As a whole, there are familiar Shakespearian themes throughout: betrayal, lust, family, twists, humor, sex and playing with gender roles. There is quite a diverse group of different pairings, trios and more spread across all of the stories. I had no idea what I was walking into when I started reading this but I’m really glad I did.
Author: Anthology – Ten Different Authors
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
Frolicking in gender play and sexual diversity, the ten 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 Duty explores 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 in A Tight to Remember. Smoke Signals shows the erotic pleasure of a young woman’s crossdressing experience when heightened by the coaching of her more experienced male co-star. 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.
Playing roles should be this free…
I decided to review each author’s contribution. I figured they each wrote so they should each get a review. 🙂
Note: Most of these are not necessarily written in strict Shakespearian language but more with the flavor, definitely with the themes and then the characters have been reinterpreted for these specific stories.
By Any Other Name by Anna Black
We have Anthony, a young thespian who is already being considered as over the hill at the time of good ole Willie himself. Why, you ask? Because he loves playing the roles of the young women in their productions and he is fast approaching the time he can no longer do that, at least according to other people. This one is well written, smooth in dialogue and exposition, humorous and deals with gender roles and when they matter and matter not. The characters are well defined inside this short, which means I became invested. This one’s a clever bit and made me want to write. Can’t beat that!
For Love or Duty by Penelope Addams
Oh, Othello. Oh, Iago! This is hot. Unexpected. Delicious. We’re inside Iago’s head and tis grand. He’s earthy and driven while being uncertain… and then wanton. I think I have to say that I love this. A snapshot of … well, it is Othello, is it not? I know I haven’t said much about this one but every word is so well placed and I don’t want to give any of them away. Oy, I so enjoyed this one. 😉
The Ills We Do by Salome Wilde
We’re still in Othello’s realm, but this time, we’re seeing things from Emilia’s point of view. This started out determined and uncomfortable. She knows all that goes on but cares not so much. The object of her desires is Desdemona. Would fear win out? Revenge? Who would live and what day would they see? Unrequited desire… or is it love? I feel like I should be strolling along, bell in hand and sandwich board aboard me, attempting to entice spectators to come and create and audience for the next production!
One major drawback for me: some of the sexual terms used for body parts. They may have been written this way back then, for fear of offense or to spare perceived sensitivities,, but if we could take a poll, I’d wager no one ever used “treasure box” when actually engaged between sweat-drenched bed linens. Just sayin’!
The Buttboy of Nicomedes: A Masque in Eight Scenes by Wes Hartley
So, some of the language put me off right away. Not the Shakespearian verse (I’ll leave you to read the author’s note) but the conversation between the guards who are witnessing a connection between a prisoner and one of the high class officers. They’re clearly covering up their jealousy with assholishness. No two ways about it.
To quote from the reworked Shakespeare: “A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities, for I believe they are portentous things.” These are words we all should try and live by and I bet many of us here do. Some of these characters are more concerned with image than truth. Maybe my reaction is one the author intended. To me, it feels like a thinly veiled social commentary. I have no problem with commentary but ‘obvious’ may not have been the right choice here. This one didn’t grab me.
All Pucked Up: A Midsummer Night’s Romp by Louisa Bacio
So yeah, we have Titania and Oberon, Puck, Lysander and Hermia, along with Helena and Demetrius. Or is it Lysander and Demetrius, with Hermia and Helena? The game is afoot! And it was rather easy to determine the results. However, it mattered not, for it was all fun and embarrassment and desire and laughter. All hail Puck! This may have been a bit predictable but it was hot. Enjoy the Romp-a-thon! I know I did.
A Well-Placed Pinch by Jean Roberta
The opening scene shows this one to be well written, clever and humorous. Irene, Clair and Rosie are college students in what feels like modern times, all with roles in a production of Twelfth Night. Oberon and Titania have other plans for them. 😉
However, when we get to the magic hour, or rather the magic garden, things go downhill. At least they did for me. Did a memo go out announcing a competition in regards to using unique terms for body parts? A case of one-ups-manship? Attempting to do this could cause readers to be tossed out of the story, as I was. Just sayin’. This was still well written but style points were forfeited.
Much Ado About a Kiss by Caitlin Ricci
Alex and Jack: one still in college, one recently matriculated, both with roles in Much Ado About Nothing in the local production. They need to rehearse (do you see the quotation marks, a la Joey? LOL) for said roles, but may in fact be doing so for more than their wordless scenes. Mmmm hmmm. This was cute, hot. These two characters are easily described and relatable. I liked this little treat muchly. Yep!
A Tight to Remember by Rob Rosen
“You heard the man, let’s tap this Capulet.” – and he didn’t mean with a gun. This one is lighthearted, hot and definitely didn’t take itself too seriously. I like that. Ahoy, Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo! We have one fantastic pun after another, with double entendre galore and reimagined phrases strewn about. FUN!
Smoke Signals by Laila Blake
Very well written. A woman playing a man’s role in what feels like a modern-day production. She finds herself imagining her body taking on those changes. She gets help from Harry, a fellow actor and the lead of the company, pretty much. She discovers a part of herself that I bet a lot of woman want to or have discovered about themselves. Whether you want to be a man or feel the perceived freedom to take on some of those traits which society has deemed “masculine”, it’s an exploration presented very well here. So well. I loved this. Also: hot.
As We Like It: A Romance by Tilly Hunter
This time, we’re on a desert planet, short on water, long on hard work and somewhere in between in regards to acceptance of all who live there. Celia is Celia and Ross is Ross, once having been Rosalind, but not for over five years now. They grew up as friends and have become something more.
Friendship. Loyalty. Desire. Family. Sacrifice. Struggle. All are well-played, all just as maybe the Bard himself would have done. This one is tied for first place with Smoke Signals for me. Gender roles are allowed to be what they are, which means no real roles at all, except for who you want and love. Also: I want my own sparsely populated plant planet. Also #2: hot, beautiful and simply feels the way freedom should feel… and be.
I would like to thank Storm Moon Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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