The Boss is a short story collection edited by Temptation Press (I couldn’t find a person named as editor).
Finished on: 27.1.2020
[I won this book in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away.]
The seven stories in this short collection are all concerned with bosses in some way and with sex. Other than that, they very widely in tone and pairings – there are even queer stories. What they do have in common, though, is that they all would have needed more editing. I guess there is a reason that no editor is named here. For me, the collection was mostly okay, but it could have been much better.
[Read more about each of the stories after the jump.]
Consent to Be Filmed (Valerie Brundage)
Grace is a tough film executive, expecting a young filmmaker to pitch her documentary series. When Anita shows up, she suggests that she can just show Grace how they work. Turns out, it’s pretty sexy.
Consent to Be Filmed was probably my favorite story of the entire collection. I loved that they start with a wlw story (and don’t hide it somewhere in the middle) and I thought Anita was very cool. I would have liked a little more elaboration what kind of films she wants to make with her method (though that may just be the film nerd in me speaking), but the (consensual!) voyeurism/exhibitionism angle was very well done.
Happy Hour: The Great Escape (Cee Wonder)
Kellis just handled a big presentation for a client in her usual successful, professional manner. Her boss Mr James took notice, too, and his compliments just underscore how hot he is. Fired up, Kellis decides that she will call up one of her friends with benefits that night.
This story handles the boss-employee dynamic (which can be very problematic as we all know) nicely. Wonder really found a good work-around here for that. And the sex was pretty well-written, although it didn’t necessarily tick my boxes.
His to Claim (Shanjida Nusrath Ali)
Content Note: (very) questionable consent
Ana works for Mathew, but they are also married. It was an arranged marriage and he has kept his distance from her, much to her chagrin. Because for Ana, that marriage was less one of convenience. But now she’s had it. She’s ready to fight for this, for them.
There was a lot going on in this story. So much so, that I am pretty sure that it started life as a novel. There is certainly enough material for one here. I was definitely left with a lot of questions – starting with the hows and whys of the arranged marriage. The story definitely takes some inspiration from 50 Shades of Grey (starting with the protagonist’s name) and much like 50 Shades, the BDSM here is not really consensual – in the sense that it’s neither informed, nor do they set clear boundaries. That they then make it a point to say that Mathew’s ex was an evil hag because he tried that stuff with her and she wasn’t into it, but called him a perv and left, really was the kicker. Not that I think that anything is wrong with BDSM, but judging from this story, he probably didn’t talk to her a second about it, but just randomly started to spank her. Plus, I’m just tired of evil (female) exes. So, overall this story is a no from me.
Lady Lawyer (Wolfgang Domino)
Dominic is a paralegal at a law firm, but most of his work time seems to be occupied with Skyler, a tough, beautiful lawyer who would be his boss if she took any notice of him at all. But one day, Dominic is working late and things happen.
I have to say, I’m not sure if I ever read any erotic fiction by men until now – nothing comes to mind. And this story was certainly the amalgation from everything that I’d fear a man would write in an erotic story about a woman. It’s a male fantasy from the first second to the very last. In his fantasies, Dominic constantly objectifies Skyler and dreams about how he will safe her from her marriage. And in the end, it’s Skyler who starts begging for Dominic to stay with her. Ugh. The only thing that really worked for me is that there is a character called Donald Gosling here and that name is supremely funny to me.
Only by Chance (Janiece Malone)
Eliza’s boss Adelaide may just be about to fire her, when a gorgeous man – John – comes into her office and saves her for the moment. When they run into each other again, John leaves no doubt that he would like to see her at the office party – and things really spiral out of control there.
This was probably the story where I was wishing for an editor the most, for two main reasons: one, the information dissemination didn’t work properly. I always felt that I was missing info that seemed to be common knowledge for the story – like the fact that John and Adelaide are married. Two, the euphemisms really got out of hand here. Stiff like “he replaced his fingers with himself” are laughable enough, but calling someone’s pussy/vulva/vagina/general crotch area the “sacred place”? Just no. If you can’t call a dick a dick and a pussy a pussy, maybe you shouldn’t write erotic stories where you detail how people fuck. Less of an editing fail, but still a fail is the fact that Adelaide is queer coded and fat – and absolutely ridiculed for both things by John and Eliza. As a queer, fat woman: fuck this.
Sex Appeal (Illiana Martinez)
Content Note: sexual harrassment
Maria wields her sex appeal like a weapon, but that doesn’t mean she is available for everyone and she’s definitely not into her boss Linda. But Linda is into her – and she doesn’t necessarily respect Maria’s boundaries.
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the stories in this collection all managed to get around the sexual harrassment angle of the office romance without a hitch. This story tackles it head-on and honestly, while I’m usually glad if issues like this are raised explicitely, it feels entirely misplaced here in a collection of erotic stories. It’s a bit “having your cake and eating it, too” as the take-away seems to be “look, sexual harrassment sucks, but it is also sexy” and that’s just a big NO. I also thought that the entire “woman in full command of her sexuality and being completely calculating about it” was handled a little naively. Sex appeal isn’t something innate that one person is in complete control of – it needs at least two people (one who finds sexy and one who is found to be sexy) and thus is always at least out of your control. That Linda is a predatory bi woman who just can’t get enough was the icing on the discomfort cake for me. But I did enjoy that the protagonist here is a Latina who very much owns this part of her identity. So that’s something.
The Choice (E. W. Farnsworth)
Mildred has to choose a new Executive Vice President for her company, and there is no better way to figure out who it should be than to interview the candidates while she’s fucking them.
The Choice takes place in an alternate reality where sex is handled very differently. If it wasn’t, the entire set-up would not work, of course, but would be problematic as fuck. I found the idea quite amusing and didn’t expect such a take in this collection, so that’s certainly in the story’s favor. But I would have liked to learn more about how the world here actually works. What are the rules? Since the story doesn’t get into the mechanics, it remains a one trick pony working with a quirky idea but not really building from it for me.
Summarizing: Okay as a collection, but not really great.