by Tielle St Claire, Marianne LaCroix, Cricket Starr, Mary Winter, Shelley Munro, and Renee Luke; romantic erotica (2006)
Ellora's Cave, $9.99, ISBN 1-4199-0523-6
I can't help thinking I've seen the guy on the cover before. I believe I have a picture of him naked and doing something really naughty with a water hose somewhere in my stash of, er, artistic pictures. Anyway, Ellora's Cavemen: Dreams Of The Oasis Volume III is an erotic anthology from Ellora's Cave. I don't know whether to be reassured or dismayed that years have passed but clearly the formula for erotic romance (or as it is usually the case, Barbarian Conan Conga Porn, Werewolf Must Mate Now Porn, or any variation of such themes) hasn't changed one bit. If you are looking for more of the same "Must mate! Now! With Beasties and Hairy Critters!" stuff, you're looking at the right place.
I hope Cricket Starr is really her name because if this is a pseudonym, then there is no excuse anymore not to point at the name and laugh. This is my first time reading anything by this author and Pleasuremaid is the story. This story is like a Robin Schone parody meant for a laugh but ended up published instead. The story begins with our heroine feeling some liquid dripping on her head and then identifying the fluid as "water". Then she thinks, "rain". Ooh, then she concludes that she's sitting in the rain. Is this where I slap my head and go "Duh!" or just be grateful that it's at least rain water and not something else? And then she looks down at her feet and realizes that she's not wearing shoes. And wonders why. And on and on. This story is written in a way that it's all short paragraphs. Of people doing things. Blow by blow. Bit by bit. Not one thing is left undescribed. Isn't this annoying?
The story is simple. Dina has no idea who she is or where she is, but that doesn't stop her from jumping the bone of the first hottie she meets. Apparently it's a compulsion of hers to jump the bones of guys. Or something. And no, she's not an amnesiac Anita Blake or Merry Gentry in case you're wondering. This guy, Gall, is some kind of prince of this place and he has a problem. He can't climax inside a woman, apparently because this is a curse of some sort that prevents him from siring brats. So basically, Ms Starr's message is this: it isn't "proper sex" until he's pumped a gallon of you-know-what into your you-know-where and you end up heavy with kids. I know some people enjoy sexual fantasies revolving around the impregnation of the woman in question but Pleasuremaid has me wondering whether this is supposed to be an erotic story or a handbook on breeding cows in the farm.
Renee Luke's Tempt Me Twice is about the Rosses, Latoya and Dante, mending the rift in their marriage via counseling. No, silly, via sex, of course. Latoya takes the day off to seduce him. Unfortunately, this leads Dante the colossal idiot to believe that she may be pregnant with another fellow's kid and she's trying to throw him off track. This is essentially a pointless big misunderstanding story because the man is a big-ass fool. Even the sex scenes are not much fun because the man always acts stupid afterwards. I don't care if Dante has a nine-inch cylinder engine in his pants. Some men are too stupid to be worth the effort. Latoya should have just kicked his butt to the curb. If those two can come to this crisis because both of them are too busy working to be having regular sex, these two aren't going to make it in the long run, so why even bother, sheesh?
Werewolf In LA is Marianne LaCroix's offering. It's 1941 and scream queen actress Estelle Lane is swept off her feet by the stuntman that does the stunt for the Wolfman in her latest B-grade horror movie. But alas, Jack Butler really does howl at the moon. There's no stopping Estelle though. After protesting to her leading man that she's not that kind of gal, she has sex with Jack Butler in what seems like two seconds into their meeting for the first time while he's still in his wolf make-up. This one is the same old "My mate! Must mate! Now! Oh, my beast inside is coming out! Awooo! MATE! MATE! MATE!" business. Some humorous attempts to poke fun at its own premise allows this story to stand out a little bit more than it otherwise would, given that very little about this story deviates from the same old, same old.
Mary Winter's Priestess Of Desire is about one Dalphine Sharwood who wants to join some kind of cult. To be a priestess of Zudiat, she must lose her virginity and then be celibate for the rest of her life. Huh? What kind of religious philosophy is this? At any rate, instead of finding a nice guy to say hello to Zudiat for her, Dalphine finds herself chained instead to the bed of Prince Sethe Cavelblood. Don't ask me why the chains are necessary. I'm told this is a sex thingie, not ritual sacrifice. At any rate, the Prince is not ugly and he doesn't have a huge bloated monster of a penis that sends the ladies screaming in terror so I don't know what the author is thinking. She must have written this story initially as a real sacrifice scene and then is forced to revise it into a sex thingie when she realizes that Ellora's Cave is more Bacchanalian than Lovecraftian in the books it chooses to publish. All I can say about this utterly absurd story is that maybe it's better to pause and think a little before blindly throwing together all the Erotic Romance 101s like "Always have the submissive heroine chained!" in a hilariously cartoonish and nonsensical way just to get the main characters to have sex. Sexy stories and cartoons are not always the same thing.
Shelley Munro's Summer Lovin' is the only story where there is an actual build-up towards the sex scene instead of just another wham-wham-wham business. Sophie Walker's Australian holiday takes a turn for the more... exciting, perhaps, when she finds herself attracted to her daughter's ex-boyfriend. I will hesitate to say that the romance is convincingly developed given the length of this story but at least Ms Munro is making an attempt to tell a story and does a pretty good job of it. Also, her sex scenes aren't overly campy, ridiculous, or purple like the other stories in this anthology so this one is easily the best of the sorry bunch.
The best thing about Tielle St Claire's closing story is its title, Interplanetary Survival Episode #495. I'd like to believe that Ms St Claire has her tongue firmly pressed against her cheek because otherwise, this "I'm a helpless big-breasted woman forced to sell myself to sex with a furry critter for the sake of my friends!" story is too embarrassing for anything other than cheap laughs after one too many beers. I don't know.
I suppose an author can say "But I'm not taking myself seriously!" to justify the ridiculous amount of caveman space sex and hairy furry monster sex in stories dripping with body fluids that contain angry little sperm that can penetrate even thick lead walls to impregnate at least a hundred lust-crazed women. But with so many stories of this ilk, I'm starting to wonder whether romantic erotica should be called sex comedy central or something. Come on, people, how about some genuine erotic romance instead of the current glut of bad sexed-up unintentional MST3K parodies like those found in this anthology?
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