by Jenna Fox, Bridget Midway, Sable Grey, Gail MacMillan, Nancy Pirri, and JR McCoy; romantic erotica (2006)
Midnight Showcase, $4.00, ISSN 1555-5496 Vol.06-14
Summer Heat 1 is the first book of the publisher Midnight Showcase's erotic anthology series, somewhat similar to Red Sage Publishing's Secrets franchise only the stories don't follow the romance formula as faithfully as the stories in the more recent Secrets anthologies tend to do. Midnight Showcase calls its sexy shorter stories Erotic-ahh Digest. Now, I'm not trying to be deliberately facetious here, but is that ahh supposed to an ahh of terror or pleasure? I find myself wondering about that because of the six stories in this anthology, the only one I would reread is Jenna M Fox's Lose My Mind. The rest are plain forgettable.
Jenna M Fox's story kicks off the anthology so let's start with Lose My Mind. Deputy Bobby Harlow of Destry County really likes listening to the voice of the new deputy from the neighboring county Fentress over the communication system. When Lt Carrie Samuels is transferred to Bobby's place just right after his birthday and he's partnered with her, he could have died and gone to va-va-voom land. Unfortunately, Bobby's colleagues think he's gay and lets Carrie know - not very nicely - of what they think of Bobby's presumed sexual orientation. Carrie decides to be Grace to Bobby's Will and even borrows a book from the library, The Care And Feeding Of Your Gay Male, because they're going to be best friends forever. Only, Bobby isn't gay. But they have a bigger issue to face, about Carrie's rookie ways that more often than not get in the way of their trying to do their job.
Carrie could have been a typical dimbulb "I wanna prove myself but I'm just too stupid to even start!" heroine in another story but here, Carrie isn't incompetent as much as she is underestimated by her male colleagues. I like how she defends herself instead of meekly accepting the blame when she feels that she's being wrongfully accused of screwing up on the job. Her relationship with Bobby is pretty well-developed for that in a short story with them becoming friends first then lovers. There are some major unresolved issues between the two of them when the story ends but given the length of the story, I probably should be happy that the relationship in this story feels more real than that in the other stories in this anthology. Ms Fox develops her characters enough that I not only remember these characters' names but also the fact that I like them long after I'm done with the story.
Bridget Midway's Hired Hand is next and it's a short scene of a husband and wife, Jared and Samantha, inviting their landscape artist Eva for a happy threesome in bed. That's it for this story, really. I don't know what to say about this story other than there are many erotic stories exactly like this one online and these stories tend to be free. Longer, even. And maybe the whole neighborhood is invited instead of just the landscape lady. In short, this story is throwaway filler.
Off Duty is Sable Grey's story and it's a short one about Detective Marc Aiken comforting terrified Sierra Estaban while trying to protect her from a violent nutcase that has her on top of his to-kill list. The sex scene in this story is so short that I could have missed it if I sneeze at the wrong moment and the whole killer subplot gets resolved off-stage so Off Duty comes off like a completely pointless story with build-up but no pay-off. At the very least, being that this is supposed to a romantic erotica story, at least have them do it doggy-style while hanging from the chandeliers or something.
Gail MacMillian's Wilderness Man is my kind of story alright: stupid male nutbar hero Heath Oakes and Alison Anderson find themselves sharing the inheritance of her grandfather's place. Because the heroine wants to sell the place and have a career in the city, he decides to show her what she is missing by deliberately stranding her in the wilderness and literally shagging her brains out until she's all "Yes, I'll be your country woman - who cares about the city! I'll be barefoot and pregnant all day long if it pleases you, my darling!" Somebody please hand me my gun. I have an imbecile moron man to hunt down with extreme prejudice.
In Nancy Pirri's Wishes And Kisses, librarian Angelina Marrone (not to be confused with Angelina's A Moron) gets an escort for her birthday. She gets one "Burke Severson" who rogers her, spanks her - the usual, really - and then she realizes that he's also working at the same library as her. After I'm done with this story, I don't know whether Angelina is the most gullible person around or I'm expected to be the gullible one here to buy the premise of the story. Burke tells her that he only gives women lap dances and striptease shows with no sex involved until he meets Angelina and apparently gets overcome with desire and she believes him. She tells him that she won't see him anymore until he finds a way to pay back all his study loans (the reason he's hustling, you see) and he does exactly in six weeks time so she takes him back. Me, I'll be wondering which closeted celebrity or politician that Burke here must have screwed silly in order to make that much money to pay off the loan. And if I'm Burke, sheesh, if I can make that much money in six weeks, who cares about that silly librarian? If I'm Angelina, heck, who wants to marry that guy? I'll be his, er, manager. I'll be nice and take only 50% as my cut as long as he keeps the moolah coming. I'm all about the O'Jays' For The Love Of Money, baby. I've nothing against hottie male escorts needing love, mind you, but for heaven's sake, the least Nancy Pirri can do is to not insult my intelligence. Burke only gives women lap dances - as if!
JR McCoy's Gardener Of Love is about twentysomething lawnboy Tom Jacobs working at the lawn of fortysomething family friend, the widowed Anne Hemmingsley. Alas, the weather is so hot and they both need to change out of their clothes. Tom happens to get a peek at Mrs Hemmingsley changing and I suppose you can predict what happens from there. She turns out to be a sex-hungry woman eager to introduce bondages, spankings, cream pies, and all kinds of other fun things to the sexually inexperienced Tom. The thing is, I'm sure at least ten stories with this premise go online every day on erotica websites. The only differences between this story and all those My Naughty Slutty Neighbor and How Mrs Watermelon Made A Man Out Of Me stories out there are the better than average spelling and grammar compared to a typical smutty online story. I wish the author has done something to make this very familiar story stand out. It's so... derivative.
So, back to my original question. Erotic-ahh, make it stop, aah! or Erotic-ahh, ooh, oh yes baby, do it again!? From this anthology, I'd say it's more like Erotizzz.... zzzz.
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