Erotic fiction has always been a taboo subject that people read in secret and never admitted to in public, so when 50 Shades of Grey came out I was excited about the prospect of all this changing. Until I read it, that is. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was, and still am, more than a little outraged that it became so popular. On the surface it was poorly written and repetitive and this image of the naïve, virginal girl who gets swept off her feet by a conveniently rich man who takes care of her, in more ways than one, made me more than a little uncomfortable. Whatever happened to the strong female protagonist? So on the one hand I was outraged, but then I started speaking to other women about it and my perspective changed. Poorly written and sexist it may be, but the publicity and popularity of the book led to women who would not normally read erotica pick it up and many found their sexuality reborn. I would have preferred it if another of the many, many books of erotica had caused this sexual awakening, but it certainly did the job.
As expected EL James’ book inspired numerous other BDSM themed novels, but finally a modern reply to 50 Shades of Grey has been written. S.E.C.R.E.T is about the life of a young widow who stumbles upon the presence of an underground society devoted to helping women achieve sexual fulfilment using the 10-step programme. Written by Lisa Gabriele under the penname L. Marie Adeline, S.E.C.R.E.T. is due to be released on Valentine’s Day and there is already a sense of excitement surrounding it. The concept behind the book is an interesting one and I think there are very few women who would turn down an invitation to a society that promised to fulfil their wildest fantasies, but it is exactly this concept that separates the book from 50 Shades. Gabriele has focused on creating a feminist approach, with a protagonist who goes in search of her own fulfilment without a rich man rescuing her.
Cassie is a character that many women can relate to and her previous struggle with domestic violence gives the story a weight that propels the reader along. Some of the reviews complained that the ending is very frustrating, but with the 2nd book in the series being released in November 2013, this cliff-hanger is not a surprising tactic. Gabriele is a former CBC writer and is also the author of two other novels; The Almost Archer Sisters and Tempting Faith DiNapoli, but this was her first attempt at erotica. I doubt that the current trend for erotic fiction will last, just as the Twilight trend is finally beginning to peter out, but I am glad that a more up-to-date approach has been written. It might not be a great literary work that survives through the centuries, but it meets a demand and puts other simplistic and sexist attempts to shame.Google+