Authors
Alexandros
Carmine
Melanie Abrams
Julius Addlesee
Shelley Aikens
A. Aimee
Jeanne Ainslie
Fredrica Alleyn
Rebecca Ambrose
Diane Anderson-Minshall
Laura Antoniou
Janine Ashbless
Lisette Ashton
Gavin Atlas
Danielle Austen
J. P. Beausejour
P.K. Belden
Tina Bell
Jove Belle
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Ronica Black
Candace Blevins
Primula Bond
Lionel Bramble
A. J. Bray
Samantha Brook
Matt Brooks
Zetta Brown
James Buchanan
Louisa Burton
Angela Campion
Angela Caperton
Annabeth Carew
Julia Chambers
Dale Chase
M. Christian
Greta Christina
Valentina Cilescu
Rae Clark
NJ Cole
Christina Crooks
Julius Culdrose
Portia da Costa
Alan Daniels
Angraecus Daniels
Dena De Paulo
Vincent Diamond
Susan DiPlacido
Noelle Douglas-Brown
Hypnotic Dreams
Amanda Earl
Hank Edwards
Jeremy Edwards
Stephen Elliott
Madelynne Ellis
Justine Elyot
Aurelia T. Evans
Lucy Felthouse
Jesse Fox
I. G. Frederick
Simone Freier
Louis Friend
Polly Frost
William Gaius
Bob Genz
Shanna Germain
J. J. Giles
Lesley Gowan
K D Grace
K. D. Grace
Sacchi Green
Ernest Greene
Tamzin Hall
R. E. Hargrave
P. S. Haven
Trebor Healey
Vicki Hendricks
Scott Alexander Hess
Richard Higgins
Julie Hilden
E. M. Hillwood
Amber Hipple
William Holden
Senta Holland
David Holly
Michelle Houston
Debra Hyde
M. E. Hydra
Vina Jackson
Anneke Jacob
Maxim Jakubowski
Kay Jaybee
Ronan Jefferson
Amanda Jilling
SM Johnson
Raven Kaldera
J. P. Kansas
Kevin Killian
D. L. King
Catt Kingsgrave
Kate Kinsey
Geoffrey Knight
Varian Krylov
Vivienne LaFay
Teresa Lamai
Lisa Lane
Randall Lang
James Lear
Amber Lee
Nikko Lee
Tanith Lee
Annabeth Leong
James W. Lewis
Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Ashley Lister
Fiona Locke
Clare London
Scottie Lowe
Simon Lowrie
Catherine Lundoff
Michael T. Luongo
Jay Lygon
Helen E. H. Madden
Nancy Madore
Jodi Malpas
Jeff Mann
Alma Marceau
Sommer Marsden
Gwen Masters
Sean Meriwether
Bridget Midway
I. J. Miller
Madeline Moore
Lucy V. Morgan
Julia Morizawa
David C. Morrow
Walter Mosley
Peggy Munson
Zoe Myonas
Alicia Night Orchid
Craig Odanovich
Cassandra Park
Michael Perkins
Christopher Pierce
Lance Porter
Jack L. Pyke
Devyn Quinn
Cameron Quitain
R. V. Raiment
Shakir Rashaan
Jean Roberta
Paige Roberts
Sam Rosenthal
D. V. Sadero
C Sanchez-Garcia
Lisabet Sarai
R Paul Sardanas
R. Paul Sardanas
Elizabeth Schechter
Erica Scott
Kemble Scott
Mele Shaw
Simon Sheppard
Tom Simple
Talia Skye
Susan St. Aubin
Charlotte Stein
C. Stetson
Chancery Stone
Donna George Storey
Darcy Sweet
Rebecca Symmons
Mitzi Szereto
Cecilia Tan
Lily Temperley
Vinnie Tesla
Claire Thompson
Alexis Trevelyan
Alison Tyler
Gloria Vanderbilt
Vanessa Vaughn
Elissa Wald
Saskia Walker
Kimberly Warner-Cohen
Brian Whitney
Carrie Williams
Peter Wolkoff
T. Martin Woody
Beth Wylde
Daddy X
Lux Zakari
Fiona Zedde
Alison's WonderlandAlison's Wonderland
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Spice
ISBN: 0373605455
July 2010





Reviewed By: Ashley Lister

Within erotic fiction, the genre is constantly struggling against the restrictions imposed by societal taboos.  The three classic taboos in the genre are: incest, bestiality and underage relationships.  There are other taboos.  Non-consensual sex is a no-no.  Scatological sex is unwelcomed by most publishers (certainly, as written material, I’m not sure what most publishers get up to in the privacy of their own boardrooms).  Necrophilia comes under the heading of ‘illegal activities.’  The list could go on.  And it does.

And I mention it here because I’ve known publishers refuse fairy tale stories because, thematically, the idea broaches dangerous territory between adult material and that aimed for a younger audience.

This is, of course, all bullshit. 

It’s bullshit for several reasons.  If no one ever wrote about incest we would never have had a story like Wuthering Heights.  If no one touched on bestiality or necrophilia the concept behind the Twilight novels would be dead in the water.  If we all adhered to the strict rule regarding non-consensual sex, it would be near-on impossible to write a BDSM story of reluctant submission.

And, when publishers have told me that ‘fairy stories are for children, and erotica is for adults,’ I have bristled with righteous indignation at the stupidity of that notion. 

Historically, fairy stories are NOT for children.  Fairy tales are an integral part of our history of storytelling.  Stories have been in existence since before we began to learn to write or read.  The oral tradition of narratives (oral, as in spoken – not oral as in the fun way) has been an integral part of our literary heritage.  Camp elders would sit around tribal fires, mesmerizing audiences with stories that broached fantastic subjects and reinforced important moral and philosophical points.  These were the original fairy stories and they were never intended for children. 

Unfortunately, some publishers are too stupid to be aware of this distinction.  Fortunately, Spice Books and Alison Tyler seem to understand that fairy tales have always been intended for adults.

Not that Alison Tyler is alone in this understanding.  She’s managed to find more than two-dozen authors who share her kinky sense of fun.  In Alison’s Wonderland there are twenty-seven scintillating stories of fairy-tale shenanigans to set your red shoes tapping and make you wonder what might happen if you go down to the woods today. 

It should be noted here that, in excess of 100,000 words, Alison’s Wonderland is the largest collection of erotic stories that Alison Tyler has ever published.  It should also be noted that this one, possibly more than any other, contains some of the most celebrated names in the world of erotic fiction.

The collection opens with Nikki Magennis’s “The Red Shoes (Redux).”  Nikki Magennis is the author of Circus Excite and The New Rakes, and far too many short stories for me to list here.  “The Red Shoes (Redux)” is characteristic of her style for making the commonplace uncommonly sexy, and delivering sultry, poetic prose. 

This is quickly followed by Shanna Germain’s “Fools Gold”: a clever riff on the old story of “Rumpelstiltskin,” and Sommer Marsden’s witty re-imagining of a classic story with “The Three Billys.” Germain writes raw sex appeal that consistently excites and satisfies.  Marsden excels at blending humour and hedonism in this contemporary revisit to classical territory.  Both authors contribute to the superb quality of this collection and make it easy to brand the book as unputdownable.

The fairy queen in Portia Da Costa’s “Unveiling His Muse” reminds us that Da Costa has always had a command of short fiction despite her recent years producing novels.  In “Unveiling His Muse” she combines narrative and sexual tension to an incredible erotic effect.

And, in “Managers and Mermen,” Donna George Storey (author of Amorous Woman and innumerable erotic shorts) shows that she possesses an unrivalled mastery of erotic fantasy. 

This collection is a have-to-have anthology for every connoisseur of erotic fiction.  The table of contents reads like a who’s who of contemporary erotic writing and the quality of the stories in unsurpassable.  If you don’t already own Alison’s Wonderland, rush out and buy the book now.  This is one that you’re going to treasure for a long, long time as you enjoy your happily ever afters.





Big Book of Bondage: Sexy Tales of Erotic RestraintBig Book of Bondage: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573449075
January 2013





Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

It’s a real joy to read well-crafted bondage stories. There are many to choose from in The Big Book of Bondage, exploring female submission, male submission, and some same sex pairings. If you like group sex, threesomes, slut-shaming, and other kinds mixed with your bondage, you’ll find a story here for you.

One thing I enjoy so much about Sommer Marsden’s work, and in particular her story “Butter the Bird,” is how well she captures everyday life. There’s real craftsmanship going on here that it may take a writer to appreciate, but readers will enjoy how this slice of life heats up to a nicely decadent tale.

“Cute Boy gets Squeezed” by D.L. King explores the erotic potential of vacuum beds (although I can’t fathom another reason for using one). I’ve always been fascinated by them and she certainly makes it sound fun. This is a different kind of bondage than rope or handcuffs. If you like rubber or latex you’ll really like this kinky, fun tale.

I can’t think of a single Alison Tyler story I haven’t liked. She’s one of erotica’s rock and roll stars for a reason. Her “Burned” has amazing imagery and gets under your skin in a good way.

Kristina Lloyd’s “The Bondage Pig” was a little weird, but I was so fascinated I just had to see what would happen next. Then it got really interesting. Such an imagination!

Those are only a few of the worthy contributors. From Donna George Storey to Thomas Roche, many names are well-known in erotica. With twenty-five stories, this anthology is a little longer than most, but there wasn’t a single weak story.





Bound for Trouble: BDSM Erotica for WomenBound for Trouble: BDSM Erotica for Women
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1627780270
July 2014





Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

In her introduction, Alison Tyler informs us that Bound for Trouble is the tenth bondage-themed anthology she has edited for Cleis. It's hardly surprising that this collection sparkles with kinky energy and glows with heat. Ms. Tyler definitely knows what she's doing. At this point in my editing and reviewing career, I'm fairly difficult to impress, but I believe Bound for Trouble will delight anyone who finds D/s content arousing.

What's so great about this book? Diversity for one thing. Almost every story attacks the theme from a different direction. There are M/f, F/m and F/f tales in almost equal proportion and even one M/m contribution. Some authors write about long-established couples, some about casual playmates, some about  just-met strangers. Meanwhile, the bondage mechanisms explored range from classic ropes to robots to symbolic chains made out of paper.

Ms. Tyler's own story, “Sitting Pretty,” keeps the reader guessing. For the first few pages, you have no idea about the identity or even the gender of the narrator. Only at the end do you begin to understand who he is and what he wants. This tale is both beautifully crafted and deliciously transgressive. Who would have imagined that allowing one's hair to be cut could be an act of submission?

“Magic Boots” by Amy Dillon offers one of the most insightful takes on fetishism that I've encountered in a long time. To arouse and entertain her foot-worshiping husband, the narrator secretly buys a pair of expensive, outrageous high-heeled boots they've both admired. As she wears the boots around the house before revealing them to her spouse, trying to break them in, she discovers her own perceptions and desires changing.

Complementary fantasies play a key role in several of the tales. In Benjamin Eliot's exquisite “Unwinding Alice,” the female of the title enjoys being tightly bound and locked in a closet for hours. Her husband confines her in order to please her; he finds the notion far scarier than she does. Meanwhile, he lives for the sight of the rope marks her trials leave behind. Their kinks are distinctly different, but interlocking, providing satisfaction and peace to both.

She flings her arms above her head, and I see the lines on her skin flow north with the motion. She's striped and crossed and dotted with the evidence of my control and I groan. Because seeing that evidence robs me of my current control. I'm powerless against the unwound Alice. I'm humbled by her strength.

The healing potential of dominance and submission is another common theme. Annabeth Leong's  “Paper Chains,” Theresa Noelle Roberts' “Ropenosis,” K.Lynn's “Business Wear,” all feature submissives wound tight by worldly responsibilities or hidden fears. Paradoxically, bondage sets them free.

Sommer Marsden's brilliant story “What She Has” struck me as one of the most realistic in the collection. The subtleties she portrays in the relationship between the submissive narrator and her Master, the ebb and flow of envy, anger, fear and love, amazed me. How can love and cruelty be so closely intertwined?

In contrast, Giselle Renarde's delicious fable “It's Not a Scrunchie” is pure play, a man's wildest fantasy made manifest in the person of a voluptuous, uninhibited gal who just happens to like tying guys up.

The mood in Bound for Trouble is lighter than in some of Ms. Tyler's anthologies (her Love at First Sting comes to mind as an example of darker, more ambiguous BDSM), but these authors don't spare the rope or the rod. Nearly all of the stories are entertaining. And a few will linger in your mind, long after you've closed the cover or turned off your e-reader.

 





Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden SexFrenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 157344331X
November 2008





Reviewed By: Steven Hart

Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex is an excellent anthology of short stories edited for Cleis Press by Alison Tyler.  The book revels in hot, quick sex.  Erotica is particularly suited to short forms because brevity can build a real sense of anticipation that would grow flaccid at greater length; witness Elspeth Potter’s “Unlimited Minutes” at not quite half a page. 

In fact, shorter is usually better for most erotica because the author can avoid those mechanical sexual descriptions that are so often interchangeable from one work to the next.  These descriptions present techno-matic sex.  They neither set up the reader for any real titillation, nor are they exciting in themselves.  Such descriptions are often excruciating searches for sufficiently exotic modifiers to make the penetration seem piquant even when it isn’t.

Whether erotica that is simply fucking is enough for you, would seem a matter of personal inclination.  I require more and this book delivers. Sometimes the pleasure of a fuck is its seedy location such as in D. L. King’s dank Brooklyn bar in “Hard Wet Silk.”  Or it is a moment in time as in Casey Ferguson’s “Field of (Day)dreams” that makes a dalliance sublime.  It seems to me that to be interesting as a subject for fiction, fucking needs to contain some element of play as one finds in Tara Alton’s brief but tasty “Mute Witness.” 

Otherwise fucking is very like mowing grass.  It is a good, hot, and even potentially productive exercise.  You make a lot of unusual noise, and probably sweat a lot. It’s satisfying when done.  But then you are ready to take a shower, have a cold beer, and think about something less exhausting.  You certainly don’t need to read about it.  Then again, being put on sexual hold can be a form of grinding but exquisite erotic torment as is the case in “Waiting” by Jen Cross.

In your twenties -- when you hardly know what is happening during sex -- much less remember much of it after it’s over, a book that gives you the details of what you just did might be both illuminating and get you ready for round two, or even three.  After thirty, you are supposed to know what you are doing, and you should by then have developed an entertaining line of patter to go with your “moves.”  By forty, most of us are contented with our own little depravities and enjoy them fully, as is the case in Carl Hose’s “Her Room” where the hero is cheerfully up to no good.

Frenzy suffers only occasionally from techno-matic sex.   When the short forms are used with éclat and real severity, they are bright and entertaining gems of understatement that create a much larger and more lush sense of authentic pleasure precisely because they excite by inference.  The obvious comparison is well-executed haiku, which leave the subtle imprint of nature in a few syllables.  Like Haiku, Nikki Magennis’s “Sweets” which makes short, but thorough, work of the erotic potential in sucrose.

Short forms make it impossible to hide literary flaws and stylistic laziness. They can be used to encrypt a deeper message so that what is really a very complex statement about the human experience, looks like a simple joke.  During the Soviet era, virtually all political humor in Eastern Europe was buried in sexual jokes.  Dirty jokes fit bad government when it is hard to tell who is fucking whom, and who is actually getting paid for what.  “Appetite” by Shanna Germain captures the pleasures of post-modern excess as the heroine embraces a new obsession with sex for her previous lust for carbs.  Such an excess of riches in a starving world, eh?

I don’t think it is going too far to say that the unflinching directness of Frenzy, as a product of the Bush era, shows that urgent search for balance between graphic “truth” and the galling lies of constant misdirection from the media, industry and government.  I site here Ann Rosenquist Fee’s “Cock Lobster” as an example.  However, if that is true of Frenzy, it is ghost effect.  Frenzy is primarily about fucking, and it is very good at sticking to the point.



H is for HardcoreH is for Hardcore
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573442860
July, 2007





Reviewed By: Ashley Lister

In the introduction to this book, Alison Tyler says, “I don’t want nice and clean. I don’t want good and kind. I want hot and fast. Dark and dirty. Basically, I want hardcore.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve echoed myself, although it’s seldom a successful way to start job interviews.

H is for Hardcore is the latest anthology in Alison Tyler’s erotic alphabet. It might be worth mentioning here that H is also for HORNY and HARD-ON. H is also for HOT, HOTTER and HOTTEST. This collection of twelve short stories comes from a pantheon of erotic authors who have gleefully produced fiction that meets Ms Tyler’s original remit. This is hardcore at its horniest.

Mathilde Madden, Gwen Masters and Radclyffe. John A Burks Jr, Jean Roberta and Sophie Mouette. Chris Costello, Rakelle Valencia and Shane Allison. Teresa Noelle Roberts, Michael Hemingson and the inimitable Ms Tyler herself. The combined talents of these authors have been used to produce an anthology that is graphic and gratuitous: sordid, sexy and splendid. The content is extremely hot and exceptionally fast. The stories are wonderfully dark and deliciously dirty. The anthology is, in a word: hardcore.

Hardcore is a peculiar word to define. One person’s definition of hardcore is another person’s idea of tame. Or another person’s version of too extreme. To illustrate this point, I was recently eavesdropping on two friends who were discussing hardcore. One friend claimed she liked some hardcore activities, and these included using the F-word – although she drew the line at the C-word. The other friend said that no cunt had ever told her what the C-word was, and her definition of hardcore started with rusty barbed wire and at least four pairs of nipple clamps and it invariably ended with a scream.

Yet this collection of shorts manages to consistently deliver fiction that can only be described by that single word: hardcore.

Mathilde Madden opens the collection with a first person narrative of bondage and teasing to outrageous excess. Gwen Masters follows with a torrid tale that plays with the power balance between a protector and the protected. Radclyffe then takes the reader into the darkened corners of a BDSM world and blends male terminology with female anatomy in a disconcerting meld of the boldest and most brutal sexuality.

John A Burks Jr. has written a satisfying story that introduces the reader to a powerful man who, at the beginning of the narrative, can best be described as “anal.” Jean Roberta, always a pleasure to read, stuffs her tongue in her cheek as her characters mix role-playing with bondage. Sophie Mouette takes bondage to the next level as her characters are bound together in an inevitable climax.

These are forceful stories that evoke passion with a capital P. Every one of them is hauntingly hardcore. Each could be adequately described as hotter than hot.

Chris Costello tells a tale of girl meets girl, but with a wealth of kinky twists to keep the reader riveted. Rakelle Valencia’s characters rope and ride an unsuspecting rancher. Shane Allison gives us a homoerotic taste of full-on, fantastic foot fetish.

All of these stories are written by authors who know how to excite. The sex scenes are gloriously graphic. The erotic content is constant and consistent in its strength.

Teresa Noelle Roberts writes about a woman with a passion for knives. This rarely written kink is perfectly exploited in "On a Knife Edge" and, after the tour de force of the anthology’s previous stories, manages to introduce the reader to a delicious and deviant new delight. Michael Hemmingson’s, "The End of Celibacy," presents a girl who has been looking for love in all the wrong places. The stilted dialogue between the characters perfectly matches their stilted relationship. The delicious twist to this story is wicked, wild and wonderful. Alison Tyler’s "Ashes and Diamonds," raw passion embodied in three short but intense pages, concludes this collection in a powerful and satisfying climax.

H is for Hardcore is undoubtedly the strongest of Alison Tyler’s alphabet series to date. The focus is fixed firmly on erotic extremes. Ms Tyler asked for hot and fast. She asked for dark and dirty.

The result is the sensational H is for Hardcore.





Hurts So Good: Unrestrained EroticaHurts So Good: Unrestrained Erotica
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443289
October 2008





Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

After reading Hurts So Good, I’m thrilled to report that it’s still possible to find an erotica anthology with more than one or two good stories. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder.

It used to be anthologies were strictly segregated by sexuality. Not anymore. The pansexual offerings may partially explain why this anthology was so appealing to me. But what made Hurts So Good stand out was the consistent literary quality of the contributions.

Before I finished reading the second paragraph of the lead story, I turned down the corner of the page, indicating that I planned to reread it. In “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” by Nikki Magennis, a woman finds clarity in bondage and a spanking. Exquisitely crafted, this is easily one of the best short stories I’ve read this year.

“Turnaround” by A.D.R. Forte did something few short erotic stories has ever done, and that’s truly surprise me. A schoolteacher is accidentally rung by another woman’s cell phone. She knows she shouldn’t listen in, but the D/s scene between her idol and her idol’s husband is too compelling to hang up on, especially when she hears her name. She fills in the scene from what she’s hearing. Hot? Oh, yes. As I was reading, I was gritting my teeth for a cliché twist ending, but A.D.R. Forte took it in a different direction that made me grin.

Xan West is a name I’m seeing more often and always with a story that speaks to me. According to his bio – yes, someone does read those – he’s a BDSM and sex educator with a love for boots. It shows. In “First Time Since,” a Sir pushes himself back out into the world after his boy has left him. This story is rough leathersex served up with a bittersweet tang. That’s probably why I liked it so much. Too many Sirs are portrayed as automatons, or worse, jerks that have conned someone into bowing down to them. The emotional vulnerability of this Sir gave “First Time Since” depth that’s missing from far too many BDSM stories.  

“Toying With Lily” is one of Mike Kimera’s signature pieces. A Rauxa Prize winner for erotic fiction, he unfortunately announced recently that he was withdrawing from writing. When you read this story of a man stealing time away from his overly scheduled life to be with a married woman, you’ll understand what a shame it would be if this were the last of his stories to be published. Mike’s characters are always flawed, but almost beyond judgment, as they are so very human.

There are a few other stories in Hurts So Good that I feel I must mention briefly. Stephen Elliot’s “My Mainstream Girlfriend” is, I believe, a chapter from his novel My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up. It was the first book I reviewed for Erotica Revealed back in May 2007. This chapter reminded me why I loved that novel so much. “Provocation” by Jay Lawrence is a delightful discipline and humiliation piece. “Flick Chicks” by Allison Wonderland was a fun spanking piece.

So many stories in Hurts So Good were pleasant surprises that it renewed my faith in erotica anthologies. Maybe I’m jaded, or my taste runs to the harsh side of dark, but few of these stories were intense BDSM scenes. That isn’t a bad thing. It makes these stories accessible to people who are squicked by hardcore, and I’d like to see this book in the hands of as many erotica fans as possible, because it shows what erotica can aspire to.



I is for IndecentI is for Indecent
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443050
February 2008





Reviewed By: Jean Roberta

This pocket-sized volume of fifteen stories is adorned with a radiant cartoon pinup girl on the cover, complete with a World War II-era sailor’s cap. This little book is part of Alison Tyler’s alphabet series, beginning with A is for Amour, B is for Bondage, and so forth. Each volume contains fewer stories than the average erotic anthology, but the whole collection will eventually include quite a range of styles, plots and sexual flavors.

Alison Tyler is a prolific editor as well as a writer of stories and novels which have been translated into various languages and circulated all over the world. Besides editing anthologies for Cleis Press, she runs her own small company, Pretty Things Press. She is a kind of one-woman industry, and her “brand” (to use a popular buzz-word) is usually easy to spot. The sex in her stories tends to be offbeat, spontaneous, fun and heterosexual. Her male characters sometimes mislead her female characters, or vice versa, but Tyler describes disappointment in a light and witty way. No one seems to get seriously hurt. If any of her characters have dark nights of the soul, these happen off the page.

This book is quirkier, stranger and darker than any of her other anthologies that I know of. These stories answer the question: Is anything considered indecent these days, even by those who consider themselves sexually free? (Or, to paraphrase a line from the 1980s music that Tyler loves, what would it take to make a pro blush?)

Several of these stories deal with exhibitionism in public places. Showing off in itself doesn’t seem shocking in works of erotic fantasy, but the characters in these stories deliberately risk violence, injury, arrest and unexpected emotional transformation. In “That Monday Morning Feeling” by Lisette Ashton, Mandy consoles herself for having to go to a boring office job by flashing her shapely butt and pressing herself against men in the London tube. “Have a Nice Day” by Mike Kimera carries the break-from-work theme further: an emotionally-detached male narrator sends his girlfriend a package at work containing a large dildo which she is ordered to stuff into herself before going to a “meeting” with a strange woman who ushers her into the narrator’s stretch limo, which seems equipped for every conceivable sexual activity.

Lisabet Sarai’s “Crowd Pleaser” describes a happy couple visiting New Orleans for their anniversary during Mardi Gras. Nothing about them seems unusual until the general revelry inspires them to have sex in a place where they are caught by television cameras before escaping from security guards.

In “The Installation” by Michael Hemmingson, a financially desperate young woman in graduate school agrees to perform sexually as part of an art exhibit. Her only reward, supposedly, is a fee which will get her out of debt. The older, experienced male artist who hires her awakens her capacity for pleasure and endurance. The change in her feelings, from grim resignation to the self-centered thrill of performing for a snobbish audience that loses interest after awhile, could have led to an ironic role-reversal. Would the artist simply forget his “object” after opening night? Would she contact him again, after resisting the impulse to do so during the lead-up to the public performance? The author doesn’t say.

In “Wet” by Janine Ashbless, a middle-class woman on a date with her husband searches in vain for an open public lavatory until she loses control of her bladder. Her public embarrassment leads to a passionate response from her husband, despite the presence of passers-by.

In “A Genuine Motherfucker” by Sommer Marsden, a female narrator tells the reader that she specializes in discovering the most shameful fantasies of the men she dates, and rubbing their noses in them (so to speak) when the men are most vulnerable. Parallel to this strategy for breaking down any semblance of dignity or self-esteem is the elaborate violation scene in “The Things You Do When You’re in Love” by Mathilde Madden, in which a domme seems to abandon her male pet in a rundown gas-station urinal after securing him to the plumbing. The scene is consensual enough in the context of a Dominant-submissive relationship, but it is hardly decent by any standards.

In “Daddy’s Pillow” by Rita Winchester, a more conventional male Dominant-female submissive encounter takes place via long-distance telephone call, and the physical absence of “Daddy” gives the narrator’s story of rapturous release a certain eeriness.

In “Waif” by Alana Noel Voth, an angry man who has been fired by his embezzling boss is approached by a young male prostitute who seems even more powerless than the unemployed corporate pawn. The story raises questions about corruption and responsibility while showing two wounded males warily responding to each other. The developing relationship between the hustler with nothing left to lose and his reluctant john shows a glimmer of hope for humanity in general, but the punch line removes any trace of sentimentality.

Thomas Roche’s black comedy, “Death Rock,” is an uncomfortably amusing look at a certain gay goth sub-community of young men who are literally in love with death. The ending, which mimics that of Romeo and Juliet, is both melodramatic and too plausible for my taste.

In “From Here to Indecency,” Stan Kent refers to a romantic movie about wartime lovers while satirizing Hollywood conventions in general. In a slapstick climax, three people who are far from glamorous are thrown together in the ocean off the coast of California. The looney-tunes romance which follows shows that Mother Nature is the best script-writer.

“Guilt” by Tsaurah Litzky is both gritty and bittersweet. The narrator’s situation suggests a line sung by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl: “Would a convent take a Jewish girl?” The breaking of sexual vows, whether to a human spouse or to God, seems indecent to all those who believe that promises should mean something. The dilemma of the guilt-ridden man in the story is that he has already proven himself a hypocrite, and he can’t do the right thing by his own standards without hurting himself and the woman who confronts him.

The stories by Rachel Kramer Bussel (who has co-edited anthologies with Alison Tyler) and Tyler herself seem downright sweet and innocent compared to most of the rest. In Bussel’s story, “The Secret to a Happy Marriage,” the “secret” is revealed to involve sex outside the marriage—and outside the heterosexual “mainstream.” The narrator’s encounter with a lesbian couple seems to be exactly the outlet she needs to remain faithful to her husband in her fashion. In Tyler’s story, “Milk and Honey,” a charming man meets a woman in a coffee shop and persuades her to drink her coffee differently than before. The delicious new flavors of sex that he introduces her to lead her to hope that something long-term might be developing between them. She learns that whatever seems too good to be true probably is.

Donna George Storey’s “The Cunt Book” also involves a dishonest man and the woman who is enchanted by his imagination even when she knows he is not telling her the factual truth. The photographic evidence of his seduction of her (or of her exhibitionist streak) suggests the woman-centered art and photography of lesbian artist Tee Corinne, which foreshadowed The Vagina Monologues some twenty years earlier.

These stories take risks and leak out of a predictable marketing niche. They could inspire you to find the sides of yourself that you’ve kept hidden from the light of day, desires which still feel indecent.





L is for LeatherL is for Leather
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443085
February 2008





Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

L is for Leather is the latest offering by Alison Tyler is her successful line of alphabet anthologies. From the quotes before the table of contents to the editor’s bio, this book is packed with more leather than a vendor booth at the Folsom Street Fair. Thirteen writers explore the smell, taste, look, and versatility of leather.

Radclyffe’s “Skin-Flick Sex” offers up a hot, tasty tale of sex in the dark with a stranger – the holy grail of we girls who fantasize of women only sex clubs and the dark labyrinths of anonymous sex within. Add to it a touch of voyeurism, the threat of discovery, almost public sex, and a woman packing a cock she knows how to use, and this story hit a lot of my hot buttons.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of Thomas Roche’s stories. While doing the FedEx delivery guy/girl is a staple of office sex fantasies, he brings so much humor to this tale in “Venus in Uniform” that it charms instantly. His observation of how women can nice each other into sexual catatonia is sharply delivered. Then he deftly swerves into a bit of boot worship and what happens when girls stop playing nice, and that’s when things get really interesting.

Through the Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Mike Kimera’s stories for years. “Other Bonds Than Leather” is unusual in this collection in that leather doesn’t figure in the character’s arousal or in the sex, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in this anthology. Mike’s strength has always been his characters. In this story, a middle-aged woman meets with a man who may become her Dom and he shows her his dungeon. Her reactions are so spot-on that I can imagine saying those same things myself. Even though this is a dungeon scene and about power play, the sex is gently passionate.

For the title alone, Lisette Ashton’s “Truman Capote Was Wrong” had me wondering what it was all about. About leather, of course! How it feels against the skin, how it smells, and how turned on this young woman gets by her movie inspired wardrobe. She’s over her Matrix coat and is moving on to Underworld wear. She enjoys good tailoring, and her tailor enjoys watching her enjoy his work. I’m not much for fashion, but I’ll admit that there is something about those kick-ass femmes in head-to-toe leather that makes even me sit up and take notice of what they’re wearing, so this story hit a few guilty-pleasure chords with me.

Kate Pearce’s “Sunday Service” is a bit of historical erotica. If you like cowboys, and especially if you’ve ever looked at a saddle horn with less than honorable intentions, this BDSM story of a widow and a ranch hand is for you. Sommer Marsden’s “How He Likes Me” is another power-play story with a pair of black leather gloves. In “Cleanup On Aisle Ten” by Sheri Gilmore, leather takes the form of a dog collar and leash. Madeline Moore explores the power of the legendary “Little Black Dress,” a wardrobe basic, but this one is leather. In Shane Allison’s “Dangerous Comfort,” a black leather jacket provides cover for some public indiscretion.  For Michelle Houston in “Tempted,” it’s a pair of black leather pants over a fine ass that leads the narrator astray. I’m a bit of a boot junkie, so I could sympathize with Jude Mason’s Max in “Those Boots” as he stands transfixed at a shop window by a pair of especially arousing boots. In Tsaurah Litzky’s “Love Is Long,” the narrator is out for an ego-boosting quicky, and comes away with a newfound appreciation for leather in the form of masks. Rounding out the anthology, editor Alison Tyler adds her take on the joy of leather in “Hide.”  The owner of a leather clothing shop in LA keeps the cheap junk up front for the Melrose crowd, but the good stuff is in the back, waiting for just the right customer who can appreciate it. Leather pants, leather jackets, leather boots, leather gloves, they all come into play here as a connoisseur of fine leather clothing meets up with a connoisseur of fine women.

Leather is a surprisingly versatile material. It can be warm; it can be cool. Touch it, and the texture can arouse a wide variety of feelings. Wearing it can make you feel powerful, or protected. It can be soft and comforting, or it can de harsh and unrelenting. A leather jacket can make the wearer look both hot and cool at the same time. It has an animal scent that makes your nostrils widen as you draw in a deeper breath. It’s one of the few materials that we associate with power.

These stories delve into all of those associations, and more.  Not every story in this anthology is BDSM, although many are. That’s not surprising given how leather and kink are closely linked in our psyches. I was pleasantly surprised by how many lesbian stories there were. If you’re not into power play or lesbian tales, I’d still recommend you give this anthology a chance simply for the level of writing. 





Love at First Sting: Sexy Tales of Erotic RestraintLove at First Sting: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 157344281X
June, 2007





Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

If I had noticed Love at First Sting on the shelf at a bookstore, I probably would not have picked it up. The main title is awkward and derivative, the subtitle makes the book sound like frothy porn, and the olive drab cover, featuring a blurry, corset-clad torso, is hardly compelling. If I hadn't been asked to review the book, I probably would not have read it. This would have been a shame, because this collection is one of the best erotic anthologies that I've encountered in a long time.

I read a lot of BDSM, partly from personal interest and partly because as a reviewer I've been pigeonholed (accurately, perhaps) into the "kinky" category. Alison Tyler's new volume is a refreshing contrast to some recent anthologies that focus on the more recreational aspects of spanking, bondage, and other perverse sports. The stories in this collection (with a few exceptions like Lisette Ashton's frisky "Bound to Kill" and "The '76 Revolution," a sweet tale by Nikki Maggennis) concern themselves with the darker side of dominance and submission. Temptation, obsession, guilt, fear, ecstasy and revelation - these stories crackle with serious emotion. These are not about "play parties".

In Teresa Lamai's breathless "Small Windows," a man and a woman are drawn together by mutual needs that neither can fully understand, or control.

"I have one cell phone just for his calls. When it vibrates, I drop everything. I feign sickness if I have to. I once left court and ran twenty blocks in the fog because there were no taxis. I thought my heart would burst.

Each time he opens the door the fugue starts again. I know once I see him I'll feel the shock in the solar plexus, the painful flash of heat behind my pubic bone that sears out all other questions, that cauterizes my mind until it's closed and quiet. With Josh I'm a starfish, spread flat and writhing gently, mindless and swollen and tingling."

James Walton Langolf's raw and lyrical "Abraham" begins:

"She is his Isaac laid out on the hood of his Ford - open, bared to his blade."

The tale continues, a fierce conflagration of a fuck between a man who's lonely and a woman who's desperate, but all the roughness ends in redemption - "the rain is washing her clean."

In the quieter darkness of Alison Tyler's "The Kiss," a master deliberately traps his sub in an impossible situation by forcing her to disobey him, and then makes her suffer the consequences.

Vida Bailey's "Torn" features a severe older woman and the disobedient young man whom she's tutoring. She tans his hide to improve his motivation, but the focus here is not on this classic situation, but on the dominant tutor's reactions and regrets:

"She watched his back; his long legs walking down the lane, away. His stride was more careful than the one he had come with. He was tender. Tears rose in her eyes. If she could she would keep him tied, to her bed, to her body, to move within the circle of his warmth and have him smile a smile that was for her only, secret, teasing and possessive."

Silence is Golden is perhaps the best story I've ever read by the prolific Rachel Kramer Bussel. When she is bound and gagged, a talkative woman learns to really pay attention:

"The silence rang in my ears as I came, the absence of sound coaxing me over the edge as saliva pooled in my mouth, my burning wrists took the imprints of the rope, and I reveled in his fast, hard, hammering thrusts. When we were done, there was no need to speak."

Two other tales that deserve special note are Sommer Marsden's "She Looked Good in Ribbons," and Brooke Stern's "The Art of the Suture." The former is a beautiful, intense account of two strangers meeting for the first time to fulfill their most cherished fantasies. The latter is a highly original pseudo-historical tale which may be the most perverse in the entire collection, even though it includes no graphic sex.

My favorite piece in this book is Donna George Storey's "Blinded." A woman and her lover stumble together into an escalating series of games involving a blindfold. Their physical communion masks the misunderstandings between them, which climax when he seems to be threatening to kill her. The story is an amazing roller coaster of emotions: lust, terror, uncertainty, silence, anger, love. I was shaking when I finished reading it.

Dominance and submission have been claimed by popular culture, and tamed into bedroom games played with fur-lined cuffs and whips made of feathers. Undiluted, in its original form, though, BDSM is strong stuff. A few stories in this collection were too rough, too cruel, for my personal tastes. Overall, though, Love at First Sting recaptures the thrill and the terror of genuine power exchange. Readers who have no experience with BDSM may find it confusing and disturbing, or possibly enlightening. Initiates are likely to recognize themselves in these stories.





Luscious: Stories of Anal EroticismLuscious: Stories of Anal Eroticism
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573447609
February 2012





Reviewed By: Ashley Lister

I reviewed the original version of this book six years ago when it was first released. Who would have thought that anal sex would still be popular six years later on? Here’s what I said about the original imprint:

***

“Luscious includes a foreword by Tristan Taormino where she tries to explain our cultural obsession with most things related to the anus.  Tristan is an intelligent lady, and an authority on this subject, and her eloquent explanation puts forward some viable theories.  However, if she had really wanted to help us analyse the erotic appeal of anal sex, she need only have said, “Read these stories!”

The thing that leaps from the pages of these stories is the sense of fun involved.  Tristan Taormino is correct in her assertion that anal sex does “…challenge societal norms…[and] …test the limits of the body.”  But the stories in this collection remind us the act is most often performed between consenting adults because it’s extremely enjoyable. 

Attitudes, expectations and approach differ greatly.  Bryn Haniver introduces a pair of cheeky protagonists in ‘Sometimes it’s Better to Give,’ while Alison Tyler’s curious heroine, Gina, goes on a path of discovery to find out if the forbidden act is ‘Worth It.’  Saskia Walker (who writes her narrative with a smutty grin on her lips) recounts the deliciously enjoyable details of ‘Edward’s Experiments.’

Luscious combines an eclectic blend of sexual preferences and brings them neatly together in this exciting and innovative anthology.  With a cast list that includes Kate Dominic, Ayre Riley, Greg Wharton, Sage Vivant and Jean Roberta (amongst many others) it’s an ASS-ET for anyone’s collection.”

***

And here we are six years later and they’ve managed to squeeze more inside this one than they did before. This revisitation to Luscious is bigger and includes two new stories: “The Missing Kink” by Sophia Valenti and “Anal Submission…or Not” by D L King.

I adored the first release of this anthology. The re-release is a masterful update of a classic anthology – particularly as this topic is such a culturally sensitive one.

Sex in itself is an act of trust. We are trusting our naked bodies in the hands of another. We are trusting our emotional and spiritual wellbeing with someone who may not necessarily have the vested interest of maintaining the balance of those delicate states. In short, we are placing our trust in the intimacy of another person.

And for some reason, contrasted against conventional sex acts, the act of anal sex heightens that level of trust.

We could argue here that this is because the act has connotations of greater intimacy than conventional sex acts. It involves a part of the anatomy that is normally omitted from polite conversations. We could make this argument but it wouldn’t be true. All sex acts, conventional or otherwise, carry connotations of intimacy.

We could argue that anal sex is taboo in many societies and even illegal in some – therefore making it a darker and more dangerous act with heightened echoes of risk-taking and potential punishment. Again, even though there are some cultures fatuous enough to try and dictate the sexual antics of consenting adults, the existence of people denouncing the act wouldn’t wholly explain the broad appeal of anal intercourse.

Personally, I believe it’s the heightened sense of trust involved in this act that has it hailed as a zenith of erotic encounters. And I believe my opinion is reflected in the content of Luscious.

Take for example the opening lines Shanna Germain’s wonderful “Cherry Bottom” which start the fiction in the anthology:

“You okay, babe?” Andrew’s voice above me was half sexual rasp, half concern. His warm, oiled hands had moved from the outside curves of my ass to the inside of my thighs, and they were resting there, not pulling or teasing, just resting against my skin. I kept my eyes and mouth closed and tried not to think about my naked ass in the air. I nodded against the pillow.

Notice here the concern that is being shown between the lovers in this scene. The first words are a question for confirmation that one character is comfortable. It’s an obvious act of profound concern and affection. Or ‘love’ as it might be more commonly known.

This theme of love returns frequently in this anthology. It’s a theme that returns more often than in other collections that focus on more conventional sex acts. Such as in this passage from “Trophy Wife” by Kate Dominic:

I couldn’t do romantic language for shit. I thought it was ridiculous. But for Sharon’s sake, I did my best. Hooking the ring at the end of the beads over my left middle finger, I picked up the smallest bead. “Relax your nether sphincter, my love. I am about to invade your delicate bottom passage.”

Charlotte’s wife may have been startled at her spouse’s forward ways, but my sweet, demanding wife knew exactly what she wanted. She smiled her appreciation at my literary attempts, shivering with delight as her anus seemed to reach out, relaxed and trembling, to suck the first bead in.

“Yummy!”

Or as in these lines from the opening of D L King’s “Anal Submission…or Not”

“So, is it?” I asked. “Is it a submissive act, when I tell you to fuck me in the ass? Or, is your doing it the submissive act?”

The thing is, I love anal sex. I mean I really love it. I love receiving it and I love giving it.

In short – if you love anal sex, then you’ll love Luscious. The anthology is well-written, exciting and entertaining. Moreover, it stays true to the theme of pleasurable shared intimacy that is inherent in this most intimate of sex acts.





Open For Business: Tales of Office SexOpen For Business: Tales of Office Sex
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443115
June 2008





Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

I've been looking forward to reading Open for Business for months, ever since the book arrived and took its place at the bottom of my stack of commitments. As I watched it move closer to the top of the pile, I admired its sassy cover - a conservatively dressed couple stretched out under a desk, obviously very busy. The book title is cleverly displayed in an uneven Courier font that looks just like the output of the old typewriter I used in college.

When I finally opened the book and read a few stories, however, I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed. The stories were sexy, fun, generally well-written, but they were so short! Each one was a hot little vignette, but there didn't seem to be anything other than sexual hanky panky to keep me interested. Characters were sketched lightly, with a very broad brush. Conflict was more or less non-existent.

Perhaps I'm too demanding, but even in a brief story, I want some meat, and I don't mean instances of the male organ. I’m looking for an original premise. I crave characters who are distinctive, with personal voices that make them seem real. I want some physical or emotional barrier that stands in the way of the consummation of their lust, or perhaps a plot twist that violates my expectations without being ridiculous.

Fortunately, as I read further, the stories began to come closer to meeting my admittedly severe specifications. "Headhunter," by C.B. Potts, was the first tale where I turned down a page, my method for reminding myself to mention a story in my reviews. A female exec from one investment firm takes a savvy lady from a competing company out for drinks. Of course they end up in bed, but on the way there's some wonderful repartee. These characters have substance, even though the story is short. And they are adversaries, at least at first, making the mutual seduction much more intriguing.

"You're making half as much money as you could be. We're familiar with Langston, and even with a generous year-end bonus, you're not going to earn fifty percent of what we're willing to pay you."

Cradling my glass between wide-splayed fingers, I said, "You're talking about half a million dollars."?
Meredith laughed. "Nice try. We're talking about three hundred thou--plus more chances for advancement than you'll ever get at Langston."

"Because I'm Chinese?" Sullyman's Pacific Rim division had been doing well lately. Very well.

"Because you're talented as hell. We watched the O'Hare purchase. It took balls to route that through Kenya. Not many traders would have sent that much money into Africa."

I smiled. "I have a soft spot for emerging market equity."

My next pick was Maxim Jakubowski's "In the Empire of Lust." There's no sex in this story, just the lustful imaginings of a manager with a corner office, about the various women who work for him. Well, actually, there is the narrator's lonely masturbation, but what brings the tale to life is the vivid, emotionally nuanced portraits Mr. Jakubowski paints of each of his subordinates.

I was quite enchanted by Rachel Kramer Bussel's "Secretary's Day." I normally enjoy her work, but this was the first story of hers that I'd read that was told from a male point of view. She managed to be quite convincing. "Secretary's Day" is a spicy exploration of female dominance, related by a young man who adores being used by a smart, powerful woman. There's even a lick of romance in the mix
.
Then there's the peculiar but engaging "One Cubicle Over," by Jeremy Edwards, about two people with nothing in common who nevertheless are sexually obsessed with one another. This tale of the triumph of pheromones over rationality is cleverly told, and despite its tongue in cheek tone left me with a big smile.

Savannah Stephens Smith offers "Lonely at the Top," the confessions of a female executive who fucked her way up the corporate ladder and enjoyed every minute of it. The narrator's no-nonsense voice and gutsy pro-sex attitude did not prepare me for the bittersweet ending, but then, I enjoy surprises.

Possibly my favorite story in the volume is "On the 37th Floor," by Tulsa Brown. Ms. Brown's characters are so sharply drawn, they cut you to the bone, and this story is no exception. She also has a sense of how where you come from influences who you are, a knowledge that plays a significant role in the plot of this sensual, celebratory F/F tale.

There are twenty two stories in this volume. Half a dozen of them really grabbed me. The remainder? They're not bad stories, not at all. The collection includes many acclaimed erotica authors. Lisette Ashton, Donna George Storey, Mike Kimera and Alison Tyler are all among my favorites. Alas, none of their stories in this anthology made me sit up in bed and go "Wow!" I enjoyed them, but I'm not all that likely to remember them.

Maybe I'm just reading too much erotica. Perhaps I've become jaded and overly critical. Or perhaps there are just too many anthologies coming out these days, and not enough stellar stories to fill them. I did notice, with some concern, that about a third of the stories in Open for Business were previously published in other anthologies -- including some by the same editor. At least one story I immediately recognized, and couldn't bring myself to reread.

Maybe we need some fresh blood. Or maybe we need to move away from the notion that the primary goal of erotica is to titillate or arouse the reader as opposed to telling a story or exploring some of the less obvious aspects of sexuality.

Or perhaps I should just get off my soapbox and finish this review, before I really offend my illustrious colleagues. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.





Playing With Fire: Taboo EroticaPlaying With Fire: Taboo Erotica
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443484
April 2009





Reviewed By: Steven Hart

Sexual heat can run from a small, warm flame of comfortable arousal to a raging form of pyromania.  The point is not so much that one is crazy for love or even for the sex that may go with it.  It’s the heat itself that drives you nuts, the mad lust for warmth that centers your mind and body on immolation by sensual sensation.

Playing with Fire anthologized by Allison Tyler offers a brisk array of relatively short, hot stories on that theme.  They are not so much about the lust for fire itself, as they are narratives about the heat lust creates.  That theme is frequently interposed with the temptations of sinful sex, which includes the perverse, the self-denigrating, the adulterous, and the masochistic.  As every good Christian knows, fire is a moral purgative, or so they believe.  It cleanses the soul while excoriating the body by punishing wayward flesh.

Ergo, we get this sort of statement fairly often from characters who wish to expunge one act of sensual misbehavior through another.  Here is an example from “Trial by Fire” by Bella Dean:

I wait for Sean to order me and I do what he asks.  His tongue is foreign. Broader than my husband’s.  Wet and sweet and forbidden.  I am entering the territory of whore, leaving saint behind.  I broaden my stance and let him suck my clit until I grab his shoulders to keep from falling.  I come in a rush of shame and redemption.

Her husband it seems, who is now looking on, is both elated and exhausted judging from his audible exhalations.  It is hot stuff to be sure, but what it really has to do with purgations, whores and saints is decidedly unclear.  As in many of these stories, the characters are really playing fire games with each other because it gets them off.  They like the illusion of punishment along with the bounce of coming extra hard.

These stories work that notion very well, and I can’t see anyone but an authentic sourpuss niggling over the moral dichotomy between what the characters are telling themselves and what they are actually doing.  It would be like telling a geek in a funny suit at a Trekkie convention that he is not really going to, “boldly go where no man has gone before.”  He knows that.  He is getting off on the hype.

Some of these stories artfully allow the characters themselves to become wisps of erotic fire as in “White Heat, White Light” by Shanna Germain.  Her character describes herself thus:

I travel with the speed of light on winged sandals until I am there. In from of him, fierce and free in my summer dress.  In the wind, my hair whips around my head.  It makes untamable snakes with pretty patterns.

She is an ephemeral thing of passion that will quickly disappear as the fire in her abates. 

In matters of style this book ranges from the lustful to the lurid.  I am at a loss to know how you can be “fierce” in your summer dress, but “fierce” is a word that seems to have been co-opted of late by PC cant.  Kristina Wright in “Where There’s Smoke,” on the other hand, makes wonderful ironic use of erotic confession, where the outcome is a tasty reversal of the tiresome reconciliation we had at first anticipated.  The give away is that this possessive but less than thrilling male comes home early from the golf course.  How can men pursue this dreary polyester amusement when this amazing female furnace of delights is spread wide for him at home on the Barcalounger?  Short forms are used well here, the best of which is “Texas Hot” by A.D.R. Forte whose hot and humid effort is really one paragraph.

The balance of the stories are clit-stroking, cum-choking, hot and smoking fucking with an inordinate amount of cock sucking. One does wonder with all the complaining one hears these days about the politics of sucking cock and particularly swallowing cum, that it is so prominent and detailed a feature of these stories.  Nonetheless, all that suction does make for lively reading even if the outcome is always the same. That’s all perfectly fine, making Playing with Fire both steamy and fiery, as promised.



Pleasure Bound: True Bondage StoriesPleasure Bound: True Bondage Stories
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443549
July 2009





Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

We're all guilty. All of us authors, I mean. We take a personal experience, an actual erotic encounter, and turn it into a story. We burnish it. We perfect it. Then we offer it to the world, usually pretending it is fiction when in fact it's the truth, retouched with fantasy.

Pleasure Bound purports to be a book of true confessions. I am not willing to go out on a limb and guess which stories are “real” and which are not. It's a continuum anyway. Every erotic story contains at least a germ of personal truth. Some of the stories feel more genuine than others, but that could reflect the author's craft as much as the reality of the experience.

So I'll treat all of the contributions in Ms. Tyler's volume as fiction and review them as such. As my husband often claims, “There's no such thing as reality.”  Especially when you are talking about erotica.

Possibly my favorite tale in the collection is Alison Tyler's own “Stickler for Details”. The author/narrator contacts a Dom for research purposes. He chides her for using capital “I” in her emails to refer to herself, and she's justifiably annoyed. When she finally meets him, however, his presence overwhelms her:

He was there, waiting, his silver hair brushed back from his forehead, his suit jacket open over a stark white shirt—no tie, no frills, crisp and smart as Courier font.  From his gaze, I realized that I no longer had to worry about my Is or my eyes, because the sense of submissiveness fell over me like a cloak.  I didn’t have to think about how to behave…I wanted to be his with a capital H… When I pulled up a chair at the table, when I said my greetings, when I brought out my notebook—every gesture about me whispered of my desires.  Every story I’d ever written had led me to this point.

Okay, I'll admit that I'm ready to believe this tale. It was too heartfelt not to be true.

Another standout is Teresa Noelle Robert's “Big Hands.”  It's one of the few stories in which the female is dominant—at least for a while. Jim is tall, dark, handsome and built so solidly that he was one loincloth and some archaic weaponry away from being a fantasy barbarian warrior, just the sort of guy to give a girl a spanking she'll never forget. But Jim has other ideas, and they turn out to be as arousing as the narrator's original notions.

Having maintained my own long distance BDSM relationship for more than two decades, I identified strongly with “The Visit” by A.D.R. Forte.

“How would you like to be fucked here?”

I was exhausted and filthy from traveling for more than a day. My back ached and my eyes hurt, and I hadn't eaten except for the lone hot dog in Chicago and countless bottles of caffeinated soda.

I looked at him and my breath caught in my throat.

“Yes,” I said.

“Yes what?” he asked as he came to stand before me, and I took a deep breath. It scared me that it came so easily, that we'd picked up our old ways so seamlessly.

“Yes, Sir.”  And I was trembling as I said it. “Please.”

The emotion is genuine. Never mind the facts.

Other standouts include Shanna Germain's “Deal”. Ms. Germain paints a gritty portrait of  a last semester in high school, two couples playing cards, the narrator fucked and near strangled by the other girl's boyfriend and loving it all. “Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones Will See You Now,” by Malcolm Harris, gives us a blow by blow (literally) account of a man's visit to a dominatrix--a visit funded by his wife. The story succeeds in convincing the reader that BDSM is the road to physical as well as mental health, at least for some of us. Annette Miller's “Do I Look Like I'm Joking” is a humorous and arousing tale of a husband pushing his wife's limits. “Bound to Act,” by Brooke Stern, incorporates more extreme submission and suggests that in order to be an effective actor, you literally need to let go.  Thomas Roche's “Ghosts of the Wildflower” is smart and sharp and slightly wistful in its portrayal of a compulsive liar who happens to adore bondage.

One of the things that I appreciate about Alison Tyler's anthologies is her willingness to explore the darker side of BDSM. Some stories in this volume—Sophie Valenti’s “On the Mend,” Tess Danesi's “Tears of All Kinds,” Stephen Elliott's “Once More Beneath the Exit Sign”—dwell more on the sadism component in the acronym. I don't necessarily prefer stories of really rough sex myself, but I know that they're part of the power spectrum and I applaud Ms. Tyler's discernment in including them in her books.

I am not talking about a lack of consent here. Mercy isn't in Marc's vocabulary—and for that I'm thankful begins Ms. Valenti's story. That sums it up. Some people crave a level of pain beyond what I'd seek. For some, real fear is truly arousing. Ms. Tyler recognizes this, unlike some editors who shy away from the darkness and treat BDSM as a kind of game. 

Pleasure Bound is another exceptional collection of BDSM fiction--or is it fact?—from a daring and sensitive editor who clearly understands her topic from personal experience.





Slave to Love: Erotic Stories of Bondage and DesireSlave to Love: Erotic Stories of Bondage and Desire
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573446505
April 2011





Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

Fans of BDSM know that Alison Tyler can deliver wonderful stories in an anthology, and Slave to Love is no exception. With stories featuring fem sub, male sub, gay, lesbian, and gender-bending lovers, there's a story in this book for everyone. I, as usual, have a few favorites, but you'll probably like other stories for other reasons. There's a lot to like here.

Nice and BDSM are words that most people wouldn't put together, but most fans of BDSM recognize that there's often underlying sweetness in many BDSM stories. There's nothing wrong with that. I (public confession!) like love, tenderness, and emotional connection. However, in the hands of a skilled writer, an edgy story is a welcome break from all the nice. Marilyn Jaye Lewis' “Daddy's Girl” was one of those stories that I felt a little guilty for enjoying so much while part of my brain was flashing "this is so disturbing" alarms. Michael Hemminson's “Betty's Bottom” wasn't quite as edgy, but it still had bite, and it wasn't at all "nice." Thanks to Alison for including these stories.

Fans of fem sub will find plenty to interest them from names they recognize, including Debra Hyde's “Ever on Edge” and Thomas Roche's “Under My Thumb.” I don't think I've seen Cate Robertson's work before, but after reading “Sonnet,” I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her stories in future anthologies. Fans of lesbian stories will enjoy Jean Roberta's literate “Down Below.” (I chose to put this with fem sub because the narrator is the sub, but there's a fem dom too, so fans of either scenario will be satisfied here.) “Everything That You Want” by C.D. Formetta, translated by Maxim Jakubowski, stuck a real chord for authenticity with me. I also enjoyed Mia Underwood's “The Real Prize.” Alison Tyler is a big name in erotica for good reason. She consistently delivers hot stories. Her contribution, “Well Trained,” is no exception.

Fans of male submission have several choices too. N.T. Morley's “Divorce Proceedings” is angsty but hot, while Xavier Acton's “Unlike the Others” captures the feeling of a crush very well. “Five Bucks a Swat” by Christopher Pierce features a gang spanking in a gay bar, for charity!  Props to Christopher for such cheeky fun. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

While you may be thinking that I must have already mentioned every story in this anthology, there's so much more by wonderful writers such as Saskia Walker, Shanna Germain, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Michelle Houston, R. Gay. Vanessa Evans. Julia Moore (there's a freaky little bit of naughty fun for you), Erica Dumas, Sophia Valenti, and Sommer Marsden. In sports, they'd call that a deep bench. In an anthology, I call it a "you can't miss" lineup of powerhouse talent.



Twisted: Bondage With An EdgeTwisted: Bondage With An Edge
Edited By: Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1627780084
February 2014





Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

Reviewed by Kathleen Bradean
Despite the visibility of BDSM in popular culture nowadays, it’s still not the norm for sexual experiences. Like a tuxedo or that pair of high heels, many aficionados may save it for special occasions. But in the universe where BDSM is the norm, one wonders what it takes to be considered Twisted. I was a little apprehensive. Then, as I ticked through the things that I’d expect to encounter in edgy BDSM--  blood play, pet play, cutting, scarring, CBT (especially with clips)—I realized that everyone has their own edge, and mine is far off on the horizon. To each their own, but I don’t think any reader will find something past their limits here.

Andrea Dale’s “Tie Me Up” surprised me because I expected it to go on from the first page. Then I realized it was perfect as it was. Short fiction is a real challenge to write. It left me wanting more.

“Love to Hate,” by Molly Moore, was a truthful look into how our minds work. You don’t have to be into BDSM to understand the dynamic of a couple like that. So even though it might seem oxymoronic, I’d classify this as sweet BDSM.

Kristina Lloyd’s “Dry Spell” is fanciful, hot, and delightful. I just loved this story. During an unusual weather pattern, a woman and her lover come to the conclusion that her orgasms make it rain. The problem is that they have orgasmic sex quite a bit, and the countryside is drowning. So he convinces her to give him control over her orgasms. The sun comes back out. How do you balance your need for release with the good of the nation? The line, “Lie back and think of England”—which is implied rather stated, something else I loved about this story—was never so aptly applied.

Many BDSM stories show how much of the desire for perfection comes from the submissive rather than the dom, but Joan Defers’ “Be There With Bells On” is the best portrayal I’ve seen in a long time. The challenge is to cross the room then retrieve something from the bathtub without making the bells attached to nipple clamps chime. The tension in the story mounts-- will she make it—with the arousal. I won’t give it away. Enjoy this fine example of suspense writing.

“Stag Beetle,” by Sacchi Green, is the most unusual story in this anthology. The one almost guaranteed to make people squirm. Would you let a big bug walk over you? How about if you were tied up? Think of those little insect feet on your bare skin. You know your safe word. Would you use it?

Maybe I’m jaded, but few of the stories here struck me as really twisted. However, as one would expect, Alison Tyler brings together a good assortment of BDSM tales. Maybe it’s better not to be too squicked by the stories. They’re supposed to turn you on, after all.