Dirty Dates ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel
Rachel Kramer Bussel puts together punchy stories every single time she edits an anthology. This one, as usual, weighed in firmly on the “hot” side, with only a few stories that left me cold, had me skimming the ends, or turned me off. Even some that had irritating aspects—like the heavy doses of womanly perfection, narrowly defined—were enjoyable in the main.
Common themes include obedience (far more D/s than strictly sensation play), public exhibition, name calling, and using kink as a mechanism for sexual pleasure. Fetish items and toys abound in pleasingly realistic use.
Whenever I read kinky erotica, I’m looking for stories that explore not just what we do, but why we do it, how we feel about it, and why we pant to do it again as soon as possible. Plenty of these stories go the distance. Among the stories I enjoyed:
“Slow Burn” by Morgan Sierra is lovely story about adoration and fear, the desire to please and the body’s limits. The lead is so sympathetic that I really want him to have his love returned.
My favorite aspect of “The Rabbit Trap” by Nik Havert was the nice turnaround where the sub does the scene planning. We s-types can get complacent, figuring the top is supposed to create the scene. This shows a really funny turn-about that surprises and pleases the top, without usurping the role they both want him to play.
Speaking of who plans the scene, “A Thousand Miles Apart” by Tilly Hunter is a great story from the top’s perspective, with everything planned out…almost perfectly…and real affection from both sides.
One of my favorite experiences reading erotica is grokking the heat of something that doesn’t turn me on at all. “Magic Words” by Emily Bingham lets me feel Daddy/girl play from the point of view of someone it works for, deep and real enough that I really think I get it…even if I’m not about to go looking for it myself.
“Baby Steps” by Justine Elyot got me too. I’m not a parent, but I’ve been through enough life changes during my nearly twenty-year relationship that I recognize this moment. The stakes are high, and I love how this shows the very real way we bring ourselves into the sex we have. This one is a favorite more for the story than the kink and/or sex, though.
“On Location” by D. L. King is fun and flirty, with an absolutely fabulous glimpse into the lives of lovers who don’t share a home. I very much enjoy erotica depicting warm, non-traditional relationships. And the set-up is hot!
“Recipe for Punishment” by Jacqueline Brocker is a-fucking-dorable. The punishment is brutal and glorious, a quick and effective mid-scene check-in is heartwarming, the achievement is his to own, and the love fills them both.
In “Admitting It Is the First Step” by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Bussel focuses on the mental and emotional aspect of power play by having no graphic sex and little pain play. This is another one where it’s not my kink, but I enjoyed rolling with the emotional peaks created when trust lets the character fly.