by Emy Naso, assorted erotica (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-243-9
I haven't read anything by the late Emy Naso until Sensual Magic and I must say, this collection of stories has me giggling and even blushing at times. I would hesitate to call this collection "erotic". Instead, it makes me feel as if I'm some twelve-year old girl sneakily going online and checking out websites with naked guys while the parents are asleep. I have this admittedly thrilling feel of doing something really naughty when I am reading Sensual Magic. I haven't felt that way in a long time - I'm no longer a teenager and when all those previously taboo things are made legal once I'm an adult, it's really hard to recapture some harmless little thrills of doing something the parents warned me not to without having to break the law - so I have a pretty good time with Sensual Magic.
The first story is The Bathhouse Keepers, an Alfred Hitchcock type of tale, only with jutting erections and heaving oversized mammaries, as the visitors to a Bathhouse in the sleepy town of Waygone discover all kinds of tantalizing pleasures being offered by the beautiful staff members... provided they survive long enough to enjoy those pleasures, that is. This one is irreverent, cheeky, and if the author is telling me this story personally, he'd probably be winking at me while trying to move his hand up along my leg and while I'd know that his story is pure baloney, I can't help but to be charmed by what an adorable cad that fellow is.
In The Girl Who Fell From Grace, it's 1899 and the Duke and Duchess DeLisy are worried that their daughter Columbine is not showing any interest in marrying men of advantageous position and wealth. Well, they don't realize that Columbine is busy making sex slaves out of the footmen. One day the DeLisies get a guest, the 58-year old Lord Beaumont who is a stern advocate of proper discipline and good behavior. The poor man gets a shock of his life when he retires to the guest bedroom and discover a naked Columbine and an equally naked maid waiting for him. Columbine wants Lord Beaumont to punish the maid for being so bad as to have "licentious sexual session" with poor defenseless Columbine earlier that day. You can imagine what happens to poor Lord Beaumont, I'm sure. Columbine proceeds to work her way through the staff of her house that I have to admire her stamina and wicked sense of mischief. And then there is another deliciously Hitchcockian ending to this story that has me laughing out loud. Oh, Columbine, you are such a dear.
Anyone care for some Alien Love? Don't worry, there are no tentacles in this story. It's 2376 and in our intergalactic Romeo and Juliet tale, the Montiffs and the Canalettos have a feud that last for generations. As some of the more hot-headed members of the clan try to punch each other in the face over issues like the monopoly of trade, Reney Montiff crashes a Canaletto party and catches sight of the beautiful red-haired Jey Canaletto. Reney is warned that Jey has "alien blood" but Reney's little head will not be denied his, er, desires. However, this one has a very bittersweet ending where our lovebirds opt for a far more successful way of making a grand statement about Emos In Love instead of using messy daggers and silly poisons. Why, that Mr Naso, I didn't know he had this romantic side in him!
In Captured By The Enemy, Celtic youngsters Kantu and Reila are hunting food for their Tara tuath folks one night when ten Viking warriors tribe capture them. Reila and Kantu are not killed or, in Reila's case, sexually assaulted, because these Vikings want to take them to the Viking leaders. Sigurd the Stout, the Earl of Oakney Isles, and the younger Sithric who calls himself the Norse King of Dublin have plenty of unpleasant things planned for Reila and Kantu. This story is like those exploitative movies in the 1960s and 1970s where they would show a woman graphically raped and then have the woman take revenge by killing her rapists in the most painful ways possible. There are scenes of violence in this story that are more graphic than the rape scenes, mind you. Nonetheless, while I don't consider this kind of stories my idea of fun, I realize that there are people out there who enjoy the sexualizing of victimized women who commit violent acts of vengeance on their attackers and this one is tailored just for them.
The closing story, Slave Girl, is about Saprina, the favorite harem slave girl of Lord Rhisa. She is famed for her blonde hair which is very rare among her people. However, being the Lord's favorite doesn't mean our charming little nymphomaniac will make herself exclusively available only to Lord Rhisa, especially when she gets her hand on an unusual aphrodisiac. What really gets me miffed here is how Mr Naso pulls a Scheherazade on me just when the going is getting really, really good, if you know what I mean, and has Saprina telling me that she will continue her tale another day. Aaargh, this is so evil!
As I've said earlier, I would hesitate to call the stories contained within the covers of Sensual Magic erotic. They are bawdy, naughty, vulgar, and very irreverent in the humor and cheekiness when it comes to sex. Even the use of purple prose in Slave Girl is ironic in nature, clearly inserted for comic effect. Therefore, while I'm not going breathless over these stories, I have a great time laughing and generally having a good time. Reading Sensual Magic is really like discovering an older brother's stash of pornographic magazines. I know these stories are not works of art and if I'm into pearl clutching I would be going on and on about the evil of smut, but my goodness, these stories are outlandish and fantastically entertaining. I can't take them seriously but I can sure have a good time with them. It's like having someone trying to pick me up in a bar by telling me he has a twenty-nine inch penis. Of course, I could go off on him melodramatically, "Rubbish! Be gone, pond scum!" but there's this evil twinkle in his eyes that tells me how much he knows he's talking bull, just like how he knows he's cocky and cheeky and he wants me to know that as well. And sometimes, even the wisest woman will be tempted to throw caution to the winds and wink back at this fellow. And that's exactly how I feel about Sensual Magic - this naughty little thing is just like that fellow and heaven knows I'm not always the wisest woman around.
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