By Kait Jagger

So, I’m at a social event the other day, talking to a couple of women I don’t know very well. And I’m making conversation, like you do, firing off questions about their favorite movies, holiday destinations. Eventually, we come to the subject of their reading preferences, and the conversation takes a predictable turn.

“The only books I definitely won’t read,” began one with a little eye roll (cue strained, anticipatory smile from me), “are books like 50 Shades of Grey. I just don’t understand what women see in them.”

Before you stop me, this isn’t going to turn into a defense of E. L. James. She’s got 37 million friends in the bank to do that. Nor is it going to be a diatribe against the type of woman who thinks it’s clever to flaunt her book snobbery like some kind of red badge of courage. Haters gonna hate, right?

It’s funny how often I meet women like this one, though—women who, IMO, protest a little too vehemently. The exact women I think should be indulging in a little romance novel sex.

A test, for all you doubters out there who share this woman’s mystification at the popularity of this genre:

  1. Ask a friend who reads romances—trust me, you have such a friend—to loan you one of her favorites. Tell her you want to start with the best before you try the rest (me, I’d loan a beginner like you Outlander by Diana Gabaldon).
  2. Read up through the first sexual encounter between the two lead characters.
  3. And then ask yourself if this encounter titillated you in any way whatsoever.

If not, fair play. But if so, set aside your quibbles with the romance genre for a moment, though I would argue that such quibbles are more about reader prejudices than the books themselves, many of which are extremely well written. Where’s the harm in harnessing your entirely natural physical response to a vividly realised sex scene? I’m here to tell you, 22 years and four children into my marriage, that I will harness my titillation wherever I can, thank you very much.

The possible payoff?

More variety    

You ever see a recipe in a magazine and think, hey, that sounds tasty, I’ll give it a whirl? Sure you do. It’s the same with romance novel sex. Bondage, further adventures in spanking, tradesman’s entrance. I owe these and many other fun additions to my sexual repertoire to the romance genre. And to sexual advice columnist Dan Savage (thank you, Dan!).

More honesty with your partner    

Think you know your partner’s sexual interests inside and out? I did. But he threw me a curveball recently when I described a MFF threesome in a book I was reading and asked him whether this was something he’d ever fantasized about himself. “No,” he replied simply. “I’d be too busy worrying you enjoyed it more with her.” Bless!

More honesty with yourself     

As you may have gathered, I’m pretty frank about sexual matters. But like every woman, I have my secrets—hidden, unrealized kinks I may never act on but that fuel my fantasy life. Reading about them and acknowledging them—if only to myself—is an incredibly empowering act, something erotic in and of itself.

‘Pretty frank.’ Yes. But not frank enough to tell the 50 Shades hater that I write the kind of books she claims she’ll never read.

Kait Jagger lives on a farm in Lancashire, England with her husband, four children, one dog and one cat. She is the author of Lord and Master and Her Master’s Servant and can be found at

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