It’s easy to find kinky, steamy scenes in romance or erotica mega-hits like 50 Shades of Grey, but sometimes some of the most surprising, and sexy, bits of literature can be found in places not so obvious—and we’re not just talking about works by the Marquis de Sade or Henry Miller. You can find plenty of spicy, scintillating scenes of sin within more contemporary writing—enough to leave you blushing and hiding your books from the person in the next chair over—as long as you know where to look…
Exit to Eden, Anne Rice
Writing under the name Anne Rampling, Vampire novelist Anne Rice scandalized the literary world with scenes of BDSM years before we allowed ourselves to get down and dirty in the billionaire offices of Mr. Grey. Rampling’s The Club resort allowed visitors to experience life as a Master or Domme, and the POV was through Head Female Trainer Lisa Kelly and her new slave Elliot Slater. Sadly, the movie version of this novel was not only toned down, but totally bastardized into a Saturday Night Live-esque comedy. But the book itself remains an erotic gem.
Memorable Scene: Lisa narrates as slave Elliot takes control and has rough sex with his “Mistress.” Lisa goes through the motions of shock and reluctance, but ultimately succumbs to Elliot’s power and the consuming attraction she feels. Rice’s narration is truly something to behold; personal and intense but somehow still lyrically beautiful, holding back nothing.
Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates
Blonde is Joyce Carol Oates’ much exaggerated, but still soulfully accurate, portrayal of Marilyn Monroe (aka Norman Jeane), told in a series of episodes that are at once sexy, sad and bizarre to imagine. The intention is to explore a less glamorous Marilyn, but still sticking loosely to historical events (while obscuring actual names, such as “The Ex-Athlete” or “The President”) and using actual Marilyn quotes for her dialog. Blonde reads like a fanfiction that just happens to be penned by an award-winning author. Of course, one of the best parts of celebrity fanfiction is writing extended sex scenes—and this book doesn’t shy away from those. In fact, they’re made even more exciting in that they star three Hollywood icons.
Memorable Scene: Marilyn Monroe has a sexy threesome on the beach with Cass Chaplin (the son of Charlie) and Eddy G (Edward G. Robinson). The scene was pretty hot, as you can imagine, especially if you dig old time movie stars doing porno-riffic things. As if you need any more reason to read this book, they made a TV mini-series about it including some pretty intense MMF implications subtext in the scene, starring…hold your breath…Jensen Ackles of Supernatural fame!
A Song of Fire and Ice, George R. R. Martin
While Martin’s epic ode to war and socio-political fantasy series was not written to be erotic, it’s hard to deny that he forced the mainstream fantasy market to grow up, detailing explicit sex scenes and focusing on the bizarre and sometimes aberrant sexuality of both his heroes and villains. Whereas most books in the genre ignore sexuality altogether as a way to stay uncontroversial, Martin revels in describing sexual feelings, titillating visuals, twisted rapes and incestuous encounters, as well as the very politically incorrect view of sex in the backdrop of the Middle Ages; i.e., Daenerys sexual activity starts at the age of 13.
Memorable Scene: While we don’t mind disturbing, we prefer the erotic and so our favorite scene has to be with perhaps the only redeemable character still alive in the series, Jon Snow, who finally gets a full nude scene with Wildling girl Ygritte. Upon seeing her naked for the first time, he gives her a dozen descriptive reasons why he loves her and wants her. Ygritte lets him go down on her and then asks him if he loves her so much, why is he still dressed? And during their consummation is when she says the much repeated line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow…Nothi—Oh. Oh. OHHH.”
Glamorama, Bret Easton Ellis
While many remember Bret Easton Ellis as the writer of the occasionally erotic and very creepy American Psycho, many of his fans actually enjoyed Glamorama, a satire of celebrity and the modeling industry, for its kink. Ellis caused a bit of a stir among readers who came to the book believing minimalism was the best way to write sex, by describing the act in great detail. By doing so, the sexual antics come across as intentionally detached and almost pornographic in their loveless spirit, further adding to the satire of his vapid characters and their world.
Memorable Scene: While there are a few sexual encounters that will raise your eyebrows, most people can’t stop talking about the six-page long MMF threesome scene in the shower. The detail given to the sexual positions, probably difficult to manage in a small tight space, is admirable and helped to establish Ellis as one of the few big name authors who “goes there” in terms of sexual detail. It’s the sort of scene that may corrupt your wholesome views of showering, turning something cleansing into something amazingly dirty.
The Death of Bunny Munro, Nick Cave
While you may recognize musician Nick Cave’s haunting voice from songs like “Red Right Hand” and “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, you haven’t experienced his writing—and quite erotic writing at that—until you’ve read The Death of Bunny Monro. This book avoids sexual clichés by focusing on many forgotten details of erotic encounters, with strong visuals like “the hard pearls of her nipples” and “bluish tinge blossoming on the skin of her skull through her thin, ironed hair.” Cave writes his sex scenes with the same fawning manner in which he describes scenes of violence in his music.
Memorable Scene: Bunny scoring with a character loosely based on Avril Lavigne, apparently, that was so hot and “invasive” (in Cave’s own words) that he openly apologized to the singer for defiling her in such a public format. Well, I guess that’s when you know you’re hot and have made it… when another musician writes erotic fanfiction starring you!
Who Do You Love, Jennifer Weiner
While Weiner has been unfairly criticized as a chick-lit author, book for book, she gives the readers what they want like no other. She tackles a somewhat taboo idea in this 2015 book: eroticism between friends. Through the characters of Rachel Blum and Andy Landis, who first meet in an E.R. at the age of eight, we see a lifetime unfold of romance, breakups, regrets and angst.
Memorable Scene: After Rachel and Andy lose touch for three years they reunite for a platonic meeting with an honorable hug. However, as the moments pass and they feel the sexual tension build all over again, they recall old passions and quickly wind up in bed again. The book explores how relationships can be both sexy, painful, awkward and romantic all over again—once friends become lovers.
What do you think? Which book did we leave out from your own personal collection, and what was your most memorable sex scene?