Playing With Fire - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by SMichelle

Playing With Fire: A Great Bedtime Read

Ah, Playing with Fire... This book is essentially about "taboos," and it does cover a wide variety of topics. There's essentially something for everyone in this little book, although the most vanilla (and hey, it's okay to be vanilla) might prefer another novel. As for those of us that want a little spice with our sexy little bedtime stories? This is a keeper.
Lots of variety, Well written, Easy to read, Kinky
May not be everyone's cup of tea
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

About author

This book isn't written by any one author; instead, it's a collection of stories, written by several different authors. There are stories from Sophia Valenti, P.S. Haven, Jeremy Edwards, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Michael Hemmingson, I.K. Velasco, Andrea Dale, Shanna Germain, Christopher Tolian, M. Murphy, A.D.R. Forte, J.D. Waters, Thomas S. Roche, Janine Ashbless, Bella Dean, N.T. Morley, Sommer Marsden, Kristina Wright, Nikki Magnessis, Heidi Champa, and Jolene Hui. So, as you can see, there is certainly a large variety here.

The stories have all been compiled by Alison Tyler. Before reading this, I had never read any Ms. Tyler's writings or collections. So, naturally, I decided to look up a bit of information on Alison Tyler. Tyler has been referred to as many things, but to just name a few, she has been referred to as a trollop with a laptop (East Bay Express), the Mistress of Literary Erotica (Violet Blue), Erotica's Own Superwoman (East Bay Literary Examiner), and the good bad girl (GLBT Erotica Books). I don't know about you, but these titles alone are pretty intriguing (and impressive) to me!

Tyler as written several stories herself, but she has also edited over 50 erotic collections. So, if you do enjoy her work, there is plenty of it out there to explore.

Content / Style / Audience

This book is a collection of stories. The entire book is 170 pages in length, but the individual stories vary in length. There 22 stories in total, and there is a page in the beginning which details which page each story begins on. Because of this, it's really easy to find each story, which is helpful if you're looking to read a certain authors writing.

The stories are, for the most part, focused on "taboo erotica," with a fire theme. I say for the most part, because the last story does not keep with this theme; instead, the last story is the "cooling off" point -- which is a nice for it to end, if you read the entire book in the order that it's intended to be read.

The story features standard sex acts; threesomes, oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, and so forth. I know, not taboo, right? What is taboo, however, is cheating, for instance. Basically, the sex acts themselves are pretty standard, the circumstances the sex occurs in tends to be a bit... dark, and naughty. Or even wrong. Some people find themselves rubbed the wrong way by some of the circumstances presented in the stories.

Along with the standard sex acts, you'll also find bits of humiliation, bondage, domination, and kink in some of the stories.

I don't want to go through and tell you what each story is about, because I feel like doing that could ruin the novel for you. What I will say is that this book may not be for everyone. The stories may cause people to feel conflicted; the sex acts are hot, but cheating is not, for example. If you're able to separate the two and just enjoy the stories for what they are, then good, this book is for you. If not, you'd be better off reading another book.


This book is a softcover design. The front cover features a beautiful photograph, which is sure to catch ones eye. The image is black and white, but the cover has a shine to it, which really makes it stand out. All in all, the cover is not too obscene, but it does say that it's "taboo erotica" on the front cover. The back cover also states what the book is about (sex, duh!). So, while it's not obscene, it's also not exactly discreet.

The book is organized in a way that is easy to read, as well.

Personal comments

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It's not my all-time naughty novel, but it is one that I will hold onto. There are some stories that I adore, and there are others that I doubt I'll ever read again. All in all, it's not a bad collection by any means.
This product was provided at a discounted price in exchange for an unbiased review. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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  • GONE!
    Awesome review!
  • spiced
    Thanks for the review! Too bad this is discontinued, Sounds like it could be fun; maybe I can find it used...
  • FieryRed
    Great job with the editor's info! May just have to look up some of her stuff.
  • mpfm
    Thanks for the review.
  • Kitka
    Fantastic review on this book! It really made me want to read this, thanks for sharing it with us
  • Hallmar82
    Thanks for the balanced review, I don't think you spoiled it at all.
  • PeaceToTheMiddleEast
    Thanks for sharing!
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