Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you will be aware of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. In fact, even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of it. I tried that, didn’t work.
Love it or hate it, 50 Shades has affected the face of both romance and erotica. It’s opened people (women mostly) up to the idea of reading erotica for enjoyment (not that just that kind of enjoyment) but for a bit more than just getting your kicks! It’s also allowed people to explore a whole different side of themselves. Ann Summers have reported a huge boost in their sales of bondage gear since its release.
However, I’ve noticed a worrying rise in the number of reviews that well-established BDSM authors are receiving, complaining that their writing is nothing like 50 Shades. It’s not romantic enough, or it was too hard-core. This is where 50 Shades has muddied the waters slightly. See, 50 Shades is not really a story about a BDSM relationship. In reality, a true sub/dom relationship is nothing like this. There’s a distinct element of control, but it’s also about respect, and what many don’t understand is that it’s a very caring relationship. It’s about the trust that lies between the sub and the dom. Do I know this from experience? No, but I’ve read enough good quality erotica to understand it and have several friends who know this world far better than I and are very willing to share their thoughts.
So there lies the fact is that if you enjoyed 50 Shades, you may not enjoy true BDSM erotica. This is no bad thing, but should be taken into consideration before jumping into the fire. And should certainly be taken into consideration before leaving a scathing review. If it’s not your sort of thing, fine, but please, I beg of you, don’t state that you were disappointed because it wasn’t like 50 Shades! Take a moment to look at the quality of the writing and see around the elements you disliked. And if you loved it - hurray - you’ve discovered a whole world of amazing erotica.
I’ve also mentioned that it’s muddied the waters when it comes to the romance genre too. Personally, it’s had little effect on me as readers tend to understand what they’re getting with my historical romances. A little history, a little romance and some sensual content - much like it has always been with this genre. But 50 Shades bridges this gap between romance and erotica, creating more of an awareness of this cross-genre. Classic romance books will have erotic content but written in the most beautiful way possible or will have none at all. 50 Shades is neither of these and is considered romantic erotica. The issue is that people get confused and no longer know what to expect. It’s become necessary for romantic authors to be more explicit in their descriptions to ensure that readers know exactly what they’re getting. On the plus side, this has opened up a new demand for romantic erotica, with a whole stream of very well written (and not so well) books following the 50 Shades style.
Now, is it a bad thing that women are more open minded and willing to talk openly about sex? No, of course not. Anything that gets people reading and discussing something that has long been considered taboo, in my mind, cannot be a bad thing. And like many fads, things come and go. It won’t be long until we see the next big thing and who knows; hopefully this time it may be something that can be considered a classic in the future. The fact is that 50 Shades will not be something that we share with our grandchildren but Pride and Prejudice still will be. So, for the moment, us romantic writers have nothing to fear and erotica writers will weather the storm and enjoy the increase in sales while it lasts, along with the unfortunate reviews, comforted by the knowledge that we are lucky to have some wonderful, loyal readers who will always stick with us, whether we are the ‘in’ thing or not!
Samantha Holt is the author of several medieval romances including the bestseller, The Crimson Castle, and a series of historical erotic shorts. She lives in Warwickshire, England with her twin girls and occasionally her husband, who works abroad. She credits her ability to write about romance to his long absences! You can follow Samantha on Facebook for new releases, free stories and giveaways.
Her latest book, The Angel’s Assassin, is available to download for free on Amazon on the 31st October - 1st November.
As a rebellion sweeps England, Lady Annabel finds her home overrun by rebels. Much to her relief, a dark knight comes to her rescue, claiming to have been sent to protect her by her uncle.
But Nicholas holds a secret about the job he was sent to do and it is a far cry from what Annabel believes it to be. As the attraction between them grows, Nicholas begins to question the dark life he has lived. But is it enough to change him and will Annabel ever trust again after learning the true nature of his sinful duty?