A col­lec­tion of three roman­tic short sto­ries involv­ing hyp­no­sis pub­lished by Ellora’s Cave pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. Each of the three have a love­ly, lone­ly lady paired with a seduc­tive, sexy man though some use of hyp­no­sis, whether it be a stage hyp­no­sis show, a demon­stra­tion of mes­merism or in pur­suit of a noto­ri­ous criminal.

Com­men­tary: What is inter­est­ing is that all three sto­ries present dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of mes­mer­ized expe­ri­ences: in one, the man is the mes­merist and the last the sub­ject, but, in anoth­er, the roles are reversed, and in a third, both are hyp­no­tized by a third par­ty. And while the hyp­no­sis is not always the cen­ter of the sto­ry, it is always a major dri­ving force in the plot.

And sex. Lots of long sighs and lust­ful thoughts and explic­it fan­tasies and men­tal recrim­i­na­tions and espe­cial­ly wet and squishy and pret­ty explic­it (but taste­ful) sex. And always, hyp­no­sis plays a part in that too, pri­mar­i­ly as the ini­tia­tor of the rela­tion­ship but in one sto­ry, its the secret fan­ta­sy of both par­tic­i­pants, one want­i­ng to hyp­no­tize the oth­er and the oth­er want­i­ng to be hypnotized.

‘Sir Phillip Ashton’s Eyes’ by Sahara Kelly

Lady Abi­gail Fox­worth has just reject­ed her lat­est suit­or, much to her step-moth­er’s dis­may. Its not that she’s fick­le, but she is demand­ing of her suit­ors and demands only some­one who can match her intel­li­gence as well as stir her heart (and oth­er places, as well.) Then she attends a par­ty at a neigh­bor­ing estate, at which will be a demon­stra­tion of mes­merism. But even before the demon­stra­tion, she is total­ly mes­mer­ized by the sight of Sir Phillip’s eyes, just as he is mes­mer­ized by the love­ly Lady Abi­gail. He, in fact, is the mes­merist, and leads Abi­gail to be his demon­stra­tion sub­ject, at which she per­forms superbly, even though she tells her­self she is only act­ing. After­ward, she can’t keep from think­ing about Phillip (or lust­ing for him) and he feels quite the same. But it takes quite a while for their minds to rec­og­nize what their hearts and bod­ies already know

Com­men­tary: Mes­merism is the spark that unites the two lovers, and it is the run­ning theme and con­ven­tion used to describe their mutu­al attrac­tion, even by the two them­selves. As for Abi­gail, she thinks that she only ‘pre­tend­ed’ to be mes­mer­ized for the demon­stra­tion, but I sus­pect that like many first-time sub­jects, if she were to be shown a con­vin­cer test, she would be amazed to dis­cov­er she was actu­al­ly hypnotized.

‘Magic in the Works’ by Ashleigh Raine

Elaine has been work­ing hard to get her ground-break­ing Inter­net project off the ground. She knows her supe­ri­or, who is also her venge­ful ex-boyfriend, is out to make sure his com­pet­ing project wins out. She is sure that he sent some­one to her to sab­o­tage the project when it demos at a trade fair. Elaine encoun­ters Mark at the air­port and is striken with him before she knows who he real­ly is, and then she finds out that they have to work togeth­er and that he is her supe­ri­or, so she sus­pects him of being the one who is sup­posed to sab­o­tage her. He takes her to a stage hyp­no­sis show in Vegas and their shared expe­ri­ence on stage only makes their con­nec­tion stronger yet stranger. Their desire might cloak sab­o­tage but it could be the pre­scrip­tion for a life­time forever.

Com­men­tary: Prob­a­bly the most valid sto­ry of the three, at least from a hyp­no­sis stand­point. All the stage hyp­no­sis sug­ges­tion (“I always give a part­ing gift to the peo­ple who make my show hap­pen. When you wake up the fol­low­ing morn­ing, you’ll be relaxed, but ener­gized, ready to face the chal­lenges of your new day. And if you find your­self in bed with a very spe­cial part­ner, you will have unlim­it­ed seual ener­gy. Just for that night, though.”) did was encour­age the poten­tial roman­tic rela­tion­ship, per­haps even sub­con­scious­ly giv­ing the two the per­mis­sion to start the rela­tion­ship that they nor­mal­ly might have moral doubts or con­cerns about, with­out explic­it­ly direct­ing whom that rela­tion will be with. That they still had pro­fes­sion­al or per­son­al con­cerns that would have lim­it­ed the rela­tion­ship means that the sug­ges­tions they were giv­en were only sug­ges­tions, noth­ing stronger.

‘True Lies’ by Jaci Burton

Mia is a detec­tive. She has the inate pow­er to hyp­no­tize crim­i­nals into telling her what she wants to know and make them much more docile. But she has failed and now an alien crim­i­nal is on the loose. She needs help and that help comes to her as Ric, an alien boun­ty hunter. Ric takes Mia on an adven­ture of a life­time. She wants him, but does­n’t know how to have him with­out coer­cion, so she chal­lenges him to let her hyp­no­tize him, with the ulte­ri­or motive to com­mand him to have sex with her.

Ric is a boun­ty hunter from an alien plan­et. His race is hyper­sug­gestible but he has a microchip implant that pre­vents him from being hyp­no­tized. He is also smit­ten with the dimin­u­a­tive (at least from his over­sized per­spec­tive) Mia and accepts her chal­lenge to be hyp­no­tized just as a way to relieve his own sex­u­al frustrations.

Of course, Mia and Ric will even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­er each oth­er’s lies and their accep­tance of them and their accep­tance and love for each other.

Com­men­tary: While this sto­ry works as a romance, to this long-time sceince-fic­tion read­er, it falls flat as an SF sto­ry. The aliens aren’t so ‘alien’ here, hav­ing desires and appear­ances that are just as human as any Ter­res­tri­al. You could remove all of the alien SF ele­ments, leav­ing only the use of hyp­no­sis as an enhanced crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion tool, and the sto­ry would still work.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: Rec­om­mend­ed for fans of romance sto­ries, not so much for oth­ers. Not hav­ing any real broad expe­ri­ence with the field, I’m not sure how they work as romance sto­ries, but they do work as fic­tion (with the caveat above.)

Things change, espe­cial­ly in the pub­lish­ing field. Ellora’s Cave is no longer in busi­ness: it start­ed in 2000 but encoun­tered dif­fi­cul­ties start­ing around 2013 with authors claim­ing unpaid roy­al­ties. The pub­lish­er filed a defama­tion law­suit in 2015, was counter-sued, and set­tled in 2015 with a con­fi­den­tial agree­ment. Ellora’s Cave also threat­ened to sue the Romance Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca over RWA’s claims that Ellora’s Cave was not pay­ing authors. Final­ly, Ellora’s Cave closed in 2016.

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