Book Review: Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 5

Image description: The cover features a shadowed silhouette of a feminine figure with her hand drawn to her mouth and bare shoulders. The text is grey and light pink and reads “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 5 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.” The book is set facing outward on a shelf full of sexuality books.

Another year is drawing to a close and that means Volume 5 of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year is now in my life. I think this series has officially become an erotic sex-positive New Year’s Tradition, and I’m here for it. With Volumes 6 and 7 a go, I’m looking forward to celebrating year after year.

I reviewed Volume four last year. The year before that one of my stories was published in Volume three. The publisher sent a copy of Volume 5 to me in exchange for an honest review and I was so excited to see the stories in this year’s volume as the authors tackled the theme “Outrageous.”

There are 21 stories by different authors in this collection and I always recommend this series to readers who are new to the erotica or romantic erotica genre. You can get a taste of different writing styles, story scenarios, and pairings to gauge what you might like to read more of. I felt like there was a bit wider range of storytelling and writing styles in this collection from previous volumes, and because of this I had a wider range of really liking some stories, while not finishing others beyond the set up.

There are five stories that I’d like to share here.

Nymph & Satyr by Justine Elyot

Oh, if you know me, I absolutely adore a museum or art gallery setting and this story was set in a sculpture garden/museum and I was hooked with the erotic sculptures and the cheeky dialogue surrounding them in the set up. With a M/F pairing and an older sex interest character, I was really into the hook-up of the story. It was raw and realistically erotic. The ending had a cute tie-up as well.

If the Ocean by Loretta Black

This story was my favorite in the collection, but I love anything that captures a magic realism feel. This story blends historical with fantastic with erotic and mermaids! Without giving anything of the story away, the author takes the erotic/sexual aspect of the story and explores a complex and intimate concept that holds tension to the end. This story was visceral, somatic, magical, mournful, and fulfilling all at once!

The Summer of 1669 by Jayne Renault

This is an historical and I admit I had to focus on this one. An incredibly detailed and realistic world with a slow burn, friendship dynamic, and rebellious edge culminating in a lovely F/F pairing. I enjoyed the tight interweaving of history, spirituality, and enduring human longing for light (and eroticism) that brought these characters together.

Vintage Treasures by Angora Shade

This story has a lovely domestic set up: a married couple in a new house discovering the titled Vintage Treasures in the basement. The story is a cornucopia of erotic scenarios in one place. A comfort read with familiar intimacy, natural chemistry, and wild playfulness.

One Last Gang Bang by Joanna Angel

This story was great smut and I loved the incorporation of porn, sexual fantasy, and confidence of the heroine. The author’s insight as a porn performer brings an edge to the story along with some humor and shame-free body and sexuality acceptance. A great way to explore those gang bang fantasies and explore how porn might also be a way to explore this and other sexual fantasies in an empowering way.

Overall this collection is varied, smutty, empowering, and a lovely addition to the BWE series. I’m looking forward to future installments. Visit the editor of the series, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s website here.

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