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Dimon, Zabo, Sexy Librarians’ Big Book of Erotica, plus BDSM Writers Con, & More | Erotica Reviews

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS With summer drawing to a most unfortunate close, it is time to address those back-to-school, post-vacation, end-of-summer-­Friday blues. In this column, we’re challenging the term all work and no play with a collection of hot titles that definitely mix business with pleasure. Michael and Sam struggle with the temptation of office romance when they find themselves working at the same company, while photographer Erin Mitchell is thrown, quite literally, into the arms of valiant Nick during a near-fatal disaster on a work trip. Cleis serves up two great vocational anthologies: The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica shows the steamy side of all things bookish, while Nine-to-Five Fantasies brings to life classic professional fantasies (delivery guy, secretary, professor) and a few oddballs (chauffeur, baker, meteorologist). Sit back, relax, and read up on some great erotica that will spice up your lunch break!

de Jong, Jassy. Drowning. Astor + Blue. Oct. 2014. 220p. ISBN 9781938231964. pap. $12.95. EROTICA
Erin Mitchell is forced to reevaluate her life, love, and drowning091514marriage after nearly dying in a flash flood in South Africa. The photographer wakes up in the care of handsome, generous stranger Nicholas de Lanoy, on his beautiful Leopard Rock resort. Safe and healthy, Erin counts herself incredibly lucky—until Vince calls, and she’s reminded of the abusive, possessive man she married. As her stay at Leopard Rock extends and her marriage crumbles, Erin and Nick begin a passionate fling that sparks entirely un­expected emotions. Is Erin living a fantasy life, or could Nick really be the one? De Jong’s rich, tempting prose is as alluring as Nick’s offer of no-strings sex, with descriptions of the lush South African landscape complementing the couple’s mounting sexual tension. There is prevalent infidelity, which might deter some readers, as well as the depiction of an emotionally abusive relationship. However, such elements serve to build a substantial story that keeps the audience reading for more than just the sex, and the ending, while positive, retains the refreshing realism present throughout. ­Verdict While the grittier components of the plot may deter fans of lighter fare, readers shouldn’t pass up this sensuous, entertaining novel.

starred review starDimon, HelenKay. Only. Heat: Berkley. Oct. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780425270783. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780698136892. EROTICA
only091514Sebastian Jameson is a dirty lawyer gone clean and accustomed to negotiating and making his clients’ problems disappear. If only it were the same for his own life, in which his ex-wife has written not one but two notable books placing their raunchy sexcapades in public view. Jameson is still nursing his wounds when Kyra Royer shows up in his regular supper club, with a proposition even more attractive than she is. They are longtime acquaintances, and Kyra knows about Bast’s dark past and has an even murkier one to match. The two embark on a strictly physical relationship, but, of course, things don’t go as planned. Throw in some malicious fathers and corrupt CIA tricks, and Kyra and Bast may just find they need each other more than ever before. Meanwhile, familiar faces abound as Becca Ford and ­Jarrett Holt, the couple from Dimon’s previous novel Mercy appear as the ever-supportive friends and confidants. Club manager (and Kyra’s brother) Wade also resurfaces, still in the midst of negotiating his messy breakup with stubborn former operative Elijah Sterling. Their explosive relationship, as well as the budding romance between acerbic Natalie Pritchard and her new bodyguard Gabe MacIntosh, shows promise for further exploration in a later publication. Though the CIA operative backstory could be a bit confusing for new readers, Dimon’s bold, humorous characters exhibit equal parts smarts and sex appeal. Her female characters are strong, skilled, and emotional, illustrating that women in erotic romance do not have to fall prey to limiting stereotypes. Verdict This entertaining cast of whip-smart, sardonic former felons will keep readers turning the pages for the sex and the snark alike.

Nine-to-Five Fantasies: Tales of Sex on the Job. Cleis. Nov. 2014. 224p. ed. by Alison Tyler. ISBN 9781627780605. pap. $15.95. EROTICA
Work is work, but it can also be a hell of a lot of fun, as is demonstrated in this anthology of sexy professional tales. In this collection, no vocation is spared, as commonplace fantasy fodder like construction workers, cowboys, and mechanics mingle with quirkier options, such as bookbinders, IT guys, and even an ice cream man. Shy Lenore gets a chance to make her oldest dream a reality when a sweet, sexy construction worker makes the first move in Sommer Marsden’s “Grimy,” while Katy takes the local mechanic for a surprisingly kinky, after-hours joy ride in Cora Zane’s “Body Work.” Each story is a fast read, offering a glimpse of the erotic appeal of each profession (Who knew stage managers and museum curators could fit in a few quickies on the job?) without delving too deeply into plot. While the contributions are all enjoyable and well written, there seems to be a lack of the variety that typically sets Cleis titles apart. In terms of representation, most of the pairings are het (male/female), with the occasional threesome and kink thrown in. Verdict The predominantly female perspectives in this collection build a repetitive pattern of women lusting after men in their fantasy professions. Still, this is a fun selection of playful twists on the typical workplace tryst that won’t disappoint mainstream erotica fans.

starred review starThe Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica. Cleis. Sept. 2014. 256p. ed. by Rose Caraway. ISBN 9781627780650. pap. $15.95. EROTICA
sexylibrariansbigbookoferotica091514Cleis remains a prolific publisher of diverse, enjoyable erotic anthologies, and this collection of literary lust is not to be missed. The structure alone is worth a perusal, with each submission sporting a catalog card display that serves as both a cheeky homage to librarians and a handy summary (i.e., Lynn Townsend’s “Full Frontal Neighbor” falls under category: Romantic Hero, subject: 1. Exhibition 2. Trauma 3. Curvaceous). Big Book kicks off with seasoned erotica author Rachel Kramer Bussel’s “Book Swap,” in which an older woman meets her kinky match in a curious younger seatmate on her flight. Many contributions draw on bibliophiles’ favorites—mythology and fairy tales—such as Janine Ashbless’s tale of ­Oedipus sharing the “whole” story, and much more, with a beautiful stranger (“Three Legs in the Evening”), or Emily Bingham’s “A Perverted Fairy Tale,” which puts a fantastically wicked twist on Little Red Riding Hood and her big, bad wolf. The tone ranges from fun and frothy (Tamsin Flowers’s “Pow! It’s Shibari Girl” simultaneously plays on the superhero genre and provides a healthy dose of erotic rope play), while others take a darker turn. “The Whole of Me,” by Katya Harris, depicts an alternate world where memories can be digitized and downloaded, a mechanism the grieving Shaun uses to keep his dead wife alive in his own mind, to his detriment. Three women share a mysterious love from the beyond (or possibly from above) in Angela Caperton’s delightfully spooky “Mikhael.” Verdict With a wide array of bombastic, bookish stories, this anthology would do well in any erotica collection.

starred review starZabo, Anna. Takeover. InterMix: Penguin. 2014. 198p. ebk. ISBN 9780698182134. $4.99. EROTICA
takeover091514Embittered, overworked Michael Sebastian tries to escape the grip of his sinking engineering company for just a week, fleeing to the gay-friendly town of Curacao. He finds himself still living in his head, overthinking and woefully unattached until he meets Sam, a mysterious well-dressed stranger who ends up needing just the punishment Michael has been desperate to give (and then some). They part after their night together, convinced, and disappointed, that they will never meet again. But fate works in mysterious ways, and Michael returns to work to find Sam as the brand-new, closeted “suit” hired to save his company from disrepair. Sam and Michael struggle through a blossoming partnership as colleagues and friends, each wanting something more but unable to pursue it for personal and professional reasons. Zabo offers an engaging narrative that ropes readers in from the beginning, addressing issues of trust, love, sex, and homophobia while also crafting potent sex scenes. The BDSM elements of Sam and Michael’s interactions are depicted in a healthy manner, with communication, safe words, and explicit consent from both parties. Verdict This hot, heady title excels in both porn and plot. Recommended for those seeking a solid BDSM-tinged M/M romance with plenty of backstory.

BDSM Writers Con Makes Headlines

bdsmwriterscon091514Writers, readers, enthusiasts, and experts alike gathered August 21–24 for the 2014 BDSM Writers Convention. Founded by sexologist Charley Ferrer and sponsored largely by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the convention began three years ago as a small gathering of BDSM (a combined abbreviation of the terms bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, and sadism & masochism) erotica authors and seasoned BDSM veterans, with the intention of educating writers in order that they might depict the alternative lifestyle more accurately.
Before long, readers began showing interest, and the event grew from an intimate gathering to a convention with more than 100 attendees. Ferrer, who prefers the moniker Doctor Charley, mentioned some initial hesitation with opening the conference to a wider audience, but that quickly dissipated as attendance surged: this year’s 150 participants included 60 authors and 90 readers involved or interested in the BDSM lifestyle. The shift in demographic necessitated a structural change, dividing the conference into two tracks that catered to those generally curious about BDSM history and practice and authors within the genre.
Of the 30 workshops offered, most fell under the “Everyone” category, with longtime BDSM veterans providing insight into the psychology of power exchange and issues of consent and offering live demonstrations. Ten of the workshops focused exclusively on the ins and outs of both writing and publishing BDSM erotica. The conference had an unofficial kickoff on Wednesday, August 20, with an “Author Buddy Program” during which novices could receive tips and feedback from published writers. Further writer-oriented workshops addressed the effective depiction of common genre tropes, including sexy villains, dominant heroines, and supernatural creatures, while numerous panels dealt with marketing and publishing finished works. A publishing panel took place on Friday, August 22, and featured literary agents and representatives from publishers of romance and erotica such as Samhain, Riverdale Ave, and Insatiable Press speaking on the current state of the erotica market and listening to pitches from new authors.
Part of Ferrer’s intent was to bring attention to promising new writers, a goal that surpassed even her own expectations. She adds that nearly 40 book contracts were signed as a result of the pitches. With a nearly 100 percent rate of retention for conference participants and an ever-increasing number of workshops, the resounding theme of BDSM Writers Con seems to be “bigger and better.”
Of course, such an event could not pass without a few mentions of the notorious “50 Shades” trilogy. Reactions were not as severe as one might expect, considering the backlash the series received for its depiction of BDSM relationships. While many of the speakers criticized the books for their inaccurate, and at times downright unhealthy, portrayal of the lifestyle, they also acknowledged the mainstream attention the title brought to it and to the genre overall. Publishers in particular hailed this moment as the “bubble” for BDSM erotica—the golden moment post–50 Shades book and prefilm in which independent authors can piggyback on the popularity of the franchise. This upswing in interest has created an influx of readers and writers and for this experts such as Ferrer are grateful—as an author of multiple books explaining the BDSM lifestyle (BDSM: The Naked Truth; BDSM for Writers), she considers the primary motivation of BDSM Writers Con as being “to increase education and to decrease prejudice and misinformation” about what remains a largely stigmatized community. The hope is that the curious will find organizations and events such as these, where they can safely learn from those for whom BDSM is a reality and not just a plot point.—Ashleigh Williams

Ashleigh Williams is Editorial Assistant, School Library Journal

This article was published in Library Journal's September 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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