Review: Shakespearotica: Queering the Bard, An Anthology

May 3, 2014 Review 0

Review: Shakespearotica: Queering the Bard, An Anthology

Frolicking in gender play and sexual diversity, the nine authors collected in this volume offer a dazzling array of queer erotica and romance. Stories range from comic to tragic and historical to fantastic, taking up textual hints overt and subtle as they engage with the power of lust and love. By Any Other Name introduces the beautiful young Renaissance thespian Anthony, who faces a challenge for the women's roles he covets. Then, The Buttboy of Nicomedes: A Masque in Eight Scenes offers a gay farce built upon an original chorus of gossiping guards who crassly comment on the gay exploits they witness unseen. For Love or Dutyexplores a complex affection between Iago and the Moor in, while The Ills We Do reveals their wives' secret attractions.

All Pucked Up: A Midsummer Night's Romp shows new ways the four lovers of A Midsummer Night's Dream can be paired and grouped... with the right magical intervention. Next, A Well-Placed Pinch shows three young contemporary women rehearsing and improvising well beyond the script of Twelfth Night. Improvisation is also at the heart of a passionate encounter between two members of an all-gay cast in Much Ado About a Kiss. A meager Romeo proves the perfect fit for an irresistible beast with three backs when he practices swordplay with his Mercutio and Tybalt inA Tight to Remember. Finally, As We Like It: A Romance brings a science fictional future in which we learn how the trans desires of Ross (née Rosalind) can best be filled.

Whether you're a devotee or just Bard-curious, Shakespearotica has something for every lusty reader.

Title: Shakespearerotica: Queering the Bard
Author: Anna Black, Caitlin Ricci, Jean Roberta, Laila Blake, Louisa Bacio, Penelope Addams, Rob Rosen, Salome Wilde, Tilly Hunter, Wes Hartley
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Loving Her Curves, The Little Crow, Safe Haven, Joshua, Queens of the Apocalypse , Smut By the Sea Volume 3
Published by Storm Moon Press
Source: Publisher
Published: 8 November, 2013
Genres: Erotic Romance, Female Female Romance, M/M Erotica, Male Male Romance, Menage
Pages: 155
See the title at Goodreads
Stars: five-stars
Flames: five-flames

The best part about an anthology for me is the opportunity of exposure to authors that I may not have encountered before: and this themed anthology is no different.  Ten authors have put pen to paper with one caveat: their contribution to this anthology must be influenced by, in the style of or carry the tone of one of the works by William Shakespeare.  Taking that clue, authors have written in the style of, using language in playful ways to emulate, or even reset a familiar story in a new and different way adding futuristic elements.  Ten stories, ten authors, and multiple partnering combinations gives this anthology a true something for everyone vibe.

I’ll run through each story with a quick thought or two – it’s only fair for each author and as I’m a huge Shakespeare geek, it was hugely fun for me. Please note – that each author’s name is hyperlinked for you to find their website or goodreads page!

Rob Rosen and his  A Tight to Remember.  This is my second chance to read this author, and his wit and clever wordplay are a perfect match for his rendition of a scene from Romeo and Juliet.  Lighthearted and very hot, the puns never stop as we watch Ahoy, Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo romp, chatter and outmanoeuvre one another with pun after glorious double entendred pun.

Tilly Hunter and As We Like It is a futuristic setting where gender roles are fluid and flexible, loyalty and love are paramount and the characters are free to be and act on their feelings of the moment. The sparsely populated desert-like planet has it’s people more focused on survival and caring for one another and far less on the petty concerns.

Much Ado About A Kiss is Caitlin Ricci’s offering is a rework of a community theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing.  The two characters in this one take “rehearsal’ to a whole new level with several ‘unscripted scenes.

All Puckered Up: A Midsummer Night’s Romp by Louisa Bacio mixes up Titania and Oberon, Puck, Lysander, Hermia, Helena and Demetrius.  Oh, and did I mention that none of the ‘usual’ pairings are actually that important?  Several hot scenes in multiple pairing combinations move this story managed to present fun and laughs in a relatively predictable but ultimately fun and hot read that never takes itself too seriously.

Wes Hartley brings us The Buttboy of Nicomedes: A Masque in Eight Scenes.  This one felt more like a social commentary and spearing of the often hypocritical behaviors that people exhibit, depending on their confidante of the moment.  It’s a bit jarring, and far more pointed in language and approach than the others: but a well-crafted read nonetheless.  With characters that are more concerned with appearance than truth, I can understand the author’s motivation, even if this story was different in tone than the others in the anthology.

For Love or Duty by Penelope Addams: the first of two stories that are clearly inspired by Othello.  Othello and Iago, and what a duo these two are. Hot and unrestrained, the unexpected combination brings a whole new perspective to the story.  This is a story that personified (for me) the mandate of the anthology: well written, strongly tied to the original yet utterly fresh.

The second homage to Othello comes from Salome Wilde and her title, The Ills We Do. Emilia is utterly and completely focused on Desdemona, and her plans to win her.  Much of her attention is to the object of her desire, or is it love, and manages to incorporate her own discomfort with wanting a woman, desiring her, even loving her.  There are some oddly chosen euphemisms that will have you wondering of their purpose, but I found Emilia’s focus and apparent single-minded approach to revealing her desires well defined and described.

Anna Black brings us By Any Other Name, a story of a young man who, like the actors of the Bard’s time, played the female roles.  Anthony is at a crisis point, the directors are thinking that he has ‘aged out’ of his preferred roles, and yet he cannot go quietly and agree with their dictates.  Completely engrossing, Black manages to make us care about Anthony and his struggles, while placing several gender –bending questions into reader’s heads in her smooth incorporation of issues into the dialogue.  A perfectly crafted short story with characters that speak to your head and heart.

A Well-Placed Pinch by Jean Roberta opens with a clever scene that draws you into the story as it sets the tone.  Again a group of friends: Irene, Claire and Rosie are all in a theatre production of Twelfth Night.  Yet, nothing is as initially intended and Titania and Oberon manage to mix up expectations and action.  There are also some odd euphemisms used here, some of which work in a very 1970’s romance retro way, others not so much, and that may be the reason this one didn’t grab me as strongly as others in the anthology.

Lastly there is Smoke Signals by Laila Blake.  This one worked on so many levels that it is hard to explain: a modern-day production of Twelfth Night, and told in first person this was the most unique presentation and utterly engrossing.  Our narrator, unnamed, is a woman playing the role of Viola /Cesario in the play. Yet she is coming to find herself more obsessed with the male-aspects of the role.  Aided by Harry, an older actor playing the role of Orsino, our narrator is aided in appearing as a man: the walk, the lean, the swagger. Slowly she is becoming him, noting the power in the accessories of male anatomy, finding excitement in the fantasies.  The interpretation of a woman, feeling like a man, reacting as a woman but attracted to a man who likes men. This was a story that could have gone horribly wrong, but the writing and narrative voice pull you in and allow a connection that would have been missed otherwise.

There is, as mentioned before, something for everything with combinations that span a range of M/M to F/F and Menage of M/F/M, F/M/M/M and an M/M/F*m combination. The writing is polished with characters that are well-developed and defined even in the short story form. Take a chance on this one: it is well worth your time!

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