Edited by London literary agent Peake, a mostly British collection of stories exploring the rough-and-tumble terrain of seduction, marred by pretentious prose and an overly studied approach. Each of the 12 tales delves into the passions, patterns, compulsions, illusions, displays, and emotions that lead to sex, love, and, more often than not, betrayal. Many of these protagonists are hyperintellectuals who see sex as an animal need rather than a means of connecting. In ``Soft Sell--a Fantasy'' by A.L. Barker, a scholar who published a definitive history of seduction (from Cro-Magnon to Common Market man) becomes tediously self-important as she exploits her position as a Privileged Customer for a Catalogue that states ``we will make possible for you anything which is possible at all'' to engage the attentions of a thoroughly uninterested salesman. Will Self's ``Incubus: or The Impossibility of Self-Determination as to Desire'' is more compelling: A philosopher studying the impossibility of free will manages to break free of his marriage and sleep with his doting research assistant--but only in a drunken haze that prevents him from recalling any of it. Other protagonists are less interested in the act of sex itself than in their capacity to be seduced. In ``Strategy and Siege,'' by Damon Galgut, a 53-year-old historian whose wife has just left him takes an uncharacteristic trip to the nation of Lesotho in southern Africa and finds himself running after an overweight farm girl he had previously rejected. Francis King's ``Sukie'' shows aging Dr. Middleton being taken in by a less-than-attractive con artist, despite the fact that he considers his years of adventure behind him. While these are potentially tender topics, neither author delves deeply enough into the protagonists' psyche to make their actions meaningful. Indeed, most stories here fail to go beyond the titillating surface of seduction to explore the potentially powerful underpinnings of basic emotions. As meaningful as a one-night stand.