The Happy Birthday Book of Erotica - erotic fiction by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Ansley

The Happy Birthday Book of Erotica

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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To Be Or Not To Be...

This collection of kink-lite erotica left me wanting for more, and not in the way I'd hoped. A good read for those just cutting their teeth on beginner bondage fantasies, but a dish of cold applesauce for those who are more advanced in practice.
There's sex in it.
Zero guy on guy action, Repetitive themes, Could be more graphic.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
Bound. Spanked. Fucked by strangers, soft-core style. That is the question, my friends. That is the question.

Nineteen authors. Nineteen stories. Eleven of which are built on a formula of bondage, spanking and stranger sex. In all of the stories, one of the partners is clearly submissive while the other takes charge of the scene.

Mmm, bondage, submission and a little bit of pain while a mystery man fulfills your every desire as you simply enjoy the pleasure. Knee high leather boots found at the eleventh hour that make his knees so weak he has dessert before dinner, spanked hard by your three best friends in turn and being fingered to release. Vacationing in Spain, seducing two young (of age) boys under the cover of trees in an open park; all of this and more is written between these covers.

Sounds like a roaring good time, yes? Yes and no. If you're looking for explicit, graphic detail (like I am) might I suggest that you look somewhere else in Alison Tyler's collection of titles. You won't find any “his hard cock was dripping with her cum, red and throbbing with desire as he slid it into her mouth” here. Instead you are treated to a dry version.

“He pumped his hips into me a few times, hard and quick, his eyes closed.
“Let's switch,” he said. “I need a condom anyway” (p.33 Puss-n-Boots, by Shanna Germain)

“Danny was back at my mouth, going at me in a brisk rhythm. I knew he was almost ready to cum” (p.42 The Birthday Party, by Marilyn Jaye Lewis)

There is little sense of urgency depicted and every story reads practically the same. Either the woman is lonely and hadn't been laid well in awhile so the woman's friends hook her up with someone ‘stronger' than she is to subdue her into submission and knock the edges off, or she's being tied up and fucked by a stranger she can't identify (again set up by friends and, in one case, the husband).

There are two stories that make turning 30 years old seem like a death sentence. As someone who is about to turn 30 herself, I find this to be rather annoying and it detracted from the sensuality of the story.

“In answer, he went down on his knees in front of me. I gave a second of thought to his poor knees and thought about reminding him he wasn't as young as he was yesterday…” (p.31 Puss-n-Boots, Shanna Germain)

Yet not one of these women had fantasies about orgies or double penetration or guy on guy sex. Though one did receive 47 men to do with as she pleased, but she didn't ask for it. There are one or two stories that involve lesbian sex. And one oddly-constructed alphabet styled story that ends with the woman menstruating on the man of her choosing and then telling him she “loved him. Now.” It's under “L” not “M” and feels as if it was meant to be part of a larger piece of work. That wasn't the only story that felt like it was dropped off of a cliff.

Most of the stories seemed heavily edited and watered down. I'd gladly take six pages of absolute smut over four pages of set-up with a page and a half of sex. I was really hoping for a wide variety of sex acts instead of a focus on bondage, spanking and sex with strangers. If you're heavy into bondage and spanking your imagination may be able to fill in the blanks a little more than mine did.

Alison Tyler is an editor and author of more than 60 novels and anthologies combined, along with several hundred short stories. She has a daily blog of smut at
I've been more aroused by reading the instruction insert in a box of tampons than by reading what is between the covers of this book. Out of 19 stories, TWO turned me on enough to break out a vibe and go to town.

I think my smut-driven mind is a little too hardcore for this particular title. Take my opinion with a grain of salt; I've been kinky since kinky wasn't cool.
Follow-up commentary
I haven't picked up this anthology since I finished writing the review. As originally stated, it's probably a good read for users just breaking into kinky activities. ~Cheers~
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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This review was edited by
  • Alan & Michele Alan & Michele
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Do you like this review?
  • Waterfall
    Sorry that you didn't enjoy this book, but great review!
  • Midway through
    Sorry you didn't enjoy it. I'm more hardcore myself. After reading Anita Blake's novels... I don't know if I can ever go back to regular smut novels, LOL. Good review though!
  • Sammi
    Great review!
  • Crystal1
    lent list of pros!
  • Crystal1
    Oops, that was supposed to say "excellent list". Computer fail.
  • bluekaren
    Great review!
  • naughtyjo
    LMAO at your comment, "I've been more aroused by reading the instruction insert in a box of tampons than by reading what is between the covers of this book." Sorry it didn't work out for you, though x
  • Ansley
    Haha @naughtyjo, I couldn't think of anything else to compare it to.

    Thanks for checking out my review guys!
  • The Curious Couple
    Great review, thanks!
  • Kindred
    I think book reviews are possibly the hardest to write well and you did a fantastic job. Thanks.
  • Ansley
    Thank you very much Kindred! I'm all warm and fuzzy inside now!
  • married with children
    good review, thanks. too bad you did not enjoy the book
  • Snappy
    Thanks for your review. This is a great book for vanilla couples who are seeking to broaden their horizons. It just didn't jolt your kinkybone, though.
  • Ansley
    @Snappy: Overall, the problem is not the theme of the stories. It's the lack of erotic verbage/descriptions that ran me aground. It's hard to explain...
  • Dawn (Lilac Distraction)
    I'd rather read this review than the book.
  • Ansley
  • Diabolical Kitty
    Your review sounds better than the book!!
  • faust
    nice review
Discussion Posts Last Update
This sux... 3
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