I have been a lover of romance -- both as a reader and a writer -- since I was a freshman in high school. In those years I have read many, many books that have inspired me to put my love of writing those amazing characters, love stories, and yes sexy love scenes to work for me. I have been lucky enough over the years to work as a book reviewer which has enabled me to befriend many of those writers who have served as my inspiration!
I understand the appeal of 50 Shades of Gray, but I have absolutely no desire to read the books, or to see the movie. There is something innately appealing about escaping our everyday lives and finding ourselves caught up in someone else's love story, someone else's larger than life experiences. These characters get to do things and experience things that we will not, even if we were brave enough to try! The appeal of Christian Gray is not lost on me, but I don't believe that the appeal lies in the bondage and the infliction of pain on his partner. I also think that there is a way to create a powerful, incredibly sexy, love story that has strong female characters and male characters that are respectful of their female partner.
To prove my point I'm creating this list for you to experience some of the sexiest love stories I have ever read, by some of the world's most amazing authors. Check them out, get swept up in the characters stories -- in and out of the bedroom -- , and realize firsthand what a truly sexy book really is! I think that the hype of 50 Shades encouraged people who wouldn't normally be drawn towards a romance novel to check out the books, the so-called Mommy Porn aspect and the desire to be just a little naughty and read a book that was purely s-e-x. I think that a well-written book that has characters that are three dimensional, strong, and sexy is way more of an appealing story than 50 Shades could ever be.
The very first book I read that made me realize the magic and the power of a love story was written by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. She has precious few books with her name on their binding but I inhaled every single one of them, repeatedly, to the point where I could quote them to you now if you were so inclined. Kathleen Woodiwiss is considered to be the pioneer of the genre historical romance, but she is more than that, she is the woman who showed us that a romance novel could be more than a cliché bodice ripper, it could sweep us up and away in a way we never had been before.
A Rose In Winter
This book is almost hypnotizing in its storytelling, and part of that story is definitely the sexual attraction between the three -- yes three -- main characters. Erienne Flemming is sold at auction to be married to one Lord Saxton, a terrifying crippled man who wears a mask to shield his scarred face from public eyes. Her marriage to Lord Saxton doesn't seem to faze the flirtatious Yankee, Christopher Seton from flirting with Erienne at every turn. Determined to be loyal to her husband, Erienne is overwhelmed by the situation she finds herself in. A loveless -- and sexless -- marriage makes it hard to ignore her own attraction to Christopher at every turn.
When I first discovered this book on my mother's bookshelf I was about 16 years old. I asked if I could borrow it and didn't really understand why my mom was reluctant to let me handle the book and cautioned me at every turn to take care of it. The copy of the book was old, and tattered, she had gotten it second hand somewhere, and the cover was barely held in place by layers of tape. What could I possibly do to the book that hadn't already been done? After I read it I understood completely, the book is beyond precious because of how it makes you feel when you're reading it. I still have that copy to this day.
Every single title by Kathleen Woodiwiss is every bit as captivating, sexy and will take you to another place for as long as you are holding it in your hands.
I first discovered <Cindy Gerard many years ago when she was writing for Silhouette Desire's line and I was reviewing books for a print magazine. Her books had more "meat" to them than anyone else who was writing for that line so years later when I discovered she was writing a series of military romantic suspense novels I knew that I would read every last one. I was definitely not disappointed! Cindy Gerard remains on my auto-buy list, it doesn't matter what the book is, or what it is about, or how much money I have in the bank at the moment if she has a new release, and I want it. Yesterday.
Show No Mercy
Show No Mercy is the first book in a series by Cindy Gerard called Black Ops Inc. featuring ultra-strong leads from both the male and female department, a lovable group of elite mercenaries who are working to save the world only along the way they have their hears, and their libidos, stolen by some equally strong women. These characters are not the kind who twist an ankle running from the bad guy only to have the hero sweep in and save the day. Nope, these women turn around and kick ass all on their own right alongside their man. The action scenes may just leave you as breathless as the bedroom scenes!
Once you're hooked on Cindy Gerard's books the best part is she has almost 70 titles for you just waiting to fill your to-be-read shelf!
Simon Says is part of a series by Lori Foster featuring some mixed martial arts fighters. Now, I was not a fan of this sport when someone gave me a copy of this book but let's just say there's a scene in a hot tub that changed my mind...I'm at least a fan of the characters in this book who participate in that sport now! Once again these stories feature women who are tough as nails, and this one literally kicks butt when the bad guy comes after her. Trust me when I say this story will stick with you long after you've finished it. And, once you're a believer in Lori Foster, she has a catalog of over 150 titles to keep you busy!
Catherine Mann is another author I found reading series romance titles, but her stories definitely stood apart. This first title that I read features a pararescue man who helicopters in to save a stranded hiker on a snowy mountainside only to discover that first, she's more than capable of taking care of herself no matter the situation, and that it is possible to be hot and bothered while huddled in an ice cave. Many of Catherine's titles feature animals and animal lovers, and there's a good reason for that as she is a co-founder of an animal rescue shelter!
Laura Griffin is another author that is on my auto-buy list. Whatever she is writing, I am definitely reading. Untraceable is the first book in the first series of hers that I discovered. Alexandra Lovell uses her hacking skills to help clients, mostly women, disappear without a trace. Whatever is happening in their lives that they need to escape, she's the only person they can turn to that can help them make that happen. When one of her clients disappears for real she crosses paths with homicide detective Nathan Devereaux and things quickly begin to heat up and get complicated.
The entire Tracers series will leave you on the edge of your seat, the stories are filled with every type of detective and forensic science you can think of, and characters you will fall in love with and wish you could hang out with, strong men and women who meet, fall in love, and heat up the sheets!
I could go on and on for days and days until this post was entirely too long to expect anyone to actually read it! Why am I anti-50 Shades of Gray? First, because from all accounts it is poorly written, the books I have put together on this list are some of the best written books I have ever enjoyed turning pages in. Second, because there is a way to do romance, even sexy, suspense filled romance that is respectful to both men and women. Last, because I believe in the art of storytelling and I think that romance novels can be sexy, well-written, and amazing all at the same time!
Check out the authors on my list, and add your own in the comments! What's the sexiest book you have ever read?