This is the sixth volume in the relaunched Best Lesbian Erotic series by Clies Press. The series is now under the direction of Sinclair Sexsmith, a brilliant writer themselves.
Sexsmith approached the complication of this volume with a focus on bringing in more representation of identity in the lesbian world. Trans, nonbinary, disabled, and women of color are in the forefront of these stories. Sexsmith’s stated goal in the introduction is to create a volume where more of us see ourselves.
They certainly reached the goal of having a wide-ranging set of representations of women. From the cyborg lesbians in Meg Elison’s “Code,” to the butch-in-transition in BD Swain’s “Something Has Shifted,” to the disabled femme in “A Year of Love, an Evening of Lust” by Quenie, there is definitely a breadth to female representation. This means there is definetly a good chance you will find a character or two you identify with.
Many of the authors capture the complexities of dating during the pandemic and in an era where gender identity is in flux for our culture. There are awkward converstations about which pronouns to use, how to approach a trans woman, to lovers checking in to see how someone with a chronic illness is dealing with their pain before a scene. This is a lot of reality for an erotic novel.
Out of all the stories, Meg Elison’s is the one which I was most drawn too. “Code” is a scene between to lesbian cyborgs in a bar. What starts as a potentially hot scene runs into a snag when the conversation changes to what anti-viral software versions the two have. This is a great allegory for the safer sex conversations which do not happen frequently enough in the lesbian world.
While the authors selected represent the bredth of erotic writers out there, and the stories provide a solid representation of the realities of dating in the lesbian world, it was a bit too much reality for an erotic story collection for my taste. As soemone who deals with sex and dating as a profession, I look for erotica which is more fantasyt than reality.
This, of course, is a personal taste issue. There are plenty of readers who will be thrilled to find quality representation of their relationships in an erotic novel. This collection is a solid collection of well-writen stories with a breadth of representation.