Friday, October 23, 2009

Wicked Pleasures by assorted authors

TITLE: Wicked Pleasures
AUTHOR: Kris Cherita, Elizabeth Coldwell, Cynthia W. Gentry, Ralph Greco Jr., Alex Picchetti, Jean Roberta, Elle Rose, A. Silenus, Peter Tupper, Sage Vivant
PUBLISHER: Ravenous Romance
LENGTH: Anthology (roughly 48k)
GENRE: Erotica
COST: $4.99

A collection of twelve erotic short stories, all exploring the kinkier side of women’s sexuality…

There’s a sentence in the editor’s introduction to this anthology that I really, really like. Another way to look at it, in terms of sex and love, is that evil is nonconsensual, while wicked is consensual. It’s astute, and typifies all of the stories within this collection. While I can’t say that I necessarily liked them all, I find myself respecting the anthology for its efforts, because of that introduction. It presents a well-rounded, healthy view on sexuality, embracing a diversity of relationships.

The sexuality contained within the stories tends to rely heavily on BDSM and power relationships, with both female dominants and female submissives, f/f interactions, and mĂ©nages. It’s probably not for the faint of heart, though the cover and blurb should make that perfectly clear. These are also not romances, though more than one has a romantic relationship within it. This is purely for the erotic factor. Don’t expect anything more.

A large portion of the stories ran middle of the road for me, but four of them stood out. “Temporary Reversals” by A. Silenus is about a man who discovers his submissive side, only to fear he’s losing the woman who inspired it in him. Not only is it well-written and the characters are fully fleshed out, but it offers an almost melancholy desperation as he tries to hold on to the one thing he needs.

“Just Friends” by Cynthia W. Gentry is a little more light-hearted. Jane used to have a long-distance relationship with Matt, broke up when she realized it wouldn’t work, then made up and became friends a year later. She’s in New York on business and meets up with him for dinner, one thing leads to another, and all of a sudden, one of the fantasies he’d encouraged in her starts coming true. For me, this one was all about the characters. I loved the relationship between the two, and then the third that gets introduced. The sex was hot, as well. I was only let down a little by the ending, though that seems to be a weakness amongst most of the anthology’s offerings.

“Fair Game” by Elizabeth Coldwell is a comeuppance story about an Englishman named Donovan who deliberately haunts bars on the weekends when hen parties are in full swing, to pick a different woman up each time. They’re all one-night stands, because he has no interest in getting tied down. But his latest conquest has a different plan in mind. The characters in this one sparkled, and the sex, though not the most erotic of the bunch, worked well. I liked this one as much as I did because of how well it succeeded as a short story, feeling complete without letting me down in any regard.

“The Invited” by Ralph Greco, Jr. is the story of a woman who is about to get married. On her last weekend fling, something agreed upon with her fiancĂ© though they’re not sharing details, she invites five of her former lovers to a hotel – at staggered times, so there’s no overlap – for one last spanking session. Because that’s what gets her off. On the surface, it’s a highly charged sexual fantasy, but this one has more depth than that. Surprisingly, too, all of the men who actually show up all feel real and distinct. Really well done.

The rest of the stories don’t really inspire me to mention them specifically, but in reviewing the ones I did really enjoy, the one common thing holding them together is the characterization. They all shine. Short stories don’t have to skimp on that, you see. Even if you’re just writing erotica. These stories are proof.


7/10 – Mostly clean editing (though one story doesn’t know its thans from its thens and it’s very annoying)


5/10 – Mostly humdrum, with only a few standing out


7/10 – Some of them are surprisingly sharp, though there are typically weak ones

Entertainment value

6/10 – Most of these are fairly average, I’d only seek out four of these authors on their own

World building

7/10 – Most of the stories do well in bringing their erotic milieus to life



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