Reviews for Already Published Books

Review: Show Yourself to Me by Xan West

SUMMARY

26812125Publisher: Go Deeper Press
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Received From: Bought from publisher

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.

GENDER SEXUALITY PAIRINGS

GENDER: transgender, nonbinary, cisgender
SEXUALITY: homosexual, bisexual, pansexual
PAIRING: M/M, F/F, M/NB, F/NB, M/F, NB/NB, multiple partners

TAGS TROPES WARNINGS

TAGS: adult, erotica, anthology, BDSM, sexual content, queer characters, POC characters, disabled characters, fat characters, sex workers, paranormal (1), daddy kink, gender expression, short stories, feminism
WARNINGS*: heavy kink, slurs, public play, blood, rape (flashback), mention of rape / sexual abuse, consensual incest play

REVIEW

We were taught again and again that sex is shame and were force-fed that shame without our consent. But now we revel in a celebration of the darkness and the joy within sex, and it heals. We choose this, and so it can feed us and build us up. And we are stronger for the risk in it. We are stronger for our desires.

This book has been on my radar for a while, sitting on my wishlist, waiting to be bought and then read. I try to be very careful with the amount of erotica that I buy and read because part of my demisexuality, at times, includes repulsion/aversion to sex–reading it, hearing about it, talking about it, even making jokes/innuendos. If I’m not careful, I could potentially catch myself in the midst of something at a time when I’m not prepared to deal with it. I kept that in mind as I bought Show Yourself to Me a couple months ago, when Xan West was crowdfunding to prevent homelessness and the publisher promised 100% of the proceeds from sales through their site would go directly to West. It sat in my email for all this time because West is a friend, so I had an idea of the content, outside of the fact that it’s kinky erotica, and felt I needed to wait a while to read it. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I was able to download the file and begin reading. It took me about three days to get through–partially because I was reading it at work (naughty me, I know) but also because the content was heavy and I felt I needed to pace myself. But this book.

Oh man. This book.

It is far more hardcore, re: the BDSM/kink & D/s scene, than I’ve really ever read. It opened my eyes to areas that have been otherwise unexplored by myself in my reading, and while there were times where I was uncomfortable (most frequently because I’d never realized I be into it, so I had to rethink some things), I deeply appreciated the fact that this book was so unabashedly itself and so painfully real.

All of the 24 shorts were profoundly emotional stories, no matter whether they came from the point of view of the Dominant or the Submissive, or someone outside of their relationship. There were stories about comfort, about finding yourself through pain and pleasure, about how to move on to something new, about how to accept yourself and your desires. In each story, you were able to witness the characters learning about themselves, and it was really beautiful to witness.

I also really loved the fact that this anthology of stories was so diverse and intersectional. It explored the ways different aspects of one’s identity–sexuality, gender, disability, race, fatness, etc–can affect not only one’s personal life, but also their sex life and identity as a sexual being.

The emphasis on consent, and continued requesting and acceptance of consent, was really important to me, and it was so refreshing to see it brought up so frequently, as it’s an essential aspect of all sexual activity.

The only issue I had was that there was a bit of head-hopping in some of the stories. Not necessarily a problem, but it was a bit disorienting for me at certain points.

Overall, this collection of shorts from Xan West was wonderful. It exquisitely showcases the messy beautiful aspects of life and sex, and how they often intermingle. Show Yourself to Me is a gorgeous dive into the human psyche, and an eye-opening, tender loving look into D/s and kinky lives. I would recommend to all, except for touch and/or sex repulsed ace & aro spec people.

Favorite stories: Missing Daddy, First Time Since, Falling for Essex, My Precious Whore, This Boy, My Pretty Boy, Facing the Dark, Ready, What I Need, Strong

RATING

4 STARS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

3326864Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, a recent transplant to Oakland from Brooklyn, who has been doing community kink education for over ten years. Xan has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since”, won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan’s work has been described by reviewers as “offering the erotica equivalent of happy ever after”, and “some of the best transgressive erotic fiction to come along in recent years”.

Xan refuses pronouns, twists barbed wire together with yearning, and tilts pain in many directions to catch the light. Xan adores vulnerable tops, strong supportive bottoms, red meat, long winding conversations about power, privilege and community, showtunes, and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds.

BUY LINKS

Go Deeper Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Kobo
IndieBound

REVIEW BY LEAH

*I did not include a full list of content warnings as that would’ve been just a whole list of different kinks, and I didn’t want to treat them as something that are shameful or problematic, so I only listed the ones I thought were potentially triggering, or that I usually mark, such as public play. Thankfully, the author included a list of content warnings at the beginning of the novel so you’ve got an idea of what to expect, so I’ve taken a screenshot to share with y’all, which can be found below. (If you cannot read the text in this image for whatever reason, please let me know and I will type it out for you.)

sytm

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