♦ Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Poppy’s Pin-Ups by Aishling Morgan by SexToysUk in exchange for my honest and fair review. My opinions are my own and, especially with a book review, Your Mileage May Vary. Also, warning, there may be spoilers ahead. That said, on with the review.
Poppy’s Pin-Ups is initially set in Cairo around the Second World War and tells the tale of Flying Officer Henry Truscott and his crew and their bid to make a bit of money taking dirty “pin-up” pictures of women and selling them to the troops. It starts in the thick of things during a poker game among RAF friends with female lead Poppy Pankhurst being made to strip naked (except her stockings, naturally) as a result of a poorly placed bet. The stakes are raised to a bare bottom spanking, given that Poppy has before dished them out to fellow WAAFs, and soon Henry has her in a rather indelicate situation. Poppy becomes both the main attraction and main headache of Henry’s life, the two of them having a very will-they-won’t-they, slap-slap-kiss sort of relationship.
Whilst trying to get his head around Poppy, our ‘hero’ Henry begins importing (willing) foreign beauties from his flying missions to star in his saucy photos and, of course, to gladly fuck our protagonist along the way. Henry also has dalliances with several other girls, both local Egyptians and WAAFS at the base. Whilst other characters do get a bit of non-Henry-based action, it’s mostly not shown and in the background or carrying on whilst Henry is also having his fun in the same room. It’s all shown from his point of view. I thought it was pretty interesting to have a male protagonist as I suppose I expected most erotica to be from the female viewpoint, but we’ll get on to our protagonist in a moment.
The setting of the book is wonderful and incredibly detailed. I’m not the biggest history buff, but it seems a lot of effort has been put in to making the locations and time period seem authentic and rich. The book itself is only 204 pages and an extra three pages are reserved for a glossary of unfamiliar terms (such as “invert” meaning gay or “bluebirds” meaning WAAFs) with three further pages dedicated to historical footnotes, which are actually quite interesting in and of themselves. The author has certainly done her research and, since I love vintagey tales and the wartime era appeals to me as a setting, it really pays off. Cairo isn’t the only place covered, with Dakar, London and Devon popping into the mix.
There only about ten or so typos in the whole book (yes, I did count), though the majority of these come in the last third or so, which seems a little odd, almost as if the proofreader saw the weekend in sight. Though, the most startling error of all comes in in chapter four when the previously named Aissatou switches mid-scene to Assiatou and stays that way for the rest of the book. Odd. Aside from that, it’s fairly well-written on a scene-by-scene basis. There are a few instances with vocabulary that I found a bit jarring (“the tight dimples of their bumholes” on page 76. Bumholes? Really?) but the scenes are engaging and, on the whole, sexy.
Of course, that rather depends on your taste in sex and fetishes, since your own kinks will influence your enjoyment of the ones written about. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a vintage-themed book, one of the main kinks is spanking, which luckily I rather like, though maybe not to the level of tears as it is often shown here. The other main thing in this is anal sex. Henry likes a bit of buggery. A lot of buggery. In fact I’d basically go as far as to say that if you aren’t interested in spanking or sodomy, probably don’t bother with this book: it’s not for you. Heck, I like anal sex and I thought the sheer amount of it was starting to get ridiculous. And there certainly isn’t as much focus on pin-ups as you’d expect.
The book places a fair emphasis on virginity, both taking and not taking it, but I suppose that is probably fairly standard for the era in which it’s set. Slightly more specialised kinks on display here include adult babying and urination in the form of the character Sally Green, who enjoys being spanked and put in her nappy by Henry, as well as wetting herself in one. This stuff did nothing for me and I found it, I admit, a little creepy. But if it does it for you, you’ll probably like those scenes. Other potential causes of being suddenly turned off in the book are Henry getting masturbated by his female cousin and implying his sister does the same for him (page 141), a female character being sick and mucus-y over a man’s cock during a rough blowjob and emitting bubbling farts (page 122), and buttering a girl’s underpants and shoving them up her arse (page 200). Really not my cup of tea at all, indeed I found the descriptions of some acts a bit too graphic for my liking (in a bad way), but you might like it.
Would I read Poppy’s Pin-Ups for a quick bit of arousal before sex/masturbation/a date/whatever? No. Well then, why then would I read it? Why would I not just pick up an anthology, more suited for quick pleasure, and then go about my business? Why would I want a longer, more-involved story? Well, personally, I think it has to be because I care about the story or the characters and, sadly, I don’t. I didn’t really get on with the book very well.
I just found it a bit of a chore to read, despite its rich setting. The story may as well be titled “Henry Truscott Fucks the World Whilst Wishing He Could Fuck Poppy” as he starts off on the wrong foot with her before going on to bang loads of other women then finally realising maybe he should get around to figuring out Poppy instead of just winding her up all the time. As for the characters, the blurb promises “pretty girls and masterful men”. Well, the girls are pretty, and sadly that’s about it, but the men are hardly masterful. The pin-up girls, whether “exotic” or WAAFs, are basically ciphers who I could get no attachment to whatsoever, with the exception of French lass Michelle (who was at least fairly memorable). The title girl, Poppy, is as far as I’m concerned an unlikeable bitch who seems to get off on being bossy, hypocritical, needlessly I-won’t-tell-you-what’s-wrong-if-you-can’t-guess and very petty.
For the men, Gorski is the only character I actually like and is sorely under-used. Henry, our protagonist, well, let’s say I don’t relate to him, eh? As I said at the beginning, literature particularly is personal, but he really seems like a cock to me. I thought I’d enjoy reading from a male perspective because I’d sorely like to put my cock (which I sadly don’t have) into pretty women too, but alas. He’s apparently practically oblivious to emotion, incredibly arrogant and very self-centred. Then, on page 96, we have a scene in which he goes to a girl’s room to seduce her only to find her “curled into one corner, naked, with two livid welts marking one smooth hip, and […] wide, frightened eyes” with a raging behemoth of a man standing over her, beating her. Our ‘hero’ knocks the man out and then:
Henry extended a hand and she took it, allowing herself to be drawn through the window and supported on his arm as he made for Babu’s once more. His emotions were confused, anger and guilt warring with a fierce urge to take her then and there on the rooftops. He forced his need away, but as he helped her in at the window he found she wouldn’t let go, clinging hard to his body, shivering and babbling in Arabic.
‘Oh hell,’ he swore once more. ‘Forgive me…’
Even as he spoke he’d freed his cock from his trousers, and as he lifted Jamila under her bottom he slid into her with ease. She made no protest […] (Page 96)
What the actual hell, protagonist? This girl is traumatised and has just been violently beaten; she is frightened and scared and you decide to stick your cock up her?! That is just not right. You are taking serious advantage and just because she makes “no protest” it does not mean that she consents or that this is OK. Heck, given how scared she is, she’s in no mind to even make that decision right now. That is low. And don’t even get me started (though do feel free to ask if you want to hear) on his musing two pages later that “too casual a display of a girl’s charms diluted her appeal” when the only reason he brought those girls to Cairo was because of their easily displayed charms and the very sexual openness he is now dismissing and dissing.
Well, anyway, as I say, I didn’t get on with the characters, finding them either empty or awful, and some of the sex was a little weird or too-obsessed with anal for my liking, but the sex scenes are written fairly well, the girls’ looks are described very nicely and the setting is richly and authentically laid out. If you like a good deal of spanking and sodomy, you like a wartime setting with a large variety of women to choose from and you can get over the flimsy story and the iffy characters, you may well like this book. I’ll certainly admit that some of the scenes were pretty damn hot and I even managed a sleep orgasm during a dream based on the first scene of the book the night after reading it.
I loved the setting and some of the sex, but this book didn’t do it for me as a whole. Overall I would rather read something with less anal-obsession, more kink I don’t find a bit off-putting and characters I actually like. It was a bit of a chore to read for me, but if it sounds like something you’d like, you can find Poppy’s Pin-Ups at SexToysUK! ♦
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