Berkley Sensation, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-23700-7
Historical Erotica, 2010
Lila DiPasqua’s The Princess in His Bed offers pretty much the same kind of fun as Awakened by a Kiss: three purportedly erotic retelling of classic fairy tales, all set in 17th century France. I personally find that these stories have very little to do with those fairy tales beyond the predictable play of words in the titles.
The Marquis’ New Clothes has Aimee de Miran being pestered by her useless cousin into trying to retrieve a ring belonging by this cousin’s ex-lover. Don’t ask, but the ring accidentally fell into a pocket of the justacorps worn by Adam de Vey. The idiot cousin naturally couldn’t even remember the color of that justacorps. Fortunately, Adam’s penis calls to Aimee like a homing missile and Aimee decides to pander to the man’s eternal randiness to save her cousin from natural selection. This one is a silly story featuring a hero with exaggerated desire typical of that of Susan Johnson’s heroes. Aimee meanwhile feels guilty because she’s sleeping with Adam while trying to save her cousin’s life – she’s such a despicable whore, oh dear. Fortunately, all ends well because Adam manages to retain some blood in his head during his constant erection to do everything necessary to save the day.
The Lovely Duckling has the same guy, now named Joseph D’Alumbert, whose penis works like a homing missile as it points straight at Emilie de Sarron, a burn victim who manages to remain sexy and lovely where it matters. Long ago, Joseph was part of the crowd that made Emilie’s life hell during that lady’s coming out. Joseph decided to correspond with Emilie as his twin brother Vincent. Now, he’s going to meet Emilie and oh no, how is he going to tell Emilie the truth? Of course, his guilt doesn’t stop him from shagging her left, right, up, down, and sideways. In the end, it doesn’t matter because Emilie is so grateful to be boinked and loved by a hot guy that Joseph could have called himself Tinky Winky or Adam Lambert for all she cares.
And finally, we have The Princess and the Diamonds. Matthias de Tesson willingly plays the rat and infiltrate the gaming rooms to rat out the names of the people who continue to play the banned game Basset. Princess Gabrielle, King Louis XIV’s favorite princess, meanwhile poses as a boy to play Basset in order to win the money needed to repay her useless brother’s debts. Naturally, our hero sees through her disguise and plays several good rounds of poker with her before realizing that he can no longer be a spy with integrity because he doesn’t want to rat out on his new lover. In this one, the whole thing is resolved by the King’s magnanimity and the hero’s adorable “Duty… responsibility… whatever, give me that hot hoo-hah!” steadfast virtue.
While I like this collection better than the last because the alpha mule heroes are gone this time around, replaced by idiot heroines pushed into stupid situations and heroes with endless stamina, short stories are still short stories, what with rushed endings, limited characterization, and all. Also, the naughty prose could use some variety in the phraseology. For example, there is only so many “his cock was hard for her” that I can take before I roll up my eyes and mutter, “Oh, just stick that thing into an eggbeater!”
I’ve read worse, and I’ve also read better. Still, for a book with a cover price of $15.00, “okay” just isn’t good enough.