(Edited to add, 12/14/09: This book is available on Amazon, here for less than 12 bucks!)
Ms. Bussel has taken the traditional erotica compilation and allowed it to breathe with her latest anthology, Bedding Down. I’m never one to turn down smut, mind you, and often use erotic literature for mental foreplay, but Bedding Down was not (if you’ll pardon the expression) your run of the mill bodice-ripper.
Bedding Down calls on a host of excellent erotica writers, most of whom I’ve had the pleasure of reading in other anthologies. These stories are not afraid to explore the darker side of winter twined in alongside sensual heat, like the embers of a fire on a snowy night. Death is lightly touched upon in two stories, and the struggle to balance between everyday life, decisions and time together is very eloquently displayed.
I enjoyed the book as a whole, with the only story I wasn’t overly fond of being the first (One Night in Winter by Kristina Wright), but only then because it took me awhile to decipher which character was which; the premise and the sex were still lovely to read. Alison Tyler adds a bit of levity with the exasperated and ever-hopeful heroine of “It’s Not The Weather”, and Sophie Mouette’s “Hidden Treasure” plunges you into a spirited romp in a dark mansion. The struggle against the cold is engagingly laid out in Gwen Masters’ “Six Weeks on Sunrise Mountain, Colorado”, and Marilyn Jaye Lewis’ “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” echoed some of my own experiences of being engaged with all the drawn out discussions on the future that entails.
My favorite story (which surprised me a bit because I’m normally more amiable towards lighthearted offerings) was definitely Isabelle Grey’s “Northern Exposure”. It made the heart ache in both sadness and happiness and actually made me tear up, which is for me the sign of excellent writing. A close second is Shanna Germain’s “Sweet Season”, which makes perfect use of setting to draw the reader into sights, sounds, and scents; I’m also partial to Vermont culture, so that didn’t hurt!
All in all, a book that I’m very pleased to own, and an absolutely stunning read in the subtle beginnings of December. Best enjoyed with a mug of hot cocoa, a box of tissues, and maybe a bit of time with a handsome leading man.