Tag Archives: Fifty Shades of Grey

The Story of O…Oh…Ooooooh

story-of-oCurrently living in France, a French friend recently informed me that Fifty Shades of Grey was child’s play compared to French novels, and that if I wanted to better understand BDSM, novels that try and involve romance alongside it, and the reasons people enter into such relationships, I should read classic French tale ‘The Story of O,’  (L’Histoire d’O).She also gave me Emmanuelle, which I confess,  have not yet dared to open.

Second confession – I haven’t actually finished The Story of O. Nor can I honestly say I intend to. O is a successful, attractive young woman, in love with a man named Rene. She agrees to be taken to a chateau on the outskirts of Paris, where she is aware she will be subjected to the fetishes of Rene’s friends. And of fetishes, they have many. Within moments of arriving there, she is blindfolded, and as far as I can make out, raped, every which way possible. She is kept there, before Rene eventually takes her away, and gives her to his friend, Sir Stephen.

I genuinely think I could be down with this sort of thing, if it wasn’t for the constant reminder that O only did it because she loved Rene. She didn’t express any joy at the things done to her, nor does she consent out of any regard for her own pleasure. I think that was my main barrier here. That, and they kept asking her to consent to something before telling her what it was. This was actually where I stopped reading…a big fat labia piercing with a tag on. It sounded beyond painful, and the squeamish side of me that I try to hide came out in force. No freakin’ way could I read it.

All in all, it was an interesting foray into the world of BDSM. For anyone who thinks they may or may not be inclined that way, it is definitely worth a read, even just to better outline a person’s limits.

As previously said, I must conclude that if at any point O had revealed that she liked, enjoyed or even relished any of the things done to her, I may have gained more from the book. But to me, it seemed clear that these activities are better suited to two people of the same persuasion – both partners should be getting pleasure. It shouldn’t be one, man or woman,  doing whatever they deem necessary to make their partner happy, and their partner making demands that don’t consider the feelings of the submissive. In truth, it will be a while before I adequately brace myself for Emmanuelle.

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Less is More….Or Do Some Like It Hot???

marilynSex is everywhere, and I don’t even mean explicit, society ruining raunchy porn. Casual references, innuendos, even the M&S lingerie adverts are pretty hot stuff, and appear on TV and the sides of buses without so much as raising an eyebrow. Serious novels contain sex, though often not as a large part of the plot, so surely any romance readers would be expecting to become more than slightly hot under the colour. Let’s be honest, a lot of best selling contemporary romances are based on sex – from Fifty Shades, to Bared to You, to almost every Danielle Steele ever written – without the sex, there would be very little going on, and even less connecting to characters. Good old fashioned bodice rippers generally pivot around sex, the ‘ruination’ of a girl, or the scandal of lust being common plot features. I’m not one of those ‘nowadays the world is terrible’ people – look at Baudelaire‘s Fleurs du Mal, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, even Tess of the d’Urbervilles has that barnyard scene where she licks cream off the fingers of Angel Clare. Saucy and suggestive, oioi.

So, I do believe it can be forgiven to expect a little sex from a modern romance. Obviously, some are better than others, some are cringey, and some are almost non existent. I recently read two of the books from the Brides of Bath series, where there was little plot, and very little sex to go with it. There was literally no saving grace to the novels. I mean, yes I’m sick of contemporary romances involving rich men, young girls, and  damaged pasts. I’m sick of contemporary romances that rely on tired old tactics of ‘being caught in a compromising position’ and ‘accidentally falling in love with one’s own husband.’ But, with a little spice, these books can sometimes be at least a little enjoyable. I’m not some sex crazed loon – if a book has a great plot, I absolutely would not recommend adding sex just for the sake of it. But, when seeking escapism, a flighty bippity bop romance, there’s a requirement to get the blood pounding just a bit. If I want less, I’d read Austen, or my all time favourite, Elizabeth Gaskell. Less is great in a novel that has an awesome plot, contextual restraints, and sparring characters actually conversing. But in the whirl of romantic novels that have plots that are little more than fluff…..it’s necessary up turn up the heat!

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Counting Down for Sylvia!

Well, any randy readers out their must be licking their lips and cracking their knuckles in anticipation for the third installment of the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day! The predecessors, Bared to You and Reflected in You were both absolute scorchers and, judging by the snippets Ms Day has released so far, the Entwined with You promises to be just as hot!

The Crossfire series details the relationship between Eva and Gideon. Both are fabulously rich. Both are insanely beautiful. He has more power and money than most people could dream of, and she has connections and friends most twenty something career girls would sell their soul for. But before you hate them – they are also both damaged, almost, but not quite, beyond repair. After suffering abuse throughout their childhoods, the pair are finally acknowledging that they struggle with normal relationships, and so hold nothing back in an attempt to not lose each other. The love and passion in this books is amazing, and although their relationship is highly sexual, Sylvia Day also includes the conversations and every day going on that lead to love, a factor which is often missing. Normally, when I read a romance novel, I tend to find the characters in lust over love, but Sylvia Day manages to throw in that little extra something special to tip the scales.

I’m not going to lie, I did not think that I would like these books. Truly, after having been disappointed with the Fifty Shades trilogy, I kind of expected more of the same. In my opinion, this is so much better – unless you were into fifty shades for the BDSM, which doesn’t feature all that much in Crossfire. For a start, despite all that happened in her childhood, Eva is feisty, ambitious and tens to be pretty sure of her own mind. She wants Gideon, but won’t be used for sex, and is determined about that. Her thought processes are clear, unlike Anastasia of Fifty Shades who didn’t seem to ever really know what was happening, and could barely have a conversation with her boyfriend without dissolving into a quivering mess. And Gideon is as rich and powerful and damaged as Christian Grey – but he doesn’t seem quite so isolated or untouchable. His family are more of a feature than Grey’s, which maybe makes him more human, and he doesn’t dictate every mood and conversation.

Although there is some domination/submissive talk in Crossfire novels, it tends to be more of an emotional thing, rather than physical. I mean, yes, Eva like it better when he’s on top or in control, but that’s about it. This is just personal preference: I just don’t get a guy who takes pleasure in hurting a girl. I understood his issues, the control, the tying up and bondage, even the eye contact thing – but when he caned her, I just lost interest. I didn’t get how that stemmed from control, and it sure as hell turned me off. But that is just me. I prefer Gideon’s attitude, which is probably as controlling – but where he would never even dream of hurting Eva ever. not even a little.

Another thing that surprised me was how well Sylvia Day manages to walk the tightrope between erotic and crude. She uses some pretty vile and explicit language – but it works, and there is nothing vulgar or cheap about the lovemaking scenes in the Crossfire novels. She gets the balance right, which is really hard to do.

Seriously, start rereading the first two books now, and bring on June!

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