Captivated
by Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Robin Schone; historical (1999)
Kensington, $12.95, ISBN 1-57566-450-X


I am pretty eager to get my hands on Captivated because it is supposed to be a pioneer of some sorts of erotic romance anthologies everywhere. Faint hearted people, stay away.

Bertrice Small starts off the anthology with Ecstasy. Prince Dagon, he of Donkey King Dong, was betrayed and usurped of his throne by his younger twin brother. He is sold as a sex slave to Queen Kelida of Kava. Kava is a mythical land where time is slower and women are on top in every way that counts. Kelida is delighted at Dagon's prodigious dong-iness, they make lots of love, and fall in love. But wait, how can she be sure it's really love? Call in Adon, a buff gardener with an eight inch dong, which is much smaller than Dagon, mind you, and they all play house together. For threesome parties, theirs is a surprisingly unimaginative one, mind you.

This novella is obsessed with size. I would've thought a 15 year old boy would have written this, for Dagon's well-endowed nature is described in every other paragraph. I took out a ruler half way through reading this story and look at the eight inch mark. My, my, that's rather impressive, and that's supposed to be smaller than Dagon's. Does Dagon faint whenever he does the six gun salute and all blood leaves his big head for the smaller (I use the latter term loosely) head? And for poor Kelida, she has my sympathies. Advice to her housekeeper: buy more cushions, thick soft ones, for the chairs, and some balm for her probably very sore mouth. And for a Queen, this woman spend so much time playing school with her two sweethearts I wonder who is actually running Kava.

Ecstasy is unintentionally hilarious and only mildly titillating (if you're 14). Mind you, I've never joined the Bash Bertrice Bandwagon - I actually love a few of her books - but this novella is really ridiculous.

Bound And Determined by Susan Johnson is a welcome return for Her Spicy Highness after the bad books she's been churning out lately. Never mind that the plot's silly: Princess Marko must get an heir for her homosexual and violent hubby or he would execute her momma. She kidnaps rake Huge...uh, Hugh Dalsany, ties him to the bed, and soon they are exchanging rude names and love words in between shag marathons which even rabbits would envy. As an erotica, the sex is quite hot, and some of the exchanges are good.

I always love Miss Johnson's books because the author always give me the impression that she is never taking herself too seriously. She always pokes fun at the society conventions her characters are facing. Princess Marko, or Sofia, has some wonderfully wicked lines about the double standards concerning male rakes and his female counterparts. Miss Johnson has a mild Oscar Wilde-like way of making wry statements. Even her exaggeratedly energetic rake heroes, with stamina of Greek gods, are suspiciously like an in-your-face satire of the rakish heroes ubiquitous of the romance genre.

Am I reading too much into Miss Johnson's works?

If the anthology title is taken literally, Thea Devine's Dark Desires will fit the bill perfectly. Courtland Summerville is married to a Drue Caledon who hates him and insists on loving another man. But no matter, Courtland uses a variety of sex toys, humiliation techniques, and sensual seduction on Drue, his only target is her utter, total subjugation under his will. This is a really, most unromantic story. If it is a novella about domination and psychosexual battle of the sexes, it works. In an erotic romance, while I'm not really disturbed or anything, I don't ever want to meet these two people ever again.

After Ms Devine's novella, Robin Schone's sweetly romantic and scorchingly sensual A Lady's Pleasure is a nice welcome. I love this story for its well-developed characters, no mean feat for a roughly 100-paged story. Colonel Robert Coally, a man tormented by horrors of war, finds himself sharing personal space with Abigail Wynfred, a 30 year old spinster who reads erotica. These two lonely people spin a sensual game where each will fulfill the other's fantasies. This story is poignant enough for me, for Robert's desire for blissful forgetfulness from the wartime horrors he'd been through, and Abigail's desperate need for human comfort to know that she is not unloved, these two move me dearly. There is a nice humorous ending to round things off.

This is an uneven anthology that doesn't really succeed in doing what it's supposed to do. But as the first book in a subgenre that is only in its early stage of germination, it will do, I suppose. It's not as if I have anything else to compare it to.

Rating: 50


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