So what does one do after Twilight fades? I’ve been pondering this question since I finished re-writing the Twilight Saga from Edward’s point-of-view. Readers have had many suggestions…to write Jacob and Renesmee’s story seems to be the most popular one, but there are others.
Of course, the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon sucked me into its vortex and I reveled in the alternate universe in which Edward & Bella (aka Christian & Ana) meet as humans and venture into the realm of BDSM. My friends who know more about this subject than I do tell me that Ana & Christian’s foray into Domination/submission is pretty flaccid stuff, but it was racy and fun and “real” enough to satisfy me. (Honestly, The Story of O, while racy and explicit, ultimately turned my stomach. I do recommend it, though, if you want to check out the alternative to BDSM fluff.)
Curious as to the origins of a story such as Fifty Shades, I tapped into my favorite resource–the local library–to peruse its offerings in “BDSM” fiction. My online search yielded no hits (no surprise). I tried searching on “domination.” This gave me lots of hits, but they were of the “world domination” and fantasy warfare variety. So I stepped back and chose the broader term “erotica” and the database reluctantly gave up two book titles! Whoopty-doo. Never one to evacuate prematurely, I searched on the less accurate word, “erotic,” and finally the computer spit out eight or nine titles, three of them classics of the Victorian era, three of them anthologies of erotic short stories published by SPICE and PENTHOUSE. A limited victory.
I admit that I’m not a big fan of short stories. Just when you get invested in a set of characters, you reach the final paragraph and they’re out of your life forever. I prefer the longer-term commitment of a novel, so I bypassed the short story collections and found a couple of books that looked promising. By searching on those authors’ names, I persuaded the search engine to spit out another page of erotic book titles. To my surprise, all of these books contained either Dom/sub or ménage à trois/quatre relationships.
I have always avoided books in the “romance” genre because I thought Harlequin was its standard bearer and I was too embarrassed by the covers of those novels ever to pick one up. However, I imagined them to contain lots of heaving bosoms, aching loins, corset ripping, tremulous turgidity, and fading to black before the real sex begins.
Perhaps that used to be true, but modern romance, while still flaunting embarrassing cover art, no longer always ends with a kiss and a sigh and the loosening of undergarments. Like Fifty Shades, it is explicit, though the books often forsake a plot and interesting characters in favor of much stroking and pumping and licking and sucking and (heaven forfend!) orgasming. The male characters all sport ripped muscles and ruler-length equipment that remains serviceable for days at a time. As to profession, they are often Navy SEALS, Army Special Ops soldiers, and such, some of whom have semi-retired into private security firms, though you also can find cowboys, Texas Rangers, and cops/detectives.
All the men are gorgeous hunks, who are deeply romantic and committed and fully focused on satisfying their women, but they usually have some fatal flaw that gets in the way of their happiness. That is where the female comes in, of course…fixing them. And everyone lives happily sexed ever after. Ahh…the stuff dreams are made of.
As for the literary value of mass-market, modern erotica, it is the cotton candy of fiction–it will give you a big buzz followed shortly afterwards by the need for another fix. Don’t read these books to learn how to write, please. Even the best editing jobs aren’t very good, probably because the authors crank them out so fast. You’ll find themes and names and scenes are repeated across books when the writers run out of ideas. Having said all that, within this erotic romance universe, I happened upon some authors who stand out:
- Megan Hart writes sad and often tragic, but unforgettable, stories with lots of erotic content (alas, no Navy SEALs)
- Shayla Black has written series in every romance sub-genre (historical, supernatural, etc.), but her “Wicked Lovers” series hits a high mark in modern erotica (her Navy SEALS are into BDSM and menage)
- Maya Banks writes a bit of everything in standard romance (from Highland warriors to moneyed tycoons) but her “Sweet” series looks promising as modern erotica
- Lexi Blake writes the “Masters & Mercenaries” series (The Dom Who Loved Me being the first title, which I enjoyed for $2.99 on my Nook) and co-writes the “Masters of Menage” series with Shayla Blake (the first “Master” title is a little thin as if they needed one more co-writer, but the second title shows promise and the books are low priced)
I am happy to report that today I revisited my local library’s website and discovered when I searched on “erotic,” that the database returned one hundred thirty-eight (138) entries! Just in the last two weeks, somebody there has caught on that erotic fiction is in high demand right now. Almost every book has a long waiting list. (Fifty Shades has 120 people waiting.) Remarkably, one of the books that appeared in the list is a collection of gay vampire erotica! Talk about sub-genres!
This week I began documenting some of my ventures into erotic romance on the SHOP page of this website. I inserted links to all the Twilight books, movies, and music, and then added links to the Fifty Shades Trilogy, followed by some of the titles mentioned in this post. Clicking on them takes you to Amazon.com where you can buy the items* (or to Barnes & Noble for Nook e-books).
I’ve finally started buying titles for my e-reader and right now my collection includes quite a few books that would have embarrassing covers if I bought them in print. That is the beauty of the e-reader, my friends–nobody knows that you’re reading erotica (aka Mommy porn)!
P.A. Lassiter*If you click there from here and buy anything, they’ll eventually pay me something like 4 cents on the dollar for referring you. My wallet thanks you.