Best Women's Erotica of the Year Volume 2
This second volume of erotic short stories written by women is an interesting collection that ranges from erotic romance to erotic horror, mainly with a D/s or bondage-centric themes. The quality of the content varies quite widely; so while the book contains twenty-one stories, I’ve selected the best and worst of the bunch to give you a sense of what the compilation as a whole is like.
In Janelle Reston’s Wordless Surrender (Grade B+), deaf domme Allie has a rapturous experience with her sub, Marbeth. This is in my top five when it comes to stories in the collection; Reston’s narrative voice is sharp and piquant and it has an extremely strong sense of character alongside a rapturous sense of love for bondage and dominance that translates well even if you don’t kink to it.
Widowed paleontologist Rosina puts her hired man Jasper to the test before accepting his marriage proposal in On His Knees (Grade B).
Eve Pendle does an excellent job establishing a mood in this one. She also surprises by bringing a historical piece to the collection, and a surprisingly romantic one at that. The gauzy fantasy of the situation works well and Rosina is an interesting character, as is Jasper, though he’s more weakly outlined.
In the middle of an apocalypse, the isolated and suicidal Jasmine meets Paul and Max on the shoreline. The two men take her home to heal and rehydrate and soon all three of them can no longer contain their lustful attraction to each other. Can they learn to trust? Is the new world they’ve formed at The End of The World (Grade B+) as good as it seems?
This is the first story in the collection to frustrate me because it’s too darn short! I wanted much more of Jasmine, Paul and Max trying to forge a new union for themselves in an inhospitable world. The story still manages to do ménage right, and make Jasmine, Paul and Max all sympathetic and erotically appealing in their own ways. Kudos to Winter Blair for leaving me wanting more!
Emma has a simple job – go into the big house and feed the cat inside while the house’s tenant is away. But Emma also has an orgiastic love of voyeuristically going through the rooms of the strangers she’s hired to pet sit for while doing some hands-free masturbation. This proclivity ultimately ends up with her giving a performance for another voyeur – the house’s tenant, the in-hiding document-leaking computer genius Drew Tierney – in The House on Orchard (Grade F).
This is one of the weakest stories in the collection. With its ‘vagina-clenching’ (do a shot every time you read the word ‘clenched’ and ‘vagina’ end up in close proximity to one another in this story and you will get very tipsy very quickly) protagonist who gets off on semi-consensual trespassing, the whole story just feels plain bizarre. I can see the statement Melina Greenport is trying to make about the activity of spying on what you ought not to see, but I was just too icked out by Emma to find the situation erotic. It’s a shame, because the obvious love the author has for the kink might have shone through and won the day otherwise. Oh, and the hero feels like a cross between Edward Snowden and Charlie from Charlie’s Angels. So if that turns your crank, you might like it better than I did.
Liza and Mick’s slap-slap-kiss boss/employee relationship resolves itself thanks to Liza’s secret letter from a disturbing ex boyfriend which contains a bondage fantasy she enjoys in Kay Jaybee (Hah)’s Brick Dust (Grade F).
Here’s a plot left me cold, a story filled with characters I hated engaging in sex acts I didn’t find erotic, with further promise that they will continue to commit these acts upon each other as drawn from the letter the heroine’s boring-yet-stalkerish boyfriend wrote her.
I have never met a woman like Liza in my life – she’s a pure construct of Zalman King types who think brittle powerful working women secretly bear boners for their dangerously obsessed boyfriends because they really really want to be tied up and dominated. I hated her and I hated Mick’s boring-as-hell alpha male act.
Also, the term dust-spotted sex juice is the least erotic phrase I’ve read all week.
Dorianne’s Like Lights In The Northern Sky (Grade D) has wilderness guides Johnny and Lisa’s long-term marriage enhanced by Johnny’s attraction to one of their pretty guests, Valentina.
The inverted V Johnny, Lisa and Valentina make is handled quite awkwardly and resolves abruptly. Much of the story examines the strength of Johnny and Lisa’s still-burgeoning attraction after being together for so many years; then suddenly Johnny’s winking at Valentina and Valentina is feeling warmth deep within her parka (a direct quote). You are left with the undeniable impression that Johnny and Lisa are using Valentina as a human strap on to spice up their marriage, and Valentina’s going along with it because Johnny’s a hot older man and she wants to bump around the wilds of Canada. We get some awkward discourse about Valentina’s status as an immigrant but it gets knocked aside for more sex.
Erotica is a genre that’s completely subject to taste. What will turn on one person may well repulse another, so I always encourage folks peeking into the genre to pre-read before they buy, just in case the story doesn’t appeal.
Cumulatively, the overall grade for this collection runs about a C+, providing an exact split between good and plain awkward stories. Of the twenty-one that comprise this volume, I’d say maybe ten to twelve are ones I’d recommend. It’s not a bad read, but not a perfect one either.
Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier