I think I'm getting old. I don't respond to erotica the way I used to. Oh sure, I like a good stroke story as much as the next person, but lately they don't do much for me. It all reads a bit too much like "Dear Penthouse, I never thought it could happen to me..."
And indeed, there are parts of Rachel Kramer Bussel's new anthology that do exactly that for me--nothing. They're well-written and creative, drawing pretty pictures, but I sat here unmoved.
Then I got to Laura Bacchi's "Page by Page." "Moved" isn't the word. "Shaken" is better, shaken in a good way.
The stories that followed, with one exception, hit that same mark, too, over and over like a particularly thorough spanking, and I finally realized what had changed in me: I don't like anonymous scenarios any more. I look for the emotional connection. I don't want to read who did what to whom, especially when the "whos" could be anyone. I want to read about people who connect, even if they've just met, and I want to feel that connection.
Several stories in this collection do just that; in fact, the opening story, "Spanking You," sets a promising tone. But soon, we're back to "Dear Penthouse, I never thought..." and I lost interest, frankly, until I realized I hadda finish this thing and get a review up for Rachel's blog tour.
So it was with a sense of joy and relief that I read "Page by Page," and found myself both moved and turned on, profoundly. It's the story of a professional submissive who finally falls for a client; we are privy to the scene where she realizes it too late, and it reminded me so much of falling in love with Sir--that intense inevitability--that I squirmed in my chair. Seven more stories follow and four of them touch that same place, including Bussel's own "The Depths of Despair," and the melancholy, evocative "Still Life with Infidels #56" by M. David Hornbuckle.
Of the 20 stories in the collection, six of them did it for me. That may sound like a bad ratio, but this is a wide-ranging anthology; there are stories for just about anyone in here--m/m, m/f, f/f, and all kinds of scenarios--and that six of them happened to hit me where I live is pretty amazing. Hit me how hard? Well, let's just say that Sir was pleasantly surprised last night with a request for something we haven't done in a good long while...*whistling*...