Random Book Review

When I saw Primula Bond at the Virgin erotica wake last August (almost a whole football season ago now – where does the time go?), she was complaining that hers was one of the forthcoming books which had been shelved with the closing of the imprint. Fortunately, it looks to have resurfaced courtesy of Xcite, who seem to be recruiting a few former Black Lace authors into their ranks.

Despite its title, the structure of Random Acts Of Lust is actually very tightly controlled. The short stories here gradually reveal themselves to be interlinked, with minor characters in one story taking a larger role in another. So, for instance, while photographer Sophie is in New York making a very public exhibition of herself with a young gallery employee in Cougar, her son’s girlfriend, Suzanne, is keeping an eye on Sophie’s husband, Martin, to make sure he doesn’t stray. Of course, he’s up to something very naughty, the revelation of which leads to Sophie getting a taste of spanking and domination in the story Good As Gold. Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Primula Bond’s stock in trade are respectable, middle-class women, mostly in arty professions such as photography and art, who only need to have their surface scratched a little to reveal the seething slut beneath. Her prose is exquisitely written – dark and almost Baroque in places – and the result is reminiscent of one of those Seventies TV series like Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, where everyone has a dirty, sexy secret – and more than a passing fancy for a member of their extended family – but no one really cares too much that their partner is screwing around because they’re getting away with their own affairs, too. It’s a very rich mixture – sometimes a little too rich, with the result you find yourself eventually wishing for a story involving a brickie, or a plumber, or someone with a little dirt under their fingernails…

The cover blurb also bills this as a collection about cougars and their exploits, which isn’t entirely accurate. For every Sophie who takes centre stage there’s a Suzanne, for every Caroline, the fortysomething landlady who seduces the young foreign students in her charge in Mother Figure, there’s a Mimi, the former convent schoolgirl who finally gets to act on her teenage crush in First Love. Concentrating purely on the cougars might have been the wiser move, purely because they’re by far the more interesting characters. That said, Random Acts Of Lust is consistently hot and filthy, and as single author compilations go it’s definitely one of the best you’ll read this year. Find it at Xcite Books, either in paperback or e-book version.

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