Forever, by Judy Blume
Choice descriptor: “When you build something up in your mind — really imagine it, wish for it — sometimes, when it actually happens, it doesn’t live up to your expectations.”
You will like this book if: Exploring the innocence of teenage sexuality and “the first time” turns you on, or if you’re wondering what Blume wrote in a book, published in 1975, that got it banned from many school libraries.
Emmanuelle, by Emmanuelle Arsan
Choice quote: “Suddenly dizzied by her half-nakedness, she took a deep breath. She turned to the stewardess and looked at her with candid jubilation. The stewardess bent down, picked up the rumpled blouse, and pressed it against her face. ‘Oh, it smells so good!’ she said, laughing mischievously.”
You will enjoy this book if: You like your erotic scenes to unfold like a hazy dream, from the perspective of a young bisexual Frenchwoman in 1967. The language is literary, but the plot is minimal, not getting in the way of the many ways Emmanuelle explores her desire with women and men everywhere from her overnight flight to a squash court to an opium den.
The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
Choice descriptor: “A sweeping family saga of dreams, titanic struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback returns to enthrall a new generation.”
You will enjoy this book if: Sweeping, soap-opera-style romance turns you on, or you were wondering why this book, which was later adapted into one of the most highly rated TV miniseries of the ’80s, had your moms and grandmothers all aflutter.
Outlander, Diana Galbaldon
Choice descriptor: “… a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.”
You will enjoy this book if: You have a thing for any of the following: Scotland, handsome, masculine men in kilts, time-travel, historical fiction. Addiction warning: There are eight novels in this series.
The MacGregor Brides, by Nora Roberts
Choice descriptor: “The MacGregor clan’s patriarch is determined to see his three career-minded granddaughters married. So he hand-picked three unsuspecting candidates as worthy consorts … Now all he has to do is set his plans in motion.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’re a sucker for contemporary romantic movies or rom-coms, you like the idea of a charming/meddling grandfather, and want to read/root for female protagonists who are independent and intelligent.
The Sisters of APF: The Indoctrination of Soror Ride Dick, by Zane
Choice quote: “The men arrived one, two, and three at a time. Some knew each other already, if they were ‘picked up’ together. All of them were taken off guard when they entered the chalet. In every room throughout the hose, there were butt-naked women strategically positioned in front of a checkerboard, including myself.
You will enjoy this book if: You’re longing to see that old sorority sisters porn trope turned on its head by some powerful black women. The Alpha Phi Fuckem sorority is both a private investment club for professionals who also happen to really like sex and throw wild secret parties like the one above. While there’s a lot of talk about the dating life of innocent South Dakota transplant and first-year law student Mary Ann, interestingly this book also totally passes the Bechdel test.
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Vol. 4, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Choice quote: “Steve helped her into her harness, checking the clips. The intensity of his brown eyes raised her heart rate further, Maybe the increasing adrenaline was pulling her arousal with it, but she basked in the attention he gave her, enjoying the straps rubbing against her crotch when grabbed them roughly at her shoulders to check they were tight.” — from “The Jump,” by Rebecca Chase
You will enjoy this book if: You find yourself skipping through the boring parts of longer erotic romance novels (you can read about their awesome jobs and supportive parents later!) to get to the sexy scenes. The latest of this anthology series includes stories of hetero, gay, and multiple-partner sex in all sorts of exciting scenarios, under the vague theme of “outsiders” and “risk.” This means everything from a Fifty Shades-ish BDSM story to the above skydiving short to a wild Halloween orgy on a yacht — no skipping ahead required.
The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory
Choice quote: “A question was in his eyes, and a smile hovered over his lips. His thumb drew slow circles on her hip and then moved up her side to her ribs. His other hand moved up to her face and traced the outline of her lips with his fingers. She shivered. He waited.”
You will enjoy this book if: You want the froth of chick lit, the thought provocation of a story about an interracial relationship, and also some hot sex scenes.
Night Shift: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy, By Joanna Angel
Choice quote: “A short skinny girl dressed like Betty Boop from the wrong side of the tracks interrupted this awkward reunion by plopping down a tiny, precious Swarovski crystal butt plug on the counter. ‘I want this too,’ she said, batting her eyes at Jimmy. I was still new there and not entirely sure how to converse with the customers. Was I supposed to act as though I was ringing up laundry detergent at Walgreens, totally nonchalant?”
You will enjoy this book if: You want a Choose Your Own Adventure story like Bandersnatch, but with “sexploration.” Adult film actress, director, and author Joanna Angel dreamed up this witty tale of college grad Taryn, the new employee working the titular shift at a sex shop in central Florida.
The Cocktail Series: Wallbanger, by Alice Clayton
Choice quote: “Sweet Lord, there were out-of-control pussies on both sides of this wall tonight. The woman had an accent, although I couldn’t quite place it. Eastern European for sure. Czech? Polish? Was I seriously awake at, let’s see, one sixteen a.m. and attempting to discern the national origin of the woman getting plowed next door?”
You will enjoy this book if: You like your voyeurism with a side of humor and meet-cute romance. In the first of Clayton’s four-book series, we listen along with Caroline as she hears her new next-door neighbor bang his way through a series of ladies. Sexually frustrated since her ex-boyfriend, Caroline doesn’t quite enjoy this second-hand experience. Of course, you know she’ll get her satisfaction eventually.
Dance Off Series: Take the Lead, by Alexis Daria
Choice quote: “She’d known he was packing. It was impossible to miss it in rehearsal. She’d even touched it a few times by accident during tango practice — and not always in a good way. Seeing it up close was a whole different story.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’ve watched those real-life Dancing With the Stars romances unfold and wondered just how the sexual chemistry between dancing partners went from the rehearsal room into the bedroom (or maybe remained in the rehearsal room? We don’t know!). Beginning with Bronx-raised Puerto Rican professional dancer Gina, who tries to fight her lust for her “Dance Off” show partner, a wilderness survival show star from Alaska, this series also gives us some very amusing, stereotype-free Latinx heroines.
Montana Sky, Nora Roberts
Choice descriptor: “When Jack Mercy died, he left behind a ranch worth nearly twenty million dollars. Now his three daughters — each born of a different marriage, and each unknown by the others — are are shocked to learn that before any of them can inherit, they must live together on the ranch for one year.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’ve ever fantasized about rolling around in the hay with a real-life cowboy, discovering sisters and/or an inheritance you never expected, exploring Big Sky Country. Bonus: It all revolves around a murder mystery and was made into a Lifetime movie starring John Corbett.
The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang
Choice quote: “She held her bowl toward him, but he didn’t put his spoon in it. He trailed his fingers over her jaw as he tipped her head back and sealed his lips over hers. His tongue speared into her mouth, and the salt of him mixed with the flavor of the ice cream. She didn’t know if she was mortified, shocked, aroused or all three.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’re looking for a heroine like you’ve never read about before, as Stella is a econometrician on the Autism spectrum. Or you’re looking for a hero you’ve never read about before, as Michael is a Vietnamese-Swedish-American escort whom Stella hires to figure out what she’s doing wrong with her dating life. They keep everything completely professional and part ways without complications. Just kidding.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, J.R. Ward
Choice descriptor: “Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger — one that threatens to consume them both …”
You will enjoy this series if: You have a thing for muscle-bound, demon-fighting, take-no-prisoners-type men who fall hard for smart, sassy, self-sufficient significant others. Bestselling author Angela Knight put it this way: “Utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic … The Brotherhood is the hottest collection of studs in romance.”
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels/The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Charlaine Harris (the inspiration for HBO’s vampire soap True Blood)
Choice descriptor: “Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana where not everyone appreciates her gift — she can read minds. Not exactly every man’s date bait. Unless they’re undead.”
You will enjoy this series if: You’re mourning the end of True Blood, you never watched True Blood but meant to, or you’d like to be introduced to/potentially seduced by supernatural beings like werepanthers and weretigers.
Lords of the Underworld, Gena Showalter
Choice descriptor: “In a remote fortress in Budapest, six immortal warriors — each more dangerously seductive than the last — are bound by an ancient curse none has been able to break.”
You will enjoy this series if: You have a thing for Greek and Roman mythology, would be interested in a hot, heavy fling with a Greek God, and don’t require much substance in order to do so.
Face the Fire, Three Sisters Island Trilogy Book #3, Nora Roberts
Choice descriptor: “The new owner of the island’s only hotel, Sam Logan has returned to Three Sisters with hopes of winning back the affections of Mia Devlin, the woman he scorned when he left the island years ago. He is puzzled when she greets him with icy indifference — for the chemistry between them is still sizzling and true. Angry, hurt and deeply confused, Mia refuses to admit that a passion for Sam still burns up her heart. But she’ll need his help — and his powers — to face her greatest, most terrifying challenge.”
You will enjoy this series if: You’re into witches and warlocks and actual magical sex.
I Am a Woman, Ann Banon
Choice descriptor: “Legendary novels from the 1950s and ’60s set in the gay mecca, Greenwich Village.”
You will enjoy this book if: You want to experience all things erotic fiction has to offer and want to discover how author Ann Bannon earned the title, “Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction.”
Call Me By Your Name, By André Aciman
Choice quote: “Is it your body that I want when I think of lying next to it every night or do I want to slip into it and own it as if it were my own, as I did when I put on your bathing suit and took it off again, all the while craving, as I craved nothing more in my life that afternoon, to feel you slip inside my as if my entire body were your bathing suit, your home?”
You will enjoy this book if: You loved the movie adaptation, of course, and want to see how Aciman originally wrote that peach scene. But also, you will love it if you were ever a teenager with a massive, confusing crush on someone who would definitely leave you at the end of the summer, making every single touch of theirs intense and explosive.
Try, Ella Frank
Choice descriptor: “Try – verb: to make an attempt or effort to do something or in this case … someone. … Logan Mitchell wants to try Tate Morrison”
You will enjoy this book if: You are interested in steamy steamy sex scenes and the M/M genre, one that revolves around an intimate relationship between two (or more) men.
Lover At Last, J.R. Ward
Choice descriptor: “Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions. .. but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together … finally become one.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’ve become attached to the men of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and have been waiting 10 books for the steamy, unrequited love story of Blay and Qhuinn to have a satisfying payoff.
Fifty Shades-esque: Beautiful Bastard, Christina Lauren
Choice descriptor: “An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling.”
You will enjoy this book if: You can’t get enough of Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight fanfic. Yes, this too began as fan fiction originally titled The Office.
The Crossfire Series, Sylvia Day
Choice descriptor: “Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness … The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart…”
You will enjoy this book if: You wish that Fifty Shades of Grey were better-written, with more developed, empathetic characters and hotter sex scenes.
The Siren, Tiffany Reisz
Choice descriptor: “Notorious erotica author Nora Sutherlin thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits until she began to work with demanding and controlling British editor Zachary Easton. … In a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’re looking for a challenging, non-traditional love story that is intensely sexual and features an exploration of BDSM but also a very strong emotional component. To quote author Courtney Milan, “This is the kind of erotica that punches you in the stomach and then kisses you on the cheek.”
Compromised, Kate Noble
Choice descriptor: “A delectable and delightful debut about a pair of mismatched lovers who unwillingly find themselves engaged in a most scandalous position”
Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas
Choice descriptor: “When shy and secluded author Sara Fielding ventures from her country cottage to research a novel, she inadvertently witnesses a crime in progress — and manages to save the life of the most dangerous man in London.”
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Julia Quinn
Choice descriptor: “Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for … well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret … and fears she doesn’t know him at all.”
Follow My Lead, Kate Noble
Choice descriptor: “Being the most sought-after bachelor in London can be trying. Jason Cummings, Duke of Rayne, should know. But when he winds up an unwilling escort to the headstrong Winnifred Crane on a trip across Europe, he realizes he’ll do anything to keep this independent beauty safe-even if it means marrying her.”
The Rough Riders Series: Long Hard Ride, by Lorelei James
Choice quote: “So, for some unknown reason, Trevor and Colby courted her shamelessly at every opportunity. Sometimes separately. Sometimes double-teaming her with hefty doses of good ol’ boy charm. It made her wonder what it’d be like to have them double-teaming her in private. Whoo-ee. With as hard as they rode lifestock? They’d probably break the damn bed frame. Or her.”
You will enjoy this book if: You’re as curious about this ubiquitous cowboy subgenre as you are aroused by a good menage. Channing is an educated woman from the East Coast who’s run away from expectations and taken up with one rodeo cowboy. When she dumps him for being a married jerk, she agrees to travel with not one but three other rodeo stars.