The Story of O – The First Erotic Romance Novel of Our Time

Wednesday, 5 September, 2012

The Story of OThe Story of O is the first erotic romance novel of our time and one of the most controversial works of all time. Published in 1954, its authorship was long cloaked in mystery, but it’s clearly a landmark in women’s erotica.

The woman who wrote it concealed her identity until 1998 shortly prior to her passing. French journalist Anne Desclos, who also used the pseudonym Dominique Aury, wrote The Story of O under the pen name Pauline Réage. What she created and brought into the open we cannot easily repay. Before her, the genre was pretty much limited to the puerile, repetitive musings of de Sade like Justine and 101 Days.

Desclos re-invented erotica. She bestowed a feminine wisdom on her characters, seeing actions and intent – bereft of specifics – through O’s eyes as only a woman could. Note not only the symbolism of O’s name but how she is any woman. O has no physical characteristics save those shared by all women.

For those readers who find this tale shocking and disturbing, it is important to understand the purpose. Desclos presented it as a series of love letters to her boyfriend who admired de Sade and claimed women couldn’t write erotica.

Ready to read The Story of O? Get your copy here!

Desclos took that as a challenge. In the tradition of de Sade, she described a young woman’s descent into sexual degradation. O falls deeper and deeper until she reaches bottom with nowhere left to go, nothing left to do. Her feminine twist is totally distinct from de Sade and other male authors. O is not driven by lust but by love. First it’s her love for Rene and later for Sir Stephen. The whips and chains symbolize the strength of her devotion. The ending of this erotic book represents her fear of being abandoned for a younger woman.

This Erotic Book Triggered Many Discussions

When I first read this erotic book, I had strong mixed feelings. Yes, I was entranced by it. It was hot and elegant. This was not pornography you read once and throw away. The cultured prose told unabashedly of a love so deep death was preferable to its loss, while teasing us with taboo elements `good’ people did not speak of.

But I hated the ending. O’s masters didn’t deserve her. I wanted to rewrite it so O dumped those jerks and ran off with her girlfriend. And it disturbed me because I know women who go that far to keep a man and they end up betrayed and abandoned too. The Story of O illustrates a terrible truth of womanhood, and it’s easy to forget that the author was telling a story, not advocating abuse or codependency.

I cannot do full justice to the work here, but it is truly literature. For more insights, read Desclos’ own interviews or the many scholarly essays online. The Story of O is something special and this erotic romance novel will always be treasured despite, or maybe because of, the controversy surrounding it. Be warned, this book is not for the faint of heart. It has many graphic scenes that are hard to read. Even with that, I would still highly recommend it!

Download The Story of O here!

Erotic Book Reviews: Scandalous Lovers By Robin Schone

Tuesday, 4 September, 2012

I love writing erotic book reviews, but it’s even better when I get a chance to share a work by one of the most famous authors of historical erotic romance novels. Scandalous Lovers by Robin Schone is one of the most truly amazing books I have read in a long time. I felt deeply moved by the main character Frances and her story. You get such a real sense of the Victorian era and insights into the similarities of how we view women even today. Frances it turns out is 49, which is my age. She has already raised her family and is recently widowed and has gone through menopause. Thinking her sensual life is over she goes to London and finds the most amazing journey ahead.

Frances has spent her whole life in the countryside as a mother and grandmother. Three months after her husband’s death, she ventures to London, buys a new wardrobe, dyes her hair red and sets out to find if there is something more to life. On an outing at the Crystal Palace she looks for a bathroom, demurely called a water closet in those times. What she stumbles upon is the meeting room of The Men’s and Women’s Club, a gathering of people from suffragettes to bankers who discuss the controversial subject of equality between the sexes.

Ready to read Scandalous Lovers? Get your copy here!

Even in this daring group, sex gets discussed in a technical way as biology, history or sociology. One member, a barrister and widower named James Whitcox, yearns to address the relations between men and women on the basis of human need. He instantly sees something in Frances that emboldens him to ask a question he never posed to his own wife. “What does a woman desire? Does a woman desire the touch of a man?”

From there, Frances and James draw closer together. They discover the passions and emotions that social restrictions had placed out of bounds. They explore their desires and fears.

Courtroom Drama Adds An Extra Dimension To Erotic Books

The relationship between Frances and James is enough to carry the novel, but courtroom drama adds extra suspense and meaning to erotic books like this. Frances’ oldest son David tries to have her committed to a lunatic asylum when he discovers her affair and her new-fangled beliefs. James comes to her defense when Frances responds by suing David for her own emancipation. It’s a legal battle that entangles us in Victorian conventions and modern day issues about the economic pressures and social oppression that women still suffer in many parts of the world.

USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Schone is the recipient of the Romantic Times 2008 Career Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Innovative Historical Romances. Her characters are frequently everyday people. As Schone puts it, “Technology may change, but we do not. We all want. We all need. Beauty. Passion. Love.”

Download your copy of Scandalous Lovers now!

Erotic Book Reviews: Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Monday, 3 September, 2012

When I write erotic book reviews, I don’t like to draw similarities between one work and another but there are definitely some echoes of Fifty Shades of Grey in Gabriel’s Inferno. Once again, you’ve got a young virgin who tends to tug on her lower lip and a dominant Alpha male.

But Inferno is totally different in many good ways. It’s a well written story that appeals to thinking women. You’ll find very little explicit sex but lots of eroticism, sensuality and longing.

I was initially intrigued by the main characters in much the same way that I got hooked on Ana and Christian in Fifty Shades. Professor Gabriel Emerson is another dark and troubled Alpha male while Julia Mitchell is victimized, insecure and innocent. Gabriel is a lost, dark, twisted soul looking for redemption but that’s where the parallels with Christian Grey end.

Let me say it again. THIS IS NOT Fifty Shades of Grey!! Instead of graphic sex scenes going on for page after page, there is a detailed story of how two people meet, lose touch, meet again and try to overcome all obstacles to fall in love.

Ready to read Gabriel’s Inferno? Get your copy here!

This IS a dark romance about two people trying to overcome their past tragedies and demons in order to find acceptance and redemption in each other. Gabriel and Julia have a few past connections that ensure that fate will bring them back together. They’re linked by family, friends and, of course, Dante and Beatrice. The professor is a renowned Dante specialist and Julia is a graduate student enrolled in his class. They both suffer in their personal lives during the years they spend apart, and now those are the demons they have to fight in order to be together.

I agree with the readers who suggest that Gabriel’s Inferno serves as an antidote to Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s writing that doesn’t insult your intelligence or make you feel embarrassed about liking it. I especially applaud such an astounding accomplishment for the author’s first venture into fiction. The eroticism is beyond amatory. I could feel my body burn with the rigors of Gabriel’s control. His withholding of sexual gratification was more alluring and provocative then if he indulged heedlessly.

Erotic Romance Novels That Go All Dante On You

Having read Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem the Divine Comedy, including portions of the Purgatorio and Paradiso canticas, I appreciated working the juxtaposition of Middle Age themes into modern erotic romance novels. Still, you don’t have to be a Dante scholar to enjoy the effect. Sylvain Reynard does an astonishing job of illuminating Dante’s journey throughout this story.

Simply put, this book is sensual and romantic. The erotic element is present without being boorish. My only complaint is that the first volume could be a little shorter. But that’s no big deal. I loved reading it and I’m already eagerly awaiting the sequel, Gabriel’s Rapture. If you want dark, rich romantic stories to enjoy, get these books!

Download your copy of Gabriel’s Inferno here.

Erotic Books: Everything Forbidden By Jess Michaels

Sunday, 2 September, 2012

Erotic books are often filled with surprises, and Everything Forbidden by Jess Michaels is packed to the brim with one curveball after another. The heroine, Miranda Albright, is hiding a deep dark secret that may open the door to finding love and solving her family’s money troubles. Sometimes it pays to be a voyeur when you’ve got neighbors as randy as the notorious Earl of Rothschild next door.

The year is 1817. Miranda’s father has been dead for six months. It turns out this third son of a Marquis has left his family with little but fond memories of his loveable personality. His gambling, bad investments and reckless spending have squandered a fortune that was never too generous to begin with. His widow is still buying up evening dresses and rose bushes like there is no tomorrow. She refuses to listen to Miranda’s warnings but expects her oldest daughter to figure out some way to find husbands for her three sisters. That includes the spoiled Beatrice, the good-natured Penelope and little Winifred.

Miranda’s got problems of her own. She’s turned down a succession of marriage proposals because she didn’t know how dire the family finances were and she had her heart set on passion. What does a nineteenth century virgin know about passion? Well, that’s where her secret comes in. She’s been spying on Ethan Hamon, that bad old Earl who lives next door. Ever since she once saw him making love to a woman outdoors she has been sneaking around for years to watch as he entertains his many lovers on the grounds of his estate.

Ready to read Everything Forbidden? Get your copy here!

Desperate and curious, Miranda approaches Ethan with an offer she hopes he won’t refuse. She’ll give herself to him in exchange for financial and social support to give her sisters the social seasons they need to find eligible suitors. Ethan agrees if Miranda will submit to his every demand for three months.

Erotic Romance Novels With a Twist

Ninety days is a long time in erotic romance novels, and soon the student turns things around on the teacher. Miranda shows Ethan a thing or two about forbidden pleasure. Even better, Miranda may help Ethan come to terms with his childhood scars from watching his father’s many affairs with women and his mother’s death from alcoholism.

Jess Michaels also writes historical romance under the name of Jenna Petersen and runs the popular website The Passionate Pen. In addition to erotic romance, she loves alpha males, the color purple, cats and Cadbury Cream Eggs.

Download your copy of Everything Forbidden now!

Review of Pleasure’s Edge – An Erotic Romance Novel

Saturday, 1 September, 2012

Dylan Ivory writes erotic romance novels but her next book is leading her into unfamiliar territory. To get acquainted with BDSM, she interviews Alec Walker, a handsome dominant who pens dark thrillers and reigns over the Seattle BDSM sex scene. They make a deal that could mean losing control and finding real love.

From their first meeting, it’s clear that Alec would rather show BDSM to Dylan instead of just telling her about it. Dylan is tempted but they’ve both got obstacles to overcome. She is used to taking charge after growing up with a mother with emotional problems. He models his emotionally distant father. Dylan bristles when Alec instantly sums her up as a submissive but can’t deny the powerful attraction she feels.

Alec challenges Dylan to submit to his desires so she can live more fully. She agrees to try things his way on the condition they reverse places if he can’t tame her. As things develop, they learn more about each other and the possibility of surrendering their hearts for the first time.

Ready to read Pleasure’s Edge? Get your copy here!

This Erotic Book Hooked Me…

Even if you’re not usually a fan of BDSM in women’s erotica, the balance of hot and sensual sex scenes with likeable characters in a believable romance may change your mind. In this erotic book I liked the chemistry between these two strong characters and was moved by the way they face their vulnerabilities. The pace of their relationship makes sense when you know about their feelings and issues, and the ending was deeply satisfying. I’m definitely getting the other books in this series. They feature friends of Dylan and Alec who I might want to get to know better.

Eve Berlin writes women’s erotica under several pseudonyms. Pleasure’s Edge is her first erotic book under this new name but you may already know her as Eden Bradley. She lives in West Hollywood.

Download Pleasure’s Edge here!