Lustfully ever after - erotic fiction by Cleis Press Inc. - review by pasdechat

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Good Stories, but Not a Fairy Tale for Me

Lustfully Ever After is a well-written and imaginative collection of erotica based on classic fairy tales. While the selection is relatively broad, I personally didn’t find many stories in the collection that could really get me fired up. Still, I can appreciate hot porn when I see it, so I’m giving Lustfully Ever After a solid four stars, even though it left me a bit unsatisfied.
Published:
Pros:
Unique premise, good writing, diverse styles, multiple genres
Cons:
Not a ton of variety in terms of the straight sex scenes, not much in the way of man-on-man sex
Rating by reviewer:
4
extremely useful review

About author

Lustfully Ever After is a compilation of stories by different authors that are tied together by a common goal—to retell classic fairy tales in a way that brings them closer to their darker (and, according to editor Kristina Wright, sexier) roots. I read very little published erotica, so I’d never encountered any of the authors before, but on the whole I was impressed by what they’d done with the source material. My primary concern reading erotica is always that I’ll encounter something that my (probably overly-sensitive) feminist radar will start shrieking at, so I was also happy to see that in Sylvia Day’s introduction, she expresses a certain amount of impatience with what her “modern feminist sensibilities” see as bodice-rippers.

Wright has included an impressive range of authors. Some of the stories are written in a conversational, slang-y style—see, for instance, the blunt, slightly sarcastic narrator of “The Last Dance.” Others stick much more closely to the tone of the original; Evan Mora has the fairy tale style down pat, which is especially interesting when you consider that “Real Boy” is one of the more unconventional stories in the book (hint: its protagonist is a transgendered man). The only writing style that really didn't work for me was Lisabet Sarai's in "Shorn." It was a bit florid; I like romance, but describing anyone's bodily fluids as "nectar" seems like a stretch.


Blurry table of contents.
    • Engaging
    • Multiple contributoring authors

Content / Style / Audience

Lustfully Ever After also features a fairly wide variety of genres. You'll find a threesome (MMF), lots of bondage, at least two stories with LGBT characters, and sex with a sentient plant. In other words, most people should be able to find something that appeals to them in this collection.

I obviously can’t go through each story, so let me just mention a few that stood out, for one reason or another. Shanna Germain’s “Mirror Mirror” and Michelle Augello-Page’s “Wolf Moon” involve, respectively, woman-on-woman BDSM, and heterosexual BDSM with a female sub. Neither of these scenarios does much for me, personally, but while the stories didn’t really turn me on, I could appreciate the fact that they were well-written and steamy. Kudos especially to Augello-Page for creating a woman/werewolf whose monthly bloodlusts seem to be a coy reference to menstruation—that’s the kind of complex thinking I don’t expect to find in erotica.

Sacchi Green, though, penned what is possibly my favorite story of the lot. “Kit in Boots” bears only a passing resemblance to “Puss in Boots,” but it’s a great piece of erotica in its own right. As a matter of fact, with its young, headstrong woman taking care of an older, wounded man, the story actually reminded me a lot of Jane Eyre—or rather, Jane Eyre with a much-appreciated glimpse into Jane and Rochester’s sex life. My one complaint is that Green chooses not to elaborate on what strikes me as a particularly interesting moment—a scene when Kit has her “master” handcuffed to his bed. I, for one, would have liked to know more about that.

Honorable mention goes to Anna Meadows’ “Matches,” which manages to be both breathtakingly lovely and drop-dead sexy. I mean, “The feeling came back to my fingers like light across water”? That’s just beautiful writing. And don’t get me started on “The same finger that had lit the candle touched me until I felt like a close star.”
    • Good mix of styles and content
    • Hetero
    • Queer

Design

I don’t have tons to say about the presentation of these stories, but I’ll try to hit the key points. Lustfully Ever After is paperback and 220 pages long. It’s fairly lightweight, meaning that if you have to, you can hold it and turn the pages with one hand (if, you know, your other hand is occupied). If you’re reading a story towards the center of the book, you can even place it on a flat surface and trust it to stay open—I personally appreciate this even in books that I might not need to read “hands-free.”

Although I’ve only had this book for a short period of time, the binding seems sturdy enough; I’ve had books start to disintegrate virtually as soon as I open them, and I can at least say with confidence that the construction of Lustfully Ever After is better than that.

The cover is okay. It’s not discreet—there’s the title, first of all, plus the picture of a semi-clothed couple mid-embrace—but at least it’s not tacky.


Front cover
    • Not very discreet cover
    • Small size
    • Soft cover

Personal comments

Books are my forte, so even though I normally read erotica online, I was really excited to be doing my first review of an honest-to-God book of erotica. I also have an unhealthy love for retellings and reinterpretations of classic stories, so the fact that the stories in Lustfully Ever After are based on fairy tales piqued my interest enough to make me overlook a title that, to me at least, is a little cringe-worthy.

On the whole, I was impressed. The stories are creative, the writing mostly good, and the selection fairly broad. Unfortunately, I think I fall into the small group of readers whose tastes in porn are not particularly well represented in Lustfully Ever After; the stories centering on straight sex—whether technically BDSM or not—mostly feature a more dominant, “manly” man and a more submissive, and sometimes virginal, woman. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it just doesn’t happen to turn me on, so I was a little disappointed. Plus, while there is a story featuring a lesbian pairing, there’s not much in the way of gay sex—just the threesome I’ve already mentioned. Again, this isn’t a flaw per se, but it’s something that I would have liked to see.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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Comments
  • Ms. N
    Ms. N  
    Wonderful review! Sounds like an interesting concept. I am glad to hear that you thought it was well-written. But..."sex with a sentient plant"? Hmm...what's that about? I might have to read it just to find out!
  • pasdechat
    pasdechat  
    @ Ms. N

    Ha ha, yeah, I definitely was not expecting that one when I started reading, either. It was a little out there, for me, but definitely creative It was based (very, very loosely) on "Jack and the Beanstalk."
  • Ryuson
    Ryuson  
    Thank you so much for the review on this one! I was waiting to hear about what all it would have, and I think I'll have to snag it now.
  • hybridinsurge
    hybridinsurge  
    Woah! Plant sex? Anyway, thanks for the detailed review. I'm a fan of Cleis Press and fantasy or paranormal + erotica so I'm excited to try this book.
  • pasdechat
    pasdechat  
    @ Ryuson

    Thanks for the comment! It's definitely a fun collection
  • pasdechat
    pasdechat  
    @ hybridinsurge

    Haha, yeah--I have to say, the plant sex was a new experience for me. I've come across stories like that occasionally but I usually skip them, but since I was doing a review I read it. Not really my cup of tea, but it's certainly original!

    And I'm with you on the fantasy thing. Generic erotica sort of bores me--I need something with a little bit more of a story behind it. I have a slightly embarrassing love of fanfiction, so the fairy tale premise of these stories probably tapped into that.
  • Aydios
    Aydios  
    thanks for the review
  • Missmarc
    Missmarc  
    Great review, thank you!
  • pasdechat
    pasdechat  
    @ Aydios, Missmarc

    Thanks for the comments!
  • eeep
    eeep  
    Great review, love how well you explained the variety of things the stories cover without revealing too much about the stories themselves. Thanks.
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