While I haven’t dipped my toes into too much erotica lately, I’ve always been enticed by its ability to bring your fantasy and imagination to new places – especially when the limits of our reality and what can be portrayed in porn can leave us feeling as if we’re exploring the same concepts over and over again. So, when I heard about the erotica compilation, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 5 compiled and edited by award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Brussel, I was instantly intrigued.
Like the earlier entries in the series, this book is full of hot and steamy tales from some of today’s best erotica authors, taking you on a journey of erotic imagination unlike any you’ve experienced before. These short stories come together to create an arousing anthology with a little something for everyone, whether you tend to lean into kink or want to widen your sexual scope with otherworldly fantasies.
The anthology is a delicious delicatessen of erotic hors d’oeuvres to tease and titillate your imagination with 21 steamy stories. The digestible short story format made it the perfect book to pick up in the middle of the day for an afternoon delight, before bed to allow your eroticism to run wild as you dream, or to snuggle under the covers with your partner and enjoy the arousal together. Personally, I loved reading a story every night before bed and going on a different sensual literary journey. Each story explores a different facet of our erotic lives, from power play to taboo themes that will leave you breathless. Brussel herself says she “asked authors to get as wild and over-the-top as they could,” and they truly delivered with incredibly sexy scenarios that push the limits of our imaginations. From workplace lust to mermaid love-making, this book has a story to touch on the vast variety of our desires, and maybe even help you find some new turn-ons along the way.
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I personally loved the story “Dirty Girls Go to Heaven” which touches on slut-shaming as it dives into religious themes of virginity and chastity, all while breaking all the societal rules to indulge in hedonistic pleasures. I loved the ride the author took me on, questioning my own beliefs and morality to fully sink into our pleasure-centered truths.
The stories typically feature strong, independent women exploring their pleasure and desires in an arousing array of contexts. The stories “Terms”, “At the Pleasure of the President”, and “Frosting” all feature boss babes who know how they get what they want, and lean into their desires without the fear of cultural taboos, even in the workplace. These tantalizing tales play with power dynamics and pleasure in a way that will have you fantasizing about your own workplace rendezvous.
If exhibitionism is one of your deepest turnons (like it is mine!) you’ll love the stories “Spin” and “Dancing with Myself”, which play with these public versus private themes in a way that will have you not just fantasizing, but eager to explore in front of an audience. “Spin” brings all the grit and glam of the circus industry into an intensely intimate tale of two women lovers who entwine themselves for work and pleasure, performing aerial sex in front of an audience, perhaps without them even knowing. The smart writing describes just the gymnastics themselves in such a gorgeously erotic way that you’re turned on before they even touch, dripping with anticipation for when their hidden desires can be fully realized, unbeknownst to the crowd below.
I also really loved the accurate depiction of kink throughout the book, which was refreshingly honestly and compassionately portrayed, whereas many other mainstream books and media tend to misrepresent the careful complexity of these powerful dynamics. In particular, “Peripheral Voyeurism” takes you inside a BDSM club while exploring the intricacies of affection and power in D/s relationships. As the characters explore the power dynamics of their relatively new connection, you get an inside look at the thoughts running through each of their minds as they play with intimacy, desire, and control in the context of their relationship, both publicly and intimately.
Whether you’re a seasoned reader of erotica looking for a new series to add to your collection, or a curious first-timer hoping to dip your toes into the thrilling world of erotic exploration, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 5” should be the next item you add to your shopping cart. This collection features some of the most enticing and alluring stories written by some of the top authors in adult literature, including Joanna Angel, Balli Kaur Jaswal, CD Reiss, Sierra Simone, and Sabrina Sol. The talented selection of authors crafted stories so erotically engaging and beautifully written that they successfully added at least five new fantasies to my list — no small feat considering how detailed and extensive my list already is!