Strong women. Good vs evil. Attractive people. And a very healthy dose of smut.
My reading life before Covid was fairly tame with my favourite go to genres being historical fiction, fantasy and feminist literature. When shit started to hit the fan in March, I actually struggled to sit down and read. I couldn’t concentrate. At the time, I was still going to work at Swansea University whilst my partner worked from home. I was being asked over and over again by students if the university was safe, if they needed to go home etc. unable to give an answer. It was all a bit too much.
Things got easier once the government actually declared lockdown. It was like sighing a breath of relief. I knew where I stood! Though working from home proved difficult during the transitional first few weeks, it was around this time I started to abuse my Kindle Unlimited account.
There are two people who are responsible for me escaping into the world of smut. Their names are Ash and Alice. Ash is currently studying for her PhD looking at Daphne du Maurier and the gothic. Alice La Roux is a bad ass writer. Ash and Alice are close friends themselves and therefore are a bad / good influence on each other (this very much depends on your outlook on things!). Ash, at the time, was in the middle of writing an article about romance novels and how they’ve adapted over the years. During these conversations, she would laugh and tell me that I’d struggle to read some of the romance books she’d read.
Part of me wanted to prove Ash wrong so I thought I’d wet my appetite. I downloaded Sinclair by Alice La Roux. I personally found this story to be a fun read and good way to be introduced into the genre. Now that I’ve been in the world of romance for a while, I can now state that Sinclair is on the lighter side of the genre but its in no way light fluffy romance. It has the dodgy jealous ex who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’. But it also has hot dancers. Very. Hot. Dancers.
Since then, I’ve read fantasy novels with smut, rom com with smut and some on the darker side though; I know darker is out there!
Kindle Unlimited has helped the romance genre immensely. Many independent authors are publishing their work and making it as readily available as possible. Smut for the masses! Though, I don’t really want to get into the stats and the why’s, I’m going to delve into how lockdown gave me time to become smutten with this genre.
Escapism is wonderful. During lockdown, my father went into hospital with the virus, my grandmother passed away and so did my uncle. A buyer pulled out of the sale of our flat. I also had to buy a lot of new elasticated waistband trousers because when I get sad, I turn to food.
Basically, lockdown hasn’t been a socially distanced walk in the park and let’s be honest, it hasn’t been for a lot of people. When I was reading my usual genre of books, it just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I needed something completely different, exciting and available. Thankfully, I had Ash to hand. Friends who also work together, we talk pretty much every day and its thanks to her I would get a constant update on the random kink she had been reading. She loves to show off her darkest books! After a while, I just thought ‘fuck it’ and decided to do some exploring myself.
There is a certain level of shame when it comes to admitting you read smut. I found I didn’t mind telling my friends but having the book on my Goodreads account did make me blush a little. I don’t think of myself as a book snob but I’m definitely a cover snob. I generally walk into Waterstones and buy a book or pick one up based on its cover. So, smut has taught me something, to literally never judge a book by its cover! What also helped make this easier was the fact that shops were closed. There wasn’t the feeling of ‘the cashier is going to judge my kinky ass’ by purchasing a book with a half naked man on the cover. At least with Kindle, its private. My private library of kink.
As well as the book cover, there are a lot of preconceptions regarding the genre – I know I believed a lot of them. Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t help.
My impression was of cringe inducing gratuitous sex scenes as well as using dodgy or funny words to describe a penis. Quivering member is one of my favourites. Poison by Jade West was one story that helped debunk a lot of these misconceptions.
Poison is a book about Anna and Lucas (broadly). I won’t go into too much detail but there’s one scene I absolutely loved. In the book, Anna has epilepsy and sometimes suffers seizures whilst asleep and therefore can and does wet the bed. One morning, she wakes up with Lucas to find, to her horror, that she has in fact wet herself whilst asleep. Mortified, Anna tries to hide the evidence before Lucas wakes up. Obviously, this backfires as it’s quite difficult to ripa bed sheet out from underneath a hot sex god on legs. Lucas quickly learns what has happened and, to cut a long story short, he goes down on her. He does it to prove to her that she has nothing to be ashamed or worry about as he still finds her attractive and loves her. Now, as romance scenes go, this has to be in my top 5. Ever. What made this scene even more special was that Jade West was diagnosed with epilepsy and had decided to write it into the book.
These romance books go from the VERY dark blend, medium roast to light. I generally lean towards medium roast to light but what I generally love about them is that they do deal with common issues such as self-consciousness. Also, despite it being 2020, I do feel sometimes we still need to wave the “women have sexual fantasises and needs” (any artists out there who want to design this flag, please do and share with the group). Seeing quite a lot of the women in these books not taking any shit from the bad boys or the overprotective parents is fab.
Also, for escapism, its always nice that these women do end up with the sex god on legs and have a few interesting sex scenes along the way…
So yes, lockdown has been a journey in exploring a new genre. Smut. Romance. Kink.
Its funny how lockdown has been quite freeing.
Words by Sian Williams.
Photo by @fuuj on Unsplash.