Bad Romance: Four Bizarre Novels About Love & Sex

A week ago, my friend Matt sent me this image. I fell in love instantly.

But...You're a Horse

Man hands. I just realized the horse has MAN HANDS.

I’m both sad enough and wise enough to have heard of people who like to get it on with horses, but this…this was something entirely different. This was a full-blown horse-on-lady romance! Would they share a candlelit dinner of oats and sugar cubes? Canter down the beach an sunset? Break their legs after getting spooked by a snake and have to be put down? The possibilities were, if not endless, then at least appealingly weird.
Alas, my fragile heart was destined to be broken. But…You’re a Horse is not an actual horse romance. It’s not even a romance. It’s a comedy book written by David Bussell, a tome that someone–perhaps Bussell himself–decided to bestow with a hilarious but unrelated cover. I spent a sleepless night nursing my betrayal. And scheming. Always scheming…

The next day, I skimmed through Goodreads’ erotica directory and picked out the four weirdest books I saw. I then read them. What follows is a summary of the horrors contained therein. Sit back, pop a Dramamine, and prepare to have your world rocked in the sexiest possible way.

#1. Taken by the Minotaur, by Isabel Dare

Taken by the Minotaur, by Isabel Dare

Plot Summary
The Greek hero Theseus storms the Minotaur’s maze, intent on slaying the monster and freeing his native Thebes from the terrible blood tribute they must pay every year. He fears ending up on the Minotaur’s plate. Instead, he finds himself in the Minotaur’s bed!

The Good
The author has a respectable grasp of Greek mythology, which gives the story a pleasing literary undercurrent. It’s still Minotaur smut, but at least it’s well-informed Minotaur smut.

The Bad
The sex scene follows the well-established virgin-gets-raped-but-starts-enjoying-it-halfway-through trope. People must find this sexy, because it pops up in approximately forty percent of smutty stories. I myself do not. Then again, since this is a book about Minotaur sex, lack of consent is really the least disgusting aspect.

Clip art bull

The most disgusting aspect is bull wieners.

Representative Quotes

“[He had[ no armor, only his leather sandals and skimpy chiton. They were the clothes of a slave, not a royal prince. It was indecent, Theseus had thought at first, ashamed of the way the chiton rode up when he bent over, exposing his sun-brown thighs. But after several weeks of living in prison, he was almost used to it.”

“‘It takes all those fourteen youths to slake my lust,’ the Minotaur went on in his low rumbling voice, while Theseus merely stared, unable to take his eyes away from the rampant erection. ‘But you are here alone…So you, my dear princeling, must take the place of all of them.'”

How Sexy Is It?
Three out of 5 sexy bulls.

sexy bullsexy bullsexy bull






#2. Rehabilitating His Dingo, by Charlie Richards

Rehabilitating His Dingo, by Charlie Richards
Plot Summary
The improbably named Yates (a wolf shifter) rescues the even more improbably named Aryen (a dingo shifter) from sexual slavery at the hands of a rival pack. Yates immediately chooses the traumatized Aryen as his mate–but first, he needs to heal Aryen’s emotional wounds. With sex. Somehow.

The Good
Christ, you guys. This book almost made me give up on the whole article. It was so not my bag. If I were pressed, I suppose I could praise Yates for at least paying lip service to teaching Aryen how to stand up for himself. I could, if I were willing to overlook all the garbage surrounding it.

The Bad
The title is pretty goofy, so that’s one strike right from the get-go. The author generally seems to have trouble using the word “dingo” in a way that can’t be construed as a weird euphemism for “dong.”

“Aryen felt his dingo yip.”

“Yates let out a sigh and enfolded the dingo in his lap.”

“The isolated feeling of the country around him, it called to his dingo.”

Maybe I’m reaching. If so, I think it’s excusable, because I was so god damn bored reading this book that I’d latch on to any source of entertainment, no matter how tenuous. The basic premise of the book–curing a sex abuse survivor with more sex–is flat-out offensive. Recovering from sex abuse doesn’t work like that. Sure, Yates waxes compassionate about how wounded Aryen is and how he won’t push him until he’s ready. But he gives him a handy the first day they meet and sleeps with him days later. So, you know.

In between the sex scenes, which I skimmed because my apathy was becoming terminal, there was all kinds of fluff. Yates and Aryen eat stew. Yates takes Aryen to get his nipples pierced. Yates and Aryen host a poker game. My one recurring thought throughout all of this was: When the hell is he going to take Aryen to see a therapist? The answer, as you might have guessed, is never. Pierced nipples are essential to the rehabilitation process. Psychotherapy? Not so much.

One last thing: this was the 23rd book in an ongoing series, a fact I wasn’t aware of until I’d read almost half of it. So basically, I had no idea what the hell was going on and was constantly floundering over passages like these:

“We discovered that Colton had been kidnapping humans when a vampire that was friends with a number of our pack mates mated with Dirk, a human that escaped from your pack. That’s why the vampires were involved.”

(Dirk? Vampires? What?)

“‘I explained to Manon that Aryen is your mate, and he plans to have Luther accompany the humans and send for Chris,’ Dorian told him.”

(Who are these people?)

“Hell, Kontra’s mate, Tim, considered himself a half shifter because his father was the beta, Luc, but he didn’t shift due to the magick inherited from his witch mother.”


Representative Quotes

“The feel of the sweats sliding along [Aryen’s] sensitive d**k felt good and bad all at the same time. I’ve never had that response before!”

“‘Reb, this is Aryen Fowles, my mate, and we’re looking for bars for his nipples.'”

How Sexy Is It?
Two out of 5 sexy wolves.

sexy wolfsexy wolf





#3. Bigfoot Cop, by Kevin Shamel

bigfoot copPlot Summary
Bigfoot is a loose-cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules. After the chief takes his badge and his gun, he goes renegade in order to catch the bastards who kidnapped his girlfriend’s son.

The Good
I’ve built what little reputation I have on reading crappy books. That’s my foundation–sandy, insubstantial, and irritating to the skin. I accept this. Every once in a while, however, I stumble across a book that leaves me pleasantly surprised. Bigfoot Cop is one such book. It’s not perfect, but damn is it funny.

Functioning as a parody of Dirty Harry and the like, this novel hits all the beats: the tragic back story, the partner who’s weeks away from retirement, the foul-mouthed chief who’s one temper tantrum away from a coronary, the public screw-up that lands our hero on TV and in hot water. The latter comes in the form of a botched attempt at halting a robbery, during which Bigfoot manages to tear the limbs off the suspects, injure dozens of bystanders, and destroy an entire city block. He gets reassigned to the Missing Persons Unit as a result–alongside a partner, no less! The chief expects him to put his feet up and stay out of the lime light.

“I told Lieutenant Jacobi at MPU to let you two pretty much do your own thing–figured you would, anyway. So just get along and find missing people or some sh*t.”

But Bigfoot as other ideas.

The periphery of the novel is filled with bizarre side-encounters, most memorably one with a political activist who aspires to redraw the boundaries of certain states so that they look less like guns.

“‘I am allowed to stand on the public sidewalk and speak my mind freely. It’s violent bullies like you that made the states look like guns to begin with…Just sign this petition to get the corners rounded off on all the states that look like guns and I’ll stop talking to you…Make them round! Make them round!'”

And the opening lines! They’re just the right kind of stupid. Here’s the first sentence of the novel:

“Bigfoot ate a salad in his unmarked police car.”

And here’s an opener from later in the book:

“Bigfoot drove his monster truck to his massive cabin just outside a small town called Gales Creek, about thirty-five miles west of Portland.”

And one more:

“Bigfoot made sage and horsetail tea, lounged on his extra-long couch, and listened to a few songs from INXS, which made him think about Australia.”

If those don’t sell you on Bigfoot Cop, nothing will.

The Bad
The violence is extreme in the vein of South Park’s “Little Crime Stoppers” and “Imaginationland” episodes, which is to say it’s pervasive and intended to be comedic. i found it funny, for the most part, but those who are more squeamish might find it hard to stomach. And there were a few occasions on which I felt the author crossed the line: a lot of children die at the end, for example, in very graphic and unpleasant ways. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it certainly wasn’t funny.

Another thing that’s pervasive is the male gaze. There’s only one major female character in Bigfoot Cop, and her defining characteristics seem to be that she’s deaf and has really nice boobs. I lost track of how many times the narrator mentioned Vikki’s rack. A minor female character–the only implicitly or explicitly queer person in the book–sexualizes her teen student, describing her nipples as “pointy drops of rosebud latex, especially in my air-conditioned office during extra-credit calisthenics.” The issues with depicting your sole gay character as a pedophile are obvious.

And the sex scene is really gross. Not just because a woman gets it on with Bigfoot, but also because it’s really demeaning sex. Maybe the sexism is included as yet another nod to high-testosterone action movies, but the practice isn’t so much parodied as unthinkingly adhered to. And that’s unfortunate.

Representative Lines

“[Bigfoot[ had a medical marijuana card for TMJ and PTSD. But he really smoked it for its Forest Magick. No one messed with him at the station, and the chief knew he smoked it but didn’t care because the weed helped him chill the f*ck out.”

“He gathered some food for the night, mostly berries and some pine needles for tea. He had some honey stashed in his Wookie house. Bigfoot had purposely designed his tree house to look like Chewbacca’s.”

“Bigfoot shuffled his feet, knocking over a chair that slid into the chief’s coffee bar. It spilled hot coffee, creamer, wet grounds, sugar, and broke two mugs. The chief yelled, ‘BigfooooOOOoooot!'”

How Sexy Is It?
One out of 5 sexy Bigfoots.

sexy bigfoot




#4. Destroyed by Ducks, by Drew Peacock

The Mighty Ducks

Nothing in this story can be depicted on a PG-13 website. So have this picture of the Mighty Ducks instead.

Plot Summary
An old woman has sex with some ducks

Good Points

Bad Points
It’s so gross.

Representative Quotes
I can’t even post any; they’re all too disgusting.

How Sexy Is It?


4 thoughts on “Bad Romance: Four Bizarre Novels About Love & Sex

  1. David

    If the ducks book has anything to do with real duck mating practices, I understand why you didn’t write about it. Pretty sure male ducks are known for raping female ducks to death. Also, spiked corkscrew penises that regrow every year.

  2. Pingback: Apparently People Still Use Goodreads: Six of the Most Esoteric Genres on Amazon’s Social Media Platform | Joanna Lesher

  3. Kevin Shamel

    Joanna, you have just become my favorite reviewer of anything I’ve ever written. This is one sweet review of Bigfoot Cop. I also love that you came at it from a romance angle. Even the bads are brilliant, and tell me that you got it, even when you think you didn’t get it. This is straight bizarro fiction, and yes, complete parody–from the story and characters to writing style, misogynistic exploitation, and ultra-violence/ bad, gross sex while actually being about other stuff. It started out more as “Bigfoot meets Lethal Weapon”, but didn’t really end up that way as I wrote it. Likening it to Dirty Harry is actually more apt. I’m really happy it surprised you, I really love the things you did and didn’t like about it. Thank you! I’m so happy to have found this today.


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