This anthology of twenty erotic stories has an intimate tone, since each story is told by a female narrator. The authors are all women (or they fake it well), and most are popular and well-known in the field.
Most of the pairings in these stories are heterosexual, but otherwise, a spectrum of scenarios is presented, from complicated triangles to initiation stories to black-leather-and-steel BDSM scenes to cougar stories of middle-aged women getting their second wind with younger men. Several of these stories could be classified as "travel erotica," since the heroines discover new sides of themselves while visiting exotic locations.
This collection is not advertised as "true stories," but the first-person narrators give it an aura of authenticity. None of these stories seems strictly factual, but they all seem to express sincere lust, as the title suggests. The rising sexual tension in all the characters seems spontaneous, genuine and revelatory. "I never did this before" is one of the phrases that gets repeated like a mantra in several stories.
These stories are all competently written, well-paced and engaging. Finding favourites is hard to do, since they're all good. However, several are noteworthy for their playfulness and creativity.
In "The Hard Way" by Justine Elyot, a female solicitor in a British police station acts out her fantasy with a detective sergeant whose job is to interview suspects. She asks him to "interview" her and he is glad to oblige:
'His sorrowful smile looks so genuine. It always does. He always looks as if the felon's fall from grace is breaking his heart.
I jut out a lower lip. "I didn't do it, officer."
He takes my chin in a hand, leans down to kiss the lie from my lips.
"Yes, you did," he says. "I'm offering you a choice. We can do this the easy way or the hard way."
The frisson that sizzles from my throat to my groin is strong, very strong. I am wetter than wet; I want to moan with need, to throw back my neck and invite him to plunge down and take me.
I push back my shoulders, lift my chin, meet his eyes.
"Make it hard," I tell him.
He smiles, his eyes firing, his ego challenged.'
The detective proceeds to accuse the narrator of "stiff nipples" and various other signs of guilt, then he "punishes" her while pretending to do this in a courtroom full of gawking witnesses.
Several of the stories deal with disguises and guessing games. In "Guess" by Charlotte Stein, a blindfolded woman must guess what her boyfriend is touching her with and what he is doing; if she guesses correctly, he has to wear the blindfold. In "Strapped" by K.D. Grace, a woman with a gay-male friend ventures into a gay bar, disguised as a young man, and picks up another novice, a man who is bi-curious. This pickup segues into a threesome in which everyone is satisfied.
Several of the stories have unpredictable conclusions. In "Unbidden" by Brandy Fox, a married woman who has hit her sexual stride at age forty is approached by a married male friend at a party. She is tempted, but she resists him so that she can tell her husband about the encounter, and he responds with delight. "Rain" by Olivia Archer is a story about a married woman who finds that her best friend's boyfriend, Rain, is her soulmate, although her best friend ultimately grows tired of him. Will the narrator give up her current life to follow Rain to Las Vegas? The reader doesn't know until the last paragraph.
"Cherry Blossom" by Kayar Silkenvoice is one of the few lesbian stories in the collection, and any reader looking for a woman-on-woman scene will not be disappointed. This is not a male fantasy about two women who perform with each other before enabling him to reach nirvana. This is a detailed fantasy about a Japanese masseuse who is very familiar with female bodies.
Other contributors include the editor herself, Jacqueline Applebee, Del Carmen, Elizabeth Coldwell, Portia da Costa, Jen Cross, Shanna Germain, Lucy Hughes, Clancy Nacht, Aimee Pearl, Donna George Storey, and Amelia Thornton. Altogether, this is an outstanding anthology.
- Jean Roberta (writer and reviewer)