Fascinated
by Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Robin Schone; historical (2000)
Kensington, $14.00, ISBN 1-57566-606-5


As an erotic anthology, Fascinated demonstrates four ways to write eroticas. Let's put it this way. Class, how would the heroine ask for it?

Bertrice Small's heroine: "Give me your purple-tipped love lance, my moist, heated grotto of love needs you baby!"

Susan Johnson's heroine: Fuck me! Fuck me you horny stud, give it to me, FUUUCCCKKK ME!!!!"

Thea Devine's heroine: "Ohmigod, ohmigod, I want it, nonononono I don't want it, yesyesyesyes nonono..."

Robin Schone's heroine: It's huge. I want it. Lust. Desire. Want. It.

There you go. Lust in all its myriad splendors. Fascinated is a total reversal of Captivated - this time around, Thea Devine's The Pleasure Game lights my fire and Bertrice Small's Mastering Lady Lucinda is a delightful The Little Shop of Horrors on mild S&M. Susan Johnson and Robin Schone's contributions, however, show that perhaps these authors are running on empty when it comes to maintaining the heat.

Bertrice Small's dirty little story is about three disgruntled suitors who kidnap a Lady Closet Dominatrix of London to be tamed by a Master. Too bad both Lady and Lord Spanky-Aiyaiyai Boinkums fall under each other's spell and live happily ever after in leather and saddles. Mastering Lady Lucinda is such an unpretentious dirty lil' ode to orgasms that I can't help but to be charmed, purple prose and all.

Susan Johnson's contribution is the tamest of them all. Risking It All has a gambling theme, with a pretty heroine gambling it all to save her villa only to be "rescued" by a virile and kind man. They have lots of fun in bed, they fall in love, the end. No, wait, there's an evil cousin of hers too to cause trouble, but he's a minor irritant. Pow! the hero kicks him out of the story, and everyone continues to have fun in bed. This one is dull because underneath all the fuck me baby's, it's all a one-note missionary affair. Pah.

But Thea Devine's The Pleasure Game - ai-yai-yai. Hot and disgustingly down and dirty. It's a throwback to Desired, and the plot - if you can call it that - has a childhood friend convincing his recalcitrant object of his desire that she belongs to him and not some oily rake. Lucky for him, he has this titanic torpedo of power to keep them both happy. In leather and lace, on top and bottom, happily ever after, amen. The verbal as well as physical jollies in this novella are graphic yet startling in its intensity. I always feel that underneath the italics overkill, Thea Devine is a mistress of taking a woman's fantasy and making it real.

And this time, the fantasy of an unrequited lover finally taking step to dominate the mistress of his desires sure works for me. I like. I really need an ice bath.

And finally, what is supposed to be the gem of the anthology, A Man And A Woman by Robin Schone, only reveals how this author is in the danger of becoming a one-note wonder. That eunuch from The Lady's Tutor gets taught Coitus 101 from a widow. While it is not the straightforward teacher-student scenario, it still leaves me somewhat cold. Too much psychoanalyzing going on and too many fragmented sentences. The whole thing reads a bit too much like an amalgamation of The Lady's Tutor and The Lover, and after the no-nonsense leather get-down party by Devine, this one leaves me cold and bored.

I think it's the writing style of this author - there's something in it that makes me feel as if I'm a dispassionate voyeur watching and taking notes instead of reading an erotic story. Psychological distancing - that's the fancy term for it.

Fascinated is much more fun, comical, and yes, even erotic follow-up to the haywire comedy that is Captivated. And yes, all hail the Purple Pen. Long may the love lances and italicized Oh oh oh's reign!

Rating: 79


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