REVIEW: Night Spell by Lucinda Betts
Dear Ms. Betts:
What to say. Your contribution to the Pure Sex anthology featured a contemporary heroine whose work/relationship dilemna was spot on. Your three story collection here featured heroines in different states of sexual abuse. Oh sure, I get what you were trying for: forced sex fantasies are supposedly the hallmark of the repressed female professional. The problem is that starting with the first story, it was hard to see were the force stopped and the actual desire began.
My Captive is an eight chapter story wherein 6 of the chapters feature the heroine in captivity. Samantha Thornton awakes in a world that is not quite familiar and not strange but not at all in her control. Her body is not her own but rather must serve the desires of some unknown man. This story, which I am sure was meant to feed female fantasy, read like a rape to me. There are some drugs that can be given to a woman to make her body enjoy the experience while her mind is resisting strongly. This story seemed to embody that concept. It was not romantic but rather offensive. D.
Wing Dreams is set in Ancient Greece and is a weird amalgamam of divine intervention (both cruel and good) and drug induced orgies. This story opens with the heroine having a dream of a sexual encounter with a winged creature. She is afraid of her own desires (a common erotica theme) but in the dream state, she succumbs to the insistent male attention. The story then shifts to two scenes, each featuring a male character. One strong and beautiful but inconstant and another cursed by the gods with a hideous visage. Wow. I would never be able to guess who was the hero. Despite the setting of ancient Greece, the language of your characters is modern. For those readers who want to be prepared, this story also features a drug induced f/f/f orgy which I found to be strange and purposeless. It didn’t seem to advance the romance between the hero and heroine and neither did it serve to advance any esoteric sexual exploration (other than the obvious gratuitousness). D.
The third story is the only worthwhile one in the entire collection and had the book been this story, I would have ended up grading this work much higher. Bed Sport is a fantasy tale wherein Larkspur attempts to steal the Jewel of Dragonkind in order to save her sister from defilement from an evil dragon. She sneaks into the dragon’s cave and uses her body upon a fellow thief she encounters to wrest away the jewel. Her plans go awry and she must join forces with an unexpected power to defeat the evil. This story had great potential. Larkspur was a strong female heroine who aggressively took action. She was a bit headstrong but after reading about the sex induced sex fiends in the first two tales, this was a welcome relief. The problem is that this story was too short to flesh out any world building and any character development. C.
At the end of the anthology, I wasn’t in anyway empowered or enlightened. I felt like I had read about the worst things that could happen to a woman and that those worst things were glamourized or romanticized. I.e., only through drug induced sex can you find your true self. Ick. I think this is what I dislike about erotica the most — the sexual exploration without the tender parts of romance. It makes the female fantasies seem more lonely than lovely. C- for the collection.