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Friday, September 17, 2010


What's the first romance novel you ever read?

I confess: I have several books on my shelves that I stole from my mother when I was fourteen years old. I don't think she knows, though I'm sure she'd remember them despite their broken spines and ragged covers that nearly hide the titles done up in fancy curlicues. My fingers are dusty as I page through them and I realize that I began reading these novels with their shrinking heroines and domineering men before I read any other genre of fiction.

I remember enjoying Amanda Rose by Karen Robards over and over again. That was the first book that seemed unabashedly sexual to me; I remember the initial kiss in that book to this day. It doesn't happen until page one hundred twenty seven—talk about unresolved sexual tension! Sadly, the characters hated each other by the second half of the book, but the sense of eroticism lingered. I ransacked my mom's shelves and found Laurie McBain's Wild Bells to the Wild Sky. Then I read Laura London's The Windflower and decided that pirates were the sexiest men on the planet. Happily, I moved on and discovered Pamela Morsi, Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney and my love affair with regencies began.

Years later, I picked up a book by Emma Holly and discovered the amazing world of erotica. I shopped around, only to discover that erotica as a genre was in its infancy. Oh sure, I read A.N. Roquelaure, Anaïs Nin, the Yellow Silk anthologies, but there weren't a lot of erotic romance novels in the late 90s. There's always smut to be had if you look hard enough, but I longed for more. I wanted to recapture that sense of tension and heightened arousal that Amanda Rose provoked in my teenage psyche. It was written nearly thirty years ago, but Karen Robards understood even then that the power of sex lies in the mind and the suggestion of what might happen just as much as in the most detailed love scenes. Certainly I love to read (and write) about sex, the hotter the better, but the sweet buildup before the first kiss or the trembling anticipation that rises the first time a character undresses can make even an explicit sex scene step from merely heated into scorching.

That's what I love most in erotica: the tension, the naughtiness. It can be experienced when a woman explores her sexuality with a man, when two men fall in love, or in the midst of a polyamorous fling, but it has to have a sense of discovery to truly appeal to me. My love affair with erotica really began when sweet, innocent Amanda Rose melted into her first kiss from a dark-haired stranger she rescued from the beach. He dirtied her up and she let him and with every new book I read I want to see that happen again and again. I don't think I'll be giving that novel back to my mother anytime soon.

[Ménage Amour: Erotic Contemporary Ménage a Trois Romance, M/M/F, with M/M, Suspense]

Two men.

One woman.

A mystery shooter.

Who is trying to kill Sabrina and why? Will Jimmy be able to protect her, or will he need the help of sexy FBI agent Gabriel? And how can Sabrina resist falling in love when she experiences passion for the first time?

Despite the danger, she can’t help how she feels, especially not when Gabriel and Jimmy begin to rekindle the romance they had to abandon years ago. When she realizes that both men desire her just as much as they want each other, she falls head over heels for the first time.

When violence strikes, the only way out of disaster is for the three of them to trust in each other and in love.

A Siren Erotic Romance

Erin M. Leaf's romance novel, The First Time is the Sweetest, is a Siren-BookStrand bestseller.

Her first story, written in third grade, involved a burning house, a desperate jump, and the last-minute save of her older sister. Since then, Erin has been a technical writer, an editor, a proofreader, and a poet. She has won awards and published poetry chapbooks, learned to crochet, and worked as a full-time mom.

author page at Siren-BookStrand:
link to The First Time is the Sweetest:


Julia Barrett said...

The very first romance I read is Linda Howard's Son of the Morning. The second - Kill and Tell. The third, After the Night. I'm a late-comer to romance! Congrats on the success of your menage!

K Garcia said...

First one I ever read was called "Moondust and Madness" by Janelle Taylor. It was shoved into my hands at the lovely age of 14 by my fellow classmate Elizabeth (who loved to read). She felt that I needed to broaden my horizons since I tend to read mostly sci-fi and fantasy.

Erin M. Leaf said...

Julia, I've read a lot of Linda Howard. I remember being sick about twelve years ago with the flu and reading five of her books in a row. :-)

Lakisha, I read that one too! It's such a classic. I'm glad your classmate dragged you over to the dark side. :)