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

Some Bits Burned---But Playing With Fire Gets Me Hot.

Raw and elegant at once, Playing With Fire holds several of the hottest stories I've ever read---like a flame draws a moth this anthology will enthrall you, heat you up. My vagina would love to give five stars to this perfect blend of heavy-on-the-sex "taboo" erotica, but lack of informed consent threw a bucket of water on some stories. My conscience keeps Playing With Fire at four stars---but they're very, very hot stars, and they won't be burning out any time soon.
Elegant, raw, very hot sex. Boundaries are tested in all directions, and sex takes the center stage.
Infidelity and lack of informed consent in some stories was a mood-killer, for me.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
All of the stories in Playing With Fire are just plain hot. The 162 pages of this well-bound paperback book contain elegantly raw descriptions of threesomes, spankings, daring escapes, submission, sluttiness, smoke, and fire. The sultry vixen on the cover dares you to turn the pages, to hold a match to your boundaries, to Play With Fire. "Some like it hot," she breathes. "Do you?"

Bella Dean's "Trial By Fire" is told by a wife whose husband needs to watch her fuck a stranger. "His tongue is foreign. Broader than my husband's. Wet and sweet and forbidden. I am entering the territory of whore, leaving saint behind. ... I hear Dave sigh. It is an elated and exhausted sound. A paradox. Like his wishes. He loves it and hates it. I crave it and am frightened by the craving."

In "Hot Off The Press," a literary fanatic reaches far outside her boundaries in order to write a firsthand account of fucking a rockstar. "Deirdre heard the door opening. Her heart pounded. She'd been practicing spreading her legs for the better part of the hour..." but some hot surprises might stumble into the room.

"Despite her stare, I take his cigarette. I take it and slide it into my mouth to taste the spongy paper that is supposed to filter, to protect me from something: the smoke, the heat; myself." Shanna Germain's "White Heat, White Light" is a beautifully-written encounter between two strangers at a campfire.

"Scorched" features three flatmates and an emotionally charged spit-roast. "Greg, who'd kept quiet so far, laughed. 'You reckon you need two men to satisfy you, doll. Well, this is where we test that out once and for all.'"

Whether emotionally hot, focused on fire, or watching the thermometer rise, Alison Tyler selected fantastically direct stories for this searing anthology. The balance of story length was perfect, and each tale individually seemed to spend only the necessary amount of time warming the characters up and no more---most of the pages in Playing With Fire are filled with sex. And it's hot sex, well-told.

I was turned on again and again by the mix of female narrators and male narrators. The bulk of the stories are straight, with one beat-style piece about the genderqueer "Fireboy." Playing With Fire holds more than a handful of MFM threesomes (yes!), one gender balanced group sex story, and the remainder were straight couplings. All the stories are written so directly, so sexily, so basally and so well that this book is going to be one of my favorites despite the fact that I have to skip or alter some sentences as I read to keep my conscience from raining on my fun.
As I was reading through Playing With Fire, almost every story seemed worthy of the rare five-star rating. There were only two that had writing that was below this book's average quality, and those two were still smoother than erotica's average on the whole. One story out of twenty-two seemed to be making a bigger deal of the "kinkiness" of the activity than I thought was warranted, and one other made anal seem like a rare occurrence. Those critiques are minor, though, and may vary with your tastes.

My substantive complaint with this anthology is that not all of the characters in all of the stories have given informed consent. I know, I know, erotica can provide an outlet for the people who find a thrill from the danger of sneaking around---but I'm not one of those people. I'm not even neutral. Informed consent really turns me on, and so I absolutely loved 'Trial by Fire' and other stories where the sluts were sluts by their partners' request, or by their own nature when they were single and proud of themselves. There were some stories where the author just slipped in a half-hearted "he rarely wore his wedding band," and it was easy to just delete that sentence from my mind and fill in the gaps with a wife waiting at home who'd be excited to hear the details Sunday evening. There were tales, though, which focused on infidelity. And while the writing was sexy and the descriptions were hot, by the end of the story, instead of rising to orgasm with the characters, I would find myself completely detached, whisper-shouting out loud "Why couldn't you have crafted a caring relationship, so you could have just talked with your partner and gotten your desires met out in the open!?"

Even a few of the stories I hilighted as my favorites had to undergo some imaginary modification to stop me from worrying about the cinders and soot that would result from Playing With Fire---and Feelings---carelessly. So instead of the five stars that my vagina would rate the book if it wasn't tied to my conscience, Playing With Fire gets only four stars. But they're very, very hot stars, and they won't be burning out any time soon.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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My Playing With Fire 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?
    • Group situations
    • Mood enhancer
  • Features
    [ ? ]
    What kind of features does this product offer?
    • Moderately discreet cover
  • General
    [ ? ]
    Other tags that are useful and descriptive for this product.
    • Paperback
  • Aydios
    great review
  • Antipova
    Glad you liked it. Apart from that one story, I still really love this book.
  • Missmarc
    Great review, thank you!
  • nosrslylol
    Thanks for your review!
  • Pia Jouet
    I liked your caveats regarding consent and cheating versus openness.
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