Cleis Press will always be a must-read publisher for me. Their anthologies never fail me, and they always strive for excellence at all cost. This is my first book in the lesbian erotica collection, and I am eager to see how it has evolved over the years—and how it continues to do so.
This is a diverse book, much more diverse and inclusive than it would have been 15 or 20 years ago. Check out any lesbian erotica collection from the early 2000s and you’ll find a lot of classic butches, blonde femmes, champagne kisses, and relatively tame scenes of oral sex and fingering. And who can say those aren’t hot as hell? But there’s so much more out there, and it is uncovered in every story here. To name just a few that may interest you, there are trans femme love interests (“Do Tell”), characters over 50 (“Pinked”, “Love Remembers”), characters with chronic pain and disabilities (“Pleasure With Her Pain,” “What I Want”), and non-binary and GNC characters (“Of Sword and Sorcery,” “The Butler, the Flapper, and the Stable Boy”).
Most of the stories are unique in setting and tone. There’s the classic scenarios of role-playing (“The Butler, the Flapper, and the Stable Boy”), gang-banging (“My Sweet Femme Nightmare”), and older-character-teaching-younger (“Modern Lovers (You Probably Haven’t Heard of Them)”), but each story has an element that makes it quintessentially lesbian. There are a few parts that veered closely to the male-gaze (the exhibitionism in “Leviathan,” the objectification in “All Dolled Up”), but even in those stories, there’s something about those porn-level acts that are so shockingly different when only women are participating. It feels more secret, even more taboo. Yes, we can like these things, even if the porn industry has twisted them into something they are not. It’s so freeing to read—nothing is off-limits, no matter what blog or websites tells you otherwise. But don’t worry, this is all in good, safe fun—there’s a ton of enthusiastic consent and communication, which we all know is necessary, but can also be unbearably sexy.
Review: Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 on Love Bytes: LGBTQ Book Reviews