Peep Show - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Miss Cinnamon

A Stellar Performance From Some

Some people like watching. Others like to be watched. If you enjoy reading about those who watch or are watched (or both!), you may find stories to suit your taste in Peep Show, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. For the most part, the stories are a bit formulaic in setup and execution. However, there are a few that stand out from the crowd, and it is these stories that make the book a worthwhile read.
A few really good stories, a mix of couples, interesting settings and situations.
Many of the stories are a little formulaic.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

Content / Style / Audience

Peep Show, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, is a collection of 18 short erotic stories plus an introduction by Bussel and "About" sections for the contributing authors and the editor. The stories vary in gender, orientation, geographic location, and year of setting. However, they all have one theme in common: watching or being watched.

These stories may not be for everybody. Certainly, a more vanilla audience may be a little uncomfortable with the public displays of affection to the tenth power. Even some of the kinkier folk may not find a story that "works" for them in this book. If you are a fan of stories about voyeurism and/or exhibitionism, however, you will probably find one or two tales that will make you tingle.

Each story is a relatively quick read, averaging around ten pages with the longest of the tales being 13 pages long. For the most part, they felt formulaic. Man/woman/couple likes to be watched, man/woman/couple finds a place to be watched, man/woman/couple is watched and they Like It A Lot. Or, man/woman/couple likes to watch, man/woman/couple stumbles upon someone to watch, man/woman/couple watches and they Like It A Whole Lot. Or a mixture of the two. Many of the stories were fairly predictable (most erotica I read tends to be, but I still hope for a surprise). Luckily, a few break the mold, and it is these that stand out and which have become my favorites:

"Watcher in the Shadows", by Cheyenne Blue-- A drag king unwinds and undresses after a disappointing show, but he's not alone in his tiny dressing room.

"Rosse Burt", by Geneva King-- A female tourist in Amsterdam's Red Light District is enraptured by one of the beautiful prostitutes that display themselves in the windows of buildings.

"Calendar Girl", by Angela Caperton-- Set in 1985, a young secretary becomes obsessed with the photo of a lovely pin-up girl on her boss's calendar. She imagines posing for such a photo herself, and her wish is granted.

There are a few more, such as the popular "Clean and Pretty", by Donna George Storey, but the rest fade into the background and do not really distinguish themselves from the crowd. There are one or two that are written rather awkwardly, such as "Missing Michael", by M. March, in which the story switches perspectives between a man who has just lost his male lover, the guy at the gym he has his eye on, and the ghost of the first man's dead lover. For the most part, however, they are pleasant enough to read, but not every story is a winner.

I do give credit to Rachel Kramer Bussel for choosing stories from different pairings. Most of the stories feature heterosexual couples, but there are still a few that have female/female and male/male activity going on. I also enjoyed the different settings. Amsterdam, Japan, an office in an empty building, in a glass hotel, on top of the roof...No place is too secluded for a little voyeurism to occur!
    • Erotica
    • Fiction
    • Good mix of styles and content


The cover image is of a pair of crossed nylon-clad legs, dark on a cool blue background. Out of focus is a watcher in the back, partially obscured behind a door. The image is certainly suggestive, but far short from pornographic. "Peep Show" is clearly displayed in white on the cover, with "erotic tales of voyeurs and exhibitionists" in smaller yellow font underneath. Anyone who has ten seconds or more to look at the cover will figure out that it's a book of erotica. A flash of the book, however, will not reveal too much. I take my copy to the dorm bathroom on a semi-regular basis and no one ever looks twice at it.

The book is of sturdy construction, like a typical paperback you might pick up at the bookstore. The binding seems sturdy.

Personal comments

Most of the stories in this collection did not really get me going; in terms of erotica as a tool for arousal, it didn't work too well. Most of the stories were of average entertainment value and I didn't really find one that was so boring I couldn't finish it.

However, I definitely would have preferred more stories told with the same zest as "Rosse Burt" and "Calendar Girl".
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  • MuffysPinguLove
    I also got "Peep Show" for review and I agree with a lot of the points you made. Not only did I find the "Missing Michael" story awkward to follow, but there was one point in the story that I got really sad and thought I might shed a tear or two. Tears+erotic= an odd combination. Great review
  • Alan & Michele
    Doesn't sound like a book we'd enjoy, but a great review nevertheless
  • Sundae
    I was a bit nervous publishing my review of this one before the rest of the club had done so, but I'm glad to see everyone pretty much seems to agree on a lot of the points! I liked Calendar Girl as well, it was hot in its own way, but also kind of sweet.
  • Sammi
    Great review!
  • Crystal1
    Thanks for the review! I think I'll skip this one.
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