Fifty shades of sexy
I'VE NEVER BEEN the kind of woman who revels in erotic fiction. I prefer the real thing.
But, lately, my in tray has been looking a lot like the adult literature section at a trendy bookshop.
There are the copies of 50 Shades of Grey that I haven't caught up on yet, and then there are the other sex books, whoops, erotic fiction, coming in their wake.
The Australian book chain, Dymocks, estimates there have been 40 titles in this genre published or republished in the wake of Fifty Shades.
In case you don't know, this recent flood of steamy literature started with the first instalment of the steamy fiction trilogy, by British author E. L. James, in March.
It was printed by a small Australian publisher, but sales boomed when it became available digitally.
Largely set in Seattle, it traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey.
What it is most notable for is its explicitly erotic scenes featuring bondage and discipline.
Now if you think a little S&M can't tie up too much international attention, how about this: the series has sold 40 million copies worldwide, with book rights sold in 37 countries.
Clearly what women want is a big shot of hot, steamy, dominant/submissive action between the book covers.
Dr Janet Hall, clinical Psychologist, sex therapist and author of Sex-life Solutions says erotic fiction can be an excellent aid to arousal for many women.
"Sex therapists recommend it, but not so with pornography which can be too confronting," she says.
"Most partners are happy for the woman to enjoy her erotic material especially if it makes her more turned on for good lovemaking. It can certainly get her in the mood and sometimes make the extra difference which facilitates her orgasm so everyone wins."
Of course erotic fiction can also be enjoyed alone, by singles, not just couples.
Downloading saucy stories is becoming increasingly popular with women, maybe because of the anonymity of the transaction.
But you can also buy plenty of racy titles, like Xcite Books' Backstage Rider (Cocktales) and Pounding the Pavement (Cougars on the Prowl) from www.amazon.com.
There's also the groundbreaking "Herotica" series of sensual stories by, for, and about woman, by Susie Bright.
They're described as a "passionate mosaic of sexual reality and fantasy encompassing a spectrum of experience - black, white, Asian, Latina, gay, straight, and married.
From naive first love to future sex, from romance-novel fantasy to wild encounters at the laundromat, this collection of steamy stories will leave you breathless"!
Online, Headline has just announced that it has acquired Because You Are Mine from its US publisher and eight e-books will be released later this year.
The books focus on art student Francesca Arno who is drawn into "a passionate, all-consuming relationship" with billionaire Ian Noble when he asked her to create a centrepiece for his Chicago skyscraper.
You can also get some increasingly adult material at your local book store too, but you have to take it to the counter and hand it over, so it's only for the brave.
Latest in print is The Siren by Tiffany Reisz which its publishers, Harlequin Spice promise to be "everything Fifty Shades of Grey should have been".
Forget the ropes, props, and battery operated devices, they say.
While The Siren has all this it will get you there on sheer seduction and leave you aching for more.
Are erotic novels good for your sex life?
A survey by online bingo site Dotty Bingo found 44% of women preferred reading about the (often fictional) erotic adventures of others over taking part in their own sex lives.
Of the 400 women polled - all aged between 25 and 50 - 43% said books such as the Fifty Shades trilogy by EL James made their own love lives seem routine and boring.
They cited ease, a lack of energy and lack of imagination in the bedroom as reasons why their sexual encounters paled in comparison to sex scenes they'd read.
Nearly all of those quizzed (91%) said they had read at least one erotic book, with more than two thirds (68%) stating that they would like to do so more often.