Title: Like It Or Not
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, BDSM, Erotic Romance
Blurb: Be it forced seduction/dubious consent, non-violent intimidation, or pre-negotiated fantasy, there is something wickedly taboo about non-consensual sex, where consent is muddled. While rape is a crime of power, focusing on exerting physical control over another person, non-con is all about the gray area where verbal consent is either never given (not a ‘yes’, but not a ‘no’ either) or doesn’t match the arousal and passion both parties share during the act. In Like It or Not, we push the boundaries of consent without fully breaking them.
When Connor’s rent money is due and not even hooking can make up the shortfall, he really is Out of Options. So when playboy Jarrett makes him a very generous offer, he doesn’t look too closely at the terms—and lives to regret it. Then, werewolf Trevor is subjected to Obedience Classes when his pack alpha becomes fed up with his rebellion. Dirk, the wolf charged with this task, though, seems more interested in claiming Trevor for himself, by any means necessary. Writer Ian Richards has to decide What It’s Worth to get his story when his contact meets him in a private club. In fact, Vincenzo has no intention of letting his information go easily, if at all.
In Blindside, freshman Matt is tired of enduring the hazing by (admittedly gorgeous) upperclassman Dylan, when Dylan ups the ante significantly. And as much as Matt wants Dylan, he can’t be sure the whole thing isn’t one more bizarre prank. Confessor Isak must resort to Unnatural Means when he is charged with the task of forcing Sain to confess his sins of murder and witchcraft before inevitable execution. Torturing in the name of the Divine is difficult enough, but when Sain’s seductive magic takes hold of him, he isn’t sure it will be Sain who breaks under pressure to find release. Finally, Salting the Earth becomes Ronan’s only choice when he suspects his sister has been taken by the fairies. However, this only draws the interest of ruthless King Finnbheara, who extracts a price for his cooperation that may be too high for Ronan to pay.
Out of Options by Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks
Connor has no rent money, no real job, no family or friends to turn to. His only option is hitting the streets. His hook-up, Jarrett, seems like a nice guy, a great kisser and gentle to boot. Connor is left feeling good. When he’s low on money once more, he hooks up with Jarrett again, signing a contract for sex in return for money. When he wakes up the next morning, he’s trussed up good, with Jarrett going all out kinky.
From the get-go, this anthology is about forced seduction and non-consensual sex. This first story has that in spades. Tied up, ball-gagged, flogged. All well and good. Morning and evening beatings for no reason at all and not allowed any kind of safe words? Yeah, that threw me. This one leans heavily into sadism of the BDSM mix, so be forewarned. Worst of all, Jarrett gave the wrong impression of himself, seemingly on purpose, to Connor, luring him in and then holding him prisoner. Connor does have an answering quirk, so I suppose that makes up for violence present here. Personally, I wasn’t all that taken with this story.
Obedience Classes by Sean Michael
Trevor is a young werewolf pup who is now in college and is rebelling against the established, time-honored hierarchy of the pack. The alpha sends Dirk, a powerful werewolf, to teach the wayward puppy how to behave. From a little stalking to outright rattling of Trevor’s chain, Dirk knows all the ways to make the young man submit.
I adored this story. Trevor and Dirk are well suited to each other. Where Trevor has a sharp tongue and a razor wit, Dirk has physical strength and seductive prowess to match that. Their arguments and fights, the whole chase, is hotter than hot. A great story that makes forced seduction seem this sexy is easy to recommend.
What It’s Worth by Gryvon
Ian is a writer who is trying to get a story from a mafia family about immigration. When an old don sends him to his nephew, Vincenzo, the information gathering takes place at a dark club where Ian is forced to decide just how badly he wants the story.
In the beginning, this short story is bogged down by useless rhetoric about how much Ian hates everything. In his words, how everything sucks. That was boring. Once he gets to the club, however, he is literally brought down to his knees and then on his back to experience the humiliation of strangers watching him be hurt and pleasured. Being a virgin, Ian experiences things for the first time. Vincenzo seems to have a handle on him, and what could have been a horrible experience, transcends into a new beginning. The life-affirming attitude of Vincenzo is well balanced with Ian’s more cantankerous nature. Not a bad story in the end.
Blindside by Stella Harris
Matt attends college for his first year, and he’s hazed constantly by a fellow rugby player, Dylan. Matt doesn’t know how to make it stop without incurring the wrath of everyone else, but he’s also afraid of being discovered as gay. Then an unexpected visit to a health center brings Matt and Dylan suddenly into a new kind of game field, and we get to enjoy them playing doctor.
This was my favorite story of the bunch, realistic and heartwarming. What we see, isn’t always what we get. Dylan knows what he wants, and he goes after it. Matt, however, thinks Dylan wants something else entirely, humiliation and power play, and this creates delicious tension. Both so young, at the start of their lives, there’s much pleasure, sex, and love to be had here—if they only dare to step out of their predetermined roles. Great short story, and I would have loved to see more of Matt and Dylan.
Unnatural Means by T.C. Mill
Witch-Confessor Isak is facing his biggest challenge yet, a beautiful witch named Sain who is accused of murder by sorcery and unnatural congress. Isak is a devout priest who wishes for these performers of the dark arts to confess their sins of sorcery and avoid the fires of Hell. But Sain is a gay witch. It’s who he is, and saying it to be wrong would betray himself more. Neither can yield, so the torturer’s rack and hangman’s noose are ahead for Sain—unless Isak can find a way to help him, even though Isak is certain the lovely young witch has put an enchantment over him.
For such a short story, this has surprising amount of depth. It’s not just the characters who are three-dimensional and relatable, but the world around them is vivid and realistic, and the philosophical talks the two men have about being true to one’s self and the nature of faith and desire feel like skimming the surface of much larger oceans of knowledge. At first Sain may appear unlikeable, but it’s Isak’s own preconceptions that color the impression. In essence, Sain is true to himself throughout the story while Isak is the one still trying to find his path. Torturing witches is clearly not it. I liked this story a lot. Recommended.
Salting the Earth by Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
Ronan’s sister, Rose, is a wild child who keeps disappearing at night. Living in a small town in Ireland, there aren’t that many happening places, so when a man at a bar tells Ronan that Rose has been taken by the fairy folk, it seems plausible to Ronan who has always believed in these things. So, armed with salt and liquid courage, Ronan digs a path into the fairy realm. But getting Rose back isn’t going to be easy, and Ronan has to acquiesce to the cruel pleasures of the sidhe court and King Finnbheara. But perhaps there’s more to the fairy folk, to the king, and even to Rose than Ronan was prepared for. And Ronan has his own shameful secrets to face.
This story has mixed writing, in the sense that thoughts and actions get a little jumbled at time. And the story takes a bit too long before getting into the fairy realm. There, however, these fairies who can change sexes at will are sadistic and cruel if not treated with the proper respect. The king is an enigmatic man who’s perhaps more multifaceted than the legends tell. There’s definitely forced seduction here and a few magical toys to boot, and the ability of the fairies to read minds adds a new twisted dimension to the whole thing. An intriguing fantastical conclusion to a good anthology.
Reviewed By: Susan