How good is Chemical [se]X? It’s so good that when reading it on the train home from work, I actually missed my stop. Somewhere in the middle of Dario Dalla Lasta‘s deliciously filthy rollerskating romp, [du]X, I had a faint niggling in my subconscious. I looked up to, only to realize that the doors had closed and I was still on the train. That has never happened to me before in my long history of reading while commuting.
I am one of the people who was a fan of Oleander Plume’s original story Chemical [se]X, when she first shared it on her blog. Hot as hell and deliciously fun, it’s one of the stories that made me fall in love with her sexy, witty, fast-paced style and I was overjoyed when I learned it was going to be the nucleus of an anthology.
With the fairly specific premise of aphrodisiac chocolate, I wasn’t expecting the stories to be so varied and unique (lack of imagination on my part, likely). But the breadth and depth and types and styles of the stories in the anthology were incredibly impressive. Conceptually stories ranged from immediately sizzling, as in Jacob Louder’s Thursday Threesome/Birthday Foursome, to the beautifully drawn (achingly so) character arc of Annabeth Leong’s The Alleged Savage. Stylistically, I enjoyed the fast and sexy “I have to have you now” feeling in C.E. Hansen’s The Commute as much as the dreamy magical realism of Tamsin Flowers’ The Stranger. (Which I feel should be made into a 1950s-influenced, Tim Burton movie pronto).
One of the most beautiful aspects of this anthology was the way the chocolate was used so differently by each author. In Exhibit A’s Flat Warming, the chocolate is almost a reward for having the courage to first act on long-held desires. Ella Dawson’s Friendly Neighborhood Drug Dealer treats the chocolate as a responsibly-used recreational drug, lowering inhibitions just enough to take the leap the characters had been fantasizing about. Oleander Plume’s Coffee Break uses the chocolate as a gateway for (incredibly hot) sexual education. And F. Leonora Soloman actually sets her story, Chocolate Covered, at a confection company to deliciously sexy results.
In Jade A. Waters‘ The Connection, the chocolate helps rekindle the fire for a couple who have lost their way. While the herb-laced candy lowers inhibitions in several of the stories, including L. Maretta’s Dinner for Three and Tabitha Rayne’s The Dinner Guest, it doesn’t take away choice or absolve the partakers of responsibility. More often, it allows them freedom to express long held desires such as the way it’s used to wake up an already existing desire for power and control in Malin James’ Bittersweet.
All told, this lovely anthology was a pleasure (a distinct pleasure) to read. There is something for everyone here and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This book turned me on, made me think, and made me laugh. What else do you need?
I promise you won’t regret it.