18th & Castro
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 159493066X, $13.95, 208 pp.
Karin Kallmaker's 18th & Castro is a trick-or-treat bag filled with yummy goodies for her readers. This charmingly romantic collection of erotic short stories is set on a Halloween night in the Castro District. It opens with Suze and Amy, two baby dykes in their early 20s, who have found a building rooftop from which to watch the night's festivities. The girls serve as the framework of the book, with their story broken into three parts throughout the night. They have a perfect view of a mythical three-story apartment building across the street. All of its residents are women-loving-women and a whole lot of fun is goin' on! As the two women watch the revelers, 13 stories unfold with most relating to one of the building's residents or an apartment at 18th & Castro, hence the numbers.
New love, or at least a fine start on healthy lust, unfolds in "Borrowed Plumage 1C" when a femme, Carmen, borrows her best friend's old leathers for a costume and meets a woman who finds those leathers very inspiring. In "Please 2A" "Chosen 1B," and "From Behind you Looked Like 1D" Kallmaker allows the fates (and a few resident matchmakers) to nudge long term friendships toward a path to something more intimate.
Several of the stories include long term couples who are nurturing a romantic sex life in the midst of day-to-day logistics and life pressures. These stories range from the tentatively sweet and hot to the amusing and power charged. In the "Brand New Woman 2C," a couple are alone for the first time since their eldest child was born. Brenda spends time exploring the woman that her partner and co-parent of two children, Nancy, has become in the years they've shared.
In "Human Female Pon Farr 3B," Jax is suffering a very bad day of hormones. Her partner, Tate, sets out help scratch that itch, but events take a farcical turn when a handcuff key goes missing. That comic tone carries across the hall to handcuff key provider and artist, Jonny, and her Aria, a highly demanded and overworked surgeon. Aria is in need of some in "Down Time 3A" but the two initially find it difficult to focus with the interruptions.
In "Avast! 3C" readers are treated to a bit of Halloween role playing as Renee and Jane indulge a fantasy on the high seas. The teasing negotiation and the grounding late night snack that open and close this...