Wild Flesh, by Connie Wilkins

wild-flesh-by-connie-wilkins coverGenre: Fantasy Anthology
Publisher: Eggplant Productions
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: five stars
Book Review by Paul Goat Allen

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Writing good erotica is a delicate matter. Too much sensuality may repulse readers; not enough may bore them to death. All too often erotica is predictable and formulaic, becoming nothing more than glorified pornography. For any kind of creative sexual writing to succeed — especially erotic speculative fiction — it must be believable, emotionally engaging, and it must be brilliantly written. Connie Wilkins does all that and more in Wild Flesh, an e-book available from Eggplant Literary Productions, which includes five very different, very steamy stories of speculative fiction.

The strength of this collection is in its diversity. From horror to science fiction to western, Wilkins effortlessly moves between genres creating unusual, unforgettable stories about love and lust and life. And not only are the genres diverse, the type of relationship in each story is different as well. In “Freeing the Demon,” a woman falls in love with the spirit of a gargoyle while “Feeling Blue” is a kind of lesbian erotica. “One-Eyed Jack” deals with a middle-aged woman and a handicapped man. “The Bridge” is about a love between two men, and “A Wilder Spirit” is, on the surface, a romance between a man and a woman, but it turns out to be a little bit more than expected.

Although all five stories were strong in their own right, my favorite was “Freeing the Demon,” a story about a prostitute named Jayne and her search for love. All alone in the world with no one to protect her or care for her, Jayne is powerless against perverted johns and her violent pimp, Lonnie. The only companion she has is an old weather-beaten gargoyle perched on the outside of her apartment building. When Lonnie comes storming in looking for money, Jayne tells him it’s in the gargoyle’s mouth. When the pimp reaches into the stone maw, he is promptly devoured. Thus begins a surprisingly beautiful, romantic — albeit horrific — love story between a prostitute and a supernatural spirit imprisoned in stone. “In the night the demon came to her, in vision deeper than dream. She saw his true form, merely parodied by the stone carving; his shape more man than beast, long-limbed, graceful, powerful, covered with a thick black silken fur whose touch made her shiver with delight. The curved horns rose naturally from his proud head, extending the line of the pointed ears. His slanting eyes curled into crescents when he smiled, a wicked grin that showed strong, gleaming fangs. She had to smile back.”

Another erotic gem is “A Wilder Spirit,” a Twin Peaks kind of story where an ex-military man now taking classes at a local college meets a woods woman who is trying to figure out who is setting traps and killing coyotes in the forest. Both characters, nameless, are as mysterious as they are sexy. The chemistry between them is evident as they traverse the forest looking for clues. As the tale progresses, strange secrets about both characters are learned and even after the mystery of the coyote killings is solved, the reader assumes an inevitable romantic ending between man and woman. Not quite…

After reading these five masterfully crafted stories, I can now proudly say that I’m a fan of Connie Wilkins. As I wrote earlier, writing good erotica is a much more difficult task than one would think. Wilkins has obviously honed her craft to perfection, as these stories would indicate. Tightly woven story lines with believable, likable characters, surprising plot twists and enough unadulterated sexuality to keep me in a cold shower for days. Wild Flesh is exactly that — speculative erotic fiction at its very best.

Paul Goat Allen is the editor of Barnes & Noble’s Explorations science fiction/fantasy book review and is the author of Burning Sticks, Old Winding Way and Warlock Dreams.

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