On November 8, 2013, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded slammed into the southern islands of the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan created a storm surge as powerful as a tsunami, a giant wave that more or less wiped the city of Tacloban off the map. Over six thousand people are confirmed dead, with many people still missing and bodies still being found, months later. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless and without resources. The Philippines is a poor country, compared to the U.S., Europe and even the Southeast Asian state where I live. Haiyan's victims started with little, but many now have nothing.
In response to this catastrophe, Coming Together, the original home of altruistic erotica, rallied the faithful to put together a brand new anthology, Coming Together: Through the Storm. Edited by Nicole Gestalt, this volume collects thirteen tales exploring the erotic possibilities of weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms and heat waves serve as the backdrop for a delightfully varied range of sexual adventures.
Teresa Noelle Roberts has two stories in the book, and they're both among my favorites. In “Storm Surge,” a couple who share a dangerous addiction to difficult weather head out to Cape Cod to experience the fury of a Nor'easter – and their own passion. “Country Pleasures” takes its protagonists to a country castle in rainy Ireland, where they discover the sensual aspects of rubber – as in rubber raincoats!
Spencer Dryden's “Storm Across the Prairie” unfolds in Tornado Alley, where the narrator rescues a stubbornly independent young lady in a tent from the ravages of a “Nebraska gully washer.” This was the only story in the collection taking a male point of view. The narrator's voice is wry and engaging.
There's nothing that gets me in the mood for sex like the sound of rain on the roof of a motor home.
“Everything gets you in the mood for sex,” my wife Linda chimes, hearing me trying to dictate a story with this new fangled device.
“Thunder,” by Karenna Colcroft, gives the theme of storm-enhanced arousal a bit of a paranormal twist, while Skilja Peregrinarius creates an entire new world wracked by vicious winds in the richly detailed fantasy “Inside the Eye.”
Several luscious lesbian tales add to the mix. Annabeth Long's “Sinkhole” is about getting muddy, letting go, and learning to trust yourself and your desires. Ice barely helps to cool Brantwijn Serrah's heroines who escape to the roof “In the Heat of the Night.” “Duet” by Lady Grey portrays the deliciously ambiguous coming together of two very different women as rain pummels their roof.
Appropriately, two stories focus on the devastation and disorientation wrought by a hurricane. Leigh Ellwood's “And Lily Makes Three” illustrates how the passions of nature can inflame those of her creatures. “Take Me Like a Hurricane” by Naomi Bellina takes place after the wrath of nature is spent, when electric power is spotty, food, water and air conditioning are scarce, and tempers are short. A man and woman both claim the last available motel room and end up sharing more than just accommodation.
Of course, authors have often used weather as a metaphor for human emotion. Like weather, sexual passion can be violent, disturbing, even frightening. Both can irrevocably change the world. This collection captures that truth.
All proceeds from Coming Together: Through the Storm support the Mercy Corps, one of the charities working in the Philippines and elsewhere to help victims recover from natural disasters. However, this arousing collection would be worth buying even without the altruistic motivation.
Justine Elyot is a gifted writer. She knows how to craft words. She knows how to build and develop a story. And, most importantly, she understands how to please a reader. If you don’t already own a copy, rush out now and buy Seven Scarlet Tales. You will not be disappointed.
I gasped when Sands put his hand on the curve of my arse and moulded his palm to its shape.
“Who could resist this?” he whispered, and his voice was directly in my ear. “No straight man alive.”
The way he held his hand there was so possessive and so natural that I knew I had gone beyond turning back. A ripple had gone all the way through me, upwards, outwards, downwards, inwards. And, most particularly, cuntwards.
I had been excited from the start, but now my wetness was undeniable. My nipples were protruding out from the midnight blue silk and my breath was short and laboured. My body was telling him to do it. Do whatever he wanted. My mind could not summon up the effort to argue with it.
Seven Scarlet Tales is a collection of Elyot’s short fiction, each story complete and whole, but neatly linked to other stories in the book. The worlds she’s created are vividly drawn, cleverly described, and always fun exciting.
The characters in this collection are credible. Enchantingly, a character can appear in one story as the narrator and then turn up in another story in a supporting role. This interaction between stories is a device that enriches the depth of the worlds she’s created and makes the fiction so much more credible as levels of narrative discourse are developed and expanded. I won’t reiterate which characters or locations are presented or revisited: part of the fun with this title is making the connections and enjoying the way the story develops as the story-world expands. I will say, it’s a device that Elyot uses well.
The next stroke was harder and made a gorgeous splat sound against my skin. I felt the stripe sizzle into a welt. I hoped it would leave a mark.
I hoped my whole bum would be one swollen mass of red stripes when he came to throw down his belt and grab my hips and enter me from behind. But I was getting ahead of myself.
First I needed to live through this whipping. Breathe through it, clench through it, survive it.
The strokes came harder and faster. At first I was almost wild with the relentless pain, but before I could jump away or beg for mercy, something happened and the heat became sweet instead of fierce.
The scenarios Elyot describes are arousing. The stories are aimed at an intelligent and articulate readership with a penchant for spanking and she focuses the sexual content on this popular kink. But that’s not to say that all the sexual content is solely devoted to spanking. Even when hands and crops are no longer kissing bare buttocks, the sex is still incredibly hot and titillating.
Lying pressed against Bruno, breathing him in, feeling his strength and hardness, made her want to wrap herself tight around him and open up her legs. He smelled of older-man authority and responsibility and it intoxicated her. Screw the bad boys, what could be sexier than a good man who wanted to do right by you?
“Hey,” he whispered, rolling over so that he held her down a little underneath him. “You are playing this a bit too well, you know?”
His mouth was an inch from hers, his hair falling over his brow and tickling her. Their pelvises were in alignment. Only a double layer of cotton kept their genitals apart.
“Kiss me,” she begged almost silently.
“You want me to?” he sounded amazed, and it turned her on even more.
Seven Scarlet Tales is fun, frisky and formidable. This is stylish writing, entertaining in its aim to deliver a story and satisfying in its ability to convey a powerful sense of the erotic within the narrative.Black Lace have a track record of publishing quality writers who can deliver a superb erotic experience. Justine Elyot is proof that Black Lace are still publishing the best.
It’s 5PM, it’s 92 degrees in my office, and we don’t have air conditioning. I am a tad grumpy, as you might well imagine. In Slave Girl land, that would be the cue for my Master to come drag me away from my computer for a scene. First I would be annoyed, then turned on, and finally, grateful. If that’s what the Master of your daydreams does for you (guaranteed better than a brand name bubble bath!), you’ll find it here in “Noise” by Evan Mora, and in “Hell-Bent For Leather” by Victoria Behn.
Or maybe you like to imagine being shared. “Out of Sight” by Rachel Kramer Bussel and “Passing the Final” by Donna George Storey explore the delights of being blindfolded and at the mercy of strangers – but under the watchful eye of a protective man.
If your fantasy is the excellent movie Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, then “Serving Mr. Brown” by Veronica Wilde will probably push your buttons in all the right ways. “Day Job” by Deborah Castellano will also give you that workplace stern boss vibe, as will Lisette Ashton’s “Green’s.”
There are so many reliably good writers contributing to this anthology that you can hardly go wrong even selecting one at random. Thomas Roche, Alison Tyler, DL King, Giselle Renarde and others deliver tales that are in turns intense, riveting, and beyond the ordinary.
When Jove Belle’s collection of three erotic novellas turned out to be my assignment for this month’s review, I was especially pleased because the final story in the book, “Hollis,” is an expansion of a short story originally published in one of my own anthologies. Those characters were clearly etched into my memory, and I looked forward to spending more time with them. I clung to my principles of reviewing, and resisted reading that piece first, since the order of stories in a collection is an important aspect of the whole, and a fair assessment of a book takes into account the way the parts work together.
The bit of text on the cover, cleverly positioned in the curving space between a pair of stiletto-heeled shoes, gives the reader a clue as to what the book offers: “Sometimes sex is the only way to say ‘I love you.’” This is both promise and warning. Many devotees of lesbian romance would rather not get too far into erotica, and some readers of erotica would prefer not to have the sex get too diluted by romance. Like it or not, this book intends to offer both, and just how far the author intends to go is made clear by the pair of steely handcuffs encircling those lipstick-red stilettos.
This is truth in advertising. Each of the novellas delivers on both counts, and if I found the erotic aspects more memorable than the romantic parts, that says more about me than about the writing. If I found one of the three pieces more compelling than the other two, that again is a matter of taste. Overall I was most impressed by the erotic passages, done with a sure hand and a pacing slow where it needed to be savored, accelerating when it demanded resolution.
The first novella, “Raw Silk,” is a good choice for the lead-off position because it tackles a tricky subject in romance, that of threesomes, while emphasizing the deep bond between two committed partners. I was at first put off by the office setting, even though I know that office sex is a popular sub-genre. I’ve spent a considerable lifetime avoiding that milieu, and the initial conference-room meeting complete with the sexy new female client making moves on the company’s only (apparently) lesbian employee left me cold. As far as I could tell there was no mention of what the company did or what the client wanted besides sex. But the real story was the central character June’s resolve to stay faithful to her wife, Ashlyn, no matter how tempted she was, and her wife’s reaction to the situation. Ashlyn, a quirky artist working from home, becomes the most interesting character, and she won me over so that by the end I really liked this story.
The second novella, “On Her Knees,” also has a big-business ambiance, in this case a law firm, although more happens at the company’s social events than at the office. Abby is a “beard” for her closeted gay friend Gavin, who works where her nemesis (and crush) from high school Simone comes to work. Much misunderstanding and miscommunication ensues, and long-suppressed anger on both sides complicates matters. The set-up is, shall we say, predictable, but the writing is good, the dialogue sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt, and the sex is very good indeed, with some original turns of phrase. This wasn’t my favorite piece in the book, and I’m glad it didn’t come first or last, but it could easily be just the thing to resonate with someone else.
Before I move on to the last story, I’ll take a minute to slip in a couple of complaints. These are matters of editing more than the writing as a whole. In the first two parts there seemed to me to be all too many confusing passages when it came to which “her” was doing or saying what to whom. It wasn’t so much that pronouns instead of names were used, as that when names were inserted it often wasn’t in the most effective places, and sometimes even easier fixes could have been used. The whole same-sex pronoun problem is magnified, of course, when a threesome is involved, but I noticed it through out these first two pieces. I also saw a hint that “Raw Silk” was originally written in first person rather than third, since a copy editor forgot to change “between us” to “between them” (and right in the middle of a long sex scene—maybe she was too distracted.) To my mind first person would have worked better all round, but here I have to admit that my own editorial preferences are just that, my own, and shouldn’t influence my reviews too much.
So now I get to move on to “Hollis,” which is every bit as good as I remembered, and even better with the expansion into a novella. Both of the central characters are strong women, in their forties, experienced in their work and in the BDSM scene. Jude, the one whose thoughts we get to follow, is a police Detective taking an FBI course in terrorist control as a change of pace from some soul-searing criminal cases. Hollis is the kick-ass FBI instructor. They strike adversarial sparks right away, since Jude has no hesitation in contradicting Hollis on matters she herself knows more about from experience, but they also recognize something in each other that can feed a hotter fire. When Hollis whispers in her ear, “I want you in my office…After class,” Jude’s unspoken reaction is, “Holy Fuck. She’d been summoned straight to hell…and she couldn’t wait to get there.”
The writing is skillful, tight, clear, evocative. Details about Jude’s past and its influence on her character are presented succinctly and with maximum impact. While Hollis scans Jude’s dossier and notes the times she’s been decorated for bravery, and the times she’s been shot, Jude thinks about her second promotion after she’d brought in a serial rapist, and why she then asked for assignment to Homicide, where at least “the victims didn’t cry when she found them.” Hollis says, “Everything in here reads like a chief’s wet dream…So why are you here being such a pain in the ass for me?” That they’re each other’s wet dreams doesn’t need to be said. That they can become something more to each other develops more slowly, as it should. An excellent novella, worth the price of the book, and anyone who isn’t an obsessive editor and office-phobe like me will probably enjoy the other two stories just as well.