merry xxxmasIf you’re one of those people who struggles with their Christmas shopping and finding just the right gift, this yuletide-themed collection of erotic stories makes a great stocking stuffer, especially if it’s a fishnet stocking. Alison Tyler, a woman presumably awash in smut, has put together yet another near-perfect anthology, one that will forever change the way you think of the phrase, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

In the hands of a lesser editor, Merry XXXmas would no doubt have been packed full of bad puns: lots of naughty-or-nice inquiries, sliding down someone’s “chimney”, and references to Santa’s substantial “North Pole”. Fortunately, Tyler is smarter than that, getting all of the punny business out of the way in the first story, “Gifts from Santa” by Tsaura Litzky, a tale that somehow manages to be downright steamy even though it’s intentionally, to be sure, packed with every single sex-related Christmas double entendre and pun every printed or spoken in the history of the English language.

After that, things get more serious, and the stories shy away from sentimentality. There’s a running theme in many of the stories of Merry XXXmas: the main character is suffering through some intolerable Christmas deed (gift shopping, office parties, visiting relatives) when some unexpected opportunity for hot sex presents itself and lifts our hero’s spirits. In “Rapt”, Saskia Walker gives us a lusty encounter with a stranger in a cab, and Rachel Kramer Bussel’sLast-Minute Shopping”, a woman will do anything to get the hard-to-find gift for her boyfriend, even if it’s a backroom blowjob on videogame store manager. All of the stories Tyler presents are quality, but the best by far is “Spider Monkey Loves Rudolph” by Tom Piccirilli, the tale of two lost souls finding each other at a vapid Hollywood party, a story that is funny, smart, and sexy, as well as having crackling dialogue, often a weak point in erotica.

So, with plenty of time left to get your shopping done, put Merry XXXmas on your list. Hell, even if it’s late, it makes a great gift because, unlike strands of blinking lights and wads of silver tinsel, good erotica is never out of season.

Cleis Press, paperback, 2005 - Order from Amazon.com

Reviewed by Lippy Imp