Monday, June 11, 2012

Sexy Reads That Are Not Fifty Shades of Grey

Hipster Kitty read erotica before it was cool.

Reading something sexy has helped me out of a dry spell more than once. You know that old saw about the brain being the most important sex organ? Well, I guess it's true because there have been many times at the end of a long day that I'm brain-dead and suffering from the over-touching of my wonderful children and the last thing I can possibly consider is having sex. 

Then I read something sexy and, though I haven't slept or spent a week at a luxury spa where no one touches me unless I pay a ridiculous amount of money, voila! My brain has been reset and sex is suddenly more than a possibility. It's happening.

I'm excited about this post because I get to do something I've never done before. I get to say that I did something before it was cool.

Romance literature has been a part of my personal library since I was in middle school. I devoured the Sweet Valley High series because it felt so delicious to read books that were on the Black List for book reports at school. If teachers don't allow it and my mom thinks it's trashy, it must be good, sez PreTeen Me.

Some time in 7th or 8th grade, my family took a trip to Florida to visit my great aunt Margaret. She was one of those beautiful grande dames who took hours to "put on her face" each morning before we could leave the house to actually do anything. Obviously I poked around in all her drawers and closets during the wait. I struck gold one morning when I pulled down a box overflowing with romance novels. I opened up the first, a western, read a few pages and was hooked. From then on, I turned to Romance Lit when I needed a light read; it worked like a palate cleanser from the books I read for school.

When I first heard all the orgasmic rapture over Fifty Shades of Grey, I went on amazon to read the reviews. The critical reviews convinced me to skip it, or wait till the Kindle price dropped below $2.00. Plus, there's something really condescending about the phrase "Mommy Porn," which is how I always heard it described. Then I read this review from Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat (Check out her blog. She's hilarious). Twilight FanFic? So not interested. Tampons? Even less. Interior monologue with Inner Goddess? Oh, hell no. But, this silly book is apparently causing many women to reignite the bedroom flames with their husbands or significant others, which is a good thing.

My point in dismissing Fifty Shades of Grey is that Romance/Erotica/Sexy reads have always been out there. Check out the Song of Songs, for pete's sake:

I went down into the garden of nuts
to see the fruits of the valley,
and to see whether the vine flourished,
and the pomegranates budded.

And if you look around a little, you might find prose that is a little less purple than what you find in Fifty Shades. Check out 50 Shades of Suck for excerpts.

I can assure you skeptics out there that Romance Fiction has evolved since the bodice-ripping days of sex scenes that read a little too much like rape scenes (but there is the BDSM sub-genre if you're into that). Now, most Romance Fiction could appropriately fall under a bigger "Women's Fiction" umbrella. I don't think there's any shame in reading about hot people having toe-curling sex or people whose relationship problems can be solved in 300 pages. It's escapism at its finest, and it's largely written by women, for women.

Without further ado, here are places you can look for sexy reads that are generally better than Fifty Shades of Grey:

1. See if your area has a Romance Writers of America chapter. Most chapters maintain websites with suggested reading lists and features on chapter members who are published authors. You can also get similar information from the RWA website above.

2. Ask a librarian. Romance is well represented on the shelves of America's libraries, which means someone is curating that collection. Ask for her at the desk. Also check out your local library's website. It might have a "Staff Suggests" section.

3. Check out Ellora's Cave, a publisher of Romance Fiction, though here's a warning that the website is not well-designed. "Naughty Nooners" are very short stories (you can read them on your lunch break, hence the name) that are also very inexpensive, or free. You can download them to read on your eReader or computer. Ellora's Cave has three imprints, Romantica: Erotic Romance; Exotika: Erotic Fiction; and Blush: Mainstream Romance. Be sure to check the reviews because sometimes you get what you pay for.

4. Literotica. Free erotic fiction.

5. Browse the Erotica section on

In general, Romance is broken down into many, many sub-genres and levels of "heat" so it's pretty easy to find a sexy read that you'll be comfortable enjoying.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the Comments.

Now, go forth and make those "vines flourish"!

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