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Connecticut Erotica Authors Predict Boost From Fifty Shades

Expect A Steamy Summer Of Reading Ahead


May 31, 2012

It's that steamy time of year again, when there's lots of hot reading going on in lawn chairs and at the beaches. Of course, this summer's adult buzz is fueled by E.L. James erotic trilogy, "Fifty Shades of Grey" and local authors see it as a gateway book to greater popularity for erotica and romance novels.

It's a short hop from "Fifty Shades" to "Who's Your Daddy," which is billed as a mesmerizing collection of sexy and fun short stories, or even "Not For Sale" the tantalizing story of a powerful passion between high-profile businessman Lucas Vieira and his hired linguist, Caroline Hamilton. Like period pieces? Try "Dinah of Seneca," the salacious tale of a former slave and a Viking chief set in the 10th century Roman Empire.

These red hot reads are courtesy of a group of Connecticut authors who belong to the state chapter of Romance Writers of America.

For years the romance writers in Connecticut have been writing tales that have most, if not all, the same elements of James's seductive tale of rich, handsome tycoon Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele and their submissive/dominant love affair. But thanks to the "Fifty Shades" hype and its subsequent record breaking sales, some local romance authors say their books are coming out of the brown paper bag and into the light.

"Fifty Shades took the embarrassment out of such books," said Toni Andrews, an Ellington resident whose latest book "Cry Mercy," is the third in her Mercy Hollings romance series. "It has become OK to talk about such books," she said. "I have had so many people from so many walks of life talk to me about "Fifty Shades", people who would have never discussed a story like that before," she said. "It is doing for romantic erotica what Harry Potter did for fantasy literature."

For some of the local authors, the mega-success of "Fifty Shades" can be frustrating because its basic elements, an alpha male, a partner he is devoted to, money, gifts, sex and love have been worked and reworked in a myriad of books by hundreds of authors, including themselves. But like it or not, the bottom line is that the lustful tale of Grey and Steele has catapulted the genre into the mainstream, and that means more people will be reading and more importantly, buying such books.

"Fifty Shades has increased the legitimacy of the genre, it is bringing a lot of literary pleasure to a lot of very intelligent women," said Storrs resident Sandra Marton, a popular and prolific author who has written 85 romance novels for well-known publisher, Harlequin. "One of the perceptions about the romantic genre is that the books are something 'little housewives' read," she said. "Now these kinds of books are more out in the open because the women who are reading them are as varied as any other group of readers.

But there are also local writers who just see "Fifty Shades" as just another book.

"I have read a few chapters of 'Fifty Shades', and am not inclined to rush through with bated breath," said author Eleanor Sullo of Colchester, whose latest book is "Too Damned Hot." "I was not overwhelmed by the book. Nor do I (or others) see big changes coming in the romance industry because of it. I think more will be attracted to the steamy erotica that's already out there in droves, but I don't foresee a sea change in tastes or even availability."

Other romance novel writers would argue.

"It is certainly what women want to read, they get off on it and now they are noticing the genre more and that's important," said Corrina Lawson, a Granby-based blogger (www.wired.com/geekmom/) and author whose newest superhero romance novella, "Luminous" has just been released. "The only way things change in this country is if people see money is to be made and once something starts to make money it gets important," she said.

Emphasizing that there are many kinds of romance writing and that "Fifty Shades" is one kind, Lawson said she considers "Fifty Shades" a segue for those who may have looked down on the romance classification.

"As a reader and an author, the book is great," said Lawson, noting that romance fiction is the largest and most popular segment of fiction. "Romance novels and writers get put down an awful lot and James has been a great spokesperson for the type of romantic genre she writes."

Since the best way to find out about a good book is to ask someone else, here's what the Connecticut experts are recommending (other than their own books, of course!):

Corrina Lawson:

"Menage" by Emma Holly

"Hope's Folly" by Linnea Sinclair

Kate Rothwell:

Books by Portia DeCosta

Toni Andrews:

"Suddenly You" by Lisa Kleypas, (she suggests getting the audio book for this one)

Sandra Marton

"The Man Who Risked It All" by Michelle Reid

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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