In the excitement of the ebook revolution, lesbian erotic fiction seems a bit of the poor stepchild. True, Cleis Press publishes a couple of high profile lesbian collections each year, and Bold Strokes Books continues to offer F/F books to a mostly lesbian audience. Still, lesbian erotica is dwarfed by the enormous popularity of M/M and M/M/F erotica and erotic romance. I know from personal experience that it can be quite difficult to find a market for lesbian stories. And as a reader who enjoys quality F/F fiction, I've discovered my options are surprisingly limited.
Beth Wylde founded the Sapphic Planet authors community to provide support, advice and visibility for writers of lesbian fiction. The Sapphic Planet anthology is the first full length product of this community. The book offers nineteen stories in a range of styles and moods. Overall it admirably fulfills its goal as a showcase for the group's talented members. For someone like me, hungry for smart, sexy F/F stories, the book was a real treat.
The women in these tales cover the gamut of humanity – intellectuals, hairdressers, cops, beauty queens, femmes, butches and bois. Some stories focus on the erotic interactions of established couples, while others explore the intensity of chance encounters. Every story, though, features great sex: hot, wet, and explicit, with plenty of tongue and not a few toys as well. Though some stories are gentler than others, there's hardly a euphemism to be found lurking in this collection.
Possibly my favorite in the collection was Fiona Zedde's gorgeous “Love, Zora,” a sensual imagining of an affair between a young Haitian waitress and author/anthropologist Zora Neale Thurston during the 1920's Harlem Renaissance. The incandescent glory of first lust and the thrill of a power differential make this tale one of the most erotic things I've read in a while.
“Do you like me?” she asks, but does not wait for my answer. Her taste is sweet, like a mango in the heat of summer, her arms and throat brushed with the fine fur of peaches. She slides her hand under my skirt and lifts it, chuckles when she finds me wet and ready. Her fingers slide into me and I watch her greedily pushing under my skirt, looking for a place to call home in the wet folds of my quim. She doesn't mind that I don't move, that my eyes only flutter half closed as she pleasures me. My breasts feed her thirst, pebble and tremble beneath her tongue and teeth as they jut past the gaping blouse and jacket.
“You taste like caramel cream,” she murmurs into my skin. I forgive her the cliché as her mouth suckles and milks and I shudder quietly in passion. Her fingers plumb deep inside with a noise of decadence and of want spilling into the quiet space. My heart races. My neck bows. The air inside the car is hot. I come with the sound of a thousand sighs.
She's timed it perfectly. As the car slows down in the front of the building she pins up my hair, re-situates my hat. She is sliding her own gloves on when the driver opens the door. I know the smell of pussy floats out before us, announcing our pleasure like red banner in the chill night breeze.
Another outstanding story is Jodi Payne's “Licked.” Her heroine is a confident dyke on a business trip who's looking for a one night stand in the local lesbian bar.
I'm going home with someone tonight. Yes, I'm always this sure of myself. Tonight, I didn't even bother with a hotel room. I am seeing someone regularly at home, but like I said, home is a thousand miles away. As a wise man once sang, 'If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.’
Of course, anyone this arrogant is bound to get her comeuppance. The narrator finds herself intrigued, charmed and finally overwhelmed by a slight boi who's unexpectedly dominant. She doesn't regret it, even when she ends up being the one who's been taken, used, and dropped.
In Roxy Katt's irrepressibly kinky yarn “The Ungirdling,” a young office temp with a fetish for foundation garments seduces and subdues her matronly, girdle-wearing boss. The fact that this story is hilarious did not decrease its sexual charge, at least not for me.
Jean Roberta's insightful “Fame” turns on envy and hero-worship. The narrator thinks she's invisible to her famous-author neighbor, but she couldn't be more wrong.
Nan Andrews' story “Her Smile” is one of the longest tales in the book, recounting the gradual rapprochement of two very different women. Aside from its sympathetic heroines, I loved this story for its spot-on depiction of appearance-conscious Los Angeles:
The crowd at Jolene's was the hippest in town. All the right labels, all the right plastic surgery. It was surprising they ate or drank anything at all. No one here seemed larger than a size two. They sipped their neon-colored drinks, and I wondered why I'd come.
It wasn't for the food. Jolene's was known for having the most erratic menu in town. Raw food, foams, towering creations of air and straw; anything and everything as long as it was trendy. Some meals were truly inedible, but that wasn't why my agent wanted to meet here. It was to see and be seen.
“Brotherly Love,” by Beth Wylde, is a warm-hearted tale of a woman who thinks her sapphic tastes are a secret – until her brother-in-law sets her up with the girl of her dreams.
I was delighted to see a story from Tenille Brown, the first (for me at least) in quite a while. Her “Taming Tildy” features a woman's discovery of how she can make her spoiled brat lover behave.
Dylynn DeSaint's “Haircut” is a very naughty tale of a woman's after hours encounter with her hairdresser. I loved Ms. DeSaint's description of her heroine's sensations as she dons her harness, inserts her cock and steps out into the streets of New York.
Allison Wonderland's “Bathing Beauty” provides a playful, arousing snapshot of a committed couple, proving that there's nothing better than getting wet.
These are just some of the book's highlights. Practically every story was sexy enough to be worth reading. My primary complaint about Sapphic Planet is that the majority of tales in this collection are too short for my personal tastes. The book is 280 pages long, but in the format I received, each page held only a couple of paragraphs. I suspect that most of the stories fell into the 2000-3000 word range – enough time for an intense sexual encounter, but not much leeway for complexities or character development. I'm not faulting the craft in the most of these tales, but I found myself a bit frustrated when story after story ended – just as I thought things were getting interesting.
If you're looking for lots of lesbian sex, though, in all its moods – sweet, hot, rough, desperate, moody, guilty, mysterious, bittersweet – you can't go wrong with this collection. Hopefully there will be other, similarly entertaining volumes coming from Sapphic Planet.