Double whammy! I’ve read a couple more Cleis Press anthologies that I thought would review nicely together, both edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel: Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples and Cheeky Spanking Stories.
The press release for Anything for You described the fictional anthology as a “guidebook to great sex,” so I admittedly held it to a slightly higher standard as a collection intended to be shared with a partner and used for bedroom ideas. Like the last Cleis book I reviewed, this one focuses on kink in established relationships, but unlike that anthology, the first story of this one immediately drew me in. Lisabet Sarai offers a dominant male narrator who reveals uncertainty at returning to play in middle age and clearly expresses respect and love for his submissive wife. The story has an everyday feel that tugs at the reader, giving it a “this could happen to you” vibe. Delightfully, the anthology only gets better from there.
Going beyond token diversity, this anthology is truly varied in terms of gender, orientation, and D/s dynamic. Strong narrators who give you a comprehensive look into the emotional and psychological side of a kinky relationship are a unifying theme, and I especially liked how the narrators differed–sometimes we get the sub’s POV, sometimes the dom’s, and any reader regardless of experience gets to enjoy a range of kinky motivations. Plus, the volume really delivers on hot scenes and dirty talk. Certainly there are a couple of stories I don’t care for, but I appreciate that all the characters are human beings, and that we get to know them even in short pieces. I also love that explicit consent is a theme in many of the stories.
My favorite stories, no surprise, were those that fuck with gender roles and expectations. In Deborah Castellano’s “Tails,” a boyfriend plays princess to his girlfriend’s Daddy, with the added bonus of a setup indicating that the couple switches. “Apple Blossoms” by Emerald is a twist on the lesbians revenge fuck a rude straight guy trope, with sexy consent and a sweet male character who’s at least fun when he’s not being a dick. And then there’s “The Guest Star,” a threesome story by Sinclair Sexsmith featuring a femme top with role flexibility and a shout out to safer sex with toys. I love the butch or transmasculine narrator who starts the story: “I don’t make a lot of assumptions the first time. I don’t expect us to get off; I don’t expect to be able to tell when she comes, if she does. […] Of course I do my best at all of those things–but with someone new, you just never know. Maybe it’s the chivalrous service top in me, but I watch for cues and tend to take them from her, as best I can.”
Despite my high bar, I’d definitely recommend this one to a couple seeking ideas.
Now, as for Cheeky Spanking Stories: I admit to some hesitancy at reading 215 pages of spanking porn. This volume might be best suited for spankos and 50 Shades fans, but I was impressed by the diversity of stories told despite the tendency towards similar themes of discipline and exploration. Some of the stories are briefer romps, but others get more into a plot, setting the scene and the motivation for the spanking. There’s also coverage of some adjacent kink territory, from Daddy kink to humiliation to first-time blushing exploration. Though a number of the stories were a little too fantasy-based for my realism preference, they tend to be well written and any spanking enthusiast (perhaps newbies especially) would enjoy this read.
This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.