Cleis Press, October 2010; ISBN-10: 1573444081
“These are not stories about body image or learning to love your curves,” says editor Rachel Kramer Bussel in describing her new erotica collection Smooth: Erotic Stories for Women. “These are sensual tales in which women and men celebrate the joy of being carnal, lusty, hungry and animalistic; stories in which the urge to get naked, in the literal and figurative senses, drives women to boldly go where they haven’t before.”
Thus we have the premise for a collection of luscious erotic tales focusing on naked vulnerability of the body and mind. Body image does come into play in several of the stories, but in unique ways that create conflict and resolution for the characters. The stories in Smooth are a pleasurable blend of thought provoking erotica and sensual escapism, with several standouts among the collection.
In the opening story, “Löyly” Angela Caperton creates an intimate setting in a sauna where heat and steam provide the catalyst for an erotically charged interlude between strangers. The connection between Andie and the visiting professor from Finland is a sensual feast.
Elizabeth Coldwell tackles the subject of a woman who has had a series of skin grafts following a horrible accident in “Her Brand-New Skin.” This is an exceptionally well-written piece as it not only combines the emotional and physical scars of healing, it handles body image within the context of a group sex encounter that is loving and empowering.
Empowerment is also the name of the game in “Adornment is Power” by Teresa Noelle Roberts. In this sweet and kinky reunion story, Roberts demonstrates there are different ways to be comfortable in your own skin. For Mara, tattoos and piercings give her confidence and power, enough to seduce and dominate the ex she never forgot.
Bussel’s own offering for the collection is the shiveringly erotic “Chilly Girl.” In an attempt to please her lover’s unusual kink, the protagonist finds herself naked in a bathtub of ice cubes. Erotic heat in the midst of so much cold makes for an interesting and unusual contrast.
The stories in Smooth are loosely connected by theme of physical and emotional exposure and the end result is a lovely erotic feast of flesh and fantasy. —Review by Kristina Wright