Playing With Fire - erotic fiction by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Kayla

Fire Can Burn You

"Playing with Fire" includes quite a few sexy stories that really include unique plots and different ways of looking at things. However, some of the plots really do toe the line of what is consentual, and with those stories, I find myself more uncomfortable than aroused.
Very hot sex, Very unique plots, Sexy writing, Gripping materials
Some of the plots toe the line in terms of consent
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
"Playing with Fire" is a Cleis Press book edited by Alison Tyler. The book takes the theme around taboo stories, and it shares the regular format with most Cleis Press erotic anthologies. The book is 170 pages long with 22 different stories inside this book. The stories themselves are light on the plot and heavy on the sexual action.

The theme of this book is "taboo erotica" with a fire-theme throughout the stories. This is a really odd theme to describe, actually. Normally, the themes are something that are pretty easy like "oral sex" or "anal sex", but with this book, it's very unique. The main theme is "taboo", so a lot of the erotica deals with taboo subjects. It actually doesn't deal with much in terms of taboo sex; the sex acts themselves seem to be pretty normal with what you'd expect - oral, vaginal, and rarely anal. However, the circumstances that the sex actually surrounds seems to be the taboo portion. The "fire" theme seems to stay pretty standard around the book as well. They don't all have to physical do with fire, but a lot of them have "burning heat" or other such descriptors throughout the story to explain the sex scenes or the passion the person feels.

(As a complete sidenote, reading about really hot temperatures while actually living in really hot temperatures makes me wish that I could read some Antarctica erotica.)

The biggest issue I had with this book is that a couple of the stories seemed to be forced/hurtful/unconsensual sexual circumstances. In the text, the main character talks about how they wanted it, but in the story itself, the characters actions don't really seem to talk about how the character consented. I know that fiction is fantasy, but when it comes to things like forced cheating or forced sex that doesn't seem consented upon, I'm just really not all that into it. This is probably the biggest downside of the book for me. There weren't too many stories that had this issue, but there were certainly a couple.

There are some good sex scenes in this book. There are a couple one-page stories that don't really appeal to me, but overall, the book has quite a few good sex scenes. I love the idea that the sex is hot/fiery/passionate which ties into the theme of the book. The sex scenes seem to really be the focus of each one of the stories, and the book is definitely a bit light on the plot. Aside from the really short stories, though, there weren't any stories that weren't good ones; most of the sex scenes really held my attention nicely. There were some really good stories too:

In "Where There's Smoke", by Kristina Wright, the story starts with a male and female already having sex. The male keeps asking the female questions like "Is his cock bigger than mine?", and the female finds herself wondering how the guy knew she was cheating. She answers the questions truthfully with real-life experience, and of course, there's a surprise ending. This was probably one of my favorite stories from the collection.

In "Fanning the Flames" by Andrea Dale, a rich woman is trying to leave her rich husband because he's cheating on her. Of course, the husband thinks ahead, and hires a bodyguard to follow the woman around so she can't leave him. When she tells the plan to the bodyguard (who she has had a crush on for awhile), he "needs" something in exchange for helping her escape.

In "Hot Off the Press" by Thomas S. Roche, a woman finds herself half-dressed in a rock star's hotel room to hopefully have sex with him when he returns. Her campus is publishing a book about student's experiences having sex with rock stars, and as an aspiring article, she just has to get in it. However, the editor dislikes her, and in no certain words, she told the main character that she'd have to get pictures sucking this rock star's cock, or she wasn't going to let her into the book. I love the plot on this one, and it was just really neat to read.

Ending the book on a good note, there is "Just Add Water" by M. Murphy which is one of my favorites out of the book. The woman in the book is a huge voyeur, and she purchases a see-through shower curtain to watch her boyfriend shower. When she explains what she wants him to do, he is happy to oblige while she lays on the bed to watch her boyfriend shower. This story is just downright hot.
A couple stories in the book did bother me a bit because of the idea of nonconsent through the stories. One of them was "Out of the Frying Pan" by P.S. Haven. The story basically follows a conversation between two men while their wives sit on the couch. As far as I can tell, one of the men cheated on the opposite's wife and received a blowjob. The other guy says that "Fair is fair", and he goes into the backroom with the opposite's wife and makes her give him a blowjob. Everyone seems to leave this story pretty unhappy.

Overall, "Playing with Fire" has a lot of good, sexy stories, but sometimes the plots surrounding a couple of the stories really makes me uncomfortable. I know fiction isn't reality, but if the consent doesn't seem clear to me, as a kinkster, it just isn't a story I can enjoy - even if the sex is really hot.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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  • Kim!
    This looks pretty good but I'm with you on the consent thing. It sort of skeeves me out a bit to be totally honest. That last part about the forced blow job story just seems rather ick.
    Thanks for the great review!
  • ZenaidaMacroura
    Great review. I also understand about the consent. It's one thing for a character to act like they don't want it when they really do, or something of that nature. It's another for them to actually be forced. And everyone ending up unhappy? What's the point?
  • Waterfall
    I have had this one on my wish list for a while because the idea of "taboo" erotica sounds exciting. I might still need to read this one. Wonderful review
  • P'Gell
    Thanks for the review, Kayla.

    I did like this book a lot. A few stories were strange, but they are fantasy. Evidently, the authors fantasized about the stories, so I, personally can see that there was consent in most of the stories, even if it was on the far end.

    As you know, in a lot of D/s relationships, "consent" is something sometimes only the people in the relationship understand.

    But, we all have our likes and dislikes. With one or two stories as an exception, this is one of my favorite erotica collections. But, I'm a female sub, so my POV may be quite different than some.
  • Ms. Spice
    ick reading hot literature in even hotter weather can be miserable. great review though!
  • Antipova
    You and I felt the same way about the lack of consent issues in this book, Kayla. I felt like I was watching a crappy horror film, yelling at the characters "don't open that door"..."COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PARTNER!"
  • Diabolical Kitty
    I love this review, I for one am on the opposite side, I love things being forced. I shall have to order this book.
  • Miss Jenn
    As far as the blow job -- according to the point of view, there were no sounds. No confirmation of if there was even a blow job. The story left me confused. I didn't like that story anyways.
  • eeep
    Thanks for the great review. Glad you warned me on the consent issues in some stories, sometimes those ones can be a bit squicky to me.
  • acessorie
  • Chris15461
    Good Review
  • Aydios
    great review
  • nosrslylol
    Thanks for your review!
  • chicmichiw
    This sounds pretty imaginative! Thanks for reviewing
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