by Stephanie Draven
Where to turn, but to Hollywood? The Roaring Twenties kicked off the Golden Age of movies. It was a time before television and millions of people went to the movies every week five times or more. There were neighborhood Nickelodeons where couples necked in the back aisles, and luxurious Movie Palaces where the ritzy folks went to rub elbows in style.
This much I knew. What I didn’t know was just how naughty those films could be.
They said, in the twenties, “Anything Goes.” And there were no movie ratings or restrictions on filmmakers at the time. So just how randy did these films get?
Well, if you were ever under the impression that pornography was a Boogie Nights invention of the 1970s allow me to shatter your illusions as mine were shattered when my research led me to a vintage stag film called Nudist Bar*.
I admit to staring agog at one of the few surviving films to have been digitized from that glitzy era.
But in spite of the graphic nature of the films there was a sort of charming tenderness to such films utterly lacking in the modern adult entertainment industry. The cheeky winks at the camera, the hand-holding, the courtly behavior of a vintage porn star towards his leading ladies is arrestingly different than what we have come to expect--and somehow seemed far less exploitive than its modern equivalent.
It was, for me, a real eye-opener about the evolution of sexuality in the 19th Century. And it also helped inspire my heroine’s secret. You see, in It Stings So Sweet, glamorous Clara Cartwright starred in just such a film before becoming a Hollywood legend...and is now being blackmailed by the mysterious WWI Flying Ace who gets his hands on the reel.
When she decides to meet the war hero for a private screening, to make sure he isn’t bluffing, the sparks fly! And I think you’ll fall in love with her blackmailer just as hard as she does.
* The film is often misattributed to the 1930s but it belongs to the previous decade.
Stephanie has always been a storyteller. In elementary school, she channeled Scheherazade, weaving a series of stories to charm children into sitting with her each day at the lunch table. When she was a little older, Stephanie scared all the girls at her sleepovers with ghost stories.
She should have known she was born to hold an audience in her thrall, but Stephanie resisted her writerly urges and graduated from college with a B.A. in Government. Then she went to Law School, where she learned how to convincingly tell the tallest tales of all!
A longtime lover of ancient lore, Stephanie enjoys re-imagining myths for the modern age. She doesn’t believe that true love is ever simple or without struggle so her work tends to explore the sacred within the profane, the light under the loss and the virtue hidden in vice. She counts it amongst her greatest pleasures when, from her books, her readers learn something new about the world or about themselves.
Stephanie also writes historical fiction as Stephanie Dray and has a series of forthcoming novels from Berkley Books featuring Cleopatra’s daughter.
For more about Stephanie and her books find her at her website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads.
It Stings So Sweet by Stephanie Draven
They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon. The Twenties were roaring and the women–young, open, rebellious, and willing–set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…
In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…