Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: Baby Love by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Disclaimer: I tend to love everything Emmanuelle de Maupassant writes, so, at this point, I basically expect to love everything she writes. That said, after decades of selling, pimping and reviewing books, I’m basically incapable of saying I like something when I don’t, so, no matter how much I love someone’s work, I won’t claim to like something just because it was written by one of my go-to authors. My thoughts and enthusiasm are completely genuine, even if not totally surprising.

And now, my review of Baby Love by Emmanuelle de Maupassant….

Review:

March was a busy, hectic month full of deadlines and lots of reading for work, so when I finally got to sit down with Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s new novelette, Baby Love, I was really ready for something that would help me relax and feel good. Happily, I had a feeling Baby Love was going to be it, and I was right.

Baby Love is basically what would happen if Bridget Jones were a person I actually liked. While I’ve always been able to see the appeal of Helen Fielding’s adorably hapless Bridget, there was something in those books that felt a bit too precious to be believed. I always wanted to get on board, but I and just couldn’t seem to. Unlike Bridget though, I was more than on board for Delphine, Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s charming, very charming, and very pregnant heroine.

Here’s a quick synopsis:

When her husband leaves her when she’s eight months pregnant, Delphine, quite understandably, has a meltdown – a good, proper, cathartic meltdown like anyone would have under those circumstances. But her meltdown, while being genuinely funny, is also genuinely relatable. de Maupassant gives the reader the feeling that you are sharing Delphine’s experience, rather than having an experience performed for your entertainment. It’s that genuine quality that pulled me on board from the first page, and held on to be through the last.

The thing that made the difference for me is that Delphine’s story felt real and lovely and sweet, rather than arch or performed. There is so much warmth and humor in this short little gem, but it’s touching and a little raunchy in the way real life is. It’s a romantic story, for sure, but it’s also full of hormones and longing and bodies behaving in ways you don’t expect. It’s the whole package of an experience – sexy, sad, funny, lovely, adorable, hopeful. In short, it’s exactly what I needed when I needed a lovely, beautifully written, thoroughly enjoyable break.

Baby Love is a quick read – I powered through it in under an hour and felt like I’d been to the spa myself by the end. I can’t recommend it enough. It was the perfect springtime treat from an author that can, as far as I can see, write in any style she likes with a facility that’s hard to beat.

Get the book!

Baby Love is available on Kindle for 99c/99p through mid-May. Or, if you like the feel of a book in your hands, you can get it in paperback too. Just head over to:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Review: Highland Pursuits…the Novel

REVIEW:

Late last year, I reviewed Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s short story, “Highland Pursuits”, which appeared in Because Beards, an anthology that benefited the Movember Foundation for men’s health. You can read my (super gushy) review here but, suffice to say, I loved the stockings off that story – so much so that I privately wished Emmanuelle de Maupassant would turn it into a novel. Happily, she did just that.

Highland Pursuits the novel is a wry, clever, incredibly sexy romp that reads as if it were written by Julian Fellowes’s tongue-in-cheek, worldly-wise sister. Emmanuelle de Maupassant makes the most of the fabulous possibilities that might arise for a modern young woman, banished to a remote manor house in the 1920’s. As one might imagine, hijinks ensue and they are everything one could hope for.

The thing that I especially loved about the novelization of this story is that Ms. de Maupassant did more than just expand on everything that worked so beautifully in the short story. She developed aspects of it that I couldn’t have anticipated but which led to a deeply convincing tapestry of period fiction. We get a sense of the house’s eccentric, wealthy denizens from below-stairs now, as well as a greater sense of Ophelia’s singularity as a young woman exploring her sexuality in the 1920’s.

The romance between the protagonists unfolds in a way that is both convincing and adorably star-crossed, while the rest of the cast colors the book with so much personality that the book pops with fizz and life. It’s a completely engrossing, utterly enjoyable read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you always wished that PG Wodehouse and Stella Gibbons had written the naughty bits. It’s fabulously fun, and yet one more example of Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s talents – not only as a writer, but as a literary chameleon.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Emmanuelle de Maupassant is thrilled to announce the launch of her saucy 1920s romance romp: ‘Highland Pursuits’.

In celebration, Emmanuelle is not only offering three signed paperback copies, via Goodreads here, but has her entire catalogue on sale for 99c/99p from March 1st-8th: Baby Love, Scarlet, Cautionary Tales and Gentlemen’s Club (as recommended by Stylist Magazine)

1920s debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield is banished to wildest Scotland to come to her senses, having refused a proposal from the Earl of Woldershire. In the care of her eccentric grandmother, Ophelia is soon caught between rugged widower Hamish and the villainous Comte de Montefiore.

She’s ready to play with fire, but will she burn more than her fingers?

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:

 I can’t tell you how much I love this book. It was a true delight to read. The author has captured 1920s Britain wonderfully, and her detail is exquisite. – Rachel De Vine

 As a comedy of manners, this is exceptionally well done. – Fionna Guillaume 

 Highland Pursuits is a wry, clever, incredibly sexy romp… a completely engrossing, utterly enjoyable read. I can’t recommend it highly enough…fabulously fun – Malin James –> (It’s true – I can totally vouch for myself on that). 

The scene was set beautifully… I felt like I went back in time to high society Scotland – Christine of Sweet and Spicy Reads

 

 

 

 

 

Find ‘Highland Pursuits’ on Goodreads  and for sale on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

‘Highland Pursuits’ draws inspiration from a short story of the same title Emmanuelle wrote originally for the charity fundraising anthology Because Beards: all proceeds have been given to the Movember Foundation.

This longer, novella, length offers more scope to explore the wonderful characters’ eye-popping shenanigans. Hamish and Ophelia were in Emmanuelle’s dreams for many weeks, as she wrote this story. 

 

 

Pssst…  if you enjoy Highland Pursuits, don’t forget to leave a review. Reviews make books more visible online, bringing new eyes. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, tag Emmanuelle in your review post and she’ll say hello.

Explore Emmanuelle’s website here

Find her on Twitter here

and on Facebook here

sign up for Emmanuelle’s newsletter here

 

Review: For the Men & The Women Who Love Them

I’ve been looking forward to reading For the Men and the Women Who Love Them, Rose Caraway’s newest anthology, for months. Now that things on are slowing down as Christmas approaches, I’ve had a few evenings free to read for fun, which is great because it’s the perfect time of year for fun (in both written and unwritten forms), even better when the fun makes a sneaky, subversive point.

The thing I love about Rose Caraways’s anthologies is that they combine balls to the wall, sexy fun with a real social consciousness. The Sexy Librarian believes in sex positivity for all – cis, queer, male, female, trans, old, young, feminists, humanists, conservatives, liberals, proud sluts, monogamous lovers…in other words, pretty much everyone. As a result, she brings a remarkable amount of empathy and positivity to the anthologies she narrates and edits.

For the Men is classic Rose Caraway in that way. I don’t usually say this about erotica anthologies, but seriously, read the introduction. It’s an empowering essay in support of a guy’s right to enjoy erotica just as much as women do – an idea that should be a no brainer, but  is still met with a surprising amount of stigma. Rose Caraway’s passion for inclusive sexuality shines out hard in that introduction, and it sets the perfect tone for the rest of the anthology.

It’s tough to pick a favorite in For the Men, especially when a huge chunk of my favorite authors are in the list of contributors. The Table of Contents literally reads like an all-star list of kick-ass veterans and shiny up-and-comers. Allan Dusk’s freaky, funky, genre-bending fuck fest is like nothing I’ve ever read, which means it’s vintage Allan Dusk. If you’ve never read him before, A. you should and B. “Wayward Drift” is a pretty great place to start.

“73A”, and adorable repair man fantasy by Jade A. Waters has been a favorite of mine since she let me read the first draft (not sure if I should even be admitting to that, but she’s my best friend so whatever. I’d love it even if she weren’t). Same with Tamsin Flowers’s “Rope Burn”. God, that woman knows her stuff. The fact that she can write about sexy barrel racers in a way that makes this city girl sit up is a testament to her talent.

Adrea Core’s gorgeously lush “Dance For Me” brings cage dancing and submission to a completely feline and intuitive conclusion, while Charlie Powell’s “Winning Big” is a sexy, empathetic and deeply touching portrait of the ex that complicates your present as much as your past. I’m not quite sure how to begin describing how much I enjoyed Rachel de Vine’s “The Hitchhiker” but what I can say is that I would love to see more of Hermes and Miss Jezebel in the future. And then there’s “Labyrinth” by Emmanuelle de Maupassant. Oh, this story…monsters, mazes…it’s a lovely, masterful, deeply erotic nod to Greek mythology, and I loved it.

There are so many beauties in here – while the stories I mentioned above are the one’s I especially loved, every single contributor brought it, and the result is an anthology that anyone could love. It’s a truly inclusive collection, one that I could see men enjoying on their own or with their partners. It’s a hell of an achievement and no surprise that Rose Caraway pulled it off and then some.

For the Men and the Women Who Love Them is available in print and ebook from Amazon and Amazon UK, and in audio (narrated by Rose Caraway) at Audible.com.

Review: Cautionary Tales

Cautionary Tales: Voices from the EdgesCautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a massive fan of fairy tales and folklore, I knew I was going to enjoy Cautionary Tales. Emmanuelle de Maupassant has a talent for replicating the style and voice of traditional fables while applying them to stories that are entirely new. The thing that I loved most about this collection was that, while all of the stories are original to the author, they carried the familiar weight of existing traditions. These are not the Disney-fied narratives of the early 20th century. de Maupassant’s tales draw from Eastern European legends while her voice and narrative style evoke everything that is dark and wonderful about the original Grimms’. As a result, I kept getting the uncanny feeling that I should know the stories in the collection, even though they twisted and bit and surprised me again and again.

All of the stories are excellent, but one stood out among all the rest for me – Against Faithlessness. de Maupassant strikes the pitch perfect balance between rapacious sexuality and moral justice by using one to feed the other. It’s a fantastically imagined story, one that draws from the dark, nasty traditions of justice, edification, and simmering sexuality common to folkloric traditions. I also appreciated that, in addition to the tales themselves, de Maupassant provides additional materials such as a glossary and a beautifully informative introduction. While the collection can certainly be enjoyed without delving into them, these extras provide a wonderful context for the curious reader.

As with her novella, The Gentleman’s Club, Emmanuelle de Maupassant has done something unique with Cautionary Tales. She’s taken a literary tradition and transcribed it for the sexual landscape of the present day. No one does this as well as she does, and I look forward to reading much more of her work.

Buy Cautionary Tales

Review: Show Yourself To Me by Xan West

Cover for Show Yourself to MeThere are authors I read because I want to escape, and there are those I read because I want to do the opposite. Xan West is one of the latter. I’ve admired West’s work since I read their story in one of the first erotic anthologies I was ever published in. When I had the good fortune to meet West at a reading for that book’s release, I was not only charmed, but deeply impressed. Xan West is one of the most aware human beings I’ve ever met, and that awareness runs through every line they write.

Reading Show Yourself to Me, Xan West’s new collection for Go Deeper Press, was the sort of experience I’ve come to expect from reading their work – deeply affecting and, in many ways, transcendent. The characters that populate these stories are so unflinchingly realized that they are, at times, painful in their humanity. And therein lies the beauty of this collection – it is a raw, glorious slice of what it is to be human. You don’t have to be kinky, queer, trans, dominant, submissive or sexually fluid in any way to relate to these characters or the situations they navigate. You simply have to be a person open to feeling.

There are a lot of ways one could read this collection. It covers multiple issues with a political awareness, hierarchical sensitivity and sexual fluidity that is, quite frankly, stunning. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could write essays on these stories, but, for the purposes of this review, I’m going to narrow my focus and talk about one of the things I loved best about this collection – West’s portrayal of D/s dynamics. In fact, I’ve never seen such a beautiful array of strong bottoms and vulnerable tops in one book before.

Whether it’s the dominant narrator reminiscing about his first experiences as a bottom in “Missing Daddy”, the top switching for a special and very trusted dom in “My Will”, a top recovering from a terrible break-up in “First Time Since” or the dominant narrator’s complicated relationship with his own nature in “My Precious Whore”, West gives us people, not labels. As a dominant woman attracted to strength in submissives, I saw myself in more than a few of these stories, and was relieved to read the longing, vulnerability and ethical struggle that often goes unacknowledged in popular portrayals of tops. But then, I would be an idiot to expect anything less from Xan West.

I’m the first to admit that I’m attracted to emotional catharsis and difficult works, and I would be lying if I said that this is the sort of collection you fly through and put down unchanged. For all the intense vulnerability and humanity in these pages, these stories  are raw, filthy, violent and fucking sexy. It is, quite literally, the whole package as far as the human experience goes.

If you are interested in deeply considered, politically aware erotica that is as edgy as it gets, I can’t recommend Show Yourself to Me enough. And I would likewise recommend looking Xan West up at their site, Kink Praxis, especially if this collection leaves you hungry for more information. There are few kink practicers as ethically committed as West. Combine that with their ability to write surgically perfect prose while slicing into the emotional guts of a piece and you couldn’t ask for someone more qualified to write sex, power and the human experience.

Book Description:

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.

Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.

Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.

Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.

This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

Xan West’s Official Site

Stops on the Tour:
October 1: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/
October 2: Book Birthday! Go Deeper Press http://godeeperpress.com/
October 3: Heather Elizabeth https://kinkopedia.wordpress.com/
October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith http://www.sugarbutch.net/
October 5: Hermia Swann http://www.cuntext.com/
October 6: Dilo Keith https://dilokeith.wordpress.com/ and Cecilia Tan http://blog.ceciliatan.com/
October 7: Kinky Brits http://thekinkybrits.com/
October 8: Stella Harris http://stellaharris.net/
October 9: F. Leonora Solomon https://fdotleonora.wordpress.com/
October 10: Tasha Harrison http://tashalharrison.com/
October 11: Benji Bright http://www.theeroticledger.com/
October 12: Tamsin Flowers http://tamsinflowers.com/ and Karida http://submissionandthecity.com/
October 13: Cassandra Perry http://cassandrajperry.com/
October 14: Peep Scoop http://www.peepscoop.com/ and Radical Access Mapping Project https://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/
October 15: Sugar Cunt http://www.sugarcuntwrites.com/
October 16: Emily Byrne http://writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com/
October 17: Oleander Plume http://poisonpendirtymind.com/
October 18: K. A. Smith https://authorka.wordpress.com/
October 19: Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
October 20: Butchtastic Kyle http://www.butchtastic.net/
October 21: Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
October 22: Syrens https://syrens.wordpress.com/
October 23: Anna Sky http://www.iamannasky.com/
October 24: Jade A. Waters http://jadeawaters.com/
October 25: Kal Cobalt http://kal-cobalt.squarespace.com/
October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon http://www.rebekahweatherspoon.com/
October 27: Malin James http://malinjames.com/
October 28: BD Swain http://www.bdswain.com/ and Jillian Boyd http://jillianboydauthor.wordpress.com/
October 29: Kaleigh Trace http://thefuckingfacts.com/
October 30: Kiki DeLovely https://kikidelovely.wordpress.com/
October 31: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/ and Annabeth Leong http://annabetherotica.com/

Buy the Book:

For ebook or print copies at Go Deeper Press:

For ebook on Amazon

You can also find Show Yourself to Me at Barnes & Noble

Go Deeper Double Review: Cream and Fast Girls

I wanted to do this post as a double review because Lana Fox‘s erotic novel, Cream, and J.T. Louder‘s new collection, Fast Girls with Short Shorts Always Score, are about as different as erotica can get, but they’re both incredibly good. I’m a comparatist, so reviewing them side by side seemed natural. Together, Cream and Fast Girls show how much room there is in the genre for high quality work. Separately, they show off the breadth of style and content coming out of Go Deeper Press, one of the most exciting publishers in the genre.

CreamLet me start with Cream since I read it first. This is a full length erotic romance by a writer who not only knows the conventions of the genre, but interprets them in a way that makes them feel fresh.

Cream is about jazz singer, Caroline Spence, who has a passion for music, submission and double cream (god, how can you not…). The book opens with an interview – her life is at a crossroads and she’s answered an ad to become a dominant’s voluntary slave. But she’s no ingenue – she knows exactly what she wants – and she gets it in Marcus, a man with control and kink to spare. But then she meets Kyle and things get complicated, but not in any way that you might predict.

What makes Cream so compulsively readable is that Caroline is such a very well-rounded, autonomous, interesting person. Her sexuality is anything but cookie-cutter and the way she expresses it is really personal and compelling. While the plot brings you along so smoothly that you stay up til midnight promising yourself “just one more page”, Caroline handles herself with full sexual ownership – even if she’s unsure of something, she seems grounded in herself. It’s wonderful, especially because so many erotic romances follow a young woman’s initiation into kink at the hands of an experienced (and often 2-dimentional) man. Throw in a love triangle and she could easily have become a dolly the two alphas fight over, but Caroline is not a dolly and she’s anything but predictable.

The nuance and care Ms. Fox took with her elevates Cream to a whole other level. What kept me engaged deep into the night (beyond the fact that it’s a really sexy read) is that I wanted to know what Caroline would do, and I finished the book about as satisfied as a reader can get.

GDP019-FastGirls300And now, for something completely different, the incomparable J.T. Louder’s new short story collection, Fast Girls in Short Shorts Always Score.

I’m going to tell you right up front that this collection is so hot and so joyfully pornographic that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Whereas Cream is all smooth subtleties and emotional heat, Fast Girls is like the best kind of 80’s porn – these stories don’t care how they get you there, but they’re gonna strip you down and make you do things like you’re a plumber on PayPerView. I can’t tell you which story is my favorite because I kind of loved them all, from “The French Pass” in which a typical sports reporter watches the Frenchest of hot French soccer players get fucked by her androgynous supermodel girlfriend (how can you not love that?) to “How Hungary Got to the World Cup”, which chronicles the methods “Coach Viv”, a Swedish porn star famous for her portrayal of a footballer, uses to get her team to kick ass with panache.

The thing that makes these stories work is that Louder gives them all a tongue-in-cheek joie-de-vivre that totally sucks you in. I don’t care why the Canadian team’s soccer shorts are five sizes too small – I care that the star player is sucking her goalie’s cock in the middle of a locker room orgy. These stories are fun and it’s the fun that turned me on – that and the fact that Louder slips trans characters and sexual fluidity in like it’s the most natural thing in the world. The stories aren’t self-conscious. Nothing is a big deal. It’s all good. Everyone‘s having fun, which means the reader does too.

Only Go Deeper would come out with two titles that are as sexually, tonally and stylistically as diverse as Cream and Fast Girls while maintaining such a high editorial standard. Lana Fox and J.T. Louder are at the top of the game for a reason, and while one of these titles might appeal to you more than the other, I can honestly and enthusiastically recommend both.

Want to buy either or both? You can find them at Amazon – just click on the covers to be taken directly to their respective pages. And if you’d like to see the rest of what Go Deeper Press has to offer, check them out here. You’ll be glad you did.

Review: Tie Me Up

TieMeUpCover

Tie Me Up: A Binding Collection of Erotic Tales, edited by F. Leonora Solomon. Riverdale Avenue Books. (April 2015)

I’ve been looking forward to writing this review for awhile. Tie Me Up is the sort of anthology I especially enjoy – disparate stories from all sorts of authors, both new and experienced, linked by a common theme. In this case, the theme is bondage, which on the surface might seem like fairly well traveled territory, but the sheer variety in this anthology proves that there are about a million different ways for someone to get tied up.

As with all anthologies, I loved some stories more than others, but this isn’t a reflection of quality so much as it is of personal taste. Every story in here is good and shown to its best advantage, a testament to F. Leonora Solomon’s skills as an editor. I also appreciated the variety in style and pairings from raucous m/m’s and intense f/f’s to haunting group scenarios and anything-but-traditional m/f’s. There are stories in here with a comic twist and stories that will pull you right to the edge of your seat, but regardless of style and tone, all of them are sexy as hell, so much so that I’d be willing to bet money that at least one story (and probably more than one) will punch your buttons hard.

So, which stories did I love? Like the anthology itself, it’s a pretty varied assortment. “Pierced” by Annabeth Leong was a standout both for the subtlety in the dynamic between the two female lovers, as well as for the way Leong incorporated piercings into rope play. Annabeth Leong balances kinky perfection with emotional accessibility, making you identify with her characters even if what you’re reading isn’t your kink, and that’s massively arousing in a whole different way.

“Femme Soumise” by VC surprised me in the most wonderful way. It’s all about the unfolding of a new D/s relationship between a Domme and a lovely, very long haired submissive. The lack of stereotyping with both characters kept the story fresh and sexy, while the bondage played out with a playful kind of inevitability that made me smile a wicked, wicked smile.

Which brings me to “For Her Own Good” by Salome Wilde. For the sake of full disclosure I have to say that Salome Wilde is one of those writers I automatically jump to when I find out she’s in an anthology. I love her writing for many reasons, one of the largest being that her voice is so fluid and convincing that she can write about anything and make it hot. (Seriously. She even made Godzilla hot). “For Her Own Good” is set in a harem and features the sort of group play that could have fallen flat in the hands of a less skillful writer, but under Ms. Wilde’s command, the material jumps to crazy perfect life. I loved this story so much that all I’ve got is *gush*.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from a historical harem is Cheryl Kaye’s absolutely lovely, contemporary tale, “Birthday Knots.” Ms. Kaye is newer on the erotica-writing scene, but “Birthday Knots” reads like it was written by a seasoned pro, proof that she is a writer to watch out for. I don’t want to spoil too much because a large part of what caught me up was watching this particular situation play out, but I will say this – it’s one of the sweetest, hottest, most I-wish-I-had-been-there threesomes I’ve read in a long time.

Finally, there’s “By a Thread” by the incredibly talented Jane Gilbert. Ms. Gilbert, like Salome Wilde, is a writer whose work I am almost guaranteed to love. She brings detail and tone to the next level, from her tremendously effective use of the 2nd person POV, (the “oh pet” in the opening paragraphs killed me) to the light handed way she uses small, telling details to increase the tension in a scene. And I do mean “scene”. Ms. Gilbert writes D/s with a facility few writers have, and her instinctual understanding of both halves is on full display in this story when she alternates POV between the submissive and the Dom. The effect is incredibly sexy – the reader is immersed in the experience like a very well hidden voyeur.

I could go on and on, but these are the five stories that stood out for me in a collection full of excellent work. If bondage is your thing and you’d like to discover new writers while enjoying the work of established favorites, I can’t see how you would be able to resist Tie Me Up.

Review: Darker Edge of Desire

Darker-Edge-of-Desire-final-cover

Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romanceedited by Mitzi Szereto. Tempted Romance. (February 2014).

There are collections that you read anytime, and those you save for when you’re in a certain mood. They aren’t for everyday, but when you’re ready for them, they’re perfect. It’s sort of like the difference between drinking a glass of wine while you cook dinner and drinking a Kir Royale while you order your steak.

Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance, Mitzi Szereto’s newest anthology for Cleis Press’s Tempted Romance imprint, is one of those collections that fits into the latter category. It’s all black velvet, moonlight and Kir Royale. Now, I’m going to be honest – this collection is not going to appeal to everyone, nor, as I’ve already implied, is it going to fit every mood. That said, if you have a fondness for Poe, gothic mansions, murderous husbands and lovely women committed to insane asylums of questionable repute, this will very likely suit you.

The anthology as a whole works because Ms. Szereto knows the subgenre very well, and her familiarity with gothic literature is evident in her choices. While all of the stories are reasonably good to excellent, the ones that truly stood out for me are those that nod directly at the gothic literature of the 19th century – “The Wicked Wife” by T.C. Mill, Adrien Ludens’s “Reynold’s Tale”, “Moonfall” by Rose de Fer and “Lightening in a Bottle” by Kim Knox.

These modern decedents of Poe, Bluebeard and Walpole made me smile as much as they turned me on. Let me clarify – they made me smile the smile of a lit. geek who majored in the Victorian novel. Intellectually, I enjoyed their cleverness as much as I emotionally and sexually enjoyed the hotness of the scenarios. Other standouts where “Blood Soup” by Benji Bright and “Devoured by Envy” by Jo Wu, based purely on the strength of the writing and the way the stories pulled me in. I’d have loved there to be more of both.

On the whole, I enjoyed the collection a great deal, but with that I have to acknowledge the fact that I have the occasional taste for the baroque, dark and gothic. If what I’ve described intrigues, then I would say that Darker Edge of Desire will be your cup of tea. That said, its appeal is pretty specific, so if you’re not into sex tinged with werewolves, revenge and mystery, I might suggest trying something else. For the right reader though, this collection is a treat.

You can find The Darker Edge of Desire at the following purveyors of fine erotic literature:

Amazon

Amazon, UK

Cleis Press

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s Books