Reading Resolution: “The Solstice Gift” by Avery Cassell

29. Wild Card: The Solstice Gift: Behrouz and Lucky on the Longest Night by Avery Cassell

List Progress: 25/30

The Solstice Gift: Behrouz and Lucky on the Longest Night is an erotica novella by Avery Cassell, and a sequel to Cassell’s full-length novel Behrouz Gets Lucky, which was itself an expansion of a short story of the same name. I reviewed Behrouz Gets Lucky in 2018, and admired its blend of kinky butch-on-butch erotica and cozy domesticity. The Solstice Gift follows the two leads, Behrouz and Lucky, after they have moved from San Francisco, the setting of the first book, to Northampton, Massachusetts, a queer enclave in the Pioneer Valley (and also where I attended Smith College). Every year on the winter solstice, Behrouz and Lucky have a threesome with another kinky butch in their community, after a careful process of choosing the best candidate. They have the threesome, everyone is happy, and then the novella skips forward to the following year. It’s a cute structure for a short collection.

But strangely enough for a piece of erotica, the actual sex scenes feel very perfunctory. One or two get more detailed descriptions, but some of the Solstice Gifts feel skimmed over, with little effort put towards eroticism or atmosphere. It’s more sexual than sexy. More time and care is put into Behrouz and Lucky’s cooking, crafting, and friendships with other butches, which is very charming, but not necessarily what I picked up the book for. I do enjoy these two leads and spending time with them, but I still want to feel like I am reading about them actually doing things. The development of their relationship gave the first novel a built-in sense of progress, but the year-long time skips here keep the story from having much momentum, especially paired with the lackluster sex scenes.

This a very short novella, 90-some pages, and there’s nothing terrible about it, but it didn’t scratch the itch I was looking to have addressed. But I am absolutely going to try the recipe for Persian fried herb stew included in the back.

Would I Recommend It: To people who really, really liked Behrouz Gets Lucky. Otherwise, not really.

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