Ask a woman about her favorite sexual fantasies. She might talk about being tied up and spanked, or covered in chocolate and licked clean, or ravished up against a rough alley wall by a dark, dangerous stranger. This sort of exotica will vary a lot from one individual to the next. Most straight women, though, even the most vanilla, will likely agree that they'd like to have more, and more pleasurable, sex – sex without guilt or self-consciousness or repercussions – sex with men whose main concern is satisfying their partners rather than themselves. Amanda Jilling's House of Roosters is a lovingly detailed instantiation of that fantasy.
Book 1 of this series is narrated by thirty-something Melissa, an independent single woman who makes a good living working for a bank, but who's been enduring a long dry spell in her love life . While she's having her nails done at her regular salon, she overhears some gossip about a place called “The Happy Ladies' House of Roosters,” where women can go to have their sexual needs met by accommodating men. Before long, she and her more extroverted and adventurous best friend Ellie check out the rumors. Their research leads them to an ordinary-looking split level ranch house owned by Dorothy, a plump, vivacious Latina whose goal is to “create a network of women who will then facilitate the types of erotic entertainment that they most enjoy... a club... like the old gentleman's clubs in Victorian times with yearly dues and a board of directors.”
Both Ellie and Melissa join the board of directors, along with a diverse group of other women, and little by little, the House of Roosters begins to take shape. Ellie takes on the official role of “rooster tester”, though the other women are welcome to join in the hands-on trials required before a man will be accepted into the fold. The board has high standards. Still, it's not as difficult as one might think to find potential roosters, sensual males who love to lavish attention on the female of the species, whatever she might look like.
The House hosts outrageous parties where the attendees are free to request sexual services from any of the men present, and the men are required (and generally eager) to comply. The roosters receive financial compensation for their time and effort, but most participate as much for their own enjoyment as for the money. As time goes on, the core groups of Ladies and Roosters both expand. Their frequent mutual pleasure and their shared commitment to the club's goals mold them into an intimate community, forging emotional connections on top of the physical ones.
Although the House has highs and lows, crises and growing pains, overall it experiences phenomenal success. Dorothy, Ellie, Melissa and the other founding members begin to search for a larger, permanent home for the club. An abandoned factory proves to be a good fit. Book 1 comes to a close with Melissa “christening” the newly remodeled building with contractor-turned-Rooster, Derek, and then a wild, orgiastic farewell party that overflows the bounds of Dorothy's suburban home, the original House of Roosters.
I wouldn't call Ms. Jilling's book literary erotica, but I have to say, it was great fun. For one thing, House of Roosters has to be one of the most sex-positive stories I've ever read. There are no victims in Dorothy's club – no exploitation. Everyone – lady or rooster – gets a piece of the action. The values of mutual respect and mutual pleasure govern every encounter. There's affection and tenderness, too, if that's what you're looking for, though the main focus of the House is sex without strings.
In her tongue-in-cheek forward about condom use (or lack thereof), Ms. Jilling reminds readers that the book is a fantasy. Nevertheless, House of Roosters is far more realistic than many examples of the same genre. Rather than embodying physical perfection as in some porn, the characters come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Dorothy is unabashedly ordinary, aside from her prodigious sex drive. There's senior citizen Ethel, who believed (before finding the House) that she'd never have sex again; shy college student Brandon, a closet artist who loves older women; Little Tom, named for his penis size, who's much in demand for his oral abilities; potty-mouthed, bisexual black mama Barb; Janet, who gradually becomes confident enough to get naked and reveal her mastectomy scar; timid Nicole, who gets the opportunity to act on her secret desire for black men; Gloria, a veteran of Iraq who has lost both her legs; and many more. The message here is clear – everybody can, and should, enjoy sex, regardless of what you look like or where you come from.
The sex party scenes recognize the fact that even the horniest man or woman will become exhausted eventually. The orgy room alternates between frantic activity and languid caresses as the participants recover. This matches my own experience at sex clubs and swing parties. Lying around naked and relaxed can feel as transgressive and satisfying as frenzied fucking.
Ms. Jilling's attention to the organizational details of the club as it grows also struck me as realistic. The only issue she neglected involved the legality of Dorothy's brainchild. Most cities would fight tooth and nail against an establishment like the House of Roosters. Maybe this is another area where fantasy won out. Ms. Jilling invites readers to imagine a world where everyone lives according to the time-honored mantra: mind your own business!
I've mentioned a few of the characters above – but only a few of many. The author introduces them gradually, and identifies their distinct characteristics, but I still found myself having difficulty remembering who was who. I think the book would have been improved by having a smaller number of core characters, developed more completely. Even Melissa, the narrator, felt a bit shallow to me. Aside from her sexual urges, her conflicted desires for her friend Ellie, and her transient emotional connections with Brandon, Derek and a few of the other roosters, she's something of a blank slate. In truth, this isn't really Melissa's story at all – she's just the vehicle for describing lots of sex.
Ms. Jilling's writing tends to be direct and unadorned when she's penning dialogue or describing orgies. It doesn't get in the way of the action. When she slows down to focus on Melissa's internal experience, however, she adopts a more metaphorical style that felt stilted and self-conscious to me.
How long we continued this sensual ballet I have no idea. The concept of time had no meaning when my being was centered on interpreting the significance of the captivating choreography flowing across the endings of my nerves. I followed the ebb and flow of Brandon's cock within my sensitive walls with a timeless concentration as the secret music that informed our dance grew in ardor. I could tell by his movements that Brandon was close to coming. Feeling the power of his urgency sparked my own need for orgasm. We joined in a fevered duet to reach our elusive mutual goal. Then it was there, first for him and then for me.
On the other hand, I noticed very few grammatical or typographical errors in the book, despite its being (I believe) a self-published work.
Overall, House of Roosters is a rollicking, explicit piece of wank material that gets a big plus from me for its inclusive, sex-positive values. I suspect there's a big audience for this particular fantasy world – not just among women but also men who might like to imagine themselves in the rooster role. My personal fantasies tend in a more kinky direction, but I have to admit that reading House of Roosters for a while in bed motivated me to jump my hubby's bones. And, like the roosters, he was happy to oblige me.