X: The Erotic Treasury

X: The Erotic Treasury, by various authors 7.5

I was given this gorgeous anthology by my partner some three years ago, for Christmas. It’s such a beautiful, almost velvety, book and it comes in a hard case, so I didn’t want to drag it around with me in case I’d damage it – as I tend to, despite my valiant efforts to the contrary.

But, after trying to chip away at it here and there at home, I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I decided, finally, to cover it with a thick vinyl book-cover and get through it. I crossed my fingers that I’d make it to the end book unscathed and libido properly teased.

I’m sure glad that I did: my desires were fulfilled.

Truth be told, the first part of the book had barely done anything for me – hence why I had a difficult time plodding through it initially. But, when you dig deeper, sometimes you find exactly what you had been looking for all along:

Broads, by R. Guy 7.0
Although some moments are slightly hot, I was really taken by surprise by this story about fisting. I expected the anthology to warm me up, not throw me a sucker-punch. It was jarring, and it left me feeling a tad peculiar afterwards.

Yes, by Donna George Storey 7.5
While I found parts of it exciting, the whole servitude element of the tale left me feeling slightly uncomfortable. And I can’t even fathom sharing a partner with someone else, whether it be for my own thrill or anyone else’s. It just doesn’t jive with me for whatever reason.

A Perfect Fit, by Katya Andreevna 7.0
Well, since I don’t find feet appealing, let alone have a foot fetish, I couldn’t really get into this one. But the author expressed the main character’s desire in such a way that it was nonetheless sexy.

Parts for Wholes, by Monmouth 8.0
This one starts abruptly, throwing the reader right into the middle of it. While I never welcome b&d -and even less so s&m- in my own fantasies, I was able to get into the rest of the piece – which I found rather titillating.

Milk, by Michael Dorsey 7.25
Interesting story, especially given the setting of post-Communist Russia, but I didn’t find it all that exciting – it was quirky, mostly psychological. It had its moments, but that’s about it.

Footprints, by Elle Molique 6.0
Right-o… two of my favourites: jazz and foot fetishes. I didn’t hate it, but it left me totally indifferent. At least the main character, a woman, was interesting.

A Clean, Comfortable Room, by Pam Ward 5.0
Ick. A woman flees a bad relationship and stops by a roadside motel for a night’s rest and ends up with more than she expected. Not much about the story either had me interested, or hot and bothered.

Inspiration by Eric Albert 8.25
Very short, but dirty in a way that I enjoyed. Mostly, though, it was the tender side of it that made it work – otherwise it would have been nothing but hardcore imagery. I really liked that it was a story that a man was telling his partner, at her request, as she suffered on her deathbed. It was touching to see the relationship retain some spark despite it all.

Five Dimes, by Anita Melissa Mashman 7.0
A couple’s power game with a little teasing going on. Very short. Not bad.

Backhand, by Ernie Conrick 6.5
I’m not really interested in tennis nor in Anna Kournikova and Martina Navrátilová. So a fantasy with the two of them (or, as is the case, thinly-veiled doppelgängers) did absolutely nothing for me. Plus which the writing wasn’t the greatest, littered with a few poor analogies along the way.

Beyond the Sea, by Susan DiPlacido 7.75
While I couldn’t relate to either of the two main characters, I found the tension between them pulse-quickening. It was pretty hot.

Slow Dance on the Fault Line, by Donald Rawley 5.0
I couldn’t sympathize or empathize with this desperate housewife at all, and didn’t find her adventure erotic one bit.

Cold Ass Ice, by Chelsea Summers 7.5
Naughty, naughty. The title says it all. It’s short, and quite to the point. And I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone would actually like this, quite frankly.

Must Bite, by Vicki Hendricks 7.5
This story of a stripper marrying the “perfect” man, but gradually falling out of love, had its moments at the beginning, but it became anything but erotic by the end. I can’t say that the apes that they kept were appealing to me, either.

Comeback, by Nicholas Kaufmann 8.0
This tale of an aging porn star trying to make it back in the business, but being disrespected by her peers, started off so-so, but I loved where it went from there, into a hallucinatory mind-f***. And then the ending was perfectly satisfying. Nice.

Loved it and Set it Free, by Lisa Montanarelli 7.5
It has a slightly silly conclusion, but otherwise I enjoyed this tale of a teenage girl discovering the joys of her first dildo. It gave the impression of being autobiographical, and this heightened sense of realism helped to make it sexier.

Deprogramming, by Greta Christina 7.5
I’m really not into s&m, and it mostly puts me off, but I found the story itself, about an ex-cult member trying to undo the psychological harm that was done to her, well-thought out. It might seem extreme, but I’ve heard stories about some of these cults and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that this is based on fact.

Electric Razor, by Irma Wimple 8.0
This was hot, even if it was more of a laundry list of turn ons than an actual attempt at erotica. I guess there’s just something about female self-pleasure that gets me almost every time. And it ended with a smile.

Fairgrounds, by Peggy Munson 4.0
Not only did the transgender stuff not do anything for me, I found the writing difficult to get through. For me, it was a chore to read on all levels. To each’s own, I guess.

Gifts from Santa, by Tsaurah Litzky 7.0
Amusing, but quite silly. Even though Santa Claus is a fantasy already, I just couldn’t buy this naughty characterization of him. Weird, huh?

Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot
, by Robert Olen Butler 7.0
This is not erotic at all, but I liked the concept. It was quite original to consider that the parrot might be someone reincarnated with all his memories intact but unable to put them across to other humans. Novel.

On the Road with Sonia, by Paula Bomer 7.0
A woman is sick and tired of doing all the work at home and hits the road, picking up some guy along the way. Nothing significant, but decently written. And it has its moments, so to speak.

Low-cut, by Lisa Palac 6.5
Meh. I didn’t find any of these swinging characters appealing and the acts weren’t even interesting to me. I think the failure is in the build-up, quite honestly, because it all fell flat and it shouldn’t have.

Puffy Lips, by Susie Hara 7.5
Two words: labia majora.

Salt, by Bill Noble 6.5
Okay, I suppose, but the description of getting lost at sea and trying to make their way back muddled my brain. I also didn’t find the characters appealing, both as personalities and as fantasies. World travelers would likely enjoy this one best.

Ratatouille, by Susannah Indigo 8.5
Loved every bite of this one. I found it hot, intriguing, and well-developed given the shortness of the piece. It made me want to be there, to experience the narrator’s summer. Heck, I should probably rate it higher but there was one moment when I felt like Indigo skipped a beat and failed to explain something more clearly.

Sweating Profusely in Mérida: A Memoir, by Carol Queen 8.0
Wow. This crosses a few lines, and yet I quite liked it. The fact that it’s listed as a memoir probably helps, because it gives us the impression of being in someone’s head. And that’s sexier than someone trying to get in ours. Voyeurism vs. seduction, I guess.

God’s Gift, by Salome Wilde 7.5
Is it a revenge fantasy? Or just a tongue-in-cheek jab at the male ego? Either way, it was amusing enough.

Red Light, Green Light, by Shanna Germain 7.5
Not a bad fantasy. A little naïve, I suppose, given that prostituting one’s self is likely to be more of a risk than a turn on, but it’s all innocuous enough. It had some sexy moments in it, even if it’s probably culled from the book of ‘Pretty Woman’ to some degree.

The Man Who Ate Women, by Damina Grace 8.0
Now this is my kind of fantasy, filled to the brim with cunnilingus. I recognize how risky this behaviour would be in real life, but it’s just a fantasy. And, while I couldn’t relate with the protagonist himself, who admits to being a booze-hound, I appreciate his take on savouring puss and the detailed descriptions. Nice.

Rock of Ages, by P.S. Haven 7.75
Slightly transgressive, given that the narrator is talking about his sister most of the time, but the recounting of his excitement at what he saw were pretty spot on, vivid enough that it got into my head. I also liked the setting of the mid-’70s, when sexual liberation was in full swing and yet a certain naïveté remained.

Night Train, by Martha Garvey 7.5
Short, but it had its moments – even though it felt like a dangerous prospect for the protagonist, being alone in a train with a relative stranger. Still, being written from a first-person female perspective made it hotter than it would have been otherwise.

Seagum, by Corwin Ericson 5.5
The language lost me, for some reason. It wasn’t complex, but the way it was put together had me struggling to remain focused. I also couldn’t relate to any of its seafaring characters and found it only mildly erotic. It was amusing at times, though.

Wish Girls, by Matthew Addison 8.25
I liked this one because, not only does it offer up fantasy, which can be hot, but it juxtaposes it with reality, which is also hot – but in a different way. In particular, I liked that the author tackled the fact that fantasies are not the same thing as flesh and blood, ’cause I’ve met guys who had a difficult time separating glossy pictures and porn from the real thing. Which, in my opinion, is quite sad. So extra points for bringing it up in a smart way.

Second Date, by Marcelle Manhattan 8.0
Short, but a turn on. It’s told from a female perspective, and it situates the reader at the beginning of what we know will be a long-term relationship. Or, at least, a long-standing sexual partnership. And this first time has surprises in store for both the reader and its protagonist.

The Portable Girlfriend, by Doug Tierney 6.0
Science-fiction erotica, of the kind that isn’t extremely novel, about a guy who buys a disc that contains a program emulating the experience of being with a real woman. It’s written well enough, and we get to explore the science fiction side a little bit, but I didn’t find it exceptional or especially erotic. Only the ending made it worth it for me.

The Best She Ever Had, by Susie Bright 8.25
Seriously, I’m no great fan of BJs, but this story had me going. And there’s more to it, being that it’s essentially a dialogue between a non-monogamous couple discussing each other’s sexual history whilst on the beach.

Valentines’ Day in Jail, by Susan Musgrave 6.75
I couldn’t relate to the characters, and didn’t especially find it erotic or sexy. I guess I just don’t have a thing for prison romance. The only thing I really liked was the fact that this woman had a down-to-earth perspective. I even liked the sober ending, because it felt real.

Full Metal Corset, by Anne Tourney 7.0
While I didn’t really enjoy the whole corset thing, I loved exploring the main character’s psychology. Understanding what made her tick was a fascinating journey.

A First Time for Everything, by Rachel Kramer Bussel 7.25
Well, I don’t really get the whole bukake thing, quite frankly – from either end of the deal. But, for what it’s worth, it made for a pretty different kind of erotic moment. Mostly, the character was an enjoyable one – irrespective of what her fantasy might be.

***

In summary: As with any anthology, it has its ups and downs (and, in this case, it’s fair share of ins and outs) – hence the book’s rating.

But I must say that my overall impression is that it was a pleasant -and sometimes pleasing- read. I’m quite happy with it – especially given that these types of books can be extremely hit and miss.

X: The Erotic Treasury, is definitely worth a good look; there’s a little bit in it to titillate just about everyone.

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6 responses to “X: The Erotic Treasury

  1. There is something very odd about this review. The author finds a wide variety of sexual practices either uninteresting or objectionable, including S&M, B&D, prison sex, Blow jobs (!), sci-fi, sailors, swinging, transgendered people, tennis, jazz, foot fetishes and communists. In short, the auhor of this review is such a miserable prude that I am left wondering why she escaped from the convent to write this review and why any sexually adventurous person would give a hoot about her opinions. Her views on good writing are also highly suspect, the reader can only guess that she takes for good writing anything that seems harmless. Please Critical Eye, perhaps the next time you include a book of erotica, it would be of value to your readers if the reviewer were not categorically dismissive of the majoirty of human sexual activity.

    • Sexuality is a complex thing and not every taste is for everyone. Things that you or I find incredibly hot might seem lame by some or too extreme by others.

      Similarly, there are things that I find less interesting or appealing. As do you, I’m sure.

      The reason I even expressed disinterest or even aversions in this particular blurb is to provide perspective on the rating that I give to each piece. For that reason, I also highlighted the ones that I found titillating. And why.

      Doing so provides readers with a more accurate reflection, whether subjective or not, so that they may better gauge the book – short of actually reading it, of course.

      I suggest that you buy the book and read it. Form your own opinion. You will probably find that some of the shorts appeal to you more than others.

      And I promise that I won’t hold it against you.

      Meanwhile, while you do that, I’ll try to get myself locked in that convent that you mentioned – it sounds like a lot of fun to me. 😉

      Thanks for checking in, Rick.
      The Thorn

  2. I have read the book. And, while I certainly understand that sexuality is malleable, you have approached the subject with such prejudice that you have done a disservice to your readers. For example, your responses seem categorically slanted towards female authors. No male author on the list here has scored over a 6.5 while no female author looks to be below a 7.0. You may argue that this is just your preference, but writing a fair-handed review requires an ability to consider stories on their merits, not on their accidental congruence with your–again remarkably limited–sexual preferences.
    Your assessment of the quality of the writing seems skewed by this prejudice. As an example, I would take Donald Rawley’s Slow Dance on a Fault Line, a melancholy and evocative take on eros and thanatos written as the author died of cancer (RIP). I challenge any literate person to read this story and conclude that it deserves 5.0 on your scale. If it did not turn you on, that is fine, but your job as reviewer is to determine its potential to do so for your readership, which, almost without question, has a wider palate than yourself, and also to determine literary quality, which you must take into consideration separate from your own slicky scale. My point is that you have written an adequate or fair minded review, but have approached the subject with a debilitating set of pre-conceptions that renders your assessment inane.

    • Well, that’s rather interesting, Rick. I didn’t realize that I had such an affinity for female writers. I won’t apologize for it – it’s hardly my fault if their approach to erotica stirred me more than the male writers. And I won’t apologize for what is strictly an opinion, a subjective assessment.

      I’m amazed by your personal reaction to this blurb. I call them “blurbs” because I don’t actually take them so seriously as to call them “reviews”. They’re not meant to be: they’re strictly a means by which I can express my likes and dislikes about the things I watch, read and listen to.

      You are obviously better-suited to write from an objective standpoint and I welcome you to do exactly that. I will perhaps disagree with you if I read it. However, despite your own set of prejudices and your own bias(es), I highly doubt that I will consider your own assessment inane.

      Finally, with respect to your earlier criticism of my aversion to such rampant sexual practices as tennis and communism (just kidding: I know what you meant), here is an intriguing list of fetishes that I happened to stumble upon today: http://lifestyle.sympatico.ca/Relationships/galleries/articles/fetishes.htm

      I may be too much of a prude to dig them, but you might. 🙂

      Kind regards,
      The Thorn

  3. I am unfamiliar with the genre blurb. As you use it, the term seems to indicate an affective, unreasoned reaction to a piece of art, akin, perhaps, to wretching or sneezing, an instinctual verbal reflex, captured for all time on the Internet for others to ponder. How lovely. Listen, I’m going to let you in a secret: while art criticism–which, by virtue of your site’s name, is what you claim to be engaged in–is not a hard science, it is also not third-grade art class where there are no wrong answers. Some work has more merit than others apart from our reaction to it. Personally, I love C-grade horror flicks, but I would never claim that it has an inherent value as art. If you want to avoid future broadsides from people even more unpleasant tham myself (yes, they do exist) please take some time to learn your craft, meaning, first, self-examination of your own standpoint and developing the ability to vivisect your personal prejudice from your logorhea.

    • Well, I will certainly take this under advisement, Rick. Thanks for your feedback.

      Before we conclude this delightful exchange, I must convey the following: advice is rarely heard when it’s wrapped up in aggressive language; in such cases, people tend to react, not listen.

      As it stands, the way that you formulate your message is pretty much akin to telling your girlfriend that the new dress she bought doesn’t make her look that fat (“But, honey… I meant it as a compliment”, he says somewhat apologetically).

      So I suggest that you reconsider your tactic. Or, stop wasting your breath. ’cause, otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

      …and I’m sure that you have much better things to do. 🙂

      Sincerely,
      The Thorn (a.k.a. The Logorrheac)

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