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Best Women’s Erotica 2010 edited by Violet Blue


Most of these stories involve lust between bio-men and bio-women, but there is nothing bland, vanilla or “mainstream” about them. Most of them focus on a woman’s epiphany, her conscious awareness of something important in her life, which is brought about through physical pleasure so intense that it resembles pain, or vice versa.

In the local-color story, “Shoe Shine at Liverpool Street Station” by Scarlett French, a woman on her way to a meeting impulsively hires a male shoe shiner to lavish attention on her boots (and legs) in the London Tube. She is surprised by the sensuality of the experience, and further surprised by what she learns from it:

“I am not one for being teased; it just doesn’t work for me. Rather than becoming horny, I just get pissed off or bored. And this was a tease, whether it was intended to be or not. But as I felt the powering down of the brushing after his burst of effort, it occurred to me that in all this desperation I was missing out on the moment. I hadn’t expected to have an experience like this when I left the house this morning and maybe there was a lot more in store for today, if only I’d let it happen.”

The story, like the narrator’s experience, encourages the reader to enjoy the ride instead of impatiently anticipating a mind-blowing orgasm.

Amie M. Evans’ “Man About Town” includes several epiphanies about gender and sexual orientation. In a nightclub that hosts a series of “drag king” shows called “Man About Town,” a bio-man who lusts after a femme lesbian is so “queer” that he must literally keep his identity under wraps. Joe, the story’s unlikely hero, has always felt somewhat out of place in the cultural “mainstream,” although (as far as he knows), he has never been gay:

“At five six, Joe had always been short for a man. His petite bone structure, perfectly heart-shaped, full lips, and long curling eyelashes didn’t help enforce the masculine image he wished he had, but instead lent a feminine air to his features. This was something Joe had hated most of his life, until that first night he had wandered into Club Kit Kat by accident or, perhaps, providence.”

Joe’s dishonest relationship with a woman who thinks he is biologically female (and very “stone”) is complicated enough—but when his girlfriend gives him an ultimatum, Joe is set loose to discover aspects of himself that he never imagined before.

“Still Life” by Sommer Marsden (always a writer to watch) involves a woman’s epiphany about her troubled relationship with herself. The man in her life is willing to go far out of his way to give her what she claims to want—but that is not enough. The visual image of the female narrator, a model, posing motionless in a roomful of plastic mannequins where her man has brought the “real” girl he just picked up is one of the most memorable in this anthology. This story raises questions about the differences between reality and media-driven fantasy that will resonate with any woman who has ever felt pressured to look and behave in certain ways.

On that subject, “Fuck the Fantasy” by Loz McKeen actually works as a woman’s fantasy about getting revenge on a cocky male sparring-partner in a martial arts class, and the instructor who sees what she sees and seizes the chance to satisfy her and himself.

Dominant/submissive role-reversal is the most noticeable theme in this collection aside from sudden, profound revelations. In “Prime Suspect” by Louisa Harte, a new female officer in the police force has mixed feelings about a macho male colleague: she resents his attitude even though she can’t resist imagining him naked. A routine suspect-identification exercise gives her the chance to humiliate him while satisfying her curiosity. When he lets her know how easy it was for him to guess her identity, it is her turn to blush. By the end of the story, however, a certain balance of power is established.

“Equipment” by Kay Jaybee has a similarly light tone. Although the woman who plans to use her “equipment” to claim “the tight arse” of an “alpha male” ultimately loses the power struggle, she doesn’t mind. “Stable Manners” by Lily Harlem is another English BDSM story featuring the traditional trappings of horsemanship, and the domination of a woman who usually functions as a teacher.

“On My Knees in Barcelona” by Kristina Lloyd is a traveler’s-tale about an English-speaking woman alone in the Spanish city known for its liberal, cosmopolitan atmosphere. In the country that invented machismo, the narrator enters a bar in search of ice and encounters a man who knows what will really bring her relief from the heat.

When the narrator is cornered in the cellar of the bar, she is both alarmed and aroused:

“He placed his hands either side of my head, caging me loosely in his arms, his biceps forming swarthy little hillocks on the edges of my vision. A waft of sweat, earthy and masculine, surged into my senses and I wanted to bury my nose in his armpits and inhale him.”

Stories about women losing their inhibitions and responding to the allure of exotic foreign men are not new. But this story includes an unexpected twist.

“In a Handbasket” by Alison Tyler is about a friendship between a woman and a man who could hardly look more different, and their responses to the expectations of nosy passers-by. In this story, the lovers are the heroes, while the public at large is the bully that needs to be defeated. Can this relationship survive the addition of sex to the emotional intimacy that already exists? Read it and see.

Then there are the fetish stories, to use the term broadly. “Timbre” by Angela Caperton and “Amy” by Heidi Champa feature the erotic effects of recorded sound and recorded images; both stories are about the seduction of sensitive women by Dominant men who are not physically present. “Thin Walls” by Aimee Herman is another story about the power of fantasy. “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” by Aimee Pearl is about the power of sex fantasies that are acted out in a series of mini-scenes in San Francisco, the city that has been a magnet for so many seekers. “Straight Laced” is about a lingerie saleswoman who meets a male customer who likes what she likes. “Secret Service” by Rachel Kramer Bussel is all about the pleasure of taste and the pleasure of being served.

Group sex is a theme or motif in this collection which overlaps with male Dominance, fetish sexuality and the power of the epiphany. “Stripped” by Anastasia Mavromatis (editor of Lucrezia Magazine in Australia) is an intense tale of a woman’s rejection of the sexual morality of her traditional Greek family when she moves in with three male friends. “Shift Change” by Emerald is a lighter story about a woman’s decision to take on three male computer geeks, one at a time: one man for each of her orifices.

To sum up, this volume of the annual Best Women’s Erotica series is a smorgasbord of surprises and revelations, lightness and depth. It’s inspiring.

Best Women’s Erotica 2010
(Cleis Press, November 2009; ISBN 1573443735)
Available at: Amazon | Amazon UK

© 2010 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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