Incantatrix Press, $4.99, ISBN 978-1512215182
Historical Erotica, 2015 (Reissue)
When it comes to ménage à trois stories, Madelynne Ellis has a nice track record of being able to balance the kinky stuff and enough characterization to ensure that the two blokes involved feel like real dudes with personalities of their own, rather than just Penis 1 and Penis 2. The Kissing Bough is a short story that has been published elsewhere before, and it boasts a pretty good degree of characterization. I wish it had been longer, though.
Viola Marsh is ruined. You see, it was all a misunderstanding – back at that infamous party, she never asked to be shoved into a closet with two randy guys, but the damage was done when she was discovered with her hands on their you-know-what. The whole thing was a blur, as she was understandably upset at that time, but since then, everyone except her maiden aunt believes that she has unnatural interests in two men at once. Forced to live with her spinster aunt, Viola wishes for a way to escape her current life. Going out on Christmas eve to stand under the kissing bough, hoping that a man would kiss her and then propose, may be an act of desperation, but she doesn’t have many options in the first place.
Meanwhile, Percy Gilling and Lord William Ricborough are kissing cousins who not only enjoy shagging one another, they also enjoy making love to the same woman at the same time. Something about the sensation of the other fellow’s you-know-what moving here and while the bloke is moving there being all fun and sexy, if you ask Percy. Anyway, William needs to marry, and the two of them are facing a bit of a dilemma. They want to continue their relationship, so this means they need a wife for William who isn’t averse to sharing her husband – and the marriage bed – with Percy. They have heard of Viola’s scandal, and for them, her being caught with two men is actually a good thing. She is the one! And when they see her and both are strongly attracted to her, they realize that, yes, she really is the one.
Viola is intrigued, and scared by what the two men are proposing to her. Not that she is repulsed by the idea of two blokes at once – she finds that concept intriguing, although she has only a hazy idea of what sharing a bed with two men actually entails. She is more worried about what the men would do when they realize that she’s far more innocent than they think she is. Will they rescind their offer and force her to spend a lifetime being mocked and scolded by her hypocritical brothers?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the blokes here are pretty well drawn considering the length of this story. Percy is the less confident one, but he is also seems to be the one more determined to get Viola to see that they are meant to be. William seems to be more easy going one, although he has plenty of charm to share. Viola is the most well drawn one, and her thoughts, emotions, and motivations are well developed enough for me to sympathize with her and her circumstances.
The thing is, that sex scene is set up to the literal climax of this story, and the build-up is pretty good in a toe-curling ooh-I-can’t-wait way. But when it happens, it’s like finally getting to lure that hot guy into one’s bedroom only to discover that he has a very tiny pee-pee – the whole thing is quite a let-down. This is mostly because the characters are depicted well enough that I really want to see how these three would adjust to the happy threesome thing. Will there be jealousy? Will someone feel left out? Heaven knows, a marriage of two can be a handful, adding one more person in is either a recipe for heartbreak or, who knows, maybe a merrier party. I want to find out, because I find myself intrigued by and even caring for these characters. Having the story ends with a happy shagpile is, therefore, disappointing. I’m happy that they are happy, but I really would like to read more about these three. Something tells me the story after the last page here is most likely a more interesting one.