Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Agony/Ecstasy

Agony/Ecstasy: Original Stories of Agonizing Pleasure/Exquisite Pain Edited by Jane Litte

Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Erotic Romance, BDSM
Pages: Paperback, 222/208pp
ISBN-13: 978-0425243459
ISBN: 0425243451

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Heat)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Agony Ecstasy Anthology Website 

Please check out the Anthology website for excerpts from each story, author bio's and other interesting info!

Jane Litte on the WEB: website, twitter

Excerpt from Agony/Ecstasy (This Excerpt if from "Transfixed" by Anne Calhoun, first story on the Agony side) WARNING: This excerpt may be inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age.


All new stories of punishing extremes and unbearable pleasure...

With historical, contemporary, and futuristic backdrops, this outrageously diverse collection of original stories explores every conceivable variation of BDSM erotica-from knitting circles to the Titanic to a retelling of The Little Mermaid. Featuring all-new stories by Meljean Brook, Jean Johnson, Bettie Sharpe, Jill Myles, Margaret Rowe, Sara Thorne, and more, this book has everything a reader could hope for in an erotic romance.


This is the perfect time of year for reading anthologies! Many people don't have the time to commit to reading full length novels with the holidays in full swing. The very hot, very sexy erotic stories in Jane Litte's Agony/Ecstasy flip book will definitely hit the spot of some. Billed as erotic stories that explore the pain and pleasure of sex, this collection features tales from many different genres, with different sexual orientations and at least one sexual encounter per story. Each of the twenty-one stories is about twenty pages long and packs a punch in more ways than one.

I'll be the first to tell you that reviewing an anthology is never easy. I tend to be a bit of a rambler and I like to discuss each book I read thoroughly, so it's difficult for me to pin down what I liked and didn't like with so many short stories and so little space for each review. I don't like to overburden the reader with too much information, but I still want to be thorough. Not an easy task! Especially when you have such a diverse collection. Agony/Ecstasy runs the gamete when it comes to genre and emotional levels. The themes cannot be completely lumped under the BDSM label and there are some stories that are really good and others that weren't my cup of tea.

Overall it was definitely time well spent in reading this one. The really good stories far outweigh those that didn't quite get off the ground. There will be things that appeal to one reader and not to the next and so on. I loved the flip book concept because it provides the reader with a reading experience they can't get from digital media. I'm still a huge proponent of the old fashioned print media, the feel of the book in your hand, the smell of the fresh ink etc. That's not to say I don't lovvve my reader, I do! But once in awhile it's really nice to find a book that gives you something extra and this one does.

All of the stories revolve around the pleasure that some people get from pain. It isn't something that all readers can appreciate, but those who do will really get into this anthology. Eroticism doesn't always have to involve submission and dominance and this book goes to show you there is a lot more to the concept of painful pleasure than meets the eye. There are many stories in this book that feature one man and one woman, a couple that feature male/male relationships and one female/female story. There is paranormal fiction, historical fiction, science fiction and contemporary romance. There is probably something for just about every kind of erotic reader here.My favorites didn't always have a happy ending. Some of them left a lot of unanswered questions and a couple I didn't want to end at all. 

There were 11 stories on the Agony side. My top three were, "Caged" by J.K. Coi, a very dark paranormal tale that ended abruptly, but left me wanting more. "Wicked Wedding Night" by Margaret Rowe, my favorite of the whole book, which featured a historical background, dark, intense and full of passion. And finally, "Safeword," which a little lighter and more fun than the others. All of them were short, hot and emotionally fulfilling. They didn't follow a segmented theme, there wasn't a lot of back story it was just straight up sex in one fashion or another. There were a couple that I didn't like, the pain didn't seem necessary or fulfilling, "Shameless," and "Stitch and Bitch" fell into that category.

On the ecstasy side there were 10 stories. My top three were "Rescue Me" by Meljean Brook which was a unique story that I wished lasted a whole lot longer. "Bruised Ego" by Christine d'Abo hit the spot of me because this guy gets taken down one peg at a time for a good reason of course and seeing him come back together was amazing! I also liked, "Silverhouse" by Sarabeth Scott a lot. The submission and dominance in this one was so well done. Very sexy, down right dirty, and heartpounding all at the same time. There were selections on this side of the book that fell short as well, including, "Into the Red" by Cameron Belle and "Overtaken" by Sara Thorn. They just didn't seem to carry the same emotional weight as the other stories I mentioned. I just didn't get into them as much.

If you like erotic romance, you'll find at least a few stories in this one that float your boat, sizzle your bacon, or smoke your stack... LOL! As with any anthology, some are excellent, some not so much. Overall a definite 4 in my book! More good than bad, and the good ones were really good. I found some great new authors to explore, which is one of the things I do like about anthologies. It's like a preview to an author I may not have read otherwise. Give this one a try, it's not for the faint of heart. If you don't find a little pleasure in pain, it may not be your cup of tea! But if you do, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Check out the giveaway that accompanies Jane's guest post for your chance to win a copy!

Agony/Ecstasy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Jane Litte is a blogger, a reader, and now a collector of stories. Agony/Ecstasy is a collection of very steamy stories that explore the twin concepts of pain and pleasure. These stories represent fresh new voices in erotica and erotic romance, exploring the interiors of the bedroom and the mind. She lives in Iowa.