Ah, winter. In my home city of Chicago, ’tis the season for icy winds that threaten to freeze off one’s appendages, beaucoup layers and for me, two cravings: 1) peppermint mochas and 2) reading about someone being spanked.
Don’t get me wrong, erotica is awesome 24/7/365 but when the temperature’s below zero or I’m stuck inside because of yet another Snowpocalypse, I welcome that little extra rush of blood to the head (and, um, other areas of my anatomy). Even better is well-written erotica. You know, the kind where I don’t want the hero and heroine to drive off a cliff.
Whether you share my affinity for sexy reading or are an erotica newbie, I give you three of my favorite most recent titles:
Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian
When I first started studying burlesque, my ex-boyfriend asked me, “And how many of your classmates have Bettie Page haircuts?” Whatever, dude. Like any good bad girl, I love all that is Bettie, so this title immediately intrigued me. If you were just as disgusted by 50 Shades as I, OR you were intrigued and wanted more hotness with better sentence structure, this is a good one. The heroine, Regina, is a New York City librarian and total innocent who catches the eye of Sebastian, a playboy philanthropist who likes his ladies submissive. Since Regina bears more than a passing resemblance to the divine Ms. Page, Sebastian uses that as a jumping-off point to some very naughty adventures.
I liked Regina: she was sheltered but not stupid, and I really believed her passion for books. She also didn’t take any guff from Sebastian, who really was a sensitive guy underneath the flash. There’s some nice BDSM 101 that doesn’t feel like an info dump, and most importantly, Logan Belle’s sex scenes are scalding hot. I also appreciated the fun descriptions of Manhattan society life and risque lingerie.
Oh, and I pictured this guy as Sebastian:
Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian is an ebook steal at $2.99, and is available for preorder on Kindle and Nook. An added bonus: it will go down in history as The Book I Read While Standing in Line to Vote. GObama, indeed.
First and foremost, Carina Press has excellent customer service. I had a bit of an issue acquiring this galley, and they took care of me right away! So even if Forbidden Desires isn’t quite up your alley, make sure to check them out (also, they published Sole Possession by PMag’s very own Bryn Donovan!).
Forbidden Desires rocked my world. You know why? It’s one of the few D/s books I’ve read where the hero isn’t the dom. The heroine is.
The book’s heroine, Bella, shares a name with the Twilight twit, but that’s it. Despite a wee bit of body insecurity, she’s got it together: she has a lovely friendship with three hilariously randy old ladies, and she knows what she likes behind closed doors. The only problem is finding a guy who, unlike her last boyfriend, doesn’t abuse her and call it BDSM. Enter hunky firefighter Marcus Aiello, who can’t quite wrap his head around the fact that he’s a submissive and that’s okay.
What I loved the most about Forbidden Desires was its treatment of gender roles and problematic perceptions of D/s. Marcus has yet to reconcile his own desires with being a “real man,” and Bella is naturally gun-shy about jumping into another relationship because of her ex-boyfriend’s horrible behavior. Without coming right out and saying it, author Jodie Griffin strips away what’s so problematic about the 50 Shades trilogy. Dominance and abuse are two completely different things. Completely different. The former is part of a consensual, loving and respectful relationship (no matter how casual). The latter is just disgusting.
At 41,000 words Forbidden Desires is just a hair over novella length, and a couple of plot threads (such as Marcus’ ex-girlfriend who still works for his family) are introduced, only to be abandoned. However, it’s a deliciously hot read that will have you crossing your legs and biting your knuckle. The ebook will be available November 19, but you can preorder it here.
Lauren Dane is one of my favorite authors ever. I introduced her books to one of my dance teachers, who then articulately summed up why: “I love her heroines. I feel like that could be me!” Exactly. And I’ve never had that feeling more than I did in Dane’s latest, Tart.
Granted, I don’t have two gorgeous men – who also quite like hooking up with each other – chasing after me. But like Tart‘s heroine, Jules, I am not always easy to be around. I know I get prickly, and I’m very self-sufficient. I sometimes worry I’m hard to love, but at the same time I’m very proud of my independent nature (and my copious sass). Dane’s writing is the best of both worlds: her sex scenes are mouthwateringly yummy (whether or not you’re into guy-on-guy. If you’re not, don’t let it deter you. Seriously), but she also really focuses on the characters’ relationships with one another. Romantic entanglements aside, Dane has a recurring theme of choosing one’s own family and I love that so much. As Jules and her two men, Cal and Gideon, navigate a three-way relationship, they run into inner and outer conflicts – but never whine about their feelings. And like Dane’s other novels, Tart has a wicked sense of humor and well-developed characters. So good. Just, so good.
A note: Tart is part of Dane’s “Delicious” series, which is an extension of her Brown Family series (which you must read right now. I mean it. Gorgeous alpha males with tattoos who are total bad boys with soft hearts and work it in the bedroom. Your life will be changed. You’re welcome). The first book in the Brown Family series, Laid Bare, also deals with a three-way relationship (Erin, Ben and Todd), but have no fear: Tart isn’t a retread of that book. Jules and Erin are both strong heroines, but the similarities end there.
Disclaimer-y goodness: I received Forbidden Desires and Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian from NetGalley free of charge, with no obligation to review. I received Tart on my Nook, via my poor debit card and preorder, because I am a Lauren Dane groupie. See also: Bryn’s article on great erotica from a few months ago.
What are you reading this winter? Leave a comment!