Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales (Anthology), Tobsha Learner
Publisher: Penguin, USA
Genre: LGBT and Het Variations – F/F, M/F, M/M, M/M/F, BDSM, Contemporary, Erotica, Group Sexual Situations, Paranormal
Taken from the official blurb: “In twelve interconnected stories as naked and primal as passion itself, Quiver explores the full spectrum of human sexuality in all its variety and complexity.”
These short stories vary from M/F, F/F, M/M and M/M/F and group sex.
This review contains spoilers. Keep that in mind before reading.
Sandra and Brian are a middle-aged couple. Brian is in orthodontics and Sandra is an architect. Their sex life is relatively dull with Sandra always taking the lead. A night at the opera changes that. When Sandra is commissioned by the Sydney City Council to design a museum and is kept too busy for the normal, boring sex, Brian decides to change things up and tries to take charge. Unfortunately for Brian, things don’t go quite the way he plans. When Sandra decides to take over the lead again, an angry Brian leaves her in a vulnerable position. Luckily for her, a stranger comes to her rescue, in more ways than one. This story contains a bit of bondage and voyeurism.
A woman bent on revenge against a former lover gets more than she bargains for. The main female character has a stalker-vibe. This story also has one long F/F sex scene.
THE MAN WHO LOVED SOUND
This is told in alternating points of view. First, there are Quin and Mack’s. Later, Felicity’s. Quin and Mack work for the recording industry. Quin’s entire world, literally his entire world, centers around sound; music, outdoor sounds and the voices of women if they are the right pitch. The entire story details Quin’s love, no, his need, for sound. When he hears the sound of Felicity’s voice he is so taken with her that he’s willing to change his entire life just to hear her speak, sing, or moan during an orgasm. Much older than Quin and not his normal type of woman, Felicity somehow works her magic and the man Quin has always been suddenly disappears.
Jodie is desperately trying to get pregnant. Her husband is distant and does not go out of his way to help with her quest. He works a lot and in the rare moments when the two have sex it is rush, rush with very little variation or excitement. Over time odd things start happening with Jodie. She starts having dreams, visions, of an Italian couple who lived in the house before she and her husband. Someone, or some thing, is having sex with her at odd times and leaving evidence of his presence in the home. Someone who is not her husband.
Pomegranate has a paranormal twist. I found the story to be engaging but yet the ending left me with a little confusion. I understand where the author was going but yet I still find myself wanting to go back and reread a few passages in order to understand what I just read. Adrian, mentioned in passing in The Man Who Loved Sound is Jodie’s husband.
Three women from different walks of life. An old ice cream truck complete with ice cream and a horny ice cream vendor. Throw in a cock ring and various various uses of frozen treats and the reader gets one odd foursome. Quin from The Man Who Loved Sound is in this one briefly.
A sweet love story about an Australian businesswoman who meets and falls in love with a much younger flower vendor who has only recently moved to Australia from Russia. There is a little bit of back story about each character but the story is not overwhelmed by too many details. A nice story that ends on a happy, hopeful note.
THE LISTENING ROOM
A conductor. The conductor’s much younger wife. A silent stranger met on a bus. The listening room during a performance. A hot sexual encounter between the conductor’s wife and a complete stranger. Voyeurism by members of the orchestra. A satisfying (yet embarrassing for most) conclusion.
This is told from various points of view. From the conductor, the silent stranger, the conductor’s wife and two people in the orchestra during the performance. Nice concept for a story but I felt that the sexual part of it was overrun by too many descriptive words. For a short story, I feel that if there is going to be a sexual experience between two strangers that perhaps the descriptive wording should have been more about the act of sex itself than what the woman is wearing or what the silent stranger is thinking in regards to the conductor… among other things.
LOOKING FOR STRANGE
The title for this one is fitting in a way. Like some of the others it is told in alternating points of view. There is the lover, the boyfriend, the girlfriend and the looking for strange which involves another character. Each is centered around one person, Dee. Dee has a girlfriend but there is a different side of him that he keeps from her. He likes getting fucked by men. He randomly picks up Simon and an affair of sorts begins between the two men. With Simon there is always the chance of being caught which makes it more exciting for both men. They have sex in random places, places where anyone could walk in and catch them at any moment. One such place, chosen completely at random by Simon, is not random in any way to Dee.
This is my favorite story so far. My main genre is M/M so the relationship between Dee and Simon is right up my alley. However, M/M/F is not and there is a situation where this occurs. This is the culmination of the entire story (the reveal so to speak) so it was necessary in order for the resolution to unfold. Thankfully that part of the story did not last long. It was just long enough for certain things to be brought to light and I actually found parts of it sexy as hell.
THE SHORT MAN IN CRIME
Stacey is a big woman. She stands 6 feet, five inches in bare feet. She comes from a tiny family so she is considered an anomaly. Growing up Stacey never had a lot of friends or dates. No one wanted to date someone who was so much taller than them. She lost her virginity one night in a drunken stupor and that is the extent of her sexual experience. While working the betting counter during the Adelaide Cup, a short man who she has secretly crushed on makes a large bet and announces that if he wins that he would be taking Stacey. He ends up winning $20,000 and the Jock and Stacey story begins.
Jock is short, 5’2″. He is the owner of a large butcher/meat company and has amassed large wealth as a result. Jock has what I refer to as the “little man complex,” meaning that instead of his small stature causing problems for him, he becomes arrogant with the “I can take on the world” attitude. His arrogance is only appealing to Stacey.
Stacey and Jock begin a quick sexual relationship inside a freezer full of dead animal carcasses. I kid you not. (My thanks to the author for not going where it looked like she was going with that.) The quick sexual romp surrounded by dead animals turns into Stacey moving in with Jock and working for his company. All, however, is not happy and roses and this is made pretty clear toward the end of the story.
I have to say that this one was just okay for me and definitely my least favorite of the collection. I didn’t like Jock from his introduction and my lack of love grew as the story played out. I like the ending for the most part but it left me wanting to know what happened next. I also felt that she should have aimed a little lower and thrown a lot harder. 🙂
Karl Pope has been embarrassed and humiliated as a result of his wife’s very public sexual display during one of Karl’s performances. A conductor and concert pianist, he was wrapping up the set when all attention was given to a woman and much younger man who were hanging out the window of the listening room over the audience. Not just hanging out of the window, but in the midst of mind-blowing sex and one hell of a loud orgasm by the woman. Forced to leave the country immediately after for a special performance, Karl is riddled with doubt over his attractiveness and his sexual prowess. His wife is fifteen years his junior and suddenly she’s publicly having sex with a much younger man. How is Karl supposed to feel after witnessing that up close and personal? Karl is no king of fidelity. He has had hundreds of affairs since the beginning of his marriage and he suspects that Katherine has done the same but he has never been witness to it as he was during his public humiliation. Karl’s doubt eats at him. He questions his appearance, his penis size, everything. The loud sex going on in the hotel room next door adds to these feelings. What kind of man does it take to make a woman come over and over and over again like the man in the next room is doing with his partner?
Once you get beyond Karl’s internal whining, the story is pretty good. The ending was unexpected and I really liked having a little surprise thrown in.
Candy is a porn star who is married to Doug. Candy is bored with doing porn and wants more out of her life than faking it onscreen. Doug, on the other hand, is obsessed with watching her perform again and again. He has seen all of his wife’s videos at least ten times each and gets more out of his wife having sex with total strangers than with her own husband. He spends a lot of time in front of the TV screen jacking off as his wife, the porn star, goes to bed alone each night.
THE PROMISCUITY OF BATS
The Promiscuity of Bats brings together several of the key players from the previous eleven stories. Not all but several. Trapped in an elevator during Christmas shopping season, this group of men and women, along with four bottles of expensive champagne and some Ecstasy pills make use of the time stuck in such a small place. What starts with a conversation about the promiscuity of bats quickly turns into one huge orgy. Once again, there is anal sex without lube or prep (and no condom this time) and there are penises and vaginas all over the place.
Not a bad story and I can say that parts are actually pretty hot but when I got to the end of this collection of shorts, I expected some of the unresolved issues in the earlier stories to be resolved. This did not happen. So I end this anthology feeling as if I read a dozen stories with completely unsatisfying endings. Had a full-length stand-alone novel ended the way almost everyone of these shorts did I would be angry with myself for wasting my time. As for this collection, I will say that parts were sexy and there is a little bit of resolution in one or two but I am still left completely unsatisfied. The last story only had a few of the key players from the previous stories so add that to the fact that some characters and stories were not revisited again after their quickie ending.
Overall, the stories were pretty good for the most part. It is listed as a tale of erotic shorts but yet most are quite mild in my opinion. Maybe what I normally read is more hardcore but I did not see these stories as pure erotica. The word cunt (that is used often and that I did not find sexy or erotic in any way) does not erotica make.
Also, the blurb states that the twelve stories are interlinked so I was expecting more. The only common thread that I found (other than a mention or two of characters from one story to another with no on-page time, and one where a husband gets his own story a few stories after his wife did) was the actual setting. Each story is set in Australia. That is the only real common thread that I found unfortunately. I do wish the author would have explored the Australian angle a bit more as well. My blog partner is in Australia so I am always eager to read more about her homeland.
So at the end of the day (so to speak) I have to say that this was a decent enough collection of stories but also a missed opportunity. I want resolution, always, even when I’m reading stories of this length. I got none with any of the stories listed in Quiver. The author is an outstanding writer and this is evident in each story. However, I prefer to read stories that have some type of real ending, good or bad. I did not get that with this anthology.
This book was provided by Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.