I'm like one of those professors in college you didn't want. When I review something, I generally try very hard to find something wrong with it so I feel justified not giving out an "A". (You, the one talking, see me after class.) A book really has to deserve it. On top of that, I read a lot of erotica. Mostly that's because when it comes to written work, I'm very particular in how it turns me on, and I weed through lots. All at the same time, it must be well crafted, it must be hot, and it must not piss me off.
So when I give this little volume five stars, take it from me, it's a fantastic, salacious, drool-worthy anthology!
Superbly edited, there must have been few to no errors, because that's usually the first thing I remember at the end of a book. Either that or each story was so well selected for its hotness that it dazzled me away from being a good copyeditor. Each page slid by so that I could focus on my internal temperature and how tightly to clench my thighs together. Many times I found myself stopping after a story to cool off.
Here are some of my favorites, which are numerous:
* "Lavender" by Cynthia Hamilton. Not usually one to enjoy stories in the second person, this one was well done and slowly wound me up for the next story...
* "Etiquette" by Sylvia Lowry. As someone who gets off on Emily Post, this was well-paced, hot and most of all, funny. And that lead right into...
* "Stacked" by Logan Zackary, a tale of two scholarly men in a library. Right?! From the setting alone, I nearly slid off my seat.
* "Getting Something Out of It" by Annabeth Long is sweet and reminds me of a time (I won't tell you how long ago) and the wonders of exploration, being accepted, and how hot that can be. I felt the same way about "Seriously" by Jeanette Grey.
* Let me stop here and talk a bit about the queer stories. An anthology like this is great to me when I have more interest in the straight stories than the queer ones. "Shuck It" by Dusty Horn, "Sucking Casey's Cock" by Shanna Germain, and "Blush" by Mary Borsellino didn't do anything for me. Perhaps I'm just too critical of queer erotica; I felt that they weren't as superbly written, nor as engaging, and they annoyed me (politically) a little. Not enough to skip them or to lower the rating, but I felt that they were speed bumps on the way through the stories. ("Close Your Eyes" by Viktoria Michaelis turned me on, though, and I've already raved about "Stacked", which are exceptions.)
* "Your Body is a Temple" by Neil Gavriel haunts me. I keep thinking about it and squirming. It's not what you expect, the characters are well developed in just 12 pages, and it's got power and sexiness. I think it's my second favorite story in the anthology!
* "Trimming" by Tenille Brown and "Snow Job" by A. M. Hartnett were similar, and I thought both of them to be hot fantasies. It will tickle that entire genre of handy-people coming over, helping around the house, then in the house. It's fun, well done, and bawdy. I especially love how "Trimming" ends, it made me laugh and really love Jefferson, wanting him to come over and...well, I don't have a lawn, so...
* Finally we reach Greydancer's "The Thousand and One Ways." Knowing Grey some, I found him to be a very engaging and funny man who doesn't scare me nearly as much as he probably should. After reading this, now I don't know if I want to see him again, because of how turned on this story made me! The spirit, the exploration, the pacing, the craft...I was quite impressed and slick throughout the entire story. I feel that, for me, an erotica story before this one hasn't captured the essence of a sexual initiation, a power dynamic, and the torrid as "The Thousand and One Ways" does. Being the last story, it definitely made me want more book when it was over.
That's over half the stories, and they're all great. Even the ones I didn't choose were well done, they just didn't turn me on. It makes me feel that everyone who loves oral -- and even some who are squicked by it, like Ricki in "Seriously" -- will find a large pot of stories here that will speak to them and their nether-regions. I highly recommend this book to all erotica lovers!
(PS. In the end, I also will give this book five stars simply because I was reading this in a coffee shop and was so enraptured and obviously turned on that it started a great conversation with someone from the next table. We're getting together to talk erotica next week. Thank you, Rachel Kramer Bussel, for editing yet another fabulous book of erotica.)