Reading Romance

I’ve been asked for reading recommendations three times this week. Must be a week for romance. Awww

Since I’ve pieced together this list a few times, I thought I would leave it here for all who might want it. I am going to break these down into a few categories for you. Here we go:

Dark Erotic Romance

I have two picks in this category. These two stand out far and above the others for me.

The Dark Duet series by C.J. Roberts. First one free right now* or trilogy. As the title suggests, these books are dark. Very dark in a way that a lot of erotica is not. They contains some physical abuse, and some sexual abuse. They are not for everyone, but they create a beautiful story. Life is not all sunshine and daisies. Not all love is born from something bright and lovely. This series does a great job of taking something tragic to an amazing place. Not to mention they are sizzling hot on the erotica scale. You certainly won’t find many books more erotic than these.

Blood and Roses series by Callie Hart. First one free right now* or series. This is a series of novellas. I tend to find novellas a turn off, but I love these. Love. Them. It is one of my favorite series in any romance category. I devoured these when I started them. They are a perfect balance of the dark side of erotica, an engaging plot with jaw dropping twists, and the heat you look for in this genre. Zeth is easily my all time favorite book boyfriend.

Lighter Romance

These books still pack plenty of heat, but have a lighter theme than the books listed above. There are so many  romances that fall in this area. It makes it so hard to pick.

Archer’s Voice, by Mia Sheridan. This was the easiest book to pick for this category and might be my favorite read of the year so far. Beautiful story. Sweet, and heartbreaking, and steamy. Everything needed for a great romance read.

The Surrogate Husband, by Wynter Daniels. This book was a lot of fun. Light and sexy with a few good laughs.

Forever His, the first in the Stolen Brides series, by Shelly Thacker. I was never sure that historical or time travel romance was for me, but this book puts a great twist on it and won me over big time. An American girl taken back in time 700 years to the home of an ornery dark knight makes for some funny and sexy scenes. This is a romance with a great page turning plot.

Owned by Fate, and Exposed by Fate, the first two in the Serve series, by Tessa Bailey. These are a nice way to ease into the world of BDSM. Beautifully erotic, but plots that are light enough to still be fun.

Owning Violet, by Monica Murphy. This book is well within the erotica category. It has heat that jumps off the pages.

Paranormal Romance

I can also narrow down my favorites in this category to two series.

Black Dagger Brotherhood, by J.R. Ward. Book one. Vampires the way you imagined they would be. Dark fantasy lovers. Alpha males ready to sink their teeth in. This series weaves a thick complex plot, layered with smoking hot erotic scenes. There are a lot of books in these series. It can seem daunting at first. Just dive in. Pick up book one and I can promise you will want to read them all.

Fever series, by Karen Marie Moning. Book one. Lighter on the erotic side. Reads a lot like a YA urban fantasy series, but definitely adult. If you like YA but want it a little sexier, maybe a few more orgasms, this is the series.

Male Male Erotica

Temptations series, by Ella Frank. Book one  or series. This is the only series I have for this category. Trust me, it’s enough. You would be hard pressed to find erotica with more heat than these. There are three in this series: Try, Take, and Trust. I have only read the first two(the third is a recent release and I will be reading it very soon). I will say, I like the second book, Take, a bit better than the first. That isn’t normal for me. I usually like the first, and peter out as the series goes on. The first book is all heat and lust. Don’t misunderstand, I loved it. But the second book starts to pull at your heartstrings. That, along with all the heat that easily carries over from the first book, edges it out over its predecessor just slightly.

My only caution on these books is do not listen to them on audio.  The narrator sounds just like the movie trailer guy, and turns the book in to a total cheese ball fest. It really ruins how steamy and sensual they are.

YA Romance

Obviously these won’t be erotica at all, but there are some beautifully written romances in YA. Both of my favorites come from the same author.

The Infernal Devicesand The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare. The Mortal Instruments was released first and is the more known of the two series. The series do intertwine, but are absolutely stand alone. I tell you that to say, even though The Infernal Devices was released second, I would read it first. It is a prequel of sorts to the other. That isn’t why I am telling you to read it first. It might be my favorite romance story…ever.

Both series are urban fantasy, and are cut from the same cloth. However, The Infernal Devices series, I feel, does a better job of focusing on the interpersonal relationships, making it a better romance. It is heartbreaking, beautiful, and it made me ugly cry. It takes a lot to make me ugly cry, but these books make you that emotionally invested in the characters.

Okay, that is it… for now. We will have to do this again.

If your jaw is dropped, not understanding how your favorite romance didn’t make my reading recommendations, it could be that I haven’t read it yet. Remedy this by letting me know what your favorite is. My favorite reads have all come from recommendations.If you have blazed through these and are looking for more, check me out on Goodreads.

May B. B. The reads-more-than-she-writes, writer.

*Books listed as “free” were free on Amazon when I posted this. I can’t guarantee that they will be free a moment longer.

 
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Grey & A Few Other BDSM Colors

Restraints, clamps, collars, floggers, crops, gags, spreader bars, pugs, beads, canes, blindfolds, rigging, paddles… Sweat dripping, tension building. Skin pulled taught. Chest heaving, dragging in air that’s too thick. Will I? Won’t I? Can I? What if it hurts? What if it hurts and I like it? Scared and excited, and uncertain about which out weighs the other….

Oh the wonderful world of BDSM.

So what brings us here? I have gotten a decent amount of crap for reading Grey, and wanted to clear some things up. I’ll start by saying I don’t give a shit what people think of what I read. Book choice shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Read what you like and leave others alone so they can do the same. Simple as that.

Grey sold over 1 million copies in 4 days. Yet, if you look at Twitter and read how quick everyone is to denounce it, you’d think not a soul had bought it. I smell some closet Grey readers. Sucks our book culture has made them feel a shamed or like they need to hide what they read. Tisk tisk.

Anyway, that really isn’t what I wanted to rant— I mean discuss. I won’t defend the book as great literature. I can’t say it is a must read, or even that it was exciting and passionate. I am not even telling you to go read them. I have better reading recommendations for you if you are looking for things in that vein. For me, both the original trilogy and Grey were lackluster, okay reads. I like the plot. I wish it was better executed. I can think of some of my favorite erotic writers that could have done wonders with it.

And that plot is what I am defending. I have heard so much outrage and disgust about those books containing abuse. I’ve engaged in many debates about whether Christian abuses Ana. I only feel the need to defend them because BDSM is not abuse. I think it is important for people to understand that.

I did a mental check of the sex scenes in the 1st book. Most are pretty vanilla. He asks, she gives consent, and they have sex. Pretty basic stuff. There is the first time he spanked her. It was with his hand. He told her exactly what he was going to do and she laid herself willing over his lap to let him do it.

Yes, I know, she cried after he left. But she states that it was because he left her(not spending the night, which he did come back and do) and that she was confused by the fact that being spanked turned her on. Not that she felt beaten and abused. And yes, it can be hard to reconcile your feelings about some measure of pain or punishment, such as being spanked, turning you on. That’s normal.

Every scene between there, and the last in that book, she describes herself feeling excited about what he was going to do. Nervous, yes, but that is part of BDSM and I’ll get back to that in a second. When they were in the boathouse, he said he was going to spank her. She asked him not to and he didn’t.

He told her, and it is very true in any grounded BDSM relationship, that the sub(Ana) has all the power. He can only do what she will allow. If she says no, uses a safe-word, or otherwise doesn’t consent through preset limits or otherwise, it doesn’t happen. Period. That was always true in this fictional relationship between Christian and Ana.

The last scene. She asked, physically opened her mouth and asked him to paddle her. She wanted to know how “bad it could get” in his BDSM world. He asked if she was sure. She said yes. I would think—and please remember that I am talking about a fictional character, so I am projecting here—that a man like Christian that had been in the wonderful world of BDSM, was hoping that she would like it. Or at a minimum think it wasn’t so bad and she could do it if he liked it. We all do things that we are not thrilled about, but find tolerable, for our significant others.

What?!? I know, I know. I must be crazy right? He thought he could bend her over a bench, paddle her, sending flames of heat up her body, making her hurt, and scream, and cry, and burn, and she would like it? Even be turned on and wet for him after? Yep. That’s what I am saying. It would be a common hope for someone like him.

Maybe the thinking behind why some people like that kind of thing, deserves some explaining, but I think if you want that explanation from me, it will require it’s own blog post. If there is enough interest, I’ll write it… Ooo into the mind of May. Okay moving on(scary place).

If Christian had spent years with women who did like that, why wouldn’t it be okay for him to hope Ana would like it too. Don’t we all want the people we find a romantic interest in to be into the same things we are? To learn to love the things we love and share them with us? And is it unreasonable to ask them to try what you like if they haven’t before?

I could understand if he tied her to a bench, didn’t tell her what was going to happen and then started wailing on her, popped up at the end and said, “So, was that good for you? It was great for me!” But that is so far from what happened.

I have also heard the argument that it was not what he physically did that was so horrible, but that she only did it because she thought it was the only way to stay with him, that made it so bad. It is unfair to layout what you need, or what you think you need in a relationship and let the other person know they can walk away if they can’t provide that?

I think more people should hop on that train.

She wanted a relationship with him. As a result she put herself out there and tried somethings she had never tried before. All of them, with the exception of one, she ended up liking.  The last book would lead you to believe that not only did she like them, she liked them so much that she insisted that they continue doing them well into their marriage. Yes, even spankings.

BDSM, by it’s very nature, is about pushing your limits. Doing things that make you nervous, put you on edge a bit and require you to put your faith in someone else. For anyone entering into that world for the first time, not just this fictional virgin, it is a nerve racking experience where you constantly question “Can I? Will I? What if? I’m not sure about this?”

Those are not bad feelings to have. A lot of new experiences in life are scary. A lot of them you do because someone else is pushing you to do them, asking you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You either like it or you don’t, and either way that is okay. BDSM is no different.

Okay, I’ll step away from the BDSM side of this conversation for now. It is a big topic. So much bigger than these books touch on. But before I rest my case, I just want to make one more point.

I read a lot. I read everything from YA to erotic. Thrillers, urban fantasy, romance of all kinds, some science fiction, historical fiction…. I think you get the point. It is SO, SO very common in all of these to see death, murder, torture of many kinds, violence(the non-consensual kind), abduction…

I don’t see mass outrage on social media about the number of fictional characters that get offed in horrible ways in books. Are we saying that it is more justified to be outraged by a book depicting a consensual spanking with a paddle, than all of the hundreds of ways we end lives in books? I doubt it. They offed a bunch of kids, in Hunger Games. Is that not worse morally than a spanking? Perspective, people. Perspective.

I would say it’s more likely that we just like to get together in mass and be outraged about something. Unfortunately for a lot of top sellers, they give us a focus that so many of us know about, making it easy to unite in our outrage against some facet of them. Pop culture is not your enemy. So you don’t like it and don’t understand why a million other people do? So what. Move on. Don’t waste your time on banding together to be “outraged” by something you don’t think others should enjoy.

Perhaps you could band together to uplift something you do enjoy and put that on the pop culture map? Just a thought. But really, where ever you want to spend your energy….

As always, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. Hit me up, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this or anything else.

Sincerely,

May B.B. (The, hates that everyone hates on everything, writer)