I don’t read a lot of erotica anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I like erotica okay. I’m going to be reviewing a couple erotic novels in the near future. I can masturbate to the written word. But for the most part, erotica usually feels like it’s missing something for me. I can get on Literotica and read some short stories, but they always seem to lack body, depth, characterization, and passion. With that deficit in mind I was thrilled when I started reading Xan West’s Show Yourself to Me.
Show Yourself to Me is a book of queer kink erotica that goes above and beyond what I’ve been conditioned to expect from erotica. I agreed to review it because I’ve read some of West’s blog posts about writing diverse characters in erotic stories, so I expected inclusivity, but nothing could have prepared me for this book, because it is so damn good.
West’s characters are gritty and empowered – they fill up the page, and feel real on a visceral level. Over the course of just a few pages I can go from being introduced to a new character to feeling like I actually know them. I know this seems like a strange thing to say – after all, when you’re reading a novel it can take the span of the entire book for that level of characterization to occur – but West’s descriptions are rich, and they really give me a sense of what makes each character tick.
The scenes are beautiful, and many of the stories talk about BDSM as more than just play, addressing the transformative aspects of it as well. BDSM is a way that many people explore their limits and identities, work through trauma, and strive to become better, and West’s stories demonstrate this. The stories are sexy and engaging, and they don’t feel detached or clinical at all. They are dark (but not in a morbid way) and heavy, and I love that.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with light ‘n fluffy BDSM or tales that only focus on the outer sensations, but that just isn’t what Show Yourself to Me is. The stories are deep and the play is intense. Heavy sadism, rough body play, and edge play are regularly featured throughout the book.
West does the reader the courtesy of including a content guide section after the table of contents, so the reader has forewarning of which stories include potential triggers such as trauma, knife play, humiliation, or consensual nonconsent. If you find that certain types of play may trigger you or simply aren’t to your taste, I urge you to use the content guide. On the other hand, if you’re specifically in the mood to read about blood play, the content guide will tell you which stories are up your alley.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the diversity in writing. West’s writing introduces you to disabled, fat, and transgender people. There are people of color (PoC) in the stories, and they acknowledge some of the baggage that surrounds PoC and BDSM play. Part of what makes the characters feel so real is that acknowledgement of the different people who participate in BDSM: people of different ethnicities, people of a larger size, people with canes and scooters, people using neutral pronouns, people who embrace stone sexuality. Instead of being as vague as possible, West specifically mentions the things that make characters part of minority groups so you don’t automatically assume everyone is white, cis, able-bodied, and thin… and that is beautiful.
I also learned a lot about different areas of kink from this book. Until I read this book I had never been exposed to certain BDSM cultures and fetishes like leather, Daddy/boy, or rough body play. Reading about these subcultures and kinks was fascinating, and really gave me insight into the appeal of some things that I’d never considered before. If you like these things, then this book is definitely for you, but if you’ve never given them any thought and would like to then this book is a great place to start thinking.
My favorite stories were The Tender Sweet Young Thing (which you can read here!), Falling For Essex, How He Likes It, Facing the Dark (you can read Xan’s backstory for it here), and Ready. You can view the Table of Contents for Show Yourself to Me and read little excerpts from the stories in this post on Xan’s blog.
I highly recommend Show Yourself to Me for kinky queers that love the written word. You can get eBook or print copies from Go Deeper Press and you can buy the book on Amazon. You can read more thoughts from Xan West at https://xanwest.wordpress.com/.
In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.
Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.
Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.
Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.
This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.
Blog Tour Stops:
- October 1: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/
- October 2: Book Birthday! Go Deeper Press http://godeeperpress.com/
- October 3: Heather Elizabeth https://kinkopedia.wordpress.com/
- October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith http://www.sugarbutch.net/
- October 5: Hermia Swann http://www.cuntext.com/
- October 6: Dilo Keith https://dilokeith.wordpress.com/ and Cecilia Tan http://blog.ceciliatan.com/
- October 7: Kinky Brits http://thekinkybrits.com/
- October 8: Stella Harris http://stellaharris.net/
- October 9: F. Leonora Solomon https://fdotleonora.wordpress.com/
- October 10: Tasha Harrison http://tashalharrison.com/
- October 11: Benji Bright http://www.theeroticledger.com/
- October 12: Tamsin Flowers http://tamsinflowers.com/ and Karida http://submissionandthecity.com/
- October 13: Cassandra Perry http://cassandrajperry.com/
- October 14: Peep Scoop http://www.peepscoop.com/ and Radical Access Mapping Project https://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/
- October 15: Sugar Cunt http://www.sugarcuntwrites.com/
- October 16: Emily Byrne http://writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com/
- October 17: Oleander Plume http://poisonpendirtymind.com/
- October 18: K. A. Smith https://authorka.wordpress.com/
- October 19: Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
- October 20: Butchtastic Kyle http://www.butchtastic.net/
- October 21: Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
- October 22: Syrens https://syrens.wordpress.com/
- October 23: Anna Sky http://www.iamannasky.com/
- October 24: Jade A. Waters http://jadeawaters.com/
- October 25: Kal Cobalt http://kal-cobalt.squarespace.com/
- October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon http://www.rebekahweatherspoon.com/
- October 27: Malin James http://malinjames.com/
- October 28: BD Swain http://www.bdswain.com/ and Jillian Boyd http://jillianboydauthor.wordpress.com/
- October 29: Kaleigh Trace http://thefuckingfacts.com/
- October 30: Kiki DeLovely https://kikidelovely.wordpress.com/
- October 31: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/ and Annabeth Leong http://annabetherotica.com/