This book, Show Yourself to Me by Xan West, is seriously phenomenal. I appreciate when erotica reflects reality, but this book goes beyond that and addresses topics all too often silenced. What I love about this book is that West doesn’t skirt around heavy topics, but rather delves deeper and pokes and prods those dark topics that make us shout and squirm and come and cry. Life is a rocky road, and it can be healing to embrace our fucked-up experiences and turn them into something freeing and pleasing.
In the story “Dancing for Daddy,” West writes:
It is a strange thing to deliberately choose this. But then so much of sexuality, and especially BDSM, is strange. We are truly perverse, those that choose this. And we fly so high. The danger, the triggers, give this sort of play a charge. It’s electric and exciting and scary as hell. And I love it.
This book is refreshing and valuable because its characters encompass many voices of those who are silenced both in the real world and in the literary world. These characters are queer, trans, POC, fat, have dis/abilities, and so on. Show Yourself to Me is a groundbreaking erotica anthology. And it’s really fucking sexy.
Annabeth Leong writes in the book’s introduction:
As one of Xan’s characters says: “You are who you are, and hiding from it because too many people can’t come to it from respect meant you never fucking got your needs met.”
This book meets my needs, sexually and emotionally. It’s hard to explain how good that feels, how incredible it is to find it can be done when I wasn’t sure it was possible. It does that by never hiding–not from what’s hard and uncomfortable, and not from what’s hopeful and loving and sexy.
This book has many stories that incorporate pain play and D/s dynamics. Lots of these characters engage in various edge play, public sex, orgasm control, and rough body play. What is really thoughtfully done is that there is a page titled “A Note About Content” that lists off topics and the stories that include them. The intent is that readers can take care of themselves while reading this erotica book: not every reader may be ready for every story. As I was reading this book, some stories spoke more to what I related to and what can get me off.
Show Yourself to Me was exactly what I needed this year. It was a priceless, pleasant surprise that had perfect timing in my life. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
A special thank you to the author, Xan West, for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest (although belated) review.