Robert E. Howard's "spicy" stories

These three stories were indexed under a title Spicy Stories. They are perhaps a bit more titillating than some of the other Howard's stories and do contain a bit more explicit references to sex and sexuality. It's not that Howard's characters didn't care about female beauty, but Howard's style of describing those encounters was usually far more modest. In these tales both men and women alike are more direct about matters despite what is in these stories could hardly be classed even softcore erotica. The collection I have only had three of these stories, but apparently, Howard did have more, some finished some only drafts.

All of these stories share a male protagonist Bill Clanton, a sailor and an adventurer, who has hard fists and an eye for women.

The Purple Heart of Erlik Arline Ellis is in trouble, as she's been blackmailed by a nasty Duke Tremayne to do his bidding. Not sex, though Arline can see that it's going to get there, but a theft. She is to steal the titular Heart of Erlik from a mysterious merchant Woon Yuen.

So, dressed up as a British aristocrat Arline infiltrates the merchant's abode. This masquerade is just because Yuen is more likely to show her the treasure if he's to believe that Arline is a noteworthy collector. Now, this is where the story gets a pretty nasty turn, as Yuen sees through Arline's show and ends up raping her. It isn't an overly graphical scene, as Howard steers away and jumps forwards in time after her clothes are ripped apart, but there's no question about what happened.

Bill Clanton, who is hardly a nice fella himself either, as he tried to force himself on Arlene earlier, finds her on the verge of suicide and stops her from jumping off the pier. Arlene comes clean to him and Clanton, because he wants to jump her bones, decides to help the girl out by getting rid of Tremayne.

It is quite obvious why this story is slapped under a tag spicy. It definitely has a more direct approach to sex and as you might imagine, Arlene ends up falling to the arms of Bill Clanton, as he's the saviour of the day, that despite she did manage to repel off his advances earlier by hitting him on the head.

She Devil Bill Clanton ends up on a ship, where an exotic beauty Raquel O'Shane is having a massive row with a less than pleasant captain Harrigan. As Bill has an eye towards female beauty, especially voluptuous ones, he decides as soon as he sees Raquel, that he must have her.

Clanton feeds Harrigan some baloney of a lost treasure of which location he knows and during the journey, he has time to scheme on how he gets rid of the man and gets the woman. though getting the woman is easy, as she's more than willing to do most of the legwork herself.

She Devil reads out like a Conan story. The big difference is, that Bill doesn't carry a sword with him and he ends up getting rid of the captain by setting a trap for him, but in essence, he ends up becoming a captain of the Saucy Wench himself, just like how Conan would have done. And Raquel he got long before he even got to the site if his trap.

This isn't a particularly strong story, as it feels more like a side thought. It is somewhat amusing, but it is hard to see any other merit about it.

The Dragon of Kao Tsu In the middle of trying to enjoy his whiskey-and-soda, a stunner in high heels walks to Bill Clanton and accuses him of being a liar and a thief. The woman in question is Marianne Allison, an American socialite, who had hired Clanton to get a valuable ivory dragon from scoundrel named Shareef Ahmed. While he procured the item, Marianne insists, that it is a fake.

Clanton agrees to take Marianne to the thief who did the deed of actually stealing the statue, but to their surprise, they find him dead. And then things turn even worse when more people clamber in looking for the statue.

A lot of action ensues, during which Clanton does a lot of beating and ends up saving the woman and finding the right statue as well. And, despite her protests at first, Clanton ends up having the girl as well.

While the story is relatively fun and well written, like is the case with most of Howard's stories, it's hard to call it anything notable. Like the other Clanton stories, it aims to be a bit more titillating, and there is a fair amount of ogling going on towards Marianne's shapely body, it isn't really as raunchy as the two previous tales.