I Read Out of My Zone for 1 Week...
"Tasteless, cringe-worthy, and badly written" are my usual feelings towards the 'Shades of Grey' genre, but I was called out that my opinion might not be a catch-all. So, for one week, I read erotica books only!
First a Confession...
I am not against sexual content in books. Adults do adult things and I suppose it's only fair that modern literature would reflect that. Secondly, I am not a hypocrite. Yes, I include suggestions that something might have gone on between two characters in my own books - I am just not explicit. That doesn't make me a prude, I simply believe that the reader's imagination does a far better job of what seems 'hot' for them than my writing would ever do. It's the same principle for writing horror - you don't tell the reader, that the girl is going to get murdered, you tell them she walks over to investigate the basement right? However, my opinion on the world of erotic writing has been very clear: "It's tasteless, cringe-worthy, badly-written and has nothing to do with the plot." A week ago I was called out on my opinion by an author friend who asked: "Have you actually read any erotica?" and my answer to them was "no"! They didn't need to say more. My opinion was based on what I assumed of the genre. So, to cut a long anecdote short, I bit down and took the plunge - Terry Bolryder came up on the recommended list.
Out of my Comfort Zone? Well, not Quite!
I'm sorry but I am a self-confessed fantasy lover, so of course, I went for an author who seemed to have straddled into a style I enjoyed (and there is a fair bit of straddling). I briefly glimpsed into the archetype of the genre, good old 50 Shades (yep, still nope, nope, no!), and I read an extract from an urban romance that shall go unnamed for the sake of the author (because oh dear me!). Terry Bolryder was the only one that made me do the important thing: BUY THE BOOK! Yep, I always put the money where my mouth is and I splashed some cash (80p as that was what was asked and if Ms Bolryder reads this, increase the price of your books girl! You deserve to be paid better!).
Loved by Light is the fourth book in the series. I haven't read the others, though it was recommended. This title was simply the one that was brought to my attention first, thanks to the algorithms of Amazon. It's also written in first person (common in the erotica genre) with a multiple perspective - I did not hold out much hope, perhaps I should not have been so pessimistic!
OK, It Might Not All Be About That!
Well, it turns out that perhaps, just maybe, not all erotica writers are caught in the net of plotless grinding. There was definitely a plot. In fact, I reckon that the book could have been extended by another hundred pages for the sake of it! There are a total of three explicit scenes, only one of which I felt was cliche and cringe-worthy (the care one). As for the rest? Well, they were tastefully written. Note, that I say tastefully written - NOT believable but then if you read this style of writing often, I imagine that believable is not what you're after. I finished the book in three nights of reading (a total of 6 hours) and while it's not hitting anything close to my top three, Bolryder certainly isn't scraping the barrel! There's some substance of character which if you've read the previous books, is I suspect, built on novel by novel. It's a nice little romp of blended narration - sometimes explicit, sometimes left to the imagination. Combined with a story that makes sense. Boy meets girl, love at first sight, and girl saves boy. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly contrived but that's standard modern fairy tale stuff. After all, not all girls are damsels in distress and not all boys are white knights - may I draw your attention to Shrek. This book is certainly all about the damsel saving the knight by the way!
So I was Wrong?
Umm, no. Maybe there are exceptions. Maybe there are some flashes of brightness in the seedy darkness. However, for the most part, it's still a pretty over-imaginative and tasteless corner of the library - just my opinion. Perhaps, it's better to say that my mind has been opened a little to appreciate those little lights among the darkness better. I'm not an erotica reader and I doubt that I will be fully turned to the genre, but my opinion is softened by my experience.
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Happy weekend - see you next week.