Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 by Sinclair Sexsmith (Editor)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this collection. There were a couple of stories I genuinely enjoyed, but more that I was somewhat indifferent to. I liked that there was a diverse mix of stories, all different types of people from different walks of life. Most of the stories though followed a similar pattern.
This was not a collection that suited my tastes entirely and a couple of them were not written as well as others, but it was a nice mix of mostly BDSM kink stories.
Full Review with Spoilers
I went into this book with high expectations. A sapphic retelling of a classic fairytale is something I will always jump on. I was extremely happy to see that this book delivered and then some. The entire story is told from the perspective of Alyce, the traditional villain of Sleeping Beauty. The books acts as much like an origin story as much as it is a retelling.
Alyce is a fantastic character. She is told she is essentially evil and dark her whole life, that she is something other. It was heartbreaking to see how she deals with this her whole life and as much as she tries not to be that person, it definitely shaped who she is. She does what is essentially considered bad things because it is what is expected of her and what she is brought up to believe is the only thing she can do. Aurora is also a great main character. She is a princess and at first glance Alyce’s total opposite. The relationship that builds between them through the book is so well done. It was great to see them connect over their general dislike of everyone around them then it progress to Alyce trying to help her break the curse that will kill her when she turns 21. I loved seeing Alyce’s emotion progress and escalate even if she could quite see it for what it is.
There was a very interesting magic, social structure, and history developed in this book. I especially loved how the decline in ruling from a Queendom to a Kingdom where the queens have essentially given all their power to her husband over time really hinted at the same type of direction the story was going to take. The author did a great job placing these hints and connecting everything in a smooth flow that never felt like an information overload to the reader.
The storyline flowed so very well. There was a fantastic mix of emotional drama, angst and the sweeter buildup on the romance side. The romance was definitely not the focus of the story, though it was very much there. It really focus on Alyce’s build up to becoming a villain. And it was such a ride! Once Alyce crosses that line into actually killing people I have no idea what I should feel. Up to that point we get to see everything that has just been stacking against her and in a way we really see the justification for her actions. I ended the book completely blown away by the turn of events. We see Alyce exactly how we expect, guarding a sleeping princess against a kingdom that hates her.
This was a great retelling that gives the reader a new way of looking at a classic and very well known fairytale. Good story telling and great character development make this an extremely enjoyable read and one you won’t want to put down.
I feel that I should start off by saying clearly that the stories in this book didn’t hit my particular brand of erotica. It’s not to say they aren’t good for some, but for me, it didn’t really click. There were a couple of stories in this collection that I did enjoy though.
Pleasure with Her Pain by Ada Lowell was one that I enjoyed a great deal. This story involves dealing with a sexual kink while suffering from a health condition. For me, this one had a great deal of emotion attached to it that made me appreciate the sexual interactions more.
Modern Lovers (You Probably Haven’t Heard of Them) by V.R. Verten was another story I liked for different reasons. I enjoyed the gritty power play that was featured and I liked the history the two main characters had.
Most of the rest of the stories featured in this collection had things I enjoyed, though there was a couple that just didn’t work for me. Most of them, but not all, featured kink in some form and primarily that centered around BDSM. (Again, not all of them are BDSM specific.) I am perfectly fine with kink and BDSM, but I think perhaps I simply enjoy them more when they are part of a longer story. I need a bit more context and possibly more of an emotional connection.
Overall, I think this was a good collection of sexual encounters that people from various walks of life could relate to and feel empowered by. For me though, I wasn’t able to really connect with them as well.