Captivated

Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine and Robin Schone
1999, Erotic Romance
Kensington, $12.95, 377 pages, Amazon ASIN 157566450X

Grade: D
Sensuality: Burning

Captivated is a frankly erotic anthology featuring stories from the four best known practioners of the genre. Bertrice Small, Thea Devine, and Susan Johnson are well-known for their novels that push the boundaries of erotism, and Robin Schone is just starting out. Ladies, look out. Ms Schone may be a beginner, but her story is by far the best thing in this book and in my opinion the only story worth a second look.

Fantasy Romance
Ecstasy by Bertrice Small takes place in a mythical Amazonian society. Prince Dagon is heir to the throne of another mythical kingdom, but he has been betrayed by his brother and is a slave. He is bought by the High Procuress of Kava as a stud for their queen. Kalida is the Queen of Kava, a place where men are servants and studs - period. Dagon is the perfect slave. He's big and strong and very, very, very well endowed. It's the custom of the Queen of Kava to step down from the throne when she falls in love. Kalida has had lots of lovers but never fallen in love. One night of Dagon's "love lance" and she's ready to lay down her crown. Dagon wants her to be sure so he suggests a threesome with another slave who is also endowed with a big love lance (although not as big as Dagon's), just so she will be sure. The three of them proceed to have an orgy that is described in a combination of purple prose and clinical detail.

Score:

  • Sex - Burning Hot.
  • Emotional involvement with the characters - Zilch.
  • Writing style - Laughable and purple to the point of ultraviolet.
  • Grade - F
Grade: F

Historical Romance
Bound and Determined by Susan Johnson features a rake, Hugh Dalsany, Marquis of Crewe, who is tired of sex. He has been servicing two and three women a night - every night - for a long time and has decided to give celibacy and country life a try.

Hugh is kidnapped by Sofia, the wife of Prince Marco. Marco wants an heir but his sexual tastes run to men and he wants Hugh to do the deed. Hugh is not willing and Sofia's men have to tie him down. Hugh is also holding Sofia's mother as a hostage until she becomes pregnant.

This whole story can be summed up as - "I hate you, (sex scene), I hate you, (sex scene), I hate you, (sex scene), well, maybe I don't hate you all that much (sex scene) I love you! (sex scene)"

There is a lot of foul language. Hugh throws the F-word around with as much abandon as Joe Pesci in a Martin Scorsese movie. All the problems that Sofia has with her mother being held hostage are magically banished and she and Hugh fall deeply in love. If you say so, Ms Johnson.

Score:

  • Sex - Very, Very Hot
  • Emotional involvement with the characters - Yawn
  • Writing style - O.K. - But not memorable.
  • Grade - D
Grade: D

European Historical Romance
Dark Desires by Thea Devine was for me anti-erotic and just plain sickening. Drue Caledon has to marry Courtland Summers to fulfill her father's gambling debt. Drue loves another man - Gerald Lenoir - and swears undying hatred toward Court.

Court plans to make Drue love him and drive all thoughts of Gerald out of her mind by sexually subjugating her. He forces her to parade around naked, she has to wear all kinds of leather bondage gear and then he arouses her to the point of pain then refuses to give her release. Court has lots of gear and toys and mind games to play with. And he thinks that this is going to make Drue love him?! Not in the universe I inhabit!

There were several words that came to mind when I read this story - kinky, depraved, disgusting were a few. I'll never read this one ever again.

Score:

  • Sex - Kinky to the nth degree
  • Emotional involvement with the characters - Court and Drue - you two stay away from me.
  • Writing style - Lots of italics and inner monologues - not that I want to hear these two character's thoughts ever again.
  • Grade - F (can I line a bird cage with these pages)?
Grade: F

European Historical Romance
A Lady's Pleasure by Robin Schone is wonderful. It is extraordinarily erotic and I found myself caring about the characters.

Robert Coally is a soldier. He is tired of battle and heart-sick over the possiblity that he has become a killing machine without a soul. On his way to a tavern, he is caught in a violent storm and takes refuge in a cottage. The cottage is inhabitated by Abigail, a young spinster who has come there to rest and indulge her passion for reading erotic literature. Robert questions Abigail and she - no shy violet - is candid about her love for erotic literature and her envy of a man's ability to experience sexual fulfillment without society's censure. They make a pact that as long as the storm lasts they will share and fulfill each other's sexual fantasies.

The sex in A Lady's Pleasure is as hot and steamy as in the other stories, but Robin Schone is a more gifted writer. She shuns purple prose. Robert and Abigail do not see each other as two sets of sex organs to be joined. Their sexual enounters involve large measures of tenderness and caring and their union results in the healing of two wounded hearts. Unlike the other three, Schone can write erotic scenes that involve character's souls as well as their genitals.

Score:

  • Sex - Burning Hot.
  • Emotional involvement with the characters - You will care about Robert and Abigail and want them to stay together
  • Writing style - Excellent.
  • Grade - B+
Grade: B+

I recommend Robin Schone's story to writers who want to see how erotic romance should be done. Captivated not only pushes the boundaries - it shatters them. If you are easily offended, this is not the anthology for you. Come to think of it, I'm not easily offended, but the Thea Devine story did me in. Let the reader beware!

-- Ellen Micheletti

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