Saskia Walker's Along for the Ride is an erotic romp with a touch of romance. University student Georgie is picked by art professor Cal to model for his classes as well as private modeling for his work. Their attraction is mutual and soon Cal invites his photographer friend Jason to join them in a threesome. Georgie is bothered by a persistent ex, but it's Jason's cousin Gregory who plays the villain of the piece. Gregory knows that Jason's ex-girlfriend is a hot pop star and that Jason took nude photos of her. It all works out, of course, with everyone extremely well fucked (the bad guys in the bad sense of the term) by the end.
Since this is a romp, there's not a lot of depth here. Everyone is constantly horny and they act on it immediately. The more the merrier seems to be the guiding principle of their existence. If voracious sexual appetites are what you seek, then you'll find it in this story.
However, if you want erotica that holds to the same standard of writing as other fiction, you might find the constant telling rather than showing a bit annoying. Two of the characters fall in love but I never felt it. I was simply told that they were falling in love. Sex moves the plot in erotica, but it isn't characterization. Lacking any depth, the characters came off as exactly that - characters, not people. I'm still unable to figure out why the trio bothered to visit Georgie's home other than to set up a sex scene with food. That entire chapter did nothing to move the story forward or develop the characters.
The story is told at a breathless pace as it races from sex scene to sex scene without giving the story any time to develop. If it isn't sex, it's glossed over with a few lines of narrative.
I'm clearly not the audience for this story. The full fashion report at the beginning of many scenes bored me. No character mattered to me and their plights struck me as dull plot devices. Maybe this book was meant to be quickly devoured and quickly forgotten by voracious readers who plow through a lot of books in search of sex scenes. You'll certainly find that in Along for the Ride. But if you're looking for a quality literary experience, wait for the next bus.
Unashamed is a collection of eighteen sexual adventures from the pen of British author Saskia Walker. Sixteen of them have been previously published in various anthologies. Although I recognized a few from books that I'd read or reviewed, many were new to me. Collecting one's back list of stories into a single volume is a perfectly reasonable endeavor, especially when epublishing has made production and distribution relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, in this case, I felt that the whole was less than the sum of its parts.
Erotica can be defined as stories about sex, and certainly Ms. Walker's tales fit this definition. Alas, they are for the most part just about sex. Nearly all the tales in this book focus on a single sexual encounter, spun out for most of the length of the story, with little conflict or suspense and almost no concern with issues other than arousal and satisfaction. Personally I prefer more variety and perhaps more depth in the erotica I read. Obviously this is not true for everyone. For someone seeking a book of quick, hot fantasies, this might be just the thing.
The sexual encounters in Unashamed are moderately intense, offering heterosexual, ménage and lesbian scenarios, with plenty of fetish wear, toys and exhibitionism thrown into the mix. The overall effect (for me), however, of reading one tale like this after another was boredom. One story of this type, read in the context of an anthology and contrasted with other authors' work, can be fun. A long series of such stories eventually becomes tedious. (Again, this is my personal opinion.)
My favorite stories in the book were “In Pursuit of Knowledge” and “Edward's Experiments.” The former differs from most of its companions in that it takes place over a matter of days, as the narrator gradually draws closer to a regular visitor to the library whom she finds attractive. Ms. Walker ratchets up the sexual tension, bit by bit, as the narrator moves her seat closer to her target's habitual place, embarrassed to reveal her lust and yet unable to stop herself. This story climaxes (in every sense) with a lovely encounter, drenched in moonlight, in a dusty, hidden room after library hours. The latter story describes the narrator's relationship over a period of time with her quirky empiricist lover Edward, who views even sex as a way to satisfy his scientific curiosity. Ms. Walker brings Edward to life – he is by far the most real of any of the book's characters.
Other stand-out stories include the two lesbian tales “Making it Easy” and “Matilda's Touch,” both of which involve a more knowledgeable and confident woman initiating a nervous beginner. I found the lesbian interactions in this book, in general, to be more arousing than the male-female scenes. They have a greater emotional intensity and quality of honesty than many of the heterosexual encounters. In fact, even in Ms. Walker's three- and four-way scenarios, the woman-on-woman interactions are better written and more engaging. I am fairly confident that this is more a reflection of Ms. Walker's preferences or style than my own predilections. Of course, one can never be completely sure when reading erotica how much of the effect is the responsibility of the author and how much derives from one's own kinks. There are few genres that depend so strongly on the reader's psychological constitution.
Another weakness of this collection was its need for better editing. Perhaps due to the fact that I've been spending so much of my own time lately wearing my editor hat, I noticed frequent problems that should have been caught and corrected before publication: purple prose, repeated words and phrases, run-on sentences, incorrect word use, grammar mistakes, and so on. These issues definitely diminished my enjoyment. The prior publication credits are at the end of the book. I was surprised to discover that most of the stories had been previously published, given the roughness of the language and the grammar. I wonder if Ms. Walker used her original manuscripts for the stories in assembling the book, rather than the edited versions that appeared in the original sources. I do know that eXcessica, unlike many epublishers, does not supply editors but rather expects authors to have edited their own books. (It is an authors' collective rather than a profit-making publisher.) In this case, Ms. Walker could have benefited from an external editor's eye (and red pen).In summary, Unashamed offers short, relatively simple tales of hot sex. If that is what you're looking for in your erotica, you will probably enjoy the book.