Dirty Dates is the latest Cleis Press produced anthology edited and overseen by Rachel Kramer Bussel. If this is the first time you’re learning about these collections, you’ve got some catching up to do. I discovered Bussel’s work just as Do Not Disturb, a collection of hotel themed erotica was being released, which Good Reads tells me was in 2009? Jesus internet, you always make me feel old.
Anyway, it was through a podpast interview and I remember nodding my head in agreement as Bussel descripted how perfectly sordid hotels are set up to be. All those strangers, all those bed, all those one night engagements – yes. Please. So, right up front, let’s be clear that I’m a fan of Bussel and her work. And before I forget – happy birthday Rachel!
I think Dirty Dates greatest strength is also probably its weakness – there’s a lot of diversity. In kinks, couple make ups, relationships styles and life styles. What that means, of course, is that not every story in the book will work for everyone who reads it. Overall though Bussel does a solid job of choosing a little something for everyone. Even though I can’t exactly relate to returning to kink after the birth of baby, I can completely relate to squeezing in a naughty sexcapade between work schedule that keeps you so busy you’re not sure if you’re going to get time to do your laundry. And even though those stories didn’t work for me on an erotic level, I appreciate their inclusion because it makes the book real.
I also really appreciate that lots of stories features women leading the power exchange, men enjoying submission without giving up their masculinity and the oh-so-real-but-rarely-seen-in-media: the bisexual man. Be still my heart! I don’t want to give away the twist at the end and wreck which story it’s from, but it was one of my favourite parts of the entire book. I also might have had created an entirely new story in my head about what comes after the last sentence, but isn’t’ that all part of well told story?
For my personal taste many of the stories were a bit off, which made them hard to take seriously. Some of your typical exaggeration, which I suppose is supposed to paint a more vivid picture for the reader but makes me question how much experience the author has with BDSM. Do writers actually know how much force it takes to bruise a vuvla? Probably note, I mean, why would you know that unless it’s how you like to spend your Friday night? Plus some of the character motivations made me go o.O, causing me to dislike what was otherwise a really hot story, but as I said above, there’s something from everyone which also means something for everyone to dislike too. Overall it didn’t colour my opinion of the book and that’s one of the reasons I trust Bussel as an editor – I know the base line of the book will be good.
I definitely recommend this collection for those who like heavy slice of romance with their kink. Even some of the edgier stories (like Magic Words, which, heads up for Daddy/little girl role play if that stuff squicks you) are told with a sweetness equal to their filth. Overall these stories are short and fun, great for unwinding to set the mood for your next date – because hey, real talk, it’s hard to go from public life to private life in zero to sixy. Plus there are some really cute scene ideas in here. Read The Rabbit Trap guys. It’s probably the shortest story in the book, but also my favourite. I think I’ll be reading it to my own Daddy next time he comes to visit.
I only have one big complaint about this book. I’ve woken up with Dirty Deeds by AC/DC in my head so many times since I made this my bedtime relaxation book. And I can’t even really fault anyone but me for that and the awful, awful way my brain works.
Or, shop local find it at your nearest independent bookstore!