Last month I wrote a serious article discussing erotic fiction.
The article was written as part of my current coursework and I conceived the idea in response to the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. For those of you who don’t know, The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards are presented annually and were established by the late Auberon Waugh, then editor of the Literary Review. The intention was, “…to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it.”
The point of my article was to explain that, whilst there are many truly atrocious sex scenes being written, there are also some authors who write consistently exciting and arousing erotica, and I thought these should be celebrated.
Unapologetically, I will admit that the article had a UK bias. I have the greatest regard for the many well-respected US authors currently producing erotic fiction. But I was trying to sell this article to a UK audience and I was trying to make the point that Britain can produce quality authors and not just awards for incompetence.
And so I mentioned three of my favourite erotic authors who I know are based in the UK. I mentioned three ladies who consistently produce quality erotic literature that deserves to be praised. I mentioned Kristina Lloyd, Portia Da Costa and Mathilde Madden.
Imagine my surprise when I then received a copy of Lust Bites. Lust Bites is an anthology of three vampire-themed novellas. The authors who have produced these stories are: Kristina Lloyd, Portia Da Costa and Mathilde Madden.
Which meant, even though I wanted to rush around to all of my friends (well, both of my friends—I’m not that popular) and tell them about this bizarre coincidence, I had to spend the weekend incommunicado. Three of my favourite authors, one of my favourite themes (I adore vampires) and all produced by the talented team who work on Black Lace’s deliciously deviant output. I suppose it could have been better. But not without a lot of alcohol and the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer all being naked, in my house, and whispering excerpts from Lust Bites into my ear as they did the housework and then cooked some fajitas.
From beginning to end, Lust Bites is enjoyable. The novella length stories allow each writer to showcase their work in something more substantial than a short story without the reader-commitment that is needed for a full-length novel. The theme of vampires in erotica is perennially popular and, with these three stories sitting in the same volume, the reader can see that different writers tackle the familiar themes in vastly different ways.
Mathilde Madden’s “Under Her Skin” follows the traditional style of a dangerous vampire in a brooding castle with a helpless heroine at his mercy. The story is contemporary—and as typically edgy as a lot of Mathilde’s writing. But it has a wonderful feel of Bram Stoker’s original Dracula with its overwhelming sense of raw and untamed sexuality.
Portia Da Costa, with “Buddies Don’t Bite,” brings her vampire into the minutiae of the twenty-first century. Zachary is Teresa’s landlord, best buddy and a platonic companion who will gallantly attend a wedding with Teresa when she wants to get back at her ex. Zachary is also a vampire. With her usual strength of character, sense of fun, and powerfully passionate prose, Portia Da Costa shows us that even the lifeless hearts of the undead can still beat with the stirrings of romance.
In “Vampire’s Heart” Kristina Lloyd takes us to the ends of the earth (well, the Arctic) and tells the wonderful story of Esther and Billy. Esther and Billy are two hearts that have been separated by centuries, death and dastardly division. As any romantic will tell you, true love has to triumph in these circumstances. But, with Billy’s vampiric companions working to slake the thirsts of their own agenda, the happy-ever-after resolution is not necessarily the inevitable outcome of this bloody arousing tale.
For those of you who haven’t yet met Kristina, Mathilde and Portia, Lust Bites is a fantastic introduction to their talents. For those of you who love a romance that’s strong enough to warm a cold, dead heart Lust Bites is essential reading material. For those of you who want to see some of the UK’s greatest erotic authors telling torrid tales of virile vampires, Lust Bites has to be your next purchase.
© 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.