The Secret by L. Marie Adeline

I wish that there were more erotica novels of this calibre.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 288 pages.
Read from July 12, 2017 to July 13, 2017

When I first started reading erotica I was ready to ditch the genre completely as I was tired of the slew of bad writing and bad romances (cue Lady Gaga). A friend of mine who seemed to understand my woes made this recommendation. The book sat on my TBR pile for a very long time until I had actually almost forgotten about it. As fate would have it, my library happened to an ebook copy while I was in the midst of a reading slump and I thought, why not? It has been one of the best erotica pieces I have read so far.

“Sex creates chemicals that can be mistaken for love. Not understanding that about our bodies creates a lot of misunderstanding and unnecessary suffering.”

Cassie is in her early 30s and the only sex she has ever had was from her previous deadbeat ex-husband who has since passed away. Cassie works long shifts as a server at a small cafe and has no idea where she is going in life. Feeling lost and insecure Cassie seems to have resigned herself to her dreary and mediocre life. She yearns for some romance and excitement, even a good fuck would satisfy her at this point as it has been years. At work, she watches this one couple that comes in from time to time and they are completely in love.  It makes her heartache.

One day, the young woman in the couple leaves behind a journal of sorts.  Cassie peaks inside to discover what appears to be a record of some seriously hot sex scenes! Embarrassed, Cassie pretends she has not read the journal and gets it back to the owner who was equally as embarrassed. Little did Cassie know, that this little mistake, would open up her whole world. Shortly after another woman approaches her at work and describes an organization that exists to help women feeling exactly like herself, though it isn’t exactly your typical support group. The organization helps to act out the selected women’s fantasies in an effort to increase their confidence again. Each task and fantasy is rewarded with a bracelet charm. Not sure if the whole idea is a dream come true or something completely insane, Cassie follows her instincts…

I have to admit this is a really creative way to get all sorts of sex into one erotica novel. It caters to a lot of different types of fantasies (public, celebrity, etc) as well as appealing to one feeling most women are familiar with, insecurity.  What makes this novel exceptional is that is isn’t a man that makes everything better for the female protagonist, it is her. She makes the decisions that ultimately change her life and how she feels. She isn’t whisked off her feet and ‘saved’ by some rich, hot man who wants to do everything for her. She comes to find confidence all on her own through the exploration of her own sexuality. Now that’s hot! This is what I am talking about when it comes to erotica! I mean, yes, something like this would never happen in real life but the choices and the feelings that Cassie has is very real.

This novel is the perfect mix of story and sex making it an ideal erotica. The story is compelling enough it keep you interested but not overpowering in that you lose out on what you really came to read about, the sex. Cassie also isn’t a helpless, shallow character either. You are really rooting for her as a reader because you know exactly what it feels like.

If you need a recommendation into the world of erotica I highly recommend starting with this book. It’s steamy, exciting and has a story that empowers the female protagonist. Heck, I might even read the other two books in the trilogy I enjoyed this one so much! Overall I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel and wish that there were more erotica novels of this calibre.

Shameless Surrender by Jaymie Holland

This super rich, really hot guy, wants to have sex and marry me *swoons*! Barf…

3/5 stars.
Read from October 6, 2017 to October 9, 2017.
ebook, 127 pages.

When I need a short and quick read while I waiting for my library holds Netgalley never fails to deliver. Interestingly, or not maybe not surprisingly, the shortest books are often erotic.

Chessie Lane is an executive assistant to Nick Tarantino and she is madly and hopelessly in love with him. But he does not know it. All her waking and dreaming fantasies are of Nick but when Nick sells his company Chessie is devastated that she will no longer be in his presence. Too chicken and insecure to confess her feelings previously, Chessie considers letting them be known. Before she has a chance to do so she discovers an envelope on her desk and inside of it all it says is: “Tonight“. Could this be from Nick? Is there a chance that Chessie will finally get to act out on her feelings and express her love?

Again, and I have said this before, I know that erotic books are meant to be fantasies and not anything truly feasible but I always struggle with fakeness and unrealism of it all. I guess it kills the mood for me? Like oh! This super rich, really hot guy, wants me and he also happens to be madly in love with me. He also owns a really posh BDSM club that will fulfil all my sexual fantasies, he also wants to buy me really expensive things and lavish extravagant surprises on me and will make all my dreams come true and fill all my insecurities… Oh, annnnnd he wants to marry me *swoon*! Barf. The sex scenes were pretty decent thankfully. That is this books redeeming quality.

I have always had strong opinions on mushy or silly love stories. I am not sure what that says about me as a person. It is not that I don’t appreciate a love story but it better be well done and when it comes to erotica the stories are, more often than not, about really raunchy sex and I guess the added love stories always seem out of place.

I would still recommend this books as just because I do not enjoy that type of story it does not mean that someone else won’t and the sex scenes alone are worthwhile, especially if you like a bit of BDSM. Though the book may be a bit tame for those that are hardcore into BDSM, it is nice for those who perhaps enjoy the basics or the idea of it. Overall, it was the nice quick and easy read that I needed.

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

“That’s what it’s like to lose a woman. And at a certain time, losing one woman means losing all women. That’s how we become men without women.”

“No matter how empty it may be, this is still my heart.”

3/5 stars.
Hardcover, 240 pages.
July 3, 2017 to July 6, 2017.

Men get lonely too and are perhaps the worst at dealing with it. Who better to put that masculine pain into words than Murakami. This book contains seven unique stories about men who have lost or have been unable to attain that special lady in their lives. From cheating, divorce and death, this book is a tragic read with relatable emotions. As with all of Murakami’s works, you are taken down a rabbit hole to another world of emotions and feelings that we keep hidden away.

In the story titled, Samsa in Love, Gregor Samsa, the notorious character from Kafka’s work, wakes up to find that he is no longer and insect but rather a human and learns to find love. A creative and reverse take on the classic story.

My favourite character by far was the female driver in the story Drive My Car. A gentleman actor hires a driver to get him around. He prefers female-drivers and his latest hire is a tough and unreadable woman with whom he feels compelled to share his sadness, fears and secrets.

My favourite story, however, is The Independent Organ. Dr.Tokai is a successful and unmarried man. He has managed to live his life without becoming attached to a single woman and lives his life in an array of numerous affairs with women who interest him.  Above all, they had to be intellectually stimulating to him. If he thinks that the woman is becoming attached to him he respectfully ends the affair.  In the end, he falls for a woman who was very much like him with relationships. She was not exclusively his, which he did not know, and when he wants to express his love he learns that she has pursued another man instead of him. Devastated, the doctor starves himself to death. He deprived his life of meaningful love for so long that when he finally felt it he could not cope with the heartbreak. It is in this story that the most misogynist passage is found:

“Women are all born with a special, independent organ that allows them to lie. This was Dr. Tokai’s personal opinion. It depends on the person, he said about the kind of lies they tell, what situation they tell them in, and how the lies are told. But at a certain point in their lives, all women tell lies, and they lie about important things. They lie about unimportant things, too, but they also don’t hesitate to lie about the most important things. And when they do, most women’s expressions and voices don’t change at all, since it’s not them lying, but this independent organ they’re equipped with that’s acting on its own. That’s why – except for a few special cases – they can still have a clear conscience and never lose sleep over anything they say.”

Rather than being offended by this passage, I saw it as the naive view that Dr.Tokai had of women. For all the time he spent with women, he did not know or understand anything about them or how his own choices and lies affected them. This passage is about him as he projects his faults onto women and it is this exact perception that validates his detachments.

This book is for everyone. As we have all felt lonely at one point in our lives. For those that love Murakami, this is a nice addition to the expanding Murakami collection of works. Even for those that are not fans or have not read Murakami yet, this collaboration of short stories is a tame introduction to his world and writing style.