COMING TOGETHER FOR THE CURE
Edited by Alessia Brio
Phaze Books, ISBN 978-1-59426-930-1
Reviewed by Lisabet Sarai
Do you hide your erotic reading material? Thrust it guiltily into the bed table drawer, or sneak it under a pile of New Yorker Magazines, or stuff it into a bookcase behind War and Peace? Coming Together for the Cure is an erotic anthology that you can display proudly. I mean that metaphorically but sincerely, since this collection is currently available only as an eBook (although the print version is expected in October). This is virtuous smut!
CTFTC is the latest in Alessia Brio's series of altruistic anthologies, all of whose proceeds are channeled to philanthropy. This volume's profits go to the Susan B. Komen Foundation to support breast cancer research and education. Previous anthologies (this is the fifth) have been devoted to causes ranging from digital freedom to Hurricane Katerina relief, and next year's book, Coming Together with Pride, will be dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention and research.
Born into a world where transistor radios were high technology, I'm not completely comfortable with eBooks. I'm embarrassed to admit that I print them out in order to read them. Never mind, though; I've started to appreciate the attraction of ePublishing. For one thing, since the cost of printing and paper is not an issue, an eBook can be bigger, full of more juicy scenes and salacious stories than a print anthology. (As an editor who had to cut half of dozen of my favorite authors out of my recent print anthology Cream, I know first hand about the tyranny of page limits.) CTFTC is a whopping 360 pages long, and every page is filled with the good stuff.
The collection begins with a highly personal introduction by Chelsea Summers, mistress of the award-winning "Pretty Dumb Things" blog. Chelsea shares her memories of her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor who never surrendered. Chelsea's message is to celebrate life; that is a theme that runs through the entire collection.
The stories in CFTFC are diverse. You'll find gay, lesbian, het, BDSM, historical, speculative, and paranormal tales, in styles ranging from down-home humorous to mysterious and poetic. The one thing that unites them is their positive tone, their emphasis on sex as an invigorating, nurturing, and healing experience. Those of you who enjoy angst and darkness in your erotica will need to look elsewhere.
One of the pleasures of perusing this tome was the opportunity to encounter many writers who were new to me. Aside from a few familiar names (Alessia herself, Robert Buckley and some gal named Lisabet Sarai) nearly all the bylines were unfamiliar. That doesn't mean that these authors are amateurs. Many of them have published extensively, but often in eBook or in the erotic romance community, both of which have been pretty much foreign territory to me until recently.
I can't possibly give you a full picture of the rich offerings in this book, but I'll steer you to some of my favorites. James Buchanan's "Angel on the Wall" is a tale of magical realism about the physical and psychic connection between two young men of the streets. "If We Were", by Jeremy Edwards, describes what happens when a guy indulges in some playful fantasy with his long-time friend who claims to be "ninety percent lesbian". "The Wet Spot" is Carys Wheldon's well-crafted tale of two outsiders who meet at a sex club where they're determined to do nothing but watch. I adored "Bound to Love", Kelly Maher's romance about the rituals required to reunite soul-mates separated in time and space by a jealous god. Lawrence Doyen offers up "Ecstasy in E Minor", a poetic meditation on desperation and joy set in the seediest and most ethereal city in the world, New York. Sommer Marsden's "Making Me Do Things" had me laughing at her couple's exhibitionistic antics, while Selena Kitt's "Stay" brought me to sympathetic tears as the main character deals with the loss of her husband and her beloved pet.
Several of the stories focus on breast cancer, and the bravery required to face it. Alessia Brio's "Butterfly" gives us a tough, sexually adventurous heroine who thought her breasts were nothing but trouble -- until they were gone. Lee, the cancer survivor in Kate Burn's "Neuva Dia", almost loses the love of her life for fear of getting too close. And in "My Right Breast", Amelia June illustrates the empowerment and growth that can come from being someone's beloved slave.
Don't worry. Coming Together for the Cure is not in the least preachy or depressing. Some of the stories will touch you deeply; others will simply entertain. All, however, will leave you feeling energized and grateful. This book overflows, not just with sex, but with love.
Coming Together for the Cure is available from Phaze Books.
The Phaze order page is:
The Print-on-demand version will be available via the same link as soon as it comes out, as well as from other online booksellers including Amazon.
If you enjoy positive, lively erotic stories with a romantic twist, click on over to Phaze and get yourself a copy of this collection. It will make you feel virtuous -- a novel sensation, I'm sure, for many of ERWA's debauched denizens, but one that should be savored nevertheless.
Coming Together for the Cure
(Phaze Books, ISBN 9781594269301)
Available at: Phaze Books