Have you taken a risk lately?
I have, and it has been extremely stressful! Fortunately for me, “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 4” found me in just the right time to help me relax and unwind, as I hunkered down warm in my bed and indulged in twenty sexy stories where it is the characters taking the risks.
Previous volumes in the BWE series do not have particular themes, but the editor Rachel Kramer Bussel applied a theme of Outsiders and Risk to Volume 4. Perhaps this theme is why I felt these stories read a little bit edgier than the stories in previous volumes. And take another look at that cover—hot! Definitely the edgiest of the series to date, in my humble opinion. (And I like that edge, a lot!)
This edition includes many stories with older characters, and several stories touch on issues in mental health.
As with all anthologies there were some stories in this collection that were not for me personally. I will be honest and say there were two stories that I simply stopped reading after the first page. But many of the stories caught and kept my attention.
I would like to begin with a shout out to the opening story “Take the Shot” by Mica Kennedy. This story has witty, clever dialogue that literally made me laugh out loud. With a hot sex scene featuring an older female/younger male pairing, the story as a whole did not disappoint.
In order as they appear in the book, my favorite stories in this collection are as follows:
“Belonging” by Tamsen Parker explores a first time kink club experience with a female/female pairing. I thought the Dominant was a strong and gorgeous character, and I really related to the feelings and release of the submissive character. This story was visually sharp in description and deliciously kinky, even with the novice status of the submissive character.
“The Invitation” by Regina Kammer is an historical set in 1880 London, and if you know me, you know I adore historicals. This story featured an older female paired with a younger male artist lover. Um… YUM. The use of non-contemporary language might not appeal to some readers, but the tension in the setup of the story carries through wonderfully to the climax. I loved it.
“Essential Qualities” by Alyssa Cole is a story with a female/male pairing and an interesting plot hinging on sex and tech. I won’t say much as to not give it away, but this story was very well written.
Finally, “Seven Sweets and Seven Sours” by Megan Hart is a story with a female/female pairing set in an Amish community. The plot contains heart aching complexity with a ton of sensuality. This story really brought my senses to life. I could taste, smell, and imagine the tactile feelings of everything the author described. Just as the title illustrates, the story is incredibly bittersweet.
If you are new to reading erotica, any book in this series is a wonderful place to begin. These stories are structured, with clear buildups and themes, with real and vibrant characters. Each offers an array of authors with different perspectives and writing styles. If you already enjoy reading erotica or erotic romance, these short stories are great ways to pace yourself between reading longer works, or introducing your pallet to new and exciting tastes. Wherever you are, I encourage you to take the chance. I guarantee the reward will be worth the risk!
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 4 was published by Cleis Press in December 2018. I was sent a copy by the editor in exchange for an honest review.