Indefatigable pop sexologist Bright has corralled three varied contributions in a sequel to Three the Hard Way (2004) that could mark a new annual series.
Beware of what you wish for, because in these three tales of sexual wishes fulfilled, desire can be a harsh master. Given that common premise, the stories couldn’t be more different. Eric Albert’s “Charmed, I’m Sure,” in which David, a naïve city-slicker tired of mating rituals, pays a witch he meets at a party $4,000 for 15 hours of power to get any potential partner to do anything he wants. It’s basically an extended joke in which David’s all-too-successful attempts to have women at his beck and call create predictable but increasingly wild complications. Greta Christina’s “Bending” asks what happens when Dallas, a young woman who gets off on only one sexual position—being taken from behind while she’s bent over—finally has the chance, after years of on-again-off-again fulfillment, to sate herself. The result is a surprisingly moving odyssey of exhaustiveness and exhaustion. And Jill Soloway’s “Jodi K,” whose heroine lusts after her girlfriend’s father even as she’s going through all the moves of high-school dating, is an anthropologically precise dissection of a particular (yet frighteningly general-seeming) teenaged narrator who sounds like Eloise in heat. Though Jodi helpfully points out the good parts of her amusingly inarticulate saga in advance, readers intent on the good parts alone may want to skip it entirely, since it contains less sex than most Cosmo fiction, a distinction that sets it miles apart from Albert and Christina.
Despite the perils the reckless heroes and heroines court, all three stories have at least moderately happy endings—though the plausible chance that they won’t shows you how far erotic fiction has come since Bright first hung out her editorial shingle.