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 yearsâ€”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 youâ€™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 arenâ€™t hot as hell? But thereâ€™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 (â€œDo Tellâ€), characters over 50 (â€œPinkedâ€, â€œLove Remembersâ€), characters with chronic pain and disabilities (â€œPleasure With Her Pain,â€ â€œWhat I Wantâ€), and non-binary and GNC characters (â€œOf Sword and Sorcery,â€ â€œThe Butler, the Flapper, and the Stable Boyâ€).
Most of the stories are unique in setting and tone. Thereâ€™s the classic scenarios of role-playing (â€œThe Butler, the Flapper, and the Stable Boyâ€), gang-banging (â€œMy Sweet Femme Nightmareâ€), and older-character-teaching-younger (â€œModern Lovers (You Probably Havenâ€™t Heard of Them)â€), 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 â€œLeviathan,â€ the objectification in â€œAll Dolled Upâ€), but even in those stories, thereâ€™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. Itâ€™s so freeing to readâ€”nothing is off-limits, no matter what blog or websites tells you otherwise. But donâ€™t worry, this is all in good, safe funâ€”thereâ€™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