Tag Archives: Erotica

Welcome Summer

 

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My love is Rainbowsexual

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

You Are All Things Between Skin And Shirt

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared – L.Marie Adeline:

Secret Shared (Secret, #2)Secret Shared by L. Marie Adeline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read more of the genre after I read S.E.C.R.E.T. so I’m inclined to be a little kinder in my assessment of this book. There is a lot of crass bilge passed off as erotica and this is not it. S.E.C.R.E.T. felt a little tame to me. With this, I can see where the writer may have been going. S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared falls somewhere between Self-help, Pop Feminism, Erotica and Romance.

In S.E.C.R.E.T., a depressed (and repressed) widow is inducted into a secret society that helps women explore and express their sexual side. By the end of that story, she decides to join the organisation, having completed her own personal journey. In S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared, the sequel, she takes on life with her parallel job as a Guide to another similarly stuck woman.

The book flits between Cassie, the original protagonist, and Dauphine, the newest member of S.E.C.R.E.T. The stories are written in first person voice with chapters alternating between the two women. I found this a bit disorienting because the voices of the two women are not very distinct (possibly because they are very similar when they start with S.E.C.R.E.T.). It gets better later in the book but the transition to Dauphine finding her resolution and Cassie maturing felt too abrupt for me. The ending, just like the first book, is surprising. The sex element, just like S.E.C.R.E.T., felt a bit tame to me. But considering everything else that was going on with the story, I wouldn’t hold it against the book.

It’s not a story about sex or even a story that uses sex as a plot device or a self-help metaphor (like the first book did). It’s just a story set in a sexual context. Read that way, it might be more enjoyable.

I read an uncorrected proof of this book on NetGalley, a few weeks before its launch. That may explain the spellos and some of the rawness of writing that I saw. S.E.C.R.E.T. was considerably polished and I expect its sequel to be equally so, when it hits the stands.

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S.E.C.R.E.T. – L Marie Adeline: As Safe & Bland as Vanilla

I first heard about S.E.C.R.E.T. in online forums discussing (and bashing) 50 Shades of Grey. 50 Shades, of course, had achieved cult status, a sort of adult Twilight for our times. Its terrible nature notwithstanding, 50 Shades may have brought the genre of sexual writing into popular and acceptable bookshelves. S.E.C.R.E.T., the commenter said, was a far better example of the genre and unlike its predecessor, more female empowering. I thought it better to order the book online. Erotica & Pornography are still awkward words to be associated with (even if only reading) in India. It only took me a single night to finish the book.

S.E.C.R.E.T. 2

Cassie Robichaud, the protagonist, is a 35-year-old widow and the survivor of an early, abusive marriage. After her husband’s death, she has closed off the world, shunning intimacy of any sort and relegating herself to the sparse life of a waitressing job and evenings in with her books. One of her customers leaves a notebook behind, that Cassie picks up and reads. The book is a sex diary of sorts and Cassie is eventually led to a secret society (called S.E.C.R.E.T.). The aim of this society is to help women realize their unfulfilled sexual fantasies. The book deals with S.E.C.R.E.T.’s work with her.

The Erotica genre probably requires the suspension of disbelief that ChickLit and Fantasy do. It’s writing about sex after all, and I’d imagine just like the real thing, you know it’s great if it sweeps you up and there’s no room for any other thought. One distinction that appears to come up often between Erotica and Pornography is that the latter may be degrading to women while the former, focusing on aesthetics, could actually be empowering.  S.E.C.R.E.T. had the potential to do all of this, tell a wonderful story of escape through the glorious liberation of a woman’s sexuality. But after an interesting blurb pulled me in, the plotline left me vaguely dissatisfied. Too much foreplay with no climax.

While S.E.C.R.E.T. didn’t get perverse with the rape/abuse overtones of 50 Shades of Grey, it didn’t really do anything mind-blowing either. Considering this is sex we’re talking about and even if different things appeal to different people, one imagines blandness is not to anybody’s taste. The fantasies are lame, almost adolescent but without the heavy hormone overdrive. The writing is coy, rather than passionate. All of which makes the reader yawn and start thinking about the logic of the story.

There is a certain earnest good-girlness about the writing. So it reads more like a motivation book with the requisite feelgood quips. The attempt to fit life lessons into sexual experiences is a tad forced. In some ways, this felt like one of the early Richard Bach books – an introspection about life and self, except using sex for self-discovery instead of flight.

If 50 Shades of Grey felt like Pornography that got erroneously categorized Romance, S.E.C.R.E.T. is Romance/Self-help that got put in Erotica. S.E.C.R.E.T. makes for a light, zero-stress read, maybe something you could carry along on a long flight. Just don’t look for fireworks.

My review on Goodreads:

S.E.C.R.E.T. (Secret, #1)S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked up this book when I heard that it was a great improvement over 50 Shades of Grey (which I hated)in the genre. It didn’t make me want to throw something like 50 Shades did but I wouldn’t call this a great book.

The protagonist is a lonely 35-year-old widow with an empty life. She stumbles onto a secret organisation that promises to help her explore her repressed sexuality and realise her fantasies. The book is about S.E.C.R.E.T’s work with her. As I described it so to a friend, I realised how tacky, how flimsy the plotline was.

S.E.C.R.E.T. mercifully has none of the rape/abuse overtones of 50 Shades. However it swings the other way by being utterly bland and all too safe. For a book that is about a woman in her sexual prime, finally opening up after 5 years to her sexual side, the fantasies are terribly tame. The writing in the sex scenes is coy, rather than passionate. If you’re the shy sort, you won’t need to be embarrassed to be seen reading this book in public.

That said, there’s nothing terribly wrong with the book either. It reads easy and has the occasional feel-good/inspirational quip that keep good Romance/ChickLit novels coasting. In some ways, this felt like one of the early Richard Bach books – an introspection about life and self, except using sex for self-discovery instead of flight.

* If you’re buying this or another book online, do check out Cuponation for special discounts and deals.

A Spy in the House of Love – Anais Nin: Pretty But Unsatisfactory

A spy in the house of love

A Spy In The House Of Love by Anaïs Nin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is described as Erotic Fiction. Having read ‘Eros Unbound’ (Nin’s erotica short stories, enjoyed greatly), I began with the expectation of lyricism in the writing too. There was far less sex than I imagined, not enough for me to think of this as erotica at all. Unfortunately, that showed the lack of cohesiveness in the writing too.

Sabina is a radical 1950s woman, so categorized because of her inability to stay faithful to her husband. The book, while written in third person, still sits tightly within her mind. The chaos in her head that makes Sabina behave as she does, spills over into the writing and instead of enriching it, makes the plot confusing and unsatisfactory. Sabina’s many men are different from each other and in being with them, she dons different personas. At some point, she loses sight of herself. This is the core thought that unfortunately, gets lost in the constantly second- and third-guessing games that Sabina plays.

There is poetic beauty in the words, no doubt. It might work in a shorter form of writing such as poetry or a short story. Unfortunately, in a longer story, it doesn’t serve to cover the patches of poor characterisation, plot integrity and lack of focus.

That said, I’m still captivated by Anais Nin’s poetic expression and will try another of her books to see if it fares any better.

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Fifty Shades of FAIL!

Do read my earlier post on Fifty Shades, if you haven’t already.

I finished reading the second Fifty Shades book – Fifty Shades Darker. I retract everything I thought while reading the first. This is not a good book. This is not a good story. These aren’t strongly etched characters. Fifty Shades of Bad Writing.

My biggest grouse with the books is that they’ve been grossly miscategorized, in an obvious attempt to reach a larger audience. It stands to reason that not even a fraction of the readers they’ve had now would have even stopped by an aisle (or online category) titled ‘Erotica’ or ‘Pornography’. But this push for more sales has I think, hurt the story. Genres, cover art and blurbs go a long way in setting reader expectations even before the first page is read. Fifty Shades is about as misleading on all of these as any book can possibly get. Fifty Shades of Dirty, Rotten Lies.

It’s bad enough business to fool the customer; it only results in resentment. But here’s why I’m most pissed off. Genres like Romance & Chicklit convey a certain impression that the stories they tell are what life is like or is supposed to be like. Never mind how unrealistic they may seem or even regressive; within the social setup that we all live in, they make us, their target readers feel good. Romance is out and out candy for the soul laced with a little sex talk couched in a ‘safe’ manner that doesn’t threaten most women. And if you’re wondering about the ‘safe’ business, most women learn an emotion that most men never do, in bed – fear. Fifty Shades of love is supposed to be fun, not scary.

It’s debatable whether ChickLit is really empowering to women but at least superficially, it places a woman at the center of the story, much time is spent examining her moods & motives, which hitherto don’t find adequate expression in real life or in popular media. Having someone talk about things that you’ve been told are stupid or irrelevant, all your life gives you a burst of energy in a way that only people who’ve been marginalized in some way, would understand.

In contrast, Fifty Shades is dark, forbidding and hopeless – I can’t imagine anybody actually feeling good about it. The female protagonist Anastasia Steele appears to be little but a hapless victim of an abusive, hostage-situation relationship and subjected to any manner of mind games and deviant sex. If I’d found this categorized as BDSM or the larger genre of Erotica, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. Different strokes for different folks (pun entirely intended) and so long as it doesn’t involve children, animals or murder, I don’t judge. I believe that we have different tastes but I also think that anything that doesn’t fall under ‘plain vanilla sex’ (as the book calls it) caters to niche audiences. I have a problem when someone tries to pull a con by mainlining a niche offering.

Books are powerful medium of expression after all and a more intimate one than the other mainstream media. A good writer can effectively get into your head and possibly even change your outlook on life. Imagine giving the kind of power to someone who believes that pain is fun, control games are a birthright and sexual abuse is the cure to physical abuse. That’s what these books have done. Fifty Shades of This is Madness.

The first book at least piqued my curiosity, having brought up things that you don’t normally hear about in mainstream reading. It also ended with Anastasia Steele taking a strong stance against the madness. The second book lost it all with Anastasia’s supposed stance crumbling in a mere 4 days and her running back to the abusive madness of Christian Grey. And as if to justify a third book, the ending pulls a flimsy deus ex machina in the form of a barely disguised villian with murderous intentions. Twilight couldn’t have disappointed me better. Fifty Shades of I’m so disgusted I won’t waste my time reading the third.

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Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is in first person narrative & present tense, 2 things that instantly put me off fiction.The main characters are strongly etched out, the negative one a bit better. But that may just be the first book. 50Shades is a romance but not in the sweet, comforting sense of ChickLit. This is romance gone horribly wrong, angst turned to depravity.The 1st book has so much sex that the first 100 pages seem more like erotica. However as the story builds up, one realises that sex is being used to illustrate some dark corners of the human psyche. The first book ends there and it’s up to the other books to illuminate this further,resolve the situation & bring characters to full maturity. The book was gripping enough for me to complete it in 24 hours and move on to the second immediately.

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey disappoints right from the beginning. The first book was disturbing, deviant even. But it addressed a somewhat obscure topic – deviant sexuality in relationships. It was also borne on the shoulders of what promised to be a strong female character, outlined by her choice to walk away out of self-preservation, at the end.

Fifty Shades Darker begins by consigning her to the role of a weakling whose resolve doesn’t last more than 4 days. Thus Anastasia Steele goes back, this time with a full awareness of what she’s getting into – an abusive relationship with a man who insists on controlling her every move and subjecting her to his depraved, deviant sexual tendencies. Quite unlike in the first book, where she’s still a virgin and a shyer innocent at that, Anastasia metamorphoses into a typical abused wife, condoning and making excuses for all of Christian’s actions.

Worst of all, all of this is couched in a macabre “He loves me so much. We are such soulmates” message that is echoed by all the supporting characters. By this time in the plot, most readers are probably chafing from the excessive sex that is plugged in at frequent intervals to fill the pages of a story that could probably have been a 3-pager. So the end of Book 2 brings in a flimsy twist – a new villian with murderous intentions. I really have to ask – Who needs a murderer when you’ve got Christian Grey for a hero?

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*Also posted on XX Factor.

Rockstar

I’ve just discovered a kink in my sexual make-up. I have a thing for gender role switching. That’s not men dressing in lingerie (eww, gross!). It’s a woman who’s sexy because she’s wearing a guy’s long tee-shirt that comes down to mid-thigh. It’s the breath-catching oomph of a rolled-up cuff revealing a slender arm. Or ooh…a chunky, sporty man’s watch on a delicate female wrist.

How about the reverse? Hrithik Roshan gliding across an airport, pink tee-shirt, coloured sunglasses glory, the cool criminal in Dhoom 2. Oh he kills me, he kills me.

But the true master, the one that transcends gender, who takes sexuality beyond female or male has to be Sting. A voice that feels like a caress…of a man’s tongue. When he lifts one foot to step forward and a field of golden corn springs up within him, it makes me think…that’s the kind of sex that makes life, it makes you come alive.

How come all the lead guitarists, the famous ones, the images you have of a rockstar…are all male? There’s obviously something vaguely sexy about a guitar. The curvaceous soundbox, the long phallic arm and what about the strumming? I’ve played the guitar and I know it doesn’t have to be held at crotch-level. And yet, why not? It goes from song-making to love-making.

I’d love to be straddling a guitar with my torso, strumming in tune to the master, letting his melody caress my song.

Ooh….

Oh, it’s my phone. That buzz in my pocket feels so good.

Down with flu. Can’t make it to practice today.

AHEMMM.

My mother’s grim throat-clearing conveys that she is very, very angry about my checking my phone in church.

It’s about choir practice.

Her thin-line mouth is a pointed reminder that we are still in church and I’m talking. I drop my gaze and shut up.

Twenty minutes later, I am settled in as comfortably as is possible in the confessional. Why do they make these seats so uncomfortable? Probably to punish the confessors for the sins they confess to.

Yes, my child.

Father, I have sinned.

Tell me about this thing you have done.

It’s not something I did. I’ve been having…wrong thoughts.

Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep brooding silence. Presumably to make me ponder on my wrongdoing. Shame me into confessing all and purging my sins.

The silence is music. The silence is sexy in its own way.

About what, child?

About three notes too low. But low is good. It takes me higher. Go down, down further, go down on me.

I’ve been thinking of quitting the choir.

The silence is different now. Taut tension knife-edge sharp like the orchestra falling away to leave just that one high-pitched note behind.

I want to be in a rock band instead.

CRRRRRASSSSSHHHHHH.

I take a bow.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Epilogue: This piece was the result of a writing exercise in a fiction-writing workshop conducted by Manisha Lakhe and Annie Zaidi.

The participants were asked to write down one secret, drop it into a box. These were shuffled and everyone was given an anonymous secret and asked to write something about it.

The secret I received was,

Always dreamed of being a lead guitarist and performing with Sting.

The exercise made me think about the kinds of secrets we keep, the smaller ones that may become life-changing decisions some day…or just stay as that random debris in our minds, occasionally seeping over like the stench of sewage into our dreams.

Why Mona Lisa Smiled

You are mine.

You are right.

But it doesn’t feel like it.

Because you only have possession, not control.

Do you not want me?

I do. But not as much as I should. Not as much as I could. Not yet.

Does that matter?

You can own my body, my mind and even my emotions.
But until my will is you, you will never truly own me.

I don’t wish to force you or bend you to my will.

Well-spoken, dear one. You are as wise as I have hoped.

And yet, I don’t have you.

This is true as well.
Possession without control is but a cage.
And cages can be broken.

So can control. What I want is mastery.

They are not different.

Yes, they are, my sweet. You aspire to give me surrender, oh yes, you do. And it might a sweet reward, especially to one starved for so long. But what I want is mastery. An abdication of the hunger for any more such delights.

You lie. Or perhaps not.
If you lie, this beginning is over. Rather, you misphrase.
You desire surrender as much as I do. But what we both need is release.

And you think the answer lies in postponement?

Well, indulgence hasn’t worked, has it?

You’ve had others, then?

So I have. Did you think I would come to you unpracticed?

I suppose not. Even the beginning wouldn’t have happened, then.

Right, I don’t believe in spontaneous miracles.

And I am skeptical about love at first sight.

Cynical, chere! Give the mortals their flash miracles, it keeps them occupied. You and I have forever and beyond to negotiate.

It’s just an illusion.

So am I. And you. A figment of the other’s imagination.

That’s not logical. You can’t be illogical in this game.

But I’m not. When we cease to be our illusions, we cease to be. And what if we swap illusions, every now and then?

And what if we just ended this here?

If we do, we’ll just be two people who killed the conversation and had great sex.
But if we don’t, we continue to be you and me,
mutual enigmas, perpetual unquenched desire, the eternal emptiness.

Touche, my love and adieu.

I thought you didn’t believe in love.

Not at first sight. Nor first conversation. But this is the end of our beginning. The first of whatever comes next.

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