Animus by Ophelia Bell
Series: Sleeping Dragons #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided bu the Author
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
For Erika and her team of Ivy League-educated archaeologists, trekking through a hot, wet jungle and penetrating the depths of the elusive dragon temple they’ve been hunting is all in a day’s work. Little do they know that once inside, their minds and bodies will become immersed in centuries-old magic, the tantalizing effects of which they are powerless to resist.
In spite of her attempts to prove she still has control, the magic compels Erika to begin a series of rituals to revive the long-sleeping denizens within the temple. Uncertain what to expect, her desire wins out when she sets eyes on the figure she is meant to awaken—a red dragon bound in the form of a beautiful man frozen in jade but definitely ready for her attention.
So much naughty Dragon fun in this story!
“I’m awake,” he murmured. “And you… are mine“
Erika is an Archaeologist who has spent her entire life searching for proof that Dragons exist. She formed a team of experts and a guide to to search for a hidden Dragon temple… And they were wildly successful.
Within the first moments of opening the ancient temple, it becomes clear to the group that there is something almost magical about the space they’ve discovered – the find is completely pristine; unseen by human eyes for centuries.
The rooms are filled with life-like jade carvings of Dragons – the details are astounding and filled with sexual imagery.
The anterooms and passageways will take several days to explore and catalog, so the team builds camp for the night inside the temple.
As the euphoria wears off from the discovery, a curious and relentless sexual tension begins to affect each of the team members.
There were several POVs throughout the book from a handfull of teammates, and I think it’s safe to assume that over the course of the Sleeping Dragons series, each of the members of the Archeological team wil have their moment in the spotlight… But for this book, Erika was the main focus.
Maybe there was more for her to find besides artifacts. Maybe Kris was the key to uncovering the deeper secrets of this temple. Before she’d walked through those doors at the surface she would have argued that only science could convince her of the truth. Now, she wasn’t so sure.
Their guide, Kris, pulls Erika to the side and informs her that she was fated to discover this temple. She and her team each have roles to play within the hidden rooms…
The intricately carved dragons throughout the temple are real.
They’re sleeping in their stone form, waiting for a series of rituals to occur so that they can awaken once more…
Erika is skeptical of the mythical clams Kris has made, but her curiosity (and overwhelming arousal) gets the better of her. She finds herself in front of and exquisitely carved (and well endowed) statue of a man. The red jade carving calls to her, and she begins the sexual ritual which will ultimately wake the dragon…
We’re talking about some off-the-charts sexytimes, folks!
Three words, people:
Prehensile. Forked. Tongue.
“I just fucked a dragon, didn’t I?”
“Yes. And you will again. You are too tasty to let go of easily.”
Inventory of Kink:
Some MMF action,
Plenty of oral sex,
…and yes, sex with a dragon.
The panty-melting erotica was offset by a fascinating plot which has me uttely invested in continuing the series.
The details of the temple were beautifully written – the magical atmosphere was clear but not hackneyed or heavy-handed.
There was a prevailing theme of discovery and adventure – both sexual and mythical – so the story was grounded but light hearted.
Yes, I will be continuing this series.
A copy of the Sleeping Dragons Omnibus should come with complimentary batteries for readers 😉
All Eben wanted to do was shove his hot cock into something and the urge drove him mad. Frustrated with his inability to orgasm, he threw off his sleeping bag and decided to go exploring to distract himself. There were doorways that they hadn’t opened yet. Lots of them. There were the ones behind the throne that he knew Erika was laser focused on. But there were others, too, all locked. Maybe he could find a way to open some of those locked doors and earn a few points with Erika.
Camille’s pretty ass waited out there somewhere for him to open, too. He shouldn’t go looking for her, but her bedroll was empty so he did anyway. He was worried, he told himself. I wanted to make sure you were okay, he heard himself rehearsing in his head. Not I really want to go down on you. That was an understatement. He wanted to shove his tongue into every single orifice she possessed. Camille had featured in his fantasies since he’d first met her when Erika assembled their team. But, over the course of the weeks they’d traveled together, he’d become more and more enamored of her—a detail he could never properly articulate to Erika without sounding like a complete pussy. In spite of a generally healthy level of self-confidence around women, he’d been hesitant to approach Camille. Each time he tried, she looked at him like she had earlier that day—like he might just be crazy. He supposed the thing with the dragon cock might have been too much, but damn, she was so beautiful when she blushed like that.
So he kept going back to Erika. Erika wasn’t just his oldest friend, she was also the perfect casual fuck buddy. He wondered if Camille would like having her asshole licked the way Erika did. Fuck, he’d love to do that to her. Even though the mere image of making love to her could satisfy him most nights, for some reason tonight he couldn’t stop imagining her in the naughtiest positions. Not just bent over displaying her perfect ass to him, but sometimes doing that with her thighs spread on either side of his face with her pussy poised above his tongue and her sweet mouth wrapped around his cock, or riding him face-to-face with her full breasts rubbing against his chest. The vivid image of his dick buried hilt-deep in her ass flashed through his head, making his balls ache almost painfully. Maybe he should just find Erika instead. She might at least be good for a blow job if he promised to return the favor.
He got as far as the stone dais and stopped, momentarily dazed by the image before him. Camille lay in the center just before the huge green jade throne, sound asleep. She was on her side, her cheek resting on one arm, and her pretty braid draped over her shoulder. Her top had ridden up, and she clenched one breast in her sleep. Her other breast was bare, the fabric of her tank top shoved up above the pink tip of her hard nipple that just begged to be sucked. Christ, he’d do it if he could without feeling like a complete perv. She was too good for him, so pure and naïve and virginal, but with an ass that could halt time. What he wouldn’t give to be able just once to bury his face between those round cheeks and go to town until she screamed his name.
Just a touch, he thought. One touch—she’d never know. His mouth watered and his cock throbbed when he quietly crouched beside her and reached out. The hard pink flesh of her exposed nipple beckoned, the aureole a perfect pebbled circle of vermilion, about the size of a quarter, perched atop the creamy mound of her full breast.
“Eben, I need you.”
He jerked his hand back like he’d come too close to a flame and shoved it in his pocket. He stood and turned abruptly in response to the voice behind him.
“Fuck, Erika. You scared the shit out of me.” He tried not to look like a guilty fool when he turned to face her. Erika glanced at Camille’s half-naked sleeping body and eyed him with apparent suspicion.
“You were about to molest Camille, weren’t you? You perverted bastard.”
“I… what? No, it’s just that… Fuck, I’m horny as hell and you pretty much disappeared tonight.” It was as likely an excuse as any.
She stepped quietly across the dais and surveyed Camille where she slept. Once by the other woman’s side, she bent and carefully tugged Camille’s shirt down to cover her breasts, then gently extracted Camille’s notebook from beneath the sleeping woman’s cheek.
Her eyes scanned the pages of penciled scrawl quickly. “Holy shit, Kris wasn’t lying. Eben… this place is a lot more important than we thought it was.” She looked up into his eyes, her pretty face beseeching. “We have to wake them up.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Wake who up?”
Erika laid the notebook back down and grabbed his hand. Her dark eyes were wide and excited. She was more excited than he’d ever seen her. With a brief glance he realized how disheveled she was, but it just served to make her sexier. Women like Erika were so good at wearing their fixations like a badge that just made men like him gravitate toward them. Her hair was a tangled mess, her dirty shirt half undone and wrinkled, her breasts almost spilling out from her low-cut tank top, and her nipples were hard little circles pressing against the fabric.
“Dragons, my dear. They are fucking real. That statue you were so crudely fondling earlier? Real. Living but asleep. I’ve been walking for the last three hours probably, just trying to figure it all out, but this is the answer. We are going to wake them up.”
“I think lack of sex has made you a crazy woman.”
“Sweetie, I’m just as horny as you are, but apparently that’s by design. Kris gave me the scoop. We can’t orgasm unless we’re touching one of them.”
“Ah… one of what?”
“One of the dragons.”
Images of shoving his cock into a stone hole made him crease his brow with worry. “I’m not fucking a rock.”
“I don’t know how it works with the female dragons, but we’ll figure it out. Maybe all they need are facials.”
“Right.” He laughed. “And the idea of screwing a reptile turns you on? I admit I’m as kinky as the next guy, but bestiality? Not gonna go there.”
“They’re not beasts. They’re mythical creatures who actually aren’t so mythical after all. Come on.”
“Can’t she come too?” he asked, gesturing to Camille. “I’m sure she’d want us to wake her up to see.”
“No, honey, this is a two-man job. She’s not ready for this, I promise you.”
Interview with Ophelia Bell:
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
Dragons (Seriously, need I say more?)
What would you say inspired you to write it?
Um… Dragons… (see above). But I didn’t want it to be a typical shifter story, nor a virgin sacrifice story that seems to be a common trope with dragon erotica tales. That meant coming up with my own twist on it.
What was the source of inspiration for Erika?
I love the crap out of Tomb Raider, particularly Lara Croft. I think she was my biggest inspiration for Erika. And I love strong, adventurous women who aren’t shy about their sexuality. Erika is the kind of woman who could only be truly happy with a dragon shifter for a mate.
What about the wonderfully detailed Dragon Temple?
I couldn’t say that any one thing in particular inspired it. It was a product of all the adventure, dungeon-crawl games I’ve played and loved: Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, Dungeons & Dragons (both the MMO and tabletop), World of Warcraft, and others. Writing is like playing a game for me, the way the story gradually unfolds like an adventure I’m just waiting to discover, and I’m always wondering what will happen next (I don’t do a whole lot of pre-planning).
What kind of research did you do to prepare for this book?
Most of my research involved geography and geology. I wanted a remote island jungle, and I did a bit of research on the qualities and colors of jade. It was the perfect stone to use for the statues and the dragons themselves because of the variety of colors it comes in. I also did some research on color meanings to try to fit the dragons’ personalities to their colors.
What made you decide to become an Author?
I opened the floodgates by writing a fan fiction a few years back. Since then I haven’t been able to stop. The fanfic I wrote was always based on the video games I played. The first one was a crossover between Dragon Age and The Witcher. After that I wrote a few others. Then the most recent one ended up being too original so I ended up rewriting it just slightly and published the novel under another pen name. There are no dragons in it, unless you count a tattoo one of the characters has. It’s a story about a young tattoo artist who runs afoul of the leader of an LA street gang when he screws the guy’s girlfriend. It was after I’d given up on publishing that one that I started writing Animus, which I self published.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
I tend to be distracted by the stories in my head a lot more than I used to be. It’s the first thing I’ve ever been really passionate about as a career. One thing it hasn’t changed is my epic capacity for procrastination.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block. The periods when I’ve had trouble sitting down and writing I always knew precisely why I wasn’t writing. It wasn’t for lack of a story to tell, or not knowing what happened next. It’s usually due to other real-life distractions—other work always needs to be done when you self publish. But often it’s also been about some deeper fear: What if it’s terrible? What if people hate it? What if nobody buys it? Or even worse: What if it’s not as popular as XYZ author’s books? As soon as I can let go of those thoughts, the writing comes pretty easily. Particularly the sex scenes—in fact, simply sitting down and writing a sex scene is a handy way for me to get over a block. Endorphins are good mood lifters 😉
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
I talk to my cats a lot. It’s a solitary career, so I try to dig in and focus on the writing, but that doesn’t always happen. I end up chatting online with other writer friends way to often, or posting in online writing forums. I also try to walk away from my computer when my husband gets home from work and we either go out to dinner or a movie, or stay in and watch our favorite shows.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I’ve developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to reviews. My books aren’t for everyone, so I know not everyone will like them or give them a good review. I do my best to let the bad ones roll off my back, and then go re-read my favorite reviews over and over to remind myself that yes, someone does love my books!
Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next from the Sleeping Dragons series?
Well, following the Sleeping Dragons series, is the eight-book Rising Dragons series, that follows the lives of the same characters once they’re reacquainting themselves with the modern world. All the couples/trios from Sleeping Dragons have their own little conflicts to overcome, plus there’s another adventure for them to go on that will affect the future of the entire dragon race. I just published the final installment in the series last week.
Now I’m working on a stand-alone story, Dragon’s Melody, that may turn into a novel-length menage romance focusing on new characters—two male dragon heroes and a female human heroine. The heroine appears in the Rising Dragons series, and one of the heroes is mentioned in Book 6 of Rising Dragons, but has no screen time. It is already proving to be exceptionally steamy. It’s got all the kinks Animus has and then some.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside from this series?
I’ll be working on several contemporary erotic short stories over the next year in between work on a novel trilogy. The novel trilogy will be an erotic romance set in a dystopian near-future and will feature another badass heroine like Erika, and the sexy hero who falls for her. Of course I have another dragon series planned for sometime next year, but I haven’t even begun to plot it. Folks who finish the second series will get some hints. I also share tidbits in my newsletters for anyone who subscribes to my mailing list.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit ‘Publish’?
I started writing Animus on December 14, 2013 and hit publish on January 23, 2014. Most of the other installments in the series took a lot less time, though. Animus was my first self-published title, so I had to learn a lot of things about publishing to make sure I did it right. The other titles in the first series were all written and published over a span of about 2-3 weeks.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
About a year for the novel I mentioned above. Lately I rarely spend more than a month working on a story, but most of what I write lately is under 30,000 words (~100 pages, give or take). That includes editing and cover design.
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
Yes. I have a pair of incredible women who do my editing and covers. I love them both to death.
How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I found my editor based on a referral from someone I know in Romance Writers of America, and we hit it off. The biggest reason I chose her was because she loved what I was writing and we had a lot in common. I think it’s important to find an editor who you have a rapport with, and who is familiar with and enjoys reading your genre. For my cover artist, I believe I just Googled “erotica cover artists” and found her website. I loved her covers and her prices were reasonable. It turned out she loves dragons as much as I do (and in fact had written a dragon novel of her own).
Where is your work being distributed (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc)? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I’m just on Amazon at the moment, to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited. I’m very curious to see how this new service does, and have had good results so far. However, I don’t like the idea of having all my eggs in one basket, so Sleeping Dragons will be available on other retailers again by the end of January 2015.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
The ability to avoid distractions until my writing is done for the day.
Name your favorite fruit.
How about favorite time of the day?
Favorite food for breakfast?
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
I’m currently in the middle of Louisiana Shifters collection by Vivian Wood. It’s a fantastic, romantic, sexy tale about werewolves. I love all Vivian’s books.
What was the last book you absolutely fell in love with?)
Reawakening by Charlotte Stein. In fact, I’m in love with all her books. They’re super hot and funny. Reawakening is a zombie apocalypse story that’s both hilarious and full of heart-wrenching, end-of-the-world type moments.
Is there a book you keep meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to it? Don’t worry, we all have ridiculously long TBRs!
One of my favorite fantasy authors, Joe Abercrombie’s book Red Country. I started reading it right around the time I became fully immersed in writing. I still haven’t gotten around to finishing it in spite of how amazing it is. I just don’t feel like I can give it the focus it deserves. I have serious ADD when it comes to actually reading anymore. I have to do it when I can’t do anything else, like when I’m visiting in-laws or on a long trip.
Do you recall the first piece of Erotica you ever read?
I’m probably dating myself here, but the first book that opened my eyes to erotic fiction was Lace by Shirley Conran. It was the book that me and my girlfriends in Jr. High dogeared and passed around to read the “good parts”. This might tell you a bit about why I like to write my heroines the way I do. Erica Jong is also one of my old favorites.
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Coffee or tea?
Sweet or salty?
Salty sweet (chocolate covered pretzels or caramel ice cream with sea salt… yum)
Drama or comedy?
Yes. This depends on my mood, but I like dramedies 🙂
Cats or dogs?
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
― Gilda Radner
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend/Girlfriend?)
Sam, in Second Skin (my novel under my other pen name, Jesse Pearle). Is it incestuous to be a little in love with your own creations?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Of course I do. I’m too guilty to say what it is, though.
Favorite Swear Word?
Fuck (I have to do a search for this word before I publish because I seriously overuse it)
Ophelia Bell has graciously offered to give an Omnibus of the ENTIRE Sleeping Dragons series – that’s all six books, folks! – to one lucky Smutsonian reader. Enter Here:
About the Author:
Ophelia Bell believes there’s a philosophical side to writing dirty stories, but mostly it’s just the escape that matters. That’s all fiction is about, anyway. She loves everything in fiction to the point of distraction. Existential stories like Milan Kundera, sexy humor like Charlotte Stein, more literary erotica like Nicholson Baker, or hot paranormal romance like J.R. Ward.
Above all she loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories. Women who aren’t apologetic about having the upper hand and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom.
Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.