"Sexy Tales of Strong Women." What's not to love about that subtitle? Editors M. Christian and Sage Vivant chose well, because this is not only good erotic writing but good writing, period. Not all of it is explicitly erotic, by the way. Some of it is gently suggestive. For added fun, each tale begins with a quote from an extraordinary real-life woman, from Bette Davis to Pamela Anderson to Barbra Streisand.
My favorite stories in this anthology were:
"Bullbitch 8.0" by C.B. Potts. Cowgirls are all Amazons anyway, right? But Lynette is a special -breed of cowgirl - she's a rodeo bull rider.
"The Spear of Janice Kienan" by Chris Bridges. It shows just how deeply the modern woman can get in touch with her inner Amazon.
If only it were possible to combine Chris Bridges the erotica writer with Chris "Ludacris" Bridges the rapper/actor, because that combined guy would be a hell of an erotic songwriter.
"Amazon" by M. Christian. A sexy tale of Sapphic love among burlesque dancers, one of whom has dwarfism, and the twist of the story is that the shortest woman is the most Amazonian of all.
"Punk Syster Morris" by Bryn Colvin. This was my second-favorite story of the book, about an unsuspecting man who thinks he's only going to a rock show with his buddy and ends up finding so much more.
"The Hands of a Princess" by Catherine Lundoff*. Viking warrior Commander Agnes "The Bloody" Helensdottir will go to any length to serve her king, even it means pleasing his like-minded daughter.
"Sex With Ducks" by Hannah Strom-Martin. Worry not: Ducks is a man's name. He's a quirky writer, but our narrator learns how to exploit his hidden desires. Best phrase:
"When dealing with writers it breaks down like this: a regular writer is your average everyday megalomaniac. Like every artist, there's a part of them that believes--nay, knows--the world turns for them. Most are harmless. Some are obnoxious. Some are Bret Easton Ellis."
Technically, my editor-inner-ear tells me, it should say, "A part of them believes--nay, knows--the world turns for them, as does a part of every artist."However, that does not flow as smoothly.
"The Girl From Pellucidar" by Jason Rubis. Purporting to be about a woman who attempts to make peace with her ex-boyfriend's unpredictable new girlfriend, the story then takes an outrageous turn and ends up much, much better than I could have predicted.
"Thalea of the Mountain" by Kristina Wright. This has the mythic, timeless quality of a really good fairy tale, one that could have come from anywhere in the world. It's beautiful written, but then again, I'd expect nothing different from Wright.
"The Bearded Lady" by Madeline de Chambrey. My favorite of the anthology, and it's one of the merely suggestive rather than explicitly erotic ones. It's about the deep connection between a man who's in love with a woman who barely acknowledges him, as he nurses her through breast cancer. She survives, the ending is triumphant, and I think I actually pumped my fist as I read the last page. Also, a woman with a beard may not be considered traditionally beautiful by Western societies, but de Chambrey manages to convey precisely how this "unfeminine" feature is part of our heroine's allure.
"Blue Girl" by Kathleen Bradean**. Dystopian erotica in a Puritanical society, but one that's completely imaginable. Damn fine writing in this one.
"Sixteen Hands" by Paula L. Fleming. The heroine of this tale is a jockey, and she's an Amazon when she's on her horse. Her unexpected lover fits the more traditional Amazonian profile. This tale is full of passion and tenderness that really resonated with me.
"Legend" by Sage Vivant. This one explores the gap between reality and perception, and it's funny.
I bought this book with my own funds and was not obligated to review it in any way.
* Catherine Lundoff and I both have stories in Like a God's Kiss: Erotic Mythological Tales.
**Read more of Kathleen Bradean in Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica.