Review: Past Pleasures story 2

Novel with a woman in Victorian-style clothing holding a mask to her face on the cover.This review was sponsored by the kind people at Xcite Books, who sent me a copy to review.

Warning: SPOILERS ahead!

Story 2: Late One Night at the Tourist Court by Michael Bracken (pages 12-17)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

“After reading Cherry Ripe on the train, I read this next story straight away because it was very short and I was pretty bored. If I’m honest, it wasn’t impressive but there were some things I liked about it.

I’m afraid to say that this story unimpressed me from the get-go with a first sentence that was almost an entire paragraph long. Why is that unimpressive, you ask? Because it ran on too long and it was difficult for me to keep track of all the details! It would have worked much better as two separate sentences and then the grammar would not have been nearly quite as awful. This sort of thing really gets to me because I dislike having to reread something over and over to figure out what it is trying to tell me. You may have a different experience and that is fine but for me, this was agitating.

Said annoying opening paragraph just explains that the two main characters are at a cabin in the mountains after committing a crime. They’re on the run for robbing a bank in Texas the day before and have stopped here to take a rest from the constant travelling. The second paragraph explains that the main male character has been doing all the driving and then he collapses on the bed after pulling the blinds shut and turning the light on. It isn’t the only backstory we get for the characters but it isn’t really all that compelling either. When I compare it to the first story in this anthology it simply falls flat.

The first bit of dialogue was rather off-putting for me. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

“‘We did it, baby,’ he said, with a tired smile. ‘We’re on our way now.’
[…]
‘We sure did.'”

This doesn’t feel like period-appropriate language. This story is supposed to be set in or after WW2 and this just seems off to me. It reads much more like current slang, which made it more difficult for me to invest in the setting. This sort of thing is actually extremely important when your story is set in the past and it can be done very well. Though it’s not written in this setting, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is an excellent example of a modern novel using older language.

After this exchange we get some backstory about Johnny, the male character in this story: what he’s been up to since he left the army, how he planned this crime they’re running from and the events leading up to their stay in the cabin. You can’t forget this guy’s name; the author makes sure of that by having it repeated 29 times in the 6 pages this story spans. As for the main female character (who is, coincidentally, the narrator) we never hear her name once. The beloved Johnny doesn’t even say her name when he’s fucking her.

Obviously, now that the pair have had a moment to calm down after hurriedly travelling for so many hours, the first thing on both of their minds is sex. They immediately tumble to the bed, tear each other’s clothes off and then [Unnamed Lady] decides to show Johnny what she’s been up to while he’s been away. Apparently she’s been sleeping around in order to support herself and get presents while he’s been away at war. This, I can believe because times back then were tough. I actually feel like it was a nice touch because of how believable it is.

Between ripping their clothes off and her new tricks, there is some lovely detail about Johnny’s naked body. And, as you should have expected, here is your dose of eye-rolling description:

“[…] he had a long, thick erection hard enough to pound nails.”

This quote just made me laugh. It wasn’t arousing at all. Though I may possibly be being treading on eggshells here, you can really tell that this story has been written by a man. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman writer made such a ridiculous claim before. Of course, I am aware that with Xcite Books you get to choose a pseudonym in lieu of your actual name but I still get the impression a man wrote this. It just seems more likely to me. No offence intended to anyone.

So now that he’s ready, [Unnamed Lady] gets to her knees and decides to give Johnny a blowjob, which apparently was very surprising to him. Now, this isn’t exactly very exciting sex to me since it’s pretty standard but there was a nice little extra: using her fingers that are greasy with pomade, she buries her finger up his ass in one smooth motion before he finishes.

While they calm down a little, we get told just how rubbish Johnny is with money and how [Unnamed Lady] has been using her own supplies to support him since he got back. She seems pretty unhappy about all of this and suspects that if she stays with him he’ll just waste all their new stolen money as well. But never fear, because Johnny is still aroused and wants to have sex with her again right then and there! The author has clearly never heard of a refractory period before or Johnny is just so damned special that he doesn’t need one. The sex here is your standard penis-in-vagina. There’s nothing particularly special or interesting about it, except for [Unnamed Lady] cumming twice very quickly.

Here is actually where the story becomes interesting. I guess it’s technically a bad thing that it becomes good after the sex when it’s supposed to be erotica but never mind. After they’ve both finished, [Unnamed Lady] mixes Johnny a drink with a drug in it and puts him to sleep before changing everything about her appearance and leaving him behind.

Initially, I wasn’t expecting her to run off with the money, though I guess I should have seen it coming. She has planned to betray him from the beginning and when I read back over it I could see all the signs from a mile away. Still, because I didn’t think of it at all, her betrayal of him was a nice surprise.

The fact that she never has a name in this story can be interpreted three ways: the first is that the story is told in a first-person narrative and one doesn’t think about oneself in the third person much, the second is that she is trying to hide her identity because of the ending and the third is that the author is just being lazy. No matter the reason, I still found it kind of annoying and I wish there had been some sort of indication what the real reason was.

Due to the one surprise during the first sex scene and the ending I would say this story is worth a read. It’s not great but it isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read either.”

Story’s Johnny count: 29
Review’s Johnny count: 9

← Story 1: Cherry Ripe by Maria Lloyd | Story 3: The Day the Sun Stands Still by Toni Sands → [coming soon…]

You can buy the Past Pleasures anthology from Lovehoney by clicking the link in the comments or directly from the publisher at Xcite Books.

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About SubReiSkyeM

Owner of Thoughts of a Growing Sub. I've been blogging for a year now and still loving it! Check my blog for reviews, blogger memes and BDSM talk!

One response to “Review: Past Pleasures story 2”

  1. subrei says :

    Buy this anthology here: Past Pleasures.

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