C Chaparrita, Delilah Devlin, Randi Alexander and Lissa Matthews
August 2012, Erotic Romance
Cleis, $15.95, 244 pages, Amazon ASIN 1573448141
As a reader, what do you expect from a book subtitled “Erotic Romance for Women”? I expected erotica, especially after reading Lorelei James’ foreword that the stories would take “elements of a traditional western and adding in erotic romance.” My reaction was what fun. Imagine my disappointment when the element missing from most of the stories in this anthology is the erotic one.
Okay, granted one person’s erotic moment might be another’s ho-hum. But I think we all agree that at its core erotica should give readers the little thrill of sexual promise, the visceral excitement of bedplay to come. Descriptions of body parts might be included, but aren’t necessary.
Of the 15 stories in this collection, however, only 2 qualify as erotic in my book. The others straddle the line between cute, often interesting romances or ho-hum. The collection runs the gamut of time periods from the late 1800s to contemporary, the only connection being that one of the characters is a cowboy.
Four stories adequately give the feel of the collection: two erotica and two of the better offerings.
Historical Romance (Mexico)
After reading James’ foreword remark that cowboys were the epitome of alpha males, I laughed to find author Chaparrita’s Raney’s Last Ride that alpha cowboy gunslinger was a woman. Raney’s twisted story of revenge definitely houses titillation through crude terminology and un-vanilla sex as well as Raney’s and her beta male sidekick Whitfield’s attitude toward it. Unfortunately, the end of the story will leave readers feeling slightly soiled and totally incredulous, which isn’t quite the point of erotica.
Contemporary Romance (Rural America)
Delilah Devlin’s erotic Runaway Bride about man kidnapping his spoiled rotten fiancé unfolds predictably with the only wonder being why the seemingly nice guy is so hell-bent on reclaiming the witch a week after she jilts him at the altar. Again, while the erotic elements are firmly in place, the ending will leave readers pitying the poor excuse for a man.
Grade: C-Contemporary Romance (American West)
Judging by the standards of contemporary romances published in the last few years, Randi Alexander’s Banging the Cowboy about the charming female drummer in a country Western band and the wonderfully shy but macho cowboy who lusts after her is about par as far as sexuality is concerned. Fans of current contemporary romance authors won’t be surprised or actually think the content is erotic but mainstream. Fortunately the hero and heroine make up for the un-erotic plot.
Grade: B+Contemporary Romance (Rural America)
A good old boy and his lover are the heart of Lissa Matthews’ Small Town Famous. Having sex at the most unexpected places, Bethann and sheriff’s deputy Tommy have spent almost two decades shocking their small town. Now Bethann is convinced Tommy’s looking at the sheriff’s daughter as if he wants her. In retaliation, Bethann stomps down the center of town with her daddy’s shotgun, and now is in jail. Like Banging the Cowboy, this story is predictable and within the bounds of today’s contemporary romances. Its saving grace is the dollops of humor Matthews adds.
All in all, if readers want a collection of B+ to C- stories that belie the title of erotic, this is the collection for them. If readers want a collection of erotic cowboy stories, then they’re out of luck here.
-- Pat Henshaw
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