If you've read either my old blog or ATBF columns, you'll know that several years ago I embarked upon a reading journey into erotic romance. You might also know that a few years ago, after venturing into more hard-core content, I posed the following question: "If the point of erotic content is to arouse, and that's my dictionary's definition of it, then would reading more and more hard-core content be like over-reliance on a vibrator so that anything not super-kinky would leave me, fictionally and literally, numb?"
Eventually I decided that I'd stop with the Asking of Questions and read whatever the hell appealed to me. The result? Earlier this year I went through a mini-non-fiction glom. Right now I'm in the midst of reading quite a few erotic romances, and a couple of authors stand out above the rest: Charlene Teglia, and relative newcomer Cherise Sinclair.
Each author writes books in erotic romance sub-genres that attract me. With Teglia it's shapeshifters and other paranormal creatures. Sinclair, on the other hand, writes books and short stories with a strong BDSM theme. Like many woman, I'm drawn to erotic stories featuring women who cede control of their sexual pleasure to men who intuitively know how to play their bodies like virtuoso violinists.
I've often said that erotic romance blends oh-so-nicely with the paranormal because human social structures, norms, and mores simply don't apply, giving authors leeway with characters and storylines. Which, in turn allows me as a reader to accept behavior I would not otherwise tolerate, let alone enjoy. Such as a young woman who discovers she is a werewolf who must mate with an entire pack in order to decide upon her true mate. Or a witch who must have sex with a dragon, a fae, a vampire, a demon, and a werewolf in order to save the world from a demonic plot.
Let's face it...plenty of authors can write amazing, kinkier-than-hell sex scenes. But in order to actually interest me to read the author again, - let alone write about her - I need more. Teglia actually delivered poignancy, humor, and in both the books I just described (Animal Attraction and Claimed by the Wolf), she managed both simultaneously.
The second book I described, Claimed by the Wolf, is the first in a series, and I'm a little concerned about that because while I apparently have no problem with one female witch who has a werewolf mate yet is also a "junior wife" to four other paranormal hunks, I absolutely don't want to read a book two in which another female needs to sleep with all five heroes - including the witch's mate - in order to save the world again. Call me a greedy girl, but, hey, she's playing into my fantasy. It doesn't hurt that because none of the witch's five lovers is human...and each finds it erotic to watch her with his fellow guardians...it's not a problem for them. If it turns out each of these heroes becomes monogamous as a single mate enters the picture in four subsequent books...fine. Otherwise, I'll be giving up on the Shadow Guardians tout de suite.
Writing about Cherise Sinclair presents a bigger problem. She writes about real people taking sexuality to an extreme on a daily basis, not just an occasional "kinky Thursday." Though I subscribe to the "anything goes between two consenting adults in real life" school of thought, it makes me sad to think of people who cannot enjoy sex unless they are playing roles, using toys, or giving/receiving pain. But that's reality, and as I have preached for almost fifteen years, fiction is not reality.
In my fantasy life I have no problem whatsoever with dominant men, feisty but submissive women, and the manipulative head games the former play with the latter to achieve multiple orgasms all around. In fact, I get off on it. And Sinclair, like Teglia, can write with tenderness and poignancy. Are all dominant men as handsome and psychologically astute as they are in her writing? Again...who cares?
While I've no interest in Sinclair's intergalactic The Starlight Rite, I have read the rest of her abbreviated back-list and look forward to more. Teglia's backlist is far lengthier, and she writes in a variety of erotic sub-genres, which means I'll be picking and choosing.
Though I've read a great deal of erotic romance over the years, I tend to be guarded about what I share with others because for me reading these stories is intensely personal and I feel the need to limit what I expose of myself. That said, I'm not ashamed of what I read, so every so often I'm going to put on my big girl panties and let my full freak fly.