Bussel, Rachel Kramer, editor. Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 8. Cleigh Press, 2022. 284 pp. ISBN 978-1627783156. $18.95
Just in time to sexily stuff a holiday stocking, this eighth book in a popular series of erotic stories is the best collection to date in that I found something to love in every one of the 21 play-themed stories. There is a wide range of play, from play-fighting to running around in the woods while cosplaying to watching a literal play to playing with consent, group sex, and BSDM.
Situations run the gamut of some light ordering around in a curtained theatre box in the mid-eighteenth century, to a futuristic tale of an expert in mating habits of intergalactic species meeting her match and mate in a dynamic alien lover. Characters are musicians, LARPers, vampires, swingers, parents, queer, straight, new lovers and long married and everything in-between.
It is an art to write about sex well. The writing in these stories is uniformly excellent: strongly voiced, exquisitely and lushly detailed, and edited to the essentials to hold the story and the sex together.
I read a lot of romance novels, and have been happy to see a evolution in the last thirty years from virgins who come from penetration to sex encompassing conversations about past partners, preferences, and safety; destigmatizing of experience, and normalization of non-penetrative sex. All are true in this collection as well.
What makes this a collection for women? The primary focus is women’s consent and pleasure, but only a handful of the stories are sapphic; and I think the appeal is unlimited. The authors identify as she or they, and the brief bios at the end of the volume are the launching off point for going down (ha!) a rabbit hole of more stories of love, lust and desire. I’ll be in my bunk.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TheBestWomen’sEroticaoftheYearVolume8 from #NetGalley.