The Pleasure of His Bed

Melissa MacNeal, Donna Grant and Annalise Russell
2008, Erotic Romance
Aphrodisia, $13.95, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0758228546

Grade: D-
Sensuality: Burning

The erotic romance The Pleasure of His Bed did not arouse, titillate, or otherwise excite. It took me a week to read two of the three short stories, mostly because I couldn't tolerate more than a few pages at a time. My eyes rolled so often while enduring most of this book that I feared my contact lenses would pop clear out of my head.

Erotic Romance (1710s High Seas)
In Melissa MacNeal's The Captain's Courtesan, Sofia Martine is supposed to accompany two young women as their abigail on a ship that is part of a small flotilla headed to the New World from England in the early 18th century. She asks her mother to take her place and instead stows away on another of the ships, this one captained by Damon Delacroix, after the two share a lusty encounter outside her employer's estate. Though he knows he is breeching his ship's own rules, he will not share her with his crew and instead, assigns her to help cook when she's not busy servicing him. But his ship's quartermaster is determined to have Sofia for himself. He threatens her, lies to the captain about her, and the result of his machinations puts her in danger from the notorious Blackbeard.

At 130 pages, this is the longest of the book's three short stories. It features prose so purple the pages practically changed color as I read it. The lusty abigail and equally lusty captain apparently fall in love because they are...lusty for each other. There's a lot of plot in this one, but none of it involves any characterization beyond the broadest of cartoonish strokes. Sofia is lusty, feisty, and endears herself to the crew through her cooking. Damon is lusty, strong, and the crew has his back - and the quartermaster is jealous, evil, and greedy. Yawn. Grade: F

Erotic Romance
The Ties that Bind, by Donna Grant, is set in the make-believe warring kingdoms of Hesione and Pereth. A political marriage to end the fighting is arranged between Jarina and Kyros, neither of whom looks forward to it. Somebody is pulling strings behind the scenes, though, which results in Jarina's kidnapping. Surprise, surprise...she ends up as Kyros' sex slave. She does not reveal her true identity and is taught the art of love both by Kyros and another of his harem, as she "prepares" Jarina for her new Master. Yes, folks, this one features girl on girl action.

Even with that scene - which didn't do a thing for me - the shortest of the three stories is the best in the anthology. And perhaps that's why. The focus is almost solely on the slave and her Master, and it's kinda fun, in a kinky way. If Jarina's rationale for not telling Kyros her true identity is slim, it passes in a flash of an eye. Grade: C+

Erotic Romance
In Annalise Russell's In His Bed, Chessa was given to a Viking warlord by her chieftain father to keep her village safe. Ten years later she strikes a deal with Bodin, the Viking's son; the virginal girl will attend to his sexual needs and he will return her to her people. Neither count on his father's jealous reaction, which results in violence. There's more danger in store for Chessa and Bodin, and her homecoming doesn't proceed as planned.

This short story is heavy on the violence and short on everything else. Bodin introduces Chessa to sex slowly, but his anger level throughout the read is so high that it's hard to believe he's getting any enjoyment from it. Although I enjoy "captivity" stories, Bodin's anger and Chessa's constant victimhood ruined that aspect. Their total lack of communication and the over-emphasis on the violence that ensues throughout the story make this one a failure as well. Grade: F

The Pleasure of His Bed is saved from total failure by its shortest short story. That thudding sound you hear is this one being tossed into the trash.

-- Laurie Likes Books

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