Award winning editor Sinclair Sexsmith has put together a collection of stories from a refreshingly diverse group of individuals of various genders and identities in the fourth volume of Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year. These multi-talented authors showcase a variety of diverse stories that include anything from a mysterious warrior at a Renaissance Faire to a fantasy speed dating night. While each story is tremendously different each of them showcases what it feels like to fully step into one’s own power and feel deeply in your own body.
In opening this new addition to the Cleis Anthology series, Sexsmith discusses how writing erotica can be used as a way of creating your own identity. While you may not know it you have probably in some way written some form of erotica, whether it was in a slightly racy text to a partner or even just in writing down what you’ve experienced or even hope to experience. While society primarily shares heterosexual ideas of sexuality this series brings forward queer identities and romance, which allows people to see themselves in new ways. The first story, “Do Tell,” involves the element of speed dating, but with a twist. Instead of just talking about yourself pairings are based on Tempters and Temptees. The Tempters much paint a word picture of what they would do with the Temptee. They must make it through different rounds, this story ends with two of the women from this pansexual speed dating event experiencing the described first date involving chocolate covered strawberries and a night of wild pleasure. The story is well written and showcases different identities and preferences, which is a great way to start off the book.
“Of Sword and Sorcery,” the other story I mentioned in my intro, includes a character who uses gender neutral pronouns. The two primary characters of the story are incredibly attracted to each other and are able to indulge their desires in the woods near the faire they are attending. They though do not leave each other after this one rendezvous and instead want to spend more time with each other, the end notes that this may just be the beginning. In “Pleasure with her Pain” Kate enjoys session with Nina where she is submissive, but Nina begins to pick up that something might be wrong. While Kate wants to be with her and have these experiences she is bruising more easily and Nina is picking up on issues in the room. There is a love there that surpasses what the two women are doing and while Kate struggles with steady relationships, Nina is there for her and is always looking out for her. While yes, there is sex in this story, the intimacy between the two women is what really speaks through. Nina is there for Kate no matter what and is ultimately always looking out for her safety and well being. Each of the stories in this book showcase different elements of eroticism and while some are focused on sex, many examine societal and personal issues connected to the characters as well. This isn’t just a book of steamy stories, but rather an experience for all those who chose to read it.