For more than twenty years, the Erotic Readers and Writers Association has offered budding writers of erotic fiction a place to discuss and hone their craft. It’s expanded from its original concept of a place where women could find the intelligent erotica that was largely absent from the Internet at that time, and now offers regular book and video reviews, new fiction produced by its members, and is one of the best sites for finding details of publishers’ submission calls and other useful author resources.
Given all that, it’s a surprise that it’s taken quite so long for the ERWA to put together a book showcasing its members’ talents. Unearthly Delights, a collection of paranormal stories edited by ERWA owner and prolific author Selena Kitt, is the first in a planned series of anthologies, and it features a variety of writing styles, from romance to full-on erotica.
The writing is of a uniformly high standard, but it’s best to be warned up front that this is not a collection for the faint of heart. If descriptions of blood-letting make you queasy, then you might be advised to avoid Lisabet Sarai’s elegant but disturbing Underground, the tale of a woman whose need for extreme blood play, and a man who is in tune with her taboo desires, leads her to a club frequented by vampires. Also on the horror end of the spectrum is The Velvet Choker, Selena Kitt’s compelling and very adult take on the classic scary campfire story, The Red Ribbon.
By far the most fun story of the bunch is Daddy X’s The Rasputin Collection. The collection of the title is a set of bronze lamps with highly erotic reliefs in their bases. Reputed to have been owned by the legendary “mad monk”, Rasputin, the lamps exert a strange power when lit, compelling whoever they shine on to perform the acts they portray – much to the surprise, and delight, of their new owner.
Elsewhere, Delores Swallows’ Night Visitors features the classic trope of the couple who buy a run-down home for a bargain price, only to discover that it might not be as uninhabited as they think, Jean Roberta’s A Ripple In The Air pits vampires against those who are fated to protect the world from them, and Belinda La Page’s Imagine is a series of darkly funny flash stories about the misadventures of an alien charged with hunting human men for breeding stock.
Like all anthologies, some stories work better – or appeal more to a reader’s personal tastes – than others. The two contributions that failed to grab me here were Ian D. Smith’s The Lesson of History, which tries to pack too much into the story of a woman who’s testing a device designed to measure the body’s responses to stimulation and has a series of ghostly encounters at a country wedding, and Mary Ramsey’s Mystic Force, about a group of deeply unpleasant and unlikable people who have superpowers. Overall, though, this is a great showcase for the talented writers at the ERWA, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.
I was supplied with a copy of Unearthly Delights by Indigo Marketing in return for an honest review.