Secrets Volume 6
by MaryJanice Davidson, Sandy Fraser, Alice Gaines, and Angela Knight; romantic erotica (2000)
Red Sage Publishing, $12.99, ISBN 0-9648942-6-2


Women's erotica written by women, hmmm? Secrets Volume 6 may have plenty of explicit love scenes but I'd consider only two out of the four short stories here worth a look.

Sandy Fraser's Flint's Fuse opens the anthology and it is, frankly, one of the most stupid stories I've ever read. Dana Madison's father is trying to carry out a corporate merge but apparently some people are dirty enough to try and get at Dana just to upset the proceedings. Instead of telling Dana, "Dana, your life is in danger. Come join me this afternoon so that we can get you one great bodyguard", he hires a man-of-action named Flint to kidnap her and make sure that she believes that she is really being kidnapped so that she will be safe. You want me to run that to you again? And Flint, armed with some vaguely described kung-fu skills taught to him by some Master Wu Chin, actually behaves like a kidnapper, roughing her up and making her remove her panties and doing other jolly fun stuff. And she, knowing that she's being kidnapped, starts mouthing her head off. By the time they have sex, I'm too numbed by the tidal wave of "What on earth?" moments to care.

MaryJanice Davidson's Love's Prisoner is, on the other hand, mmmmmmm. I normally don't go for Neanderthal he-males but this short story kicks off what seems like a werewolf series that I find mmmmmmmmmm. If Christine Feehan can write in a fluid, smooth manner and with some sense of humor, her Carpathians and Clones would be mmmmmmmmm like Ms Davidson's werewolves. Love's Prisoner has Jeannie Lawrence trapped in an elevator with a mysterious man named Michael Windham. The full moon hits them, he catches scent of her and realizes that she's ovulating, and what happens next is a "forced seduction" love scene that is more akin to rape. And then he saves her when the elevator crashes down and dies. Poor Jeannie doesn't know whether to be furious at her rapist or be grateful for him for saving her life. But she'll have a chance at sorting her feelings out when he knocks on her door with his band of doggie-mates and tells her that she's his mate and she's coming with him to live with the pack.

There is plenty of elements here that would never be accepted in a conventional werewolf romance. I don't have problems with the first love scene but I find Jeannie's attitude towards it a little too flippant to be convincing. Michael spends the rest of the story bossing her around and showing her who's the boss, a rogue werewolf causes problems, and the whole thing is mmmmmmmm even if I don't generally go for all that obnoxious alpha male act. There's sexy, there's mmmmmmm, and there's plenty of both here.

Alice Gaines' The Education Of Miss Felicity Wells is a standard tale of a very clueless Felicity Wells approaching Dr Marcus Slade, some sex guru of sorts, for some tips on how to satisfy a man because she's getting married soon. I don't know what time period this story is set in - the author is very vague on this, but I certainly hope that it's set in the past. Any contemporary woman as pathetically naive as Felicity need immediate remedial classes in Sex Education and Biology STAT. I am too distracted by trying to figure out which era this woman belongs to to fully get into this poor man's The Lady's Tutor.

Angela Knight's A Candidate For The Kiss has Dana Ivory being caught in an FBI bust only to realize that the undercover FBI agent Gabriel Archer is a vampire. He decides to get her under his "control" so that she doesn't write something in the papers that will expose him, but he is soon attracted to Dana and this complicates matters. Being a vampire romance, this story follows a predictable and even formulaic route, but Ms Knight has a yummy way with the bondage scenes.

The stories by Angela Knight and MaryJanice Davidson are easily the best of the four. The heroes are yummy if a little too much on the domineering side for me (why can't the ladies play and get to be domineering once in while too?), the heroines don't have any contrived state of sexual ignorance, and the sexual tension is really red crackling hot in those stories. Compared to them, the stories by Alice Gaines and Sandy Fraser come off like amateurish attempts at being sexy as opposed to stories that are sexy.

On the whole, Secrets Volume 6 is an uneven anthology in that when it's good, it's very good but when it's bad, the face hits the bottom of the barrel really hard. Still, the two good ones tip the scale a little towards the favor of this anthology.

Rating: 75


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