Before we get into the review of the Big Book of Submission Volume 2, I need to disclose that I got a copy of this book for free. I’ve also taken a writing class with Rachel Kramer Bussel, the editor, at CatalystCon in 2014. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the review!
The Big Book of Submission Volume 2
The Big Book of Submission Volume 2: 69 Kinky Tales (Cleis Press, January 2018, ISBN: 978-1627782227) is an impressive collection of 69 short erotic stories with a kinky twist. It is edited by sex & dating writer Rachel Kramer Bussel. She has an extensive list of writing and editing credentials, including contributing to over 100 anthologies, having articles published in the New York Times, Jezebel, Playgirl, Salon, Slate, and many more. The anthology is described as;
Whether you’re simply curious about submission or regularly revel in the delights of BDSM, these sixty-nine erotic short stories about submissives will turn you on! From participating in a musical recital that takes a very kinky turn to making a grocery run while using sex toys to indulging in a risqué office encounter during working hours, these subs delight in obeying (or deliberately disobeying) their masters and mistresses in public and in private. They’re rewarded and punished the most wicked of ways that will leave you breathless. Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, with stories by Selena Kitt, Jade A. Waters, Jordan Monroe, Dorothy Freed, and Sommer Marsden, among other talented writers, The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2 offers arousing tales that delve deep into the thrills of spanking, bondage, power dynamics, service, exhibitionism, erotic adventure, and much more.
Something for Everyone
Just because “something for everyone” is an advertising cliche, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The variety of stories in the book was quite impressive. I will admit that I didn’t read all of them – I read the ones which interested me the most (more on those later) and skipped over the ones that just weren’t doing it for me. That’s the beauty of a book like this. You can pick and choose what appeals to you, focusing on what you find hot.
Reading through some of the stories, you start to notice that a variety of sexualities and genders are represented. There were straight, gay/lesbian, and bisexual/pansexual characters. Some were cisgendered, others were non-binary or gender fluid. There were group scenarios, solo scenes, and a lot of couples. While some of the stories happened between more casual lovers, many took place within established, loving relationships – just the way BDSM does in real life!
On that note, many of these kinky tales rung true to life. The struggle for new parents to find time alone and the deep love that can develop between a Dominant and a submissive were two that stood out to me. Of course, no book of erotica would be complete without some fantasy tales. The Big Book of Submission Volume 2 does not disappoint on that front.
The various themes explored in the Big Book of Submission Volume 2 include M/f, F/m, cuckolding, professional BDSM, consensual non-consent, humiliation/embarrassment, love, and so many more. Of course, many of the stories were a little more sex-focused than I prefer (I know I’m not the norm here), but it is a book of erotica, so that’s to be expected.
My Favourite Stories
Most of the stories I enjoyed included women in the dominant role, with a variety of partners. Ik now, you’re shocked! What can I say, I find the way women identified people take control has a different flavour a lot of the time, one that I prefer.
There were two really stand out stories for me. The first was The Assistant from Malin James. In this story, a powerful woman has complete control in her affair with her assistant. She uses him for her pleasure and he obeys. Obedience is one of my favourite things. I really enjoyed the control she exerted in this short but entertaining story.
The second one I enjoyed was Flagged for Revision from Elna Host. This story features a lesbian couple engaged in some genuine punishment on a camping trip. It has an important lesson; don’t make promises you can’t keep! I enjoyed the matter of fact way the punishment was approached and the loving way the story ended.
Some others that caught my eye were What She Wanted from Olivia Foxe, a tale of a reluctant male sub. Switching Struggles by Leandra Vane explores consensual non-consent in play and makes a point to feature negotiations and safewords during play. Warning from Valerie Alexander was a frank description of the effects of loving D/s on a relationship and a person. The Eunuch by Regina Kammer is a fantasy set in the Roman Empire and shows the power and satisfaction that can be found in submission.
Fantasy vs Consent
The only issue I have with any of the Big Book of Submission Volume 2 is a common one when it comes to fantasy and erotic writing. Some stories appeared to be non-consensual. Characters met, engaged in BDSM activities without talking or obtaining consent first. Some characters engaged in coercion that we would (rightfully) call out in a real-life scenario.
I chose to skip those stories where the consent was dubious. It may be because I spend so much time as an educator stressing consent, that I have little tolerance for “iffy” situations. I would love to see more writers include negotiations and discussions of consent in their stories – much like Leandra Vane did in Switching Struggles.
Thankfully, it was only in a few stories that consent was questionable. I also recognize that erotica is meant to be, well, erotic. We, the audience, don’t always see the behind the scenes stuff. Fantasy sometimes skips over the less tantalizing details. The Big Book of Submission was still a thoroughly enjoyable read.