Award nominations for her Sons of Destiny series.) Johnson’s story “The Sybil” stands out from the other 20 tales in Agony/Ecstasy because of the deep relationship the author crafts between her two main characters.
An historical erotic tale with paranormal elements, “The Sybil” shows an encounter between ruler Ai-kan Fen Jul and Seer Charlisse. Seemingly modeled after Genghis Khan, Ai-kan and his ever growing army have swept across half the continent in five years defeating enemies and unifying the lands. His goal is to see “peace imposed across the squabbling landscape and prosperity brought to all of its corners...” However, he could never have succeeded without Charlisse, a powerful Sybil and divine mouthpiece of gods, by his side. Ai-kan consults Charlisse not only for her prophecies, but also for her sound governing advice. He respects her completely because “she was as sharp in her wit as any of his blades”.
Intelligent and strong, Charlisse is a fascinating character. To the outside world she presents herself as a humble servant, following Ai-kan on his war campaigns. However, once inside her tent, Ai-kan completely abides by her rules. Knowing the powerful ruler needs to give up his hard-won control, Charlisse subjects him to floggings and other BDSM "punishments". During these times, she holds him accountable for his decisions and the actions of his army. After Ai-kan submits to her discipline, Charlisse rewards him for his just governing by giving him sexual release. Physically the characters are completely compatible knowing each other's bodies intimately, but the closeness goes beyond just this — these two are a team, equals.
A big thanks to Jean Johnson for her utterly spellbinding tale. For more erotic reads from the author, check out Bedtime Stories a collection of eight fairytale stories with science fiction twists. And if you want to get an inside look at her writing, Johnson has an essay titled "Biology: The Good, The Bad, & The Sex Scene" from the newly released writer’s reference guide How To Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors.
Want to judge the stories in Agony/Ecstasy for yourself? You can pick up your own copy of the book in stores now. And for more genre coverage be sure to check out RT's Everything Erotica Page.