Book Review: Serving Him

I felt pretty starstruck when I saw Rachel Kramer Bussel at the Feminist Porn Conference, because I’ve been reading her erotica anthologies for years and I’ve determined that we are more-or-less sexually in sync – at least, if her story selections are anything to go by. We dig the same sexual acts, the same turns of phrase. So I always gravitate toward RKB over any other anthology editor, because I know I can count on her to deliver something that’ll turn me on. Serving Him is indeed edited by RKB, but I don’t feel quite the same about it as I feel about some of her other works.

I judge erotica anthologies by how many stories bore me versus how many make me put my hand in my panties, and this book has a medium score on that scale. As the title suggests, it’s full of juicy short stories about dominant men and submissive women (yes, this is a hetero-oriented tome).

Some favorite stories of mine include Lori Selke’s “What You Deserve,” which features fancy food and spanking; Maxine Marsh’s “Tackling Jessica,” in which a football move becomes a fantasy; and J. Sinclaire’s “Duo,” a delightfully smutty MMF three-way.

Some stories in this book contain elements that drain the arousal right out of me – breath-play, humiliation, and dubious consent, for example. While there are obviously folks for whom these things are the height of hotness, it actually made me somewhat anxious to read about them. The Tumblr social justice community has embraced “trigger warnings” wholeheartedly, and I’m wondering if it’s time for kinky/edgy erotica anthologies to do the same thing – sort of in the same vein as how Yes Means Yes uses themed keywords to help you decide which chapters you want to read and which you want to skip.

I also found there were some stories which focused overwhelmingly on the psychological aspects of Dom/sub dynamics, with very little actual smut. This, again, is something that doesn’t hit the spot for me, but may be perfect for folks who find the non-bedroom parts of D/s relationships just as exciting as the actual sexual encounters. To each their own, right?

I should note that I like Dom/sub scenarios, contrary to what this review might indicate. But I guess I only like ‘em when they’re focused on sex and maybe a little spanking – the other stuff is peripheral or antithetical to my personal sexuality, while it might be central to others’.

Thanks so much to Cleis Press for sending me Serving Him to review!