Sunday, February 20, 2011

Perv Pack Pick: She Gives Me Religion by Liz Lemon Bennett


The Perv Pack Pick is....


Title: She Gives Me Religion
Author: Liz_Lemon_Bennett
Chapters: 7
Words: 68,423
Reviews: 310
Summary: Hot-headed seminary student, Edward Masen meets just widowed bride Bella Swan. EPOV: AU/AH Entry for the 2010 Cherry Exchange/First Time Author Award>

Chele - This is amazing. What happens when you combine tragedy, faith, sex, agony, humor, friendship and love? You get , a story which stimulates your mind, makes your heart swell, and your pants explode.

I fell madly in love with Edward within a few short paragraphs. He is an exercise in complexity; quirky, funny, startlingly serious. One glimpse of him mid-traffic tells us so much.

I focus through prayer, "Lord, help me to be your instrument on this important day. Guide me to assist Carlisle as we do your work in your name. Help me to tame my temper—SHIT!" A car passes too closely and splashes water over my jeans. "Watch it asshole!" I yell at the distancing car. Fortunately my Oxford shirt stays dry. I need to look half-decent for today. "Sorry, God—where was I? Oh yeah, help me to tame my temper…"

The balance of religion and one’s internal struggle with faith in the face of trauma is just, beyond good here. It's real and tangible. I've read other fic where similar themes were dealt with, but it all felt highbrow, and detached. This is right in you, gripping your heart, holding you up.

Because this was initially a Cherry Exchange contest entry, I don’t think it’s giving too much away when I say there is smut in the first chapter. Oh, yes pervs. There is good, good, lovely smut. As tragedy is revealed early, I thought - how’s Liz_Lemon_Bennett going to pull that off? Needless to say, she does. She made a believer out of me. It is lovely and good, and smoking hot, and it doesn’t end there. Throughout the story’s progression, she explores Edward and Bella as people whose sexuality has been awakened at a time and circumstance which could easily be seen as wrong, but is, in fact, perfectly right.

The characterizations top notch, each appearance and interaction moves the story forward. Even the tertiary players have have lush, vivid characterizations.

Sue Clearwater is a woman made of steel, covered in thick layers of soft fleece; it is easy to be weak in her presence. One gets the sense that she would find a way to float to the top of the most turbulent

Just beautiful.

I will warn you, this fic is addictive. There is a simplicity and a beauty that takes you over. The ebb and flow of intensity is so smooth, you won’t want to stop reading until you run out of chapters. Then you’ll shake your fists in the air and scream “Mooooooore!!!!!”

Emmy - I love this fic, and not just because it has cum-play in it, (one of my fave things) (seriously - Jeanne and Chele were telling me I had to read this fic for it, see how supportive and helpful my perv’s are?). The cherry popping scene from which this fic was born is very well done. Edward’s done his homework, even not knowing what/when it would be for. For Bella and Edward this love scene is about more than losing it - its about finding something you didn’t even realise you needed.

I think of the things I love best about this story is the subtle humour in it. There are odd lines that are almost throwaway, these are hilarious, and just tickle me the right way! They are subtle and very clever and are one of the many things that lift this fic.

This Edward? So ruddy cute. Seriously he is adorable - hesitant, unsure, eager, well-intentioned, hopelessly hooked on Bella. But he is also sexy. He’s repressed without it being weird, he’s clued in to sex through modern media without being a jumpy, sweaty freak. He’s divine - as he has the sweetest soul. Just a delight to read about.

The religious aspects might put some people off this fic. Please don’t let it let you. This fic is too good. I’m not a big fan of organised religion, (don’t shoot me, I AM British) but I like the fact that this story talks about the values and morals of being a good citizen, of being a good friend, of being a good person, of being a good lover (& I don’t mean in terms of skills) - I mean in terms of soul. And THAT is what I find interesting about this fic. Its a very neat twist on canon, in the orig Edward is originally fear to make Bella lose her soul as he is sure he has no soul, this story to me is the exploration of soul and destiny.

The supporting cast in She Gives Me Religion are top-notch. I am in love with this Alice, she has all the right ingredients of canon Alice, and NONE of the annoying OTT fanfic caricature traits! PHEW! This Carlisle? Perfect, I want to hug him for being so fabbio.

Importantly (for me!) I actually like this Bella, she’s appealing, her grief and trauma is SO convincingly portrayed, as is her genuinely deep feelings for Edward. This Bella is not whiny - even though there is lots she could be whinging about.. She’s a good friend, a caring daughter and a nice person. She certainly wants to be a good girlfriend/lover to Edward given half the chance. This Bella is a realistic and sympathetic portrayal. I am rooting for her.

Jeanne - Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been...well, I don’t think I’ve ever been to confession, but I have sinned Big Time. Yep, I am the one that’s responsible for recommending this fic to the other pervs. Not only is it an Ed/Bella fic, I think it’s WussPerv safe. WTF self? Despite these egregious flaws, She Gives Me Religion is one of the best new Twi fics out there. That is no exaggeration, if anything I’m being generous to other fics.

Liz_Lemon_Bennett wrote the first chapter for the Cherry Exchange and she won the prize for 1st Time Author. It was a well deserved award for a very talented writer (that I plan to watch closely). It takes balls and skills to write a complex story like She Gives Me Religion.

Edward and Bella meet on what has to be the worst day of Bella’s life. Everything in their lives is stacked against them having anything but a superficial acquaintance. Despite all the real world obstacles, they find a connection with each other that helps Bella hang on at her weakest of moments. Somehow through the hazy of grief and pain, Bella and Edward don’t just form a bond, they fall in love.

I mean, seriously if anyone had told me the set up for this fic I would have laughed in their face and never read it. That’s why I’m not bothering to tell you what it is, because they don’t matter. Whatever the circumstances, though they are compelling and well written, what matters is this Edward and Bella fit together.

Edward sees and feels this from the first moment he meets Bella. That surety, and confidence in his love for her is one of his most endearing qualities. That and his need to make mental lists that are hilarious, beautiful and very telling of how determined he is to do things “the right way.” Honestly, if Edward wasn’t so fucking charming, and earnest he’d be creepy, but he is so not. His love for Bella is so...pure. There’s no other word for it.

1-When she leaves, give phone number for 'counsel and friendship.'
2-If call, go to funeral
3-If no call, give 2 weeks before calling (coffee date?)
4-Build friendship for 1yr
5-after yr1, graduate seminary, start to woo, marry her
6-Don't compete with Mike
7-NEVER EVER call when drunk
8-If she dates others—don't blow up- 'normal' people need sex, she'll be yours in the end

Bella is helpless to his tenacious loving, and by that, I mean his caring for her during her grieving. Now, I know what you’re about to say. You’re worried that the Bella’s going to be a little too close to canon. All needy, and whine and crap. I know, I was worried too. Fear not, Liz_Lemon_Bennett has written on of my favorite Bellas ever! She is so real you can practically see her bleeding on the page. This is the strong, maternal woman that Bella Swan should have matured into. A caretaker that sadly lacks the ability to truly care for herself, until someone (Edward) steps in and forces her to accept his care right when she needs it the most.

That’s what makes this story so compelling. Seeing the push and pull of Edward and Bella. Watching, and loving how naturally their love progress, toppling even the highest of road block to push them towards what will inevitably be a HEA. Not because we hope it to be or that the author has promised it, but because you can see it within both of them in that first chapter. These two people are in love, not fancy, candy coated, Disney love. REAL, part-of-my-soul, I-can’t-remember-how-to-breathe-when-you’re-not-in-the-room LOVE. Finding that kind of love, so beautifully and believably portrayed, is rare even in a fandom where it’s written about everyday.

Jen - When Jeanne rec’d this fic to the Pack I started reading immediately and absolutely devoured the six chapters that were posted at the time. There was much flailing as I read. It’s such a wonderful mix of seriousness and lightness, utter despair and the most divine joy, innocence and sex on legs.

Edward the seminary student is caught in the awkward position of feeling attracted to the widowed bride he’s tasked with offering support to in the hospital’s Family Room. Edward has the most adorable internal dialogue, and even though it should be wrong to hope that he’ll get together with Bella, his ongoing self-talk makes you feel better about it.

I take a step back to collect myself, to shake free of these thoughts. Dear Lord, forgive me for such lustful thoughts I have towards this injured being… this child of yours who I am here to help, in service to you. God forgive me for my aching desire to touch her, to taste her… sorry. I'll pull it together.

Bella is more broken than Edward understood from the basic information he had about her. Not only was her brand new husband killed while they were on the way to the reception, but she was trying to cope with the knowledge that he’d cheated on her and led his parents to believe that it was Bella who cheated. As Edward struggles to balance offering comfort to Bella with his growing attraction, Bella struggles with grief at Mike’s death, relief that he’s died, and anger at Mr. & Mrs. Newton.

I know we’re the Perv Pack and I’m supposed to be talking about the smut, but I have to say how much I love this Edward and his good, good heart. He takes counseling so earnestly, and wants to do a good job for many reasons: for himself, for God, for Bella, and to impress his mentor. He has such admiration for his mentor, Carlisle. His faith is strong yet he also questions things. He’s got a two year plan for wooing Bella. How cute is he?!

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I can properly flail about the amazing UST in the first chapter and the instant connection between Bella and Edward. As Chele said, I was so glad this was an entry in the Cherry Exchange contest because it wasn’t a matter of would they our won’t they, it was just a matter of when.

They’re virgins but that doesn’t prevent them from being comfortable with their bodies and sexuality.

I reach between her legs to find her wetness, cooling and sticky from before mixed with warm and thin. Someday soon, I will lick her dry. I can't help myself; I put my fingers in my mouth-salty, tangy honey. Liquid Bella.

"Damn, that's hot-just when I thought I couldn't get any wetter…" She pulls me down and kisses me, moaning into my mouth. I'm on fire from my navel to my knees. I rub the head of my cock over her clitoris, because I read it's supposed to feel good for both of us-which it does-and, well, just because I want to.

I don’t know any seminary students, so maybe I am way off base, but I was surprised--and aroused--by Edward saying he’d lick her dry followed by sucking the taste of her off of his fingers. And then Bella, virgin widow-bride, exclaiming how hot it was?! They’re adorable and sexy. Even better: Edward has read Maxim for sex tips. Love. Him.

Liz_Lemon_Bennett’s wonderful writing expresses the full gamut of human emotion. There’s anger, sorrow, warm paternal love (Charlie is super), the protectiveness of a fiercely loyal friend (Alice’s canon attributes are captured without resorting to cliche), grief, turned on, and of course, growing love. None of these things seem forced or like they don’t belong in the same story. is an absolutely fantastic story that will both make your heart sing and your lady parts tingle.

Jess - As a general rule, I really love fics that have strong religious overtones. I like watching as people struggle to reconcile what they believe with the challenges they face on a daily basis. This is exactly what happens in .

Edward is a seminary student who shadows Carlisle at the local hospital. On the day this story begins, Edward is called in to help support the survivors of a car accident. This is where he meets Bella. She is the bride and new widow of Mike Newton, the groom, who was killed in the car accident. We see her sitting alone, wearing a black coat over her blood-stained wedding dress. Edward sees her and attempts to connect with her. She is quiet, withdrawn, but they are both drawn to each other.

We see Edward struggle with lustful and confusing thoughts as he tries to comfort her. He is immensely attracted to her but knows he should keep his distance. After all, he’s just a seminary student, and she is newly widowed, but physical chemistry and raw sexual need often override logic. They find themselves inextricably linked and the pull between them wins.

It’s no secret that they have sex (as this was a Cherry Exchange entry), but watching it play out was utterly divine. You can see the concern, the need to give and protect her in Edward’s restraint. But Bella’s need to feel something other than pain and grief and sadness wins, and they do it. Like really do it in all the cherry poppin’ goodness we’d expect to see. Just... yeah.

I also appreciated how well developed her other characters are. Alice is more than just her “normal” pixie self. She’s Bella’s best friend, someone who fights for and supports her mightily. She immediately latches on to Edward and uses him to do her bidding while she’s in the hospital. Even Charlie, Bella’s father, and Sue Clearwater, who looks to be Charlie’s girlfriend, play critical roles in this story. The usual players aren’t present, and for whatever reason, I like that.

Liz Lemon Bennett has done an amazing job crafting a story that is full of USTy goodness and intensely sensual and sexual moments while not ignoring the deep struggles Edward faces with his self-talk (which is absolutely hysterical) or the pain Bella has to work through at the events that transpired between her and Mike before the wedding.

This story is vivid and very well-written. I am dying for another update. The last one - can I just say total emotional breakdown spurred on by Edward pushing her to the emotional brink followed by very hot, agonizingly intense sex in the woods - left me positively breathless and gasping. This story, shamefully, doesn’t have many reviews, but it is an amazing read.

Trin - A potty mouthed seminary student with a heart of gold and the body of a god...ummm sign me up please. is a beautifully written story of finding true love in the wake of tragedy as well as grappling with religious ideals.

Liz Lemon Bennett introduces us to characters that we automatically care about as soon as we read their first lines. She is able to convey that Edward is not only protective of Bella but cares for her so deeply that at times I feel my chest swelling with pride for him. Throughout much of the story Bella is not eating due to stress and and Edward continues to help her through her struggles.

Filled with my concern for her, I vow to convalesce her, protect her, and chase her nightmares away. I will feed her—turn her into my little butterball Bella. I will be anything she wants me to be. Fuck, I'd be a rodeo clown if she asked me.

I was already smitten, but the “little butterball Bella” had me head over heels. As with most of Edward’s internal dialogue it is kind and hilarious...and usually filled with expletives.

The religious aspect of this story doesn’t feel forced, nor does it seem that it is mocking one’s relationship with God and their beliefs. I have read a number of stories that I feel use the negative aspects of organized religion as a catalyst for acting out. really shows two people who love God and each other and how they try to figure out how to deal with that. It is a beautiful story that has me completely addicted.

Teal - I don’t even know where to start with this story. Of course, my fellow Pervs have said so much, and there’s the fact that I love this story sooooooo much that it’s hard for me to pinpoint just one thing about it that makes me swoon and squee. I suppose I’ll just begin with the premise of this fic. Wow. When I read the first chapter and original one-shot of this story, I was incredibly impressed with what a great idea this was, especially for the Cherry Exchange contest. Sure, it’s easy to come up with a fic idea that plays off canon or deals with high school (or even college) aged characters, but to develop a believable premise where two young adults, post-college, were still virgins was really quite impressive. From there, the meeting and near-instant bond between Edward and Bella was compelling, exciting, and so wonderfully believable.

This is one of those fics that made me so grateful for my BlackBerry. Seriously, if I’d had to go all day without being able to read this story while I was in the middle of it, I think I would have gone crazy. Instead, I was glued to my phone on every break and elevator ride I took. (Hey, don’t judge me. I see you checking your email on your smartphone in the middle of dinner.) Point being, I was addicted.

The struggles both characters go through is such a huge part of what develops between them and the way they find themselves leaning on one another. It’s also enough to make you believe that love at first sight (or at least falling in love after one day of knowing someone) really is possible. As Bella puts up a strong front to face her in-laws and comfort all of her belated husband’s friends, Edward is the one who recognizes that she needs an emotional release she’s not able to get elsewhere. And as Edward comes to terms with the sudden upheaval of everything he thought his life was going to be, Bella shows him that faith and family both have many faces, and that he will be okay, even if his life goes off track.

Each character has a long way to go to find their new direction, but it’s clear that in finding one another, they’ll make it a much more fulfilling journey.

Best of all (at least to a Perv), the intensity of emotion that these characters share gives way to some hot Hot HOT action. There really is something special about a man who will fuck you silly up against a tree, then lick the dirt and blood from your knuckles. Rawr. Where do I sign up for one of these sweet and strong pastor-type hotties? =)


Liz Lemon Bennett said...

I am speechless. Shocked. I had no idea my little story would ever cross the paths of the PPSS Goddesses. Gratitude is pouring out me.

Sunshine said...

Ditto to everything the PPSS said! I love Liz's Edward. His self-deprecation, his self-doubting, and his ability to always do the good thing regardless of the other two traits. Read, read, read this funny & fulfilling story!

robsjenn said...

You Pervs are the best! Thanks for reviewing what is currently topping my WIP faves right now, and for hitting all the reasons I love it so (Edward's snarky yet disarming charm, Bella not being annoying, one of the best Alices and even a fab Sue). Liz's story is so original, heartfelt, and moving, and could her Edward be any sexier?!

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite WIPs and I absolutely agree with all the praise here! Love it!!!!