I first discovered erotica when I first discovered ebooks. I loved erotica for the same reason I love reading in general: I love the escape and the ability to live through the fictional lives of others. At that time I was a young mother with a stressful job and financial issues. Reading was great, but erotica was exciting and new and, not to mention kind of dirty and forbidden.
Then Fifty Shades of Grey happened and erotica became a bit more mainstream. It wasn’t hard to find a book with BDSM elements or with an Alpha Billionaire and a naive young protege. Taboo wasn’t taboo anymore; it was everywhere. People were actually asking me about erotica (albeit in hushed tones) at church. Erotica was easy to get and I was reading it as often as I was reading mainstream romance novels.
And then I wasn’t and I’m not.
Why? Because it all started to read the same. No longer was erotica the sexy, bright, red thong of my reading wardrobe, it became the beige granny panties. Just a boring same old-same old in which an Alpha billionaire/MC president/rockstar/DEA Agent/MMA fighter/sex club owner/shifter of some kind meets a naive ingenue/single mom/investigative journalist/uptight sex therapist/curvy entrepreneur and teaches her about the darker side/emotional healing power/feminist truth of pleasure. Over and over and over again. For me, erotica became the Groundhog Day of reading.
I also found myself constantly rolling my eyes at the storylines and plot points. Maybe it’s because I’m more mature (that pains me even to type), more cynical or simply in an erotica reading slump, but I just stopped being able to buy what erotica was trying to sell me. How many times can a female protagonist be whisked away to a secluded location with little contact with friends and family, before it starts to read as more abusive than sexy. I have found it increasingly difficult (as in I feel a sudden desire to throat punch anyone within punching distance) whenever a male protagonist describes his desire to “breed” the female protagonist. And, maybe because I better understand the struggles of unemployment, I find it hard to root for a female character who throws her chances at gainful employment in her chosen profession out the window for a changes to be banged on the conference room table by the brothers that own the company she works for.
This doesn’t even take into account the fact that now that mainstream romance has embraced some of the less intense elements of erotica, erotica has had to up its game to differentiate itself. This can be good as authors are able to to stretch themselves and their storylines, embracing new themes and types of characters or it can be bad as plot elements become ridiculous. Too many times have I given up on a novel because authors have written a male character that has crossed the line from Alpha male to plain old asshole male. Then there was the series that took sex toys to a new level of crazy with a physiologically improbable, multi-orifice probing machine that descended from the board room ceiling or the novel that took dirty talk too far when the Alpha male DEA agent referred to his partner’s vagina as a “pink gash.” C’mon now!
This isn’t to say that I haven’t read any erotica in the last several years. I’ve read and liked some, but not nearly as many as I used to read. Kresley Cole’s Game Maker series, Charlotte Stein’s Sweet Agony and Jennika Snow’s Ravish Her Completely are my most recent favorites in this sub-genre. It’s just that all of the issues I’ve mentioned, plus the fact that I can now find many of the elements I found desirable in erotica in mainstream romance with (usually) more diverse storylines and characters, are why I don’t really read erotica anymore. Which is kind of sad because I used to love it
Are there genres or sub-genres you’ve given up on?
Are there any erotica titles you love and think are worth a read?
Tell me what you think!