A Julia Review: Figure Study (Chiaroscuro #2) by Suzanne Clay

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ainsley and her former student Noma face the aftermath of their unexpected one-night stand in this second story of Chiaroscuro.

The night Ainsley spent gently dominating Noma was far more intimate than any scene she’d ever been in before. The intensity of playing with someone she’d taught and cared about was a completely different experience–and twice as intimidating. She’d had two options: turn Noma away and never see her again, or let her stay for a few hours more.

The years away from scenes have left Ainsley eager for play but unsteady in her role. And memories of a younger Noma, when their relationship was student and mentor, only add to the confusion. A return to familiar ropes and knots, an erotic bondage play, helps Ainsley regain a sense of control and face her vulnerabilities. She must learn to see Noma as an adult woman in every way, risking a dangerous power imbalance, even as her heart begins to yearn for intimacy she’s long hidden from.

As they delve into new scenes, Ainsley and Noma confront past pain and baggage. Only by facing their fear of opening up can they learn to trust each other and share something deeper.

Figure Study by Suzanne Clay is the second part in the Chiaroscuro-series of short stories featuring painter and art teacher Ainsley and her former student Noma. After reviewing the first entry a while back, I was excited to come back to this. If you plan on reading this series, you should definitely start with previous story “Painting Class”.

The story picks up right where the previous one ended as Ainsley finds herself making breakfast after sharing an intense body painting session with a former student of hers. Since this is a short story the entirety of it takes place in Ainsley’s house over the course of half a day. The author threw in some nice details of Ainsley’s living space to get a better picture of her personal habits.

Normally I dedicate only a short paragraph to the sex scenes but in this case they are tightly interwoven with the progression of the plot as well as character development. As Noma and Ainsley continue to intimately explore each other’s needs, bodies and desires, they also get closer to one another on an emotional and very personal level. That is why I will go into more detail about the erotic aspects this time – and they are definitely worth it.

Just like the previous one does this story focus on BDSM scenes with Ainsley acting as the domme and Noma as the submissive. The author did quite a good job in dealing with the subject as the more experienced Ainsley is easing Noma into it, so even (or especially) someone who is not too familiar with the subject can get into it. I very much liked the emphasis on open communication and mutual respect for the other person’s boundaries. And not to mention, the sex scenes themselves are of course quite hot and wonderfully explicit.

Noma also talks a bit about some negative experiences she had that shaped her initial expectations of dominance and submission. It is quite heart-warming to witness how she opens herself up and is truly touched by Ainsley’s care for her. Ainsley in turn is dealing with her own trepidations in returning to the position of domme after having been inactive for quite some time as well as the responsibilities (and pleasures) that come with it. I found the careful dance between those two as they try their best to make each other feel safe rather engrossing. All the while there is the underlying, unspoken question of whether there is any hope for this relationship to continue beyond this one encounter of passion. You very much get the feeling that both women want it to but are unsure on how the other person feels.

The continuation of this story certainly did not disappoint. This entry has definitely made the characters much more endearing to me to the point where I’m rooting for them and their blossoming relationship. I loved how the author told us so much about them within this brief period of time through their interactions and care for one another. I’ll be looking forward to reading and reviewing the next chapter of their story.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is very beautiful and spot-on just like last time. I love the way the rope just pops out but at the same harmonizes wonderfully with the colourless body and emphasizes its contours.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 58 pages

Published September 25, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-90-9

Edition Language: English

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: Figure Study by Suzanne Clay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Figure Study

Series: Chiaroscuro, Book Two

Author: Suzanne Clay

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 25, 2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 19900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, erotica, contemporary, lesbian, artist, teacher/student, age-gap, interracial, light D/s, edging, spanking, rope bondage/shibari

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Ainsley and her former student Noma face the aftermath of their unexpected one-night stand in this second story of Chiaroscuro.

The night Ainsley spent gently dominating Noma was far more intimate than any scene she’d ever been in before. The intensity of playing with someone she’d taught and cared about was a completely different experience–and twice as intimidating. She’d had two options: turn Noma away and never see her again, or let her stay for a few hours more.

The years away from scenes have left Ainsley eager for play but unsteady in her role. And memories of a younger Noma, when their relationship was student and mentor, only add to the confusion. A return to familiar ropes and knots, an erotic bondage play, helps Ainsley regain a sense of control and face her vulnerabilities. She must learn to see Noma as an adult woman in every way, risking a dangerous power imbalance, even as her heart begins to yearn for intimacy she’s long hidden from.

As they delve into new scenes, Ainsley and Noma confront past pain and baggage. Only by facing their fear of opening up can they learn to trust each other and share something deeper.

Excerpt

Figure Study
Suzanne Clay © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

The last time Ainsley made breakfast for someone she was procrastinating for her senior show. There had been paintings to finish, an artist statement to make foolproof, and a final defense to prepare, and ultimately, it had been too much for her. A warm body and a kind smile had helped for the night, but the morning after had been too soon for Ainsley to jump back into the fray. On that day fifteen years ago, her delaying tactic had been blueberry muffins. This morning, it was blueberry pancakes.

The fruit felt cool and firm in Ainsley’s hand as she poured them into the pale batter. She lingered for a moment, considering their fullness and the way they floated on the surface. There was a striking color contrast emphasized by the sunrise cutting through her kitchen’s picture window. It felt shameful to ruin it. But ruin she did. With one stir of her wooden spoon, she watched the berries disappear under the surface, leaving behind divots that rapidly filled with the batter again.

Moments like this struck her on a daily basis, and not for the first time, Ainsley wondered why. Was it from her artistic sensibilities, appreciating the difference of colors and the play of textures and the shifting of shapes? Or was it from yet another night of insomnia? Did her exhausted mind make everything feel a little more visceral, look a little more striking? She wasn’t sure. And while she found appreciation from these little things regardless, she also felt uncomfortable that maybe, just maybe, it was something she shouldn’t be pleased by.

She was making these pancakes to delay waking the girl in her room. She was making coffee to avoid sleeping so she wouldn’t risk sensual, aching dreams about the woman she still wasn’t sure she regretted touching.

Ainsley paused by the pantry with the syrup bottle loose in her grip. She sat at the breakfast table cradling the bottle safely in her hands.

Fifteen years ago, she made blueberry muffins to avoid her final university projects. And Noma, the girl dreaming so peacefully in her bed, had left kindergarten only a short time later. God, that puts things in perspective.

Ainsley sacrificed a pancake’s perfect golden-brown color to pour some coffee and drink it—too hot, too bitter, and too strong. The taste was enough to drown out the burgeoning worries in her head, and the burned edges of the pancake were enough penance to set Ainsley’s heart at ease again. Ainsley would eat it. She never much minded eating things everyone else wanted to throw away.

By the time Ainsley brought the tray full of pancakes and coffee and syrup into the bedroom, her mind was clear again. Noma looked like she hadn’t moved an inch in her sleep. She lay on her stomach, hands fisted by her face, and the pinks and purples that Ainsley had painted on her back were perfectly intact. She hadn’t stirred from the sounds of Ainsley moving pots around or the grinding of the coffee beans. She slept perfectly. Peacefully.

Ainsley envied that to the very depths of her soul.

After setting the tray on the end of the bed, she sat next to Noma and caressed her arm. The play of the color contrast between their skin—Ainsley’s blue-white paleness against Noma’s umber brown—stirred her imagination toward painting, but her thoughts silenced as Noma moved under her touch and made a low sound. Ainsley gently squeezed her arm and smiled. “Good morning.”

“Mmnh…” Noma squinted up at Ainsley, came up on her elbows, and rubbed her eyes. “Morning.” She froze, hand still in a fist, and grunted. “God, I’ve still got my makeup on. Did I really just pass out last night?”

“You did,” Ainsley said with a chuckle. “You must’ve been out of it.”

“Yeah, well…” Noma’s cheeks flushed a dark rose as she collapsed flat again. “I mean, y’know, I had a pretty good night and all.”

Ainsley tipped her head to the side. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” With her cheek resting on her bent forearms like a pillow, Noma peeked up at Ainsley, half her face still obscured. “You?”

Ainsley had spent a long night sitting at her breakfast table staring into the darkness and remembering over and over again what she’d done: crossing paths with Noma at Ainsley’s gallery showing, getting Noma’s safeword, painting her skin, tasting her sweet arousal—all without ever asking herself if it had been wise to move so fast. Ainsley considered her response. “I think it went rather well,” she finally said as she pushed her hair over her shoulder.

Noma stared at her intently. “You think so, huh?”

There was something Noma wasn’t saying—something Ainsley couldn’t pick up on as much as she wanted to. It was like Noma was hedging her bets until she knew exactly what Ainsley wasn’t saying. Ainsley narrowed her eyes, weighing her thoughts, and shook her head. “Didn’t I used to be able to read your face a lot better?”

“That was a long time ago,” Noma said, smiling. “I’m not quite the girl I used to be.”

“No, you’re not,” Ainsley murmured. “No, you’re a woman now.” She flicked her eyes down Noma’s body and took in the swell of her rear end, the stretch marks over her hips, and the smoothness of her skin. “Do you want to know a secret?”

Noma sat up on her elbows. “Yes, ma’am.”

“That’s part of why I didn’t sleep last night,” Ainsley said. “Just from trying to reconcile the idea of you as a woman instead of a student.”

The smile Noma gave was more tentative than anything, no doubt still trying to figure out her place in Ainsley’s bed. “Makes sense. Guess I gotta do that too. I keep seeing you as Miss Edwards.”

Ainsley smiled back. “Is that why you called me ‘ma’am’ just a second ago?”

Noma seemed flustered for a moment, her cheeks flushing even more. “No, that’s, uh…no, I think that’s from last night.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Suzanne is an asexual woman with a great love for writing erotica and enjoys spending her time confusing people with that fact. She believes there is a need for heightened diversity in erotic fiction and strives to write enough stories so that everyone can see themselves mirrored in a protagonist. She lives with her husband and cat, and, when not writing, Suzanne enjoys reading, playing video games poorly, and refusing to interact outdoors with other human beings.

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A Julia Review: Painting Class ( Chiaroscuro #1) by Suzanne Clay

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ainsley’s first gallery showing is way out of her comfort zone. After teaching high school art for over a decade, she can’t think of anywhere else she’d rather be than the classroom, and especially not in front of a crowd of strangers ogling her paintings.

Salvation comes in the form of an insightful young woman who coaxes Ainsley to open up about her inspiration, her drive, and her sexuality. Sparks fly before Ainsley realizes that the young woman is her former student, Noma, freshly graduated from college. As Ainsley fights to reconcile her memories of Noma with the woman she’s become, they fall into a playful game of dominance and submission that will change their relationship forever.

Painting Class by Suzanne Clay is the first, short introduction to former teacher/student-couple Ainsley and Noma and (possibly) the start of their future relationship. It almost reads itself like the first couple of chapters of a novel. And I am intrigued to read more.

Ainsley is an art teacher as well as an artist who amongst other styles focuses on bodypainting. It was good to read about a character who has so clearly found her passion in life despite still being nervous about presenting her art pieces to the public. Noma on the other hand appears at first glance to be very sure of herself and her ambitions (especially those concerning her former teacher). I liked how the two of them started getting to know each other again, after Noma had been Ainsley’s favourite student a few years back.   

Despite their roles as former teacher and student, it seems very much like Noma is the one who is much less nervous and totally in control – at first, that is. I really enjoyed the dynamic between those two and how they both seem to engage in a bit of a power struggle with Ainsley clearly gaining the upper hand later on (and not at all to Noma’s displeasure). The author did a lovely job at highlighting how the tables can turn once the setting is moved from a public to a private one and Ainsley finds herself more confident and at ease when practicing her art.

The body-painting-turned-sexual scene between those two is rather explicit and involves light elements of d/s. It is quite endearing (and hot) how these two discover each other’s experiences and preferences in that regard. And the painting aspect adds an additional layer of sensuality to it.

I quite enjoyed reading Painting Class though I was surprised by its length. Since the author intends to continue the story of Ainsley and Noma, it’s not really a self-contained short story. And it is also too short for a novella or novel. But then again, the quality and potential are definitely there and I am looking forward to learning where Ainsley and Noma will go from here.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is very beautiful and a great combination of colours and tones. I like how the glitter mixes well with the darker, more ominous body paint.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 34 pages

Published June 5, 2017

by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-18-3

Edition Language: English

Release Day Blitz for Painting Class by Suzanne Clay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Painting Class

Series: Chiaroscuro, Book 1

Author: Suzanne Clay

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 10300

Genre: Contemporary, erotica, contemporary, lesbian, artist, teacher/student, age-gap, interracial, light D/s

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Ainsley’s first gallery showing is way out of her comfort zone. After teaching high school art for over a decade, she can’t think of anywhere else she’d rather be than the classroom, and especially not in front of a crowd of strangers ogling her paintings.

Salvation comes in the form of an insightful young woman who coaxes Ainsley to open up about her inspiration, her drive, and her sexuality. Sparks fly before Ainsley realizes that the young woman is her former student, Noma, freshly graduated from college. As Ainsley fights to reconcile her memories of Noma with the woman she’s become, they fall into a playful game of dominance and submission that will change their relationship forever.

Excerpt

Painting Class
Suzanne Clay © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“You look like you might need this.”

Ainsley looked at the glass of wine hovering in front of her and smiled at her deliverance. “Thank you, Brent,” she murmured, exhaling shakily as she lifted it to her lips. Sipping carefully, she let the bouquet bloom on her tongue and checked that she hadn’t left a lipstick stain on the glass. “No one told me it was going to feel like this.”

“What, success?” Brent chuckled as he fit against the wall beside her, his hand tucked into his pocket, his suit neatly tailored as always. “Yeah, I feel like you probably should’ve anticipated this.”

Ainsley shook her head. Her bangs fell in her eyes as she ducked behind the rim of her glass. “I wouldn’t call this success. It’s a gallery showing.”

“That happens to have an open bar, an excellent setting, and a room full of people analyzing your work.” He gave her a look. “Babe, please, you’ve got something in your hand here that not a whole lot of us get.”

“Jealous?” she asked as she met his eyes and quirked a brow, trying to hide the curve of her smile.

“Oh, miserable,” Brent said dryly. “No, yeah, I absolutely wish I’d gone this route and not the one that got me my giant house.”

“Ouch.” Ainsley elbowed him. “You know, some of us weren’t lucky enough to bag a rich husband right out of college.”

“And some of us weren’t lucky enough to have actual talent,” he shot right back. He tilted his glass toward one of Ainsley’s paintings. “You worked with what you had, and I worked with what I had. Turns out you had the drive, and I had a rockin’ bod. And y’know, I think it worked out pretty damn well for the both of us.”

Ainsley laughed as she leaned into him. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Yeah, but it got you smiling, didn’t it?”

It had. Ainsley was thankful for Brent, really. These little bursts of comedic cattiness were a mask he hadn’t worn around her since they were in college, but it made her feel young again, not like they were nearing forty and trying to figure out where their lives had gone.

“You’ve gotta get back out there, kid,” Brent murmured near her ear. “Schmooze with the best of them.”

“Can’t you do that for me?” she whispered back.

“Boy, I wish,” he drawled. He touched a hand to the small of her back and nudged her. “Go on; get yourself some exposure. Sell some of those paintings. I wanna see one of them hanging in Madonna’s house by the end of the year.”

“Or it’ll be a wasted year,” Ainsley quipped back. But she let Brent guide her onto the gallery floor anyway. It’d be easier to hide in the corner and let her batteries recharge, but it’d also be a shame to waste this opportunity, especially if this was going to be her only gallery showing ever.

Ainsley hadn’t regretted her time working as a teacher. She really hadn’t. If she had to choose between every one of her paintings on the walls here and the thousands of students who’d come through her door, she’d pick the students a million times over. In her younger days as an undergrad, when she would quietly set up in a studio, picking the perfect paints for her canvas and thrilling herself with the feel of a brush in her hands, she might’ve said she craved the life of a gallery artist. But she’d changed. It felt like too selfish a life.

Should she have believed her art would change the world? She valued beauty. She valued a high aesthetic. Her statements were softness, silence, and warmth. And she’d be a fool if she pretended these were anything unique or groundbreaking. No, Ainsley found it more important to empower the next generation to create whatever statements they chose in whatever medium they preferred.

Still, Ainsley liked scratching things off her bucket list as much as the next person. She never imagined this show happening when she’d reached out on a whim, but it had, and now that she was here, she might as well soak it all up.

She approached her favorite piece, a lush field of flowers and two couples having a picnic within it. The two men were dressed in soft bowlers and fine suits, and the women, on their separate blanket, were lovely with their parasols and lace. Each couple had their hands gently knitted together between them, and their backs were to the viewer as they sat considering the sunset.

Perhaps she made more of a statement than she believed.

“Man, that’s really something.”

Ainsley smiled at hearing the soft voice behind her, at how low it was, how warm. It sounded exactly like she wanted her paintings to feel. She wondered if the speaker knew she was the artist and decided to take the risk they didn’t. But when there was no immediate response, no one the speaker had been sharing their thoughts with, Ainsley turned to take a look. A young woman stood there in a bright sundress. Her hair was teased out in a dyed green afro that played off the hazel of her eyes beautifully.

She was lovely. Ainsley immediately felt the itch in her fingers to paint again. It felt like coming home, but she couldn’t place why.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Suzanne is an asexual woman with a great love for writing erotica and enjoys spending her time confusing people with that fact. She believes there is a need for heightened diversity in erotic fiction and strives to write enough stories so that everyone can see themselves mirrored in a protagonist. She lives with her husband and cat, and, when not writing, Suzanne enjoys reading, playing video games poorly, and refusing to interact outdoors with other human beings.

Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Tumblr

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