Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: Cowboy Lust: Erotic Romance for Women

Cowboy Lust: Erotic Romance for Women
Cowboy Lust: Erotic Romance for Women by Delilah Devlin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This collection reminded me of the kind of place that gets good after 11 p.m. The deeper I got into the book, the darker and more interesting the stories became. The last three stories, "Raney's Last Ride" by Chaparrita, "The Runaway Bride" by Delilah Devlin (the editor), and "She Don't Stay the Night" by Anna Meadows seemed like they came from a different, more mysterious book. They were less white, less safe, and included edgier sex and more flavor.

I enjoyed other unusual stories in the collection also, particularly the ones that took place in more creative settings, such as Cheyenne Blue's "Under the Southern Cross" (set in Australia). M. Marie's "Rough Stock" and Sedona Fox's "The Ranch Hand" also deserve commendation for including really interesting, active heroines who know what they want in life and love and aren't afraid to go after it.

The collection was a bit weighed down, however, by repetition of some less original themes. There are at least three "woman in need of roadside assistance hooks up with cowboy" stories. This seemed unfortunate to me, because I thought it played into a helpless woman stereotype that turned me off.

The biggest thing holding the book back from a higher rating in my opinion was a mismatch between "erotic" and "romance." While these two can obviously work well together, I felt that they interacted oddly in the case of this collection. Many of the kinky stories in the collection made me uncomfortable by playing fast and loose with consent (I actually enjoy reading noncon where a spade is called a spade, but I dislike "gray area consent" where someone ignores or downplays a woman's right to consent and everyone pretends that was totally fine and the guy is seen as someone admirable). Here, I think the trouble was the need to treat a situation as romantic even if that wasn't the true source of the turnon. Conversely, the sweeter stories tended to include sex that felt repetitive when one story was read after another. Romance novel sex works for me because of the length of emotional buildup that precedes it, and I thought it was tricky in shorter stories.

I should say I'm not someone who's obsessed with cowboys. I can get into the idea, but the word "cowboy" does not automatically turn me on. For those with a real cowboy fetish, the collection might have a different effect.

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