Have a thing for steampunk? Ever wanted to read really amazing erotica in that theme, without having to take a 50/50 risk of reading good or unbearable erotica that you could read on sites like Fanfiction.net or livejournal?
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You're in luck.
Carnal Machines is a Cleis Press erotic compilation edited by D.L. King. I got it from this awesome sex shop I trust. According to the Cleis Press Site, the book is 244 pages and 5.5 x 8 and currently only available in paperback. The site specs seemed incorrect, so I checked the page length personally. The book is actually only 212 pages, including the table of contents, the introduction, the about the authors section, the editor section, and the ads in the back. This book is very new, considering it was only published in 2011. This collection of erotica contains 14 stories which are about 15 pages each, the shortest of which is only 9 pages. The book feels sturdy and well bound. The covers have a nice pretty sheen to them.
The front cover shows a woman in brown leather outfit and goggles which seem to be emitting steam. Her lips are parted slightly and have an incredibly pale, almost deathly pale appearance. In terms of discreteness, this book is about middle of the road. It really doesn't look like your typical book of erotica, nor would the title hint at that. It took me awhile to notice that her top is cropped, showing the underside of one breast, but surprisingly, it's not that noticeable, since her breast is towards the lower-right hand side and the title seems to be more of a focal point than her breast. You could try reading this in public, but perhaps only if you're in a setting where you don't have nosy friends, family, or co-workers, etc, asking what you're reading. If you're really nervous, a quick fix is placing colored paper (or anything opaque) around the cover as a makeshift dust jacket.
I am a big fan of this book. The day I got it, I almost finished it. I absolutely didn't want to put it down! I enjoyed that the majority of the main characters were all strong females (including some strong male leads) that were in charge of their own sexualities and destinies, even if they were tasting the forbidden for the first time. It has a very taboo, kinky bent to it, so I wouldn't suggest it if you're not okay with reading about female dominance over a man (or a woman), arcane sex toys, robotic erotica and other sex machines, bondage, hints of dubious consent and hysteria/sexual relief medical procedures for women and men.
Most of these stories are so well written that you might find yourself getting attached to the characters. The authors use highly imaginative vocabulary that is suitable for the neo-Victorian time period. They also use creative ways to talk about the sexual anatomy; it wasn't just "clits," "cunts," and "dicks," although at times I felt like I couldn't bear to read the word "prick" again. My only beef with this book is that the editor overlooked some typographical and grammar errors, but it happens. Hell, I know that I leave plenty of errors which I always seem to miss. I usually find this out when I reread some of my reviews and find myself grimacing and overwhelmed by a sudden compulsion to fix everything.
The stories vary in action, the use of third or first-person, fetishes, and kinks. If you happen to not like one story, there are plenty more that are good reads. I can't think of any that I didn't like, but I will say that I favored some over others, but it wasn't by a landslide. It almost seems cruel to pick which stories are my favorites, since I think each of them were immaculately constructed in their own right, but if I had to pick, one of my favorites is "Infernal Machine" by Elias A. St. James. It is undoubtedly one of the best written kink-oriented gay male erotic stories that I have ever read. It has a beautiful contrast of fantasy, realness, and tenderness. The best thing about that story is that there I didn't pick up on "masculine" and "female" defined roles for the two lovers.
Here's a brief overview of the stories:
"Human Powered" by Teresa Noelle Roberts: A female professor has devised a machine that can harness sexual frustration. She confides in one of her male colleagues about how the device operates in hopes that he can help.
"The Servant Question" - Janine Ashbless: A technician specializing in creating and programming robotic house servants finds himself programming "the help" to aid in more than just housework.
"Sleight of Hand" - Renee Michaels: A female thief-for-hire finds herself outwitted by a new lock and trapped in train compartment by someone from her past.
"Mutiny on the Danika Blue" - Poe Von Page: The captain of the Danika Blue finds himself submitting to the "real" captain of the ship.
"Deviant Devices" - Kannan Feng: A prostitute of a local brothel is prepared to experience a machine for the viewing pleasure of a commander.
"The Perfect Girl" - Jay Lawrence: A French prostitute is assigned by her madam to entertain a younger woman and an older man, based upon a promise that is unable to speak English. She finds herself at the mercy of her clients.
"Dr. Mullaley's Cure" - Delilah Devlin: An assistant of a doctor specializing in hysteria treatments recalls her experiences in witnessing and experiencing the doctor's cures.
"Her Own Devices" - Lisabet Sarai: A Chinese prostitute is sent on assignment by her master to obtain the sex contraptions of an Anglo Saxon foreigner by any means necessary.
"Lair of The Red Countess" - Kathleen Bradean: A member of an adventure club becomes bored by humdrum days at the club and decides to investigate the paranormal society across the street.
"Infernal Machine" - Elias A. St. James: An engineer finds a rare chair by a prominent designer. Once he gets to machine to operate, it seems to malfunction.
"Doctor Watson Makes A House Call" - Essemoh Teepee: Doctor Watson leaves behind Holmes and makes house visits to the beautiful budding women in upper class society.
"The Treatment" - D.L. King: A beautiful foreign woman offers medical treatments to rid the local men of undesired thoughts.
"Lucifer Einstein and The Curious Case of The Carnal Contraption" - Tracey Shellito: Women and men of a certain household are finding themselves bound and pleasured in the night by a mysterious break-in artist who leaves behind phallic vibrating toys for their use. Who is behind these break-ins?
"The Succubus" - Elizabeth Schechter: At a high class, incredibly exclusive brothel, there are several floors created to satisfy the pleasures of clientele. Every prospective client must see the succubus first.
Overall, I was highly pleased. It sounds cliche, but I feel as though someone wrote this book for me. I'm ecstatic that some other like-minded kinksters had some inspiration and the drive to put these kinky fantasies in print. I feel satisfied by the variety of stories and even though certain themes seemed to show up frequently, I didn't feel like I was reading the same stories over and over again. I enjoyed the unique writing of each of the authors. I am certain that I will reread this book, which is a lot coming from a woman who hates rereading books. All in all, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
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