Monday, October 19, 2009

WickedCicada loves the lemon on Isle Esme

Isle Esme


When I first began reading Twilight fanfiction, I avoided lemons for a very simple reason, easily summed up by a complaint from comedian Dave Chappelle about how-to sex articles in women’s magazines: “[Women’s magazines] got too much advice about men from other women. And they don't know what the fuck they’re talkin’ about. I see them in the grocery store, says on the cover ‘100 Ways to Please Your Man’ by some lady.” The idea of reading a sex scene from a male point of view that was focused on the scent of burning candles, the cut of Bella’s underwear, or the thread count of Egyptian cotton sheets bothered me, in part because I think about these things myself, which renders them profoundly uninteresting. Fortunately, I am no stranger to being wrong and have no problem admitting my foolishness, because I would have missed out on some great eye-opening, thought-provoking reading.

The first story that proved me wrong was Isle Esme by Vixen1836. I’d already read and loved her Edward’s Eclipse, but hadn’t read beyond that. When a friend whose judgment I trust implicitly told me I “just had to read [Isle Esme],” I scoffed outwardly but read the story later that night in secret, completely unprepared for what awaited me. And so the too-sour reader fell in love with the lemon...

Beautifully written, Isle Esme is a canon exploration of the first night of Edward and Bella’s honeymoon through Edward’s eyes. The story is exquisitely nuanced and moves at a slow pace—utterly fitting for a character whose mind comprehends every detail of his partner’s reactions as well as his own, but still entirely masculine in its directness. There is not much dialogue in the story; instead, Edward catalogues the details of the experience through his senses. He is a hunter, his thoughts rich in action:

    “I was firmly in control. Resigned again to taking her in slowly, I kissed a line from one side of her abdomen to the other and then stopped as a new fascination commanded my attention. I watched in awe as I noticed that her abdomen pulsed with her heart too, even more so despite the distance. Her soft silky skin bounced with each movement. Was there anything her heart didn’t move? She was magnificent; radiating and thudding with life. How had I never noticed this before? Delighted, I let out a soft sigh, marveled and stunned by her subtle, automatic beauty.”

Another compelling aspect of Isle Esme lies in the arc of the story. Rather than being a predictable, up-and-up-and-up-and-over-the-cliff experience, there is some ebb and flow. To quote my trusted friend, “Things are going well, and then suddenly things aren't going as well, and then there is a recovery.” For example, a critical realization helps him to divert his focus in order to remain in control:

“I knew then that I could not look at her anymore. I pinpointed immediately that it was the visual stimulation that triggered my impulsive urges. My dangerous wants. The way her body responded to me was too wonderful and too tempting. I searched instantly for a focus point, anything but the feminine curve of her waist, the rise of her breasts and the flare of her hips as our bodies joined. I scanned the room, settling my eyes on the colorful flower petals carefully stitched on the pillowcase directly next to her head.

Salvation. I focused on that pillow and proceeded again, slightly faster. Feeling her tense again as whimpers continued to fall from her lips.”

One by one, he denies the sensations that threaten his restraint (and by extension, Bella’s life), until he finds a way to rid himself of his more dangerous impulses. The culmination of the story lies in Edward’s defeat of those impulses, and in the lovers’ celebration of that defeat and their mutual love. Though Isle Esme is ostensibly an idealized lemon, it’s also completely realistic in the sense that so much of the action takes place in the biggest sex organ of all: the narrator’s mind. Though this is canon Edward, inherently conflicted and expressive, he’s all male. Heady stuff from a genre too easily dismissed as “only fanfiction”. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

If you’re interested in more lemons with a strong, uniquely male perspective, check out some of Vixen1836’s other work: in particular, the white-hot raw lust of Mistletoe Manipulation and the one-shots from Black and White. These stories form an interesting contrast to Isle Esme’s vampire in love, as Mistletoe Manipulation is pure arrogant chauvinism from an alpha male perspective and Black and White bridges the two extremes.

Note: Black and White is not available in its entirety at the moment, having been taken down for publication, but you can find the powerful, compelling, and utterly sexy one-shots on Vixen1836’s site at Trust me—you’ll never look at plain white sheets the same way again.

WickedCicada is the author of Recapitulation, has mad love for the PowerPuff girls and most importantly one of the best women I know within the fandom. xo Nina


roglows said...

that really was a fantastic lemon; wickedcicada's recap is making me want to go read it again...

stacy said...

The scene lacking in the book that so many readers wanted to know more about, is quite an expectation to live up to and therefore, a very difficult project to undertake.

Vixen1836 explored it on a whole new level of analytical, the "masochistic lion", and physical love. The character's emotions and highly observant vampiric thoughts only added to the sexy times, creating a mutli-dimentional lemon.

K, that was stated beautifully. You broke it down with your usual thoroughness and eloquence--and lets not forget the dash of humor that we're all nodding our heads over.

Thanks for writing. More readers should check out Isle Esme!


Rosette said...

I loved your review of this beautiful story. I think both were done wonderfully. :)

babette said...

Ah, yes, bug, this is a most excellent lemon. Of course, Vixen is the author that made me want to stay reading fanfiction, so I recommend anything she writes.

As usual, your words are just as wonderful. You truly brought out what I love about Vixen's writing, that she makes use of that largest sex organ...

bower-of-bliss said...

Isle Esme was my introduction for Twi fanfics. I firmly believe that it should be printed out and inserted into every copy of Breaking Dawn owned by anyone of "Legal Age". It was everything the honeymoon scene should have been.