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2023: A Year in Smut

Looking back through my Kindle library, I read a lot of great books with some fantastic smut in 2023. Not to say smut was the point of all or even most of my reads, but it’s important. I love seeing characters come together—pun intended—in intimate, vulnerable moments that show me who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re headed. To that end, I want to celebrate my many smutty reads of the year by giving them all an award of some kind. I list them here in the order they appear on my Goodreads page, which is roughly the order in which I read them.

Read my SFF Transfeminine Author roundtable interview

Best realistic transfem smut

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall: I loved how real the smut was, both emotionally touching and with enough detail to really ground me in the scene. A+ smut, and bonus points for being the first transfem smut I ever read.

Best back alley smut

The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley: For being a grimdark-adjacent novel, I was impressed at how emotionally tender the smut was, especially considering that it took place in an alley.

Best bathroom handjob

The Fall is All There Is by C.M. Caplan:  I mean, it was a cruel, dirty handjob, more tease than anything else, but that was half the fun.

Smuttiest overall book

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner:  Holy fuck this book was so smutty, and I loved every minute of it. Smut early and often, with multiple scenes that lasted for pages and pages. I’m a sucker for a good lesbian MILF, and “The Milf Book” didn’t disappoint.

Most poetic smut

Martis the Brazen by Rien Gray:  Not to say the smut isn’t hot, because it is, but its poetry is what puts it over the top. That and just how fucking queer it is.

Book that Fucks the Most™️

Khirion by Maxime Jaz: This book starts with a (slightly dubcon) threesome and never lets up. It’s an MMF romantasy with perhaps slightly stronger MM vibes but there’s plenty of everything to go around. If you want a fantasy book with cover-to-cover fucking (and some cool fantasy shit in between), look no further.

Most viscerally moving queer smut

The Sacred Dark (series) by May Peterson: This trilogy is fucking amazing, and the smut is absolutely top-notch, with ALL the emotions and ALL the details. If you don’t believe me, the word “perineum” occurs four times in The Immortal City, to give you an idea. But the emotional intensity absolutely rivals the physical detail. Honestly Peterson writes some of my favorite all-time smut. Absolute kudos.

Best use of the word sapphic in a smut scene

The Price on Her Head by Suzanne Clay: This might seem like a random award, but I was fascinated by how the author described the sex in this T4T love story, especially in the aftermath, when they lay in each other’s arms savoring each other’s existence.

Face-sitting in Chapter One

Legacy of Brick and Bone by Krystle Matar: . What more can I say? While I might have wanted more smut in this fantastic mega-tome (I definitely wanted more smut in this fantastic mega-tome), you gotta hand it to an author who gives you what you want in the very first chapter.

Best cyberpunk smut

And Shall Machines Surrender by Benjanun Sriduangkaew: I read this book because a friend recced it, saying it was great sci-fi but “kind of porny.” Sign me the fuck up! What I didn’t expect—and what gave me great delight—were what I can only describe as neurosurgical lesbian BDSM sex scenes I guess? Anyway if that piques your interest definitely check it out. It’s fantastic and not just for the fucked up sex.

Best simultaneous enemies-and-lovers smut

Her Pitiless Command (series) by Benjanun Sriduangkaew:  Without going into spoilers, the romantic and political entanglements in this trans-and-enby-inclusive lesfic fantasy trilogy are deep and intriguing, with various characters who could just as easily kill each other as fuck each other and would have complicated feelings about both. But the emotional depth of the sex scenes is sharply and beautifully drawn with few words.

Best sapphic discovery smut

That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole:  This Black historical romance was a delight, and the sex scene was an emotionally fulfilling culmination of a character’s coming-out in a time when such things were not easily done, but showing greater diversity than I expected, given my relative ignorance of history. A wonderful angle on the 19th century South that neither whitewashes nor straightwashes the past.

Best frank sex conversations

Princess of the Pomegranate Moon by Emily Wynne: While the sex scenes in this book are excellent, it’s the honest conversations the characters have about sex and their bodies that impressed me the most. The nonbinary trans main character and her trans lover each feel differently about their own bodies, and they openly negotiate their sexual preferences in a way that’s a delight to read. One thousand gold stars to Emily Wynne for this.

Most brutally beautiful sex scenes

Shadow of Gorgon by Selene Tang: : This book is about murderous assassins, so it’s no surprise that the sex scenes are like combat, but the co-authors have a way of making combat beautiful. Blood and other fluids are described with equal grace and force, and it’s a fucking delight.

Longest sex scene

Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner: Okay, I didn’t count pages, so there might have been one longer in Mistakes Were Made, but there’s a two-chapter sex scene in this book (I think 15 pages long in the paperback?). We talked about it at my queer book club, especially since the cover is all “look at these cute soccer ladies!” and the book is very much three knuckles deep. Great stuff, to be clear—Wilsner is master at their craft.

Best bang for the buck

Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten:  This book’s premise is simple, and I expected the couple to get together in the end, but I did NOT expect them to have so much hot sex on the page. The sex scenes were real, detailed, and perfectly wrought, and gave me everything I asked for and so much more. Kudos for the author for over-delivering on this sweet and SPICY autumn romance.

 Best use of a sex toy

Pride, Pain, and Petticoats by Abigail Trusity:. In volume 2, the love interest spends a lot of time lovingly crafting a sex toy, going to various vendors to get the materials, then making it with her very own hands. When the scene finally arrives, it’s a fantastic sex scene, with furniture broken and screams of delight from characters and readers alike.

Realest sex

No Strings for the Summer by Dae Storm: I don’t know how else to say it, but the sex just felt so real in this book. Okay, maybe not the part where they almost got caught with the facesitting on the beach, but the other parts. I just believed every single detail. A++.

Sapphic Supreme Award

Those Who Break Chains (series) by Maria Ying: Where do I even begin with this series? When you have cis lesbians, trans lesbians, nonbinary lesbians, demon lesbians, weretiger lesbians, MILF lesbians, sorcerer lesbians, alchemist lesbians, crimelord lesbians…basically all the characters are lesbians, and at any given time, almost any of them might end up with almost any other of them. But every relationship is unique, every sex scene its own mini-world. The emotional entanglements are enmeshed with the physical, so while no scene delves too deeply into the visceral, you always feel the sting of both. My absolute favorite is the scene in The Demon of the House of Hua, where the demon lover’s body takes a form like hundreds of flowers and plantlike appendages: “It was like being made love to by a garden.” Absolute banger line, scene, book of the year right there. But there are so many more. This is a series I will definitely be re-reading. Um, for the plot.

 

Most joyous sex scenes

Catnip by Vyria Durav: . This book was a fucking delight, and the sex scenes were par for that course. Mostly closed door, but the trans joy in these scenes was simply chef’s kiss.

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