Coming Together: Girl on Girl. Editor, Leigh Ellwood. Coming Together Press, 2013. $2.99 ebook.
Little good has come for women when men, such as Sigmund Freud, ask, “What do women want?” We should applaud that the father of modern psychotherapy asked the question at all, of course, but more comes when we women ask ourselves what we, as individuals, “want,” and better still when we answer the question multifacetedly, in our own diverse and unique voices. In particular, as the author of erotic and romance fiction, I want to talk about how erotic and romance fiction can answer the question, with focus on two recent books that take up the question in different but overlapping ways.
I find this question especially relevant in the context of the increasing popularity of gay (or, more precisely, mm or yaoi) erotica and romance written by women. However diverse we may be in gender performance/identity and sexuality, if we are women, we are not gay men in love. Or we are in our minds and that’s where gender most resides, but unless we’re trans we’re not gay men and not identifying as women. You know what I mean. And I adore the pleasures of being a pansexual woman writing mm romance and erotica in many ways because it takes the historical/political/psychological quandary of such questions as “What do women want?” out of the equation so I can write about other things.
But I am a woman, inescapably and proudly (depending on moment and context), and I love writing about women’s desire. In this context, and because mm sells better than ff/lesbian and het sells best when its gooey romance or wild kink, I devote this post to Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Women in Lust: Erotic Stories and Leigh Ellwood’s Coming Together: Girl on Girl. The first is a predominantly heterosexual collection of contemporary erotica, and the second is a lesbian anthology raising funds for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, featuring historical, contemporary, and futuristic erotica and romance. Both collections include a variety of pleasures, from vanilla to kinky, and offer interracial and culturally diverse couples within their contents. And both center on women’s pleasures throughout, making them must-have books for those who want to know What Women Want.
In Women in Lust: Erotic Stories, twenty authors devote their energies to considering what and how women desire. From the objects of their desiring to how they want to be wanted, the collection offers a delicious array of women’s lust to choose from. Most generally, I find the anthology’s success to be in the way it plays with the question of women’s desires that so many men have posed and pries it open to find many and varied truths. The volume is full of delightful clichés, finding the hint of truth in stereotypes of horny women, and running with them, from the waitress riding a cowboy in the diner to the older woman returning to college, hot for teacher. In capable writers’ hands, we dive in and ride the vicarious waves of lust fully, falling prey to confessions both easy and difficult, old and new. And happily, within this collection, there is some stellar writing.
Like all readers (and writers), I have my favorites, and for these stories alone you should buy Women in Lust. There are also several clunkers, where style or subject does not pull me in and lift me from the page, but this is very much a matter of personal preference and taste, and I can’t imagine anyone regretting this indulgent purchase. (Indeed, never regret buying erotica: desire can transform our minds, our bodies, and the world, if we let it.)
- Hot, casual fmm threesome in Holland, anyone? Engagingly written with a sweet little twist at the end is Elizabeth Coldwell’s “Smoke.”
- Time to complicate your simplistic notions of what “vanilla” means? Witty and delightful is Jacqueline Applebee’s “Orchid.”
- Like game playing that fails because the lovers are just so damned into each other? Great writing that involves you as a reader in Charlotte Stein’s “Guess.”
- And how about an interrogation scene between a tough cop and professional lawyer? Yes, indeed, when both characters are strong yet pliable and the prose is witty, as in Justine Elyot’s “The Hard Way.”
But what if you want fewer men in your lustful fantasies? Then, of course, you spend the paltry price of $2.99 for the ebook of Coming Together: Girl on Girl, the newest anthology by Coming Together Press, with all profits donated to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. With this collection, you unite women’s desire with progressive politics and good karma, and you receive stories with toys, spanking, public sex, BDSM, and delicious romance by wonderful writers.
Because my fiction is included in the anthology, I don’t want to provide a review. I can say that reading the book has been a great pleasure, and quote the editor, Leigh Ellwood, who wants readers to know that “Girl on Girl, as you might expect, is a work of lesbian erotica and romance, but it’s much more than that. It’s a collection of some of the finest short stories in the genre that I’ve had the pleasure to read and edit.” I agree, and hope you will, too.
I will also note that the collection features my story, “The Princess’ Princess,” which offers a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting and the subject of a first-time sexual experience that becomes far more between a spoiled young heir to a throne and the visiting princess whose humility, wisdom, and lust changes the protagonist forever. It’s lush and escapist in setting and prose, very different from my contemporary erotica, but a labor of love and a pleasure to see included in the Girl on Girl anthology.
I hope sales numbers are soaring for both of these collections as they provide diverse fictional answers to the question of What Women Want and take their readers on glorious, lustful rides. Why not dive in right now?