About a million years ago (okay, it was the early 90’s) I had a gig reviewing m/m romance (totally in it’s infancy) and porn with pretensions, now known as explicit erotica. In many ways these two have merged into one market. I’m going to be honest and tell you I didn’t finish A Table For Three. Halfway through is really all I needed to know. Having long argued that we should call porn, romance and erotica what they are, I felt if I was going to keep having an opinion on the topic I needed to catch up. Over the last few months I’ve read about twenty ‘hot’ reads from various publishers. I’m caught up, and my opinion hasn’t changed. (Also, if I could go another decade or two in blissful ignorance of where the pornrotica market goes, that would be AWESOME, thank you very much.)
I am not here to judge people getting their kink on. I am not here to argue the porn debate. I am not here to say anything but let’s stop pretending there’s a romance element to
hardcore explicit erotica. A Story of O? 9 1/2 Weeks? Beauty’s Punishment? Anything by Anias Nin in her frisky phase? They may have relationship elements but they are not romance. Romance is about finding the best in each other, not the best ways to pork each other. (I’m sorry, was that rude?) After wading through the unspeakable Medusa’s Folly, Naughty Bits 1 & 2, Alison’s Wonderland and a grab bag of assorted books by other publishers I’ve chosen A Table For Three as my stopping point. It reminds me of the early 90’s when m/m romance was only sold in certain stores.
The heroine of A Table For Three (in the last hour I’ve forgotten all their names, this points to the emotional impact they don’t make) is exactly the sort of girl you expect Ron Jeremy (ew, why did I do that to myself?) to pick up in the first four seconds of an adult film. She is constantly hot for it, made out of rubber, lacks any common sense at all, and is obviously a stand in for a well trained dog. She’s not a fully developed woman, she’s a composite of traits assembled to resemble a woman for the purposes of furthering the male relationship. The men would make excellent date rapists, but instead they left the Ivy League to run a sex club where they can meet and (oh so gently!) coerce women into having sex with them since having sex with each other would make them gay. Even though they share intimacy, apartments, trips, businesses and fashion tips – the final barrier for them is banging each other instead of the chick. (Maybe they change their mind later in the book, I don’t know.) She meets one of the guys, bangs him in public within ten minutes (despite having only limited sexual experience – two guys who were in and outers) goes upstairs with him, and by morning she’s willing to bang his friend as well.
By the next day, she’s ok with all the BSDM she never knew about, living with them like a house pet, and taking her punishment like the ‘little one’ they name her. The diminishing nickname fits. Our heroine is not the only woman I encountered. As a counterpoint to the completely submissive and startlingly elastic heroine with a pure heart (She only wants the sex!) we have a bitter waitress who has known the boys since they were young and had finally (Finally, I tell you!!) put herself in a position to be showered with gifts for banging them (Not in it for the sex! Evil!) while she plots to have their child, forcing 18 years of support! (OMGZ! Sperm Stealer!) When she realizes our doe eyed young ingenue has swept these closeted lovers off their feet she realizes she’s got to eliminate her rival!
Ok, so we have two rich men that love each other (and set up charities for children, of course) while catering to rapists and the like in their sex club (that’s a whole other paragraph) and the young undereducated stacked sexpot fresh off the bus who asks the taxi driver to take her somewhere – somewhere she decided to bang a guy in public and then learn about oral sex before taking his roommate on as well – and an unstable child support craving aging working class jade out for cash and prizes. Oh yea, I feel the love. How could I ever have equated explicit erotica with homoerotic porn, which is so anti female? I dunno. I’m just like that, I guess.
Now to be fair, because it’s not Lainey Reese’s fault she’s the final nail in my updating the market coffin, she is getting high reviews for a reason. Many of these books make no pretension to competence, much less attempting a plot. Lainey Reese is in the higher tier of writers both from my random samplings and my prior experience. She’s working it, and she’s working hard. If you’re looking for porn that won’t make you get out a red pencil and start editing, you’re good to go. I, for one, hope to remain in blissful market ignorance for some time to come as I return to my “know it when I see it” stance.