Friday, September 26, 2014

Merlin Club: The Eye of the Phoenix or The One Where Two Beloved 80s Movies Collide

Okay my loves, this post is going to be considerably shorter than usual, because I’m the Plague Maiden. And mostly all I can do is cough and sleep.

Okay, so Arthur goes on what’s basically a vision quest so he can figure out what quest he has to fulfill in order to be worthy of succeeding Uther. After spending the night on his knees he knows that he has to travel through the Perilous Lands to the kingdom of the Fisher King and retrieve his trident all by his lonesome as proof that he’s awesome and king-worthy. 
So Gaius tells Merlin that it’s super dangerous for Arthur to do this. That no one has emerged from the Perilous Lands alive. Merlin decides that even though Arthur is supposed to perform the quest alone, he’s going to follow him. 

 Meanwhile, Morgana meets up with Morgause who’s disguised as an old woman in the town market.  They’ve devised a new plot to kill Arthur.  Morgause gives Morgana a bracelet and tells her to enchant it with the spell she taught her. Gwen, who was at the market with Morgana, is way suspicious. 
That night, Morgana casts her spell on the bracelet and gives it to Arthur in the morning. He blithely rides to the border of Perilous Lands. In order to enter them, he has to cross a bridge and the bridge keeper is WILLOW!!! Anyway, Willow, who’s called something else in this episode, tells him that he’s courage, but he’ll need strength and magic in order to fulfill his quest. Arthur, rather disdainfully, tells him that he doesn’t condone the use of magic. And Willow tells him to suck it up, the rules are different here. 

So Arthur crosses the rickety bridge and enters a barren wasteland. The magically enchanted bracelet of doom is sapping his strength and he nearly drowns in quicksand just like Artax in The Sad Horse Movie aka The Neverending Story. But Arthur makes it out and continues his struggles. 

Here...Have some sad horse pictures from the movie that ruined your childhood. I'll wait...while you weep.

Merlin hits up every tavern until he finds what he’s looking for. Which is Gwaine. They escape a beating to some jaunty background music. It seems Gwaine cheated some dudes and they wanted their money. Gwaine agrees to help, but he makes it clear that he’s helping Merlin rather than Arthur. 

Back at Camelot, Morgana’s behavior toward Gwen has been questionable. So Gwen hides in her room and observes her practicing magic. When Gwen’s able, she goes to Gaius and tells him what she’s seen. 
Merlin and Gwaine reach to the bridge and meet Willow. He says that magic and strength have arrived. Merlin tries to deny it, but Willow is all, this is your quest not Arthur’s (which is frankly kind of not cool) and lets them pass after turning Gwaine’s sword into to some cheap looking Easter lilies. (It changes back after he crosses the bridge.)

They cross the wasteland and see a castle tower in the distance with wyverns circling it and Arthur making his way to the gate while the wyverns are clearly hunting him. He makes it inside and drops the portcullis. But the wyverns are crafty and get in anyway. 

Arthur is growing weaker and is unable to fight off the beasts. He passes out,  but Merlin makes it in there just in time and sends a couple wyverns away with his Dragon Lord voice (and Jess’ panties fell off) then takes the enchanted bracelet off Arthur and he wakes up. 

Arthur is all pissed because he’s supposed to be doing this alone. Then Gwaine busts in and stabs the one wyvern that was approaching and Arthur is prissier because Gwaine is there too. They all set off to find the trident of the Fisher King and Merlin (thanks to stepping on a trap) gets separated from them and locked in the throne room. 

As it turns out, the Fisher King was a live and had been for centuries. It seems he was waiting for Merlin so he could give Merlin some water from the Lake of Avalon. But doesn’t tell him how to use it, just says something cryptic about it. Then tells Merlin he owes him a gift. And of course, that gift is death. He puts the cursed bracelet on the king, and the man blows away into magical dust and Arthur and Gwaine are finally able to enter the room.

Arthur finds the trident and they all ride for Camelot. Gwaine leaves them at the border and Arthur swears Merlin to secrecy about his having been with him. Morgana sees Arthur return and drops her goblet in shock that he’s still alive. Morgana’s shock is witnessed by Gwen. And Merlin tells Gaius about the Avalon water.

Fin. for the questions. 
1. If I’d written this episode...I would have maybe, oh, I don't know, had Arthur notice the glowing bracelet of doom.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved seeing Willow. Or you know, whatever his name was in here. Hated the really obvious diversion from Arthur's normal character. Okay, Arthur can be a total dick. No question. But in the end, he always pulls through and does the right thing. Even if it's uncomfortable for him and causes other problems. He does this stuff because it's the right thing to do. But at the end of this, he's totally down with lying about having completed his quest alone and unaided. And from the dialogue between him and Merlin, it's not because he's trying to protect Merlin or Gwaine. He's not owning up so he can be done with his quest and move on. This is very unlike that Arthur we've come to know over the last two and a half seasons. 
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. How it seems like Merlin should have known what wyverns were since they're all dragon related and he's a Dragon Lord. Now, Jess did point out that the previous Dragon Lord died before imparting a whole lot of info to Merlin, but so much of his DL skills were instinctive, it seems that this should have been, too.
4. Favorite Costume. Okay, I know Gwaine's not really a costume, per say...

Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. I didn't create it, but it's clear to me that Merlin and Gwaine could be getting it on. 
What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? I think it was when Merlin was waking Arthur up after stealing the bracelet of doom.
What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? I'm gonna go with Merlin not knowing what wyverns were. 
Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cover Reveal for Ex Retreat!

Warning: This book contains a geeky, secretly insecure but overly cocky handy-man with a penchant for pleasing, a dominatrix in training who’s on the rebound, and enough smut to strip a couple layers off your soul. Plus there’s mac n’ cheese with a smattering of self-actualization for good measure. 

After Chloe Barrons’ fiancé cheats on her via webcam, she begrudgingly accepts her Type-A mother’s offer of a spur of the moment luxury spa weekend. But things don’t play out quite from point A to point B when she arrives drunk and disoriented on the front porch of a deserted North Carolina beach house. From the very start she’s caught off guard by Noah Knightly, a sinfully sexy, self-proclaimed committment-phobe who’s a handyman for his sister’s relationship rehabilitation center—a rehab where Chloe is the sole guest during off-season. 

But faced with temptation, to stay guarded she’ll have to call the shots.

Noah Knightly shouldn’t have taken Chloe’s reservation. But in need of a second pair of hands to fix up the beach house, he throws all his sister’s rules out the window. Soon he worries that maybe he’s bitten off more than he can chew: each day Chloe cracks more of his cocky façade bringing down his guards to reveal a stuttering geek who has a hidden will to please her in any way possible.

With no way to ignore her pain, Noah sets himself up as a guinea pig to prove to Chloe that not all men are created equal—in or out of the bedroom. As Chloe comes into her own through every sexual session, Noah needs to decide if he’s man enough to accept the one thing he never thought he wanted—love.


With a reserve of energy she didnt feel, Chloe bounded up from the bed. Not the best idea, considering her brains penchant for rattling around in her skull the minute she moved because of her hangover. Maybe she could get Noah to make a Bloody Mary to take the edge off before she left? Chloe climbed the plush carpeted stairs back up into the living room.
Since it looks like well be spending a bit of time together, care to enlighten me on why you took a reservation when its off season and your sister wasnt even here to run it?
Chloe sat back across from him and took a slow drink of her juice, using the added time to get a closer look at his slightly freckled face. Cute. Whatever attraction rose up tightening her throat she quickly squashed it down. A man had gotten her here in the first place. If it wasnt for her mothers penchant for psychological healing, without the aid of television and a quart of ice creamshe would be surrounded by piles of good books, take-out, and new workout DVDs she wouldnt attempt to use for a solid month.
When Noah caught her watching him, she deflected her stare to the bookcase behind his head, cringing at the A to Z self-help tomes. When she came out of rehab she might have more of a complex than when she went in last night.
Didnt feel like turning down company. Plus I could use the extra hands around the house getting the place weatherproofed for hurricane season.
Chloe had to cover her mouth to keep from shooting citrus out of her nose.
Nice plan, right? He waggled his dark brows and took another bite of bacon.
You purposely let me come here because you were looking for a playmate while you babysat the house?
Youre much more fun than building model cars and searching for the meaning of life.
Gee, thanks.
Plus, I won the genetic jackpot. Youre quite the looker, he said it offhand, meeting her eyes, and winking with darkness in his gaze that left nothing to imagination.
What are you, sixty years old?
That was a compliment, in case youve never heard one.
Yeah, great going, complimenting a woman who probably just got out of a debilitating relationship, is emotionally vulnerable, and ready to kick some ass. What a charmer you are, Noah.
He cleared his throat, picked up his plate, and headed toward the kitchen. Despite her resolve to let his comment slide off her back, shed opened her big mouth. But more than anything she wished she could close her eyes to get the image of his fine ass out of her mind as the swinging door closed behind him. Pathetic didnt cover it. She needed another dictionary definition. What were the odds of finding a dictionary in this house?
Was she even thinking about staying? The idea was idiotic at best. In a house with a total stranger in the middle of nowhere for any span of timewhen did that choice go from youre crazy, to eh, its workable? The fact that she managed to miss kind of a big decision when she was the one making the choice in the first place made her feel like shed come to the right place for her discombobulated mental state. Yetshe trusted her gut. There was something to womens intuition and Noah didnt scream psycho killer. Of course, she didnt think they made a t-shirt for that type of thing. But either way her first layer of apprehension peeled back with the knowledge that she had basic knowledge of self-defense and there were plenty of knick-knacks around the house to double as weapons should the need crop up.
It would be an adventure, right? He wasnt keeping her here. She could leave and walk awayliterallyat any time.
Oh, by the way—”
Noah stuck half his body through the swinging door, large fingers splayed across the pastel green paint. He licked his lips, mouth shaping into a wolfish grin that left her fingers twisting together in her lap. Noah raised one of his hands in the air.
One, Ive been told Im not relationship material. Two, Im great rebound sex in case there isnt anything else in this boarded up hole to occupy your mind. And last, but not least, if you want to kick my ass on behalf of my species thats all well and goodIm a gentleman, Ill let youbut you bet your sweet ass youll be playing nursemaid afterward. And thats with the kinky outfit, or no deal.
There were no words. Chloe sat there without a single retort even close to her mouth. Was he kidding? Before she could regain her senses hed popped his head back into the kitchen, and water ran in a loud rush. Almost, but not quite, blocking out the joy in his gruff laughter as it echoed through the door. Gentleman, yeah that was a joke. He was a gentleman like Rhett Butler wasnt a cadand Rhett was the best bad boy of em all.
She should know, shed only watched that movie over a hundred times growing up because it had the prettiest cover in her mothers old movie collection. No matter what, Rhett was a cad. And, though she tried not to be flustered, Noah gave off the same swarthy I-know-what-you-look-like-without-your-clothes-on vibe.
So what if shed tried a relationship with the solid, wet-blanket, Ashley type and that hadnt exactly worked out? That didnt mean a damn thing.
Plan on throwing me any other fastballs? Or are we not speaking because I dared to mention how beautiful your smile is and hurt your girl power pride?
His voice shook her out of her reverie.
You havent even seen me fully smile.
Ive seen the ghost of one. Maybe if we keep playing this getting to know each other game Ill get to see more. What do you think?
He wiped his damp hands on his jeans leaving dark smudges that led Chloes eye elsewhere. She crossed her arms, determined to pay attention to the hideous, metal deep sea fish sculpture on the wall.
I think that you havent given me jack squat to go off of in terms of getting to know you. I also think, Noah, that its probably in your best interest to start chatting, otherwise these hands might not feel like working.
Please tell me those hands will be doing other, more delightful things, he practically purred, clutching his heart. Oh, also, unless youre a shrink, there isnt much else to do around here. No radios or TV. Consider yourself promoted to first foreman. Better than reading the self-help crap, right?
Oh will you can it? Jesus, Im not sleeping with you!
He shrugged, making the move mean far more than it should have, while also showing off the hard muscles in his chest.
I never really asked, did I?
She couldnt help itshe made a pure noise of frustration and glared sharp, lethal icepicks his way. What did he do? Only the second most infuriating thing ever after all his cheesy come-ons. Noah threw up his hands in front of his body making a mocking face filled with fake terror. Eyes wide, mouth an o, he sprinted to the corner folding his large frame until he cowered hiding his face in between his knees. Heaven help her, a bubble of laughter floated out through her mouth and broke into pieces.
Youre hopeless.
Noah peeked his head out from his lap with a goofy grin.
That impressed you, huh? Didnt know your host took several unwanted years of drama in high school in order to make up for failing math grades. Pretty genius performance, wasnt it? Might have won me an Oscar.
Well, there was her first tidbit into the brain of her new hoter, host. When Noah stood up from his crouch he quickly stretched his arms up above his head, leaving a delectable piece of pale flesh with a smattering of dark, treasure trail hair leading beneath his jeans. Chloe snapped her eyes away and thinned her lips pretending to adjust on the coach and folding her legs up under her.
Youre getting better.
At what?
Nothing. You ready for your lesson on how were going to work together to keep this place in tip-top shape?
Do I get to say no?
He made an obnoxious beeping noise in the back of his throat that sounded like a game show buzzer.
Wrong answer. But you do get handy demonstrations, your own tool belt, and dinner tonight if you do a good job.
Do I get a gold star, too?
I can probably figure something out for you.
Noah snatched her hand, a shock to her system tightening all the muscles in her upper arm. His warm palm engulfed her whole hand. Was this what it had been like when hed carried her inside last night? Had she folded up in his arms like she fit? She swallowed and met his serious look.
Come on, Ive got a whiteboard downstairs.
Chloe couldnt deny his excitement. When he pulled her up and raced them down the stairs she followedtelling herself it was only because he would have dragged her anyway. But when he pulled her into a spare bedroom, it had been converted into an office with a white board that took up three of the four walls, her mind was boggled. Not one inch of board was free.
Youve been busy.
Chloe took in the myriad of checklists, bullet points, and definitions scrawled in a neat sloping hand. One of the notations caught her eye. The roof needed fixing? He wanted her up on a slope a million feet in the air? Oh, that was priceless. With a careful eye she tried to stuff the overload of information into her brain.
You need to be trained.
Noah took a seat in the office chair, swiveling his body around a few times before he came to a full stop with his long legs stretched out. His hands were laced together in the middle of his chest, while he regarded her with an expression she couldnt quite placeand probably didnt want to think too hard. She went back to studying the notations.
This is almost everything you need to know about construction and what well be doing as early as tonight. Think you can handle it all?
At least hed given her a head startwith his help a day of intense study might be enough to keep her safe. Besides, the busywork could keep her mind in the right place and off of any thoughts of the ex. She could admitbegrudginglythat she kind of couldnt wait to see Noah in a tool belt, shirtless, and a little dewy with sweat. His verbal banter wouldnt hurt as a distraction either. With a long exhale, she shoved the thought into a little box, readying herself for the oncoming storm.

            Bio: Elise Hepner lives with two spastic cats and a very supportive, slightly crazy husband. There is never a dull moment in the house, unless the caffeine runs out, which it never does. She's a multi-published erotica author with Cleis Press, Ellora's Cave, Xcite, and Secret Cravings Publishing.

She's driven by her tea addiction and a tiny stuffed turtle her husband picked up from Disney World that sits on her desk and "supervises" her work.
When not writing (which is rare), she's watching countless hours of reality television, playing the Sims or shopping online. Plus there's that odd obsession with the color purple. Everything is purple. Visit Elise at her website to keep up with her naughty ramblings, random tidbits and future work.
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