So, Kate's looking for a racy book that's also a good read- what to try?
So, given my perspective on the kinds of sexy books that grownup women read, I came across a book called “Secret Life of a Submissive” by Sarah K.
Now, as bad as 50 Shades of Grey was…oh, how bad was it? In the Staff Summer Reading Program for the Library System who kindly employed me in 2012, 15 librarians admitted attempting to read it. Only four completed it. Only one pushed on through all three books, and in her reviews admitted that the books never improved, the heroine never got smarter, the hero never stopped being a dick and that I was correct at stopping at chapter 4 of the first book and suggesting people read Alison Tyler or Portia Da Costa, or well, just about anyone else. Now, as bad as 50 Shades was, it did open a flood of straight to e-reader very bad imitations. Basically, a straight to e-reader book is like a straight to DVD release to a horror movie fan. Yes, it could be good, but more likely you will spend time in the restroom in the dark muttering, “My eyes, my eyes.”
So, I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been only $1.99. The paperback would have been $12.99 and I’m not risking that much on a sexy book with ‘Based on a True Story’ blazed across it. If it’s over ten bucks, I better know who wrote it or it has to come with a recommendation. I work in a library. I can barely afford the book written by people I know are good. Gone are the days when reviewers could write to the publishers for review copies.
However, despite my trepidation, this did turn out to be good read. Sarah makes a funny, realistic and smart heroine in her own story. She was a woman who married at twenty and started writing to create a second income at home. She started writing romances and eventually turned to writing erotica. For inspiration she turned to milking her girlfriends experiences, since her own husband preferred sex the way he liked food: plain, nothing fancy and without any peculiar ingredients. She wrote for an unnamed British publisher that touted ‘Erotic fiction written for women by women!!’ (In America it was printed under the name Black Lace, btw.)
As she compared notes with her girlfriends, Sarah realizes that the deep, dark fantasies she’s kept to herself all her adult life aren’t all that weird. Other people had them too, and she worked them into her writing. Sometimes waking up to one realization about your life, will wake you up to more. The gulf in her marriage was more than just sexual, and her marriage crumbles apart. Writing provided an escape to avoid dealing with the cracks in the relationship, but eventually it falls apart. We have a heroine who is confronting midlife and forcing herself to examine what it is she wants and if she’s willing to try to find it.
This is a point that the book shows something very brave about Sarah, the willingness to take a risk and try for what she wants, even as she’s trying to understand what that is. A woman in her mid-forties with a broken marriage and three children in their twenties and teens. You know, one of those women that some idiot from Newsweek said is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than have a real relationship again. Oh, yeah, someone like me. Take heart, Newsweek is now so broke that they can’t afford to publish a print edition.
Sarah actually goes on dates, gets on match sites and after a few funny false starts discover some things are easier in fiction than in real life. Just when she’s debating taking down her picture and just buying some cats, she meets a man named Max.
Max is an interesting man. He’s intelligent, classy, good looking and makes a good balance to Sarah’s wit. He’s not frighting or intimidating, he’s not into BDSM because of some deep personal damage that is waiting to be discovered. He just likes what he likes and wants to be with someone who enjoys it. As he says, “I’m a sadist, not a psychopath.”
By stages, Sarah and Max first start a relationship based on sex play, and discover, like most of us, keeping sex and emotion separate is always easier in theory than in practice. Also, most of the things that keep us from moving forward aren’t operatic drama, but the overlapping strands of our own lives. Happy endings aren’t guaranteed, and some of the most revealing stories come from showing us how you can deal with life and love when they don’t. Also, as tempting as staying home with more cats may be, just about all of us will dust ourselves off and try again.
So, this is no 50 Shades. It’s not just better written, it’s better all around. It has characters who are honest, who act like real people and not soap opera characters shoved onto a new set. So, damn, I got a bargain for $1.99!! There’s also a sequel that was released last August. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: The Kindle version is now $3.99 – but that is still a great price for this great book! Read more about The Secret Life of a Submissive, here.