Now, don't get me wrong. I think it's great that so many people have taken interest in this series of books. It means more book sales, more readers. For everyone.
But....what has me shaking my head is that in many of the articles I've read the implication is that Fifty Shades of Gray is the first of its kind.
First of it's kind? Wait a minute? What about The Sheik by E.M. Hull, which became an international bestseller in 1921?
"Diana Mayo is young, beautiful, wealthy—and independent. Bored by the eligible bachelors and endless parties of the English aristocracy, she arranges for a horseback trek through the Algerian desert. Two days into her adventure, Diana is kidnapped by the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who forces her into submission. Diana tries desperately to resist but finds herself falling in love with this dark and handsome stranger. Only when a rival chieftain steals Diana away does the Sheik realize that what he feels for her is more than mere passion. He has been conquered—and risks everything to get her back. The power of love reaches across the desert sands, leading to the thrilling and unexpected conclusion.
One of the most widely read novels of the 1920s, and forever fixed in the popular imagination in the film version starring the irresistible Rudolph Valentino, The Sheik is recognized as the immediate precursor to the modern romance novel. When first published there was nothing like it: To readers the story was scandalous, exotic, and all-consuming; to such critics as the New York Times the book was "shocking," although written with "a high degree of literary skill." In the author's native England, the bestselling book was labeled "poisonously salacious" by the Literary Review and banned from some communities. But the public kept reading.
The influence of The Sheik on romance writers and readers continues to resonate. Despite controversy over its portrayal of sexual exploitation as a means to love, The Sheik remains a popular classic for its representation of the social order of its time, capturing contemporary attitudes toward colonialism as well as female power and independence that still strike a chord with readers today."
And The Story of O by Pauline Réage, which was published in 1954.
"O is a young, beautiful fashion photographer in Paris. One day her lover, Rene, takes her to a chateau, where she is enslaved, with Rene's approval, and systematically sexually assaulted by various other men. Later, Rene turns O over to Sir Stephen, an English friend who intensifies the brutality. But the final humiliation is yet to come."
Neither these are tame tales for the faint of heart. And (WARNING) The Story of O is not a romance, it does not have a happy ending. And The Sheik's happy ending is on shaky grounds.
But these two books are part of a body of work that make up the original erotic tales that helped shape the genre of erotic fiction and erotic romantic fiction (not the same thing) for decades to come.
In 2000, Ellora's Cave an erotic romance publishing company was founded. Within a few years, the company became the publisher for erotic fiction and blossomed into a multimillion dollar venture with hundreds of new titles published every year.
So how come I read in yesterday's Washington Post article extolling Fifty Shade of Gray's popularity, while the author mentioned these other books, she goes on to declare Fifty Shades of Gray as the first X-rated novel in the genre?
Surely she has not read The Story of O or The Sheik or anything published by Ellora's Cave or the multiple other erotic romance publishers out there such one of my former publishers, Whispers Publishing.
While I applaud the excitement over the story, I simply want to remind journalists that the book certainly isn't the first of it's kind. There exists a rich and deep history of this genre. I've studied it, because I've written in this genre, too.
So if you've devoured the Fifty Shades triology and are looking for more steamy books in the genre to read, here are a few erotic romances penned by my romantic alter-ego, Dorothy McFalls:
Lady Sophie's Midnight Seduction
In this SHORT STORY, Lady Sophie, a self-avowed spinster, has been happy with her independence for many years...that is until Lord Benton-Black enters her world. Now she finds her nights haunted by this man who is determined to seduce her and make her his wife.
Taken by Moonlight
Bored of society's ballrooms and events, Lady Amelia wants more from life. But not to be kidnapped! A rogue with a wildness that both frightens and excites her steals her away from the only family she’s ever known and tosses her into a world of werewolves and danger.
It's worse than a bad hair day! Dallas's new lover is taking control in the bedroom, and an unworldly force is threatening her soul.
Faith was looking for a one-night stand. What she got was an otherworldly hunk who appears determined to make her his sex slave.