MEC reviews some NSFW books

Please note that these were read purely for review purposes – the things I do for you, the C-Spot readers. (yeah, right)

Erotica is an iffy thing to review – everyone has their own particular tastes and expectations.  Some like a compelling story to push things along, others like to get right into the action and the more detail the better.   And then there’s the whole vanilla vs kink – how much is too much.

I suspect I’m in the middle – I want to read something that is well written and sets off some sparks on my Kindle.   If I want to read badly written smut – I’ll go online.  I’ll forgive a multitude of sins if there’s a good plot or compelling characters – and sometimes a little bit of mindless smut is good for the soul if it catches my fancy.  I do seem to enjoy humour when I read erotica – not slapstick/prat falls, but just a nice edge of humour to counterbalance whatever intense or sweaty scenes are coming up and also keeps things a bit lighter and not so serious. Because smutty stories are for fun – not deep introspection.

Shameless by Britt Ryder

I’m torn between a 4 and a 5. I really liked it and it was was one of the best erotica stories I’ve read over the last couple of years. I’m going 4.5 as, for an erotica novella/long short story, it was excellent.

This is Kris Bryant writing erotica under a pen name – based on how much I’ve enjoyed her novels recently, I thought what the hell and finished the book with a “oh wow – not what I expected but – oh wow”. A very steamy bit of erotica – imaginative, well written and definitely delivers on the erotica. An enjoyable quick read that sets the stage with a nice build up and a pretty damn good conclusion with not one but two twists delivered with a subtle bit of humour. I particularly liked that there’s a framework around the erotica and there’s enough in the story to give Emery a relatively well balanced character – as much as you can in 50 odd pages, she wasn’t a one dimensional cardboard cut out. It also makes me want to go visit a museum.

Note:  Emery shows up again (hooray!) in the BSB anthology Escape to Pleasure.  I adore Emery, the big lug, always prepared and always so accommodating.

Definitely Recommended

Breaking the Rules by Larkin Rose

What a great little book.  If it had been any longer I think my e-reader would have overheated. I haven’t read anything from Larkin Rose before and was really pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book.  From what I can tell, Rose had put out quite a few books between 2004- 2014 then went quiet for a bit.  She appears to be back with a vengeance with two new books in 2018/2019 and one more coming out shortly.

Breaking the Rules closer to erotica than romance – but it still hits the romantic mark in an odd way. Both MCs are not looking for relationships for different reasons but it’s pretty incendiary when they meet … and meet again … and again. Not the most complex plot but Gin and Carmen were smart, funny and likable.  The dialogue was smart and sassy banter that really made me connect with the characters – their first meeting had me laughing out loud.  My only quibble is each of their reasons for not wanting a relationship – Gin’s philandering ex was a cop and now she’s sworn off all first responders (her constant “I don’t date heroes” became annoying) and Carmen not wanting to hurt a potential partner in the event that she dies as part of her job – were a bit over the top, but it kept them apart enough to make the push and pull of the building relationship work.

Recommended

Vapor by Larkin Rose

This is an earlier book by Rose.  After reading Breaking the Rules, I scanned through her other books and picked this one as another sample of her writing.  Horrible cover.

A good read if you’re looking for a hot and sweaty erotic romance. Rose writes erotica very well – pages and pages that all but set off the fire alarm in my house. Romance is possibly not the right word for this – hate is a major plot driver. It definitely makes the passion burn hotter (this has some pretty intense “hate sex”), but I sometimes felt that Vic was almost overwhelmed by her emotions. Sure, Ashley was an ass for ghosting her and using their night as fodder for her book – but she freaked and ran away and actually felt bad about it. Vic’s revenge was much more mercenary and calculated. The sex must have been phenomenal (yeah … Rose made that abundantly clear) as I don’t know how anyone could forgiver Vic. But this is fiction and it is erotica and it does run very hot – so if you don’t pattern your own behaviour after Vic (at least outside the sheets) then enjoy.

Recommended if you love angst and can stomach the anger

Cute Socks:A Shy Girl and Her Best Friend Have Naked Fun While Home Alone by Cammie Conte

Somewhere between a long short story and a short novella, Cute Socks is pretty much what the subtitle advertises. Definitely fits in the erotica category, but Conte builds up the story a bit with the first portion of the story focused on the rather boring and prudish Judy discovering the joys of spending the day wearing cute socks (and nothing else). Hey – I said this is erotica. But it is kind of cute and sweet and after a bit of a build up, the debauchery begins in earnest as Judy and her friend embrace the socks and nothing but the socks lifestyle. A fun read and definitely a novel premise to get things going. I’m going to dock a quarter point because I found the neighbour a bit creepy, and another for the disquieting feeling at times that Judy seemed to act younger/less mature than 18 (or maybe I’m just really getting old) but overall I enjoyed the read.

The Sex Therapist Next Door by Meghan O’Brien

You’ll either love or hate this book – all depending on what you are looking for. If you are looking for extremely well written (and yes … beyond hot and steamy) erotica – you’ll definitely love this one. If you’re looking for a intricately plotted romance – you probably shouldn’t have picked a book with the title “The Sex Therapist Next Door”. Seriously, what would you think this book is about.

O’Brien is well known for writing some of the best lesbian erotic novels out there – and this one definitely falls in that category. That being said, O’Brien is also a non-erotic author and there’s enough of a plot to move things along and the characters do get a bit of a chance to shine outside the bedroom/classroom. The basic plot is simple (sex therapist hires her next door neighbour to fill in as her assistant for a bunch of sex education workshops) with the titular character, Diana, going as far as to list out the upcoming workshops so readers know what to expect (or look forward to) as the novel progresses. This may be the kind of book to be read in small doses or the sheer amount of sex occurring (and the length of each of these scenes) may be a bit overwhelming.

Recommended

Short Story Collection by Camryn Eyde

Three of these stories seems to have been published as stand alones, but have been packaged together with a “bonus” story thrown in for good measure.  You can sample these stories separately or get the full collection – and they are available through Kindle Unlimited.

I fell in love with Eyde’s Tricky series and happened to stumble upon this collection of stories while trolling through Amazon, looking for anything new by Eyde – they were obviously erotica but I really like Eyde’s writing style, so I gave them a go.    If you read them in order they go from intense and raunchy to sweet and romantic.   There’s a great intensity in each one of them and Eyde does write erotica quite well.  You definitely will get some bang for your buck.

Taming the Boss is a raunchy power play kind of story that involves an ice queen CEO, Elizabeth, and her Executive Assistant, Peta.   There’s a level of D/s in it if that sort of thing floats your boat – but the relationship still seems relatively well balanced.  And there’s the ice queen motif that works – despite being a bit of a bitch, I still kinda liked Liz and her inability to deal with the emotions that Peta has evoked.  (I’m a sucker for an Ice Queen)

Celebrity Pass is more of a “never thought it could happen to me” as a reporter, Cassidy, scores an interview with a sex symbol actress, Isobel, that just happens to be on her “Celebrity Pass” list – you can pretty guess where things are going to go.  There’s a fair amount of humour in this one with Cassidy bumbling and stumbling in the presence of her celebrity crush.  Luckily Isobel is amused.  A great steamy story with a few twists.

Insta-meet is a bit of a sweeter story – more of a romantic build up (as much as you can build up over a three hour afternoon).  Chloe has traveled to Melbourne and while there, joins up with her roomate’s sister, Evie, Insta-meet photography group.   There’s a nice blend of character, humour, and some great chemistry between the two.   Definitely more romantic than the first two, but still quite a bit of heat.

She is the bonus story in this collection and it is decidedly not an erotica story – a kiss is about as explicit as it gets.  This is a remarkably sweet story where the bitter and grumpy Brodie somehow finds all her defenses defeated by a persistent woman who worms her way into her heart.  This was sweet, romantic, a little bit mushy and I loved it. I really liked this one – it was different and a lovely way to end the collection.

Definitely Recommended

Escape to Pleasure: Lesbian Travel Erotica – Anthology

If you’re looking for some short and steamy reads you’ll likely find something to your taste in this book.

The nice thing about an anthology is you can pick it up and put it down when you have a bit of time and don’t necessarily want to start a new book. Escape to Pleasure provides 18 erotica shorts from a number of the authors (a lot are Boldstrokes authors) that you can meander through at your leisure. Although these are travel themed – I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading them at the beach.

Fans will likely start with *their* favourite author’s offering, but then hopefully flip through and discover (or re-discover) new authors. There’s a wide variety of stories/styles so lots to choose from – vices for everyone!

As with any anthology, there are hits and there are misses but if you don’t like one of the stories, just turn the page and you can try another.  For me, the strongest of the stories were from Jeannie Levig, Britt Ryder (omigod … is that really Kris Bryant?!? Wow), Aurora Rey and I also liked the Ali Vali story for the quirky humor.

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