17. A debut novel: Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell
Do you like reading hardcore kinky erotica?
Do you like discussions of queer identities?
Do you like painfully fluffy levels of domesticity?
If so, I have basically all of my favorite fanfics to recommend you. Also, the novel Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell. It reads like a fanfic in all of the best ways (with a few of the same downfalls, but nothing’s perfect).
(You can even read the first chapter on Avery Cassell’s website, which tl:dr, I do recommend giving a shot.)
A few years ago, I read the anthology Best Lesbian Erotica 2015, and hated it. Haaaated it. But one of the best diamonds in the rough was the short story by Cassell, also titled “Behrouz Gets Lucky”. From my 2015 review:
One of the only pieces with an older protagonist, who feels very real and lived in.
When I saw that same title at a local bookstore, and on the cover this time, I was very intrigued. As it turns out, Avery Cassell knew they had the seed of a good story and a couple of great characters, so they expanded that story into their full-length debut novel. The readers now get to join Behrouz and Lucky, a couple made up of an early 60’s butch genderqueer submissive and a mid-40’s butch dom lesbian, as they go about their lives, their loves, and a lot of explicit sex. The whole book reads like you are following Behrouz around their day to day life, including into their bedroom.
The fanfic term “curtain fic” comes to mind, meaning a story that focuses on the comfortable minutiae of domesticity so much that the characters are practically picking out curtains. Behrouz and Lucky literally pick out curtains, and carpets, and argue about furniture in the chapters where they move in together. Lush detail goes into describing their outfits, their meals, their decorating tastes, what sort of sex toys they prefer; the fact that Lucky always uses sandalwood soap in the shower becomes a runner to mark her custom scent. The other side of the coin is that the novel does not have much in the way of plot beyond the development of their relationship. If you do not enjoy Behrouz and Lucky as characters, as well as BDSM butch/butch erotica, Behrouz Gets Lucky will not have a lot for you. But if you do like them, this is a great bed or bath book (I was never quite comfortable enough to read this one on the train).
You do not tend to see much (or really any) butch on butch erotica in the market, and the rarity of their dynamic is discussed by the characters. The book is very specifically set in modern-day San Francisco and both main characters are active in the queer scene and involved in discussions about how the city and the identities gathered within have changed over the decades. Not all of the kink scenes appealed to me (and some of them did read as a bit perfunctory, if I’m honest), but the relationship between the characters was strong enough that not everything had to turn me on in order for me to stay engaged. And for an erotica novel, that says a lot.
It feels like Avery Cassell has been working on these characters for a long time and putting a lot of thought into them; from the author bio in the back, Behrouz seems to be a bit of an author insert. Cassell clearly loves three topics above all else: butch sex, the city of San Francisco, and the country of Iran, where both Behrouz and Cassell were raised. I don’t know if Cassell has any stories in them beyond these three topics, but I would love to see what else they produce in the future.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, for lovers of curtain fic. If you need a plot, maybe look somewhere else. Try the first chapter and see if it lights a spark for you!