June 12th, 2014


Water for the Thirsty, a book recommendation

Review for Water for the Thirsty: A Stream of Erotic Consciousness by E.B. Barrett. Available here:

Some of you old-timers may remember Esmeralda, laesmeralda who used to write gorgeous fanfic, particularly Tolkien slash. Well, she’s recently published a book of erotic short stories under the name E.B. Barrett, which I recommend for those of you who like such things, and who among us doesn’t?

Esmeralda wrote a number of marvelous stories which I encountered early in my LOTR fandom days, including one of my favorites, Horse Lord an assignation between Legolas and Eomer.  Not only is the story incredibly hot, I was impressed with her sensitive portrayal of the Rohirrim as a distinct culture with different traditions.  She also wrote a fascinating Araleggo series called "Arwen’s Book of Secrets" in which Esmeralda solved the “problem” of Arwen by having her know about Aragorn and Legolas’ love affair, sympathize with and accept their feelings, and even participate in the relationship. The result was a series of stories about a loving threesome uncomplicated by jealousy, as opposed to the usual human drama that such a situation might entail, and usually did in most Aragorn/Legolas fics I’ve read.

So now, as E.B. Barrett, Esmeralda has written 21 engaging original short stories that explore erotic desire in various forms. There are het stories; m/m and f/f; threesomes; voyeurism; older women and younger men, and the reverse; and twins, bound by a unusually strong bond, one of whom is happily married when the other comes to visit.

These stories are proof that erotica can also be literary.  They are classy, beautifully written, and the sex scenes are rich with sensuality, never crude. The stories feature excellent characterizations, and dialogue, and often the ending has an unexpected twist. The author plays with different genres, several stories are futuristic and at least one is a fantasy setting. She also experiments with point of view. Several of the stories are in second person, which is hard to pull off, but these could be textbook examples of how it can work. For example "Duck, Duck, Gander," a threesome, is in first person but addressed to the narrator’s husband for an interesting pov effect. “She kneels before you, and with a start, I remember that I’m actually in the room, that I brought her to you.”

My favorite stories involve E’s ability to represent different cultures: "Karakia" is about two Maori men who overcome cultural prohibitions against homosexuality (both Maori and European) in order to love each other; and a story I just loved called "House of Incense" about an Indian man, who because of his ethical convictions about equality for women and arranged marriages, agrees to marry an under-age girl and then doesn’t touch her until she is grown old enough to send her away to college. What his wise wife does in gratitude is unexpected and loving.  I’d like to note in all these stories the partners are willing, affectionate participants, of legal age, and practice safe sex.   

Another favorite that I read years ago in draft form is called "Arcadia," set in a fantasy world in which homosexuality is absolutely forbidden. (Not so different from here in many places and times.) I really hope she finishes the novel in this world, because I'd love to read it.  The story involves two young men drawn together despite their society’s prohibitions and opens like so:  “Arcos, don’t push me away,” pleaded the voice, newly broken to depth.  “I must,” came a pained reply. “You know that I must.”

Oh and yes, these stories are hot.   
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