Melanie Abrams
Julius Addlesee
Shelley Aikens
A. Aimee
Jeanne Ainslie
Fredrica Alleyn
Rebecca Ambrose
Diane Anderson-Minshall
Laura Antoniou
Janine Ashbless
Lisette Ashton
Gavin Atlas
Danielle Austen
J. P. Beausejour
P.K. Belden
Tina Bell
Jove Belle
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Ronica Black
Candace Blevins
Primula Bond
Lionel Bramble
A. J. Bray
Samantha Brook
Matt Brooks
Zetta Brown
James Buchanan
Louisa Burton
Angela Campion
Angela Caperton
Annabeth Carew
Julia Chambers
Dale Chase
M. Christian
Greta Christina
Valentina Cilescu
Rae Clark
NJ Cole
Christina Crooks
Julius Culdrose
Portia da Costa
Alan Daniels
Angraecus Daniels
Dena De Paulo
Vincent Diamond
Susan DiPlacido
Noelle Douglas-Brown
Hypnotic Dreams
Amanda Earl
Hank Edwards
Jeremy Edwards
Stephen Elliott
Madelynne Ellis
Justine Elyot
Aurelia T. Evans
Lucy Felthouse
Jesse Fox
I. G. Frederick
Simone Freier
Louis Friend
Polly Frost
William Gaius
Bob Genz
Shanna Germain
J. J. Giles
Lesley Gowan
K D Grace
K. D. Grace
Sacchi Green
Ernest Greene
Tamzin Hall
R. E. Hargrave
P. S. Haven
Trebor Healey
Vicki Hendricks
Scott Alexander Hess
Richard Higgins
Julie Hilden
E. M. Hillwood
Amber Hipple
William Holden
Senta Holland
David Holly
Michelle Houston
Debra Hyde
M. E. Hydra
Vina Jackson
Anneke Jacob
Maxim Jakubowski
Kay Jaybee
Ronan Jefferson
Amanda Jilling
SM Johnson
Raven Kaldera
J. P. Kansas
Kevin Killian
D. L. King
Catt Kingsgrave
Kate Kinsey
Geoffrey Knight
Varian Krylov
Vivienne LaFay
Teresa Lamai
Lisa Lane
Randall Lang
James Lear
Amber Lee
Nikko Lee
Tanith Lee
Annabeth Leong
James W. Lewis
Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Ashley Lister
Fiona Locke
Clare London
Scottie Lowe
Simon Lowrie
Catherine Lundoff
Michael T. Luongo
Jay Lygon
Helen E. H. Madden
Nancy Madore
Jodi Malpas
Jeff Mann
Alma Marceau
Sommer Marsden
Gwen Masters
Sean Meriwether
Bridget Midway
I. J. Miller
Madeline Moore
Lucy V. Morgan
Julia Morizawa
David C. Morrow
Walter Mosley
Peggy Munson
Zoe Myonas
Alicia Night Orchid
Craig Odanovich
Cassandra Park
Michael Perkins
Christopher Pierce
Lance Porter
Jack L. Pyke
Devyn Quinn
Cameron Quitain
R. V. Raiment
Shakir Rashaan
Jean Roberta
Paige Roberts
Sam Rosenthal
D. V. Sadero
C Sanchez-Garcia
Lisabet Sarai
R Paul Sardanas
R. Paul Sardanas
Elizabeth Schechter
Erica Scott
Kemble Scott
Mele Shaw
Simon Sheppard
Tom Simple
Talia Skye
Susan St. Aubin
Charlotte Stein
C. Stetson
Chancery Stone
Donna George Storey
Darcy Sweet
Rebecca Symmons
Mitzi Szereto
Cecilia Tan
Lily Temperley
Vinnie Tesla
Claire Thompson
Alexis Trevelyan
Alison Tyler
Gloria Vanderbilt
Vanessa Vaughn
Elissa Wald
Saskia Walker
Kimberly Warner-Cohen
Brian Whitney
Carrie Williams
Peter Wolkoff
T. Martin Woody
Beth Wylde
Daddy X
Lux Zakari
Fiona Zedde
Coming Together Presents: Amanda EarlComing Together Presents: Amanda Earl
By: Amanda Earl
Edited By: Lisabet Sarai
ISBN: 150093433X
August 2014

Reviewed By: Sacchi Green

Contributing to a worthy cause gives you a warm glow, but seldom does it heat you up the way the Coming Together books do. (The charity benefitting from the proceeds of this book is, an AIDS/HIV care and prevention organization.) Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl, edited by Lisabet Sarai,ramps up the heat especially well. Amanda seduces not only the libido but also the mind, sometimes subtly (although the sex is seldom subtle) and sometimes very blatantly indeed. In the editor’s introduction the book is described as “literary—and literate—erotica,” which is quite true. There are frequent literary references, and characters with backgrounds in (or aspirations to) the literary world, but the sure-handed quality of the prose—raw when it needs to be, even brutal, introspective at times, poignant, complex, and memorable—is what makes it both literary and literate.

I was especially intrigued by the variety of points of view in these stories. Often (but not always) female, occasionally older women with younger men, with a nice range of characterization from deliciously dominant to deeply submissive to downright surreal.   

The first-person narrator of the opening piece, “Mind If I Sit?” takes full advantage of sitting next to a young, blond, somewhat nervous “golden boy” with a contradictory “rebel look” on an airplane. She has what it takes to get his attention; “Long legs: check. Flimsy mini skirt: check. Big tits in a low-necked blouse: double check.” Her copy of Kerouac’s On the Road doesn’t hurt, and is the first of many literary references that fit naturally into the flow of the prose. “I’m a capricious bitch,” she tells us. Newly turned forty, resolved not to “sit back in your comfort zone” and let life pass by, she’s a complex, arresting character, good company for the reader as well as the for guy who gets to share her under-the blanket games.

The narrator in the second story, “Real Irish,” has a very different self-image, at least at the beginning. She thinks of herself as a “middle-aged spinster” with indecently lustful thoughts about a good-looking Irish barista and a stream-of-consciousness novel eternally in progress. By the end, though, thanks to her best friend who resembles Botticelli’s Venus and lets nothing stand in the way of what they both want, her stream-of-consciousness has more to celebrate than her most lustful thoughts had imagined. The hottest threesome I can remember ever reading, and the most fun.

We also get a ruthless legal secretary with a “Daddy Complex”, a housewife whose secret is that instead of AA meetings, she goes off to wear a catsuit at a BDSM hideaway specializing in rubberists, and a girl who thinks she’s desperate for domination, pain, and humiliation from a stranger, but has the sense at last to resist a scene that goes too far, and the luck to get away.

In a few of the stories the sex is entirely in the minds of the protagonists, their lust no less arousing for being unfulfilled, with a melancholy tone that provides a contrast to more carefree encounters.  In “The Vessel,” the point of view shifts between two not-quite-lovers, each so scarred by their pasts that they can’t believe the other could find them worthy of desire or love. ”Typing for Jack” begins with the woman losing her long-held virginity with a man she’s met at a funeral, but it’s Jack’s funeral (yes, that Jack,) and the defining act of her life has been typing the manuscript of his On the Road. For all her fantasizing, and all the opportunities Jack offered, she knew she could never handle his freewheeling sexual habits, so she handled only his manuscript, and takes cold comfort in a report that he was holding it when he died. And in “Sex with an Old Woman” the fifty-ish narrator can’t imagine her much younger male friend finding her sexually attractive, and tortures herself with imagining how repulsed he would be if he saw her naked. I kept thinking, “But fifty isn’t all that old!” until she revealed how much more than age her body had endured. 

I was encouraged by a later story about a woman of fifty who is unabashedly “boy crazy, man hungry,” and thinks of herself (with reason) as “irresistable,” but there’s a dark undertone here as well. “The Adulteress” stalks her literary prey—novelists, poets, playwrights—and seduces them, married or not, with no difficulty. Adultery just adds extra spice. The sex is hot, raw, and described, by the woman writing it all down afterward, with explicit attention to detail a well as evocative imagery. Even at the height of arousal she thinks about what she’ll write afterward, how she’ll “frame this later on the page.” Truthfully, don’t all writers of erotica think sometimes about how we’ll describe sex even as we’re (almost) swept away by its delights? Should we feel guilty? Does it cheat our partners in some way, or does our secretly enhanced excitement intensify their own experience? The latter, I think, but who knows? In the case of the woman supposedly narrating this story, one even begins to wonder how much of what she describes really happened that way (in the context of the story) or is magnified by her writerly imagination. The nuances of this piece are tinged with melancholy, deftly written, and the final paragraph is a masterly handling of perspective. I’ll leave readers to discover that for themselves.

I’ve only mentioned nine of the twenty-four stories in this collection, even though all of them are just as worthy of consideration. Some, of course, will appeal to certain tastes more than to others. My own tastes run to literary references and older protagonists, but the book provides plenty of other viewpoints and scenarios that I found just as enjoyable. I should also note that several stories are of the science fiction or fantasy persuasion, and they’re worth an entire review of their own. I’ll just mention that one involves an orgy in heaven and another has a nice twist involving its deliciously snarky narrator. I may already have come too close to revealing “spoilers” about the other stories I discussed, though, so I’ll leave the rest for the reader to discover. And to savor, just as I did.