Best Bondage Erotica 2015 and She’s on Top

May 23rd, 2016

I had this great introduction for this post worked out. But when I sit down to write it, it completely escaped me. Go figure, eh?

I wanted to explain why this review has taken me so long, which seems to be how most of my posts on this blog start these days. I suppose it all comes down to the fact that I was simply uninspired, not because of me but because this collection is simply uninspiring for me. Perhaps I need more of a D/s angle instead of simply bondage, though there was some of that within these pages. Maybe I prefer specific roles. She’s On Top is the next book in my review queue, and thus far it’s doing a much better job of getting the juices flowing.

And perhaps this was just a slow year for erotic fiction. Maybe I’m too harsh.  Perhaps there was too much variety, and Best Bondage Erotica just missed my niche. I’m not sure. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m reluctant to call this the “best” the world has to offer. Plenty of other people disagree, as is their right, however. Best Bondage Erotica 2015 has a 4.65 rating on Good Reads.

It’s a fair question to wonder whether I am just burned out on erotic short stories. I’ve reviewed many of these anthologies and have read even more! But as soon as I finished Best Bondage Erotica, I opened up She’s on Top, another anthology edited by Ms. Bussel. Almost immediately, I was pulled in. From the very first, I was curious, aroused and craving more.

It’s been a much quicker read because of how rapt I am, and I find myself reaching for the book even when I do not want to be aroused. I simply want to read the stories. Aside from deliciousness, I love how the overarching theme of female dominance isn’t necessarily done in the most cliche or redundant way. That’s hard to do, and many BDSM manuals and guides would have you believe there are only so many femdom archetypes from which you can pick. She’s on Top absolutely defies that “truth,” and I am glad for it!

But what about Best Bondage Erotica, which will soon be replaced by a new volume? The stories run the gamut from playing with strangers to voyeurism/exhibition to spy games — all with a bondage element, of course. Sometimes the bondage takes center stage es elaborate setups are discussed. At other times, however, it’s more incidental than instrumental. I think that’s one of my critiques. Sure, there is bondage, but I’d rather it be all about bondage with less curiosity about how this story is going to get there. If you like erotica that warms you up first, you might prefer this collection of stories more than I did, however.

Very few of the stories just stuck with me, and as I page through the book to write this review, I don’t remember reading most of them. I do recall and enjoy “Housewarming the Craftsman,” a story in which a man and woman break in their new home in a less-than-traditional-way, and “Tying the Knot,” a tale about a (homosexual!) couple who use bondage to get over those cold feet. “You Shall Not Come” is a solid piece written from the point of view of a visitor of a weekend sex camp. At camp, she participates in a game where she and a stranger try to make the other come first. “Stuck On You” evokes classic wet T-shirt imagery through the use of a soapy, wet sponge; adding bondage brings something new to the old concept.

With so much variety, the reader is bound not to love everything. But bondage is a less cohesive theme than I’d like, which means there are fewer themes that do it for me. Your mileage may vary.

Now, why did I love She’s On Top so much? Certainly, it had to do with when I was reading it. I was in the middle of steamy sext sessions with a guy who would eventually break my heart but who was also comparably kinky. Perfect background! And the stories were perfect to read while my sex drive was in such a heightened state. Thus, reading was frequently broken up but only because there was so much masturbation happening!

It starts off strong with “Suit and Tie,” a story about workplace oral. Stories about housework, crossdressing/cosplay, professional dominatrices and even Victorian England, which turns out to be sexier than I ever would have thought. That particular story, “Victoria’s Hands,” is one that I would recommend. But it’s not the only one. Teresa Roberts writes a haunting-yet-sexy story in which the main character is using BDSM as closure to a relationship.

If there’s a story that I don’t particularly like, there’s only one, “Feeder.” The name points at exactly what you’d expect, and that sort of fetish just isn’t my thing.  But it’s quickly followed by “Penelope the Punisher,” a story that takes place in a fabled domination house, and the cooperation between the women is fantastic. Cooperation is also a sexy theme in “The Queening Chair,” a story that ends the book on a note as high as it begins.

There are a few stories in She’s On Top that pull on my heartstrings while simultaneously making me aroused. They resonate with me in multiple ways. Some of the characters/relationships are well versed in domination. Others fall into it by accident, through experimentation. The types of bondage and kink vary, as do the characters in their race, sexualities, and personalities.

Not only is She’s On Top worth a read; it’s one of the rare collections that I want to read again and perhaps again and again!

You can get both of these books on Amazon, but if you’re looking for more erotica, I highly recommend checking out the erotica section at Good Vibrations, which was kind enough to provide me with these books for review.

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The Big Book of Domination Review + Giveaway

March 5th, 2015

Perhaps the single most noticeable way that The Big Book of Domination differs from The big Book of Submission is the number of stories. At over 200 pages, this book could have dozens of stories, but it actually only contains 25 stories. With 69 stories in The Big Book of Submission, each story was shorter on average.

When it comes to what I like in erotica, this isn’t actually a boon. I love sudden fiction. I love sultry sex in 2000 words or less. I like reading it. I like writing it. I don’t need the flowery descriptions that add to word count. I’m not a huge fan to a ton of buildup. Show me the main event.

It just seems like the point where I would end the story introduces another scene, and I can’t keep myself glued to the pages. Perhaps I get off too quickly, but this isn’t really conducive to how I use erotica.

I also found it hard to keep my attention rapt through the first three stories, which involved male domination. Fortunately, the fourth ushers in a domme, but the first three could, perhaps, been broken up in a different order. While most of the stories do seem to pair a male dominant with a female submissive, I do like how several of them play with BDSM roles. Several stories involve submissive experiment with holding the metaphorical whip.

There are other themes that I noted in The Big Book of Domination. These include power exchanges that are surprising and somewhat sudden, either between strangers or from the point of a view of a submissive discovering another’s dominant tendencies.

Because so many of these stories seem to be from the submissive’s view point, The Big Book of Domination isn’t as different from The Big Book of Submission as I think it could be. It’s more of a general BDSM collection in my opinion. With that said, the stories happen in many different and sometimes unusual settings. There is an overall lack of cliche, even if that means I sometimes am turned off by something such as manly boot licking.

This isn’t to say that I hated the book. I didn’t. There were a few stories I found particularly enjoyable, especially the last story, “Little Angel” by Evan Mora. It was one of the many stories where someone who typically identifies as a submissive experiments with dominance and finds it thrilling!

Now, this might not be the perfect book for me but I feel confident that many people will like it. In fact, some people specifically like erotica that’s a little longer than most sudden fiction. If you liked The Big Book of Submission but thought the stories should be longer or even if you didn’t like it because each piece wasn’t long enough, I would suggest you check out The Big Book of Domination.

One lucky reader of OSAL will get their chance to read the book thanks to the folks at Cleis Press, who are sponsoring a giveaway. One American winner will get their hands on this anthology, and you can determine whether or not this book is two thumbs up.

Enter using the giveaway widget below. Remember to check back daily to earn more entries and increase your chance of winning!

Good luck!

The Big Book of Domination

Ends March 26.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales

January 3rd, 2015

There’s something to be said for a good book that you can’t put down after a story/chapter or two. That’s the case with the Big Book of Submission.  I would intend to read a dozen pages, and I would finally put it down some 60 or 70 pages later. I was thoroughly enthralled and aroused, but this typically meant it took time away from sleeping or working or what-else-have-you that I should have been doing.

This meant that it took only a few sittings to get through this book, which boasts an impressive 69 stories. But because I knew I couldn’t put it down, I stretched them out for when I had time to read that much.

The Big Book of Submission is wonderful in terms of variety. There are (ignoring D/s), m/m, m/f and f/f roles. There’s a few trans stories to be found and all sorts of ambiguity around gender and gender roles. In short, it’s not heteronormative. But I think this big tome really goes one step further than that. I was really impressed at how The Big Book of Submission deal with the roles of top/dom and bottom/sub in regards to traditonal gender (roles). Not every man is the dom, nor is every butch. And through the words of the characters — almost, if not all of the stories are written in first person — we understand the implications and the intimacy of turning those roles in their heads.

Aside from variety in roles, there’s a variety in content and even in how most of the characters experience submission. For example, at least two stories dealt with a masochistic dominant and how their sub obeyed by providing sensation. The editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, contributed one of those particular tales, entitled “Reverse Psychology.”

With 69 stories, you might think that some of them would be a little redundant, but I didn’t find this to be the case at all, even though there’s obviously similarly to the feelings that submissive feel when serving, obeying or worshiping their dominants. Each of them experiences their submission, scene and relationship in a unique way. There’s brand-new experiences, established relationships, breaking of limits and twists and turns that were crafted masterfully.

The writing in this BDSM anthology was pretty top-notch. All the authors were great at capturing the feelings evoked during a scene or in a BDSM relationship, along with the imagery that goes with it. Themes of trust and sometimes fear, hesitation and excitement, growth and pushing the boundaries are touched on time and again in this anthology. Although I am more able to identify some submissiveness in myself, this book might have the most hardened dom consider submitting a time or two!

Was there anything that I didn’t like? Sure, some stories are more forgettable. One in particular involved feet fetish, and that’s reaaalllly not my thing, so once it got to that part, I skipped to the next story. But I enjoyed more than I didn’t.

I especially enjoyed “The Problem Is, I’m a Bitch”, in which Corrine Arundo writes as a stubborn submissive who mocks a “cartoonishly” dress domme.  “Teddy Bare,” is a sexy yet sweet story about two men who wait until their first night of marriage to have sex and how they incorporate power play into their relationship. Another particularly touching story revolves around a submissive whose once-beautiful body had succumbed to illness and surgery and how her dominant helps remind her of her beauty through a public scene. Teresa Roberts penned “Beautiful,” which is one of the stories that truly stands out for me.

The one stand out story was one that managed to be both surprising, sentimental and sexy.  It’s another story by Corrin Arundo, whose work I obviously need to become more familiar with, entitled “Unanchored.” It was thoroughly titillating, like many of the other stories, but it struck an emotional chord with its solemn and sad ending that left me, quite literally, sobbing and perhaps even decimated. There is no snippet that can do the beauty of this story justice.

Just like there is no single story in this erotica collection that sums up the experience that is The Big Book of Submission. You need to dive in and read it all. Perhaps not in order, but there’s no single way to describe the experience.

A sincerely “Thank you!” to Cleis Press, the company that pretty much made my year, for the opportunity to review this book!

 

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Penthouse Variations on Oral

December 18th, 2014

One of the newest books from Cleis Press, which has made me a very happy reviewer and reader this year, is “Penthouse Variations on Oral.” Oral sex is one of my favorites, which I’m sure can be said for many of you readers. Giving and receiving are both fun, and this collection of stories will hopefully provide a look into book.

The description is as follows

Mind-blowing oral sex can be the epitome of pleasure itself. Curated by the editors of the wildly popular Penthouse Variationsmagazine, this voracious volume goes deep into the throes of oral delight. Both new and well-known erotic writers satisfy the hungriest mouths while dishing up an array of below-the-belt feasts. In this collection of short stories, lovers explore the delicious ways oral sex can be an act of affection and tenderness, a testament to devotion, or an expression of pure, hot lust. Going down is an experience meant to be savored…and shared.

Alison Tyler, erotica editor and writer extraordinaire, is just one of the authors who you’ll read in this book. Her story, among others, might remind you of your own exploits or inspire you to try something new.

I tell you about all of this because I’ve been given the opportunity to give one of you a chance to win a copy of this book to add to your shelf or nightstand.

Enter using the widget below.

Good luck!

Penthouse Variations on Oral

Open to US.

Giveaway ends December 31.

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Best Sex Writing 2013

October 19th, 2014

I’ve been a fan of the Best Sex Writing series for years, The most recent edition is Best Sex Writing 2013 because it doesn’t come out every year. This one  was edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel with a foreword by Carol Queen, two names you’re probably familiar with if you follow sex education or erotica — or even if you’re just a fan of other Cleis Press publications.

This edition offers 20 different stories about the “state of sexual culture.” Each of the pieces is supposed to represent the sex writing about sex, but the authors, themes, subjects and approaches are all different. Some of the authors are those with whom you may already be familiar, including Carol Queen herself, but some of the authors aren’t really from the sex realm, which I find adds variety.

Of the twenty stores, two or three really stood out for me.

“Very Legal: Sex and Love in Retirement” introduces us to the dynamics of relationships and sex in a retirement community. The writer, Alex Morris, does a good job treating these people like people, which is sometimes difficult with a generation that the world would otherwise like to leave behind closed doors — let alone discuss their relationships.

“Rest Stop Confidential” was an interesting look at the culture of anonymous gay sex in bathrooms and one of the personal accounts that I found more interesting.

Lori Selke’s “Dear John” is literally a breakup letter to the leather community that has transformed and is no longer welcoming to her. I can imagine Lori might be stepping on some people’s toes, but I think it’s a very interesting glance into the workings of the alt community as a whole.

However, my absolute favorite must be “Lost Boys.” This lengthy piece toward the end of the book talks about issues with homelessness, sex work and abuse on the streets of large cities such as NYC. The writer, Kristen Hinman, takes a look into a groundbreaking study by Curtis in Dank, Not only did this research shatter the illusion of who was a child sex worker — teenaged girls — but it also painted a picture about how many underage sex workers were actually walking the streets. The importance of this, I learned through reading, has a lot to do with the organizations that are leaching money out of the government and taxpayers for programs to help this population, a population that is realistically little like the story we’re told that pulls at our heartstrings. You should really read the piece in this book or the published study because there’s a lot of interesting information to be had there, and it’s stunning that this survey hasn’t had a greater impact.

Overall, the submissions to last year’s Best Sex Writing anthology tended to be more personal or anecdotal in nature. This doesn’t make them less interesting to read, but for me, they’re less memorable. Pieces that are more scientific or studious in nature tend to resonate better with me, The notable exception is Carol Queens’ “Ghosts: All my Men Are Dead.” In this sad tale, the sex educator talks about how the men she met as a queer person who moved to California have passed away, almost all from HIV/AIDS. It’s a somber story but also an interesting look into sex education and rights movements, which initially had little room for a woman.

You might prefer the personal stories in Best Sex Writing 2013 more than I did as a whole. Either way, I am certainly not going to stop checking out these books. There’s certainly going to be variation depending upon what authors and researchers do over the past year or so, and I will always be interested in picking up the next Best Sex Writing book.

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Flying High: Sexy Stories from the Mile High Club [Review + Giveaway]

May 6th, 2014

Now, I’m not a member of the mile high club, but I think there’s something to be said for having sex on airplanes. Otherwise, why would so many people fantasize about it? I imagine it has something to do with being able to have sex with so many people around and not having them notice or, if it’s your thing, because you want them to notice. Perhaps the challenge of having sex in such a small place only makes the adrenaline run faster. Some people might rely on the release and reward of sex to calm their flying nerves or pass the time, which certainly seems to crawl by when you’re 30,000 feet above sea level with nothing but clouds out your window.

However, writing about sex on airplanes certainly presents another challenge. How do you make your story stand apart from those written by others? Indeed, I imagine that Rachel Kramer Bussel saw many similar themes, but the editor at Cleis Press was able to pull together enough stories to create an anthology that remains interesting and less than redundant. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading the book in one sitting as it could become rather mundane.

Flying High does a good job of providing us with situations — strangers meeting on an airplane for sex, cybersex on airplanes, voyeurism, masturbation airlines and more — to keep things interesting. Many of the authors have added fantasy elements, which keep the stories in the book from being more of the same.

Like I said, I understand why sex on an airplane is appealing to some even though it’s not number one on my list of sexual acts to do. So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the pages of this book and began enjoying it right off the bat. In fact the first story by Bill Kte’pe, one in which two couples who met online have arranged for a sexual rendez-vous in the sky, is one of the most memorable of the book. It helps the book take flight without a hitch. The surprise ending adds to the story in my opinion, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Like any anthology, not every story in Flying High was for more. I skipped over one or two completely. In some cases, the airplane is really almost inconsequential. In stories like “Top Banana,” being on an airplane and one operated by a specific airline creates a recurring theme. In that particular story, Craig Sorensen relies on the theme to craft an interesting story and colorful visuals with an ending that I didn’t quite see coming — no pun intended.

The style and skill of the authors in Flying High varies as much as the particular plots of the stories. Some were simply not to my liking, and others seemed a little inexperienced or lacking the subtlety that I think makes a good story. However, they all brought something different to the table. Flying High might not be a book that you reach for constantly, but it’s worth checking out if you have a thing for the mile high club, especially if you’re not quite bold enough to go there yourself.

In fact, I am proud to announce that I have partnered with Cleis Press to offer one of you visitors at Of Sex and Love the chance to win a copy of this book to peruse for yourself. All you have to do is use the PromoSimple widget below to get started. Make sure to come back every day for tweets and shares to get more entries!

This widget includes a poll about whether you’ve joined the mile high club. It’s not mandatory. I hope to show the results on this blog but it will be anonymous. Giveaway is open to USA and Canada.

Good luck!

Ends May 31!

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