He’s sexy in dim light.
Speedoboy is clearly not a boy, but I’m guessing not far from forty and incredibly lean to the point of being bony. Never too rich, too thin, too hung. His Speedo is royal blue and very tight. He smiles a lot, though I wish he wouldn’t because he
could use a good orthodontist.
I fall back on my sofa. Speedoboy comes at me like he’s going to dive, then he lands with his torpedo thin body on top of me. He grinds our crotches together. His cock is big and if he weren’t so rough and anxious it would feel good. He’s resting his long skinny arms on the back of the sofa getting louder with his “Oh fuck yes baby” calls when a single drop of blood lands on my shoulder. I think of the saint that cried blood tears, St. Agnes. I was raised Catholic and recall an art project making cardboard cut-outs of every saint born in the month of December.
Speedoboy has leapt up and is now lying on the floor. He’s very quiet. His fingers squeeze his tiny nose.
In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendolyn Fairfax says, I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
It’s unlikely that innocent and naïve Gwendolyn, even in her most extreme flights of fancy, would have written anything as powerful, profound and absorbing as Scott Alexander Hess’s Diary of Sex Addict. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that this diary remains something sensational to read in the train.
Diary of a Sex Addict begins on December 7th in a New York apartment where the story’s unnamed narrator relates the symptoms of a compelling addiction to sex. The story is set in a contemporary New York so vividly described I imagine the print version smells of bagels, pizza and yellow cabs. It’s a New York so real that a reader could get mugged whilst turning from one page to the next. This is an example of the high quality of the writing as we’re introduced to the narrator’s aunt:
She’s a large, healthy-looking 80-year-old woman, with blue oval shaped eyes, glossy blonde hair and porcelain, precisely botoxed skin. She’s still vibrant, though at times, between vast silences, her mind will spread open like a cobwebbed fan and blow out incoherent memories. I don’t know if her tales are fact or fiction, most likely a mix. Her favourite subjects are a six year period when she made summer visits to my parent’s farm in Arkansas when I was child, and her brief time on the New York stage. I remember she’d come every summer when I was six up until I was twelve. Then the visits stopped, though I don’t recall why.
It’s writing that is rich in detail, vivid in description, and droll in execution. Other reviewers have described this title as being gritty but I’d argue that it’s simply frank and honest – and it’s a rare title that can manage to combine the erotic with the truthful.
As I said before, the story is set in a contemporary New York: an über-contemporary New York. That contemporaneous quality is best illustrated by the narrator’s reliance on ultramodern technology. We’re introduced to a man who has visited Ikea, listens to neighbours discussing Pottery Barn and Cheerios, and trawls sites like grindr and manhunt. The narrator ‘raffishly’ steals a wi-fi connection from a neighbour and, when that fails, has to rely on a backup internet fix from his iPhone. This is a man living in a very modern world, telling a modern story aimed at very modern readers.
This is how the narrator begins a typical day:
I’m nude now, in front of my Ikea mirror, my skin damp and glistening with the soapy remnants of Mr. Bubble. I start every day here, in this exact spot, taking pictures of my reflection to post on internet sex sites. The shots are from a distance because I look so damn lean and cut-up from far off. I do this at 7 A.M., because I am happiest at this time. The day seems possible. The subsequent hours are really just a slow motion tumbling back toward the black hole. I think Sartre said something like “Life begins on the other side of despair.” He was a fucking genius, probably a sex addict.
It’s only fair to warn readers that this Sartre quote could be perceived as a theme that propels the book. The narrator starts the day in high spirits and the mood dwindles and declines as the day progresses. The sex in this story is not the cheeky, cheerful fluffy-bunny sex of an erotic romp or a hearts-and-flowers romance with explicit kisses. The Diary of a Sex Addict depicts a barrage of honest, in-your-face encounters that range from the disappointing to the darkly satisfying and from the depths of disturbing to the delights of discovery.
It would be easy to dismiss this as the story of a character’s indulgence in excess to avoid the necessary truths of aging and responsibility. And it would be easy for a reviewer to spoil the story here for any potential readers who haven’t yet encountered Hess’s title.
The Diary of a Sex Addict is a have-to-have title for any reader who enjoys their fiction when it’s frank and sensational.
This big collection of very short stories provides all the standard scenarios of lesbian sex, and many that are non-standard. The characters have fast but orgasmic hookups in all sorts of moving vehicles, on their way to somewhere else. They also do it in various cramped spaces and luxurious surroundings. The number 69 is a witty reference to a sexual position (or activity) which can function like speed-boil on a stove.
If you’ve ever read any lesbian erotica, you are guaranteed to recognize some of the names of contributors. The following have contributed more than one story apiece:
Cheyenne Blue, Shanna Germain, Sacchi Green (the editor), Roxy Jones, Jessica Lennox, Catherine Paulssen, Giselle Renarde, Sharon Wachsler, Fran Walker, Anna Watson and Allison Wonderland.
The beauty of this book, of course, is that if you don’t like one story, you can move quickly on to the next, which might have just the ingredients you crave. Something here is likely to appeal to everyone who has ever been sexually attracted to a woman.
In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have a story in this collection, “Signature.” My piece, of course, is like a drop of water in the ocean. Even if I hadn’t been honoured to have a brief vignette of lesbian life accepted for this volume, I would have been honoured to review it.
These stories include a surprising amount of detail and suspense, which quickly gets resolved. In some cases, two women have to get it on within minutes before something else happens: before they are discovered, before they have to appear onstage, or (in one story) before they marry each other in a public ceremony.
Despite the social acceptability of lesbianism in some of these stories, the theme of sudden sex seems to work best in a context of secrecy and rebellion against the norm. Cheyenne Blue sets the tone in the first story, “Look at Me Now, Your Holiness!” The narrator thinks:
If only the pope could see me now.
My face is mashed so far into Christie’s pussy that my world consists of curls of hair and bitter salt.
The pope continues to be an imaginary witness to the scene until Christie and the narrator are both satisfied.
The theme of being watched by disapproving observers continues in “She Writhes Beneath Me” by Roxy Jones. Here the narrator describes what she and her sweetie “don’t notice:”
When we finally venture downstairs, eyes blinking in the light craving coffee and day-old pastries, we don’t notice the glances of our shocked, sleepless neighbours at first as they pick at their Frosted Flakes, but then it swells up behind us like massive waves of jealous whispers and their hollow eyes betray the hours they lay still, listening with cold, blue envy. They wonder, I imagine, how we were entwined, whose sweaty skin slid on sheets, whose knees were spread and held, whose face met the sky with a growl and a whimper as we arched up off the bed like we had learned to fly.
Most of these stories are plausible descriptions of sex-on-the-fly, whether the participants are long-term lovers or momentarily compatible strangers. The characters meet, greet, shed their own and each other’s clothes and make sexual contact with admirable efficiency.
Several of these stories are mini space-operas based on the reliable plot premise of an all-female crew in the close quarters of a space ship. In “Oh Captain, My Captain” by Cha Cha White, the captain of a group of space pirates discovers that the vessel they have boarded runs on sexual energy. To get things moving, of course, someone has to come.
“Floating in Space” by Dena Hankins begins claustrophobically: The airlock hatch bumps my shoulder, trying to close. I swallow at the sight of Cyfal’s asscheeks bisected by the safety harness’s straps. The two women manage to work around the physical awkwardness of their situation, as do many characters in more realistic stories about plane and train travel.
Few of these stories take place in fantasy worlds, probably because brief stories about “sudden sex” don’t allow much room for worldbuilding. Nonetheless, “In the Sculpture Garden” by Cha Cha White, which begins with the different reactions of a man and a woman to a beautiful female statue, moves quickly to a conclusion that seems to come from Greek mythology.
In a parallel story, “Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes” by Lucy Felthouse, another female statue in a garden attracts attention and arouses lust, but in this case, the character transformation is more believable.
Several of these stories could be classified as erotic jokes. In “Autocorrect” by Evan Mora, a text-message conversation between an employee and her supervisor goes awry due to modern technology or some higher power:
Hi, Cris, are you coming to the meeting at 4?
I’ll be there!
Great. Please meet me in my office in 5 minutes so we can have a brief cunnilingus beforehand.
I have no words. I typed conference and my phone changed it. I am so sorry.
I’m on my way.
The mortified narrator thinks: I’m going to be fired. No – first I’m going to be brought up on sexual harassment charges, and then I’m going to be fired. Luckily, what happens in the office is much better than the narrator dared to hope for.
A few of these stories, such as Sacchi Green’s “Snowbound,” are about sex as a means of staying calm in a crisis. As in the real world, fear and suspense make each minute seem longer than it would seem otherwise.
Altogether, these stories produce an impact out of proportion to their length, possibly because they seem to occur in real time; it takes approximately as long to read one as it takes the characters to reach nirvana. These stories are ideal for reading in brief intervals or waiting-periods, or for sessions of mutual reading-aloud. So much for the old assumption that women’s lust – unlike men’s – has a long, slow fuse.
The best thing about an anthology for me is in enjoying the wide range of places a group of writers can go within a single theme. You can take something mundane and almost cliché – daddies, twinks, frat boys, jocks – but if you’ve got one of those great anthologies in your hand, you still end up with a surprisingly fresh collection of stories.
Variety – I imagined – was going to be pretty high when the theme opened up the collection from the typical boy-meets-boy duality. I went into Middle Men: Gay Erotic Threesomes looking forward to seeing what the authors had done, and the length and breadth of stories that Shane Allison had combined for this collection, and though I did like it some – mostly on the strength of specific stories – I wasn’t blown away.
I did like Middle Men, but it took me a while to read the whole collection. If that sounds like faint praise, I suppose it is. The problem I kept having was that the stories – for the most part – were about quick trysts. It felt like most of the stories had a similar set up - three ways happening spontaneously between guys meeting for the first time. I was a little surprised that there was only one story where the three men involved were actually involved in the sense of having a long-term trio relationship. I may be misremembering, but I think of the rest of the tales, only two (or three?) also had couples that were having a third (or in one case, fourth, and fifth and maybe sixth and seventh) join them for a dalliance.
It’s not that the erotica doesn’t burn and sweat in all the right ways. Most of the stories have scorch. It’s more that I felt a lack of set-up in many cases; most of the tales are very quick, and as I’ve mentioned before, I like my erotica to have a narrative lead-in, rather than be “scene” erotica.
There are exceptions to this in the anthology. I liked the clever set up and play of “Middle Man for Madam Blavatsky” (one of the stories where a couple are enjoying a playmate). Here a deck of tarot cards open up the door for a young fellow to realize that it’s going to take time to convince his partner that they could bring another fellow to their bed. “Grip” by Sleepy Lopez was another story with a couple – this one with a gritty urban take, and the gap between childhood friends who have grown apart while one has been in prison, and their reconnection thereafter. The third couple story that stuck in my memory was “The One in the Middle” which was still somewhat a “scene” piece (we join the couple already having sex with at least two other men) but actually had a trace of kindness and sweetness between the couple involved: I was left with the sense that this couple’s relationship was built on a very solid love – and a love of being the guy in the middle. It probably was the single story that seemed to have nailed the theme of what I thought I’d find in Middle Men the most.
On the clever side was “Fox Goldman and the Three Bears.” This was the story where there is a three person relationship, and the play of a modernized Goldilocks and the Three Bears was as sly as the sex was hot – the “Goldilocks” gets to enjoy one of the home movies the bears have made while he lounges in their conveniently empty home.
I also liked “Dogging It” by H.L. Champa, who gave me a character whose desire for exhibitionism simmers with a realistic steam, leading to a public display in a park for all to watch.
Those five stories (out of the eighteen in the collection) stuck with me. If what you’re looking for out of Middle Men is some hot scenes where three guys get it on, then I think you’ve got an adequate choice here. I wanted to like this more, but I was left with a kind of foggy memory when it came time to look over the table of contents at the end of the book to write this review. Many of the stories blend a bit too much. Boy meets boy meets boy, followed by sex. Sometimes it’s rough, sometimes it’s escorts, sometimes it’s cops, sometimes it’s strippers, but there was a repetition in the stories that wore a little thin. I had to put it down quite a bit, and pick it back up again later. Again – that might be what you’re looking for, if you’re a fan of quick and dirty shorts with three men colliding by happenstance and riding their good luck out to the finish.
I just wanted a bit more variety.
This was the first piece of latex I ever bought, the first one I
ever tried on. Its tightness around my narrow waist, rounded
hips, and plump ass makes me look and feel space-alien exotic,
and draws attention to the fullest part of my body. Yes, my
butt has stopped traffic. Who doesn’t like to look at a black
diva in red rubber?
From "Where the Rubber Meets the Road" by Aimee Pearl
When an anthology opens with a scene like this one from Aimee Pearl's "Where the Rubber Meets the Road," my contented sigh rolls across the room and I nestle into my chair because I know I'm not going to set the book down until I've read every tasty word.
So what comes next? "Jubilee" by Quinn Vertiz in which a daddy takes his boi to a brothel for his first time in a sweet, hot gender bending tale that's just pure delight from word one through to the end.
"Butches don’t do this. Butches DO NOT do
But apparently they do in "Butches Don't" by D. Alexandria, and you'll be glad they did.
At this point, I realized I was only three stories into this anthology and had marked each one as a story of note. That's a great sign for a reader, but a bit of a quandary for a reviewer since I usually only mention a few standout stories from each anthology I read. Would the anthology be able to keep up this pace of quality? Yes, absolutely yes. From the delicious twists and turns of "Tori's Secret" by Andrea Miller to the sensual overload of Jai T.'s "Detention" to the voyeuristic thrills of Lynne Jamneck's "A Case of Mistaken Identity," every story in this anthology was enough to spark my writer's envy. And I haven't even mentioned the many other incredible stories by Deborah Hyde, Jean Roberta, Kathleen Warnock, Peggy Munson... Leaving anyone out feels like a slight because these stories are all wonderful. So here's the table of contents:
Where the Rubber Meets the Road • Aimee Pearl
Jubilee • Quinn Vertiz
Butches Don’t • D. Alexandria
Tori’s Secret • Andrea Miller
The Break • Cheryl B.
The Plow Pose • Sinclair Sexsmith
Ripe for the Picking • Kristina Wright
After Lunch • Kathleen Warnock
Touchée • Jean Roberta
No More Secrets • Chuck Fellows
The Woman Upstairs • Tara Alton
Only A Woman’s Touch • Debra Hyde
Detention • Jai T.
Clinical Trial • Radclyffe
Naked Rusted Plumbing • Eric Maroney
Bésame • Gina Bern
A Case of Mistaken Identity • Lynne Jamneck
Riding the Waves • Rose William
Puppy Slut • Michelle Brennan
Planet 10 • Catherine Lundoff
Phoebe’s Undercover Bon Voyage • Skian McGuire
Taking Steps • Thea Hutcheson
Phone Corrosion • Julian Tirhma
Gone • ViolyntFemme
Virgo Intacta • Anna Bishop
Into the Baptismal • Peggy Munson
It's like a greatest hits compilation by all your favorite artists. And if any contributor isn't a favorite yet, now is your chance to discover their work. Can you tell I'm still giddy with reader's delight? I swear it's like I'm drunk on words. Two thumbs way up.
I'm probably not the ideal reviewer for The Harder She Comes. I'm bisexual and I definitely enjoy lesbian erotica – I've written some myself. However, I'm pretty clueless about lesbian sub-culture, with its myriad labels, roles and self-identifications. Sure, I've heard the terminology – baby butch, boi, high femme, transman, and so on – but I don't have the first hand experience, the sociocultural background if you will, to fully appreciate the intended distinctions. It's a tribute to D.L. King's acumen as an editor that I enjoyed (and understood!) most of the stories in this book despite my ignorance.
A simplistic definition equates “femme” with feminine traits, appearance, and behavior, and conversely, “butch” with masculine attributes. One of the messages of this collection, however, is that the real meaning of these terms varies dramatically with the individual. On the one hand, we have Evie, the slinky flapper in Evan Mora's “Speakeasy,” and Jay, the dressed-to-the-nines “gentleman” who claims her during Roaring Twenties night at the local lesbian salon. The roles are well-defined, with Evie literally swept off her high-heeled feet by Jay's confident conquest. At the other extreme, there's the unnamed narrator in Aimee Herman's “Channeling Charles Bukowski.” Impersonating the notorious poet from the title for a Halloween dress-up day at work, she is discovered in the men's room by Emily from accounting, who has changed her usual feminine garb for a cowboy costume. In the steamy encounter that ensues, it's not at all clear who's playing what role – but it doesn't matter.
Up until now, I had never let a girl go there, minus a few times in college. I am a top, wrist grabber, dominant thruster. Allowing anyone down there puts me in too vulnerable a position. But I'm not me today; I'm not political butch bull dyke; I am a man who was too boozed up and covered in poems to say no or to have a type, so I just let go.
Suddenly, I understand what it feels like to be bisexual – the best of both worlds – except my genitals are sexual multitaskers, transforming shape and desire. My dick wants to be sucked on, to stick itself into something, someone. My pussy wants to be stuffed, filled, suffocated.
In between these two poles, The Harder She Comes offers a million variations along the two dimensions of male/female and dominant/submissive. “Winner Take All” by Andrea Dale features a shy, sincere butch who's trying to win a truck for the animal welfare non-profit where she works. Teddie's only real competition is Grace, a petite, glamorous woman who distracts poor Teddie by whispering the most filthy, kinky suggestions the poor butch has ever heard. Ultimately Teddie wins the truck, and Grace takes Teddie as her own prize.
“It's So Peaceful Out Here” is a funny, sexy story about a naughty femme going camping with a bunch of butches. Flirty, exhibitionistic Frankie is bound, clamped and brutally fucked by her Daddy, just the punishment she deserves – and just what she wants.
“Manchester 2000” by Stella Sandberg describes a New Year's Eve encounter between the butch narrator and a voluptuous straight woman who apparently believes she's screwing a biological man – or does she?
“Valentine” by River Light is hard-core BDSM, again with the femme on top. Silvia, the narrator's mistress and lover, presents the butch narrator to her own top, Casey, as a Valentine's gift. The physical trials Casey inflicts are not nearly as difficult to endure as the fear that the narrator has been abandoned.
In “Farmhand,” Miel Rose creates a confusing but delicious ménage involving a married butch/femme couple and the butch young woman whom they hire to do farm chores in return for rent. From one scene to the next, the power shifts in unexpected but exciting ways. “Official” gender roles are discarded in the pursuit of pleasure and connection.
Two of my favorite stories concern long-term relationships, in which the butch/femme roles are not really the focus at all. Kathleen Bradean's (literally) luscious “Tamales” is a snapshot of a couple's Christmas traditions, which involves cooking and other sources of heat. “The Bucket List” by Charlotte Dare deals with the unrequited love between a thirty-something butch and her married fifty-something best friend, highlighting the nonsensical barriers to their own happiness people sometimes erect.
The cocky butch in Valerie Alexander's “A Date With Sharon Tate” seems at first to epitomize the stereotypes. Yet her determination to win back the affections of her ex-girlfriend Shandra (who left because of a lapse in the narrator's fidelity) reveals a level of need she can barely admit.
In Anna Watson's “Bienvenido”, Daisy doesn't just want to play a masculine role; she's desperate to actually be a man. Wade, an unusual consultant, tutors the young butch in male attitudes, behavior and manners, turning the protegé into an accomplished Southern gentleman well-equipped to satisfy a lovely lady.
Other contributors to this collection include Shanna Germain, Beth Wylde, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Sinclair Sexsmith, C.S. Clark, Crystal Barela, and Teresa Noelle Roberts. The fact that I haven't specifically called out their stories should not be interpreted as negative. I want to leave some tales for readers to discover on their own! Also, these stories in many cases reprise strong themes of dominance and submission that I've already mentioned, sometimes with the butch on top, sometimes the femme.
Overall, D.L. King has done a great job with this anthology. Whether your criterion of excellence is deft writing, intriguing characters, sizzling sex, or all three, you won't be disappointed by The Harder She Comes.