Monday, July 23, 2012

Red Velvet and Absinthe edited by Mitzi Szereto

Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Publisher: Cleis Press
Page Count: 220
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest an unbiased review
Explore Your Dark Desires

The supernatural: Think vampires, werewolves, ghosts...eerie sounds in the night, impassioned whispers teasing at the depths of sleep...Think red velvet, flickering candles, love and lust with otherworldly partners who unleash passion and desire far beyond that inspired by simple mortals. Editor Mitzi Szereto's sensual stories provide thrills and chills of telltale hearts, redolent with romance and danger. Red Velvet and Absinthe will carry you away, conjuring up the romantic spirit of classic Gothic fiction with a generous dose of eroticism.

A lusty lady, ravaged, seeks comfort in the arms of her maidservent in Giselle Renarde's rapacious "Milady's Bath," while bondage and desire enslave a wolf girl to her master in "Snowlight, Moonlight" by Rose de Fer. Janine Ashbless's "Cover Him with Darkness" is an exquisite tale of secret love between an imprisoned fallen angel and the girl he seduces. Editor Mitzi Szereto's vampire romance "The Blood Moon Kiss" is sexy Southern Gothic at its finest.
What Stephanie Thinks: I cannot stress how much I love the paranormal genre, let alone the paranormal erotic genre. Szereto's collection features paranormal crossovers involving wolves, vampires, and bloodlust, and it was all of spicy and hot, as it was compelling and engaging.

Stories: Some of the best stories I've read. The fantasy element of paranormal beings or circumstances make them all the more exciting. As with most Cleis anthologies, each of the stories are very different from the others, so you don't have to worry about getting bored after the first few; Red Velvet and Absinthe makes you want to read every story in the book!

Writing quality: Certainly doesn't disappoint, perfect typography and grammar. Overall very well-written; I couldn't have done better with editing and structure.

Complaints: Really none at all *grin* erotica is my favorite genre once again.

Stories I liked: Favorite is 'Bitter and Intoxicating' by Sharon Bidwell, by far! Hot hot hot!

Stephanie Loves: ""

Radical Rating: 5 stars

Women in Lust edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Release Date: November 8th, 2011
Publisher: Cleis Press
Page Count: 209
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest an unbiased review


At its best, lust is intense, all-consuming, leaving you breathless, able only to focus on slaking that urgent need. The characters in Women in Lust give in to that pure, overpowering impulse for sex. Whether watching a lover playing guitar, using a webcam, going out for a smoke or simply embracing a chance encounter, these women seize the opportunities presented to them, and savor the lovers who teach them about themselves and help them open up to new sensual possibilities. These women embrace lust even when it makes them do things they might consider reckless. Sometimes the object of their lust is not the "right" person—a woman falls for her best friend's boyfriend, the ultimate taboo. Or desire itself may be maddening when it teases and taunts. Rachel Kramer Bussel has brought together top erotica authors who know exactly what to do with those burning desires.
What Stephanie Thinks: What I love about Women in Lust is that it's a mixed bag of delicious, sinful erotic stories. The title insinuates its a lesbian anthology, but it has all sorts of stories – straight, lesbian, couple, threesome, etc. — that all women will be sure to enjoy.

Stories: I love their diversity! Not only in storyline, but also in heat level and theme. Some are sizzling, some are vanilla, some are intense — just reading them form bruises on my flesh — and some are heart-tingling. This book is a great collection of such a broad assortment of stories that you'll never get bored with, and one that certainly won't dissatisfy.

Writing quality: Rachel Kramer Bussel is among my favorite Cleis authors/editors. She does a fabulous job picking the PERFECT stories for her anthologies, so of course Women in Lust didn't disappoint! The quality of the writing conventions-wise is also fantastic; typo count, zero, which is so hard to come by in erotica these days.

Complaints: None, none at all. Maybe the racy cover...? It's hot, but not the kind of book I can take on a bus to read. I'm not that shameless! Otherwise, this is one of my favorite erotica anthologies I've read.

Stories I liked: I can't pick one or two like I usually do! So here's four: 'Smoke' by Elizabeth Coldwell, 'Orchid' by Jacqueline Applebee, 'Cherry Blossom' by Kayar Silkenvoice, and 'Beneath My Skin' by Shanna Germain.

Stephanie Loves: ""

Radical Rating: 5 stars

Foreign Affairs edited by Mitzi Szereto

Release Date: August 3rd, 2004
Publisher: Cleis Press
Page Count: 260
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest an unbiased review
Sexual delight awaits you in every port of call

Escape the mundane. Fill your senses with the sights, sounds, and aromas of faraway places, the perfume counters of Dubai and the hidden waterfalls of St. Lucia, a café overlooking the beach on Tenerlife, and a men's bathhouse on a back street in Brussels. These are stories of lush, ripe sex. In Linda Jaivin's "Peking Duck," a photographer eludes her watchful interpreter to tumble with a circus acrobat at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. In Donna George Storey's "Ukiyo," an overworked professor tours the red light district of Kyoto, attracting unexpected pleasures. And Holly Farris's magical "Continental Breakfast" puts a twist on the second honeymoon, when a woman staying at an auberge in Brittany finds that the cook and gardener can read her desire better than her neglectful husband. Foreign Affairs presents luminous erotica with the subtle, sexy undercurrent of unfamiliar waters.
What Stephanie Thinks: The thrill of sexual endeavors in unfamiliar — and potentially risky — settings, makes Foreign Affairs a great, adrenaline-pumping read. Some of the stories are blander than others, but for the most part, they are fast-paced, well-written, and guiltily pleasuring.

Stories: There's nothing particularly special about this collection. While the stories are all different and have great exposition/characterization, they're all just contemporary settings. I don't think there were many themes like BDSM (though, there were maybe one or two stories with them) so it made the whole collection a little less exciting. I however did love the smoothness of the quality of the writing, which goes for Szereto's editing skills.

Writing quality: Szereto is one of my favorite Cleis editors to date: her skills are flawless, and it comes across through her writing and editing. Each of these stories are skillfully crafted, which gives as much credit to all the authors as it does to the editor herself.

Complaints: I don't think I felt this collection THAT much. The "escape" sounded luxurious, but in effect, it wasn't all too great. Some of the stories fall flat (i.e. they go for sensual, rather than sexy, so I found them a bit boring).

Stories I liked: 'So the Cold Night' by Cheyenne Blue and 'The Sex Critic' by Diane LeBow are my favorites!

Stephanie Loves: ""

Radical Rating: 4 stars

Girls Who Bite edited by Delilah Devlin

Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Publisher: Cleis Press
Page Count: 222
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest an unbiased review
wet and wild — sapphic bloodlust

In Girls Who Bite, Delilah Devlin delivers a sexy collection that readers can sink their teeth into every night. The female vampire is the ultimate bad girl — even the word vampire invokes images of dark, shadowy liaisons, forbidden desires, and sensual bloodlust. Whether depicting a traditional blood-drinker seducing a meal, a psychic vampire stealing the life-force of an unknowing host, or a real-life sanguinarian seeking a partner to share a ritual bloodletting, the stories in Girls Who Bite are a sensual surprise. In Anna Meadows's "La Caída," a Mexican 'salt-eater' saves a fallen angel and redeems her own soul. In Vivi Anna's "Bloody Wicked," a powerful witch casts a spell to ensnare a love slave — with surprising results. Through Angela Caperton's "Pet Door," a shape-shifting vampire meets the dominatrix of her dreams. Bestselling romance writer Delilah Devlin explores the world of wicked women who love blood — and other women.
What Stephanie Thinks: Devlin's compilation of lesbian vampire stories was SO hot! Usually I like m/f erotica, but this book was an exception because of the sultry, sensual stories featured — stories that could only occur with two women.

Stories: I love the paranormal genre, so these vampires were really great. I love how each of the stories are so original. It wasn't a book full of the same stories with just different names and place; each and every one of them were unique, and I found myself absolutely getting attached to them (and the characters). There are also a few erotic themes that come up, such as D/s and roleplaying, so that's a nice touch to make each of the stories even more individual.

Writing quality: Every one of these stories were top-notch in quality. Cleis is a great publisher that excels in typography, so no errors here. Love that about this publisher.

Complaints: Not a one. I loved this book so much. The sex scenes were amazing, the writing blood-chilling, and the characters so real.

Stories I liked: My favorites were 'Bound Love' by Christine d'Abo and 'Al Dente' by Delphine Dryden.

Stephanie Loves: ""

Radical Rating: 5 stars

Carnal Machines edited by D. L. King

Release Date: April 12th, 2011
Publisher: Cleis Press
Page Count: 198
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest an unbiased review

For such a tightly laced age, Victorians spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal—proving, of course, that what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. In
Carnal Machines, D. L. King has curated stories by outstanding contemporary erotica writers who use the enthralling possibilities of the 19th century steam age to tease and titillate in a decadent fusing of technology and romance.

In Teresa Noelle Roberts' "Human Powered," a widowed lady engineer invents a small device that can store the energy from sexual frustration to provide total satisfaction. Poe Von Page delights with a crew sailing the solar winds of space, in unusual service to their new captain in "Mutiny on the Danika Blue."

Carnal Machines takes you to another world filled with brothels, flying machines, steam-powered sex toys, manor houses and spiritualist societies — even Doctor Watson makes a house call. Fantastic, fantasy-filled and stoked to full power, Carnal Machines is a steamy read that guarantees many happy endings.
What Stephanie Thinks: This anthology is packed with stories whose words scald the pages. Set in Victorian times, each of the short stories have a classy, yet mechanical twist to them. There's always that thrill of impropriety in historical times. I guarantee you've never read steampunk like this before.

Stories: All very original, diverse, well-written. There were a few I was bored with but overall, they were great.

Writing quality: Amazing, Cleis never fails to disappoint! Immaculate writing and very smooth style (from most of the authors). D. L. King has done a great job compiling these stories that are all different, but still sexy in their own ways.

Stories I liked: Watch out for 'Dr. Mullaley's Cure' by Delilah Devlin and 'The Treatment' by D. L. King! These were my two favorites.

Complaints: none! Except for the few stories, (like, two out of fourteen — not that many!) which were a tad boring. I won't name names. The rest were amazing.

Verdict: You'll love this one if you're a fan of erotica — steampunk is hip, so give it a try!

Stephanie Loves: ""

Radical Rating: 4 stars