Nice Girls, Naughty Sex (Seal Press, 2011) is a collection of 20 erotic tales edited by Jordan LaRousse and Samantha Sade, who run the Oysters and Chocolate erotic website.
As is the case with the stories published on the website, the stories in this collection are divided into four categories: Vanilla, Dirty Martini, Licorice Whips, and Oysters. Now, I’ve read stories on the website itself more times than you need to know. But to be honest, I never paid any attention to what category the stories were in. I either read the ones that were listed first, or sought out favorite authors.
However, when reviewing a collection, one should be a bit more focused, no? So I devised a system. I’d read one Vanilla one, then one Dirty Martini one, then one Licorice Whip, and then an Oyster; and then another Vanilla, and so on.
This system fell apart with the first story, Sommer Marsden’s A Technicality, which is the first piece in the Vanilla category. Now, this was my fault, to be sure. I did read the descriptions of the categories, and right there under Vanilla, it does say, “these stories dance with exciting lovers in daring locations.” Still, though, that word — vanilla — carries a connotation. Kinky people use it to mean “usual” or “standard.” Not quite “ordinary,” but… well, OK, it is used to mean “ordinary.” Even “ho-hum” (a connotation I resent, since vanilla is a favorite flavor and scent of mine, but it exists just the same). But this story — it’s not regular or ordinary at all, and it sure as heck isn’t ho-hum. Its two main characters meet in a hospice, where each is visiting a terminally ill relative. So the sex is tinged with those circumstances—sadness and a longing for release and an affirmation of continued living and some guilt for that continuation, all mixed in with lust and love. Plus lots of imaginative spots to slip away to and some very creative hotness. Hardly “usual.” And don’t get me wrong, it’s not only a great story, but a great one to begin an anthology with. But is it “vanilla”?
I checked the description in the front of the book again. Vanilla stories have straight sex between one man and one woman; Dirty Martini stories have… well… “unconventional” things, like toys or exhibitionism or group sex; Licorice Whip stories have a domination/submission theme; and Oysters are lesbian or bisexual. (Why no category for gay men, then? Just curious.) But honestly, I don’t seek out stories based on how many people are in them, or whether or not a toy is used. What I look for is more, well, stuff like mood, plot, character, writing… it’s like how Supreme Court Justice Douglas famously defined pornography — I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.
So I chucked the “one of each in turn” system for the “completely random” system. I opened the book at random, read whatever story was there, and continued in this way till I’d read them all. I figured at that point I’d go back and see which ones I liked best, and see if they fell into any particular category.
Hmmm. Well, I didn’t find any stories I didn’t enjoy (which is saying a lot, for a collection of 20), but the ones I enjoyed most were those in the Vanilla category and the Licorice Whips category, with some favorites also in the Dirty Martini section and in Oysters. From which I conclude… well, you see the problem.
Now, I can’t review every story (considerations of space and, frankly, your own attention span), and you mustn’t conclude that I didn’t enjoy the ones I’m not mentioning. I’m not even going to say that the ones I’m describing in more detail are my favorites. I think my overall favorite, if I had to pick one, was Evelyn, by Julian Augustus Finisterre. But I don’t want to describe it. It was… different (in style more than content), and while it didn’t much mirror any experiences of my own, or even my fantasies, there were still parts — small parts, tucked in here and there — that spoke to me of me. Which parts? Oh, well. Reading is very personal sometimes. But it’s a lovely moment when you read something that rings true for you, perhaps even more so when the truth is revealed in very unfamiliar circumstances.
Here’s one I thoroughly enjoyed: Serving Ms. Paden, by Talia Kelley. In this story, a stablehand gets the best of his arrogant boss-lady by essentially abducting her and carrying her off and ravishing her. On horseback. I don’t just mean the carrying off, I mean the actual ravishing! Yep, on horseback. At first the horse is walking, but at one point the word “canter” is used. Now, I ride. I can assure you that something like this … well, it’s not gonna happen that way. First off, no rider would be that irresponsible with his or her horse (let alone him/herself). I mean, if you’re fucking in the saddle—with one partner still squealing and squirming to get away because she thinks she doesn’t want it—you’re not perfectly balanced, and I don’t see how you could be holding the reins or using your legs—using them on the horse, in any case. Most horses would just stop and eat grass (they’re going over a prairie at this point); mine would probably spook and bolt off, leaving the riders on the ground. And at a canter? Please. I know these characters were riders, sure, but … I mean, I’ve tried horse vaulting (check from minute 1:45 on—that’s a canter, and do notice that someone with a lunge line and a whip is in charge of the horse at all times); it’s harder than it looks, and it doesn’t look easy!
So no, this was not a realistic scenario. And you know what? I didn’t care one bit. That’s the fun of fiction, the fun of fantasy. It’s your chance to say, instead of “Oh, that couldn’t happen,” it’s your chance to say “But what if! Wouldn’t it be hot if … ?” And it was hot.
I didn’t think at first that I would care for Behind Bars, by Saranna DeWylde, because the guy was a cop, and I’m not fond of stories with police officers (and there were three in this collection! OK, that’s my only gripe!) or uniforms or stuff like that, even though I know they’re wildly popular (and no, for the record, I am not running from the law). But this story was such fun because of the humor in the writing. Example: It’s a hot day, and the office isn’t air-conditioned. Betsy closed the logbook and took a drink of water, which seemed to be an exercise in futility. It would have been easier if she’d dumped it on the floor, cut out the middle man. She hated sweating. Actually, the writing reminded me of the American south, somehow, so much so that I even checked the author’s bio in the back to see where she’s from (it didn’t say). But there was lots of feisty verbal sparring between the two characters, which was thoroughly enjoyable, and then just raw passion, like here:
“Tell me this is what you want. Right here, right now. Me.” His breath was harsh and ragged in her ear, and it sent chills through her body.
“I want this.” Her voice was a whisper, a traitor to her mind, but a slave to her body.
See? This is why I love erotica. Because lines like that — a traitor to her mind, but a slave to her body — I don’t care how cheesy they are, they’re true. Anyone who’s been in lust knows that. It’s such a potent combination of honest and fun.
Other favorites include Blow Me (Rachel Kramer Bussel), Good Doggy (Janine Ashbless), and Honeymoon Suite (Donna George Storey).
I think there’s a tendency to look at sex writing and sex reading to see if it “means” anything about you. Are you revealing your hidden fantasies? Exposing your desires? Showing your true personality? Well, perhaps there’s some of that. So if I look that the stories I responded to the most, I can see that they’re the ones that were realistic; or totally unrealistic; or serious and poignant; or humorous and snarky. Hmmm. Seems like I like a lot of different things. I imagine most folks do too. Those folks would probably enjoy this excellent collection of erotica.
Pick up your copy of this erotic collection at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Still want more? Then check out other books by the same editor/author team here (because how could you resist a book whose title is Penis Genius!?).
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