Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review Tuesday: Inked (#tattoos #erotica #sexylittlepages @iamannasky)

Inked: Sexy Tales of Tattoo Erotica

Edited by Anna Sky
Sexy Little Pages, 2016

I haven’t reviewed a new erotica anthology in ages. To be honest, I’ve largely lost interest in multi-author collections of erotic short stories. I’m jaded, I guess. After a decade and a half of reading sexy shorts, I find they all too often sound the same. I’ll finish a tale and almost immediately forget it. (That makes reviewing a bit tricky!) Even if the stories are arousing and competently written, it’s pretty rare to find one that evokes an “oh gee, wow!” response on my part.

Hence, Anna Sky’s new collection Inked was a welcome change. Inked features nine wonderfully diverse stories, some by authors with whom I’m familiar, others by people new to me. Pretty much all these have in common is some plot or thematic connection to tattoos. Aside from this, they represent a wide range of genres, genders and moods.

Lilya Loring’s “Company Ink” paints a portrait of an apprentice tattoo artist, lusting hopelessly for the cool, bitchy mistress of the craft with whom he works. The writing in this tale has a few rough spots, but the subtle humor and the sexy surprise ending compensate.

In “Scissoring”, Annabeth Leong pens a gentle portrait of two women attracted to one another in the bathroom line in a club. One protagonist’s tattoo sets the plot in motion, drawing the attention of the other woman, who might otherwise have been afraid to speak up. Neither woman has any sexual experience with her own gender, a fact that both try to hide as they fall into raw lust in a toilet stall. The author does a fantastic job portraying the sense of rightness and freedom they feel in surrendering to their long-hidden erotic fantasies.

Her Midnight Roses” by Zak Jane Keir is a mysterious and compelling paranormal story, featuring a sort of succubus who seduces her victims via her fascinating rose tattoos. Unlike traditional sex-demons, however, this one heals the spirits of the humans she consumes, teaching them life lessons.

The Voron-Kali Emperor’s New Clothes” shifts the genre to science fiction and the gender pairing to M/M. A supremely talented young tattooist is recruited to bring down the alien emperor responsible for enslaving humanity, using his body and his art.

"Nine Lives" by Harley Easton illustrates how tattoos can provide a way to handle life's challenges. Leo has gotten new ink to mark each epoch of his difficult existence. When he reunites with an old flame, a brilliant but retiring artist, she makes their connection permanent by using him as her canvas. This sensitive, nuanced story rips all the stereotypes about tattoos to shreds.

Jillian Boyd’s “Sign Your Name” is a fairly conventional romance, between a Jewish artist and a hot Latin dance instructor. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, the vivid characterizations make it a satisfying read.

Commitment” by Katya Harris and “Uncovering Heather” by Victoria Blisse were my favorite stories in this volume. “Commitment” is a lusciously detailed D/s scenario in which a female submissive has a permanent collar tattooed around her neck by her Master’s close friend, with her Master present. More than any other tale here, this story captures the intimacy of receiving a tattoo, as well as the delicate balance between pain and pleasure to be found in offering one’s body to the needle.

Uncovering Heather” is memorable for its sharply observed descriptions, snappy dialogue and full-hearted emotion. Heather thinks she’s fat and ordinary, but the booted, quiffed and tattooed young man who chats her up on the Tube has other opinions.

The collection ends with Alain Bell’s “Venomous Ink” which switches gears again, from realistic, heterosexual erotic romance to mystical lesbian science fiction. The author turns up the heat in this tale of techno-mages, nano-machines, and F/F lust.

All in all, this is an impressive collection, especially in its variety. I should also mention the attractive design of this book—appropriate for a volume about art. I know that for the editor, Anna Sky, this was a labor of love, and this shows.

Inked is by turns entertaining, thought-provoking, and arousing. It is most definitely not boring. If you’re a fan of tattoos—or even if you’re not—I recommend it.

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