Tag Archives: Anthology

Review: Never Say Never ed. by Alison Tyler

Never Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for LoversNever Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for Lovers by Alison Tyler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews.

Review Excerpt:

As with most Cleis Press anthologies, the stories featured within NEVER SAY NEVER are uniformly entertaining and perfectly chosen to represent their individual topics. Those that were especially effective for me tended to explore less obvious ways to highlight their assigned topic. Charlotte Stein’s “Allowed” showed how being deprived of the one thing you want makes it the one thing you want even more. “Silk” by Teresa Noelle Roberts proves yet again that submission is just as much psychological as it is physical. And Dante Davidson reminds us in “No Shame” that knowing exactly what will happen next can be the best aphrodisiac ever.

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Review: Summer Rain (Love In The Rain series), ed. by Sarah Frantz

Summer RainSummer Rain by Ruthie Knox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the authors for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

SUMMER RAIN is a new anthology of short stories by an all-star list of romance writers where each story has three things in common with the others. The first feature tying them all together is at least one scene where rain appears to play a key role in the plot. The second characteristic they all share is that each and every one is beautifully written and deeply touching. And the final, most important aspect of every story in SUMMER RAIN is that they were all donated by their writers and editor so that 100% of all profits from the sale of this anthology could be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

As with any large collection of stories, even ones with such impressive credentials such as these, it’s likely not every story would be to every reader’s preference. But I have to admit that at least for me, I loved them all so much that I had to stop reading for a while after each one, so I could wallow in a lovely book hangover before moving on to the next. These may be relatively short stories, but each packed such a visceral punch that there was no way I could read them all in a single sitting like I usually do. More than one left me in happy tears at its end, but none left me unsatisfied, though it would have been nice to follow a few of the romances beyond what was provided here, if only to enjoy being in their world for just a bit longer.

I know I haven’t been very specific here about what is in each of the stories in SUMMER RAIN, but that’s because I want every reader to experience the same feeling of discovery I had, without any expectations other than the knowledge that you’ll be reading something very special. SUMMER RAIN is a wonderful way to help people who have suffered from sexual violence, but it is also a collection of achingly beautiful romances so good that I bought my own copy. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.

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Review: Best Erotic Romance 2014, ed. Kristina Wright

Best Erotic Romance 2014Best Erotic Romance 2014 by Kristina Wright

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews. The full text of the review can be found there.

One of the things Cleis Press does best is their yearly anthologies of short erotic stories, usually pegged to a specific theme or conceit. So with Best Erotic Romance 2014, I knew there would be some wonderful sexy times between couples who truly love each other, and that’s exactly what I found.

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Review: Twisted – Bondage With An Edge Anthology, ed. Alison Tyler

Twisted: Bondage With an EdgeTwisted: Bondage With an Edge by Alison Tyler

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews. The full text of the review can be found there.

Although I enjoyed reading the whole book, there were a few selections that I would definitely consider as favorites. They were the stories where I was immediately engaged without having any idea what would happen next, and pleased by where the story ended up: “Foundation Stone” by Jax Baynard, “Rope Drought” by Teresa Noelle Roberts, and “Broken” by Alison Tyler. These three stories explored a variation on the bondage theme that I found unique without being over the top, and each made me wish that they had more pages. Not because I found what was there to be incomplete, but so I could stay in the worlds they’d created for just a bit longer.

If you’re a fan of short erotic fiction, and bondage is one of your reading kinks, you can’t go wrong with Twisted. It’s a perfect example of what makes the Cleis Press erotic anthologies so reliably good.

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Review: Kept – An Erotic Anthology

KeptKept by Sorcha Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by one of the authors for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews. You can find the entire review posted there.

Overall, Kept was an entertaining read, and all of the stories were memorable. I’d recommend it to anyone who prefers their PNR/SF romance with a capture fantasy twist.
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Review: Marked by Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend, Kit Rocha

Marked (Beyond, #3.5; Thompson & Sons)Title: Marked
Author: Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend, Kit Rocha
Series: Metamorphosis #1, Thompson & Sons #1, Beyond #3.5
Genre: erotic romance anthology
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook
Release Date: February 10, 2014

A copy of this book was provided by the authors for an honest review.

Publisher Summary:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch – the man she loved three years before. While she’s not sure she’s cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up.

Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he’s not giving up until she’s his.

Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up–and wearing O’Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O’Kane woman always gets what she wants.

My Review:

I’m usually wary about reading anthologies for review, since I’ve often found them to be more work than pleasure, but when I heard MARKED included another visit to Kit Rocha’s Beyond series, I knew I had to have it. It also helped to have only three longer novellas included, instead of a dozen or more shorter stories. Although the stories take place in different authors’ book series, each ties into the motif implied by the anthology name by including at least one or more scenes regarding tattoos and the meaning they have for the characters in that world.

BEYOND TEMPTATION is the first novella in MARKED, and if any story belongs in an anthology about the meaning of tattoos, it’s one featuring the O’Kanes and their infamous ink. I’m not sure, though, if a new reader to the Beyond series would be able to get into it as quickly as someone more familiar with that world. (I actually went back and read the first three books again first, just to be sure, and let me tell you, those books more than hold up to a second read.)

We met Noah and Emma briefly back in BEYOND PAIN, when he was the only one with the technical savvy and connection to get vital data back to the O’Kanes from the other sectors not under the gang’s control. At that time, it was obvious that the history he and she had shared in Sector 5 went deeper than just his friendship with her now-late brother. But it’s only BEYOND TEMPTATION that we eventually learn what had brought them together before and what threatened to keep them permanently apart. Emma’s brother had been trapped by his own addictions fed by the evil in Sector 5, and that legacy lurks behind every moment of sorrow for Noah and Emma. But as a newly inked O’Kane woman, Emma has the strength and security to go after what she wants, and she won’t let the mistakes of the past keep her from the man she’s meant to be with. It may be shorter than the usual Kit Rocha story, but the extensive world-building already established in the previous Beyond books helps make BEYOND TEMPTATION a thoroughly enjoyable read and an essential installment in the series. 4.5 stars

After experiencing the joy of being back in Sector Four, I was a little concerned that the rest of MARKED couldn’t possibly live up to my now-lofty expectations. Little did I realize that the second story, ROCKY RIDE, would be just as good, if not a tiny bit better. This was my first Vivian Arend story, and it began with a (somewhat literal) bang. In that opening scene, Constable Anna Coleman meets up with her secret boyfriend and local biker dude Mitch Thompson, out on an isolated country road for some incredibly hot and heavy sexual fantasy fulfillment. When their amazing sex is over, Anna retreats behind her policewoman persona once again, leaving Mitch to wonder how a girl like her will ever be brave enough to go public with a guy like him. But as Vivian Arend then so perfectly shows, the two of them aren’t that different after all, when the facades (and clothing) are all stripped away. Even when it seems like they can’t make a real go of it, especially when so many other people are against them based on their prejudice against him, true motives and true love ultimately win out, making their reconciliation all the sweeter. ROCKY RIDE not only made me want to continue Vivian Arend’s new Thompson & Sons series, but to go back and check out her Rocky Mountain Heat series which preceded it. 5 stars 

It’s a rare anthology where every reader loves every story, and Lauren Dane’s ALL THAT REMAINS was that one story in MARKED I did not love. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth where a devastating virus has killed most of the women, and resulted in the birth of fewer female children being born to those who survived. This has resulted in a dramatically different society in which more people are in committed triads instead of couples, and where women and their sexuality are celebrated and protected from both censure and physical harm. Summer is a young woman living in Paradise Village somewhere in what sounds like it used to the northwest part of the United States. She has settled there in support of her sister Dulce, who lost her own two husbands and their shared children in a tragic train crash years earlier, and has never completely recovered from the loss. Summer has enjoyed intimate relationships with other men, but never been interested anything long term until she meets Charlie, a stranger to the area, and finds herself immediately attracted to him  Charlie is looking for a woman to complete his own triad, and much to Summer’s surprise, the second man in the relationship turns out to be Hatch, the man who was Summer’s first true love and who broke her heart when he left her behind several years ago. Now he’s back and wants to her to join her and his beloved Charlie in a permanent commitment, but there can be only sex between them until Summer can learn to forgive and Hatch can learn to leave his itch for wandering behind.

It was difficult for me to connect with ALL THAT REMAINS, most likely due to it not having enough pages to contain all the back story details. In a full-length book, I could have discovered for myself what life was like for Summer when she was growing up on the New Earth commune and falling in love with Hatch. and what happened to Hatch when he was traveling west to follow her after she’d moved to Portland with her family. But because ALL THAT REMAINS is a novella, all of that was told instead of shown, and it left me searching for an emotional grounding that all the beautifully written sex scenes simply couldn’t provide. 3 stars.

Review: Best Bondage Erotica 2014

Best Bondage Erotica 2014Title: Best Bondage Erotica 2014
Author: Rachel Kramer Bussel (Editor)
Genre: erotica
Publisher: Cleis Press
Format: ebook and print
Release Date: January 7, 2014

A copy of this book was provided by the editor for an honest review.

Publisher Summary:

Rachel Kramer Bussel ties her readers up in knots each year as they anticipate the very best BDSM stories of the year. And, she does not disappoint, defying the odds and occasionally gravity with tales of bondage at its best. These whip-smart tales of domination, submission, spanking, and other highly imaginative acts keep readers in a frenzy. Best Bondage Erotica 2014 features 21 hot bondage tales that titillate from the bedroom to the dungeon and beyond. Handpicked by best-selling erotica editor Bussel, these kinky stories show and tell exactly what it means to wield the special power of being in charge of someone else. These characters manipulate rope, handcuffs, leather straps, a St. Andrew’s cross, a chair, and, in Raziel Moore’s “My Own Device,” a special contraption crafted just for bondage, with the ultimate aim of pleasing each partner. Here, bondage takes place behind secret doors, at sex parties, at the office, on a mountain hike, and, of course, at home.

My Review:

I always have trouble reviewing anthologies, especially really good ones like Best Bondage Erotica 2014, because there are so many good stories and how can I possibly do them all justice in a single review? I could try to talk about each one individually, but there are twenty of them here, and frankly I don’t have the fortitude to write that much, or expect anyone would want to read through a long list of mini reviews.

What I can do is let you know that if you are looking for a collection of fascinating, thought-provoking and scorching hot stories, look no further than Best Bondage Erotica 2014.
You can consume the entire book in one glorious gulp, or you can do as I did, which is to savor each story individually, then put the book down until later, so that each story can work its way into your subconscious more thoroughly.

No individual story here runs more than 20 pages, and for me, that’s the biggest strength of the anthology as a whole. Each is perfectly self-contained, describing a moment in time with an ending that provides basic closure, even while it continues to bounce around in your brain as you consider the possibilities of what could have happened next. I enjoyed every one of them, but my absolute favorite was Anyway by Sommer Marsden, as I immediately identified with its heroine as she struggled to free herself from a predicament of her own making.

If you’re at all familiar with Rachel Kramer Bussel’s work as an editor, you already know that she’s got a keen eye for what works in an anthology such as this one. And if you’re at all familiar with writers in the BDSM erotica genre, you’ll see many of your favorites here, doing what they do best. But if this is your first time, I envy you, because you’re about to discover a whole new world of reading satisfaction in Best Bondage Erotica 2014. Enjoy! 4.5 stars