Amorous Anthologies and (Mis)Adventures | Erotica Reviews

This month’s column sees an abundance of anthologies: Cleis presents new offerings of the year’s best gay and lesbian erotica, as well as 69 new titillating tales of submission.

This month’s column sees an abundance of anthologies: Cleis presents new offerings of the year’s best gay and lesbian erotica, as well as 69 new titillating tales of submission. On the adventure side, an inexperienced freshman breaks her small-town shell wide open when she takes a chance on a cocky athlete in Lauren Rowe’s Misadventures of a College Girl, and Catherine chases a juicy political story to a secret society in Sasha Grey’s The Mismade Girl.

Best Gay Erotica of the Year. Vol. 3. Cleis. 2017. 216p. ed. by Rob Rosen. ISBN 9781627782203. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627782210. erotica

This year’s third volume of gay erotica runs the gamut of steamy sexcapades and playfully crass hijinks. The wry tone is set by ­Rhidian Brenig Jones’s “Shame the Devil,” in which James gives into a (very much requited) crush on his gal pal’s latest boyfriend. Two on-screen heartthrobs engage in sly backstage bathroom rituals in T.R. Verten’s fantastic “Red Carpet Jitters,” and frat brothers become accidental lovers in Lee Minxton’s “The Gag Gift.” Other pieces demonstrate a tender side, with Andra Dill’s “Coming Home” showing longtime couple Tomas and Carter rekindling their married flame during a brief moment of respite from the chaos of teenagers. ­Michael Roberts’s “Conference Call,” the final entry, packs a punch from its hilarious opening line to the end. ­VERDICT Divinely raunchy; a strong addition to erotica collections, especially those seeking to strengthen their LGBTQ holdings.

Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year. Vol. 2. Cleis. 2017. 216p. ed. by Sacchi Green. ISBN 9781627782548. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627782555. erotica

Cleis’s second volume of best lesbian erotic opens with A.D. Song’s “Six Dates,” in which the dedicated Jesse finds the naughty soft spot of her prim and proper femme Nina. An older butch revisits memories of lovers past while teaching a young girl lusty lessons in the crackling “Arm’s Length,” while sex-starved Van learns the art of slow release under Phoebe’s expert hands in Dena Hankins’s heady desert tale “Mojave.” On the lighter side, Heather Day’s swift and sweet “Super” sees two geeky comics fans bring some action to life, and young couple Mel and Sarah get up to some wicked shenanigans in Louise Blaydon’s “Eat at Home.” Rounding out the varied assortment is ­Annabeth Leong’s “The Truth About Tara,” a sexy thriller wherein an ambivalent Vegas transplant meets a mysterious, wanted stranger. ­VERDICT Recommended for fans of high-quality, quick and dirty f/f fiction.

redstarThe Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales. Vol. 2. Cleis. Jan. 2018. 216p. ed. by Rachel Kramer Bussel. ISBN 9781627782227. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627782234. erotica

Edited by erotica maven Bussel, this title delivers a stunning array of authors, characters, play partnerships, and power dynamics. In the blisteringly hot “Words” by Jo Henny Wolf, submissive wordsmith Aubrey writes the filthiest letter to her husband that she can imagine. Noted erotica author Malin James pens a stone-cold boss warming up to her dedicated employee in “The Assistant,” while Master musician Tasha knows just how to make her shy female sub “Sing” in J.C. Parker’s contribution. Particularly refreshing are the diverse representations of D/s—power play here takes many forms, and submission is embraced by characters of varying gender identities. Conventional relationships blend seamlessly with less traditional ones, such as Leandra Vane’s “Switching Struggles,” in which kinky switch Charlotte is treated to a multiman struggle fantasy, with a delightful twist. In Suzanne Fox’s “A Testing Time,” thrill-seeker Cerys reaches her limits and calls off a scene with a fairly new play partner—a rare breath of realism and “imperfection” in the genre. Perhaps even more uncommon is a discussion of embracing kink as new parents, a tricky compromise that Mike and Susie achieve in Charlie Powell’s highlight, “Mum.” VERDICT A standout contribution to the ever-increasing subgenre of BDSM erotic fiction. Highly recommended.

Grey, Sasha. The Mismade Girl. Cleis. (Juliette Society, Bk. 3). Mar. 2018. 216p. ISBN 9781627781824. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627781831. EROTICA

Disenchanted journalist Catherine fell headfirst into the alluring life of now-dead provocateur Inana Luna. She even sacrificed a place in the Juliette Society to continue telling the controversial artist’s story. The now-notorious Catherine questions if she made the right decision as she spends her days suffocated by vacuous elites and shallow lovers who won’t feed her deepest desires. When a scandal breaks that threatens her burgeoning career, Catherine takes off for Honduras in search of an enormous opportunity, courtesy of a mysterious Mr. X. What begins as a work trip veers into a wild ride down a path of sexual exploration that is at once all too familiar and completely new. Though the story picks up quickly and has its own momentum, readers familiar with previous series installments (e.g., The Janus Chamber) might be a few steps ahead in this clever, kinky tale. VERDICT Highly recommended sexy international erotica noir with a hearty dose of introspection.

Rowe, Lauren. Misadventures of a College Girl. Waterhouse. (Misadventures, Bk. 8). Mar. 2018. 280p. ISBN 9781947222991. pap. $12.99. erotica

Small-town virgin Zooey Cartwright is ready to cut ties with her sheltered past. Her first night out at UCLA lands her at the home of arrogant football star Tyler Caldwell, a magnetic bad boy who makes it clear that he’s into the plucky freshman for only one thing. When their “one-night stand” doesn’t go as planned, Zooey decides that Tyler will never be the “boyfriend” type. However, close quarters as class partners and theater costars pave the path for a different, much steamier story. The pair’s steady bickering belies sexual chemistry, and Tyler won’t rest until he’s shown snarky, reserved Zooey that he can excel at whatever he sets his mind to—whether it’s football or relationships. Though some dated language and fairly rote romantic antics could feel stale to some, those seeking a fast, flirty read will be entertained. VERDICT For fans of Rowe’s numerous erotic series.

Ashleigh Williams is Editorial Assistant, School Library Journal

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