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Review: Please, Sir (Blog Tour)

I was lucky enough to be able to be included at the very end of this month-long Please, Sir blog tour (full list of the tour participants and their posts or blogs below). I received Please, Sir a couple of weeks ago and have been working my way through it. It is an outstanding anthology focused on stories from the submissive perspective of male-dominant and female-submissive parings. I was expecting, like most anthologies, to have a mixed bag of stories, some that turned me on, others that were well-written but less interesting, but that was not the case.

The book starts with a bang with the editor Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Introduction titled Risk and Reward, setting the theme for the entire book. The now over-quoted beginning:

If you ask me, submission is an art form. It requires dedication, focus, commitment and desireæand there’s no single way of doing it. It’s about unlocking something within yourself so you can reach beyond your normal limits, exposing your body and soul in order to go somewhere you cannot get to alone.

I had a lover who always told me that the key to life is “High risk, high reward.” The same is true about kink, and this is evident throughout the stories in Please, Sir, which explores female submission and male dominance from the sub’s point of view. When these characters take risks, they are rewarded…even when those rewards look like “punishment.” They are rewarded in all kinds of ways, from being bound to being praised to being choked, spanked or put on display. They are rewarded by being tested again and again.

You can read the entire introduction here.

I found this theme to be evident in every story, and myself relating to the stories in one way or another, especially coming from a primarilly male-dominant/female-submissive relationship. Each story was well-written and engaging, painting a picture of the world and power in which the couple operated. I was connected with and turned on by every story in the book, regardless of how close or different the characters were from my own experiences, which doesn’t happen often.

Before reading this book I had bought Yes, Sir, another of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s books on the same subject matter, but had not yet gotten around to reading it, and after the amazing experience I have had reading through the exceptional stories in this book I will be pushing it to the top of my reading pile. I am also going to give this to my partner Onyx to read, or perhaps read a story or two aloud to him that I particularly enjoy. There are so many, though, I’m not sure I would know how to choose.

The book showcases a variety of ways to play with power and exchange power between a couple, from casual interactions to long-term committed partners, first-times to experienced players, and a range of topics. Breath Play, bondage, fear, anticipation, teasing, rough sex, and so much more. The writers articulate the varied experiences of the submissive partner in different, interesting, and relateable ways that, I believe, anyone with an interest in female submission would enjoy.

Product Specs

Name: Please, Sir

Editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel

Publisher: Cleis Press

Published: 2010

Page Count: 206

Story Count: 22

Please, Sir virtual book tour dates for May 2010
May 1 Baser Instincts
May 2 Man Eater Book
May 3 Hard and Fast
May 4 Erobintica
May 5 Dangerous Lilly
May 6 Sugarbutch Chronicles
May 7 The Sex Carnival
May 8 My Kinky World
May 9 Lusty Literati
May 10 Prurient Interests
May 11 Sarah Sloane
May 12 Hello Saraid
May 13 Desk Full of Dildos (That Toy Chick)
May 14 Julian Arancia (Flavius Iulianus)
May 15 Kristina Wright
May 16 Exploring Intimacy
May 17 Erotica Electronica
May 18 Our Goings On
May 19 SpastikFantastik
May 20 Alpine Subdreams
May 21 Orlando Sex & Relationships Examiner
May 22 Beth Wylde
May 23 Heather Lin
May 24 Pieces of Jade
May 25 Heartbreak Nympho
May 26 Yolanda Shoshana
May 27 ¡Qué sinvergüenza!
May 28 Leather Yenta (Lolita Wolf)
May 29 Marilyn’s Room (Marilyn Jaye Lewis)
May 30 Wanton Lotus Reviews
May 31 Curvaceous Dee

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Review: X- The Erotic Treasury

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I’m not sure where I first heard about X: The Erotic Treasury, but I always heard epic things. Is it the greatest erotica book since sliced bread? It just might be.

The stories within X are highly variable and don’t seem to favor any orientation, fetish, or style except maybe fantastic writing. This collection is supposed to be the best-of-the-best, which is why it’s a treasury. The editor, amazing sex-goddess Susie Bright, says that when she first imagined the anthology “the phrase that crossed [her] mind was ‘an embarassment of riches.'” A chest of pirate treasure with jewels and riches overflowing from it. I can say that she succeeded in realizing her idea.

Each story is carefully crafted and wonderfully written, they all sucked me in and turned me on regardless of content. I found myself fetishizing and getting turned on by objects, ideas, and body parts which normally don’t do it for me. I also found myself turned on by situations and desires that are long-time fantasies, but imagining them in new lights or through a different lens, pictures painted for me in such beautiful ways.

My favorite story in the book, titled “Sweating Profusely in Merida: A Memoir” by Carol Queen is short and sweet, just barely over four and a half pages, and starts with the description of a sex party. Of course, I won’t deny that Carol Queen herself may be the reason this is my favorite story, as I always love and identify with her writings, but that’s neither here nor there. Despite it’s short length it gave me the impression that I knew these characters, just from a few lines, and easily lead me to a place where I couldn’t help but touch myself, and not all erotica makes me need to do so.

As a lover of erotica, I was highly impressed by X. While many anthologies waver in their excitement and some stories fail to grip the reader, I found that every story just brought me higher and higher, like digging through a treasure chest and never finding a tarnished jewel.

Much thanks to Babeland for letting me review X: The Erotic Treasury!

Product Specs

Title: X: The Erotic Treasury

Editor: Susie Bright

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Published: September 1, 2008 (Hardcover First Edition)

Page Count: 367

Story Count: 40

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Review: Best Lesbian Erotica 08

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I started reading the Best Lesbian Erotica series in 2002 with Best Lesbian Erotica 03. It actually used to be my staple christmas gift from my best friend for quite a few years, since the next year’s edition comes out in early December. Somehow I missed the last few years, from 2007 on, though I plan to change that soon, so when I had the chance to grab Best Lesbian Erotica 08 I knew I had to get it to further my collection.

One reason why I’ve loved the Best Lesbian Erotica (BLE) series for so many years is because the stories are always fresh and unique, exposing me to something new in each one. The stories always have a wide variety of scenes and sexualities between them, always focusing on more than just the sex and more than strap-on sex. When I started reading the series six years ago I was relatively inexperienced, though I had already read a lot of erotica, and BLE exposed me to many different facets of sexuality and better written erotica than what I was reading online.

The theme of Best Lesbian Erotica 08 is transgression. Tristan Taormino describes it in her foreword as not just the transgression that occurs when one comes out as queer and tells their own story, but a transgression beyond what is “normal,” expected, and acceptable. Each story keeps you on your toes, delivering “erotic surprises” (according to the back of the book) and taking you to new heights of depravity and delicious transgression.

In one of my favorite stories in the book, “The Bridge” by Isa Coffey, what starts out as a butch/femme fling in a car turns into a veritable orgy through small extreme but mostly believable leaps. The story itself is written in a jagged almost disjointed manner which made me feel like I was experiencing the situation as it was happening, a vivid but jarring re-telling of something which seems more like fact than fiction.

Another of my favorite stories, “Domme’s Games” by Rachel Kramer Bussel, two femmes meet for dinner on a date set up by their friends, but that quickly transforms into a D/s fantasy game performed by a professional Dominatrix and a first-time submissive who can’t believe what she’s doing in public. Through a series of non-sexual yet sexually charged commands the pair gets through dinner and heads back to the Domme’s place, but before they go inside the submissive femme must strip and get herself off in the car.

There are over a dozen more stories each with their own delightful twists and erotic turns which very often kept me on my toes. While many of the transgressions in the book are not necessarily shocking, though some are unexpected, they are wildly enjoyable erotic romps into the fantasy life of a stranger.

As Taormino says at the end of her foreward: “Ultimately, what ties all these stories together is the desire to push something perhaps a little too far, to give the middle finger to ‘polite society.’ These writers have given us vibrant characters who defy roles and expectations and challenge traditions and norms. These characters don’t just go against the grain–they rub their leather-clad thighs, cum-soaked fingers, drenched pussies and saliva-coated cocks right up against the grain, leaving a mark so you know they were there” (ix-x).

You can find Best Lesbian Erotica 08 along with other Books and Erotica and sex toys of every flavor on SexToy.Com.

Much thanks to SexToy.Com for letting me review Best Lesbian Erotica 08!

Product Specs

Title: Best Lesbian Erotica 08

Publisher: Cleis Press

Editor: Tristan Taormino

Page Count: 240

13 Comments

Book Review: Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes

Despite absolutely loving rope bondage I really have only owned one bondage book before now, The Erotic Bondage Handbook, which isn’t exactly for beginners. It has great information within it, but assumes you know knots and ties already, unlike Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes. Two Knotty Boys is a rope bondage instruction manual that is wonderful for beginners because it not only explains how to do different knots which you may or may not already know, and 37 different ties, but it also has pictures with captions detailing each knot and tie so that you can follow along easily.

I had absolutely no trouble in following the step-by-step instructions in Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes. It is extremely helpful for the visual learner, since it’s easy to duplicate what you see in the images.

The book is separated into six basic sections: Introduction, The Knots, Basic Bondage, Decorative Bondage, Dominance Bondage, and Sex Bondage. The introduction gives you some basic ideas about rope bondage safety and different types of rope so that you are fully aware of the tools you need and how to be safe before engaging in the techniques described in the later sections.

The Knots goes over a number of basic knots and weaves as well as more complex ones like the trinity (celtic) knot. I thought I would have trouble with some of them, but most of them were easy to duplicate on the first or second try due to the picture guides.

Basic Bondage includes a few basic restraints, a rope spreader bar (they call “basic wrap”), rope shackle, anke wrap, a harness, and a gorgeous “dragonfly sleeve” which is kind of like rope armbinders (though prettier). They are all, pretty much, exactly as it says: basic. These are ties that don’t really require huge amounts of experience or talent to pull off, they are simple and easy to follow, as is evidenced by the basic wrap I put on Onyx (see picture). However, just because they are basic doesn’t mean they are not pretty on the eye or useful.

Basic Wrap - Rope Spreader Bar

Decorative Bondage is, well, filled with exactly that: bondage that is more for show than for functionality. It includes a corset, gauntlets (on the model on the front of the book), bra, panties, “good luck knot” harness (which is based around the “good luck knot” which is a five-sided knot–it is also on the model on the front of the book), and a bodysuit. Each compliments the wearer well, and while they are slightly more difficult than the basic bondage section they are also fairly easy once you get the knot techniques down. I made the panty which consists of a trinity knot (the celtic knot I mentioned earlier) and snake weave. It was very easy to make once I had the knot and weave down.

Dominance Bondage is more the type of bondage that we think of when wanting to tie someone up. It’s functional bondage that’s more intricate than the basic bondage but that can turn our willing victims into helpless slaves (or subs or bottoms as the case may be). It consists of three harnesses that don’t just decorate the body they also capture the wrists behind the back or neck, a hogtie, a bit gag, a bridle, and a “rope cage” which traps the body in a sort of rope bodysuit.

Sex Bondage is, well, exactly that. While there is a bit of overlap in Dominance Bondage and Sex Bondage, as much of Dominance Bondage could be used during sex, Sex Bondage focuses on affixing items to the rope wearer. It has a table top tie, two chair ties (kneeling facing the back of the chair, and sitting in the chair), and a rope strap-on harness. Each of these leave the wearer ready for sex, either open and unable to escape or with a new sex toy attached to fuck with.

All the ties are easy to do once you practice the knots a bit and with a willing and patient partner. I’ve only done a small amount of the ties that I hope and plan on doing, both on myself and on Onyx, but I feel more knowledgeable after reading through Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes than I was before, and possibly ready to take on the first bondage book I bought after getting these basics down.

The best part about Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes is that it is so accessible and easy beginners with little to no rope technique knowledge can pick it up and start rigging instantly. It makes fancy-looking ties and harnesses seem like a breeze to do. I would imagine it would be a great staple for intermediate or advanced riggers to have around the house as well, as it is much easier to follow than a text-only book.

With the holidays coming up, as well, it can make the perfect gift! You can get it for a loved one (or fuck buddy) as a hint that you would like to be tied up or tie them up. Or, if you know someone interested in rope bondage that hasn’t really given it a try it is the perfect book for them as well! As a gift or for yourself Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes is a wonderful book with useful ties for all.

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Review: PoMoSexuals- Challenging Assumptions about Gender and Sexuality

PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality is an anthology of essays edited by Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel that is essentially a smack in the face to traditional and even some non-traditional ideas of gender and sexuality. It refutes any idea of any sort of binary along either of those lines.

Through reading the essays the reader gets multiple examples of people who don’t fit into the neat little boxes that both queer and het society tries to push them into. Because there are so many, one right after the other, each building on the next and each becoming more strange, more queer, more PoMo than the last, there is no way to deny that these people are not just flukes.

For me, I found some soulmates in this book. I found people struggling with the same ideas I do and asking the same questions I’ve been asking for years: where do I fit in if I’m sort of this and sort of that and everything and nothing? How do I navigate these gender and sexuality galaxies if I can’t pin myself down and comprehend where everything in me is coming from?

The essays in some cases are roads of self-discovery, showing just a glimpse of what one goes through when one box is not an option, and what is possible when you embrace not fitting in. Other essays were dissecting specific ideas or impulses that the authors had which were somehow out of their comfort zone, such as a gay man wanting to fuck a woman, how males and females can interact outside of a heterosexual paradigm, how a female can be a woman stuck in a man’s body, and various other pomo genders and sexualities.

If you’ve ever not fit into the boxes the world gives us, which is just about everyone in my experience, I would say you need to read this book. Even if you don’t identify directly with those in the stories it will blow your mind and make you reorganize your thinking about the way that gender and sexuality work. It will help you recognize that you are not alone, there are others like you who can’t fit into the boxes.

Even if you know that already, because I certainly did know that there were others who feel like I do going into it, you will still get a sense of camaraderie of validation that while you are unique in your own gender and sexuality expression there may be others who are just as or more fucked up than you are. And I mean fucked up in a good way, of course. ;)

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Review: The Leather Daddy and the Femme

How do I start a review of a book which speaks to me in such personal and intimate ways, beyond being about sex? How do I begin to describe the ways this book has clicked with me? I guess by answering those questions.

The brilliance of the book is that it delves into theory while still having an element of smut in it, mixing the two together in a true Carol Queen-esque way, because in some ways it’s impossible to seperate the smut from the theory and the theory from the smut. The first book I read of Carol Queen’s was Real Live Nude Girl back nearly four years ago when I was still living in Oregon.

I fell in love with her then, realizing how similar we were, wanting to become like her, to explore my own sexuality and look at it through the lens of theory. She was my inspiration for nearly all that I do now, and all I’m working toward including San Francisco and The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

I found Leather Daddy and the Femme by Carol Queen to be not only wonderful hot get-your-genitals-stirring smut but also an interesting look at gender identities and identity politics. It starts off with the meeting of Miranda/Randy and Jack, then follows their relationship as it progresses, adding in a third partner, Demetrius, and playing with others as well. It is a wonderful queer genderfucking depiction of a gay leather daddy and his boy/femme and the creation of a family.

I found that the identities and relationships within The Leather Daddy and the Femme were some of the closest depictions to what I consider perfect. This wouldn’t be true for everyone, of course, not everyone would have such a personal reaction to the book, dreaming of being in an open and poly-committed relationship or having two different but equal genders that are easy to step into. I found myself identifying in some way with all of the characters and realizing that my dream situation is one very similar to what Jack, Miranda, and Demetrius have, with slight modifications of course.

In some ways the situation in the book is similar to my own, it emphasizes that queerness isn’t restricted to same sex relationships, that there are more ways for males and females to interact sexually and romantically than within a heterosexual model. Something I’ve thought was true for years, but that is difficult for me to describe.

The biggest thing that Leather Daddy and the Femme did for me, I think, was make me think about my own identity, my own desire for a chosen family (as opposed to born family), my desire for multiple lovers, for queer sex, for my own embracing of my multigendered self. It opened me up to looking at my own gender and sexual identity paths, how I got here and where I want to go from here. Oh, and it also made me wet.

I could probably go on for pages about exactly how it touched me, about what part of which characters I would like to inhabit, what I have thought of due to the book, how it has changed my perceptions and desires… but those things are all for posts previous and to come. Instead, I’d love if you have read it for you to give your reaction to the book in the comments.

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