KEEP ’EM SHORT This month, I thought I would cater to a rapidly increasing part of the population: folks with short attention spans. Or, to use a more generous term, those interested in instant gratification (of which I’m sure there are plenty among erotica readers). We are shining the spotlight on the art of the “quickie,” with a collection of titles that embrace the concept of keeping it short and sweet. From red-hot anthologies to naughty novellas, here are some spicy reads that get down to business in record time! Also included is the wild card Straight Shooter. Heidi Belleau’s novel doesn’t fit in with the “quick” crowd, but its well-written portrayal of unconventional kinks and relationships definitely makes it one to watch out for, even if it takes more time.
FAST & FUn
Can’t Get Enough: Erotica for Women. Cleis. Jul. 2014. 220p. ed. by Tenille Brown. ISBN 9781627780346. pap. $15.95. EROTICa
This sizzling new anthology comes from the publishing house that brought you Gotta Have It. A menagerie of self-professed “quickies and nooners,” these stories all depict raunchy romps that just can’t wait. Thanks in part to the blend of well-known contributing authors within the genre (e.g., JoAnne Kenrick, Tilly Hunter, Tamsin, Flowers, Preston Avery, Anika, Ray, and editor Brown), the collection covers an admirable range of couples, kinks, and locales. M/M, M/F, and genderqueer pairings are all depicted participating in lighter fetishes—from role play to the rougher side of BDSM. A few of the more inventive exploits don’t even involve a partner at all (not an animate one, at least). Flowers’s “Those Damned Cobbles” details a woman’s lust-filled bicycle journey to meet her lover, which peaks before she makes it through the front door. The diversity of the pieces keeps the reader from growing bored with what could have been a plethora of very similar tales. It also serves as a refreshing reflection of erotica that caters to women without limiting the range of content. “Quick” is truly the name of the game, with some of the stories coming in at barely six pages, but the length (or lack thereof) is perfect for these bursts of passion. A few of the contributions walk the wackier side and may require suspension of disbelief in order to appreciate the erotic elements; one story is composed almost entirely of puns, while another includes a female protagonist who derives superhuman powers from…well, ejaculate. VERDICT There are more hits than misses in this fun and salacious erotic array. Loyal fans of veteran authors Tristan Taormino would do well to pick this one up. Buy where erotica anthologies are popular.
Flying High: Sexy Stories from the Mile High Club. Cleis. Mar. 2014. 200p. ed. by Rachel Kramer Bussel. ISBN 9781627780421. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627780599. EROTICa
Yet another anthology from the ever-titillating Cleis Press that is “quick” by its very nature, this collection of smutty stories centers on joining the infamous “Mile High Club.” These high-flying sexual adventures give new meaning to the phrase friendly skies, with contributions from talented erotica authors across the board (e.g., Desiree, Matt Conklin, Bussel, Elizabeth Coldwell, Alison Tyler, and Cheyenne Blue). Cleis’s compilations are always a great blend of humor, sass, and smut, and this one doesn’t fail to deliver. The only critique one could have would be lack of diversity. A majority of these shorts comprise heterosexual couples, engaging in fairly uniform sexcapades such as covert airplane bathroom rendezvous and raunchy romps under the safety of airline blankets. To be fair, this may be part and parcel of the limited capacity of aircrafts themselves; perhaps there isn’t much space, creatively and literally, to expand beyond the conventional notion of “airplane quickies.” A few intrepid authors do make the attempt, however; one piece sings the praises of newly developed airline Wi-Fi to engage in high-altitude cybersex, while another depicts a thrilling encounter that doesn’t occur inside the plane at all but on its wing. Verdict Overall, an entertaining collection for those seeking some spicy short stories, or even those looking for some pointers. Recommended for fans of Cleis titles and other erotic anthologies.
Miasha. Swing. Infamous: Akashic. May 2014. 155p. ISBN 9781617752636. $19.95; pap. ISBN 9781617752643. $11.95. EROTICa
This newest offering from Miasha (Secret Society; Diary of a Mistress) packs quite a punch. Barely reaching 155 pages, this erotic thriller keeps the drama and the sex coming from start to finish. There is never a dull moment in the lives of Miasha’s four couples, all of whom find themselves at the Puss and Boots swingers club owned by the aging, business-savvy Lyssa and Jacob. Danielle and Stewart are the club’s flashy, obnoxious VIPs, regular swingers with more money than sense, and a risky yet lucrative business plan to match. Juju and Ferrari frequent Puss and Boots as well. Though the May-December couple (she’s a middle-aged supermodel and he’s a 30-year-old waiter) seem quietly content, it quickly becomes clear that all is not well behind closed doors. When shy newcomers Tori and Kevin visit the club on a romantic whim, Tori’s passionate tryst with Ferrari sets a string of events in motion that no one anticipates, with an even more shocking conclusion. Miasha’s writing is stark, unrelenting, and perfect for a dark novella of this variety. While the pages are scarce, the action is rife with drama and hot sexual encounters. Initially, there is the potential for confusion with so many characters and shifting perspectives, but each couple rapidly embark on their own scandal while remaining oddly intertwined. VERDICT Contrary to what one might expect, this novella revolving around a swingers club does not actually consist of abundant or even particularly graphic depictions of sex, though there is a healthy dose of conflict, violence, and even murder in this tumultuous tale. Readers seeking more frivolous entertainment might want to pass on this one.
Sax, Cynthia. Breaking All the Rules: An Erotic Novella. Red: Avon Impulse. Apr. 2014. 179p. ebk. ISBN 9780062328212. $3.99. EROTICa
Camille Trent is anarchy incarnate: an edgy, green-haired hacker who believes in peace, love, and usurping authority at every opportunity. Then she falls for Nate Lawford, CFO of Blaine Technologies, the cutthroat company at which she is currently struggling to maintain her internship. Superficially, Nate appears to be the antithesis of Camille: cold, calculating, organized, obsessed with rules and routine. Yet when given the chance to succumb to their undeniable chemistry, the pair find that they are startlingly similar—two people who crave control and rely on their strong personalities to shield themselves from the outside world. What will happen when they embark on a monthlong “contract” of sex that threatens love with each new clause? Will either let their guard down? Hot, darkly funny, and slightly crass, Sax’s novella stands out for its excellent character development and refreshingly different female protagonist. Camille is brassy, unprofessional, and far from perfect, but her eccentricities create a nevertheless likable figure who feels more relatable, more real than many of the “cookie cutter” female characters in erotica, who are sugary sweet with no discernible flaws or problematic coping mechanisms. The sex scenes are hot, with a fluid power dynamic that is refreshing for those feeling the “Fifty Shades” fatigue and who might be seeking more than consistent female submission to a dominant male figure. VERDICT Spunky Camille likes to test boundaries and push limits both inside and out of the bedroom; she is willing to give just as much as take, as is Nate. The ending, on the other hand, is sweet bordering on saccharine, but this portrayal of well-rounded, interesting characters who aren’t just two sides of the same coin is well written enough to make it thoroughly enjoyable.
Women with Handcuffs: Lesbian Cop Erotica. Cleis. Apr. 2014. 234p. ed. by Sacchi Green. ISBN 9781627780384. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781627780551. EROTICA
Our final quickie contender is a sizzling anthology of lesbian cop erotica. These pieces run the gamut of filthy, raunchy fun to aching romance. Edited by erotica veteran Green (editor, Girl Fever: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex for Lesbians; Wild Girls, Wild Nights: True Lesbian Sex Stories), this title stands out for its refusal to gloss over the dangers of the profession in the name of erotic effect. It doesn’t dismiss the latent misogyny and homophobia that can exist within the cop community. Evan Mora’s “A Cop’s Wife,” for example, tempers fantasy with a layer of grim yet tender reality, as lesbian couple Amie and Patrice find their loving home threatened by a perp Patrice sent to jail years ago. Each author brings their own style to their piece: R.G. Emanuelle’s stark, sexy writing perfectly encapsulates a hot hookup between a cop and a quarrelsome neighbor (“Cop at My Door”), while the lyrical narrative of R.V. Raiment’s “Chapel Street Blue” poetically recounts a bittersweet liaison, with a surprising twist. Despite the varying content and styles here, one theme remains: a warm, resounding respect for the concept of the female authority figure. This solid anthology highlights cop fetish without merely fetishizing the cop. The female policewoman is portrayed as a multifaceted figure with weaknesses, desires, quirks, and concerns. Verdict It is the mark of a truly exceptional erotic compilation that these stories are not all froth or filth but convey a range of emotions that incorporate reality into erotic fantasy and make it all the hotter. Fans of other Cleis anthologies (including the two reviewed above) will definitely want to check out this one, as will those with a “thing” for ladies in uniform!
Belleau, Heidi. Straight Shooter. Riptide. (Rear Entrance Video, Bk. 3). Apr. 2014. 275p. ebk. ISBN 9781626490895. $6.95. EROTICa
This wild card pick tells the intriguing tale of college hockey player Austin Puett, a supposedly straight jock and reluctant member of the Rear Entrance Video clan. He has been threatened with eviction and termination from his job, unless he can quell his intolerance and come to accept his roommate Bobby for whom he (she? they?) are. But how can Austin learn to accept others when he can barely tolerate himself? Plagued with “messed up” fantasies since he was a teenager of being sissy-shamed, humiliated, dominated by men, Austin thought he had learned to control his kink. But with the new pressures of being made alternate captain of the team (under rather unpleasant circumstances) and tension with his roommates, he is finding his little “problem” more pervasive than ever. Then Liam Williams, also known as Master Puck and resident authority on the art of “setting up straight subs,” wanders in during his shift at Rear Entrance Video, and Austin starts to figure out that everything doesn’t have to be black and white. There is almost nothing “quick” about this title, and yet it is certainly worth inclusion in a library collection for its strong writing and unique approach to such unconventional erotic content. The action here is entirely slow burn, as Austin struggles to understand the implications of his deviations and his overall sexual identity. In fact, most of the sexual interaction includes nothing but fantasy and self-love until halfway through the book, when Liam is introduced. Belleau’s tone of voice for Austin is biting, even caustic at times, but there is a consistent humor that buoys the weightier issues. She captures the complex dynamic of an all-male sports team without dehumanizing the peripheral characters into homophobic meatheads. In the same vein, Austin’s trouble with accepting his own interests and desires is portrayed with a distinct tenderness, though the gay slurs throughout the book might be a turnoff for some readers. VERDICT This title is quite a departure from most mainstream erotica, touching on heavier topics including homophobia, self-loathing, and past mentions of self-harm. The kinks are also a little more “out there” than what some readers might be used to, with Austin and Liam entering into a Master/submissive relationship. Recommended for fans of the “Rear Entrance Video” titles and similar series.