Michele Bardsley’s Erotic Tales from The Lust Bastion: Nefertari 9.0, a short story of about 21,000 words, cheered me up this rainy afternoon. Nefertari 9.0 is a bawdy, fluffy, fun novella about love and lust’s caprices, and how every geeky Jack will find his geeky Jill.
You don’t stumble over a vulnerable Jerry Lewis character (without the overbite) as a romance hero every day. Computer game creator Chester P. Hiddles may be rich and kindhearted, but he is also hopelessly socially inept and not exactly every woman’s Prince Charming. However, he is an optimistic romantic, unflaggingly searching for love, only to become a regular target for ambitious, gorgeous gold-diggers. Chester’s combination of weakness for physical beauty and gullibility had me rolling my eyes and laughing at him, but gradually, I couldn’t help but sympathize a little with his seemingly futile quest for true love.
As the story opens, Chester’s heart has repeatedly been broken and trampled on by five cheating ex-fiancées, from popular beauties to Plain Janes. An invitation to a VIP event, a common occurrence in Chester’s privileged life, leads the disillusioned Chester to The Lust Bastion Erotica Emporium, a flamboyant adult sex palace in Las Vegas, where the mysterious owner persuades Chester to sample the charms of Nefertari 9.0, the company’s perfect sex robot. Nefertari 9.0 is capable of any woman’s accomplishments – in and out of the bedroom – without any complaints or drawbacks. But while Chester enjoys the rampant sex with Nefertari 9.0 well enough, it is another voluptuous siren who arouses his interest and turns his head.
Shannon Brown is an engineering genius and the proud creator of Nefertari 9.0. She is financially well-off, obsessed with her work, and as much a geek in her own right as is Chester. Thanks to her ingenious inventions, she doesn’t exactly have to date to slake her sexual needs. Chester’s critical comments on Nefertari 9.0 provoke her to enhance the prototype’s abilities, with unexpected results that had me in stitches. While it’s easy to see why Shannon is Chester’s dream partner, it is less comprehensible why he should be hers – unless you have a big soft spot for genuinely nice, needy nerds. While I usually prefer the hot, irresistibly domineering alpha types, Chester made for a fun change of pace.
The sex scenes are hilarious and sexy in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, as are all the characters and their interactions. Nefertari 9.0 doesn’t take itself too seriously, and as a result, I happily went along with the fun and charming wackiness. It is fluff, but entertaining fluff.