Monday, August 11, 2008

Toy Box: Collar by Lee Benoit, Zoe Nichols & Allison Payne

TITLE: Toy Box: Collar
AUTHOR: Lee Benoit, Zoe Nichols, & Allison Payne
PUBLISHER: Torquere Press
LENGTH: Anthology (roughly 15k)
GENRE: Gay erotic romance
COST: $2.59

A trio of gay erotic romances featuring D/s relationships and a collar.

This anthology of erotic short stories featuring a collar of some sort starts out with “Beloved” by Zoe Nichols. The shortest story in the collection, it’s an interlude between Hohru and his Master, Lucian, as Lucian bestows a new gift upon his slave. There’s really not that much more to it; in fact, I almost thought this was going to be a straight erotica anthology because of this story. The focus is on Hohru pleasuring his Master, and while there are declarations, it just never rose above the erotica for me. That was hot enough, but really, not altogether memorable once it was over.

The second story is Allison Payne’s “Stay.” Chris is a young man obsessed with the collars and leashes at the local pet store, and when he buys a collar on a whim, his older lover decides to take it one step further. The characters are more unique than those in the first short, with a gritty charm that carries what is otherwise a fairly light story. The two men are already in a relationship, but the emotion between them is palpable. Witnessing Chris’ submission to Sam, and Sam’s recognition of what his sub needs, is satisfying. One note, though. Chris refers to Sam as “Daddy” whenever they’re alone and in his thoughts. Though I think it fits perfectly with the characters, some might take offense. So be warned.

Rounding out the anthology is “Master Preston’s Bright Bottom” by Lee Benoit. Paolo is a slave, with an obsession for the Master he had one amazing encounter with. When he has the opportunity to start showing Preston just how he can serve him, Paolo jumps at it. All it takes is time and dedication. Benoit’s story is as long as both the stories preceding it, which means I had far more time to get to know and fall for her two heroes. This one is the strongest romance. Paolo is sweet and determined, while Preston has an appealing world-weariness about him. The two complement each other as the best D/s participants should. Even better, this story feels like a true seduction, as Paolo proves to Preston just how much they need each other.

As a whole, this is definitely one of the better edited Torquere anthologies that I’ve purchased. Benoit’s is the anchor that holds it all together, but the others offer a little something as well.


8/10 – Surprisingly clean for this publisher, swift and simple


7/10 – Benoit’s is the only one that feels like a true romance


7/10 – Benoit’s story anchors this category.

Entertainment value

7/10 – Each has their own strengths, though Benoit’s is my favorite

World building

7/10 – A variety of settings, though obviously the focus is on the D/s scene than anything else



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