Caught Looking - erotic fiction by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Jenny Swallows

Caught Looking

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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I Promise Not To Peep!

A beautiful collection of voyeuristic fantasies for those nights when the shades are drawn (but not too tight), the lights are low (but it's not too dark), and your imagination knows no bounds.
Really makes you wish you had some binoculars
Could use a tighter focus
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
It’s not so much a matter of getting caught looking, is it? It’s more to do with positioning yourself so you’re not only looking, but you are seen as well. That is the true nature of voyeurism. And of exhibitionism too- or, at least, that is the nature as it is depicted in Caught Looking, an anthology of twenty tales pieced together by Alison Tyler and Rachel Kramer Bussel that ranks among my own favorite reads this fall.

Because it is fall (isn’t!) and I don’t care what the calendar says about the season not starting officially til... oh it's now, isn’t it? The days seem shorter than they ever ought to be, the skies are grayer, the clouds are heavier. What better weather could there be for locking yourself away in the evening with a pile of erotic books, opening the curtains on the apartment across the alleyway and wondering who might be gazing back at you - and what they might be thinking as they watch?

That is the premise behind more than one of the stories here, and the best of them is probably the first, Thomas S Roche’s “Curtain Call.” Drew, his hard-frigging, porn-loving, drape-opening heroine, is a genuinely likable lady, and if her story ends with a predictable squelch, we still have a lot of fun getting there.

Likewise, the singularly named Radclyffe’s “A Flash Of Gold,” is a lesbian martial arts school epic that takes its momentum from a string of captured glimpses, while the action takes place firmly in the foreground.

In fact, there seems to be an unwritten law at work throughout this collection, that even the most imaginative and arousing story (a category that most of them fall into) should close with ... not a feelgood cliche, exactly, but with a simple denouement that leaves the reader without too much to wonder about once the page has turned.

There again, this is a tricky theme to pull off successfully, without delving into the minds of either stalkers or creepoids - as Tara Alton’s “Walled Lake Girl” discovers as she finds herself becoming both of those things in her quest to capture the hunk in a neighboring apartment. And sometimes, the theme does seem to have been shoehorned into another story entirely, as with the barely mentioned voyeur who is glimpsed in Debra Hyde’s “Tight Spots."

For stories such as these to work, even the most passive onlooker must be seen (or at least sensed) to contribute something to the action, even when it’s nothing more than the steamy sense of shame that his or her very presence arouses.

Shanna Germain’s “Down On Your Knees” fails for similar reasons (the story itself is great, if a little too chic-litty for some tastes), but Saskia Walker’s “A Room With A View” makes up for all such disappointments by virtue of actually eschewing all the rules that I just outlined. Or does it? The true voyeur is not necessarily watching the same things that we are; and the true exhibitionist is not always the center of attention. Moments when the sex toy in your hand is not necessarily the toy that you're having sex with.

It’s the search for those moments that makes Caught Looking such a joy, and the memories of your own such experiences that will keep you warm as the nights draw in further still. And soon it’ll be too cold to even drive your car around at night, let alone park it some place to make out with someone special, and wonder if tonight’s the night when you’ll be caught in the act? Sophie Mouette’s “Busted” has an hilarious variation on that theme, incidentally.

So I’ll be slipping away now, out of sight and out of mind, and you’ll be kicking back on that couch of yours... Caught Looking in one hand and the other going elsewhere. I promise I won’t peep. Promisey promisey prom.

You do believe me, don’t you?
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My Caught Looking tags
  • Who / How / What
    [ ? ]
    Who might this product be best for? How is it best used? What are the best circumstances or situations for using this product?
    • Anyone
  • Where
    [ ? ]
    Where / what types of places can this product be used?
    • Anywhere
  • Features
    [ ? ]
    What kind of features does this product offer?
    • Travel friendly
This review was edited by
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  • Zombirella
    Thanks for the review. Wishlisted this one!
  • ViVix
    Great review!
  • Terri69
    Thanks for the great review!
  • ellieprobable
    Thanks so much!
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