Come Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross : a review

I read Leone RossDrag a few years ago, and I knew right then that I’d found someone special, an author with a unique voice. For me, the story is about our desire not to be restricted or categorized. It’s a battle-cry for individuality, for throwing off shackles.

The whole collection, of Come Let Us Sing Anyway, has this feel for me, that we’re seeing characters who are defiantly blazing, refusing to be constrained by others’ expectations.


Leone’s storytelling is fearless altogether, and radiant, which is especially apparent in her portrayal of erotic themes. Her prose is, by turns, refreshingly shocking and gorgeously sensual (often, both together!) Our desire for sexual connection is right where it should be in these stories, whether thrusting itself into the limelight, or gnawing away, silently.

Leone’s cast is diverse, eccentric, eye-poppingly theatrical. And yet their actions and words are strikingly familiar. Bizarre as they are, they show us the universal truths that bind us: that we all love, and grieve, and hope, and yearn; that we all struggle, and desire.

Few writers can deliver dialogue like Leone Ross – or achieve so much with so few words. Her stories sing in the small details, her characters built in the roll of their hips and the blossom of obscenities from their mouths, often delivered in Jamaican patwa.Leone Ross Drag quote

Her prose is dazzlingly beautiful and daringly original (as a woman masturbates in a restaurant WC, ‘…even the shining tiles on the bathroom floor seemed to ululate to help her’).

As readers, we each bring our own interpretation; it’s what makes reading exciting. Come Let Us Sing Anyway is, in many places, bravely, invitingly ambiguous. It’s a wonderful thing, because it obliges us to bring ourselves to the story, to find meaning in relation to our own experience.

You may like to read my interview with Leone, here, on her influences and intentions in storytelling.

Purchase Come Let Us Sing Anyway from Peepal Tree Press

or, if you’d like a copy for your Kindle, purchase from Amazon


About Leone Ross

Known for melding magic realism with erotic fiction, Leone Ross’ novels and short stories are original in approach, style and voice, defying literary niches and expectations of genre. Her work incorporates elements of speculative fiction, erotica and Caribbean fiction.

Leone’s first novel, All The Blood Is Red, was short-listed for the Orange Prize, in 1997. Her second, Orange Laughter, received critical acclaim in 2000, published in the UK, US and France.

Leone worked as a journalist and editor for fourteen years, holding the post of Arts Editor at The Voice newspaper, Women’s Editor at the New Nation newspaper, and  transitional Editor for Pride magazine, in the UK. She also held the position of Deputy Editor at Sibyl, a feminist magazine. Leone freelanced for The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian as well as London Weekend Television and the BBC.  She currently works as a senior lecturer in Creative Writing, at London’s Roehampton University.

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A Review of Licked : Tales of Salt-Sweet Delight

Licked : seven tales of oral pleasure : a review

1fd25a7c1fb4e91da3a2e82318309941As Adrea Kore explains, in her interview with editor Jillian Boyd: ‘Going down’ connotes the Underworld: descending beneath. Basements, underwater caves, places of darkness and mystery… Venturing into the unknown, we yearn for a little danger, a little adventure, but sometimes also treasure, and discovery.

This anthology is devoted to the delights of sexual scent and juices slick, to our impulse to Adrea Kore Lickedlose ourselves in another, to the luscious lapping of a lover’s cream.


Rob Rosen rises to the challenge of defining kink, in ‘Sanitised For Your Pleasure’. His futuristic, dystopian setting lends itself well to contemplation of how sexual ‘norms’ are shaped by cultural trends. In his world, pills are popped to eliminate anything deemed unsavoury, from body odour and body hair, to bad breath and dandruff. Eventually, babies are born without these ‘offensive’ extras. He imagines a society in which the human organism has no scent of its own, and no flavour. 4902cbfe47e4963927a76b1d543de84aIn such a setting, to seek out sex with smell and taste becomes a fetish in itself. Finding an arse crack tickled by hair takes the protagonist to heady heights of arousal. This is a clever celebration of the human body, in its all sweaty, hairy glory.


One of my favourite writers of erotic fiction, Adrea Kore, explores the torture of desire, of compulsion and addiction, in ‘Wet Satin Plaything’. She writes not only to arouse but to challenge us intellectually and emotionally. Her cleverly embroidered story of revenge is haunting, its prose woven with poetic refrain. Each sentence is a perfect melody in itself. Adrea Kore Licked quoteMeanwhile, her descriptions of oral sex are unsurpassed. I was left dry-mouthed and anticipatory.


In ‘Rip’s Reward’, Marie Piper gave me my first ever reading of ‘Western style erotica’ and I found it utterly charming, as well as more than a little arousing. Marie truly had me rooting for her characters’ happiness.


Robin Watergrove’s confiding narrator voice, in ‘Just Thirsty’, bathes us in tender, sensuous prose: We’re unmoored; no voices now, too far off shore to make sense of each other’s words. I rock against her body and she pulses back against mine. Swimming in the smell of her, soaked into the sheets.



Dale Cameron Lowry’s ‘Sucker for Love’ begins by musing humorously on the attraction of certain flavours of the body, and his early introduction to the notion of oral pleasure: I found out about oral sex for the first time like many children my age did: by listening to BBC World Service over breakfast… it was the year U.S. President Bill Clinton scandalized the American citizenry with his sexual shenanigans. Our protagonist’s mother explains that it’s an acquired taste, like beer: ‘Grown-ups like to taste their lovers.’ she says. His childhood-self scoffs: ‘Beer smelled like wee. Genitals made wee. Never mind what anuses did. I didn’t want any of it near my mouth.’ As the tale unfolds, it is tender and romantic, satisfying and whimsical.

Erotic Soviet, Alphabet 1931, MerkurovWistful

Suanne Schafer, in ‘Feeding Her’ gives us a poignant story of how illness (and mastectomy) can change our self-image and others’ perception of us. Showing a talent for penning ‘believable’ characters, Suanne unfolds a tale with sensitivity and emotional depth.


In ‘Vapour, Venom, Oleander’, Jessica Taylor conjures ancient Greece, as her prophetic Sibyl of Delphi interprets the fumes of the Oracle, advising Romulus on the founding of Rome.

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Let go your inhibitions and inhabit your senses. Embrace these tales of salt-sweet delight and, in so doing, discover oral pleasures anew.

As Adrea Kore invites us: ‘Get Licked. You know you want to…’

Edited by Jill Boyd, the edition is available here.