I’m essentially a nice guy, no matter what the rumourmongers might say. As a consequence of my amiable character, it would seem inevitable that I was going to say good things about Ultimate Burlesque. However, Ultimate Burlesque deserves to have good things written about it because it really is an outstanding anthology.
This collection of 30 short stories comes from Accent Press’s imprint, Xcite Books, with profits benefiting the cancer charities associated with Burlesque Against Breast Cancer, and a minimum 15% of the cover price going to the UK organisation: Macmillan Cancer Support.
I won’t go into the details of what Macmillan Cancer Support do. I think it’s sufficient for the sake of this review to say that they are a charity who perform a tremendous job to alleviate suffering. I certainly won’t go into the details of the devastating disease that is cancer. I suspect that, sadly, most of us will know someone who has suffered because of this horrible, horrible illness. Rather than concentrate on the grim stuff, what I want to do here, instead, is concentrate on the great anthology that is Ultimate Burlesque.
A quick glance at the table of contents reveals some of the top names in contemporary erotic fiction. Alison Tyler, Elizabeth Black, Marcelle Perks, Portia Da Costa, Jeremy Edwards, Nikki Magennis, Donna George Storey, Maxim Jakubowski, Kristina Lloyd and Emily Dubberley. There are other enormously talented writers contained within Ultimate Burlesque – more successful journalists and acclaimed novelists than I have space to mention here – but the good news is that you can see the full table of contents when you go out and buy the book.
Above anything else, Ultimate Burlesque is a celebration of life – and those saucy interludes that make all our lives fulfilling and satisfying. From Jo Rees’s “Inner Diva,” a beautifully crafted story of backstage breast obsession, Ultimate Burlesque reveals itself as cheeky as it is charitable. In MonMouth’s stirring story, “Watching,” the anthology goes away from a fem/fem obsession and playfully introduces a couple and their special friend. Alyson Tyler, “Like Those Girls,” shows us how deliciously demanding it can be to work in a B&B.
Like all good anthologies, Ultimate Burlesque has that special quality where the reader can dip in and out, consistently finding one tantalising gem after another. Jeremy Edwards introduces us to “Laura the Laugher” – an antagonist with a remarkably appealing burlesque act that has the audiences rolling in the aisles. Portia Da Costa entertains with characteristic joie de vivre when she presents us with a “Private Dancer.” Kristina Lloyd brings stylish and sexy wit to “The Lion Tamer’s Scars.”
There are an abundance of stories about burlesque in this collection: if you hadn’t guessed that was a possibility from the title then you’re probably best not trusted with things that have sharp edges – like books. Nikki Magennis’s, “Catch Me If You Can,” takes us backstage with a raunchy stripper and a very enthusiastic fan. Mark Farley skilfully transports us to a house of ill repute in San Francisco, 1862 with “The Intimate Diary of Martha Rae.” And the inimitable Donna George Storey gives us access to a powerful, private performance in “All Eyes Upon Her.”
This is a fun, frisky and fantastic collection of shorts that showcases a host of talented writers all writing sex-positive and upbeat tales that are rousing, raunchy and risqué. Readers who are interested in finding out more about Burlesque Against Breast Cancer should visit Burlesque Against Breast Cancer.I’m aware that finances are tight for us all at the moment, but Ultimate Burlesque comes with the added incentive of doing something that benefits a good cause. Even more enticing is the fact that this book is worth every penny.