I read this anthology a while ago but had trouble deciding what to write about it. The thing with anthologies is that the editor needs to find the right balance and I don’t think they did with this one. My problem isn’t with the quality of writing or the pace of the stories, I have no doubt about consent (which is so important to me, as I’ve written before), but I need more balance between pain – physical or other – and pleasure.
I won’t go into details, just highlight some of the stories I liked. I was looking forward to Mary P. Burns’ story, for example, as hers was one of my favourites last year (Leviathan, under the name of Catherine Collinsworth). This year’s, Strand of Pearls, was different but good too. The Summer of Strap-Ons and Sodomy by Rain DeGrey is joyful and exuberant. Max and the Things I Couldn’t Say by Heart is surprisingly tender.
Erotica is really a matter of tastes, so what didn’t work for me might work for you. But I need to feel safe to enjoy erotica and I can’t worry about whatever triggers. I like, however, that every year, this anthology explores boundaries and I’m aware we don’t all have the same no-nos. It makes bringing stories together complicated.