Sarani reviews On Her Lead by Hayley Cooke


On Her Lead is a collection of lesbian BDSM short stories by Hayley Cooke. Having never heard of Cooke before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but overall, I was impressed by this collection and ended up really enjoying it.

There are six short stories and each explores a slightly different aspect of BDSM. All stories are written from the perspective of the submissive. The stories include a variety of different acts including bondage, spanking, gagging, slapping, obedience and domestic and sexual service.

The writing style is very simple and to the point. There are no frills to the writing and whilst that may not always be ideal, it works quite well in this context, bringing the reader’s attention directly to the actions of the characters.

One thing I found a little disconcerting when I started was that Cooke only gives bare descriptions of most of the characters.  At first, this bothered me, and I kept thinking that I really wanted to know what the characters looked like! But then I realised that the minimal description actually works quite well in this format, and allows the reader to fill in the character details with their own imagination.

‘Coming Home’ was the only story I didn’t like in this collection. Whilst the rest of the stories in this collection were written in first person, ‘Coming Home’ was written in a mixture of first and second person. Second person narrative can be done quite well in erotica, and can be very effective in drawing a reader directly into the story. However, in this instance, the use of the second person narrative came across as quite flat, and I found myself bored and had trouble finishing this story.

This was certainly not the norm though, and I really enjoyed the other five stories. My favourite story was the first one, ‘Insufficient funds’ in which the story teller runs into her ex-girlfriend and her new partner at a bar and ends up being invited to be their submissive. The ex-girlfriend and her partner are both dominant, strong characters who have firm ideas of what they expect from their submissive.  The dynamic between the three women is engaging and this story probably has the most character development out of the collection.

I also enjoyed ‘Good Girl’, in which a submissive is restrained and gagged with only her phone in her hands for texting her Mistress. The text exchange between the two is amusing and the submissive failing to capitalise the word ‘mistress’ in a text message leads to extra punishment. ‘House Trained’ is the only story that veers from a strict lesbian context. This story involves the main character becoming involved in a submissive relationship with her landlord and the landlord’s male partner. The three characters in this story develop a sexual relationship which revolves around the main character servicing the couple both domestically and sexually. This is a captivating story, and it is fascinating to observe all the characters develop into their roles as the story progresses.

The stories in this collection are less about heavy physical BDSM acts and more about the main character in each short story becoming fully immersed in her submission. This is not the collection you should reach for if you want erotica that contains character depth. However, if you are looking for short, sharp and sexy lesbian BDSM scenes, I would definitely recommend this. The collection is simply written and engaging, and most importantly for a collection of this nature, it is hot!

Danika reviews Dark Angels: Lesbian Vampire Erotica edited by Pam Keesey



This was another (in addition to The Haunting of Hill House) book I intended to read in October, but didn’t come in to the library for me until November, so I’m extending my Halloween reads! When I went to pick it up, I was surprised to see that it was billed as erotica: I didn’t think I had requested any erotica. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that it’s because originally the book’s tagline was lesbian vampire stories, and was changed to “erotica” in the new edition. Knowing that made the collection make more sense. Although there is a lot of sex in Dark Angels, I wouldn’t exactly call it erotica. The introduction especially takes the subject matter pretty seriously, discussing themes of vampirism and goddesses, dark angels, Lilith, etc. Although some of the stories pretty quickly just get into sex scenes with fangs, others are without sex–including “Bloody Countess”, which is just a long description of various tortures Erzsebet (Elizabeth)Bathory performed on girls.

I have read and own Pam Keesey’s previous lesbian vampire collection, Daughters of Darkness, and I really enjoyed that one. The introduction to Dark Angels explains that while its predecessor was lesbian stories with vampire themes, this collection is vampire stories with lesbian themes. Perhaps because of this, I didn’t enjoy Dark Angels as much as the first collection. There are some stories that I really liked, especially the writing of “Presence” and “Cinnamon Roses”, and the intrigue of “Blood Wedding”, and I did enjoy the explicitly-queer-for-Victorian-times story (“The Countess Visonti”). Overall, though, the erotica stories weren’t particularly titillating to me, and the more literary stories weren’t as memorable as I’d like. (Unlike Daughters of Darkness‘s lesbian-vampire-in-space story!)

Perhaps predictably–we all know the lesbian vampires joke–there is also a lot of menstruation in this collection. Which makes sense, and was something I’d appreciate being addressed in one of the stories, or a few, but the frequent returns to the subject were a little much for me. I was also bothered by the “Tale of Christina” positing lesbian sex as fundamentally incomplete/unfulfilling. Also, “The Bloody Countess” is the longest story in the collection and is second to last. The list of (supposedly real-life) tortures that ran on for 16 pages kind of turned my stomach, and seemed a little weird in the context of “erotica” stories. I also felt like the introduction dragged on for me, especially considering that it didn’t really seem to match the tone of the stories included. As you can probably tell, I wouldn’t recommend this collection. Try Daughters of Darkness instead.

Marcia reviews Desire: Stories of Longing by K.L. Joy


Opening with a cover that features rope bondage, and the party following the collaring ceremony of two of lead character Vivianne’s friends, it is immediately clear that Desire: Stories of Longing by K.L. Joy is not straight-forward (pardon the pun) erotica.

The short novel follows new Domme Vivianne as her life in the BDSM scene evolves and blossoms. Under the guidance of close friend Victor and his “wench” Kate, Vivianne learns how to navigate relationships between her own “girls,” proper punishment, and her own dark past. Professionally, Vivianne’s life is also changing. What started as a small side project making corsets has turned into a booming career — and a chance to explore more of the kink scene.

In the first story, or chapter, we meet Vivianne and see glimpses of her world. We also meet her “slut,” Rhiannon, a dedicated sub who often struggles with jealousy. For a reader who is only mildly acquainted with BDSM and kink culture, I found Vivianne’s story relatively easy to understand if not particularly erotic. As author Joy and Vivianne are both Australians, there were a few times when vocabulary tripped me up — something a quick google search took care of, and shouldn’t frighten off any curious reader.

History and details often feel sketchy or glossed over — though this could be because Desire is a sequel. Having not read the first installment (Catalyst: Stories of Awakening), I cannot address continuity or character building, but only what appears within this single volume.

Often, Joy falls back on BDSM tropes to provide characters with the illusion of having fleshed out personalities. At times, we get glimpses of their lives before, but mostly these are only hints that are applied to a dramatic moment and then dropped never to appear again. Many of Joy’s characters live and work in BDSM-adjacent industries (Jaime is the owner and facilitator of a BDSM training lodge, Victor sponsors fledgling businesses and is generally very rich, and Vivianne herself begins to make a living from her corset and costume-making) though for a few characters there is no mention of life outside of sub or dom-space — how does Rhiannon spend her time or energy when not submitting to the whims and desires of her Ma’am, for example?

Because I don’t bring outside knowledge of BDSM culture to my reading of Desire, I frequently found myself stumbling over the doms and dommes referring to their female subs by pejorative terms. I also found the writing of Lola (a character who comes into play about half-way through the novel) to be racist and full of lazy characterization. Her primary identifiers are a taste for bright colors, and salsa music, a great dancer’s body, and her exaggerated written accent. I would be following the story eagerly, only to cringe at the obvious eroticism of Lola’s “foreign-ness.”

Perhaps my problem with the second book in K.L. Joy’s Stories Of… series is that it wasn’t written for me. Those who enjoy BDSM-flavored erotica should consider the series — though far from perfect or truly well-written — as a tertiary addition to their collection.

Tag reviews Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith

Reviews for this anthology abound, because it was a big deal when it came out, continues to be a big deal, and will be a big deal for a long time. I first heard of Say Please in an interview with Sinclair Sexsmith on Autostraddle in April of 2012, and while it seemed really interesting I definitely wasn’t ready for something that played with gender dynamics the way everyone said it did. Now that I’ve finally buckled down and read it, I’m exceedingly glad I did, particularly because of the play with gender dynamics. Sinclair Sexsmith had also gone under my radar until Say Please, and so far this is the only writing of hers I’ve read, but the quality of her writing and her taste leaves me sure I’m going to seek out more as soon as possible.
The introduction to Say Please is straightforward and functions to be both enticing and to warn away from kinks the reader may not be into (for example, even though I did read it, the vomiting in “Purge” is on my list of squicks to avoid and I appreciated the warning so I could brace myself). So if you have particular kinks you’re interested in or would like to avoid, the introduction is very clear for each story what the kink basis is.
What really makes this collection for me is how well each author ties everything together. It’s about BDSM, yes, but each character has the kind of depth that really draws a reader into every story. I don’t remember thinking at any point that any character was flat or boring, or that the pacing for any of the stories was off– just the opposite. The only way I managed to spread out my reading of Say Please was by only reading it on my lunch breaks at work, and even then it was over too soon.
The gender play and playing with what defines “lesbian” really resonated with me, though the emphasis most stories had on toys and referring to them as “cocks” rings differently with me on one day than it does on another. Anyone seeking only femme-identified lesbians in this anthology might be disappointed, but for a diverse selection of genderqueer dynamics, Say Please can’t be beat. For its being erotica, the writing and characterization for each piece is fantastic, making for a great collection.

Tag reviewed Dancing with Venus by Roscoe James

Usually if I don’t already know an author, I try to not read about them until I know how their work stands on its own. Once I’m done, I’ll decide if I’m interested in the rest of the writer’s work, and find out about them as a person on the way. The more critically I read, the more I realize it’s important to know the context of any reading material, especially fiction. Who wrote what you’re reading, and for what purpose? About a third of the way through Dancing with Venus, that’s exactly what I began wondering. Who wrote this, and why?
The novel starts out with clear, solid scenery and follows Jessie Butler, a blues singer who left home not to chase her dreams, but apparently to get away from her mother. She seems pretty cliche at first, a blues singer on a Greyhound home thinking about all the wrongs her mother committed against her as a teenager. She has a pink notebook she writes down her sexcapades in, except the first few entries are false. So far, we know Jessica Butler is a rough-and-tumble blues gal with a vendetta, going home for some reason. It isn’t clear at first why, which is a good hook to keep you reading, but the realization that she’s going home for a wedding and not some debilitating disease her sister left me frustrated; when I learned that Jessie had slept with her sister’s boyfriend some time ago, even moreso. The tie between Jessie and her sister, the drama of her sister getting married, barely makes an appearance.
It’s once Jessie is home and interacting with her engaged sisters’ friends that I began wondering about the author behind this novel and what their goal was. Jessie’s attitude toward other characters is superficial and feels contrived, and after the tenth time she mentally refers to her sister’s friends as the “cheer squad” I started getting uncomfortable. After the twentieth time Jessie is referred to with “Psycho Woman” as a nickname, I started feeling less like I was reading a lesbian erotica novel and more like I was watching a movie about infantile women catering to the male gaze.
Dancing with Venus is definitely lesbian erotica, though I don’t recall a single erotic scene that was exciting. Instead, I found myself cringing because words like “sopping” and “gullet” belong more in a cookbook than a sexy scene, and James tells instead of showing. The scenes, sexy or emotional, feel rushed and fall short of the depth they’re supposed to have. This is where the context becomes important for me; I’m not insistent on reading lesbian erotica written by lesbians, or even women, but it’s uncomfortable when every scene presented in a novel makes me question if the author really understands women. The degredation of the characters is too casual to be realistic, with the “cheer squad” and “Psycho Woman” and her “little pink book.” I didn’t feel like I was reading about adult lesbians, but about girls stuck in an awkward mix of affected Southern-style endearments and basic middle school language.
All in all, the characters weren’t convincing women for me, though the plot has a lot of potential. The push-and-pull between Jessie and Marci is frustrating and unfulfilling, but I feel this is due to the tell-don’t-show style of the writing more than anything, and that with skill it could be well-executed drama. I found myself not only indifferent, but eagerly waiting for Dancing with Venus to be over so I could reach a resolution and move on.

Karelia Stetz-Waters reviews Bella Key by Scarlet Chastain

Somewhere in Manhattan there is a think tank wherein scientists have spent the last ten years perfecting an instrument that will allow them to measure a book’s suitability for beach reading. On the Beach Readability Index (BRI) the novella Bella Key, by Scarlet Chastain, scores a perfect ten.

The first point in Bella Key’s BRI favor is that the story is set on a beach. The beach-reader can immerse herself in sand and surf, both fictional and actual.

Bella Key takes its name from the tiny island off the coast of Florida where the book is set. Bella Key’s heroine, Maddie, travels there on a whim, feeling overwhelmed and beset upon by her job and her mother’s insistence that she marry the male attorney she has been dating. She feels like something is missing and she finds it in the form of Sunny, the beautiful bed and breakfast owner who lets her stay for free, provided Maddie cooks for the two of them.

From there Bella Key unfolds like the classic romance, complete with requisite sexual tension, colorful supporting characters, a fair dose of sex, and [surprise!] a happy ending.  The story is thoroughly enjoyable and the writing is very professional. Chastain does not make any rookie mistakes. The pacing is good. The scenes are vivid. Dialogue moves quickly.

I only have two criticisms, both of which are related to the genre. Criticizing a book’s genre-based aspects is something I basically disapprove of. You can’t read a sleepy memoir about growing up Methodist and say it would have been more fun if there had been strippers or maybe an alien abduction.  It’s just not helpful. But here I go…

My first criticism was that I found Bella Key to be a bit short. (It’s a novella, so, of course, it’s short.)

I had read that the e-publishing revolution had brought the novella back from obscurity. I wanted to explore this literary form, so I picked Bella Key.

Now here is a true confession I would never make at my day job (I am an English professor and writer by trade): I don’t really like short stories. The problem is that they are so short. If I’m satisfied when they end at page 12, then they can’t have been that good to begin with. (There are a few exceptions. I love Isak Dinesen, and I’m a sucker for anthologies with a theme like Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City.) But usually I’m just disappointed when a short story is over.

I felt somewhat that way about Bella Key. It’s a perfect 10 on the Beach Readability Index because you can start it right after you finish your clam strips and finish it before you hit the margarita shack. But it is a good read, so, at the end of the day, I wish it had lasted longer.

My second criticism was that I didn’t quite believe the sex.

Everyone knows that the sex in romance novels is not realistic.  I’m okay with that. In fact, I get a little embarrassed when romance novelists try to be realistic by having the dog jump on the couple while they are in bed or by having one of the lovers get up and pee. That’s not what I came for.

Nonetheless, when dutiful, overworked, previously-heterosexual Maddie has sex with Sunny for the second time and covers her body in honey and then licks it off, I don’t believe it. I just don’t know anyone who would go that high on the glycemic index on her first lesbian weekend.  Of course, that’s the whole point. Bella Key is an erotic romance novel. Chastain would be well within her right to tell me that if I wanted real sex, I could just get a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves and read up.

Self-servingly, I’d like to point out that the scene would have worked if Bella Key had been a novel. If the honey came out on page 200 it would have all made sense.

At the end of the day, the really interesting thing about Bella Key is not the sex nor the fact that it is a novella, but the fact that Scarlet Chastain is a pen name for Sandra Bunino, a well-published author of M/F erotic romance.  (I read a few interviews with Chastain/Bunino. She sounds like a genuinely nice person.) Bella Key was not written for an exclusively – or even a primarily – lesbian readership.

I know some people who disapprove of this kind of crossing over, feeling that  lesbian erotica should be written for and by lesbians only.

Personally, I liked the idea that a successful M/F romance writer would introduce her primarily heterosexual readers to a lesbian love story. I can hear a few of my more politically correct friends saying “but that’s just another form of objectification!”


But I grew up on media that portrayed queer women as evil or noble-and-destined-to-be-tragically-killed.  Those were the options. I’ll take lesbians-as-sexy-romantic-heroines any day.


Marcia reviews Legal Briefs edited by S. L. Armstrong & Carrie Cunn


I’ll kick this review off with a bit of full disclosure: I’m an asexual queer who doesn’t particularly enjoy erotica on screen or in print unless it deals with character building. Perhaps I made an odd choice to choose Legal Briefs, a six-story anthology with legal and erotic themes. The collection by Storm Moon Press runs around 40,000 words and is a quick read. While only one story in the collection deals with a lesbian relationship, I read and (mostly) enjoyed the anthology for what it is: sexy fluff that requires no knowledge of the legal system or analysis to consume.

The anthology starts off with “Honest Lawyers” by Kelly Rand. The title refers not only to the bar where student lawyer Craig and reporter Luna begin their date, but to the refreshing honesty and up-front way that Luna, a MTF trans woman is introduced to the readers and to Craig. The plot and details are laid out with very little flair or fuss, and Craig, with very little explanation, is completely okay — and even enthusiastic — about Luna’s body. I found this to be refreshing. Why should we expect a negative reaction in an already escapist sexual fantasy? Add to that the quick and (also) tidy negotiation of sexual safe lines, and “Honest Lawyers” is a solid story.

“24 Hours” by Cari Z tells the story of Evan, a young gay man who suffers an assault at a gay bar and later must meet with his lawyer and the lawyer of the man who hurt him to defend himself once more. Fortunately, Don, the lawyer of Evan’s assailant, sees the situation for what it is, and assures Evan that Mr. K will be paying for Evan’s doctor bills. Don also has a history with Ross, the owner of the gay bar where the assault took place. The two of them had “a fucked up dynamic” and Don seems to continue that with his urge to take care of Evan. I wasn’t convinced by Don or Evan as love interests — an aspect of the story which is relied upon with no sex to distract the reader from lack of characterization. Even the side characters are all archetypes — the grumpy matchmaker ex, the sassy fag hag assistant, the cheerful grandmother-type who knows both parties and only wishes the best for them. Skip “24 Hours” even if you do enjoy reading about male gay romance.

“Study Buddy,” which follows, is the only lesbian story in the collection. I’ll talk more about it at the end.

The fourth installment of Legal Briefs is easily the longest and best-written of the collection, a sci-fi/fantasy piece that uses the law for more than just erotic background, and develops characters Illan and Daru. SFF is far from my genre of choice, so I personally found “His Best Defense” by Blaine D. Arden too long and boring, but for those who enjoy the genre, m/m romance, and fun world building details, this story should be a highlight of the anthology.

“Double-Cross” by Salome Wilde is another well-written piece, but it left me puzzled. The only first person narrated piece in the anthology, this story features a narrator who is homophobic and misogynistic in turns. Perhaps this is supposed to lend to the story’s noir feel, but for me, it was an immediate turn off. Another turn off was the surprise reveal (a double-cross, so to speak) that narrator Cal’s lady love interest not only “knows Cocque” but has one. The set up is fine and the story is quite clever, but I simply didn’t care to see the world through Cal’s eyes — no matter how interesting that world was.

Ending the collection is perhaps the sappiest offering, “Against the Law” by Gryvon. This story takes place in a world similar to ours but where homosexual acts are not only illegal, but punishable by death. Despite this, Henry and Abel find one another, and Henry is even able to secure a marriage of convenience to lesbian Lady Clary. I wasn’t wowed by this story, and as it was probably the most traditionally romantic/erotic of the bunch, that’s not much of a surprise.

Back to “Study Buddy,” as I promised. As previously noted, this story is the only one of the collection that features a lesbian relationship. And unfortunately, it is pretty terrible. Lawyer Melanie has just realized that she is a lesbian. She has no moral or social issues with this realization, which is, I suppose, convenient. As is only proper for a late in life convert, Melanie decides to go on a sort of crash course tour of the ladies she’s missed out on for years. She goes to a strip club, for no real reason than for the author to show us some strippers putting on a show. Melanie also tries out her local lesbian bar, and doesn’t have much luck. But wait — the solution has been under her nose the whole time. The barista at Melanie’s favorite coffee shop happens to be gay and more than willing to teach Melanie the ins and outs of lady sex in exchange for help studying for the LSAT.

Unlike the rest of the anthology, “Study Buddy” seemed barely edited. Melanie reads as very young — not only because of her naivete, but due to her non-existent personality.

If one round of fairly stimulating lesbian sex and a donation to Lambda Legal float your boat, please check out Legal Briefs. Otherwise, there are far better (and more arousing!) stories out there.

Alyssa reviews Dreaming of Her by Maggie Morton


Dreaming of Her by Maggie Morton is an erotic fiction novel with fantasy elements. The story revolves around two women: Isa, who blogs for a living and is on the outs with her last boyfriend, and Lilith, a “Dreammaker,” who lives in a different reality and whose job is to craft sex dreams for people on Earth. Lilith and Isa meet in Isa’s dreams, and though it’s forbidden on Lilith’s end, each falls for the other. Meanwhile, a monster connected to the Dreammakers’ world threatens Isa’s city. The plot runs through a series of sex scenes, developing as well as concluding through erotic content.

The plot of this novel is simple and easily resolved, and the inter-dimensional mechanics and world-setting are loose and vague. However, as this is erotic fiction first, I found this to be acceptable and it did not get in the way of my enjoyment of the book. The language is solid and polished, and in general, the characters are rounded enough for their purposes. My one problem I had while reading this novel was that there is a background character who is trans*, and for the two or three page duration of her presence, is not treated very respectfully. (Aspects of her appearance are insulted, and the characters gossip about the ways in which they can tell she’s trans*.)

I enjoyed the erotica in this novel. It is mostly woman-on-woman, although as a caveat, a couple cisgender men appear in sexual contexts, especially towards the beginning. There is also some light BDSM content.

I enjoyed reading Dreaming of Her and would recommend it if you’re looking for lesbian erotica.

[*Editors note: the author has contacted me (Danika) about this review and says “The character your reviewer mistook as trans was actually a drag queen. It’s a bummer that I didn’t make that clear enough in the novel – I may just not be very good at writing drag queen characters! Anyway, I would love it if you could add a correction to the review, because I really don’t want people not buying my book because of supposed transphobia in it.” and “I would NEVER write anything negative about a trans character unless the character speaking about the trans character was supposed to be a total dick.”]

Alyssa reviews Night Weaver by Madeleine Lycka

Night Weaver by Madeleine Lycka is an erotic vampire romance that centers around three vampire women. Two of them, Isabel and Ankit, have been undead for hundreds of years, and the third, Arrow, has just been turned into a vampire by Ankit. The story revolves around romance, art, sex, jealousy, and some minor politicking. Overall, I enjoyed Night Weaver. Although it suffers from some flaws and a lack of polishing, it is enjoyable, with hot sex scenes, well choreographed action scenes, solid characters, and a pleasing conclusion.

Like many independently published novels, Night Weaver is unpolished: it contains typos, a few confusing scene breaks, and at least one extraneous sex scene. Additionally, while the ending is satisfying in terms of content and loose ends, it feels abrupt and like it ought to have been fleshed out more. Despite these issues, I enjoyed reading Night Weaver. The story and characters are strong and well developed, and the characters’ internal universes—Ankit’s and Arrow’s both center around making art—are interesting to explore. The erotic scenes are also fun to read. Isabel, Ankit, and Arrow, the three vampire women, form a love triangle: Isabel and Ankit were together for a long time, but no longer, and Ankit and Arrow begin to fall in love, which enrages Isabel, who also happens to be queen of the vampires. Ankit is a painter and tattoo artist, and Arrow weaves tapestries; they are drawn together by their similar artist souls.

For vampire lore connoisseurs: these vampires have limited qualms when it comes to feeding on the blood of living humans. The protagonists in Night Weaver often kill to eat and rarely feel guilt over these actions. The origin of vampires is not explored in this setting, and some of the typical lore is ignored. These are nocturnal vampires who will burn in the sun, and can be killed only by sunlight or very violent physical trauma. We see Arrow work on one or two occasions to control her “beast,” but the vampires in Night Weaver are generally in control of themselves, and the only drawbacks to immortality seem to be night living, loss of human food, and occasionally deadly politics.

Ultimately, I would recommend checking out this book—it’s only four bucks for the electronic version on Amazon, and free to borrow if you have Prime—especially if you’re looking for vampires or vampire erotica in your lesbian fiction, or just some erotic, somewhat kinky, romance punctuated by action and high stakes.

Laura reviews “Thicker Than Blood” by Avery Vanderlyle

Publisher’s Blurb:

When the Nanotech Plague began killing off the large population of America using the tiny, implanted robots, the so-called “normals” took it upon themselves to wipe out the rest to prevent the spread. Now, fourteen years later, performer Ayana is in a dangerous position. Her nanotechnology implants are impossible to hide, having been tattooed onto her skin. Worse, the nanobots in her brother James are malfunctioning and slowly killing him. The pair of them, along with Ayana’s lover Yan, are slowly making their way across the fractured country, hoping to find a sanctuary and a cure.

David was only five when his parents died in the Plague. It wasn’t until he was grown that he realized that he’d been born with his own ‘bots, passed down from mother to child. Now, his second generation nanobots may be James’ salvation, if only Ayana and Yan can convince him that the nanobots aren’t a curse or a disease, but the key to rebuilding their ruined society.

Some thoughts:

  1. For an 11,000 word short story, there’s an awful lot of exposition. I mean, there’s definitely a need for explanation when the setting is… what it is. But this format really struggled to accommodate it all. A little breathing room would have been nice.
  2. That said, I wasn’t exactly choking it down. I found the premise really interesting. If Vanderlyle wrote another piece set in this world, I’d probably pick it up.
  3. It totally took me by surprise when the characters started boning. Storm Moon Press is apparently an erotic fiction publisher — and I’ve read another story of theirs, so I probably should have known that coming in. But, uh, yeah. This is erotica.
  4. Regarding the sex scenes: there was a lot of shimmying. I wasn’t crazy about it, but… I guess it could have been worse? There’s no lesbian sex, although there are two women in a relationship together. There are explicit M/F and M/M scenes.
  5. What actually happens in this story is ridiculous. You think it’s going to be mediocre erotica, and then at the end… Well, it’s one of those things where it’s so bad, it comes back around again and is brilliant. And hilarious. On this basis (and this basis alone), I recommend it.

“Thicker Than Blood” by Avery Vanderlyle is available for $1.99 in eBook format.