Publisher: Cleis Press
Release Date: December 11, 2018
Received From: Review copy from the editor
In Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4, award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel has gathered the hottest sexy stories starring outspoken women who daringly pursue love and lust. You’ll read about a single mom who goes back to college and gets some very hands-on education from her hot professor, an Amish woman tenderly revealing her most intimate desires, and a woman who crafts the man of her dreams. From outsiders who lustily claim their place without apology to women taking the boldest of risks with their hearts and their bodies, these sizzling stories are sure to make your heart pound. Featuring stories by popular authors including Alyssa Cole, Megan Hart, Tamara Lush, Tamsen Parker, Sofia Quintero, Suleikha Snyder and Alessandra Torre, along with a variety newcomers to the genre, these tales will turn you on and stay with you long after you’ve finished.
GENDER: cisgender, transgender
SEXUALITY: heterosexual, bisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: heteroromantic, biromantic
PAIRING: M/F, F/F, F/F/M, F/F/F/M, F/M/M, F/M/M/M/M/M/M/M
TROPES: age gap, coworkers to lovers, friends to lovers, professor x student, human x artificial intelligence
TAGS: adult, contemporary, science fiction, historical, anthology, short stories, BDSM, erotica, romance, erotic romance, queer romance, queer characters, polyamory, POC characters, black characters, Latinx characters, Filipinx characters, Asian characters, agoraphobic character, fat characters, interracial relationship, disabled characters, Amish characters, existing relationship
WARNINGS: sexual content, mental illness (agoraphobia, panic attack, anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD), public play, voyeurism, car accident mention, spousal death mention, ableism, slurs, gendered slurs, classism, slutshaming, religion (Catholicism), natural disaster (earthquake), racism (“exotic”), politics, hospitalization, physical injury, parental death mention, cheating, cissexism/anti-trans language, self-harm mention, therapy mention, gangbang
This anthology is a great collection of short stories full of diversity and sexy fun!
On the surface, all the stories have the same basic concept: a woman does something that scares her/she wouldn’t normally do; the thing works out (generally resulting in sex); said woman feels good about conquering her fear by the end. But when you go deeper, you find a myriad of complex characters in complicated situations. Taking a risk you’ve been thus far afraid to take is a huge step, and it was wonderful to see all 20 of these authors and stories create characters that overcome in ways that are unique to them and their lives.
My favorite aspect of this collection was the wonderful diversity to be found within! Several stories feature people of color–several Black characters, Latinx characters, and one story featuring a Filipina character. Also, there are several stories in which the main characters, and occasionally secondary characters and/or love interests, are queer–mostly bisexual, but there is one story that features a character who is just beginning to accept that they’re a trans man. A couple different religions were featured in the collection, and I was very intrigued by the fact that one of the stories has an Amish main character! It would’ve been interesting to read a longer story about this character (it’s the one with the trans MC). Additionally, multiple disabilities are found within the anthology! There’s one story with a main character who walks with a cane; one with an agoraphobic main; one with a main character with OCD, though I thought that one felt a bit thrown in and underdeveloped; and several stories in which the main characters have anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Overall, it was really incredible to see so much diversity within the pages.
There are several stories that I would love to read full length novels about, but all in all, the short format of these were very satisfying.
My favorites were: Take the Shot by Mica Kennedy; O Captain! My Captain! By Calliope Bloom; The Pick-Me-Up by Suleikha Snyder; With Honors by Sofia Quintero; Essential Qualities by Alyssa Cole; Seven Sweets and Seven Sours by Megan Hart; Baby Doll by Sienna Saint-Cyr; and Beautiful Dirty Wonderful by R. M. Wood