If you think you’ve seen every kind of succubus out there, I’d posit you’ve probably not had a gander at M.E. Hydra’s “A Succubus for Christmas.” To say that there’s variety in the temptress demons that delight in draining men dry in these tales would be quite the understatement. Within the group of stories, we move from the more typical seductress succubi – bat-winged, but big-breasted – to some of the more original creations I’ve come across for demons in fiction.
There are plant succubus creatures, and ones that seem to walk only in dreams; there is even a bubble-bath succubus – as in, formed from frothy bubbles – that is one of the more creative stories in the collection. The stories range in setting and form, but not as much in conclusion. Steven Ennis, in the title story that opens the anthology, is gifted a Succubus through a mystical object, and is hooked by the coquettish demon right from the start. Tempted by such a mistress of sex – with a prehensile tail, no less – you feel for him as he can’t quite work up the nerve to spare his friend’s soul, which is feeding the demonic lust. That things don’t work out for Steven, either, isn’t surprising, and it sets the tone for the rest of the tales. The men – most of whom aren’t the nicest guys, or are just a little stupid, or looking for something on the side – share the same fate as Ennis by the end of nearly all the tales: quite literally sucked dry, but with one heck of a smile on their face.
It’s in this that I have my only real caveat to offer – if you’re not open to the idea of erotica ending darkly, this collection won’t be for you. I didn’t have trouble connecting with the eroticism of the characters – and I’ll admit that knowing what was likely to happen to some of the jerkier fellows had its allure – but once or twice I was surprised by these endings in a non-titillating way. In one tale, the story ends with someone having their skull crushed by a pipe, which jarred me a bit and made me take a break from the collection.
“A Succubus For Christmas” is a dark erotica collection, and M.E. Hydra absolutely hits both marks there – the dark is in full force, and the erotica is as well. The anatomy of the various succubi are paranormal without breaking verisimilitude – if you accept that this is a demonic seductress, you’re not going to stumble on the things her body can do – and I was quite taken with M.E. Hydra’s use of vocabulary as each story progresses. It’s a subtle touch, but it’s noticeable that as the demon becomes more overtly evil, the metaphors are dropped for cruder language. It evokes the change well. The women – or demons – are described with a fleshy eroticism not lacking in detail. The men are painted with much broader strokes. The deaths are there, but if you know what you’re getting into and have a predilection for the dark seductress vibe, it’s worth a visit. I didn’t gobble the stories – it becomes borderline relentless in one sitting – but that’s the joy of the anthology format.
Still, it might take me a while to use bubble bath again.
In fictional worlds it appears that vampires are becoming endemic.
Etymologically we could trace this back to the folklore fuelling Lord Byron’s Giaour (1813), which, purportedly, was one of the many elements influencing Polidori’s Vampyre (1819). Polidori’s Vampyre was a catalyst for myriad vampire projects, including stories by the likes of Nikolai Gogol and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as Bram Stoker and his archetypical vampire story: Dracula (1897). We could follow the vampire’s rise in success through the twentieth century until, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, literary vampirism had become ubiquitous across the majority of representational media.
The Vampire Diaries and True Blood are just two of the vampire-related TV shows that now take over from where Angel and Buffy used to reside on our TV screens. No doubt you, dear reader, would be able to suggest others. Similarly, the Box Offices are groaning under the weight of the successful Twilight films. Franchises like the Underworld movies continue to produce entertaining narratives. And, I believe, The Count still patrols Sesame Street.
Or, if we remain with the written word, we could contemplate Anne Rice’s consistently well-received output with The Vampire Chronicles, (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, etc.), Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse stories (which have been popularised as the aforementioned True Blood series on TV), or Laurell K Hamilton and her stories of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, etc.). Or we could go back to the phenomenal success of Stephanie Meyer’s previously referenced Twilight saga.
As the title of this month’s reviewed book suggests, Blood Sacraments (Gay Vampire Erotica) is an anthology of erotic gay vampire stories. And the existence of so much vampire literature raises the question: why are we so obsessed with vampires?
It’s argued that vampire stories are appealing because they suggest a willing surrender to dark but pleasurable forces. Vampires are renowned for advocating and endorsing illicit pleasures (late nights, excess, indulgence, voracious promiscuity, life without responsibility, etc.). These activities are elements we, as civilised members of society, are supposed to eschew in favour of their responsible alternatives (early nights, moderation, temperance, judicious and selective sexual relationships, etc.). However, if a character indulges in illicit pleasures because they are under the thrall of a vampire’s spell, it means they have a legitimate excuse for their errant behaviour: “I didn’t want to have all those pleasures. It was the peer pressure of being a vampire that made me do it.”
But if this vapid excuse is the subtext beneath why we read vampire stories, what does it say about us as a society? Ignore the implications of avoidance. If the original trope of the vampire novel has always been a sanction allowing the reader to succumb to forbidden pleasures, does the ubiquitous nature of current vampire literature suggest that this condition has become near-universal? Does this mean that we’re all prey to the same desire to enjoy forced pleasures?
It’s a worrying question. But, I suspect, the answer is comparatively simple. I believe we read vampire stories because they offer a familiar landscape of entertaining escapism.
It used to be that the first half of a vampire story would be a lengthy exposition: a treatise where the author attempted to convince the reader that the concept of vampires was a tenable possibility. The propagation of this suspension of disbelief has diminished over time so that such enormous exposition is no longer needed.
In most cases readers accept the vampire fantasy more easily than the author. Authors fret over the credibility of the world they are building and the balance of belief against bullshit. But, as a reader, all we need are a couple of subtle clues (‘Did you see the Count flinch when I showed him my crucifix collection?’ or ‘Did you see the Count lick his lips when I cut myself shaving?’) and we know we’re in vampire territory. For those of us who are fans of the genre it is a delightful situation. We’ve accepted the existence of vampires as soon as we read the word in the title and pick the book from the shelf. We are in a position where we can enjoy the pleasure of the maximum amount of vampire story with the minimum need for setting the reader up to accept that, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
This means, in an excellent anthology such as Blood Sacraments, edited by Todd Gregory, the reader can enjoy the indulgence of a lot more vampire narrative and a lot less expository text. Todd Gregory exploits this development to maximum effect.
With this being an anthology I don’t want to ruin the reader pleasure of any story. It’s fair to say that Gregory has selected wisely and the anthology represents a broad range of contemporary talent, all of whom are capable of producing thrilling vampire stories balanced with a sufficiently gay erotic content as to make them appropriate for the title.
Xan West provides a powerful and passionate account of vampirism and BDSM in "Willing." In "The Morning After," Lawrence Schimel provides his usual blend of wit and seductive prose as he skilfully introduces an ingredient of humor. And in "Kells," the inimitable Jay Lygon twists the familiar story of unrequited infatuation into something darkly amusing and adorable, all at the same time.
If the vampire myth is really our society’s subversive urge to be forced to enjoy illicit pleasures, then Blood Sacraments is one illicit pleasure that is well worth enjoying. A good anthology, populated by some excellent writers. In short: it’s bloody brilliant.
As any devoted reader or author of erotica knows, complementary fantasies are a potent aphrodisiac. Dom and sub, voyeur and exhibitionist, butch and femme - whatever the pairing, it's an incredible rush to realize that by satisfying your personal kink, you're giving your partner exactly what he or she desires. Charlotte Stein's original and arousing novel Control uses this dynamic to wonderful effect. In Control, two rather quirky and twisted individuals gradually discover the erotic power of their mirror-image desires.
Madison is the introspective, insecure, perpetually horny proprietress of Wicked Words, a bookstore that specializes in erotica. She's a woman who lives as much in her mind as in her body, fiercely determined to chart her own course in life, yet puzzled by her seeming inability to commit to a relationship. When she hires shy, nerdy Gabriel Kauffman as a shop assistant, she tries to convince herself that it's an intellectual decision. After all, she could scarcely hire the other applicant, Andy, who somehow managed to fuck her during his job interview. Despite Gabe's social awkwardness and bookish appearance, he stimulates Maddie's fertile imagination to the point where she can't leave him alone.
Gabe Kauffman is the most anti-alpha hero I've ever encountered. He's big and rather clumsy, with thick glasses, heavy eyebrows and tons of body hair. A thirty year old virgin, he was brought up so strictly by his possibly schizophrenic parents that he's been permanently warped. At the same time, he's obsessed with sex, a diligent student of dirty books who, as he puts it, is good at putting theory into practice. I adored him.
As Madison teases and flirts with poor Gabe, she begins to understand his desires: to be controlled, "forced" to do things he's afraid to try on his own, pushed beyond the limits imposed by his strange history. Meanwhile, she discovers that taking what she wants coincides almost exactly with giving Gabe what he craves. They're perfectly matched. Every encounter - even those in which cocky, ambi-sexual Andy plays a role - brings them closer. Yet Madison almost loses Gabe when she underestimates his deep-seated lack of confidence in himself.
The description above might suggest that Control is BDSM erotica. It's true that the book includes a bit of spanking, some humiliation, and lots of power games. The interactions, though, are not really typical of the BDSM genre. Maddie's far too much at the mercy of her emotions and physical reactions to be a true top. She really has no idea what she's doing; she's just following her instincts. Her scenes with Gabe rely on inspiration and intuition, and she's as much a slave to her arousal as Gabe.
Control is written in the first person present tense. The intimate perspective allows Ms. Stein to mix sensory detail with minds-eye fantasy. Ms. Stein has a breathless, dizzy, stream-of-consciousness style that conveys a sense of urgency. Madison is a sharp observer, marking every subtle shift in Gabriel's behavior and mood. The sex in Control is fabulously complex and nuanced as a result. Madison is unbearably turned on, most of the time, and you will be too.
He doesn't try to fuck me, however. No - I guess he can't wait for that. He just ruts against me - first over my back and the firm swell of my arse, and then... oh then. He fumbles and finds the cleft between, and suddenly increases the frantic, jerking pace.
I just lie there, and let him. Mainly because I can't believe that the slick feel of his prick between the cheeks of my arse, rubbing and rutting, filthily, actually manages to thrill arousal through me. After that huge orgasm. Still.
'Is this OK, is it OK?' he asks, but it's a minute after he's started and his voice is so up and down that I can't take it seriously. I'm right not to, too, because almost at the same time as those words, his body locks against mine. He grunts so gutturally, it sets my hair on end.
And then I feel the hot spurt of his come, all over my arse and my lower back. Which feels so delicious and dirty, I bite my lip and try not to wonder when he'll be up for another round. I'm guessing it's not going to be soon, because a second after he's done it all over me, he apologises. He apologises for making a mess. For fucking...whatever it was that he fucked.
At which I definitely want to do it all over again. Immediately. Continually. For ever.
Seriously - when can we do it again, for ever?
The book has a happy ending. Madison and Gabriel declare their mutual love and even consider living together. Don't let the romantic elements fool you. Control is twisted, filthy, and deliciously perverse - in the tradition of all great erotica. For Maddie and Gabe, sexual connection leads to love rather than the other way around.
With Control, Charlotte Stein has penned an intelligent, funny, perceptive and hugely enjoyable novel. If you like steamy, messy, creative sex involving characters that defy the stereotypes, get yourself a copy today!
This collection of fifteen stories of man-to-man lust is vividly written, but doesn't pretend to be literary. These stories first appeared in the 1980s and early '90s in stroke magazines and anthologies. As the author explains in her introduction, a widespread belief of the time was that no self-respecting gay man could get it up or get off to words written by a woman -- at least if he knew. And thus Christopher Morgan, a name meant to suggest an approachable man's man, was born as one of the author's personas.
Laura Antoniou's diverse body of work is being collected, edited and republished in shiny new formats, which makes it easier for fans of her writing to find it all. She is probably best-known for her omni-sexual Marketplace novels about a fictional organization for the training and leasing of voluntary slaves in various countries. This novel series as a whole has a complex plot with plentiful sex scenes involving every gender, orientation and implement a reader is likely to have met or heard of. The imaginary world of these novels is absorbing, and even the most minor characters are three-dimensional; their doubts and confusion are sometimes as intense as their desires, whether they are male, female, transgendered, Dominant, submissive, or any combination of the above. There was nothing else like this when these books first appeared, and there still isn't.
Compared to the world of the Marketplace, Antoniou's porn stories are simple vignettes, peopled by social types that barely escape being stereotypes of the genre. It is easy to see why the earliest readers of these stories didn't associate them with The Marketplace or with the lesbian-oriented Leatherwomen anthologies written by Antoniou under yet another pen name.
Now that the author of all these works is "coming out" (her term) as one person, certain characteristics of her style can be seen running through all her work. The narrative voice in her fiction (even when it is third-person omniscient) tends to be direct, unpretentious, attentive to detail and (before her work was seriously copy-edited) sprinkled with grammatical mistakes. A few errors have survived the polishing process, but the reprinted versions of her works look better than the originals.
Here is the author's explanation of her methods and goal as Christopher Morgan:
Short story work is best suited for one-handed reading. Just long enough to catch your interest and get you going before you have to go to work, or out to the bars, or back to sleep. Novels require plots, and time spent not having sex. Short stories get right to the point. They meet -- they screw. It's easy, quick -- and fun.
These stories all feature oral and anal sex, and nothing more complicated. The title of the collection refers to one of three stories named "Dream Lover Interlude," each with a different subtitle. The first interlude is about an imaginary "shop stud," an unself-conscious working-class hero. The narrator imagines his crotch:
I can always see that special worn out area, that long, narrow tube down from the button fly, where my man's heavy cock rests during the day, rubbing the inside of those pants until there's a clear outline of pure sexmeat, showed like the finest craftmen's work.
The description of the dream-man, a fantasy within a work of fiction, combines physical characteristics with markers of occupation and social class:
His ass is tight and round in those heavy jeans, a shop rag or bandanna sticking out so he can get at it to wipe the sweat from his hard pecs, his thick arms, and his cut stomach. When it's really hot, he'll tie it around his forehead to keep the hair and sweat out of his deep blue eyes, and he'll look like an almost primitive man, a blacksmith or a woodworker, alone with his tools and his work, every pulsating inch of his body used and flexed through a long day.
The dream-man is generic and idealized, but he serves as a model for several of the other characters in these stories who appear just when the narrators wonder if they will ever get laid in the real world.
In every case, the admired "stud" turns out to be gay himself, or he is willing to be initiated into gay life. Each story is told by a first-person narrator who sometimes wants to run the fuck, sometimes wants to surrender to a charismatic Man, and sometimes wants a buddy who is willing to take turns.
The danger of lusting after a "real man" who doesn't seem "queer" is that he might not be. In one of the more realistic stories, "Looking for Bubba," a young man from the urban, white middle class travels through the American South alone in search of a "Bubba," a genuine southern redneck who will fuck him roughly. The narrator gets more than he wants when he exchanges a look with a man at a revival meeting, thinks he recognizes an invitation, then is threatened with rape by two men who call him a "faggot." They make it clear that it is not a term of endearment. The narrator is held by force, hit, kicked, taunted and threatened. To his great relief, he is rescued by a neatly-dressed black man who takes him home to be nursed back to health. As it turns out, this man is gay and well-hung as well as decent and considerate: exactly what the narrator needs.
Compared to the irony, symbolism, social commentary and virtuoso writing that have slipped into male-on-male erotica (including the annual Best Gay Erotica), these stories look as charmingly naive as small-town boys from yesteryear. One can imagine Christopher Morgan stroking his own dick while writing his fantasies with the other hand. How postmodern.
What is it about a uniform that gets our imaginations turning in delightfully wicked directions? Maybe it's the authority, or the anonymity, that we respond to. I'm not sure if people in uniform feel sexy when they're in their professional garb, but they have to be aware by now that no matter what they do, someone is looking at them and thinking, "Hot." If you've ever caught yourself dreaming about what's underneath, this this may be the anthology for you.
Lucy Felthouse of the Erotica For All website brought together contributors for this charity anthology to help benefit the UK charity Help for Heroes. Most of the stories have a decidedly UK flavor to them, so for those Anglophiles out there, two hot buttons are going to get pushed.
“Fireman's Lift” by Rebecca Bond features a fireman after a long day at work and his neighbor trapped in an elevator. In “Love and War” by Lexie Bay, a young German girl protects a crashed Russian pilot from her family and neighbors in the barn. Victoria Blisse puts the uniform on the woman in her story “Dirty Deeds” as an office cleaner in a pink overall piques the interest of a hard working professional. If you like spanking, this one, “Strictly No Parking” by Elizabeth Coldwell, and Lexie Bay's “Taken By Consent” all feature spanking scenes.
Like a man in a tuxedo? In Lucy Felthouses' “Just Couldn't Wait,” a woman likes the looks of a waiter and pulls him into a quiet side room for a mid-party bit of fun. “Crest of a Wave” by Shermaine Williams features a sailor.
My favorite stories were “In Sin City” by Rebecca Bond, where a female cop gets her man after a chase, but rather than take the perp in, they... well, I wouldn't want to ruin your fun. Another favorite was “The Captain's Persuasion” by Delyth Angharad, which had a science fiction twist. And “The Weight of Duty” by Madeline Elayne, with the hottest female character in the anthology - a drummer in a pipes and drum military band - and a soldier at a Tattoo.
If you've ever wondered how the guards at Buckingham Palace keep a straight face, or what it takes to break them, enjoy “Guard Mounting” by Justine Elyot. On the other end of the spectrum, what's so hot about a waiter's uniform? What if the two restaurant workers have been flirting forever and now they've worked themselves up so much that the only way to relive the tension is to give into it, as they do in “Circling” by Cassandra Carr. Or maybe tempting a priest into breaking his vows is more your style of wickedness, as it is in Indigo Skye's “True Confession.” “Venus” by Hawthorn is a shipboard romance between a porter and a recently divorced woman. Two soldiers take refuge out of the rain in Jack Delaney's “On Manoeuvres,” where in Craig Sorenson's “Lingua Acutus,” a female drill sergeant and a smart-mouthed recruit find that off duty, they can get along very well.
Truthfully, I had some trouble picking a rating for this anthology. The writing was decent, but only a few selections shone. Pet peeves raked like fingernails on a chalkboard through some stories, but those are things that bother me, and not necessarily other readers. These stories aren't literary erotica with conflict and a story so much as they are long sex scenes. Some readers may prefer that. So I'm on the borderline between a thumbs up and a sideways rating. As I prefer to err on the side of the positive, I'll say thumb's up.