By: Sylvia Day


The philosopher Alain de Botton writes in The Art of Travel that the appeal of an attractive potential partner is heightened if such a person is encountered abroad; prospective lovers then seem to adopt something of the exoticism of the country one is travelling through. Their appeal, he speculates, may spring from an ambition to ‘weld ourselves more closely to the values missing from our own culture’. He may well be right but, to be prosaic for a moment, the primary aim for most travellers journeying out of the UK is usually to weld themselves to the nearest pool lounger and draw down those much-needed rays on their poor, sun-starved bodies.

But there is no doubt that an encounter away from home can provide a giddying thrill rarely found in one’s own neck of the woods; a chance to indulge one’s sybaritic side and give over the pull of nature. On holiday we recline that bit more luxuriously; dine a good deal more sumptuously, and bring forth our passions more readily. It’s no accident that the duty-free areas in airports display such an embarrassment of beauty care and sweet-smelling riches. The departure lounge is the place where women, especially, love to treat themselve to quality cosmetics from the upper price bracket in anticipation of lavishing them on their bodies when their skin begins to bronze. We visualise our holiday selves, beautified and groomed, taking an evening walk by the sea or in the town square, flashing smiles and flirty eyes at a handsome passer-by or fellow traveller.

As you would expect from a Black Lace compilation, the characters in this collection of sexy holiday stories go a good deal further than the flirting stage. In fact, none of these girls are going to let slip the opportunity to indulge in X-rated frolics, often al fresco, with their holiday flings. And what an assortment of manly charms they encounter. For those who like guys ‘tanned and rugged’, you are in for a treat: there’s a tour guide who knows how to hit the right pleasure spots; a hotel masseur who goes that extra bit further; a down and dirty US backwoodsman and a sex-mad Aussie snake handler who brings his mates along for the ride. More exotic is a Cuban salsa dancer and a dastardly Czech spanking fan, and, an unusual addition, the story of a young man encountering a beautiful dominatrix in a ski resort. I was spoilt for choice for stories with a French setting, but one character doesn’t even make it on to Gallic soil before she’s in action on the ferry crossing.

All in all, it’s a fabulously saucy beach read, and I bet that there’ll be many a hotel room with a dog-eared copy of this compilation on its bedside table. Just be careful you don’t spill your factor 15!

Kerri Sharp (Ed.)

Thanking Vesuvius

Primula Bond

The idea of swinging in a hammock above the Bay of Naples seemed like utter heaven when Samantha first suggested it. We were sitting in the British Museum at the time, staring at the shrivelled remains of someone who had failed to escape the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Every six months or so we’d meet there for some sisterly bonding, to ponder the exhibits until we felt sufficiently educated. Then we’d repair to the pub so that we could catch up – or rather I could listen to tales of her doomed love life.

‘Except that I don’t really have a love life at the moment, unlike you, lucky thing.’ Samantha sighed, tapping my engagement ring as we waited to cross the road. ‘How is the mysterious Geoffrey, by the way?’

I conjured up my imaginary fiancé from the collage of magazine cuttings stuck to my pin board at home. I love my younger sister, but she’s too nosy by half. I had to invent Geoffrey to keep her and my other friends off my back.

‘He’s fine. In the States, actually. Dying to meet you.’

‘Which is why you’d be the ideal travelling companion. Respectable, spoken for, always available…There’s an extra space in the villa, you see. You love the sun, or you used to. You’re a brilliant cook. There’ll be plenty of culture. And you won’t be competition when we’re out pulling the locals.’

‘We?’ I paused at the door of the pub.

‘Me and Greta. Don’t look so horrified.’ Sam flicked her golden plaits at me. ‘She speaks English really well now. We’re best mates.’ Now she was blushing.