Erotica, January 2017 | LJ Reviews

As we say goodbye to 2016 and embrace the promise of a new year, this month’s titles see folks making deliciously risky resolutions of their own. Penthouse’s two new erotic anthologies are bursting with frisky fun, as characters find new ways to experience pleasure through anal sex, exhibitionism, bondage, and much more. On the darker side of erotica, a traumatic event shakes Milla and Lex’s marriage to the core, calling for some intense relationship reinvention in Sienna Snow’s Rule Breaker sequel. In Stacey Lynn’s Dominate Me, Haley Portsmouth is finally free of a husband who lacked direction and interest in anything, including her. After five long years, she is finally giving herself permission to explore the submissive side of her identity, with gorgeous Dominant Jensen as her guide.

Lynn, Stacey. Dominate Me. Carina: Harlequin. (Luminous, Bk. 1). Jan. 2017. 201p. ebk. ISBN 9781488026201. $3.99. EROTICA
This first title in Lynn’s “Luminous” series sees Haley, new owner of family business the Portsmouth Inn, embarking on a transformative sexual journey into submission. Finally free of her stagnant marriage to Timothy, Haley allows her submissive side to emerge, beginning with a trip to swanky sex club Luminous. There, she is introduced to enigmatic Dominant Jensen Rhodes. The chemistry between them is immediate and undeniable, but Jensen has promised not to fall for a sub since his previous Dominant/submissive (D/s) relationship ended in disaster. Despite their better instincts, both enter an agreement to keep their partnership strictly play and not for keeps—yet love can’t help creeping into the equation. What the prose lacks in style, it compensates for in deft depiction of D/s dynamics, with frequent playtime check-ins, and Jensen’s assertions that Haley’s submission is not weakness but about tending to her needs. Haley’s mixture of anxiety and ecstasy at finally hitting her sexual stride with someone she trusts will resonate with many. VERDICT Hot, lighter fare for readers seeking entry into BDSM erotica.

Penthouse Variations Eds. Penthouse Variations on Anal. Cleis. (Penthouse Variations). Mar. 2017. 219p. ISBN 9781627781961. pap. $15.95. EROTICA
Penthouse runs the gamut with the theme of anal sex, as authors put playful spins on what has become an increasingly enticing sexual practice. Sloane Russell opens with the naughty “Asking for It,” wherein a sexually insatiable award winner indulges her husband’s deepest desire on her big night. Some shorts show established couples expanding their sexual repertoire, such as Joline Jackson’s “Bayou Heat” and Lisa Garcia’s “Naughty Inspiration,” while others see strangers forging naughty new connections, like Brad Warner’s sun-soaked “South of the Border.” Though a majority of the tales depict fairly standard, vanilla heterosexual encounters, a few address the queerer side of anal sex, for instance, Emilie Paris’s genderplay pegging short “Man of Teal” and Hope Garner’s tale of Sapphic seduction, “Intimate Explorations.” VERDICT While many of the submissions have a similar trajectory, each author finds a way to make this kinky concept their own. Recommended for folks who enjoy a solid “theme and variations” style of erotic read.

starred review starPenthouse Variations Eds. Penthouse Variations on Quickies. Cleis. (Penthouse Variations). Jan. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781627781947. pap. $15.95. EROTICA
In this addition to the series, 48 submissions focus on those speedier sexual trysts also known as “quickies.” While the words are brief, nothing about these stories feels rushed, as authors use a broad theme to “get to the good part” of these erotic encounters. A refreshing variety of couplings and kinks means that there’s something to stoke the flame of many a reader; fans of threesomes, f/f pairings, and cuckolding in particular would be remiss to pass up this anthology. Saucy shorts contain brief flashes into domestic bliss, such as Bella Dean’s racy exhibitionist “Behind the Curtain,” and glimpses into spouse swapping, like Sadie Reynolds’s “Corporate Affairs” and Sarah Jackson’s “Doing Things Differently.” Of course, there are classic quickie tales of frantic lust at first sight, particularly in the f/f category, with Marsha Lewis’s ode to a party hookup, “Come Here Often?” and Maria Stewart’s memory of a friend-turned-lover in “Girl Crush.” VERDICT Short, steamy, and powerful, these quickies are a perfect shot of “oomph” for readers seeking to enliven their literary experience.

Snow, Sienna. Rule Master. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Rules of Engagement, Bk. 2). Mar. 2017. 324p. ebk. ISBN 9781455568789. $3.99. EROTICA
In this sequel to Snow’s Rule Breaker, business maven Milla Castra is struggling to recover from a traumatic event in her hometown of Milan and contemplating the aspects of her successful life in Boston that she left behind—namely, husband and Master Lex Duncan. Married for ten years, their relationship was kept secret from Milla’s traditional Italian family and even the couple’s mutual best friend Arya. All secrets come to a head when Milla decides to divorce Lex, claiming it is in his own best interest to find someone less dangerous. Lex, however, knows their passionate relationship is far from over. As the threat of Milla’s kidnapper looms, Lex is dedicated to protecting the love of his life at all costs. VERDICT This second installment in the “Rules of Engagement” series skillfully blends dark action and deep seduction, as Milla grapples with the repercussions of her kidnapping while struggling to resist the only man who knows her deepest desires. Recommended for fans of sexy power play, featuring strong leading ladies.

—Ashleigh Williams is a New York–based freelance writer