It has almost become a cliché for well-meaning erotica aficionados to insist that their friends not read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. They claim that there are much better series out there — but they are not always ready with a list of alternatives!
We put together a list of erotica series that every lover of suggestive, sensual content needs to read.
Check out the pulse-racing list below, which includes the publishers’ descriptions for the first books in each series.
The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different — more serious, more personal — and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book… if it ever sees the light of day.
Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards — in six weeks — or it’s no deal.
Nora’s grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining… and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous — staying away from him… or returning to his bed?
Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.
Why erotica fans love it: Tiffany Reisz’s may be “It’s not erotica until someone gets hurt.” Her heroine in The Original Sinners is an erotica author who continually finds that her art reflects life, or vice versa. These books are smart, edgy, and sexy.
The Blackstone Affair series by Raine Miller
Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work.
When ultra-successful London businessman Ethan Blackstone buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and has no problem voicing his desires to her.
His dominant nature captivates and ensnares her despite the demons she carries around. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy their chance at happiness?
Why erotica fans love it: The London setting of these books, which can be read as a series or stand-alone, begins on the eve of the Olympics in 2012. Blending mystery and eroticism, this tale follows a passionate affair between a British man and an American woman as they blend their lives and bodies together in a tantalizing way.
The Dark Duet series by CJ Roberts
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For 12 years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.
Why erotica fans love it: The Dark Duet series isn’t for the faint of heart. Slavery, pain, violence, and brutal situations are weaved into a graphic story of taboo love. Breaking the series into different perspectives, you may find yourself falling into this dark fantasy with Caleb and Olivia.
Up in the Air series by R.K. Lilley
When reserved flight attendant Bianca gets one look at billionaire hotel owner James Cavendish, she loses all of her hard-won composure. For a girl who can easily juggle a tray of champagne flutes at 35,000 feet in three inch heels, she finds herself shockingly weak-kneed from their first encounter. The normally unruffled Bianca can’t seem to look away from his electrifying turquoise gaze. They hold a challenge, and a promise, that she finds impossible to resist, and she is a girl who is used to saying no and meaning it.
Bianca is accustomed to dealing with supermodels and movie stars in her job as a first class flight attendant, but James Cavendish puts them all to shame in the looks department. If only it were just his looks that she found so irresistible about the intimidating man, Bianca could have ignored his attentions. But what tempts her like never before is the dominant pull he seems to have over her from the moment they meet, and the promise of pleasure, and pain, that she reads in his eyes.
Why erotica fans love it: Did you secretly love Fifty Shades of Grey? Are you missing the plotline of a stunning billionaire tempting an innocent young girl?
Well, then R.K. Lilley has the perfect series for you as they follow Bianca, a flight attendant who falls for a hotel owner. He proves his devotion to her and to the BDSM scene in this four-part series.
The Undergrad Years by Avery Aster
This summer, I’d planned to celebrate my eighteenth birthday in Europe with my fellow Manhattanites — Taddy Brill, Blake Morgan, and Vive Farnworth — until I caught my boyfriend screwing my mother. According to the police report, this vomit-inducing incident happened around the same time I’d supposedly blown-up my mother’s penthouse. Like I’m walking around Soho with a stick of dynamite in my Louis Vuitton purse — not! Now, my besties and I are in jail.
Officer Ford Gotti, the Harley-wheelin’ biker cop who arrested us, keeps sticking his perfectly-sculpted nose into my case. His inked body is jacked like a superhero, and he says I can trust him. He wants me to fess up. I won’t. Not again. Why should I? My friends and I had a previous stint in juvie that nearly destroyed us. I gotta protect them and keep my mouth shut. Right?
— Lex Easton, women’s studies major, motorcycle enthusiast, and virgin.
Why erotica fans love it: The Undergrad Years series is a new adult spin-off of Avery Aster’s previous series, The Manhattanites. Here, we follow the story of a Manhattan-level gossip girl as she travels through love, lust, and losing her virginity. For those who like to read a first-person perspective of a wild, dramatic girl as she blooms into adulthood.
The Noire Series by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
Set in Victorian London, The Gentlemen’s Club features darker elements, menage and exhibitionism, exploring the varying nature of desire, and the sexual empowerment of women.
We live in the wondrous here and now and it is here that our flesh must take its pleasure. Your body is yours and yours alone, but not for long, and never long enough.
Now, take your seat. The curtain is rising.
Why erotica fans love it: If historical erotica is your thing, Emmanuelle de Maupassant writes a series that will light your Victorian lamps. But don’t get it confused — the heroine, Mademoiselle Noire, does not adhere to Victorian standards of sex. She runs a gentleman’s club, and has trouble drawing the lines between love and lust. Even with depictions of wild escapades, the text still manages to be tasteful and scintillating. This series is highly recommended.
Peter & Charlie Trilogy by Gordon Merrick
Charlie Mills always played the role of the good grandson, and his grandmother rewarded him for it handsomely in the form of all the gifts, money, and attention a boy could want. Entering college in the late 1930s, Charlie just has to keep doing what his grandmother expects of him in order to continue to receive her gifts. He has to find a nice girl, get married, and have a few kids. Then one summer, he meets Peter Martin.
Peter is everything that Charlie has ever wanted. Despite all the obstacles, Charlie immediately craves and pursues Peter, who happily obliges him. As they grow closer, Charlie is forced to choose between two options: complying with the expectations of society and family, or following the call of true love. In this, the first book of the Charlie & Peter Trilogy, Gordon Merrick creates an enduring portrait of two young men deeply in love, and the tribulations they endure to express themselves and maintain their relationship.
Why erotica fans love it: Prior to the publication of this gay erotica series, characters that were in homosexual relationships never really had a happy ending, and in fact, many of them ended up killing themselves. Gordon Merrick is the first author who decided to change everything around. This trilogy follows a gay couple who meet in university and then fall in love — and live happily ever after. Since it was written in the ‘70s it might not be steamy enough to satisfy the appetites for today’s generation, but it’s a groundbreaking series that deserves a read.
Songs of Submission by CD Reiss
A kinky billionaire hung up on his ex-wife, an ingenue singer with a wisecracking mouth; art, music and sin in the city of Los Angeles.
“You’re mine. The minute I told you to spread your legs and you did it, you were mine. When I told you to beg for it and you did, you were mine. When you put your hands behind your back without being told, I owned you. You never had to say a word. You are a natural submissive.”
No. God, no.
My name is Monica, and no matter what Jonathan says, I am not submissive.
Why erotica fans love it: If, on the other hand, you found the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to be a little too tame, find some more hardcore submission erotica in the Songs of Submission series by CD Reiss. Be prepared to Beg, Tease, Submit, Control, Burn, Resist, and Sing with delight as you follow this nine-part series.
Which ones have you read? Tell us in the comments!