Praised as "Feminist Fiction" by IndieReader, "The Art of Worship" Won its 2018 Discovery Award
We talk a lot, in romance, about empowering our heroines. So much of what I read still misses the mark. Typical romances still make heroes better at nearly everything, compared to heroines. Heroes tend to have more prestigious jobs, are more likely to be self-made if they're wealthy, tend to have more grit, wit, foresight and problem-solving skills. They're more comfortable sexually and are generally in better harmony with their bodies.
Not only is this imbalanced--it strays so far from reality as to be truly odd. Men are insecure (duh). Men have body image issues. Men worry about sexual performance. They have money problems and, contrary to what the romance genre would have you believe, they're not all rich. And plenty of men are only too happy to be outfoxed, outshined, outdone and thoroughly loved by bad-ass women. So, yes--I LOVE it when people call my work feminist fiction.
In many ways, "The Art of Worship" is a lovely tale of male insecurity--teenage virgin Reed is nervous about doing the deed with his girlfriend, Aubrey. They are both virgins, but Reed in particular feels pressure to perform (which brings in toxic social conditioning related to masculinity). Enter Preston, Reed's father, who intends to set him straight about sex and give his son a long-form version of "the talk" through many shared conversation. Reed thinks he'll be getting technique tips from his father, but it turns into a much bigger lesson about how to be in a healthy sexual relationship, and how to be the kind of partner who sets a high bar for how Aubrey will expect to be treated by all her partners in life.
IndieReader said in its review:
"Readers looking for a tale that blends soft-core sex, romance, humor, and feminism will enjoy THE ART OF WORSHIP.
"The sex scenes themselves, which make up most of the book, are steamy and only every so often is there a word or phrase that causes a grimace rather than a sigh. It’s a difficult momentum to keep, but Blades does it well. The story itself may come off as just a sexy romp if it weren’t for the theme of love tying all the trysts together. Yes, Preston and Reed both may own the secrets to sexual prowess, but they each only have eyes for their prospective lovers, leaving readers with a feeling far more romantic than erotic when they turn the last page in this short but sweet novella."
"The Art of Worship" is so non-traditional and doesn't fit cleanly into any genre. This kind of book is hard-pressed to win mainstream awards. For that reason, I truly appreciate IndieReader for giving it voice. I'm glad this book is getting out there, and happy to accept any accolades I can around my choice to write feminist fiction. I'm delighted to accept the win for "The Art of Worship" in Erotica in the 2018 IndeiReader Discovery Award.