by Leigh Ellwood, contemporary (2005)
Phaze, $2.00, ISBN 1-59426-529-1

While its premise is something straight out of an erotica, Voyeur's attempt to incorporate romance is far from convincing. Leigh Ellwood is much better as an author when she's setting up erotic scenes and there aren't enough of them to make up for too many awkward attempts at romantic scenes in this story.

Marissa has recently started work at a senior home. One day, she opens the door to Room 112 and stumbles upon the Alzheimer-stricken Mrs Barbara Baylor fellating Barbara's husband Erik. Marissa, a rather shy woman who doesn't giving kinky out-there notions like voyeurism much thought on a usual day, is disturbed by how tempted she is to accept Erik's offer when he invites her to sit in and watch as Erik and Barbara have sex whenever he visits his wife. Marissa is attracted to the home supervisor Glen. Who would have thought that some naughty episodes of shameless voyeurism will bring Marissa and Glen together at last, eh?

While I'm glad that Marissa learns at the end that she'd love to give free sex shows with Glen to anyone who wants to drop by and watch, the author is far more successful in her delightfully dirty scenes than in romantic ones. Glen and Marissa have zero chemistry, mostly because Marissa comes off like a typically stereotypical erotica heroine rather than a realistic character. She starts off inhibited and inexperienced but by the end of the story she is screaming for all kinds of monkey sex.

Come to think of it, I think I would enjoy this story better if it ditches the contrived attempts at romance and go all-out into erotica territory. Because Ms Ellwood sets up a deliciously dirty little fantasy here, it seems like a shame and I feel cheated that I don't get to see Erik and Glen double-tagging Marissa or some other orgy antics. Voyeur is a story that deliberately restricts its couple to only watch the other couple as they have sex and the end result is like Japanese adult movies - when you want to watch something unabashedly dirty and they pixellate out the relevant parts of the anatomy of the people on the TV screen, you feel cheated because, after all, you watch this kind of movies for that sort of thing. Am I making sense here?

Therefore, when the premise for this story is such that the only way the author can do it justice is by having the two couples embark on a happy swinging good time, it feels as if Ms Ellwood is clipping her own wings by limiting her story to a mere love story. Some fantasies are too large to be contained to only two people.

Rating: 71

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