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A match made in hell

And speaking of books about women and horses…One of the most startling books I ever read was a re-published edition of JACINTHA, a novella by Kathleen Winsor (famed for having written FOREVER AMBER at the age of 17).
It’s an erotic love story set in Hell, with Satan in a loin cloth as the lover. I’ve never forgotten the cover art on this book–the edition I read was a trade paperback with a painting of our heroine being borne away on a black stallion. It was the perfect cover shot. And here it is! Love you, Internet!
This rant from Kirkus nails exactly why I read the book with my jaw on the floor. It is nutty, but weirdly compelling. Winsor writes like the person who dances as though no one is watching:
[Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.]

When this Satan-lover fantasy appeared¬†under a different title, in Winsor’s The Lovers collection (1952), Kirkus called it “inadequate and indecorous.” A second reading 30 years later hardly improves the picture. Jacintha, just arrived in Hades as a permanent resident, is a beautiful Victorian lady whose husband shot and killed her for adultery. She gapes at her first view of Satan–who manifests himself in a loin cloth (“overpowering and gorgeous”), whisks her off on his black stallion, and delivers her to a huge hotel, crowded with people dressed to the nines. Jacintha is assigned Room 69000, a nicely furnished affair where she’ll soon be meeting the lovely, exquisite Cherry–who turns out to be her own mother, killed by her husband for her adultery! But, after a joyous reunion and casual Hell-chat (“”It’s the moments that drag””), Cherry warns Jacintha about Him: “”Don’t be misled by his good looks. . . . He’s not the Devil for nothing, you know.”” And Jacintha will know, when Satan changes gears in mid-friendship to “”exultant lust.”” The coupling, accompanied by external thunder and lightning, is a wow (though those expecting tip-top erotic detail about the Ultimate Hump may be disappointed). But mum Cherry, similarly besotted and jealous, tries to pop Jacintha off a cliff! So it’s ugly for a while–till the women realize they’re being used. . . and plot counter-measures to keep their love intact; finally, in fact, the Big S. disappears (at least temporarily) as the two women vow to comfort one another through eternity. An unnecessary exhumation: nutty, intermittently entertaining (often unintentionally so), and drenched in Women-as-Victims-of-Lust poppy fumes.

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