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Rainbow Reads :: Love and Other Indoor Sports

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Jan 23, 2012
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The thermometer may be dropping, but inside, things are just starting to heat up! With this bumper crop of new collections of romantic and erotic stories, gay and lesbian readers can devote those dark winter mornings and 4 p.m. sunsets to love, and other indoor sports. Cleis Press wins with "Best Lesbian Romance 2012," "Best Lesbian Erotica 2012," "Best Gay Romance 2012," and "Best Sex Writing 2012," and Hanne Blank chronicles the short history of heterosexuality in "Straight." So snuggle up under those covers and start stoking that fire!


"Best Lesbian Romance 2012" (Edited by Radclyffe)

Radclyffe assembles more than two dozen stories of lesbian couples finding love and romance, from passionate one-night stands to the enduring candle of long-time romance. Radclyffe opens the collection with "Vanilla, Sugar, Butter, Salt," the romantic flirtations between a baker and a woman who prefers things salty, until a car accident awakens her sweet tooth. Through salted caramel, both find satisfaction. Two federal agents find love in Radclyffe’s "Training Ops." And renowned smut peddler Rachel Kramer Bussel escapes the small-town mentality of New York’s lesbian community with a French Fry-gobbling Parisian. Cheyenne Blue breaks her own "Rule 4" by sleeping with her housemate, and recovering from ex sex and best friend sex is the memo in "Note to Self." Newcomer Geneva King writes, "She hasn’t shed the dress and I don’t want her to. I want to fuck her in the dress that was meant for Merrill, the dress that self-centered bitch wouldn’t be able to appreciate, make her come and leave my mark on it so that every time she wears it, she’ll think of me." A lesbian electrician finds sparks with a client in "A Time and Materials Job," and a classy chick sets to woo an S&M slut in "What No One Else Has." In "A Prom Story in Three Parts" and "Misty and Me," a girl finds herself falling for her friend. The collection does a good job capturing the dizzying sensation of falling in love, and Radclyffe’s curating does a nice job slowly raising the heat to a culminating sizzle. (Cleis Press)


"Best Lesbian Erotica" (Edited by Kathleen Warnock)

Talented editor, reading series curator, and longtime friend Kathleen Warnock edits this year’s anthology of saucy erotic stories about lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified women. In her intro, she self-identifies as a writer first, and a lesbian second, and uses it as a springboard for her discussion on labels. She closes by dedicating the book to Cheryl B., her longtime friend (and, full disclosure: my ex-girlfriend of several years), and her surviving partner, Kelli Dunham. This is a touching memorial, and one that Cheryl would have appreciated. "Best Lesbian Erotica 2012" charges right in to the passion with "Touched," the story of two Boston Catholic schoolgirls, one who feels God shining through her lady lust, the other which feels only shame. Kiki DeLovely thrills with her frantic-paced "Heartfirst," and "Bloods Lust" explores cutting and S&M. Treasure Sapphire bends gender 180 degrees with her double-trans hookup in "Hush," while Ann Grip goes for pansexual, queer, voyeuristic thrills in "Hot Yoga". "The Produce Queen" looks at self-stimulation with an avocado - watch out for taco night at her place! Elena Shearing’s "Stubborn Ache" makes a sizzling strap-on scene between partners seem almost sweet. Role-play is explored in "Maid for You" and "On My Honor," and two lovers say goodbye in "The Last Time." A boi enjoys her lady in her Corvette in "My Femme," and two butch dommes share a sub in "How He Likes It." In "Come to Me," a ’strictly dickly’ former straight girl learns from a gender-bending boi how to get herself off. Lea Delaria even takes a turn in "The Elevator," a story of "the last butch in New York City" and the pragmatic neighbor girl with who she shares an intimate scene in a stalled elevator. Warnock does a nice job curating this "Sapphic sampler" of stories that touch on love, lust, and longing, and spans the spectrum of lesbian experience, from genderqueer to butch/femme and everything in between. (Cleis Press)


"Best Gay Romance" (Richard Labonté)

Since 1996, Richard Labonté, one of the founders of A Different Light Bookstore, has edited the Best Gay Erotica series. In "Best Gay Romance 2012," he tackles the spectrum of themes dealing with masculine love, from young love to lost love, rough love to "straight" schoolboy crushes. The stories in this collection cover a lot of ground, starting with the first story, "Gomorrahs of the Deep, a Musical Coming Someday to Off-Broadway." This whimsical story of schoolboy love is written charmingly in rhyme, and performed in the story via classmates. It is followed by "Charming Princes," the face-off between a rich shoe shopper and a militant eco-activist, with a Disney Prince twist at the end. "To Brandon, With Love, Justin" balances sweetness with sadness in the tale of two longtime best friends who can’t seem to find love until beyond the grave. Two men find romance backstage in Anthony McDonald’s "The Curtain Store," and C.C. Williams delves into love in the barracks - and anti-gay hazing in the ranks -- in "The Prisoner." Two headbangers find love in "Splatterdays," and a young servant romances his Master in the historical erotica piece, "Precious Jade." And one guy gives another a blowjob in the mosh pit of a Scissor Sisters concert in "Hello, Young Lovers." Although the stories chronicle gay romance, there is plenty of gay sex to be found, in pleasingly varied forms. Labonté does a nice job presenting a balance of sweet and sexy, ensuring that readers won’t be disappointed. (Cleis Press)



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