Just close your eyes and feel: soft, warm lips skimming from your shoulder to your ear, your skin prickling and tickling. Then add another set, echoing the first, layer upon layer of sensation as two sets of hands join the game, stroking, sliding, ratcheting up the heat. And when your lips part and the tip of your tongue darts out, it’s met by two more in a luscious, messy, three-way kiss. This is necking, pure and hot, sending shivers of arousal down your spine. In these stories, the men come in threes: triple the pleasure, triple the love.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think I might be taking a break from Dreamspinner anthologies for a while. I think honestly they just put too many similar stories together and this is third or fourth anthology when everything blends together into one long, tiring theme. That’s not to say there aren’t stand out stories on their own and if read piecemeal over a much longer period, several are quite enjoyable. Unfortunately read all at once this anthology blends into a lot of erotica and sex scenes, numerous justifications for why casual sex only bothers those petty and insecure, and light on the emotion and happy ending. Depending what you’re after, this anthology could delight or disappoint.
Necking is composed of 15 m/m/m stories and let me say first – almost all of them are incredibly hot. Whatever else may not work in this collection, the sex is incredibly smoking and delicious. There is also no shortage of it. There is so much sex that the collection when read at once feels like endless scenes of hot men, casual sex, and a parade of positions, talk, and fantasy. It’s probably enough to fatigue the most hardcore erotica fan, therefore the best advice I can give is read it very slowly. Read a story here or there, let the anthology stretch out.
Dreamspinner tries to cram too many stories, too many authors, and too much sameness into their collections which brings down the great quality the stories can really offer. While a lot of these stories are well written, there’s only so much variety in situations the stories offer so it decreases the enjoyment and originality to put too many together – at least in my opinion. Since the anthology is about hot threesomes, the themes usually involve established couples that are looking to play or even end up adding a permanent third. There are a spattering of three unrelated men coming together for sex and most of the stories end with a happy for now ending holding promise for a happy future.
The majority of the 15 stories offered are decent to good (~2.5 to 3 stars or so). A couple stood out above that such as Thank you Note by Jamie Freeman about an established couple having a fling with potential and wonder how to go about dating a new person. The characters are warm, fun, and inviting exactly like the hot sex they get up to. The story is well developed and the sense of fun, adventure, and possibility comes through very well. The sex scenes are a little clinical but the characters help override that. Another great mention is Neighbors by Day, Naughty by Night by Devon Rhodes about a couple that ends up with a naked sleepwalking neighbor and realizes the possibilities could just work out well for everyone. This is another well written story that blends great emotion and sex.
Likewise Unwrapped: The Birthday Gift by Josephine Myles introduces a sexy older man that shows a new couple about confidence and trust. This is one of the better stories that tries to touch on the idea of casual sex not altering a relationship. Instead of beating the reader over the head with the lesson that jealousy is petty like some of the other offerings, this story subtly and deftly shows how two people in love can navigate the potential dangers. Not only well written but pretty hot too.
The highlights for me were Beautiful Friend by Dar Mavison and Down the Middle by Heidi Cullinan. The former shows three completely different men that come together in a sex based story but alter the ideas of what’s expected. The beautiful, almost fey younger man doesn’t necessarily have to be the bottom partner and two sexy, muscle men who adore him teach some unforgettable lessons. The later story is the only one that touches on angst and offers the deepest emotion. Here an established couple is drifting apart and on the brink of breaking up when they decide to take a chance on a liaison with a younger man. While the sex verges into the territory of fixing serious problems, it’s meant to be just a step towards reconnection. It’s a lovely, well written one at that.
Overall I found the anthology to be too bland and same with a lot of sex and light emotion to fully satisfy. The few stories I mentioned are worth reading and on their own would have delivered a great collection. The rest offer hot sex and a variety of stories and themes from cute, funny banter to deeper connections and several are fluff stories with little depth. That’s not bad if you’re looking for that. Just spread it out and you’ll enjoy it more.
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6 thoughts on “Necking Anthology by lots o’ authors”
I do think authors sometimes self-edit when the read the anthology description. I know I held my breath with my short story in the upcoming science fiction story. I really felt like they were asking for first time sex with an alien “where making first contact takes on a whole new meaning.” I honestly thought my story would be rejected because it’s all angst, all emotion, all pain, with a little ray of hope and a love that just too damn stubborn to die and absolutely no sex. I was fully prepared to get a rejection, which is why I can’t figure out why I sent it in. So, I’m not sure if it’s the press that is choosing too much sameness or authors who are submitting too much sameness. Either way, I can see why this kink would get old for me pretty fast because I like my men possessive and jealous.
That’s a really interesting observation. I’d venture that it’s a combination. After reading so many DSP anthologies, they all tend to be like this. I haven’t read EVERY anthology so I’m generalizing but I do notice a lot of them seem to be similar like this. So I can see both authors tailoring their stories to fit the anthology, making an editor’s job of finding 15 very similar stories pretty easy.
It’s not that I mind sex anthology.. I mean I read the best gay erotica series from Cleis. It’s just that the editors there change up the pace, the tempo, the settings, so it’s not just eye glazing over sex.
DSP I think needs to learn how to better market their anthologies. I blame this one on the press because a lot of the stories are flat out good stories. But wasted when lost with so many others.
This is a great review, Kassa, with wonderful feedback for the editors at Dreamspinner Press. I hope they see this. I wonder if maybe projects like this pick up too much momentum with every in-house author clamoring to participate and then far too many stories that are far too much alike end up getting put in an anthology — because the editor just can’t bear to reject some of the authors for the good of the anthology.
I like the sound of the ones you mentioned — the naked sleepwalking neighbor? Ha, ha! That’s creative.
Thanks Val! Not that DSP will listen to me (I’m a nobody lol) but I think they would have seriously scored on this group of stories if marketed differently. Imagine if they’d done say … 3 anthologies of 5 stories each. Pick a well known author and then several new authors. Here there are numerous authors I’ve never heard of before so pairing new with old would have sold all 3 anthologies but I think the individual stories would have shown much better.
Though I mention only a few stories, several have great moments where I laughed or chuckled, enjoying great one liners or hot scenes. But yea, too much together makes me forget that bit of greatness in a sea “oh god… more?”
The naked sleepwalking one is hot! I’d love to see more of that couple.
I did enjoy this overall, some more than others, but 15 is a lot of stories. I know it seems like “Wow, more for my money”. Do you pay $7 for 15 or $6 for 6. We all tend to be greedy but you can end up with burn-out. As you said, they start to blend. Less is more is sometimes a good policy to follow.
You said it… less is more! Most of the 15 are good but they get lost in the mix.