It’s summer, which means I’m in the mood for some fun, naughty reading. Lucky for me, it came in the form of Sommer Marsden’s Calendar Girl. This is the perfect beach read, as long as you don’t mind getting a little wet while you sunbathe.
Merritt comes home from Christmas shopping to catch her husband Drake in bed with a man. She divorces him by New Years Eve (yeah, yeah, summer read, let it go). While discussing her state of affairs with her best friend, Jeffery the gay drag queen, they come up with a plan for her to move past her current situation. Well, Jeffrey comes up with it. He proposes a new man every month for her: a no strings attached, no expectations, no commitments celebration of her freedom. Merritt doesn’t think she can pull off the Calendar Girl plan, but next thing she knows, she’s in the spare bedroom being finger fucked into a state of bliss by another party guest.
Merritt has a lot of fun with Mr. January, but by the end of the month, she’s ready to move on. Each of the men she meets fills a need, and they treat her pretty well. Each has a kink or two that she explores. It’s sort of a Goldilocks situation though – none are just right. Not that she cares. The idea is to keep moving and have fun, not to settle down with anyone.
Then she meets Penn. Merritt is a professional organizer; Penn is need of some organization. He’s aware that she’s working her way through the calendar, and he knows that she doesn’t sleep with clients, but he can’t get her off his mind. He has to go out of the country, but they keep in touch over the phone.
Merritt’s schedule starts to wear on her. She’s grateful when Mr. May (I think) mends things with his ex-girlfriend. Besides, she has a lot of other stuff going on – her brother just came out and her mother isn’t taking it well, and her ex-husband wants to get back together. Finally, she’s had enough, and she decides to stop being the Calendar Girl and just spend some time sorting things out. But the first of August is coming soon, and Penn is penciled in as Mr. August.Calendar Girl is a breezy, quick read. It’s more erotic romance than literary erotica, but if you’re looking for something fun to read, you’ve found it.
Whenever I tell people I’m superstitious, they laugh at me. Maybe that’s my curse? I appreciate that superstition is, for want of a better word, ‘stupid.’ However, I was raised and educated by stupid people and some parts of that learning have stuck. I don’t walk under ladders. I touch wood for luck and I go to painful extremes to avoid spilling salt.
I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to do with black cats. Some cultures tell me black cats are lucky – others say they’re unlucky. Inside my head black cats offer the same imbalance of cognitive dissonance as the cancer/comfort appeal I get from cigarettes. I could genuinely go insane brooding on the subject for any length of time.
I constantly carry lucky charms. I have my lucky silver pen, my lucky silver lighter, and I used to have a lucky rabbit’s foot. I carried the lucky rabbit’s foot until I realised it hadn’t been that lucky for the rabbit and it was probably that particular trinket which gave me Myxomatosis.
And then there’s the number 13. I try not to leave the house on Friday 13th. Ironically I’ve lost jobs because of this. How’s that for proving that the date is genuinely unlucky?
I know I’m not alone in this superstition. The fact that the fear of Friday 13th has a specific name (paraskavedekatriaphobia) indicates that it must be a problem for more than just me. There is even a name for a general fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) which also suggests that I’m not the only stupid person on the planet with that similar aversion. When I take into account the number of buildings without a thirteenth floor, and the difficulties talked about by estate agents trying to sell properties burdened with the number 13, I realise there are probably millions of us labouring under this irrational and stupid superstition.
However, I am rational enough to accept that the number 13 is not always unlucky. There were thirteen figures painted in the picture of the last supper. This doesn’t mean the number is inherently ‘lucky’ but you have to admit that Christ looks happier in that portrait compared to all the miserable ones where he’s nailed on a cross and looking characteristically disconsolate.
And 13 is also the number branded on the cover of Sommer Marsden’s collection of short stories: Lucky 13. Sommer Marsden is an erotic wordsmith par excellence. Her short fiction appears in so many anthologies I’m not even going to start listing them here. It’s sufficient to say, if you own an anthology of short erotic fiction, the chances are that you’re already familiar with Sommer’s work.
And, if you’re familiar with Sommer’s work, the chances are you won’t want to miss this fun collection of erotic short stories from an über-competent mistress of the genre.
Lucky 13 is subtitled Thirteen Tales of Getting Lucky. The unifying theme of this anthology (aside from the skilled penmanship of Ms Marsden) is that the central characters ‘get lucky’ in the most erotic sense of that idiom.
Noelle, the first person protagonist in the collection’s first story, “Pause,” would probably not be considered lucky on an initial examination. She’s just broken up with a partner and is suffering the typical unhappiness associated with such a devastating blow to her relationship status. However, when she is consoled by an old friend, Noelle does manage to get lucky.
Similarly in “Underpass,” the first person protagonist Brenda does not appear to be lucky in having a forceful, jealous and domineering partner like Jared. However, as the story continues, and as Brenda gets lucky, the complex relationship between the characters is exposed to illuminate the fine distinction between what we consider fortunate or otherwise.
Sommer Marsden’s skill as an author is in her ability to depict living breathing human beings and make them interesting, exciting and entertaining. The fact that she chooses to write in the erotic genre means that we lucky readers get to see these vibrant individuals enjoying the complexities of a passionate and carnal existence.
If you enjoy well written erotica, and you want to get lucky with your choice of reading material, it’s a safe bet to pick Lucky 13.