Secrets Volume 9
by Bonnie Hamre, Kimberly Dean, Lisa Marie Rice, and Kathryn Ann Dubois; romantic erotica (2003)
Red Sage Publishing, $12.99, ISBN 0-9648942-9-7


The best stories in here are those where the authors don't try too hard to be sexy. Sometimes a credible fantasy works better than superhuman cartoon sex.

Kathryn Ann Dubois tries to do a George Of The Jungle (only with real bananas, woo-hoo) thing with a Tarzan guy in Congo kidnapping a spoiled college intern called Georgie (no joke). Jungle Boy has never seen a woman before because... I don't know. I don't think we even call that country Congo anymore, do we? Maybe he's blind but nobody knows it because they are distracted by his other assets. The heroine is shrill and ridiculous, the hero is cartoon rather than sexy (I keep expecting his dongie to give a squeaky sound like those toy plastic hammers because I bet he must be made of plastic), and I'm afraid I have to deduct points because the gorillas just watch those two shag instead of playing the drums and dancing to the beat. Hey, why not?

Kimberly Dean's Wanted is not bad at all. I even remember the characters' names. Danielle Carver is on the run for two years after she was framed for espionage and FBI agent Jeff Reno is going to catch her. This one is fun because the characters come off as halfway human, the love scenes feel fun and spontaneous, and while it is understandably too short to make much of an impact on me, I have a good time with Kimberly Dean.

Lisa Marie Rice's Secluded is a fantasy that kind of works and she doesn't even have a werewolf or a vampire in her story to achieve that. Imagine that. It's a sacrilege indeed, I know. A reformed mobster Nicholas Lee wants to get to know glamorous TV personality Isabelle Summerby better. Because he is rich and handsome, we call it "courtship" instead of "stalking". He knows that he has enemies who will strike at those he love so he'll resign himself to an intimate interlude with her. Maybe it's too much to expect him to turn in his money to the IRS and go under the Witness Protection Program or something but hey, this one isn't bad at all. The hero is a little too much on the whiny side for me though.

Finally, Bonnie Hamre's Flight Of Fancy, where the author confuses "adventurous sex" with "cartoon porn". If someone takes the trouble to set up Barbie and a few Kens to reenact an orgy by the Malibu Beach House Set, complete with that part where Barbie's head shoots off her body like a cannonball in the moment of truth, that story will still be miles better than this unadventurous look at a couple's swinger and multiple-partner lifestyle. Bonus points deducted for having three men in the same bed but not having even a sizzle of homoerotic moment between them. So much for being adventurous, huh? The author makes things worse by having the heroine, after swinging like a giddy monkey from vine to vine, deciding that she'll be a traditional romance heroine and have a few brats. Again, how is this supposed to be adventurous? The whole story has a mechanical, silicon feel to it. It's a story that tries too hard to be sexy and as a result, it's just not.

The moral of the story here, I guess, is that sometimes romantic erotica works better when the author takes the time to create an intimate setting and build up the sexual tension, instead of just blasting the reader into some exaggerated tale where it doesn't matter how you use it as long as it is the biggest of them all. Secrets Volume 9 suggests that it's probably time for some long overdue infusion of creativity and innovation in the concept of romantic erotica.

Rating: 64


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