Saturday, September 1, 2012


Together in one volume, ArtiFactual: Tales of the Erotique Mystique. From the writing team of Alessia Brio and Will Belegon comes a vivid collection of stories of passion, adventure, and exotic toys. ArtiFactual includes favorites Erotique, Switch, Amichu, Closing Arguments, and the prequel At First in the continuing adventures of the playful and sexy couple, Amanda Long and Bruce Winfield.

ArtiFactual: Tales of the Erotique Mystique was a finalist in the 2007 Dream Realm Awards.

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EXCERPT after the cut...
Mandy sat at the small table in Appetites, sipping her coffee and looking through the observation window to the museum floor below. As the last of the day's customers fell into line to pay for their purchases, the annex slowly emptied of all but one. Eddie, his back to the café, gestured and talked to ... to nothing.

She recalled the day they returned from Chile with Amichu. He'd made a beeline for the very exhibit where he now sat, engaged in an animated discussion with--supposedly--her dead Aunt Vivian. No one had told him where she'd died. He just knew. Given her own experiences with the supernatural, Mandy didn't have a problem believing it. Most, if not all, of the artifacts in the museum seemed to possess a kind of memory--an erotic imprint of their history.

Even though Mandy couldn't feel Vivian's spectral presence, it didn't mean that Eddie couldn't ... or wouldn't ... or shouldn't. She hadn't exactly sought a connection with her late aunt's spirit, after all. Tales of people having such conversations with their dear departed were quite common. Most of the time, they were cathartic and helped people cope with their grief. When they reached the point of obsession, however, Mandy considered them counterproductive and even, to some extent, potentially dangerous.

She and Bruce discussed Eddie's preoccupation and agreed to give him ample time to adjust to his new home, new job, and new life without his only child. Olga's death obviously weighed very heavily on his mind.

As she drained the last of her coffee, Mandy bid Jay goodnight and exited the café directly onto the street. Although business hours ended almost an hour earlier, there were still a couple of reporters hanging out near its main entrance, and she was glad she'd opted to leave through Appetites.

Mandy slid behind the wheel of her car and took a deep breath before starting the engine. Between Eddie's obsession, the ridiculous lawsuit hassles, and Bruce's untimely absence, stress took its toll on her mood. She felt drained of energy and in serious need of some R&R. Since traffic wasn't typically an issue, given Erotique's odd business hours, Mandy engaged her auto pilot and drove home in an almost trance-like state. Her thoughts danced from subject to subject without digging deeply into any of them. As she pulled into the driveway, Mandy realized she had no recollections of the trip.

She dropped her keys into the stoneware bowl that had become their repository despite the fact that the four-hundred-year-old Kumeyaay artifact probably belonged in a museum far more conventional than the one she ran. They settled in the bottom and tangled themselves up with the keys to Bruce's truck. He'd left them behind, having no use for them and being far too likely to misplace them if he carried them to California. The blades of the two sets mingled and slid against each other in a way that did more to dampen Mandy's spirits than a dozen overeager reporters ever could. She missed her partner--her other half--and felt rather lost without him. Although she was glad he was accomplishing his goals, part of her only wanted him back, not caring why. On her way through the kitchen, she uncorked a bottle of wine to tame the selfish bitch inside.

Carrying a glass in one hand and the wine bottle in the other, she headed for the bedroom. Her business attire served as a nagging reminder of the issues facing Erotique, so Mandy wasted no time shedding those clothes. She stripped down to just her thong and--too tired to care--left her slacks, blouse, bra, and stockings in a pile on the floor. Opening the closet to extract her bathrobe, Mandy's gaze fell upon an array of neatly-pressed dress shirts. Passing the bar exam seemed to inspire Bruce to turn over a new fashion leaf, and he'd become quite meticulous about his professional clothing. She pulled a white oxford from its hanger and scrunched it to her face, seeking his scent but finding only the dry cleaner's starch.

Disappointed, but not dissuaded, Mandy carried the shirt into the bathroom and dabbed Bruce's aftershave under the collar. She slipped her arms into the shirt and rolled up its sleeves. It hung loosely from her frame, and Mandy hugged herself, imagining Bruce's strong arms around her.

She took a generous sip of the dry white as she freed her hair from its bonds, shaking it in thick waves across her shoulders. Bruce liked it that way, and the act made her feel somehow closer to him. He should be calling soon, she realized, glancing at the wall clock. It was almost midnight.

Returning to the bedroom, Mandy fetched the cordless phone and placed it on the nightstand along with her liquid relaxation. She fluffed the pillows and settled onto the bed--Bruce's side of the bed, where she slept when he was away. Turning on the television, she absently flipped through the channels while she waited for his call.

Mandy awoke with a start from a dream in which Bruce was laying next to her and whispering in her ear. The half-empty wine bottle sat on the table at her side as she reclined against the bed's headboard, wondering what time it was. Strangely, she thought she could still hear Bruce's voice over the snap as the crick in her neck undid itself.

"...figured that you might not still be awake, what with all the craziness going on back there. I'm sorry it's so late, baby. The judge's plans fell through, and she decided to share the misery. We got called back for a conference, and I just now got back to my hotel room. We can't get a good cell phone signal at the beach, but I'll call you as soon as..."

Shit! The answering machine! Mandy snatched the portable from the table and pushed the button before Bruce could finish saying good night. "Bruce? Honey, I'm here!"

"So you are. I catch you in the shower or something, baby?" The tone in Bruce's voice made it all too clear that he wouldn't really mind learning that Mandy was naked and wet as she talked to him.

"No, I lost track of how much wine I was drinking and how tired I was. But your voice woke me up, even when the ringing phone didn't. I miss you, counselor."

"I miss you, too, baby. And I'll miss you even more sitting on the beach by the fire with the sound of the waves crashing and the white flash of the foam against the dark of the sea. Have you ever made love on the beach at night, Man?"

"No," she drug out the vowel. "I assume you have, though. Maybe you can ... um ... describe it for me ... in vivid detail ... like, now. Maybe?"


  1. 5 Hearts from The Romance Studio:

    I found this a thoroughly delightful erotic romp, complete with adventure, plenty of sex, and a few mysteries. The unusual items for sexual pleasure were especially intriguing. Amanda and Bruce are well suited to each other, playing off each other’s strengths. They complement each other well. I found a touch of comedy in one chapter that really had me going. I laughed so hard tears streamed from eyes and it took me a few minutes to start reading again. I loved it! The amount of detail the authors use in describing the items in the museum and their backgrounds reflected a thorough of the subject matter, incorporated well into the story without reading as a lecture. I recommend this story to anyone looking for a hot read on the beach or in the bed. You’ll laugh with Bruce and Amanda, snarl with them, and solve the puzzles and mysteries as they wind their way toward each other and a great partnership.

  2. ARTIFACTUAL is a highly entertaining erotic tale about a pair of likable people and a very unusual erotic shop and museum. The sex is sizzling, the dialogue witty and the character interaction charming. Watching the relationship unfold between Mandy and Bruce from a close friendship in Erotique, to a completely committed couple in Closing Arguments is the best part of the anthology. However, the evolving mystery about Aunt Vivian, Erotique, the shop, and the "haunted" sexual apparatuses in the museum is just as enjoyable. Secondary characters are not really present in the first two stories, but Professor Eddie features prominently in Amichu and Closing Arguments, and Aunt Vivian may be dead, but she's never really far away. While the sex is hot in each story, the last two tales focus more on plot and characterization than on sex -- my favorite of them all is Switch. It was fun, different and extremely sensual.

    ARTIFACTUAL is an enjoyable collection of stories about a couple who are realistically and lovingly portrayed with enough sizzling sex to please any reader. Don't miss this fun and sexy read.

    - Isabelle Spencer for Romance Reviews Today

  3. RT Rating: 2 STARS
    Category: EROTICA
    These four stories follow the main characters as they discover the amazing time-travel properties of sexual artifacts, where they participate in consensual bondage, same-gender sex, masturbation and much oral sex. This fascinating premise is disappointingly undeveloped and the last story presents an anti-morality message that has the heroine appearing mean-spirited.

    Summary: In the first story, "Erotique," Mandy's great-aunt Vivian has passed on and left her the sex shop and museum, with the stipulation that she spend one night in the museum. Hands-on exhibits take on a new meaning when the magic they possess is revealed and Mandy shares the experience with her boyfriend, Bruce. In "Switch," a new sex toy apparently causes Mandy and Bruce to switch bodies. A trip to Easter Island reveals secrets about Aunt Vivian and puts Mandy and Bruce in danger in "Amichu." Then a lawsuit against the store places Mandy and Bruce at odds and "Closing Arguments" could destroy their relationship.

    —Susan Mobley for Romantic Times Book Reviews

  4. With the obvious success of the erotic adventures of Bruce and Mandy, Alessia Brio and Will Belegon have really pulled out all the stops to round this collection off perfectly. The newest addition to this series, Closing Arguments, is much longer than the rest but, I feel, is by far the best of the bunch.

    Hauntings, erotic, passionate scenes and intrigue are just a few of the treats awaiting you from one of the finest writer collaborations in the Erotic genre.

    - Carrie White for Sexography

  5. Mrs Giggles didn't care for ArtiFactual:

    ArtiFactual is a collection of the authors' previous standalone short stories featuring the Energizer-powered lovebirds Mandy and Bruce: Erotique, Switch, and Amichu. Also included is a brand new story, Closing Arguments. Needless to say, I strongly recommend purchasing this collection instead of the individual stories if you are new to the enthusiastic shagbunny adventures of Mandy and Bruce since you'll be getting more value for money here. Oh, and I finally learn Mandy's full name here - Amanda Long.

    This review will be solely on Closing Arguments since the other stories are already previously reviewed. I'm hoping that it will take off where Amichu ends but somehow we've moved forward and now our lovebirds are facing some legal issues. A "holier-than-thou bitch" Mary Elizabeth Snow bought a dildo from their store and is now suing them because the dildo apparently not only didn't do its job, it also "impaired her fertility" and "ruined her marriage prospects". I wonder how that dildo was used until it damaged her ovaries. Do I even want to know? That's just the tip of the iceberg for this story which is longer than the other stories. There are ghosts and more revelations about the late Aunt Viv's life and loves plus the introduction of some new friends. Contrary to its title, I don't think I will see the last of Mandy and Bruce after this story.

    As much as I find Closing Arguments a more substantial story, plot-wise, I am quite disappointed in how tame it is compared to the earlier adventures of Mandy and Bruce in Erotique and Switch. These two characters are still rather superficial and I don't know much about them to comment on them as characters even after four stories so I'm afraid all that backstory and new revelations in Closing Arguments bore me considerably since I hardly know Bruce and Mandy to begin with (I don't even know Mandy's full name until now!) so I am not entirely too concerned about their lives outside the bedroom.

    If the authors want to have a more "plot-oriented" direction for future Bruce and Mandy stories, I think they probably should take some time in a future book to flesh out Bruce and Mandy by giving them a deeper backstory each as well as more discernible personalities so that readers like me will have an easier time getting into their stories. The first two books in the series are slanted towards eroticism and I suspect the eroticism is why readers would want to follow the series. Ms Brio and Mr Belegon need to have something good to keep these readers reading and the main characters being nice and happy people aren't enough in this case to be much of a hook where I am concerned.

    I've simply added up the collective grades of the three previously reviewed books and my score for Closing Arguments and use the average as the score for this book. This gives ArtiFactual a final rating of 67.

  6. Fallen Angel Reviews says:

    "If you’re looking for a collection of stories with the same characters throughout with a ton of crazy sex with items you’ve probably never even thought of, then this story is definitely for you. However, I do suggest buying this whole collection instead of each individual book..."


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