Berkley Sensation, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-23556-0
Historical Erotica, 2010
Awakened by a Kiss is a collection of three erotic historical short stories that are inspired by fairy tales. The stories are all set in France in the 17th century. My reaction to this book, at the end of the day, can be summed up in one sentence: I can’t believe I actually paid $15.00 for a book that contains so many tropes that have me gritting my teeth in annoyance. I could have used that money for something less painful, like buying and listening to the three High School Musical soundtracks non-stop.
Sleeping Beau is the story of our “notorious French rake”, Adrien d’Aspe. Our Marquis de Beaulain has three lecherous old coots as his godfathers. Five years ago, our heroine Catherine de Villecourt sneaked some aphrodisiac into our hero’s system to get him to shag her until the angels sang and the Red Sea parted open at least twenty times per minute. I don’t know why she needed to drug him when it is clear that he’d stick it to any woman who can’t buy a chastity belt fast enough, but I guess our heroine didn’t want to appear too eager. As for why she wanted to be porked that night, she was married to a horrible man, et cetera – you know the story, I’d guess. Now she is a widow and they meet again by chance, and Adrien pretty much steamrollers Catherine’s weak protests into boinking her again and again.
This story is a pretty lopsided tale of an overbearing sex-mad fellow badgering, pawing, and sneaking his digits into the heroine’s undergarments. The sex is so good that somehow it’s amazing enough to reform Adrien and make him fall in love with her. She’s already in love with him, so as usual, it’s all up to him to keep or ditch the cow who has given him the milk as well as the cheese and the whole freaking dairy store for free. Luckily for Catherine, he keeps her, thus depriving her of the opportunity to play the real-life Fantine sobbing about being porked to death by sailors.
Incidentally, Adrien makes lust seem like a virulent kind of venereal disease.
Adrien clenched his teeth, his muscles taut, his body rioting for release. He was in sexual agony, unnecessary sexual agony, for given a few moments more and he’d have had the auburn-haired enchantress behind closed doors…
All that clenching and writhing and agony and more remind me of my favorite kind of movie:
Little Red Writing sees our Musketeer hero Nicholas de Savignae assigned by the King to unmask the real identity of that naughty Gilbert Leduc who writes swill-stirring stories of the abuse perpetuated by nasty men of privilege on downtrodden women. Nicholas suspects our heroine Anne and her two sisters, and conveniently enough, they are at the moment staying with his grandmother, whom he dislikes. He will seduce Anne while plotting to gather evidence to leave her to hang because he’d like everyone to know that he is a cold and mission-oriented man.
This one has exactly the same man and woman from the previous story reenacting the same kind of relationship. Anne puts up at first a weak form of resistance, demurring and wishing to help him repair his relationship with his grandmother, but eventually he manages to make his way into her bed. He holds all the power here, which is troubling as Anne is such a complete trusting idiot by the time he gets his grubby paws all over her. By the time Nicholas reveals his plot, Anne gets mad and insulted and heartbroken, but I can honestly say that the stupid woman deserves everything she gets. Like the previous story, it boils down to Nicholas to keep or ditch the cow after sampling all her goodies for free. Because the hoochie of a dingbat heroine is the best kind of hoochies ever, the sex is so amazing that Nicholas decides to keep the cow. Victor Hugo will have to look elsewhere for a tragic heroine doomed by letting a man come in contact with her virtuous crotch to star in his next epic literary saga.
Finally, Bewitching in Boots. Elizabeth de Roussel, the King’s favorite daughter, wants Tristan de Tiresomewhiner, sorry, Tiersonnier but Tristan is too busy whining about how he is no longer a man – a wounded leg and the loss of his Musketeer job do that to a man, you know – and therefore how no hot women want him anymore. Also, women like Elizabeth are spoiled slutty whores who just want a piece of him. Seriously, one moment he’s whining about slutty whores who ditched him for the guy who replaces him and then he’s whining when we have a heroine he is attracted to wanting to play with his third leg. What does he want? I think he just likes to whine.
I thought at first that this is going to be a story with a heroine who knows what she wants playing with the hero on a level playing field. Well, the heroine here ends up in a familiar place: playing the mother to the perpetually whining hero who treats her badly while wondering when he’d see her as a woman good enough to boink her brain out. Once again, the ball is in the asshole hero’s park. The cow is willing to give everything away for free – will he keep her or ditch her after he’s done with her?
The three stories in Awakened by a Kiss all feature the same relationship dynamic: overbearing jerk heroes who behave like spoiled entitled kids and the heroines who put up with them because, for some reason, they believe that such men are worth the trouble. Because I am not fond of stories with overbearing little weenies browbeating and stringing clueless women around, and because the three stories are all the same in ways that matter, I have a painful time with this one.