I'll pretty much buy anything Datlow and Windling edit. It's always bound to be good stuff.
Anyway, the theme here is sexy/erotic fantasy.
Introduction by Terri Windling
In the same basic format as all of Windling's intro, it gives a quick history and folklore-centered background of erotica in traditional tales.
My Lady of the Hearth [Magravandias Chronicles] by Storm Constantine
Unlucky in love, a wealthy young man prays to the cat goddess... and his housecat is transformed into the shape of a beautiful woman. She's still mentally a cat though... which leads to some awkwardness.
The Faerie Cony-catcher by Delia Sherman
A version of the traditional tale where an unwary young man meets a beautiful faerie and is taken under the hill to meet her Queen. Pretty standard, and with less drama/heartache than many renditions of this theme.
Broke Heart Blues by Joyce Carol Oates
Doesn't really belong in this collection, in my opinion. An excerpt from a novel. Written in exaggerated fashion, it describes a young man in traditional America that everyone, teens and matrons alike, is infatuated with.
Wolfed by Tanith Lee
A happy sexual fantasy, transposing the tropes of Little Red Riding Hood onto a bar pickup scene. Everyone is beautiful and wealthy and game for anything... making it a real fantasy. Lovely fun, though.
Ashes on Her Lips by Edward Bryant
Well, that's a little ew. In my personal opinion. Strangely, I read about a case like this in the news just recently. Or somewhere. Oh, here it is. It was on "My Strange Addiction." Maybe this woman read this story. http://perezhilton.com/2011-08-06-my-strange-addition-husbands-ashes-eating#.T2X5AdkoNnU
Mirrors by Garry Kilworth
In an unnamed Asian country, a tourist with an unexpected layover is lured into a brothel for an "extra-special" fantasy. It starts off lovely, but things take a disturbing turn. I really felt that more could have been done with this set-up.
Midnight Express by Michael Swanwick
On a train through Fairyland, a naive traveler encounters a seductive Sphinx. I don't really enjoy this "one-side-of-the-conversation" narrative structure, but it was still kinda fun.
No Human Hands to Touch by Elizabeth E. Wein
Wow! Nasty, evil, and HOT, all rolled into one! I love Wein's writing. I've always thought it was strange and peculiar that it's marketed as YA - and now that I find out that, according to her, she's had to refrain from writing stuff like THIS into her books to cater to those sensitive YA sensibilities... well, THAT is a true shame.
This is a incest/psychological manipulation drama between Morgan LeFay and Mordred (different names here) that gives background to her Arthurian trilogy.
Attachments by Pat Murphy
Could be subtitled, "The Death of Chang and Eng." Historical fiction rather than fantasy, but Murphy is an excellent writer.
In the Season of Rains by Ellen Steiber
This reminded me a lot of Charles de Lint, with its Southwest-flavored 'urban' fantasy feel. A man with a commitment issue meets a supernatural female spirit, and gets what's coming to him (?). (Really, it just seems that he gets doomed to continue as he's been.)
Bird Count by Jane Yolen
A woman abandons her annoying, dependent boyfriend to run off with a mysterious and wild bird-man.
A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain by Dave Smeds
A group of refugees from Faerie, trapped in the modern world, are willing to do just about anything to maintain a safe haven for themselves. A wealthy widower contracts for one of them to pretend to be his dead wife. But he's not completely heartless, and gradually he realizes that the situation is kinda *wrong*.
Tastings by Neil Gaiman
Whoo! It's an anthology with a Real Story by Gaiman, not just a brief poem! And it's Explicit! And psychological-vampire-y!
A male escort who somehow always knows exactly what his partners want meets a female celebrity for sex... but gets a lot more than he bargained for.
The Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning Clove by Doris Egan
It's difficult to have an ongoing relationship with a seductive female vampire - especially when the longer you stay together, the more addicted and weak the human becomes. But these two make a good go of it. Really rather sweet.
Heat by Melissa Lee Shaw
The format of a poem, but it's really a story. An erotic version of the tale of a witch who turns men to stone. And a man so overcome with lust that he actually won't fight the enchantment.
The Eye of the Storm by Kelley Eskridge
This story is included in Eskridge's short-story collection, "Dangerous Space," so I'd read it before. No problem, because Eskridge is an amazing author, and I love, love, love this story. Four fighters form themselves into a guard unit, navigate the hazards of sex and violence, and eventually become private guards to a very unusual prince.
O for a Fiery Gloom and Thee by Brian Stableford
Hmm. I think the author was just struck by the title phrase. Kind of about La Belle Dame Sans Merci and a knight... but it's not very memorable.
The Light That Passes Through You by Conrad Williams
On a whim, a man calls up his old highschool girlfriend to see how she's doing. Next thing you know, she shows up on his doorstep looking all strung out. More vampire-y themes here. And although it doesn't say so explicitly, leaves me with the thought that sometimes the past is best left in the past.
Private Words by Mark W. Tiedemann
A weird menage-a-trois, lived through letters. Rather disturbing.
The House of Nine Doors by Ellen Kushner
Yay Ellen Kushner! She is so awesome. And this is a lovely sexual fantasy set in the world of Riverside (I believe). A must for fans of 'Swordspoint' etc.
And I am truly disappointed that the concept Kushner mentions in her note here never came to fruition... a shared-world fantasy series set in an exotic brothel. Sigh. Rejected by publishers. Why?
Persephone or, Why the Winters Seem to Be Getting Longer by Wendy Froud
Wendy Froud is known more for her sculptures than her writing, but this is a short but lovely little myth.
Taking Loup by Bruce Glassco
If women could take a drug that turned them into werewolves, gender dynamics in our society would change.