While the criticism from other reviewers that this book contains no one particular type of erotica is correct: the selection of stories is as fun as it is varied with no emphasis on one style. Readers looking for a specific genre of erotica may be disappointed for the most part when they see their preferred type only once or twice, so consider the book to be a sampling of different voices and predilections with more of a focus on the reworking of fairy tale themes; if the attitude is to enjoy the stories from that perspective, then this book is wonderful!
None of the stories are really hard-core, and while some toy with less mainstream sexualities, none fully delve into that. Because each story is so different, this is a great starting point to finding authors you like, so it's a great starting point into erotica.
The best way for me to review this is to give a little hint of what each story contains, so hopefully that will give you an idea of what to expect and whether or not you want to buy this naughty little read:
The Obedient Wife
Somewhat of a period style, but not quite as far as "ye olde storie", this is about a poor miller with a beautiful daughter who wishes to get the most money from marrying her off. She finds other ways to make her own money on the side while technically maintaining her virginity until the right man proves not only the highest bidder, but something of a beast (literally). Elements of light domination and fairy-tale bestiality (think Beauty of the Beast, not a donkey show). Well-written and a good story in its own right.
How the Little Mermaid Got Her Tail Back
Story of female submission with a touch of kink involving costume play with, you got it, a mermaid outfit. Ok story. Modern tone.
A story of the sexual awakening of a woman in her 40's, "Ducking" had a very empowering feel that goes against much of our society's double standard that mocks the so-called "cougar". Great moral to the story with a strong central character finding what she wants, even if a little later in life. Modern feel with a feminist undertone and "take what you want" attitude. Loved it!
Set in a vaguely medieval/renaissance period, this is a sort of sleeping beauty/enchanted princess story with the focus on freeing her from a curse. Girl-on-girl focus with some other things (and a man) thrown in the mix, and told in a similar tone as traditional fairy tales, which is charming way to deliver stories. Short and sweet.
Ellie and the Shoemaker
Though the setting and feel is modern, it has a distinctly fairy-tale quality to it that felt refreshing and inventive. Set in Britain (from the subtle language differences), the story is of a young woman who finds temporary work under a shoe cobbler who laboriously crafts high quality, though lackluster shoes by hand. In exchange for the room upstairs and a humble salary, she takes in interest in him immediately, though being too shy to approach him, finds ways to express her affection while playing the part of shoe-fairy, anonymously crafting sexy shoes that boost the business. Sexually pretty straightforward with the hint of a shoe fetish, but not much emphasis on that (oddly enough). Very well-written with a fun story!
The Pub Owner's Daughter
Another story set in a vaguely medieval/renaissance period, this does have some of that "ye olde storie" feel, but not in an overly hokey way. The pub owner's daughter is given the freedom to seek a man who will give her "release", and as she picks one man each week, she cannot quite find him until the end. Some femdom elements, but nothing super hard-core.
A maintenance man/groundskeeper has to work on an old abandoned house and finds something unexpected inside. Some supernatural ghost-story type stuff, but nothing overtly worked into the story. Builds up to something, that as it turns out, doesn't quite live up. Not the best one in the book, but ok and fun.
Her Hair is a Net, Woven
Like sleep tight, there are some supernatural elements and a sense of mystery. Also like Sleep Tight, there is a build to something that feels a little disappointing and somewhat vague, though the journey there is amusing enough. Pretty straightforward, sexually speaking, though they are in the water.
Mind Your Peas and Q's
A reversal of the princess and the pea with some slight femdom elements within otherwise vanilla sex. Ambiguous time period with quirky modern stuff within a sense of period. Interesting voice, ok story, and fun overall.
In the Dark Woods
Interesting story of an affair with subtle themes discussing and questioning established religion and morality. Passion as the sacred, fidelity to desire, there are also some allusions to the supernatural, but nothing is really confirmed as such. The story is intellectually provocative, though not overly so, and is well-written and interesting.
Gildy and the Unwieldy, Ineffectual Committee of Bears
Set in a frat house, a young female rocker to play for an event is just looking for a place to sleep. Well not sleep, technically. To get off. Like Goldilocks, she struggles to find that place with those relatively useless boys providing little help. Basically a masturbation story. Ok, but nothing spectacular, the reader shares the protagonists frustration without the satisfaction.
Set some time in the past in an icy clime, the story revolves around having one's heart stolen by the Snow Queen. Odd, meandering story with an unhappy marriage and an unhappy woman, some supernatural themes, and mostly vague girl-on-girl sexuality. Ok, but not the best one in the book.
Story of loss, resurrection, the threat of loss again, and ... well, I can't ruin it for you. It has a melancholy, nostalgic feel for the most part but is emotionally compelling. Modern with fantastical feel, well-written, and unconventionally interesting. There's some pun here about vanilla/gingerbread sex.
All In a Day's Work
Femdom set in an office with some fairy tale elements. Short, sweet, and cute.
Big Bad Wolf
Modern setting with a reversal on the traditionally male beast. Sweet and earthy with a happy ending.
Story of a supernatural body thief who uses sex to take his or her new body. Interesting, though not entirely a new concept.
Very well-written story that stands on its own merits, the author builds tension and suspense when the husband, returning home, is not himself. The wife, filled with fear and apprehension, is at the same time relieved not to see the same man she long ago fell out of love with. Some elements of darker sexuality and fear, but nothing heavy-handed or obvious. Great story!
The Stone Room
Femdom set in a vaguely medieval/renaissance period with an arrogant womanizing prince as the protagonist, and a wily enchantress and her assistant, a giant, who train him to the path of submission and what he has been really seeking in his many exploits. Some man-on-man/giant with a focus on the protagonists submission.