When I was editor of the late, lamented Erotic Stories, more years ago than I care to remember, I used to love planning themed issues. In its time, we had issues covering sci-fi, paranormal stories, Christmas, Victoriana, sex on the move, stories based on song titles (everything from Me And Mrs Jones to My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts). We even had an issue in which writers were given a photo and told to come up with a story to accompany it (an idea currently being used by Circlet for one of their forthcoming anthologies – more details here), but one of the very first themes was historical erotica. One of the things you notice when you ask for stories of this kind is how many authors have a fascination with a particular period in history, and how knowledgeable they can be on anything from the Vikings to the Prohibition Era.
This shines through the stories in the new Ravenous Romance short story collection, Once Upon A Threesome. Once you’ve been sucked in by the stupendously saucy cover, the anthology kicks off in highly provocative fashion with Jen Bluekissed’s Barrabas, Give Me Back My Barrabas. Told from the point of view of Barrabas’ wife, it sees the narrator finding consolation in the arms of her friend, Shoshanah, while she waits to learn whether her husband will be crucified for his crimes. Jay Hughes’ The Untold Riches Of The Holy Lands sees three soldiers enjoying an intimate encounter in a mobile bathhouse on their way to the Crusades. Hughes’ knowledge of the British Isles may be a little questionable (a Welsh soldier from ‘near the Cornish coast’?), but the description of the fun the men have together is as hot and steamy as the bathhouse atmosphere.
From there, we jump to Seventeenth-century Venice and Kristabel Reed’s Inamorata. Antonio is being forced to marry for money, which should see the end of his romance with the beautiful but impoverished Elisabeta – except his bride-to-be, Biana, has a solution designed to provide satisfaction for all three of them…Skip to Georgian England, where Jonathan Weston finds a dull country weekend at the home of Lord Dancaster being enlivened by the arrival of the enigmatic Phineas Barclay in Em Brown’s Lord Barclay’s Seduction. Unbeknown to Jonathan, Phineas has history with his cold and rather distant wife, Genevieve, and he’s about to spice up the couple’s sex life in ways Jonathan could never have imagined.
Sticking in the era of Jane Austen, KT Grant’s The Gentleman’s Loving Spy tells what happens when sexually frustrated widow Abigail is caught spying by Gabriel and Thom as they bathe naked. The two men take the opportunity to give her the pleasure she’s been craving, but Thom has a secret, dark agenda for Abigail, which is only hinted at in the paranormal overtones of the story’s climax.
J. Schrade’s The Encore is set in Gold Rush New Mexico. Aubrey and Bella are travelling actors who become separated from the rest of their troupe during a dust storm, and when hunky cowboy Buck Jerkins rides to the rescue, Aubrey experiences an unexpected sexual awakening. Meanwhile, in Janet Post’s The Loving Homecoming, rustler Roy decides to go straight and break horses for a living. At first, his wife Jean Anne is worried about having to leave behind her friend and lover, Coral, but there’s more than enough room on the new ranch for three…
The strangely affecting Three On Twelfth, by Gregory Norris writing as Jo Atkinson, imagines a ménage between 1920s poet Edna St Vincent Millay, Vanity Fair editor Edmund ‘Bunny’ Wilson (these two really were lovers) and Bunny’s friend, John Bishop. In this take on her life, Edna (or Vincent, as she preferred to be known) is driven by her muse, a mysterious green-eyed man she once saw on a beach, and his presence is tied in to the satisfaction she derives both from sex and writing.
Courtney Sheets’ Casting Couch is a nicely handled take on the old story of the starlet who has to pleasure both the director and leading man to get a part in their new film (and loves every minute of it!), while Kathleen Ross’ French Kiss details the adventures of American undercover codebreaker Sophie, working to defeat the Germans in Paris. When it seems her boyfriend might be a German spy to whom she has spilled secrets during pillow talk, Sophie’s superiors plot a very erotic revenge.
Rebecca Leigh’s Tea Time features three Fifties housewives – Carol, June and Harriet – who fill their days with cooking, cleaning and the odd lesbian threesome. Which brings us as up to date as this anthology goes, the Sixties free love era. There are two differing takes on Woodstock. Melanie Thompson’s Purple Haze features the rather unlikely escapades of Dan and Jan, who decide to drop acid and enjoy the charms of hitchhiker Sissy before settling down to a career in the FBI, while Garland’s Woodstock sees hippie trio Ariel, Ronnie and Moon Flower enjoying a slightly more conventional threesome at the festival. Rounding off the collection is my own story, Snap Decision, the tale of photographer Morgan, who discovers Joan Berry in hip Carnaby Street clothing store Medusa, rechristens her Fawn at her first ever modelling session and finds himself being seduced by both the girl and her boyfriend/manager Anton du Beauvoir (any echo of Twiggy and Justinn de Villeneuve in the choice of names is, of course, purely coincidental…).
The odd rogue typo apart, this is an entertaining set of stories which covers just about every permutation and combination of threesome imaginable. The historical settings, some a more integral part of the story than others, add an extra level of interest, and the moods evoked range from tender to amusing to far out, man. And you don’t need to step back in time to obtain a copy – it’s available now from the Ravenous site.