I am a tried and true lover of erotica. Erotica has always been my preference when it comes to getting off – while I definitely love and appreciate (ethically-produced and feminist!) pornography, nothing gets me going like a steamy story. Also, as a new sex blogger, I’m always on the lookout for any kind of product to review. With those two things in mind, you can imagine my delight when I saw this pinned tweet on Cleis Press’ Twitter timeline:
I immediately e-mailed Cleis Press and was met with fantastic customer service and a copy of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica already in the mail to me the next day. Cleis Press is known for publishing queer, sex-positive books across a wide variety of genres, so naturally I was super happy for the opportunity to review something from them. Furthermore, the editor of Come Again, Rachel Kramer Bussel, is a seasoned writer, editor, and blogger in the sexuality world. I’ve been a fan of hers a while, making me even more thrilled to review Come Again, which is her latest work.
Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica was only published in March, but it’s already gained a lot of hype in the sex blogging/sex writing community – and for good reason. It’s not too rare to find toy use in erotica here or there, but an entire anthology devoted solely to sex toys? Awesome. Furthermore, before receiving Come Again, I’d heard a general buzz (ha!) about the book’s commitment to diversity and showcasing a range of sex toy experiences. These points were the most important for me – as a queer woman, I crave more than the typical heterosexual pairings most often seen in erotica. Representation is important. Also, while traditional vibrator and dildo stories can be fun and sexy, reading about a Magic Wand a dozen times in a row gets a bit old. Luckily, Come Again definitely lived up to the hype – let’s dive in!
Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica features 24 short stories from a wide range of authors. There’s something for everyone here – the sex ranges from vanilla to light kink, and every story included reads in a genuine way. You won’t find any hokey, overly-sentimental euphemisms for genitals or sex acts in Come Again, which was definitely a huge plus for me. Reading through Come Again, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s commitment to inclusion begins to shine through immediately – no two stories are similar, and the collection features characters of many identities and backgrounds. Even though Come Again is much more diverse than your typical erotica, the collection lacked many explicitly stated characters of color, differently-abled characters, and fat characters. One of my favorite stories featured a trans* man of color and another favorite featured a queer woman with a physical disability, but I didn’t see much diversity in these areas beyond those two stories. (I don’t want to assume these characters didn’t exist because they weren’t explicitly stated, but again, representation is important.)
As I mentioned above, for me, this book’s draw comes from it’s inclusion of queer stories and commitment to showcasing non-traditional sex toys. Out of 24 stories, 8 of them featured queer characters, and 9 of them included sex toys you wouldn’t be able to find in any sex shop. Come Again is as intersectional and diverse in regard to queer folks as it is imaginative, which can be a rare find in the erotica world! Most of the queer-focused stories featured queer women; one featured a trans* man and another featured a gay man. (So, keeping that in mind, if you’re looking for queer erotica outside the realm of queer women, this may not be the book for you.) Furthermore, the non-traditional sex toys featured in these stories range from vegetables to an incredibly inventive Simulsphere where the user can create and live out any sexual fantasy in a virtual world. The stories included in Come Again aren’t only sexy and steamy – they’re brilliant. These two factors combined – the queer stories and the inventive and intelligent sex toys featured in the collection – made Come Again extremely hard to put down. After each short story ended I was hungry to see what fantastic new invention or queer encounter was waiting on the following pages.
While I honestly enjoyed each story in Come Again, I truly loved, and was even moved by, a select few. My favorite story in the collection was Gift by Dena Hankins. Gift features two women in their 60’s and 70’s exploring lesbian sex for the first time. They have been sleeping together for a few weeks, but the story focuses on a new toy they test together, leading to a new level of pleasure neither woman has ever experienced. Gift not only turned me on, but deeply moved me as well. In the story, one of the women deals with physical disability and mobility issues. With the introduction of the new toy, she is able to reclaim her sexuality in spite of her limited mobility and engage fully with her lover for the first time. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears while reading erotica – a true testament to the undeniable beauty of Gift and Dena Hankins’ talent as an author.
I also especially enjoyed Vegetable Love by Susan St. Aubin, Lost and Pounded by Zee Giovanni, Bikery by Oliver Hollandaize, The Cure for the Common Lay by Valerie Alexander, Standard of Care by Sybil Rush, and My Life as a Vibrator by Livia Ellis. The stories in Come Again never failed to get me off. I would certainly recommend this collection to any erotica lovers and/or sex toy aficionados. You will not be disappointed!
Huge thanks to Cleis Press for sending me a copy of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica in exchange for an honest review!