With the popularity of the horrendous 50 Shades of Grey, it seems that now, not only it’s okay to read erotica, but it’s also respectful to write it! I’m all for that. It took me years to shake off my judeo-christian upbringing and just learn to enjoy life, so I’ll give bunny points to anything that can let people explore their fantasies.
It is said that women tend to like erotica while men fap to pr0n. I’m not too sure about that (and I’m not the only one!). It feels a bit like containing women in the realm of fantasy and forcing men in the world of bestiality.
Anyway, there’s a lot of money to be made in erotica, and I happen to like reading erotica. But I’m a snobbish reader and fairly disappointed that the norm, in this genre, seems to be low-quality writing.
And by low-quality I mean that some of these people probably need to attend middle school.
In this new (!) section, I just want to show that we could get decently written erotica, by exploring for you the realms of poorly-written sex. And sometimes, of good writing.
Without further ado, let me begin with Laurann Dohner, a quite popular author if you believe her books ratings on GoodReads.
Cover art : awesome
Spelling & grammar : decent
Character development : mild but exists
Intrigue : meh
Hotness : 50% hit 50% miss
I read the whole ‘New Species‘ series (8 books), and gave up after the first book of the ‘Zorn Warrior‘ series. Two things are obvious when you pick up Dohner’s books. The first : she can write okay. The second : she has a prototype not unlike the typical Harlequin romance from the eighties.
Said prototype is obvious in the covers, which I personally find to be hilarious :
Savage, not entirely human, Hypermale finds human Forevermate.
Does that remind you of anything ? If you thought of Twilight you’re right, but shame on you anyway. The concept is a cliché of the supernatural genre, and terrifying when you think about it. The authors use this imprint/lock/bond of Hypermale and Forevermate and the latter’s refusal, lack of understanding and independence to create conflict.
Because there isn’t much story (thus hotness) to be had when people don’t fight.
The first book of “New Species“, called “Fury” starts in a manner that actually makes you want to know what happens next. Ellie is spying at a Pharmaceutical laboratory suspected to deal in illegal experiments. She finds one of their experiments, going by the sweet name of 416, and tries to help him after she finds he is about tu be raped by one of the evil doctors working there. Her idea of help turns out to be kind of sexually abusing him while he’s sedated (she was so curious). Then, hits herself in the face with a door, and escape the place, telling everyone that he tried to assault her.
At that point I’m not aroused : I’m laughing.
And the mechanical writing doesn’t help…
He wasn’t handsome in any conventional sense, his cheekbones so pronounced they made him appear too harsh. Some might not consider him good-looking but he was quite exotically beautiful. She guessed the bone structure might be caused by whatever genetic altering had been done to him. He looked human but not quite fully so. With his hate-filled glare and the tense jaw, it gave him a snarling appearance, which he actually did the moment Ellie inched closer. The deep growl made her pause, heart pounding, and fear shot through her. He looked intensely masculine and rough, projecting how dangerous he could be. It disturbed her that she found him extremely attractive. She couldn’t deny how his muscular body and pure masculine magnetism drew her to him.
In French, I’d call that a brick. In radio work, it’d be called a ‘tunnel’ because you can’t breathe. That’s why beginners are often recommended to read aloud what they write. Helps with the punctuation.
Looking at the vocabulary, we get the classical pattern of the Manbeast Hypermale that is the male protagonist of every story in this series. One has to like that type of creature in order to be excited, and some people are like that. (Hint : I’m not.) And that’s fine and dandy! But looking at this series is like looking into a world where all the penis-wearers look exactly the same :
In book 2 (Slade), Trisha is a doctor who finds one of these Hypermale experiments in her care.
He looked a lot different without dirt and mud clumps smeared over him. He was handsome. He had a very masculine, strong face with beautiful bone structure.
This is followed by, handsomeness, strength, BIG arms, muscular torso, etc. Note that this examination happens while the man is ‘heavily sedated’, and thus unconscious. My favorite sentence arrives just a bit later :
She visually examined the extended teeth, the sharp points, and wished she knew more about dentistry.
I like how it’s important to explain she examines ‘visually’- the alternative brings up scary images. In book 3 of the series (Valiant), our protagonist, Tammy, sees the Hypermale for the first time when he is conscious, breaking the pattern.
He was a man but not quite since no regular guy hard sharp teeth or could scare her nearly to death with that horrible sound that rumbled from deep within his throat, mimicking a vicious animal. He appeared both beautiful and ferocious at the same time.
If a guy pumped up on steroids he’s resemble the massive man who terrified her. He had to be about six-and-a-half-feet tall. His arms were extremely muscular and his wide chest reminded her of a mountain. His skin had tanned to a golden tone but it was his hair that made him beautiful. It was the color of an autumn leaf – reddish-orange with thick strands of blond streaks running through it. It hung shoulder-length and parted slightly to the side of his face.
So, basically, Hulk Hogan with 90’s hair :
So let’s go back to book one, and the story of Ellie and Fury (the one formerly known as 416). Fury thinks Ellie betrayed him. Ellie thinks that Fury is somewhere far away, because after she escaped, many of the experiments have been freed, and created a sort of ghetto for themselves where they learn how to society.
Ellie hopes he’s in a good place and works with the liberated “species”. She tries to learn about 416, but :
Classified information and victim-protection policies were the terms she heard every time she asked about him.
But of course, they meet soon enough. He tries to maul her, but he’s told it’s not a civilized thing to do. He doesn’t let go of her, and she calls for no one to hurt him, because “It’s okay.” Which it totally is not, because, girl, you got to have some sense of self-preservation. And then, drawing upon the many books he no doubt has read, Fury says that thing that so many men seem to need to state when they decide they will have intercourse :
“Mine,” Fury snarled, obviously so angry he couldn’t talk in a normal tone.
Let me point out that we haven’t heard his normal tone yet.
Fury seems to act with the elegance of my dog when I try to take a bone away from him.
This word, ‘Mine’, we will come across it many a times in our literary voyage as it is when the Hypermales keep saying when they’re having sex.
In any case, even though she is pinned down by an angry Manbeast with little vocabulary, Ellie doesn’t fight back, mostly because she feels ashamed (remember, she inappropriately touched him when he was vulnerable). The situation is defused when Fury leaves in order to clear his mind. Because he’s confused. Because she smells of strawberries.
So he resolves to make the situation better by…stalking her. Really, this relationship is getting healthier by the minute.
A man lurked under the shadow of a tree across the street, just a dim outline of a figure, but Ellie sensed him watching her. She knew it had to be Fury. She stood there staring at him. She held her ground and he held his while neither of them moved.
(…) Fear motivated her to face the door, swipe her key card, and hurry inside the dorm. She made sure the lock slid into place before dashing for the elevator.
An eerie silence settled into the dorm late at night. She entered the elevator with the sensation of being watched.
Ellie doesn’t get murdered that night, which would have ended the book much faster.
This brings us to Chapter 3.
The next morning, Ellie encounters problem at work. She is a sort of baby-sitter/councilor for a group of recently-freed New Species women. She is supposed to teach them basic skills, such as how to feed themselves, how to take care of a house, how to purchase things, how to interact with humans.
But the women, who had been abused their entire lives by humans, do not trust Ellie and instead of lashing out at her, which they do not do at all, they just give her the silent treatment. Such pouting upsets Ellie a lot. She’s thinking to leave, but she has no place to live. Wait, actually, she does, but :
The very idea of asking her parents to live with one of them until she got back on her feet threatened to give her a migraine.
So, you see? She is absolutely forced to room with women who don’t talk to her, and where her personal stalker – who acted with uncontrolled violence last time they met – knows to find her. Wise. She actually states that because her parents are divorced, and bicker a lot :
She’d rather jump into a pit of snakes than ever return to the life she’d once had.
Choice made. Under the circumstances, she thinks it astute to go out for a jog, with her MP3 player in order to make sure she hears no potential danger coming to her. But it’s okay because she’s into heavy metal.
She goes into an empty park. She thinks she sees someone, but no, the place is empty. She reminisces on her failed marriage with a guy called Jeff :
She wasn’t a doormat, would never stay with someone who didn’t know how to love (…).
She feels that someone is watching her again, so she stops the music. Hearing nothing, she turns it on, and here we have a magnificent proof of intelligence :
She started to turn the music back but a soft growl made her jump. A dog?
A dog? Are you serious, girl?
We get back to some Fury POV, with a lot of creepiness, where it’s explained that he had caught many glimpses of her through the first-floor glass windows. He is fascinated by her, follows her, yet is very surprised that she seems to have no survival instinct. Which I agree with.
He’s not sure whether he wants to hurt her of embrace her. So he tries to control his ‘beast inside’. He’s doing a pretty bad job at it. She smells so good he has to reveal himself to her.
Actually that part is pretty nice. I can understand the appeal of showing Fury like a predator and Ellie like the prey. She does a fine job of acting like a deer in the headlight (which is not at all). There’s something very potent about seeing something coming, something intense, and refusing to decide whether you’ll run away or stay there and take it. The sheer possibility
He took a step forward, more of a predatory motion than the way a man would move, advancing on her slowly. Her gaze lowered to his muscular thighs, outline in his tight black pants, all the way down to his black shoes. He radiated strength and sex appeal and she swallowed hard. Her heart speeded up, her breathing increased, and her body became aware of him as a purely male being.
This passage works because Ellie chooses to be passive (which make her active). He gives her the time to do something, and she decides to wait and see what happens.
Of course, this is not recommended if you’re alone in the woods and your stalker is walking up to you, but hell, we know they’ll eventually discover that they have Foreverlove.
The rest of Ellie and Fury’s story – tomorrow !