Though the digital onslaught has been underway since May, the paperback edition of E.L. James’s gazillion-selling international hit Fifty Shades of Grey hits American shores on April 3, thanks to the folks at Vintage. The erotic, S&M-themed coming-of- age has been called everything from “mommy porn” to the second coming of The Story of O, and the appeal is obvious for anyone who’s noticed the way grown women snapped up the Twilight series—in fact, the Fifty Shades trilogy famously began as Twilight fan fiction.
But what if a sexually naïve woman’s initiation into S&M isn’t your thing? Or you’ve already read all three novels on your favorite digital reading device? Or you’re just plain contrarian? What’s out there for you this week?
As a public service, The Tip Sheet breaks down the appeal of Fifty Shades into its component parts and offers five alternates, also new this week:
The lurid sex factor:
Sweet Addiction by veteran romance author Maya Banks is Berkley’s cagey counterprogramming for Fifty Shades, the story of a powerful man, the sexually submissive woman he desires, and the woman’s current “master.” It’s Fifty Shades meets Indecent Proposal. The cover, featuring the derrière of a woman bound by a string of pearls, should draw Fifty Shades fanatics right in.
Party of Three (NAL) is the latest in prolific author Lacey Alexander’s H.O.T. Cops series, featuring a male-male-female threesome, their romantic getaway, and the unpredictable results. Those chiaroscuro torsos on the cover should be plenty to get browsers’ attention.
The possibly-dangerous/fiercely-protective lover factor:
The Shape of Desire is the latest paranormal romance from Sharon Shinn (see our Q&A) and Ace, in which the long-term relationship between a human woman and her shape-shifting manimal gets tricky when a series of murders seems to lead back to their front door.
The “everyone else is reading it” factor:
Get a jump on the crowd by picking up Paris in Love: A Memoir by romance author Eloisa James, out in a handsome hardcover from Random. James likely has this year’s big French memoir on her hands, and it probably won’t be long before fans of Amy Thomas’s Paris, My Sweet, Adam Gopnick’s Paris to the Moon, Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé, David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris, Julia Child’s My Life in France, Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris, Helena Frith Powell’s All You Need to Be Impossibly French—and others!—make it the next Francophilic bestseller.
The restless mom factor:
Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (Norton) is another first foray into memoir from a seasoned novelist, in this case Irish author Anne Enright. At 37, 18 years into her marriage, Enright gets pregnant with her first child, embarking on a wholly unexpected journey from grumpy outsider (“I never liked being around nursing women”) to full-fledged member of the Happy Mommies contingent. Expect “hilarious” and “brutally honest” insights into the state of modern motherhood, as well as a dose of pure wonder: perfect for both cathartic anxiety relief and uplifting affirmation.