As you might have noticed, I have feelings about sex toys. Opinions. Strong ones.
So when Rachel Kramer Bustle decided to combine the two with Come Again, an anthology of sex toy themed erotica, I was… concerned. I knew that these stories would, primarily (if not exclusively) be written by erotica authors- not educators, not sex toy reviewers, authors. Which makes sense, but there is a wide array of myths and misconceptions surrounding sex toys and I was prepared for reading this book to mean drudging through a sea of them.
Luckily, Come Again surprised me. Sure there were far too many uses of the word “rubber” for my liking,1 and most toys descriptions were disappointingly generic,2 but for the most part it was pretty damn good.
There wasn’t anything outright offensive or dangerous. No implications that a toy was a replacement for a partner or only for lonely people, no scary unhealthy products used as replacements for sex toys, or things without flared bases being stuck in butts. Just a whole lot of sex, which meant I was actually able to loose myself in the narrative without being pulled out by my educator brain, which happens far too often when I’m consuming sexy media of any sort.
In fact, I was able to forget that the book was even focused on sex toys because of how flawlessly they were integrated into the narrative in most cases. It didn’t feel like the author was simply checking off activities on a list, the toys just felt like a part of the way the characters had sex, and that saved the whole anthology from feeling formulaic and repetitive.
As you might expect, it had the typical “secret sex toy in public” stories- Dare You To, and A Tale of Two Toys- which were a little hard to believe, because I know how remote control vibes work (poorly), but when I suspended my disbelief and pretended they invented a magical new one that actually felt like more than a bee lost in my pants, I enjoyed them a whole lot more. Especially A Tale of Two Toys, but I guess that’s just the exhibitionist in me for ya.
Those aren’t the only stories relying on new inventions though, The Cure for The Common Lay and Sex Sells both explore what the future of sex toys look like and ways to manipulate the brain to receive pleasure through science.
The Prototype, Byrd and the Bees, and Bikery on the other hand all show people inventing their own toys right in the here and now, which has the potential to be a bit confusing (as was The Prototype at first) or even slightly terrifying (I’m looking at you Byrd and the Bees) but Bikery found the perfect balance.
There’s also characters re-purposing seemingly vanilla objects for much more nefarious means- but luckily not in one of the many dangerous ways us educators have nightmares about. In Get Your Rocks Off, Prickles, and (of course) Vegetable Love, which could have been terribly cliche but adds an interesting quirk.
Some stories feature characters exploring toys for the first time, like in Dalia’s Toy where the woman needs to get a little tipsy before she is even able to set foot in a sex shop with her friends, but by the end of the story is teasing and dominating her eager, albeit shocked, husband. Then on the other hand you have Roc in Lost and Pounded who describes himself as “something of an expert in toys”.
The little bit of kink that is in the book is pretty tame, including only some sensation play in Claws Out, mild domination in The Secret Shopper, and topping out at some kitten play and spanking in Sex Kitten and medical play in Standard of Care. For the most part the book is pretty vanilla and at times it’s even downright cute.
For example The Superman Dildo isn’t particularly hot, but it is utterly adorable, and god damn important, which is why I was glad it was so close to the beginning of the book. The story told from the perspective of a cis guy who worries that if he uses a sex toy with his partner that means he’s somehow inadequate, because he’s not “giving her an orgasm” all by his lonesome. Luckily, by the end of the story he has learned the error of his ways, through some awesome quotes like “Sex is about listening. I had only been listening to my wants and desires.”
Like most of the anthologies I’ve read by Rachel Kramer Bussel , Come Again is inclusive, with trans bodies, various queer couplings, and even a story about a pair of older women who are just starting to explore their sexuality together. All of the stories are well written and were happily lacking in all the terrible euphemisms that are unfortunately quite prevalent in the erotica world. I didn’t have the best expectations for this book, but I should really have known better because I’m rarely disappointed in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s work. If you like sex toys and erotica I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by Come Again!