Theater review: Hadestown

Hadestown New York Theatre WorkshopOver the long holiday weekend, I saw a production of Hadestown at the New York Theater Workshop. A folk-opera set somewhere in the rust belt during the depression, Hadestown joins the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with the story of Hades and Persephone into one of the most powerful, exciting, and disturbing meditations on power, freedom, and love that I’ve ever seen.

In Hadestown Persephone relishes her six months in the sun, bringing liquor and music to the surface, before her husband drags her back down. It’s during this period that Eurydice and Orpheus meet. But once in the underworld, it’s consistently clear that they are two people who, having once loved each other are now unavoidably furious with each other, and what looms between the is the story of who each of them are — Persephone inconstant; Hades powerful.

Meanwhile, on the surface, Eurydice is hungry. Is the hunger of poverty? Is this the hunger of someone overshadowed by her lover’s obsession with his talents? Is this the hunger of the ambitious? While lyrically the physical hunger of poverty is most clearly called out, these other issues are never absent and Eurydice eventually catches a train to Hadestown to have her hunger met.

There, she signs a contract to work for Hades and when he spits her out onto the factory floor after whatever “happens behind closed doors” the other women on the factory floor (the Fates who are the chorus throughout the show) tell her she’s trapped here now. Forever. Eurydice is shocked. She’s different. Special. He said! Behind closed doors….

Don’t they always?

As the rest of the show unfolds, we see how the talents of supposedly great men — Orpheus to sing, Hades to build industry — render women invisible from their own stories and systematically block men from having the emotional skills to actually get the things they want.

Many romance readers will naturally have a strong inclination towards the young/new love story of Eurydice and Orpheus, but for me Persephone and Hades’s story was chilling and fascinating. Let’s be clear, this is a show where Hades sings a song about how the best way to chain a woman is with diamonds and gold, but at no point does the show indict the women for doing what they need to do to survive, for being seduced, for showing their talents any which way they can, or for wanting better from the ultimate failures of their men.

As someone who often writes love stories about what happens after the happily ever after, and about the burdens of success and public life on private existence, Hadestown was painfully in my sweet spot. I was raised to be Persephone, and to witness her endurance was remarkable. I thought often of the heroine of our upcoming poly romance, The Art of Three.

Since this is a romance blog, I do feel obligated to note this is not a show with an HEA. In a way, it has no ending at all — it’s about storytelling and a single iteration of a story that is always told in an eternal, endless circle, making the wedding band the story itself. We are bound to it, whether we wish to be or not.

I also feel obligated to note that the show is most effective if you know as little as possible going in, particularly in regard to a political moment that is accidentally shocking (the show began development ten years ago, that one of the songs intersects terrifying with current U.S. politics is an odd fluke).

Hadestown is currently running at the New York Theatre Workshop through July 31 (I’m hoping for another extension so Erin can see it when she is in New York in August). A concept album that is not terribly reflective of the current state of the show exists, and a cast recording of this production has been made and is due out sometime soon.

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Newsletter news!

ravenclippyIn July, our monthly newsletter is going to come out a little late! Instead of showing up in your email box on July 1, it’s going to show up on July 5.


Well, we’re making some stylistic changes.

We’re also writing a little prequel for you to A Queen from the North focusing on George, the teenage, genderqueer court witch who plays a supporting role in the novel and will be front and center for her own romantic adventure in a future book.

Never fear, Love in Los Angeles fans. We’re working on a little treat for you too.

And if we can make everything work exactly as we want it to (stay tuned on that) there may be additional freebie news too.

So if there was ever a time to subscribe, this is it. You can do that here:

As ever, we only email you once a month and we’ll never share your information with anyone or add you to any other lists

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Midsummer is just $1 for midsummer (sale runs June 20 – June 24)

MidsummerFSAll Romance | Amazon | B&N

“Fans of sensual, romantic stories will love this one …. This is incredibly well-written and nuanced; it’s simply marvelous.”
– Inked Rainbow Reads, 5*

“A lushly worded book, filled with romance and characters that leap from the page. One of the best M/M reads of the year so far!”
– V.L. Locey (author of Two Man Advantage), 5*

“The writing, as always, is flawless, and almost poetic in some parts. Definitely a very enjoyable read, that … packs a lot of emotion and love into it.”
– Bayou Book Reviews, 5*

Lush, funny, magical, and a little bit morbid, the Love’s Labours series chronicles a romance between two actors who meet during a summerstock production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Sure, 42-year-old John Lyonel has never been attracted to men before, but falling for 25-year-old Michael Hilliard is actually the least screwed up thing that’s happened to him in years.

Even if sometimes he thinks Michael’s a changeling.

(Please note, this is a first-time bisexual story for one of the characters and involves processing of his identity. It’s not a “I’m straight and your the exception” story, although the characters totally turn that topic over with some intensity).

Posted in bisexuality, books, lgbtq romance, Love's Labours, may december romance, Midsummer, mm romance, queer lit, Summerstock, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snare, sales, and more

Snare_coverNYC: Death. Taxes. Vampires.

Snare releases next week and is now available for preorder at Torquere, Amazon, AllRomance and many other of your favorite retailers. We suggestion you read about Snare’s content to see if this is the right book for you.

They Do“Lake Effect” is about to go out of print.

The very first story Erin and I had published will go out of digital print per our contract in just a few days. Those who want to catch up with this tale of mishaps on the way to the altar, will want to grab this story now. We’ll eventually reissue it, but we don’t yet know in what context or have a timeline for that.  All RomanceAmazon | Torquere

wolvesHis Animal Instinct raises almost $500 for charity!

In its first two months of availability, M/M shifter anthology, His Animal Instinct has raised $497 for Outright (, which works to protect the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people around the world. His Animal Instinct is an exclusive.

And finally, Torquere is having a really big sale for Pride monh.

If you shop for Snare, “Lake Effect,” or any of our other Torquere titles now through July 4, 2016 at the Torquere store, be sure to use code pride2016 for 35% off your entire cart!

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Max Perkins: Man of Genius

Yesterday I cut out of work early to go see Genius, the movie about Max Perkins, the editor who shepherded the works of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Tom Wolfe into the world. I’d been looking forward to this movie, not just for two hours alone in the dark after two frankly miserable weeks, but because it seemed to be about two things that are important to me: Writing, and the collaborative relationships writers form while writing. Below are some spoilerific thoughts about the movie:

1.) The first ten minutes of the film are perfection. There’s no dialogue, just the text of Tom Wolfe’s manuscript — what becomes his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel — while Max reads it with an expressiveness that destroyed me. And the little moments we see of Max’s life — his office, his commute, his home, his interactions with his daughters — are evocative and delightful. I got the sense of this successful man with a wonderful life who is struggling with some unfulfilled desire and also his own mortality.

2.) None of which was ever followed up on, at least not in a meaningful or satisfactory way. Because this movie was based on a book, it’s clear to me that they took the good scenes — rightly so! — but that all the connective tissue got left out of the script or on the cutting room floor. The whole thing has a serious telling-not-showing problem. Max and Tom have a great friendship, clearly. But time hops, Jude’s first book comes out and they’re suddenly besties after the last scene we saw them in together was them just slowly getting to know each other, and I was left going “Wait but what a year went by? What happened? Tell me more?”

3.) A big part of this movie is about how terrible things happen to the women of successful men. Zelda Fitzgerald’s in an insane asylum. Aline Bernstein (Tom Wolfe’s lover) goes to distraction and threats of suicide because of how badly Tom treats her. And Louise, Max Perkin’s wife, is left to the inevitable state of raising five daughters with a husband at the office more than not. This was the thread I wanted more about. And the movie doesn’t spend enough time on it to do the issue justice and I’m not even sure they knew they were doing anything with it at all. Max’s wife is the most stoic and sympathetic and, after he realizes he’s fucked up, Max makes things up with her and gets his act together. At least, I think that’s what happens; so little time is spent on this that that conflict really gets no conclusion, which is criminal. In part because the chemistry between Max and Louise is stunning.

The Fitzgeralds’ situation was the most well done, even though the least amount of time was spent on it, because what was done was so literary and understated. Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald is stunning.

Unfortunately for the story, Tom Wolfe and Aline Bernstein, his lover, have zero chemistry. Which is strange, because I love Nicole Kidman and Jude Law separately in this movie and in other things. But it was so noticeable as to be off-putting. Tom Wolfe is horrible to her, and she has a period of suicidal threats and bringing a gun to the office and  generally being unhinged. Kidman plays it beautifully, I think no other actress could have pulled it off. But the script does not do her or the character justice, and I was left deeply uncomfortable at times at the way she was portrayed. Grotesque was the word that came to mind, and not in a good way.

4.) So the point I was most interested in about this movie, where it is about two men who have a working relationship with each other and have conflicts with their romantic partners and families about that, doesn’t hold as much water as I wanted it to. There’s one fantastic montage of editing that sells Max and Tom’s relationship but then hardly anything else to support it, just them declaring after the fact how important they are to each other.

5.) What this movie ends up being isn’t so much a testament to one friendship, though it tries to be. What it is is a testament to how difficult life as a person who works with words can be, when one has things in life that aren’t words, too. It’s clumsy in places, ill-supported in others, but it still works. And what it really, really is, is a love letter to editing, and taking words and making them the best they can be while never being able to shake the doubt that what makes us the judge of what is best? It’s well timed for me, as Racheline and I are about to go into overdrive editing The Art of Three and A Queen from the North, and it makes me eager to tackle those pieces again with a fresh appreciation for editing and the process of writing.

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Hi there. How are you holding up?

It’s been a pretty difficult week in the world, and we’ve been quiet. While we’ve continued to engage in life as usual with our writing and our partners, we haven’t really been chock full of nonfiction words.

Lots of other people have though, and if you’re up to it, we hope you’ll read some of the excellent work out there related to both the Orlando mass shooting at a gay club’s Latin night and the murder of a British MP by a neo-Nazi sympathizer. There is, we believe, no way not to politicize these killings, because these killings were inherently political.

As always we encourage people to research, register, and vote their conscience wherever and whenever they can. We also hope everyone can and does take whatever time for self- and community care available to them.

We’ll resume with the usual business about here sometime tomorrow.


Racheline & Erin

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Torquere sale… especially on Snare preorders

Below there is a whole thing description of discounts, but it got confusing to implement, so now it’s just 30% off with code memorial2016. 

Snare is going to retail for $3.49 when it’s released on June 22, 2016. But right now everything on Torquere’s site has been marked down 20%, which means it’s $2.79.

And then you can use the code preorder15 for another 15% off the sale price, which means you can get it for $2.37.  Preorder will be up on Amazon and other distributors soon, but this is the biggest discount we currently know about being scheduled. It will remain in place through Tuesday, May 31.

Snare_coverNYC: Death. Taxes. Vampires.

When Elliot Iverson, a municipal employee responsible for paperwork pertaining to New York City’s vampire population, knocks on the door of the Gramercy warren, he wants only to resolve a clerical error. But a sudden snowstorm, a new friendship, and an ill-advised threesome force Elliot to make some big choices about his own life and death.

More info on Snare:

To buy Snare:

(Also all our other titles with Torquere can be seen here:

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