Holly, my wife, has been buying me erotic novels. She tells me it's because she knows I can write one and they are for research.
"Call them 'inspiration,'" she says enthusiastically.
Holly enlisted the aide of a Saint John book store employee to make her choices. "Bared to You," by Sylvia Day, is a New York Times bestseller and the first book in Day's Crossfire series. Her other purchase was a Canadian bestseller called "S.E.C.R.E.T.," by L. Marie Adeline.
Dutifully, I read them, sharing passages aloud that I found most poignant. Okay, "poignant" may not be the correct word, and while one would think "adjectives such as "shocking," "passionate" or "sexy" would be the most common choices, "ridiculous," "implausible" or just plain "stupid" tended to be the more fitting descriptive entries.
I mean, there's a scene in Adeline's book - L. Marie Adeline is a pseudonym for Dragon's Den producer, Lisa Gabriele - where the main character, Cassie, a young widow from a marriage to an abusive alcoholic who has signed up with a secret group where women empower themselves by embracing their sexuality through a series of sexual adventures, is flown via helicopter to a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico during a hurricane, abandoned by the pilot, then is swept overboard and rescued out of the raging waters by the man sent to make love to her. Not only does she have passionate sex with this man, she's not at all angry about almost drowning! This is such a distracting bit of idiocy that I could never get past it through the remainder of the novel.
The writing starts out quite strong, but tapers as the story progresses. Of course, the idea is gold. The marketing possibilities, since Cassie gets a gold bracelet charm as she completes each of the ten steps, are endless and brilliant, but I was left with the feeling that the book was written in a very short time span without time for common sense - perhaps Kevin O'Leary was getting cranky or the losing of Robert Herjavec from her show was just too much to bear.
Then there's Sylvia Day's Eva, a very young, wealthy socialite/some-kind-of-working-girl and sexual abuse survivor who falls for a gorgeous, young, impressively-endowed billionaire with night terrors - how can you not picture Mayor Mel Norton for this role. In the best interest of brevity, let's just say I wanted to like this girl, but ended up despising her. She's spoiled, whiny and entitled, and treats her bisexual roommate/protector like a servant (don't feel too sorry for him though, he's just as much unlikable). As much as I hate to admit it, I wound up secretly hoping her step brother would come back to finish her off.
While the thought of reading a sequel to either of these books makes me want to take an icepick to my eyes I discovered something about the grapevine - don't listen to reviews no matter how convincing they sound. I say this because I heard nothing but negativity about the wildly successful "Fifty Shades of Grey," but wound up uploading the eBook to my Kobo from the library, unbeknownst to Holly. E. L. James may not have had the professional editing behind her the others did, but she did bring something to the table that explains her book's success: originality.
It is not the stuff of classic literature by any means, but the characters are well developed and true - all of them. James also has a good grasp of human psychology and seems to have done her BDSM research. It moves beyond the painful predictability of most erotic novels and inexplicably left me sheepishly yearning for more. That's right, I'm presently nearing the conclusion to the second book in the series, "Fifty Shades Darker" and look forward to the final book in the trilogy, "Fifty Shades Freed." Nobody's more surprised than I am, but it is a nice surprise.
Now I keep handcuffs beside the bed - just in case. Holly's not impressed.