I fucking love this book! Occasionally I get sent books to review and I always offer up my honest opinion in exchange…whether good or bad…but seriously, I can’t say enough good things about The Harder She Comes, edited by D.L. King and published by Cleis Press. Couldn’t put the thing down. Up way past my bedtime, night after night, I got caught up in hot read after hotter read. With most erotica anthologies, I can find maybe a small handful of stories that I like, usually heavily outweighed by tales that do nothing for me. In this collection there wasn’t a single story that I didn’t enjoy on some level. Talk about more bang for your buck!
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?
First off, I want to mention that I appreciate the cover image in that it implies the femme is touching the butch…a bit of a switch from how butch/femme sex is usually portrayed. A simple and sexy image.
The book opens and closes with two very powerful pieces. “Speakeasy” by Evan Mora is a creative delight — as the title suggests, the story is set in a 1920’s themed party at a local bar. Mora gets her readers in the head of the protagonist right off the bat, making it easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of this somewhat nervous, then cheeky, femme who gets quickly acquainted with a handsome blue-eyed butch. The flirtation in the dialogue is believable and delicious, the descriptions of the sex (and all that leading up to it)…simply exquisite.
CS Clark’s double-hitting “This Is What I Want” closes out the collection with a bang — a titillating two-in-one story in which the narrator switches from bottom to top. Part one was an obvious favorite for me — scintillating Daddy/girl play of the hottest variety — and Clark does a masterful job at conveying the trepidation and vulnerability one feels when exploring this type of play, especially for the first time. It was the second part of the story that I was shocked at just how excited it got me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been in negotiations with my top lately — slowly configuring a scene in which they’ll allow me to switch, to top them for once. Perhaps it’s the classic hot-for-teacher roles playing out so naughtily…so queerly. Perhaps it’s simply that it’s beautifully and filthily written. No matter the reason, this story is a winner and it’s clear why King chose to close the book with this last bit of erotic enchantment.
In between the bookends, there is so much to savor…I’ll point out my other favorites (read: those that I found had the most creative concepts, best writing, and were most heart-racingly orgasm-inducing) while attempting to keep this brief. Holy hell, Sinclair Sexsmith’s piece “Good Girl, Bad Girl” — one of my favorite writers, there isn’t much I can say about this piece (except that if you’re into Daddy/girl, you might want to skip directly to it) — it had me beyond flustered. I so appreciated the very real struggles around gender and emotions in “Valentine” by River Light. Aimee Herman’s “Channeling Charles Bukowski” is a unique and sexy take on Halloween costumery and great for anyone who’s ever had (more than) the hots for your office crush (*raises hand* Guilty!). If a tattoo shop (or just the idea of mixing pain with pleasure) is more your speed, “Tits Down, Ass Up” by Crystal Barela is sure to impress. And Miel Rose’s “Farmhand” is simply dripping with the most delightful sexual tension and anticipation.
I can’t say it enough…I fucking love this book! If you’re at all into (or even just curious about) butch/femme erotica, you’re going to want to own The Harder She Comes.