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Passionate Lessons: Four Stories of Women in Love (FF)

Painted Hearts Publishing

Heat Rating: SIZZLING
Word Count: 24,844
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A collection of short stories from Jade Astor celebrating the timeless love between women...

In THE PLUNGE, daring poet Judith Blackwell boldly flouts the conventions of 19th-century England in order to pursue the lover of her dreams.

In THE POET’S DESCENDANT, a modern-day researcher finds herself captivated not only with Judith’s poetry, but with a young woman from the current generation of Blackwells.

SIRENS takes us to a women’s college, where class is disrupted by attempted murder, and it’s up to student reporter Amy Lomax to solve the crime and realize the woman she is falling for.

Finally, in ECHOES OF SONGS UNSUNG, a librarian in 1956 tastes forbidden pleasures when she discovers both an intriguing new patron and a long-lost volume among the women’s history shelves.


Cilla and Judith reached the stone building that housed Judith’s cold bath in a matter of minutes. The Blackwell structure remained one of the largest in the county; as they entered with a candle, Judith pointed out the various small chambers established for changing garments, taking refreshments, and even for napping afterwards. The room containing the big stone-lined pool was paneled with intricately carved reliefs depicting Classical figures in a variety of poses; the largest portrayed the birth of the full-grown Minerva.

“My addition,” Judith explained as she reached up to ignite the wall torches, “intended to remind my guests that reason should be maintained even in a place of leisure.”

Cilla turned to her, sliding her hands up Judith’s sides. “You should be relieved to know that my reason is only occasionally impaired. And the cause must be substantial.”

As she took the younger woman in her arms, Judith could not help laughing bitterly. “I wish I could say the same.” Still, she bent and tasted Cilla’s mouth, as deeply as she had longed to at Lady Blynn’s house party. Even now, she wasn’t sure where she found the courage. As with Kate, initiating that first exchange of physical affection was more terrifying than the prospect of actually baring her body. Cilla, of course, seemed not to notice her distress. Her mouth opened further, yielding completely to Judith’s for a moment, then becoming suddenly aggressive. Her tongue, cool and flavored with champagne, skimmed inside Judith’s lips, then retracted as Cilla bared her teeth and left the older woman’s mouth stinging with pleasure.

“I’ve not felt my blood rage so in years,” Judith whispered as Cilla’s hand moved along that portion of her collarbone exposed by her gown, one finger poking tentatively beneath the hem.

“You said the same at Lady Blynn’s. I knew then that I could change things for you. Perhaps, this time, you will allow me.”

“Come into the next room,” Judith gestured towards the small niche which held a day-bed intended for summertime rest. Shaking her head, Cilla instead pulled her onto a low stone bench by the side of the pool. Before Judith could protest the clammy chill of its surface despite the muslin spread over it, Cilla was tugging at their clothes with intense determination. Cilla’s masculine attire came off easily compared to Judith’s; still, several minutes of wrestling with corset laces and tiny petticoat hooks in the dim light served mainly to inflame the anticipation of both. By the time Cilla reached the layer comprised simply of the chemise, she practically shredded it off in impatience.

“You know exactly what you want,” Judith commented admiringly, feeling the velvet blend of soft skin with soft skin, the tickle of special hair against the crevice of her thigh. It was a euphoric sensation she had forced herself nearly to forget. Now she was sorry she’d tried.

“Always,” Cilla whispered, her teeth brushing the tip of Judith’s ear. Surrendering to the heat now flaring between her own legs, Judith reached up and crushed Cilla against the full length of her body. She felt their breasts, slick with perspiration, slide together and their hot breath, growing increasingly ragged, mingle.

“I had best give it to you, then,” Judith whispered. “I didn’t exaggerate when I said you inspired me, Cilla.”