“Cleis Press’ Best Lesbian Erotica series is over two decades old now, and yet every new release finds another way to innovate the lesbian erotica genre. The latest iteration, Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 4, is edited by erotica titan Sinclair Sexsmith, and its quality shows. This collection features everything from kinky leather play to femme group sex to gorgeous, affirming trans lesbian desire. It’s as hot as it is diverse, and readers can pick up the series in eBook form or print for just $16.95.”
Published annually, the title of these anthologies sums it up. Holding nothing back, each year Sinclair Sexsmith curates the finest lesbian erotica of the year and compiles them together for every perv in the land to enjoy.
If you love to love women who love women, you won’t be disappointed. Their most recent publication came out in December 2019 and features storylines that already have my pulse racing, like the one about “a mysterious warrior at the Renaissance Faire.” Not interested? How about “an elder reunited with a lost love or a bottom with chronic pain” (sign me up)? If that’s not for you, then you’re going to have to losen your collar once you read their stories about “a new play party for a long-term couple, a fantasy speed-dating night, a dress-up doll,” and “a femme gangbang.”
If you’re not satisfied by their annual anthology alone, the editors sometimes compile the best stories for certain fantasies, 2010 classic Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica. Curious? Browse around Sinclair Sexsmith’s website to see what else they’ve whipped up that has your queer-ass name written all over it. You know you want to.
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.
“Sexsmith (editor of the Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica anthology) brings together 20 new and familiar voices in a wide-ranging celebration of Sapphic love and sexuality. Some of these tales are delightfully playful and rooted in reality, as with Avery Cassell’s “Pinked,” which features an elderly lesbian couple, one of whom finds a way to tease and torment her partner via her latest sewing project, and “Good Girls Do” by Marie Carlson, set in the tack room of a stable but featuring a different kind of riding. Others explore racier sexual fantasies, as with the anonymous encounter of “Gina, Across the Tracks” by Fallen Matthews and the steamy vacation sex of “Adventure in Palm Springs” by Dorothy Freed. Sweetly vanilla stories alternate with tales of couples delving into kink, from the relatively mild dom/sub dynamic of Olivia Dromen’s “All Dolled Up” to Xan West’s depictions of more intense sadism and masochism, including knife play and punching, in “Crave.” Though not every tale is as polished as one might expect from previous volumes, there is enough variety and spiciness to please most readers. (Dec.)”
I got an ARC of this book.
This is an amazing anthology.
Remember how just a few days ago, I said I would lose my mind if dental dams were used. This book CAME SO CLOSE. Dental dams were mentioned, but they were not used. I had so much hope. So it was one small detail away from perfection.
Seriously. It was that good. The stories met all of my criteria for good erotica. They were full of consent, full of safety (except for the dental dam issue), and there were scenes that emphasized how bodies work. One of my favorite scenes featured an older woman who used lube for any form of penetration, since her body just didn’t get wet like it used to. YES. This detail was just perfection. I loved that an older woman was the star of an erotic story and that her body was treated with respect and it normalized the idea that bodies change as people age.
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.