I don't think that it is possible to write erotica without exposing oneself. To arouse our readers, we authors must write what turns us on personally. True, we may disguise our personal fantasies. We may displace our kinks and fetishes, assigning them to characters who are superficially quite different from us – a different age, a different socioeconomic stratum, perhaps even a different gender. The emotional kick, though, reveals all. We are able to draw our readers into a world of deviance and delight because we, the authors, already reside there.
Tight Women in Hard Places is a deeply arousing and profoundly personal set of erotic stories. Alicia Night Orchid shares her visions, ranging from the romantic to the perverse, embroidering upon her personal experiences and desires. Each tale she tells contains a sliver, or more, of personal truth.
Ms. Night Orchid's protagonists vary widely, from the inexperienced but sexually ripe grad student in “The Royal Orleans” to the jaded forty-something country singer in “I Saw the Light.” “Ray's Opening” is narrated by a cocky, self-obsessed attorney while “Third Shift” tells the tale of a divorced, down-and-out waitress at a diner. Despite the difference in their voices, one gets the feeling that all these women are aspects of the author. Her character warns in “The Royal Orleans,” as she is making up outrageous lies to fascinate a man she's just met, “never forget that everything that a writer tells you is partly truth and partly fiction.” In reading this collection, I took this caveat to heart. Still, the more extreme Ms. Night Orchid's stories became, the better I felt that I knew her.
Alicia Night Orchid writes long, tangled tales with endings you do not expect. She does not write “sex scenes.” Instead, she manages to infuse passion into every paragraph. One of the best stories in the collection is “Smoke,” the chronicle of a woman's unusual but irresistible fetish. Another standout is “Torn in Two,” an erotic noir fantasy that explores the dangerous, seductive links between sex and death. “Savage Nights” recreates the dope-drenched aura of the Sixties, when all the flowers, drugs and sex in the world couldn't quite drown out the screams of young men dying in 'Nam. “Voyeur Nation” is the sad, funny tale of a woman's determination to get her life together, derailed by her horny, exhibitionistic neighbors. “Fridays Without,” one of my favorite stories, shows what happens when one gives in to temptation.
I commented earlier on the twists taken by some of these tales. I realized upon reflection that only three of these thirteen tales have unambiguously happy endings. In the rest, after the sweat has dried and the breathing has returned to normal, we're left to wonder, “what next?” The characters are changed by their passion – indeed, if these stories have any common message, it is that sex can profoundly alter one's life and self. Much, however, is left unresolved. This makes the tales more realistic and also more unsettling. There are no simple answers in Alicia Night Orchid's realms of desire.
Tight Women in Hard Places deftly evokes the many moods of arousal – from a stranger's desperate attraction to the joyful rediscovery of one's long time partner. Overall, it's one of the best single author collections I have reviewed in a long time. I recommend it highly.