by Maeve Beckham, contemporary (2006)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-280-X
If you expecting another werewolf/vampire erotic romance in Maeve Beckham's The Taste Tester, you are going to be in for a pleasant or horrible surprise, depending on your tolerance for kink. Many erotic romances are actually pretty tame compared to actual eroticas because most of these stories substitute explicit description for actual erotic content, if I am making sense here. Let me try to explain myself: most romantic eroticas have bondage, BDSM, multiple partners, but how many of them come off as stories written by authors who actually know what they are writing about? The Taste Tester on the other goes the full monty, describing in explicit detail every nuance and every feeling and every taste experienced by the heroine as she goes on her sexual escapades in this story. This story only has two partners doing the naughty things but oh, the things they do!
The Taste Tester contains chapters supposedly lifted from a woman's sexually explicit online blog. Since she doesn't want anyone to know her real name, she's known as "Ava" while her boyfriend is "Jack". These two are happily in a relationship and there is no genuine incompatibility between the two of them... apart from the fact that Ava cannot stand the taste of Jack's sperm and therefore their oral sex sessions can be better. Ava decides that even that should not stand in the way of their bliss so she's going to find a way to make his sperm taste better. What should she feed him? Apples? Oranges? How about carrots?
I'm sure you can guess how she gauges the success of the diet changes she puts Jack on.
In a way, I suppose you can say that this book is geared towards readers with a fetish for fellatio and other charming variations of sex play relating to that act but this story also covers more, er, grounds than mere oral play. Oral play is of course prominent in this story for obvious reasons and the author goes in details that are rarely covered, not to the extent of taste and sensations the heroine feels when Jack is doing you-know-what to her mouth. The vivid picture of the sensations experienced by the heroines as depicted by the author makes the story one of the more erotic stories I've read in a while.
It helps that Ava comes off as a sane and likeable woman even with her desire to share every intimate detail of her sex life online and Jack is such a sweetie. Not that he should be complaining too much, since he's not exactly suffering in this story, but I do adore how he's such a sweet and charming boyfriend. This story ends on a high note and the romance in this story is particularly believable because Jack and Ava are already in a good relationship when the story begins and nothing throughout the story changes my opinion.
The one problem I have with this story is that it is too long even at 116 pages. This story could have cut out most of its middle, I believe, and be better for it because after a while Ava's experiments become repetitive. It's just feeding the boyfriend with different kinds of fruits and other organic products, after all, and Ms Beckham doesn't succeed in introducing enough variation in the way the experiments take place and are, er, tested so after a while the story seems to lose momentum and settle into a rut. The story picks up considerably a few chapters before the last page, but by then, there is already a loss of momentum and the damage is done.
While I have come across good stories that are too short and should have been longer, The Taste Tester is exactly the opposite for me. I like it, but I will like it better if some of the experiments are cut out from the story in order to preserve the pace and maintain the momentum.
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