Tag Archives: GLBT literature

Book Review: Make Mine to Go

Make Mine To Go

Dilo Keith

Justin can usually satisfy Toby’s diverse erotic desires, but when Toby craves something only another man can provide, will this test the limits of Justin’s love?

One key to the success of Justin and Toby’s marriage is plenty of sexual variety, sometimes with other men they meet at the local BDSM club. While Toby assumes the submissive role in their power exchanges, it’s more often Justin who generously caters to Toby’s erotic appetites. Toby’s interest in flirting with a salesman should be trivial in comparison to his other desires. Instead, it sends both men down uncomfortable paths.

Toby manages to assure Justin that it was harmless fun, or so it seems at first. More troubling than Justin being unconvinced is that Toby doesn’t entirely believe his own story. When Toby finally figures out he wants something only another man can give him, he knows it won’t be easy to tell Justin. More importantly, is realizing a fantasy– even an exceptionally compelling one — worth the risk?

This was a fun novella to read.  Justin and Toby enjoy having sex with others, but there’s something lacking in their sexual relationship when its just the two of them.  As this couple discusses this very sensitive topic, things begin to spiral downward — there’s an uncertainty between them, perhaps the trust is waning, and they begin to tread lightly around each other.  Deep down inside they know that they love each other, but the lack of sexual fire makes them worried.

A tentative deal is reached — the acceptance of extra-marital sex (individually, not as a couple like they’ve always done it) sets them on a path that could either bring them closer together or drive them further apart.  They won’t know which is the true outcome until they just go ahead and try it.

I found the relationship between Justin and Toby to be an interesting and realistic one.  How many couples feel the sexual fire burn down until there are just embers, and they wonder what to do about it?  These couples know they love each other, but there just isn’t that same lust anymore.  What can be done?  This novella approaches that topic with care and compassion, while taking time to throw in scorching sex and a splash of fun.

The conversations sound real — as Justin and Toby venture into uncomfortable discussions, their reactions sound genuine.  The reader can feel the love they have for each other, as well as the worry that this lust issue could become a real problem.

Keith not only writes dialogue and relationships effectively, but also the sex.  For a gay erotic romance, the sex in Make Mine To Go is quite realistic and graphic, verging into erotica style writing (there is a difference, though slight, between sex in erotic romance and erotica).  This fusion of elements of erotica and elements of erotic romance make for a tantalizing whole, one that both “excites” the reader and engages the heart.



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Book Review: Best Lesbian Erotica 2013

Best Lesbian Erotica 2013

Kathleen Warnock (Editor)

Raw, Romantic and Unforgettable

From the trembling pleasure of anticipation to consummated lust, sex between women has never been hotter. Curated by Lambda nominee Kathleen Warnock and judged by literary legend Jewelle Gomez, Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 is both surprising and intensely delectable.

Sonya Herzog’s younger femme finds her heart’s desire at a multiorgasmic writer’s retreat in “I Have a Thing for Butches” and the tattoo artist in Nikki Adams’s “Nothing If It Fades” holds on to an indelibly erotic memory of a beautiful woman she once inked, only to find her attraction was more than skin deep. A pretty new neighbor has a surprise or two up her costume sleeve when she turns out to be not-so-submissive in Amelia Thornton’s “Kitty and the Cat.” Test your erotic boundaries with Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 and let it take you over the edge into a world where fantasies become reality.

With contributed stories by Maggie Veness, Nikki Adams, Helen Sandler, BD Swain, Rebecca Lynne Fullan, Amelia Thornton, Sid March, Maggie Morton, Fiona Zedde, V.C. Clark, Anamika, Zoe Amos, Sally Bellerose, Andrea Dale, Tenille Brown, Penny Gyokeres, Valerie Alexander, Sonya Herzog, Anna Meadows, Rachel Charman, and Kirsty Logan.

Like my recent book review on a heterosexual erotica anthology, this, too, is outside of my personal experience and was an adventure to read.  I’ll be leading a workshop on how to write a steamy scene at a writers/readers conference this August and I thought it’d be best to read up on sex scenes I’m not familiar with (aka anything involving a woman).  I had found the heterosexual anthology, Heat Wave, to be an entertaining read.  But this lesbian anthology?  Utterly fascinating and completely enjoyable.

This anthology was 100% out of my experience range as both a reader and as a human being, as there are no penises to be found.  (Or, rather, no real penises to be found, as there are a number of dildos.)  I found each of the stories to be enthralling.  I personally didn’t find it all that erotic, but you can chalk that up to me being gay.  I think that a lesbian or straight reader would be sweating as they read through these stories.

With each of the entries being of such a high calibre, it’s hard to pick a couple standouts.  After long consideration, I greatly enjoyed two of the stories in the blurb above best.

“Nothing If It Fades” by Nikki Adams brings together the intimacy of tattoo art and sensuous eroticism to create a captivating personal exploration into the mind and life of the tattoo artist.  And “Kitty and the Cat” by Amelia Thornton was an absolute delight.  Yes, it was sexual and erotic, but it was also humorous and entertaining.  I read though “Kitty and the Cat” with a broad grin on my face from the first sentence to the last.

I think that the simple fact that I, as a gay man, enjoyed this anthology immensely signifies the strength of the writing throughout.

And, as part of my upcoming workshop will explore some of the differences between straight, gay, and lesbian erotic literature, I can’t help but analyze what I’ve read.  In Heat Wave, the straight anthology I read a couple weeks back, I found a heavy emphasis on the actions and physicality of foreplay, but the act of sex was turned into a sensuous passage focussing heavily on connection, heat, and the rush of emotions.  In gay erotica, it tends to be the opposite — foreplay is often glossed over and it dives right into the sex, which is described explicitly, focussing on physical sensation and the raw erotic energy.  Lesbian erotic writing seems to combine the best of both worlds — the physicality of foreplay and sexual intercourse is vividly described throughout, but the emotions and non-physical aspects of sex are deeply interwoven throughout.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 is a high-calibre anthology of lesbian sex.  It is, I feel, a must-read for erotic readers of any sexual orientation, as it shows clearly what sex writing can and should be like.


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Book Review: Once in a Lifetime

Once in a Lifetime

Ariel Tachna

Offered a yearlong medical research fellowship in France, Shane Johnson has many hopes for the experience: a chance to improve his French, an opportunity to hone his research skills before starting his PhD at Baylor, and the freedom to live life as an openly gay man for the first time. He’ll chronicle his year abroad with its challenges, victories, and setbacks as he struggles to balance his faith with his sexuality.


As he navigates the shoals of a first kiss, a first relationship, and perhaps even lasting love, Shane will have to balance his newfound emotions with his long-term plans, and he’ll face the decision of how his once-in-a-lifetime experience will fit into the life he wants to lead.

I started reading gay romance (and gay erotic romance) about a year ago.  It’s been less than 12 months, but I’ve read dozens of books already.  Once in a Lifetime, by Ariel Tachna, is easily one of the best.

Tachna creates a very likeable character in Shane.  This book is told through Shane’s journal entries as he embarks on a year-long workstay in France.  He uses the opportunity to attempt to live into who he is — a gay man.  More accurately, a Christian gay man.

Tachna did a superb job in integrating the question of faith in Shane’s personal journey.  Personally belonging to a denomination that believes in the full equality of GLBT persons, I found the author’s approach here extremely refreshing.  Too often, faith is used as a negative plot device — someone, whether it be the main character or not, has to overcome the conflict between faith and sexuality.  The truth as I see it, and apparently as Tachna and her character Shane see it, is that there is no conflict there.  Sexuality does not contradict faith.

Shane goes through a number of experiences that, I believe, are common in the experience of young gay men.  She handles it with care and compassion, never giving into the tropes of the genre, cliches and stereotypes, or the easy way out of situations.  Shane lays everything out openly and honestly and we grow with him.  We experience what he experiences.  We see when he is heading down the wrong path, but we know that he will see it eventually — and more, he will learn from it.  Tachna does an excellent job of balancing Shane’s experiences with his personality.  He’s led down the wrong path innocently enough, he learns from his mistakes, and he applies those lessons to the future.

In the end, Shane encounters a real love, true and deep.  His learning curve in the relationship, and his unfolding experience with sex, is wonderfully handled and a pleasure to read.  Tachna avoids the many tropes and cliches I’ve found common in many romance books and instead writes something real.

This truly is a wonderful read — it’s one of the best gay romance books I’ve come across.

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