50 shades of grey

HipMamaB Lit: Let’s talk about Sex (books) ba-by…

If you know me IRL, then you know that in the past 6 months I’ve somehow become the go-to for “romantic erotica” books. I guess my openness to discussing 50 Shades of Gray has led me to this role – with friends and book publishers alike sending me titles to read and review. While I’ve mentioned a few here and there, I still hesitate to really go into details, but every once in awhile I come across a book or series that I think really deserves recognition.

Months ago I came across the book Backstage Pass (Sinners on Tour #1) by Olivia Cunning, while actually searching for something else on iBooks. I ended up downloading it and WOAH-MY-GOD, it makes Christian Grey look downright virginal.

One of the reviews on Goodreads actually says “How much sex can one get into a book?” A question I found myself asking a few times. I’m not even sure what type of research this author did to be able to come up with some of these scenarios. But sex aside (which is hard to put aside with this book), I enjoyed all the books in this series because at their core, they are well-written, heart tugging, love stories.

No, seriously. 

The Sinners on Tour series chronicles a (fictional) famous, heavy metal rock band as they each individually find love and relationships in ways that work for them as individuals. While each book follows a different member of the 5-person band, the book’s point-of-views switch back and forth during the stories, showing the emotions of both (or in one case, *spoiler* all 3) of the main characters in the book. Each of the characters battle with past issues, intense emotions and the struggle of how to create a future while on tour.

The best part about these books is that I genuinely have grown to like each of the characters. While towards the end of other books you want to scream “If you can’t stop fighting just break the hell up!!!” in these books I found myself rooting for the characters to make it work. Yes, a few of the plot lines got a little silly, but if we’ve learned anything from Downton Abbey, it’s that one group of people can suffer through disaster after disaster in fictional situations.

One note – if you end up reading the whole series - read them 1, 2, 4 and then 3. For some reason the publisher released them in a different order than they were written.

If you are not sure you want to dedicate the time, or you want to see if this type of book appeals to you, Cunning also has recently released a few novellas of similar note in a series called “One Night With Sole Regret,” which highlights one (hot, steamy) night in each of the members of (another) rock group called Sole Regret. These short stories give you all the sex with not a lot of that fancy plot or character development crap - pretty much JUST enough of it to not make it read like a cheesy porno. 

So tease up your hair, put on a mini-skirt and relive your high-school fantasy of falling in love with a rock star and get to reading.  

My foray into bad, bad romance novels

I was in a big of a reading rut a few months ago. Trudging through book four of the Game of Thrones series had left me on a book downturn, opting to play Words with Friends at night before bed rather than my usual reading time. Then I read the 50 Shades series, and kicked off a reading frenzy… of really freaking bad books.

After reading 50 Shades I started reading all the posts and reviews online about the series,  and who may possibly play whom in the movie, which led me to multiple articles on what to read next. Since I haven’t read a Harlequin since the summer I worked as a swim teacher back in college, these lists were all books I had never read or heard of that were cheap or even free on iBooks.

So a’downloading I went.

Each book was stupider than the next, yet I still read on. It’s completely embarrassing that I gobble these lame stories with horrible writing up as much as I have… but after the month we had, I guess I just needed a mental break from reality. As I read on though, I discovered something about these books. More than just a formula for how the story develops, the similarities ran very deep. And while yes, all men in romance novels have chiseled abs and all women have full, creamy breasts – these book’s characters all have the SAME characteristics. Note that some of the books I’ve read came out a few years ago – before the 50 Shades series. So it’s not who’s copying who in these books, its more this is the reality of a romance novel.

So single ladies out there, listen up! To land the love of your life, keep these things in mind..

Things I Learned About Love/Attraction from Romance Novels

Men like clumsy women

According to romance lit lore, there is nothing more appealing to a man than a woman who stumbles and falls – a lot. Apparently there is something endearing or cute about a woman who can’t walk through a doorway without ending up on the floor. Interesting side note – these same women only seem to fall during innocent times such as business meetings or while in the kitchen on a stool. Never when they have been talked into wearing 5-inch stilettos to a nightclub.

Virgins/Inexperienced Women Have More/Better Orgasms

Screw the sexual prime of your late 30’s early 40’s – apparently the best sex of your life is really if you’ve managed to hold out your virginity until your early 20’s. Then BAM! You are suddenly squealing like a porn star in night one.

Men Like Smart, Driven Woman With No Self Confidence

The billionaire may want you to be his kept woman, but HELLZ NO – you WANT to work 10 hours a day in your crappy job because GOD DAMNIT I’M WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR. But I’ve never felt pretty, my hair is a disaster and I don’t like to shop because I hate to look at myself in the mirror and HOW COULD this beautiful, rich, powerful man find ME attractive?

Because really, I meet powerful working women with no confidence all the time – don’t you?

Men Like It When You Bite Your Lip

Whatever. Want to turn a man on – according to EVERY ROMANCE NOVEL written, just bite your lip in mock concentration. He will apparently take you then and there.

The Hot Guy You Hate and Think is a Total Jerk is the Man You Will End Up With

Duh. Ladies, don’t bother dating the men you like and are nice to you – waste. Of. Time! Look for the ones that make your blood boil and that you consider slapping on a daily basis. That’s the man for you.

Men CAN Commit Early In A Relationship

Is it really the ultimate fantasy of a woman to have a guy on his knees crying and pledging his undying love for you after one date? Really? That’s not just a tad bit creepy/needy to you? According to romance books, us women want a guy to follow us, stalk us and be within 5 minutes of us at all times even if we’ve demanded a night out with our friends.


What I really want to read is 50 Shades A 10 Year Anniversary. Will they still be taking themselves to the red room of pain after dealing with an 8 YO with ADHD and a 6 year old that throws tantrums like a 16 YO? How often will she be feeling that quickening when she can’t sneeze without peeing a little? And, the question WE ALL WANT to know – will she still be able to keep those silver balls in after a few kids?