I’m ready to come out of the closet. And no, I’m not talking about being a hipster. I’ve fully accepted my fate and have the skinny jeans and Vans to prove it.
No, this is something quite different and, well, a bit embarrassing.
I read erotica.
Lordy, I’m blushing just typing it.
So. There you have it. I read erotica, and erotic romance, on occasion. It started a few years ago after I saw a blurb in Glamour for a website called Literotica. Being the curious idiot I was, I checked it out. After you get past the extremely naughty and dirty feeling you get from their front page (a disclaimer stating no one under the age of 18 is allowed past that page), you get to the site itself. It’s got pretty much everything you’d expect from a website promising debauchery. I’ve only browsed through the stories, which are categorized, and wow, there’s a category for everything. And I do mean everything. There’s some serious debauchery going on there.
Literotica is a crapshoot. Most of the stories posted are straight up porn and not worth reading the opening lines. But every once in a while I’d hit on a gem, and I started keeping a mental list of favorite authors so I could check from time to time to see if they’d posted anything new. GirlintheMoon and __Lisa__ are two excellent writers, ones who take the time to actually develop their characters and plots, even within the confines of only being a few thousand words long. GirlintheMoon in particular does an outstanding job of it, and I find myself wishing she’d actually just write a damn book.
Literotica is how I found this first author, Goldeniangel. Wanna Bet? is a shorter version of a multipart story first found on Lit, and she shortened it and tightened it up to publish for Kindle. Kerry and Derrick have been friends for a while and are quite comfortable with each other. So comfortable, in fact, that they’ve gone much farther physically with each other than they have with other partners. Both competitive, they place bets against each other. Over the course of the story their bets ramp up, and so does the tension. While the writing itself could use a bit more polishing, Angel has a talent for creating fun, engaging characters and plausible storylines – Kerry’s two friends are bound and determined to get Kerry and Derrick together, and they’ll lie until they’re blue in the face to get the two of them to spend time alone together.
Did I mention her fun and creative plots? I love the idea of a competition between two people secretly in love with each other to push beyond their intimacy boundaries.
For some reason, BDSM and D/s relationships really seem to take over erotic romance, and I don’t understand why. They were central themes in both Sabrina York’s Pushing Her Buttons and Jeffe Kennedy’s Sapphire. In Buttons, Sam’s been out of the life for a while. She loves it, even craves it at times, but after ending a disastrous relationship, she’s not willing to give up control again. But her neighbor keeps pushing her, and eventually she gives in to her desires, and the end result is not only is she having crazy good sex, she’s confronted her demons. Meanwhile, in Sapphire, Taylor’s life is clutter free and streamlined, and she has no time for a relationship of any kind. Which means, naturally, she meets a man who wants to make her beg. Taylor’s got her reasons for why she is the way she is, but unlike Buttons, her reluctance and the need for the BDSM aspect just felt unnecessary. That didn’t make it any less hot; I just thought York’s way of weaving that aspect into the story made Sam a much more sympathetic character.
All of those above are novellas or short stories. A great way to dip your toe in the erotica waters, so to speak.
I went about it backwards. I started out with a full on book, then went back and read the novellas.
I bought Tart, by Lauren Dane, on a whim and a good review from Dear Author. I skimmed it, found that some of the characters were part of a different series, and put it aside to start on those first. Laid Bare, the first book in the Brown Siblings series, is the story of rocker chick Erin Brown. Todd Keenan’s a straight laced guy, uncomfortable with the urges he gets around Erin. Erin, on the other hand, goes out of her way to encourage those urges. Yes, fuck her harder. Yes, pull her hair. Yes, order her down to her knees. She wants it, she’ll take it all, and if she’s had enough, she’ll tell you to stop. It takes ten years and Todd running away, but he’s finally willing to accept his kinks. Chance leads him back to Erin, but he finds a different woman than the one he left behind. Celebrity didn’t treat her well, and she’s got the scars on her psyche to prove it.
But Todd’s not taking no for an answer, and he sets about breaking down the walls she’s erected around herself, and in the process they have some scorching hot sex. Then they bring his best friend, Ben, into it, and, well, at that point my eyes had stopped bugging out so it was pretty much, meh, whatever. It’s cool.
The funny thing is, the way Dane handles their threesome feels realistic within the world she’s created. Outward appearances mean people expect that sort of thing from Erin. But Todd and Ben’s parents have trouble adjusting, and from the peeks I’ve taken at book two (Coming Undone), those repercussions are still being felt, even though its several years later.
All of this is to say I was surprised, not necessarily in a bad way, by the stories I read. In every case, the sex moved the storyline along, and while it was certainly a lot more graphic than what I’d read in the past, it failed to shock me.
I think the most important part to point out, and remember, is that even in erotica, well written erotica, there’s a plot and sex moves the story along. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not gratuitous. Yes, the characters often have more of it, and yes, they describe it in words I’ll never feel comfortably using. And in erotica, there may not be a happy ever after. But there is a satisfactory resolution, and no, it isn’t that everyone is feeling sexually fulfilled. Maybe the main character worked through their trust issues, fought their demons, confronted their fears. Strangely, the sex put them back on the road to being a whole person again. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Not quite ready to venture into the world of explicit sex? Try some Nalini Singh, Victoria Dahl, or Jessica Sims. Or just try chapter 32 of One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It’ll have you blushing for sure. And when you start suffering from cock fatigue, which will inevitably happen, check out Chelsea’s post for Heroes and Heartbreakers on ways to combat the barrage of nasty words.
Next up on my TBR: Sylvia Day’s wildly popular Bared To You, Coming Undone, All Jacked Up by Lorelei James, and one I’m particularly excited about, Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren.