Many psychological studies have shown that while men are aroused by what they see, women get turned on by what they imagine. And while men are generally content with the basic ins and outs of the sex act, women prefer a story line with their eroticism to straight porn. Erotic fiction thus gives women the chance to read, imagine and fantasise without being intimidated or sidelined by the mostly male oriented pornography.
Porn on the page has been available since, at least, Ancient Rome and Greece, but I wouldn’t recommend reaching for the Ovid if you want to get ready for action.
Ones that do need mentioning though are Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, aka Fanny Hill by John Cleland, Kama Sutra by Vatsayana (which of course doubles as a sex manual) and Song of Songs from the Bible.
You can read D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in public and at most you might see one or two people smirk. I wouldn’t recommend doing the same with The Story of O (which we’ll talk about later) or Emmanuelle. Hint, both very pervy French chronicles. You’ll probably get away with Anne Rice’s (writing as A. N. Roquelaure) Sleeping Beauty series which is very unfairytale like if, and that’s a big IF, you can manage your blushing.
A good place to start
If you can’t see yourself buying sex books at your local Exclusive Books store, then perhaps you should try “normal’ books with plenty of hot sex scenes in them first. I’d suggest Jilly Cooper’s Riders series – Rupert Campbell Black is hot and horrible, Nicholson Baker’s Vox, the hilarious Portnoy’s Complaint, Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones by Erica Jong, and Lace and Lace II (although the scene with the goldfish will forever freak me out).
And according to Twitter? The Clan of the Cave Bear series (Book 3 especially), Anne Rice's The Mayfair Witches trilogy, Eric van Lustbader's "Ninja, and Danielle Stee'sl - Fine Things, to mention but a few.
The romance-erotica crossover
Women have been reading Mills & Boon books for decades to help them, fantasies and enhance their sex lives. In fact, lots of different research has shown that women who read romance novels have more sex and better sex than their high-brow literary counterparts.
Romance publishers have now brought out specific series for erotic fiction. Look out for titles under Blaze, Avon Red Romance and for writers such as Joanna Lindsey (Prisoner of my Desire was wicked and awesome) and Emma Holly.
Twilight doesn’t count here. Sure it was fraught with sexual tension and drove many a woman/ girl crazy with lust, but it doesn’t count as erotica when the first sex scene is 1000pgs in. J.R Ward knows what she’s doing though, combining a cool story with long, involved and very descriptive sex scenes.
Laurell K. Hamilton and Louisa Burton are also two smoking hot writers. The characters are supernatural with supernatural abilities under the covers too. Both writers also like to bring in elements of BDSM and dominant and submissive behaviour. Hell, in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series the whole plot revolves around getting Merry to have as much sex with as many people with as much wild abandon as possible. Twosomes, group sex, homo-eroticism, spanking, oral sex, two guys, one girl and bondage feature strongly.
Real, no-holds barred erotic fiction/ pornography
And finally, we come to the real deal. This genre is also hilariously called “one handed reading”. Publishers include Ellora’s Cave, Nexus, and Black Lace who publish countless erotic fiction titles, some stories are fantastical, some paranormal, some focused on S&M but all of them have one thing in common: lots and lots of very explicit sex.
Of course there are single titles such as Wetlands (very fringe – I could only manage about 10 pages) and The Story of O the BDSM classic which was mentioned above. In fact many of the Nexus books base their plots loosely on O’s plot (a young woman is imprisoned by her lover in a chateaux trained to be a sex slave).
So happy reading ladies. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And while you're at it, tell us.... do you read erotic fiction? If so, what other reads would recommend to readers wanting to try this genre?