Kristina Lloyd’s Undone: the ‘unsuitable for Amazon’ review

My copy of Undone arrived with strict instructions from the author herself:

‘Promise that you’ll read it in order.’

Well, of course, Kristina. How else would I read it? Do I look like the kind of person who trawls books looking for an immaculately written blow job or any hint of anal? Maybe don’t answer that.

Kristina has her reasons for not trusting me. Her second novel, Asking for Trouble, is my favourite erotica novel ever. It never leaves my bedside table, and it rarely leaves my actual bed. I lent it to the boy when I wanted him to understand what turns me on. I use it when I need reminding how to write well. It’s a superb work of erotica, but it more than holds its own as a piece of fiction outside of the genre. It’s taught me how to write characters, how to describe place … wait, I’m reviewing the wrong book.

Anyway. Asking for Trouble is the reason Kristina doesn’t trust me. When we first started chatting via Twitter, I confessed that I’d owned it for months, years even, before I fully pieced the plot together. Why? Because the sex in it is so hot that I’d been ‘reading’ (wanking over) the sex scenes time and time again, and figuring out the plot using a mixture of guesswork and logical deduction. That’s how you have great orgasms. It’s *not* how you read a book.

So, good girl that I am, I obediently started Undone at the beginning. Like, right at the beginning. With the dedication.

I’m not totally sure what the etiquette is regarding mentioning the dedication in a review. It sort of feels like it’s not fair game because it’s not part of the story: the story is *not* about Kristina’s life, the dedication presumably *is.* But anyway, here’s what it says:

For Ewan, for being generous with the measures.

For that to make sense, you kind of have to know that the book is set in a cocktail bar, and, bad reviewer that I am, I haven’t filled you in on the plot. But the cocktails aren’t really my point. Lana and Sol, the characters in Undone, aren’t Kristina and (presumably) her partner. What they do have though is affection and respect for each other that underpins all the sex in the book and proves the publishing industry wrong about everything it holds true about erotic romance. And for me, the stunning simplicity with which Kristina writes emotion and affection is captured wholeheartedly in that dedication.

Unlike most of what Black Lace publish these days, Undone is described as ‘erotic thriller,’ rather than ‘erotic romance.’ It really, really bothers me that we’ve come to understand erotic romance as being synonymous with billionaires, helicopters and fifteen-million page contracts. The reason I picked the dedication as an example of Kristina being so much more than just a sex writer is because it’s too hard to pull out an individual quote from the novel itself that proves that this is romance too: the whole text is shot through with the depth of Sol and Lana’s feelings for one another.

Not that those feelings cast any kind of soft focus glow over the sex scenes. When I first started reading Kristina’s work, I picked it up by chance: in those days I’d read pretty much any Black Lace book. Since then, I’ve learnt a lot more about my own kinks and consequently, become a lot more discerning in what I read, erotica-wise. Even in a year and half’s worth of blogging I’ve discovered that I’m not as vanilla as I thought I was: I identify as submissive far more strongly than I did at the start, but I know more about what kind of sub I am, too. What I’d call ‘formalised kink’ – beautiful rope work, toys, spankings, the word ‘Sir’ – none of that really works for me. I like improvised bondage, bruising, shame – and Undone is very much about the last of those things. Not that it doesn’t have stunning S&M kit in it – Kristina has certainly done her research into handcuffs – but it feels much more about the psychological aspects of kink than her last novel, Thrill Seeker, did.

It’s a massively intelligently-written book, but if I flick through my copy now and find the bits I underlined, it’s the visceral quality of the sex that means I’ll probably return to this as wank-fodder almost as often as I do to Asking for Trouble. Again, it’s difficult to the pluck the best bits out of context, but I particularly loved the following:

Specks of purple and green glitter shone where he’d rubbed against my make-up. I thought of the ways in which we become each other’s bodies, how a punch becomes a bruise, how fluids mingle in kisses and how I take him inside me, the boundaries of our selves no longer sealed and whole.

And then, a little later, this:

He raised himself over me, his cock bumping at my entrance. He grabbed my wrist, pinning my arm awkwardly above my head as he drove into me. His bulky shaft pushed me open, my heavy, wet insides clinging to his thickness. I cried out, as thrilled by the hand squeezing my arm as I was by the cock surging into me. He shoved high and hard, his fingers tight around my wrist.

So, do I recommend it? Hell yes. But do yourself a favour and take Kristina’s advice. Read Undone in order, as much for the thriller plot as for the sex. Don’t look for (or post!) spoilers on Amazon. It’s better that way. If you must know though, the super hot anal starts on page 221.

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Guest Post: Kristina Lloyd’s Main Man

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kristina Lloyd’s fiction. I love her writing style, her unashamedly hardcore approach to erotica, and perhaps most of all, her male characters. Which is why I’m delighted to have her here today to talk about the hero of her new novel, Undone. Over to you, Kristina…

Undone Kristina Lloyd

My new novel, Undone, is set in a cocktail bar, and the main man is Sol Miller. Several months into writing the book, it was pointed out to me I’d named him after two brands of beer. I swear this wasn’t intentional! I briefly considered changing his name but by then it was too late. He was Sol Miller through and through.

Sol is a Jewish ex-New Yorker , now resident in the UK. I wanted him to have an ordinary, American name so spent time diligently researching common Jewish names before, yup, inadvertently naming him after a couple of lagers. In the current erotica publishing climate, Sol is perhaps unusual because he’s not a billionaire. (I’m sure I’m not the only person with zero erotic interest in wealth.) He’s a former IT guy, taking a step back from a stressful career and doing casual labour at a building site in Saltbourne, the town where my protagonist, Lana Greenwood, has her cocktail bar.

I love writing about mysterious, possibly dangerous men, and creating female characters willing to play with fire. Lana meets Sol at a weekend party in a manor house. While drinking in the garden with friends, she’s directed indoors to fetch another bottle of wine. Here’s a brief excerpt where Lana describes their first meeting:

“The stone utility room was cool and shadowy, an Aladdin’s cave of alcohol. Sunlight filtered in through a small, grimy window, casting a meagre sheen on kegs, crates and exotic, multi-coloured bottles. I blinked as my eyes readjusted, goosebumps stippling my bare arms.

In the veiled light, a shirtless man stood before a tall American fridge, head bowed. He rested one hand on the matte silver door, while the other angled a pint glass at the ice dispenser. He wore canvas knee-lengths, slung low on his hips, and his dark, sweat-soaked hair was hooked behind his ears. He was powerfully muscular but not unnaturally chiseled, and a small roll of softness edged his waist. Ice cubes clattered into the glass. The bars of his ribs pumped below wet spikes of hair in the pit of his raised arm. His torso glistened, a soft curve of light resting on one shoulder. Beads of sweat trickled down his chest . A couple of droplets fell, making dark spots on the flagstones.

I shivered. Laughter and the clink of glasses from outside grew faint, as if I were sinking under water, the world fading out of reach. He stood straight, glancing at me. For an instant, the light around him was magical, a diaphanous haze pricked with glittering motes. His chest hair was plastered to his body, and his lower lip was smeared with blood, a glossy violet bulge distorting its shape.

‘You see any cloths around here?’ His accent was American, a sexy, sonorous drawl, and a  slight slur marred his words. He stepped into shadow and slid open a flaky, wooden door beneath an old Belfast sink. He bobbed down to peer in, holding the sink above for balance. Down his left side, from underarm to hip, was a tattoo unlike any I’d seen before. To be accurate, there were several tattoos but they formed a picture, or a panel, depicting a stemmed dandelion head gone to seed. The images were as delicately rendered as etchings under tissue paper in a botanical encyclopaedia. Single, fluffy orbs drifted from the spiky round flower, as if a breeze were blowing tattoos across his body. I half wanted to reach out and catch one, then I could make a wish.”

Lana and Sol exchange only a few words but Lana immediately thinks she’s got him sussed: simple, straightforward, sporty, fun. Not her type at all. She’s forced to reevaluate her opinion when she hooks up with him and another guy, Misha, for a threesome. She starts to suspect there’s more to Sol than meets the eye, especially on the morning after when Misha is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Lana has reason to believe Sol may be implicated in the death. She knows the wisest thing would be to steer clear of him but she’s finding him increasingly hot and intriguing. So of course, she follows her groin rather than her head. And I totally would, too!

If you’d like to know more about Undone, please hop over to my blog for an excerpt, and check out the other stops on my Sexy September blog tour.

 

Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.

About Undone

When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand. One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?

Undone is published on Sept 11th, 2014. Pre-order with Amazon: Amazon UK paperback :: Amazon UK Kindle :: Amazon US Kindle :: Amazon CA paperback :: Amazon CA Kindle

Sea Breeze

OK, a confession. I haven’t actually drunk a Sea Breeze since I was, ooh, 17? The alcohol to juice ratio is way out. But I have a soft spot for them – they remind me of Monday evenings out on the town with my best friend, mixing cheap vodka and lemonade and eating pizza by the river and then going to a cocktail bar for just one (it was all we could afford) before they called last orders. These days I opt for more sophisticated poisons – New World Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco, and, as far as cocktails are concerned, the Q-tini, a martini-style mix of gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, apple juice and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper.

But when Kristina Lloyd asked if I wanted to join in with her Kinky Cocktail Party to launch the start of her blog tour, it was too good an offer to pass up, but too bloody hard to write a kinky Q-tini story. So, Sea Breeze.

If you’re wondering what a Kinky Cocktail Party is, it’s a day long party to celebrate the launch of Kristina’s amazing new novel Undone. You should totally work your way down the menu, which you can find here. And Kristina will be here, talking about her male protagonist, Sol Miller, on Friday, September 5th.

Anyway, Sea Breeze. Kind of a continuation of this.

***

You think Sea Breeze, you think nice day at the seaside, blue skies, mojitos on the beach, right?

Yeah, not so much.

By the time we went for dinner it was pissing it down. I was still dressed for summer, squelching a bit in my sandals, wet strands of hair clinging to my face. I had to hold my skirt down to make sure I didn’t flash passers-by. I hadn’t checked the forecast before I packed.

We ate huge bowls of pasta, drank red wine, not white, as we usually would. It was pretty much winter out there, after all. After dinner, we headed down to the seafront, in the direction of the pier. I had plans to kick his ass. But the pier was in darkness. Piers shut at night, apparently. Who knew?

Back at the hotel the bar was deserted. We ordered more wine and took it upstairs.

We drank, kissed, talked.

It got late.

He stood up, undid his belt, and slowly pulled it free of his belt loops.

I said something, I can’t remember what exactly. It might have been ‘Ooh, belt…’

He made me lie flat on my stomach. He doubled it over.

And used it to turn my arse the same colour as the wine.

Cream doesn’t rise: the state of UK erotica

Publishing has a reputation for being pretty cushy: reasonable working hours, long, boozy lunches, fannying around with the press releases…

Last week, I took my full lunch break twice. I went out with colleagues, and had wine with my meal. Why? Because a new Carluccio’s had opened round the corner and you could eat on the house while they trained their staff. And who wouldn’t say yes to free pasta, right?

It’s not the done thing. I have colleagues who never take lunch. Most people stay late. Publishing is, in theory, as commercial and competitive as any other industry.

Why ‘in theory?’ Because it’s also astonishingly reactive. And not in a good way.

Of course, things move forward. But god, they move slowly. We’d been listening to music on portable devices, using digital cameras and buying increasingly sophisticated mobile phones for years before the Kindle came along. Many publishing companies are struggling to come up with a long-term digital strategy: those that have are often big companies buying up smaller companies with both the entrepreneurship and the agility to push the envelope. The rest wait and see what they do and then follow in their footsteps.

Why is this? Honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps because people in the industry – myself included – often have a deeply romantic view of books. We do what we do, partly at least, for the satisfaction of advance copies landing on our desks – that fresh off the press smell, those uncracked spines, that sense that you’re still part of something that makes something tangible, something precious.

I wish, in fiction publishing, that that translated into the right books being published, the right books making it to the top of the bestseller lists. It doesn’t seem to, sadly. Fifty Shades of Grey (which was obviously where this post was going), is a very good example of increasingly commercial publishing: Vintage acquired the rights in March 2012, and the book was released for sale a month later. Given the hype around it at the time, the speed with which they turned it round makes much better business sense than what most people wish they’d done with it: given it a decent edit.

When I first started thinking about this post, a few weeks back, I was planning a different angle. I was planning to defend FSoG.   Because so much of the backlash against it is aimed not at the publisher, nor at the retailers who gave it prime position in their stores, but at the women who chose to read it. When a film comes out and the whole world goes to see it, you don’t hear people saying, for example, ‘Oh, God, you went to see Bridesmaids?!’ The same can’t be said of books. Those of us who wrote FSoG off as both poor fiction and poor erotica, have often been guilty of shaming those who genuinely enjoyed it.

In the autumn after it came out, a friend and I went to a panel discussion at Cheltenham Literature Festival called Fifty Shades of Blue. The session was billed as follows:

Join Brooke Magnanti, author of the Belle de Jour books and The Sex Myth, poet Ruth Padel, author Bel Mooney and journalist Bidisha as they discuss the Fifty Shades phenomenon and each choose their own favourite erotica. Which pieces of erotic fiction do our panel rate and which do they hate?

I don’t recall a lot of what was said during that hour, but I do remember that the bit where the panel discussed their favourite erotica was pushed to the very end. And all but one of the panelists cited a ‘classic’ as their favourite: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Story of O… Even the one person who didn’t pick something literary (and I honestly can’t remember who said what) chose a Jilly Cooper novel.

Granted, by that point Black Lace had shut up shop and, I think, was yet to reopen for business. But I was still buying and reading good BL titles that I found in service stations and online, and it felt shortsighted of the panel to completely dismiss anything that classed itself as pure erotica. It was literary snobbery – a reluctance to admit that you got off to anything that you wouldn’t happily have on display in your living room. I felt, and I still feel, that attitudes like that are as harmful to the genre as low quality, high volume titles like FSoG.

Recently, similar discussions have been popping up again. Many erotica writers are being shoehorned towards a particular model designed to mirror FSoG: if they’re not writing erotic romance, it’s hard for them to place their book with a traditional publisher. Which is crazy. It’s been over 2 years: when will longer erotic fiction start to reflect the fact that erotica doesn’t have to ≠ BDSM-themed romance? I like my erotica BDSM-flavoured, and it still drives me crazy!

When I first started learning to write, one of the things my writing teacher was keen to emphasise was that it’s hard to sell a book which classifies itself purely as contemporary fiction. A book is easier to market if you can compare it to something else: whose work is it like? What genre is it? Is it the new Fifty Shades, the new Gone Girl, the new Twilight? It bothered me, and it still does, a bit, not so much in relation to my own writing, but in relation to my own reading: how would I ever discover truly original new authors if everyone was being forced to compare themselves to someone else?

Part of the problem with erotica, perhaps, is that it hasn’t yet learnt to compare itself with books which, while not erotic, nonetheless share a sub-genre. Last Christmas, Kristina Lloyd recommended Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner to me as a holiday read. I loved it, and when I came back I told her that, via Twitter. The author, copied into the tweets, joined the conversation.

Then, a few months later, she followed and DMed me to say she liked my blog. Obviously, I was thrilled: the author of a bestselling novel was enjoying stuff that I’d written. We had a couple of conversations and I ended up recommending Kristina’s second novel, Asking for Trouble, as I do to anyone who bothers to ask me what my favourite books are. A few weeks later, she tweeted the following:

It is, as Kristina said at the time, pretty unusual for someone outside of the genre to lavish praise on an erotic novel, no matter how good it is. But to me, this is how it should be: authors and reviewers of genre-fiction (and non-genre fiction) recognising erotica as they would any other genre, erotic novels being sold on the shelves alongside all other fiction, rather than squirrelled away in a dusty corner under the escalators (no matter how much that dusty corner turns me on), being part of the 3 for 2s, not having their designated shelf space slowly eroded over time. Only then will things start to change.

Cream doesn’t rise, said someone (non-euphemistically!) in a discussion about erotica the other day. No, perhaps not. But I sure as hell hope we find a way to make it float.

Asking for Trouble

When I was staying with friends the other day, we were lying in the park and, having read the Sunday papers from cover to cover, had turned to Siri for amusement. I already have my favourite exchanges with Siri, namely:

‘Do you like anal, Siri?’

‘This isn’t about me, Charlie, it’s about you.’

Yep, OK, Siri, you’ve got me all figured out.

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The Delicious Torment – A review

Alison Tyler and I agree on a crucial point: that it’s important to do things properly, especially when it comes to sex. At the start of her last novel, Dark Secret Love, she says:

I’m hoping to paint the proper picture. I want you to know the way the wood felt under my bare feet. I want you to be able to trace a cut-crystal whiskey glass with your fingertips, to feel the sting of a slap and feel the rising blush.

With erotica more than any other genre, I think, the details are important. A single ill-chosen word can squick the reader; for me personally, even the cover can be a turn off.

Continue reading

Dark Secret Love: A Review

Wow, the blog has strayed far from its original purpose, hasn’t it? Look at what my About section says: ‘I blog not only about my fiction, but also about the things that matter to me, both in the bedroom and out of it.’ My life in the bedroom is supposed to be secondary to my writing, and somehow it’s become the main focus. This isn’t leading to some big conclusion, or change of direction, it’s just a reminder to myself that the people in it are real and I should go steady here with what I write about them.

Anyyyway … this post is more about me doing something I’m uncomfortable with – reviewing someone else’s writing. I haven’t written a book review since I was in school, and honestly? I don’t really know where to start. Especially because, when it comes to erotica, I don’t always read chronologically, and some bits get, erm, much more read than others. But I do think it’s important. The erotica market, in the UK at least, feels to me like it’s in a bit of a mess at the moment, and surely if women want to see a range of high quality, well-written erotica, then we actually have to talk about the stuff we’ve enjoyed and recommend it to others.

Starting with something based on someone’s real life experiences seemed a good place to start – after all, it’s something I think I understand the motivation for. And the other thing I loved about Alison Tyler’s Dark Secret Love? The heroine has agency.

I think that’s a bigger deal than it might seem at first. I plan to review much more of what I read here, and I have no intention at all of comparing everything back to FSoG. But it’s worth doing here. In FSoG, Ana doesn’t have any submissive desires of her own – she desires Christian, and she wants to be sub because that’s what he wants.

Although in the UK edition, Black Lace have tried to suggest otherwise with the cover (‘It’s ok, bashful ladies, this is just a book about a rich guy with nice ties, nothing to be ashamed of’), there’s none of that in Dark Secret Love – Sam, the heroine, is very much submissive by her own choice.

The other thing I really liked is that she’s fundamentally monogamous. If you put FSoG and all its spin offs to one side, it can sometimes feel like erotica is dominated by people who are polygamous, and that, if you really love sex, you have to be having it with more than one person. Dark Secret Love proves that that’s just not true. Monogamous but filthy? Yep, that’s totally a thing.

For me, the only downside was that the type of BDSM Sam is into is the formal kind: whips, canes, spanking … whereas the type that gets me off tends to be more about psychological domination. That’s very much a personal thing, and if you prefer the former, there’s no doubt that this is a very hot book.

In the introduction, Alison writes: ‘This is meta-fiction, beta-fiction, masturbatory fiction.’ For me, it wasn’t the last of those, not quite. But for a lot of people it will be, and it’s good to know that Alison is happy for you to use it for that purpose.

FFS, or, ‘The rise and rise of erotica for women’

So, the plan for today was to write the second part of ‘Things I read in 2013.’ But, as often happens, something got in the way, something which matters more to me and which I think needs writing more urgently. Secretly, I like it that way – I much prefer writing posts about things that have got me riled up than calm, collected review posts (don’t worry, Part 2 will still happen at some point).

This morning I got up, and was all cosied up on the sofa in my dressing gown, watching Gary Barlow’s Big Ben Bash Live (although not live, obviously) and browsing Facebook, when I came across this article entitled ‘The rise and rise of erotica for women.’

Sounds good, yes? Sadly, like most things in the post-FSoG era, the truth is a little more complicated and a lot more disappointing. I’ll start by saying that yes, I’ve read all three FSoG novels, and sometimes I even defend them (I think EL James has mastered the romance plot. Do I think it’s erotic romance? Not particularly, no.) Plus, after FSoG was published, a lot of good things started to happen, which I thought were promising both as a reader and as an aspiring writer of erotica, not least that the UK erotic romance line Black Lace was resurrected.

Black Lace books have featured prominently in my life for years now. As a teenager, I bought them in secret and stacked them high on my bedside table, hidden by ‘real books.’ I’m pretty sure my mum knew they were there all the same. When they stopped publishing, I kept buying old titles from the only places they were still stocked – motorway service stations – and tried to avoid the curious looks of checkout staff more accustomed to selling overpriced chewing gum. I even mentioned this by way of an utterly bizarre chat up line to someone once, but hey, it worked!

So when it returned, I was understandably delighted. Except … I’ve been disappointed with nearly everything I’ve read by them since. There are exceptions, of course. I loved Kristina Lloyd’s writing the first time round, and I still do. Black Lace also own the UK rights to Alison Tyler’s Dark Secret Love, which I’ve just finished, and which I’d also highly recommend (review to follow in the coming weeks). But a lot of the other stuff has just felt gimmicky, or too much about the happy ending (no, not that kind of happy ending!), such as the Christmas anthology, Stocking Fillers (Black Lace used to do excellent anthologies – check out this one, if you’re interested).

The Contributoria article quotes Gillian Green as saying:

“Black Lace titles are erotic romances rather than a string of sex scenes held together by a thin plot. Women, it seems, still want their Mills and Boon-style happy ever after, just kinkier.”

Now, I read Mills & Boon – rarely, now, but often, in the past and I just don’t agree. I’m pretty vanilla (monogamous, Gary Barlow fan, used to enjoy the bit in Famous Five books where they all go home and have tea way more than the actual plot), but when I’m reading erotica, it’s the sex scenes that matter, more than the plot, or the ending. Of course it is – these are the books I use to get off. Someone asked me on Twitter the other day whether the ending of Kristina Lloyd’s Asking for Trouble made me cry. Er, no – because by the time I actually read the book in order I pretty much knew it inside out anyway. Which isn’t to say that Kristina writes a weak plot or a weak ending – nothing could be further from the truth. She just doesn’t write a romance plot (although she writes emotion amazingly). So why does Gillian Green think it has to be romance – why not an erotica thriller, or just a contemporary erotic novel in which the girl doesn’t end up with her guy?

Plus, the article also mentions that Black Lace “plans to publish a series of erotic memoirs.” Do these all have happy endings? Really? Because that makes me nervous. I wrote what could essentially be classed as erotic memoir for NaNoWriMo this year and Black Lace is one of the publishers I’d eventually consider submitting to. But what I wrote doesn’t have a happy ending, because I think true life rarely does. I’d be pretty gutted if, in order to find a publisher, I had to put some kind of positive spin on the ending.

My final bugbear with the article is the way it ends:

“All publishers and authors agree that stylish covers are important for sales, as well as good proofreading.”

Maybe Black Lace books do have what the industry consider to be stylish covers, I don’t know. Personally, I’m not a fan. They do, at least, finally have men on them sometimes, but when you compare them to the beautiful covers used by the US imprint, Cleis (this is my favourite), they’re pretty disappointing. When I bought Alison Tyler’s Dark Secret Love, I was disappointed to get this cover, not this one. I’m not the kind of girl who’s ashamed to be reading erotica, so please, let’s have covers that reflect the content of the book.

Still, at least there’s one positive thing to come out of this:

“Green says she is always on the lookout for broadminded editors who don’t flinch at editing explicit sex scenes.”

Maybe 2014 will be the year I get a new job …

 

Books

A few people have commented on the bit in my bio which says ‘I only fuck people who love books,’ which I guess kind of surprised me. It was intended to be tongue in cheek, but actually it is pretty accurate too. Of the guys I’ve slept with, one was a friend from my degree course who loved French literature way more than me, one was an undergrad medic (probably involves quite a lot of reading?!), and one is the boy, who loves books so much that he often ‘borrows’ mine and never returns them. In fact, it’s getting to the point where I’m considering buying this.

That leaves two. One I slept with during freshers’ week, and after we’d had sex he showed me his lecture schedule to prove that land economists ‘do have to work hard!’ Yeah, not so sure about him on the book front. The other was so fleeting that I never even knew his name, let alone his thoughts on reading material, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was a book lover, too.

Anyway, the point is that much as it was intended as a joke, my love of books is not. I’m spending Christmas abroad and yesterday I was looking for somewhere to have lunch. There were a few places that I could have gone to, but I picked the one with an entire wall lined with used cookbooks which you could buy if you wanted to. Because how can a place with books be bad?

One of the great things about fucking boys who love books is that they often leave their books lying around when they’re cooking, showering, or otherwise engaged, which means massive potential for discovering authors and genres that you might never have stumbled upon if, like me, you tend to stick to what you know (Yes, I’m bad – if you have any recommendations, send them my way.)

But books are also what make it easier for me to connect with people who I might otherwise be intimidated by or feel that I don’t have that much in common with. Truth be told, people who are purely sex bloggers intimidate me, erotica writers less so. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to feel completely out of your depth when surrounded by people who know so much more about a subject than you do, but somehow, the fact these people like both sex and writing makes their knowledge less scary. Sometimes I think that erotica is a bad choice of genre for me – my spacial awareness is so bad that I often have people lying on each other’s arms to the point that they’d be more likely to have cramp than an orgasm.

But the good thing about being bad at sex logistics in my writing is that it just means that I have to read more, not only to learn about style, but also to work out where everything goes (yes, seriously!). And yes, although I didn’t mean it seriously when I wrote it, from now on it’s going to be true: if you want me to fuck you, you’ll need to at least pretend to have read a book.