New Books! Sale Books! Free Books! All the Books!

Okay, so that may, in fact, be a bit of hyperbole. But! I do have a bunch of awesome MM & MF BDSM erotic romance and Paranormal NA romance related book news to share.

Okay, first off, if you’re a fan of MM erotic romance and BDSM, Jess Jarman’s Nothing Serious is ah-maaaaaaaaa-zing! Seriously. It’s not only ridiculously hot, it also made me both laugh and cry – Jess’ emotional content is phenomenal.

Nothing Serious

Aaron Stevens likes his life the way it is. As a surgical resident, he is perfectly content with the fact that the precious hours he has outside the hospital revolve around taking care of his mother and sister. He doesn’t have the time or inclination for a serious relationship. So the fact his lover lives halfway around the world and is fine with jetting off to exotic locales a couple times a year for a few weeks of hot sex is as close to perfect as he can get.

The last thing Jack Hayes ever expected when his best friend got involved with an American was to hook up with her son. And he sure as hell never imagined it would continue for as long as it has. For years, he has been at Aaron’s beck and call, satisfied with submitting to him whenever Aaron and his busy life allow. But, after a change in his family’s company that has him looking for a new job, and possibly moving, Jack has begun to examine what he really wants in life and isn’t sure stolen moments here and there are enough anymore.

When Jack arrives to attend Aaron’s sister’s wedding, keeping what he and Aaron have a secret begins to take its toll. Aaron is unwilling to come out to his family, afraid of hurting them and ruining what should be the happiest day of his sister’s life. As much as Jack has come to love Aaron, he can’t bring himself to be the dirty secret in Aaron’s closet. Aaron has a choice to make, because the tighter he holds on to keeping their “nothing serious” arrangement, the closer he comes to losing everything.  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, ARe

And to celebrate the release of this awesome book, we’ve put book three of the Bound series, The Professor’s Student, on sale for a bit. You can get it at Amazon for 99 cents! (Limited time only.)

professor's student

Six weeks in Ireland on a Bronze Age archeological dig is exactly what Josie Cooper needs. She loves teaching, but fieldwork is where her heart is, and working with Professor Declan O’Shaughnessy is a dream come true…until she meets the man. Declan is brilliant, gorgeous, and unapologetically arrogant. By the end of the first week, Josie is ready to push him into the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, annoyance doesn’t stop her physical reaction to him. Nor does it stop the way every accidental touch makes her crave more. More of his hands on her skin. More of his lilting voice in her ear.

Knowing Josephine Cooper’s reputation in the archeology world, Declan is thrilled that she’d accepted his invitation to work the dig. However, he hadn’t counted on his overwhelming attraction to the American professor. Though he tries to maintain his distance and keep things professional between them, that plan goes to hell when he learns that Josephine returns his interest. And when an opportunity to act on that attraction, as well as explore her submission, presents itself, he jumps at it—taking complete control.

For the next five weeks, Josie agrees to submit to Declan. His instruction awakens needs she didn’t know she possessed, and she learns more about desire and herself than she would have thought possible. But what happens when their time is over, and Josie has to give up being his student to go back to being the professor again?

If paranormal erotic romance and/or a fan of new twists on Arthurian legend, you’ve got to get Jess Jarman’s The Deepest Cut. For starters, it’s FREE! Secondly, but far more importantly, it’s brilliant. And the the subsequent books, are too. Albion’s Circle is one of my all time favorite series.


For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone.

When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone.

Content Warning: This book contains mentions and depictions of self-harm and illicit drug use.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, ARe


After you finish that one, you’re gonna want to get In My Veins, too. I can’t tell you how much I adore this series. It’s true, I’m a sucker for all things Arthurian, but this reimagining of the mythos is just fantastic.

in my veins


Anna is his. Merlin has failed. The Circle is broken. After being defeated in every lifetime, Mordred believes he has finally won.

Even though Anna has little hope of gaining Merlin’s forgiveness for believing Mordred over him and the rest of the Circle, she isn’t giving up and vows to set things right. When an offer of help comes from an unlikely ally, Anna must trust her instincts—the very thing that got her into this mess in the first place.

Because more than just her survival hangs in the balance. Mordred took her for a reason. Anna is the key. The key to completing the Circle. The key to preventing unthinkable death and destruction at Mordred’s hand. The key to destroying the heart of a wizard whose love has followed her through the ages.

But Mordred has forgotten exactly what he is up against. Arthur and his Knights. The most powerful Magical to ever walk the Earth. And a love a thousand years in the making.

Note: This book contains some MM scenes.
Content Warning: This book contains mentions and depictions of self-harm.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, ARe

Edge of Darkness is the latest book in the Albion’s Circle series, and as much as I love the series as a whole, I think this one is my favorite. There may have been totally was ugly crying on my part near the end.


How far is too far? Where is the line that can’t be crossed? For Merlin, when it comes to Anna, the answers are easy. Too far doesn’t exist, and the uncrossable line has gotten pushed farther and farther away through the centuries until Merlin doesn’t see it anymore. And that becomes ever more clear to everyone as a new threat rises.

Being back with the Circle, back with Merlin—where she belongs—Anna should be happy. Her magic, finally free and within reach, and her memories following quickly, should be cause for celebration. But all of that is overshadowed, tainted by Mordred and the connection he’s forged between their minds. With Mordred in her head, taunting and manipulating her at every turn, Anna fears she’ll never truly be free.

Though his days as King of Camelot and High King of all of Albion are in a long, distant past, Arthur has never felt the weight of his crown as heavily as he does now, in this life. While having Anna with them and being able to complete the Circle for the first time since Camelot is an advantage Arthur cannot discount in the battle to come, the odds are certainly not in their favor. Not with an enemy who seems to always be always one step ahead. Not when the trust Arthur and the others have built over lifetimes together is dissolving beneath lies and secrets.

The Circle is faltering, and Mordred’s increasingly bold attempts against them are pushing them to the breaking point. If they can’t return to their former strength—back to the stuff of legends—to defeat the powerful Magical, someone may pay the ultimate price before the final battle even begins.

Content Warning: This book contains mentions and depictions of self-harm and suicide.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, ARe

Okay, so I think that’s it for all the book news – for now, anyway. I’ll have two new releases coming up in October, but more on those later! But, for now, get reading! This stuff is awesome!

Interview with Jessica Jarman and More about In My Veins


General Random Sorts of Questions 
for Jess Jarman

What’s a typical day like for you? I don’t think I have a typical day. LOL I could desperately use one, though. I think I could do with a bit of routine and organization in my life. 🙂
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Oh wow, big question… I’d have to say, personally, seeing my kids grow up to be responsible and caring people (they’re not all the way there but making progress) and knowing I played a bit of a role in that. Professionally? Writing and publishing the Albion’s Circle series. It was a leap of faith on my part, to be sure. The story was there and I so badly wanted to tell it but had so many doubts. I’d never written New Adult, never written in first person, never written anything like this at all. I had many, many moments of doubt and fears of falling short. So finishing and releasing two of the series so far… Yeah, say that is my greatest accomplishment professionally at this point.
Do you have any collections? LOL I just did a blog post about collections and realized the only ones I really have are way too many pictures of Colin Morgan and Bradley James.
Are there any skills you’d like to learn? I’d like to know how to knit. I can do basic knit and purl stitches, and can make a square/rectangle. Yes, a square/rectangle. That’s it. *sigh* I’d like to learn to knit more things because I love scarves (though I can DO basic scarves w/knit and purl….it’s a long rectangle I can do that! But you know different kinds would be nice), hats, sweaters, etc and would like to be able to  make them.
What’s your favorite word? Love. I know it’s a bit corny but someone saying “I love you” or as an endearment… *sigh* I LOVE love.
What’s your least favorite word? Pus. Because, well, PUS. Yuck.
What sound do you love? Waves.
What sound do you hate? Sound of someone vomiting. *shudder*
What’s your favorite curse word? Fuck.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? This was actually a hard one because I love what I do and think it’s the greatest job EVAH. But if I had to choose, I’d say literature professor. I love the written word and would want to share that.
What profession would you not like to do? From experience, I know I couldn’t work in health care. Bless those who do. I worked as a nursing assistant for a while and I burned out quickly. Definitely not for me.
Dog or cat person? Actually love both, but will have to go with dog person because I’m more allergic to cats than dogs.
Coffee or tea? It used to be coffee, but I’m definitely more of a tea drinker now. And my gut thanks me.
City or country? Oh hard one. I prefer the country until I need something in the middle of the night and yearn for a 24/7 store. I like the convenience of the city. 
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek
Buffy, Angel or Firefly? You can’t make me choose! Nope. I will rank them, though. Buffy, Firefly, Angel.
Pirate or ninja? Pirate. Arrrrrg.
Morning or night person? Night owl all the way. You really don’t want to experience me in the morning.
Procrastinator or get things done early? Total procrastinator. I own it.
Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert. Definitely need my alone time to recharge.
What do you like best about writing? Creating worlds and relationships and living vicariously through my characters.
What do you like least? When life gets in the way. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but sometimes, it’s a case of me needing to grow a pair and say no – and not feel guilty about it. Writing is such a huge part of who I am that when I don’t, it throws everything off.
If you were a song, which song would you be – and why? Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell”. It speaks to me, I guess. I’ve dealt with depression in my life, and it’s taken me a long time to accept that it doesn’t define who I am. And also the downs? They’re temporary – “Stay a while and maybe then you’ll see a different side of me…” And that was a whole lot deeper of a question than at first glance. O.o

Anna is his. Merlin has failed. The Circle is broken. After being defeated in every lifetime, Mordred believes he has finally won.
Even though Anna has little hope of gaining Merlin’s forgiveness for believing Mordred over him and the rest of the Circle, she isn’t giving up and vows to set things right. When an offer of help comes from an unlikely ally, Anna must trust her instincts—the very thing that got her into this mess in the first place.
Because more than just her survival hangs in the balance. Mordred took her for a reason. Anna is the key. The key to completing the Circle. The key to preventing unthinkable death and destruction at Mordred’s hand. The key to destroying the heart of a wizard whose love has followed her through the ages.
But Mordred has forgotten exactly what he is up against. Arthur and his Knights. The most powerful Magical to ever walk the Earth. And a love a thousand years in the making.



Book Related Questions

In My Veins is the second installment of your Albion’s Circle series, and having read it already, I’m here to say it’s freaking spectacular. Can you tell us what inspired the series?

First, thank you! I adore this series. I’ve always wanted to write something with Arthurian legend. I have mad, mad love for all things Arthurian. It’s just never happened until now. I had this inkling of an idea for a story—it all started with Anna. Her dreams, which she didn’t realize were memories from past lives, and how they affected her. The Arthurian stuff just layered in from there.
I really, really wanted to write it, but as I mentioned above the whole thing scared me—it was totally outside my comfort zone. Then, I had the idea that maybe the three of us who do Merlin Club could do something with this. Merlin Club…stories inspired by Arthurian Legend…it fit, yeah? 

And honestly it wasn’t intended to be a series, but as I got into book one, The Deepest Cut, it became abundantly clear that this wasn’t a story that could be told in one book. 

It’s no secret that I adored the first book in this series and I’m thrilled about this next installment, but for readers who haven’t read the first one yet, can you share a bit about Merlin, Anna and the Circle?

The Circle is a group of six. Three Magicals—Merlin, Morgana and Anna. Three non-Magicals—Arthur, Lancelot and Galahad. In their first life in Camelot, when Mordred became a threat to more than just the kingdom, the six came together and formed the Circle to defeat him. The catch was they would be brought back whenever magic threatens the world. They’ve been brought back many times, and the books focus on their current lives in modern times. 

In the original life, Merlin was cursed by Mordred to always feel the pain of losing Anna, to never find rest. So Merlin has spent every lifetime trying to save Anna and bring her back to the Circle. Until now, he’s failed, and that has had a profound effect on him. In this life, even when it seems like Anna is safe, the threat to her is always on Merlin’s mind, and he’ll do anything to eliminate that threat. 

Anna is complicated. The dreams she’s had since she was a child scare her and push her to do some pretty self-destructive things. When Merlin finds her and she finds out the dreams are actually memories, Anna has to deal with that, deal with discovering her magic and deal with the current magical threat they’ve been brought back to face. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming stories? What can we expect from the next book?

The third Albion’s Circle book, Edge of Darkness, will be out in February 2015. It will be following Anna and Merlin closely in their relationship as well as the big picture with Mordred and the threat he poses. This book will delve into Arthur more than the first two did—it’s great fun to get inside his head. There are some twists and turns in the next book, as well, but you’ll just have to wait for those. 

On other fronts, I haven’t abandoned erotic romance. I still love it and will continue to write it. Some upcoming projects—a younger man/older woman story with D/s elements, a paranormal MMF, a Yooper (!) story with ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

Yeah, I’ll be busy for a while. 😀 

Jessica Jarman is an author, blogger, and rather obsessive fangirl. Having grown up in Upper Michigan and currently living in Minnesota, she is a Midwestern girl through and through. And wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she’s not working to get words on the page, Jessica passes the time with her amazing husband and four children, attempting to be crafty (and failing miserably), squeeing uncontrollably over her favorite shows or curling up with a good book.

Merlin Club: The Once and Future Queen or The One Where Arthur is a Complete Asshat and People Want to Kill Him

Yep… it’s recap time!
This episode opens with a shot of a castle by the sea, so we know it’s not Camelot. Inside is a king (you can tell by the crown) looking at some knight gear artfully laid out on the table. A guard shows Myror, the assassin into the king’s room, and after giving him a little quiz about how many people he’s killed, the king hires him to kill Arthur. Cue the dramatic music!
After the credits, we see Arthur practicing on the jousting field. He’s pissed because his knights aren’t treating him like they treat each other. They’re being far more careful with him than they are with anyone else. Merlin follows Arthur back to his chambers where he’s having a bit of a tantrum about people telling him what they think he wants to hear. He bitches because he just want to be treated like everyone else. 
But Arthur gets an idea. An awful idea. Arthur gets a wonderful, awful idea.
That night at supper with Uther, Arthur lies to his father and tells him that there are reports of a fantastical beast roaming the forest. Uther’s answer is what one would expect after even casually watching this show, “Then we must destroy it.” Arthur volunteers, but Uther is all, oh no, you’ll miss the tournament. But Arthur convinces him that his duty to Camelot is more important.
The next morning, Arthur rides out with several of Camelot’s guards. He dismounts and swears the guards to secrecy, insisting that they tell no one he’s returned to Camelot. After the other men leave, Merlin pops up our of the woods and Arthur changes into some of Merlin’s clothes (and bitches about them – apparently servant clothes are smelly) and sneaks back into city.
Meanwhile, back at Camelot, a guard from King Odin’s place (the dude who put the bounty on Arthur’s’ head) is telling Uther about the assassin, and Uther’s  relieved because Arthur is off killing that monster. Myror, the assassin. (who’s pretty hot…)  gets his crossbow ready, but doesn’t shoot when he realizes Arthur’s horse is empty. 
Arthur and Merlin make their way to Gwen’s house where Arthur will be hiding out during the course of the tournament.  Arthur, being the spoiled rich kid, is dismissive of Gwen’s humble home. Which is, I’m sure, better than most of the peasants of Camelot. 
Merlin brings in a farmer to play the part of Sir William of Dahra. He was a farm boy…poor…and perfect. Oh wait…wrong story. Anyway, Arthur’s plan is to joust in the tournament as Sir William with his helmet on, and William will handle all of the helmet-off stuff.  Arthur, Merlin and Gwen attempt to teach the farmer how to behave as a knight. 
Arthur continues to be entitled and asks if Gwen’s bed is his. Gwen says of course and then goes off to sleep on a pile of sacks that I’m assuming have things like grain and potatoes in them. She’s not pleased. And Arthur is utterly clueless. 
That evening, Myror rides into Camelot and Spidey climbs into the castle looking for Arthur to off him. He kills a guard who catches him in the hallway. Then he finds his informant within the castle and bitches him out because the dude’s info was bad. 
The next morning, Merlin and Arthur, hidden under a voluminous cloak make their way to Sir William’s tent and go over the plan again. The tournament begins and Arthur knocks everyone off their horses in a jousting montage and Uther claps loudly in his lovely leather gloves. 

Myror is watching the tourney and his informant joins him to let him know that Arthur is still MIA, but his servant is working for Sir William. Because of all this extra work with Arthur and the the tournament, Merlin has been neglecting his duties with Gaius and Gaius is getting a mite pissy. After all, there’s a leech tank that needs cleaning. Merlin ends up scrubbing the floor and doing the laundry Sorcerer’s Apprentice style – without the horrible consequences. 
Meanwhile, Gwen is cleaning up from a meal she’s served Arthur while he’s oblivious to all the works she’s doing for him. She asks Arthur why he’s doing the stealthy knight thing. He confesses that it’s because he feels that people only respect him because of his title. He feels that winning the tourney as Sir William will earn people’s genuine respect. 
Then he douches everything up by announcing that he’d like to take a bath. Gwen tells him that she doesn’t have a bathtub, and he’s puzzled by this. Then he asks her to prepare him a bowl of hot water and is utterly oblivious when she’s pissy about having to go to the well to fetch water that late at night. 
The next morning, Gaius finds Merlin asleep on the floor that he’d been scrubbing. Gaius reprimands him for being lazy and Merlin goes off on Gaius about how hard he works for Arthur and Gaius and how he never gets any credit for all the work he does then drops the mic and leaves Gaius with his mouth hanging open.
There’s another jousting montage and Arthur is in the finals. Merlin goes out to water the horse and Myror approaches him and asks about his master and also Arthur. Merlin is the worst liar ever so Myror knows something’s up. 
Later Arthur returns to Gwen’s and asks if she’s got a needle and thread to mend his shirt. He discovers that she’s been sleeping on sacks and he’s been sleeping in her bed and wants to know why she didn’t say something. She points out that he assumed the bed was his and he counters with how should he know if she didn’t tell him. 
Gwen lets loose and points out that he shouldn’t have to be told to think of someone other than himself and that he’s not a child. He’s taken aback, but asks if there’s anything else she’d like to say. She lays into him about being rude and arrogant and as a guest in her home, he shouldn’t behave that way. She points out the prince servant dynamic and says that his words mean nothing when his actions betray him. And she reminds him to say please and thank you. It’s a spectacular rant. 
He stares at her for a while and just when she worries that she’s said too much, he admits that she’s right and he’s been an asshat. He vows to make it up to her and make supper for her. He sends her out for a walk vowing that her supper will be ready when she returns. Then he stares forlornly at the a raw chicken until Merlin comes in. He tells Merlin to fetch him two meals from the palace kitchen and a decent shirt. 
Merlin goes into Arthur’s room for a shirt, but Myror is already there, hiding. Merlin delivers the meals and the shirt to Arthur and Arthur tosses the raw chicken at Merlin to get rid of when he sees Gwen coming. Merlin slips out the back and Arthur ushers Gwen to the table. She’s apparently oblivious to the fact that her home doesn’t smell like anything had been cooked there, there’s a distinct lack of dirty pans and the food is on dinnerware she doesn’t own. But whatevs, I guess she’s distracted by the idea of Arthur doing something nice for her. 
Meanwhile, Myror, who’d obviously followed Merlin to Gwen’s sneaks up to the cottage and peeks in the window and discovers Arthur. He readies his crossbow and is about to shoot when the foot patrol notices him and scares him away. 
Merlin has prepared a lovely chicken dinner for Gaius and begins to apologize to him as soon as he walks in the door, but Gaius stops him and says he should apologize and tells him to take some time off. I firmly believe Gaius is setting Merlin up. Sir Leon knocks on the door and tells them that the king needs Gaius immediately. They’ve found the body of the knight Myror killed and want a cause of death. They suss out that it’s the assassin. 
Back at Gwen’s Arthur flirtily asks Gwen if he has any more annoying behaviors she’d like to point out and they have a cute conversation about him snoring. Unfortunately, she notices that those aren’t her plates and asks where he got them. He stupidly lies and says her cupboard. Seriously, Arthur!? She looks at them more closely and realizes they’re from the palace. Seriously, Gwen!? You serve Morgana all the time and you didn’t recognize them immediately!?
She quickly figures out that the food came from the palace and Arthur very, very foolishly says he can kill a chicken from a thousand paces just don’t ask him to cook it. That’s what servants are for.”
He apologizes then backtracks being pissy because she’s pissy and wants to know what the big deal is. Gwen says that she thought he’d actually done something nice for her and that a good king should respect his people no matter who they are. He tells her that he cares about her and Merlin busts in to tell them about the assassin and spoils the moment. We find out that King Odin wants him dead because Arthur killed his son in a duel he didn’t want to fight in the first place. 
The next morning,  Arthur and Gwen are saying goodbye and she gives him a token to wear on the field and he kisses her with the sun shining through the window as a backdrop and romantic music swelling. Then he’s gone.
Myror follows Arthur from Gwen’s to Sir William’s tent where Arthur is getting ready to joust. Myror quickly figures out what’s going on and sneaks off to kill Arthur’s competition and take his place so he can kill him on the field with his handy dandy lance with the retractable blade, because you know, he’s just that hiding in his pocket or something. 
They joust and Myror stabs Arthur with the retractable blade. Merlin sees the blade as it retracts. Arthur stumbles into the tent with Gwen and she begs him not to go back out there, but he does because he’s got to prove to himself that he can do it. Merlin sneaks over to the competition’s tent and sees the body of the knight on the floor and Myror in the knight’s armor. 
Myror and Arthur joust again and Merlin uses magic to loosen Myror’s saddle. He lists to the side and Arthur is able to knock him off his horse and he ends up dying. I assume of a broken neck or spine. Merlin helps Arthur from his horse and back to the tent where Merlin tells him that he was jousting against the assassin. Merlin also tells him that the people are waiting for their champion and that it’s time to reveal his true identity.Arthur tells William to go collect the trophy because it’s a time for humility.
When Gaius examines the man carried off the field and realizes it’s not the knight he thought it would be, he asks Merlin about it and Merlin knows he’s been caught in yet another lie to Gaius. Later, Arthur, still in bloody armor, lies to Uther about being injured whilst killing the beast. And Uther demands that Odin should pay for sending an assassin after Arthur, but Arthur suggests Uther should try to understand Odin’s grief and that they try to make peace with him instead. Gwen looks on approvingly. 
After the audience with the king, Arthur tells Gwen that what happened between them at her house can’t happen again because his father wouldn’t understand. She takes it better than I would have and says that perhaps when he’s king, things will be different. Meanwhile, Merlin is dealing with his punishment of cleaning out the leech tank because Gaius is pissed that he lied. Again.

1.       If I’d written this episode…I would have had Gwen notice the dishes sooner. I don’t know why, but that really bugged me.
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved: Gwen giving Arthur the smackdown. Disliked: that Arthur continued to be a douche to Merlin even after he was trying to be less assy with Gwen
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.The leech tank. I’ve never seen that thing before. 
4.    Favorite Costume. Gwen’s hair. Okay, it’s not really a costume and these pictures don’t do it justice, but her hair pulled back with the wild flowers is just the prettiest thing ever. 


5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Sorry, it’s another week of no real canon here – none that I’ve created, anyway.
6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? The little exchange in the beginning when Merlin gives Arthur the idea about hiding his identity. That scene is rife with unexplored tension.
7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode –I’m going with good and the sound of Uther’s leather gloves as he clapped at the tournament. 
Jess’ take on the episode is here, and Jen’s is here.

Merlin Club: The Poisoned Chalice or The One Where Bron Suddenly Thinks Writing Fan Fic Might be a Good Idea

Jess’ recap is here and Jen’s is here! And also, Jess has the Merlin Drinking Game post up, so be sure to check that out, too! It’s here.

This week’s episode of Merlin opens with Nimueh in the ubiquitous cave (DRINK!) hanging out by her magical Baptismal font casting spells and whatnot using a silver chalice and what looks like a piece of clear plastic.

Spoiler Alert: It’s not clear plastic as they didn’t have plastic at Camelot, but you can be sure they had a crimper because Nimueh still looks like a refugee from a music video from the late 80s.

 (Okay this picture isn’t the best for illustrating her anachronistic crimping, but you get the idea.)

Anyhoo… she casts a spell on this chalice and the target is clearly Merlin because a vision of him appears in the font. And also she says his name.

There’s a scene change and we’re in the Great Hall at Camelot where Uther and his knights meet up with the King of Mercia and all his knights.

We see Nimueh in disguise lurking in the background. You can tell she’s in disguise because she has a turban on her head. She’s masquerading as a servant. Which seems to be the best way to sneak into Camelot.

She purposely runs into Merlin later in the hallway while carrying a load of what appears to bedding and there’s some flirting going on. She introduces herself as Cara then sneaks into the King of Mercia’s chamber and switches out his goblet gift with her identical but poisoned one.

Meanwhile Arthur takes great glee in informing Merlin that he has to wear the official ceremonial robes of the servants of Camelot to the upcoming feast.

Behold the hat!

The treaty is signed and Merlin is there with Gwen. Nimueh catches Merlin’s eye and Gwen remarks that she’s pretty and apparently Merlin agrees a little too enthusiastically and Gwen gets pissy and huffs away.

The King of Mercia presents Uther and Arthur with some nifty, elaborate silver chalices to seal their friendship and all that jazz and Cara/Nimueh calls Merlin out of the Great Hall to tearfully tell him that her master has poisoned Arthur’s cup.

Merlin runs in, takes the cup away from Arthur, announces that the goblet is poisoned and everybody draws a blade. Including Morgana which is frankly…pretty hot. (Whatever. I find her attractive. Sue me. And my sister is wrong. Katie McGrath is not hotter as a blonde.)

There’s a whole lot of HOW VERY DARE THIS SERVANT BLAH BLAH BLAH  and the take away is that Merlin has to drink the wine and prove whether or not it’s poisoned. Arthur does very sweetly try to protect Merlin by suggesting that his drunk, then offers to drink it himself. Merlin won’t let him and after some super dramatic music and a moment of thinking everything is cool Merlin starts to choke, falls to the ground and passes out.

Arthur carries Merlin to Gaius’ chambers and Gwen grabs the chalice for poison identification purposes. Gaius pretty quickly discovers the flower petal (the one that looked like plastic) and identifies it. He tells Arthur and Gwen that the only chance is making an antidote with a lead of the same flower that poisoned him – the aptly named Mortius flower.

He tells Arthur where to find the flower and that it’s guarded by a cockatrice (a super deadly dinosaur looking thing) and Arthur suits up while Nimueh rides on out of Camelot. Uther forbids Arthur from going after the cure saying Arthur’s life is worth more than a serving boy’s. He’s a total asshat. Arthur (disappointingly) goes to his room to pout and Morgana goads him into disobeying the king and saving Merlin. So Arthur rides out in the dead of night to search for the Mortius flower.

Meanwhile Merlin starts speaking Welsh aka magic and Gaius discovers that the poison’s potency was increased with the use of magic and suddenly all the pieces click and he realizes that Cara was Nimueh. Apparently turbans are the most effective of disguises.

Uther has a hissy fit when he discovers that Arthur is gone and is discussing it in his chamber with Morgana. The vibe here is definitely *not* of  ward and guardian – they’re arguing more like a married couple who’s having a disagreement about their teenager.

Meanwhile, Arthur makes it to the cave, handily dispatches the cockatrice and runs into Nimueh who’s doing some really bad fake crying and Arthur is all, Yeah, I’ll help you. But you’re gonna have to wait until I help my buddy. So she offers to lead him through the cave to find the flower. He, being Arthur, doesn’t question that she knows what he’s looking for. He just blindly follows her in.

He figures out pretty quickly that she’s up to no good when she casts a spell and disintegrates the rock he was standing on forcing him to leap to this ledge and hang on with his fingertips.  She says it’s not his destiny to die at her hand. Which is frankly bullshit. Because if you destroy the rock ledge that someone is standing on and he falls to his death that death is by your hand, bitch.

She takes off and leaves him to dangle knowing that HUGE HORRIBLE SPIDERS ARE COMING.

He fights them off and just as he’s being overwhelmed by the hairy bastards, a glowing orb appears. He thinks that it’s there to attack him, but he quickly figures out that it’s there to help him. Merlin and Arthur are connected even though Merlin is unconscious and Gaius notices that Merlin is holding an orb in his hand.

Arthur manages to get the flower, make his way out of the cave and ride back to Camelot.

As soon as he hits the drawbridge, he’s arrested.
And thrown in the dungeon.
And suddenly…I have the nearly irrepressible urge to write fan fic. It just suddenly…came over me.

Uther comes down to see Arthur to bitch him out for disobeying. Arthur begs him to give the Mortius flower to Gaius to cure Merlin, but Uther, in a fit of epic dickishness, crushes the flower and leaves it on the floor of the dungeon.

Arthur rescues the flower and sneaks it to Gwen when she comes down to bring him food. She races back to Gaius who concocts the fastest acting antidote in the history of ever. He sends Gwen on an errand and uses the forbidden magic in order to save Merlin. Gwen comes back, Merlin wakes up and she kisses him.

I can’t say all the things I want to say right here because of spoilers. And hooboy, it is super hard to keep my mouth shut. But know this, dear readers. I am *not* happy. I will say it’s not because I ship Arthur and Gwen. It doesn’t have anything to do with the source material even. But know that someday soon, I will go off on a tear about this.

Gaius convinces Uther to release the Mercians reveals that Nimueh is behind all this. Gaius asks Merlin if Arthur should be told the truth about Nimueh (and the plot thickens!) Uther and Arthur do a little wrap up on top of the battlements and discuss the mysterious woman in the forest and Uther misses a perfectly good opportunity to come clean with his kid but instead preaches against the evil of magic. But Uther does admit that Arthur did the right thing and that he’s proud of him – so parenting points there.

Arthur goes to visit Merlin under the guise of making sure that he’s coming back to work because good servants are hard to find. And there’s some lovely Merthurness there.

Cut to Nimueh looking furious.

 Okay…now on to the questions!
1.    If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… I would have given Nimueh a bit more of a disguise.
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Really not digging the flirty relationship vibes between Merlin and Gwen, but I can’t spoiler that. However, I’ll bitch about it in depth later. Loved that Arthur doesn’t doubt that his servant’s life is as important as his. Yes, he’s an ass to Merlin sometimes, but when it counts, he’s there for him. 
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.  The first time I saw this episode, I didn’t notice Morgana grabbing the knife at the feast and looking ready to throw down.

4.    Favorite Costume. Someday…I’m gonna make this dress. And the headpiece. This is happening. 

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Okay look. This first season is rife with sexual tension between Uther and Morgana. I think that they have a thing going on. Or at the very least, they want to. I also think Morgana might have some Daddy Issues. Honestly, since the writers were tossing out so many of the traditional story elements, I wish they just would have gone ahead and made Morgana Uther’s queen. That would have been spectacular conflict! But noooooo… Oh right, my flimsy proof is the conversation they have about Arthur.

6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? Merlin moaning Arthur’s name while he was all sweaty in bed. .Yes, he was sick, but I’m betting Jess closed her eyes and had other thoughts. 

7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? The tone of the conversation between Uther and Morgana after Arthur disobeyed and took off. It’s not at all ward and guardian-like. 

Merlin Club: The Mark of Nimueh or The One Where “Somebody Poisoned the Waterhole!” (And if you all have Toy Story songs stuck in your head now, I apologize.)

It’s time for another installment of Merlin Club! You can see Jess’ take on it here. And Jen’s here
This episode opens in a cave with Nimueh, an attractive young sorceress with brilliant blue eyes (and a bad crimp job) is standing in front of what looks like a Baptismal font making a homely little clay fetus of some sort. 

Then she puts it in a large egg, casts a spell over it in Welsh and the egg begins to pulse and glow with life. Then she flushes it down the Baptismal font and it shoots through the ground water system like it’s a pod in one of those vacuum tubes at the bank and ends up in a cistern under Camelot. It starts to crack open and Nimueh finishes her spell. 

In the next scene we see Merlin and Gaius checking out a dead body laying in the middle of an alley in Camelot. The corpse is all gray with black veins. They load the dude up in a wheelbarrow that they just “borrow” from some poor peasant’s place and my kid chooses this point to look at the screen and immediately starts calling, “Bring out your dead.” And the other one hollers from the other room, “I’m not dead yet.” And chaos descends upon my house as the rest of the scene is reenacted because that’s what happens when you let your children watch Monty Python during their formative years. 
Back to Merlin. After Gwen gives her father his lunch for the day, she runs into Merlin and flirts with him a bit, gives him a flower and goes on her merry way to Morgana’s chambers where we see again that Morgana is actually good friends with her chamber maid. Merlin and Gaius study the corpse they brought home with them and Arthur summons them both to the King. And we see the opposite of Morgana and Gwen’s relationship in Arthur’s interaction with Merlin. Arthur is incredibly hot, but he’s kind of an asshat for 88% of the first season.
There’s another gray veiny body in Uther’s room where he does king things. (I can’t think of what that room is called because I’m mostly frozen and I cannot brain.) Gaius suggests that it’s SORCERY and Uther sends Arthur out on a door to door search through the town to root out the evil sorcerer. Merlin and Gaius head out, too and Merlin stumbles across a dying man and wants to use magic to cure him, but Gaius is all NO! SCIENCE! 
Gaius has mad autopsy skills and is able to test the contents of the first victim’s stomach. Meanwhile, Arthur and his knights bust in and start searching the room for evidence of magic. Arthur goes into Merlin’s room and calls Merlin in there. There’s some concern on the part of Gaius and Merlin because Merlin doesn’t pick up shit and they both know his spell book is likely lying around. Arthur goes into Merlin’s room and calls him in there, saying “Look what I found.” Spoiler alert – it was a cupboard to put away his shit. Not the magic book. But you know, moment of tension. Merlin and Gaius argue some more about Merlin wanting to use magic to cure people. 
Arthur tells Uther that he hasn’t found anything to identify any sorcerers. Merlin and Gaius figure out that the disease is water-bourn. Gwen wakes her father and discovers he has the sickness. Merlin demands to be allowed to heal Gwen’s dad. Gaius predictably says no. Merlin sneaks out that night and places a little poultice thingy under Gwen’s dad’s pillow and poof he’s healed. 

Hearing about the miracle the next morning, Arthur and his nights come to investigate and it’s determined that Gwen used magic to heal her father since she was the only one there with him. Gwen is arrested and thrown into the dungeon because she’s clearly the sorcerer that’s causing all the trouble.
Side note: Arthur is particularly hot in this episode. 
Anyhoo Uther sentences Gwen to death by fire and Morgana argues with him about it. And Arthur defends Gwen, too. It goes nowhere, because, well, you know how Uther is about magic. Gaius gets his angry face on with Merlin about healing Gwen’s father and Merlin figures out that yeah, that was a bad move. But here’s what I don’t get. WHY would Merlin leave the damn thing under Gwen’s father’s pillow. He knows they’re searching the town for magic-y things. Bad move, wizard boy. 
So now Gwen is in the dungeon, Merlin is vowing to save her. Merlin goes to Uther’s king type room where he’s doing king type things with his council members and confesses to being the sorcerer. There’s a pregnant pause and everyone laughs. Arthur immediately jumps into action to protect Merlin and explains that Merlin is in love with Gwen and also mentally ill. Of course, everyone believes him. So Merlin is left to figure something out.
Merlin and Gaius go on an adventure to find out what’s contaminating the water. They discover an Afanc – the clay creature who’s not a fetus anymore. It’s big and ugly and plague-y. Merlin goes to the dragon to get advice and gets riddles instead because the dragon gets off on being cryptic. But he hints that Merlin and Arthur must work together and use the elements. 
Gwen’s execution is moved forward because a ton of people are dying. Morgana gets Arthur to help with some well placed snark and they go with Merlin down to the water supply to search for the Afanc. Happily, they have torches and when the creature attacks Merlin uses his magic to suck some wind down into the tunnel and increase the flames to destroy the Afanc. Nimueh has a tantrum. 
After the Afanc’s destruction, people start getting better. Gaius brings Uther the Afanc’s broken egg and points out that it bears the mark of Nimueh. Uther flips shit. Merlin and Morgana go down to the dungeon to release Gwen. And Morgana tells him that she knows his secret. He of course thinks she’s talking magic. But she’s talking Gwen. 
The episode closes with Merlin and Gaius eating a ridiculous amount of food for two people and Nimueh deciding that she’s going to take Merlin down. Cue tense music for next week’s episode.
 Okay…now on to the questions!
1.    If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… Honestly? This is so petty, but I would have taken the crimper away from the hair stylist.  I can’t take a villain seriously who employs crimping as a style choice.

2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. The thing I hated was the love/hate flirtyesque banter between Morgana and Arthur because of later revelations. The thing I loved was how Arthur defended Gwen to his father and gave some thought to his own future as the King of Camelot.

3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.  The first time I saw this episode, I didn’t notice that the poultice was still all glowy when the knight picked it up from Gwen’s father’s bed.

4.    Favorite Costume. I’m gonna go with Arthur’s casual prince wear – long leather coat, breeches, boots…le sigh.

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Yeah…I know. I’m lame. I still have nothing. :/

6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? The lovely meaningful look shared by Merlin and Arthur when Arthur tried to protect Merlin by convincing everyone that Merlin is all kinds of crazypants. 
7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? I’m gonna guess it was when Merlin uses magic to save Gwen’s father but can’t be arsed to take care of the evidence.