Title: Best Women's Erotica of the Year
Serial: Volume One
Editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Pub. Date: January 12th 2016
I think that Rachel might have just outdone herself in selecting the stories for this anthology. This is one of the best Cleis Press anthologies that I've had the pleasure to read so far.
As the title and synopsis suggest, these stories are focused on female erotica. There are twenty-two short stories included in this collection, each of them talking about females and sex in some capacity. Honestly, I was blown away by the amount of diversity that spans across these stories. There are young women, middle aged ones, older ones still. There are Asian women and black women and lesbians and those who are in transition, those who are butch and those who are femme. There are dominant women and submissive women. It's a great sampling of different women, and it was a really, really refreshing change of pace. Well done!
These women are found in a variety of different genres, including historical fiction and even post-apocalyptic. I wasn't expecting that, but it was definitely welcome.
There's also a huge amount of variety when it comes to the sex and erotica bit. No matter where your interests lie on a scale from vanilla to kinky, there's a story here that you're sure to enjoy. There's bathroom play, there's BDSM, there's spanking, there's toys, there's voyeurs and exhibition. And then there are stories that are simply two people finding pleasure and passion in one another, no bells and whistles needed. It's a lovely sprinkling of different things.
As this is an anthology, of course there were stories that I enjoyed more than others. I preferred some authors' writing styles, some kinks are not my own, etc. Instead of going over all 22 stories and giving my opinions, I'm going to highlight my four favorites. I know my regular readers are thinking "but you always do three!" I know, I know. But this time I just could not narrow it down. That's how happy I am with BWE. These stories are in no particular order.
The first story I wish to spotlight is called "Demimonde" by Valerie Alexander. This is a historically set short story that features a tall, dark, and handsome man, a seance, and a widower. It had just the right amount of "action" and scene build up, and honestly Ms Alexander knows how to write a man. I'd like one of him please, to go. The next story is called "Ophelia the Second", which is about an understudy, a gorgeous Shakespearean actor, and a passionate night off the stage. I love Shakespeare, and Hamlet is one of my favorite plays, so I loved that incorporation into the story. The third story is called "Starstruck" by Lazuli Jones. I adored this one. This story includes an ebony-skinned actor who once played a hero, a grown up nerdy fan girl, and a convention. I relate to this girl on so many levels, and I have had so many fantasies of meeting my favorite actors/actresses at conventions. I wish this one would happen to me, for sure. The final one is called "Enter Me" by Tabitha Rayne. This one stood out to me, because the female is deaf. It added a really unique dynamic to the story, and I don't think it's anything I've ever read before. It was very well written.
If you're into girls loving men, or each other, and you're looking for a book to warm up those cold February nights, look no further than this collection. You can read it in one go, or take it slow and read each story separately. There's a huge amount of variety, and I wasn't disappointed.
I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, Rachel!