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Is another erotic novel which is, according to the cover, a sequel to a previous effort of its author, Sophie Morgan, and billed as a "real life Fifty Shades of Grey" as it's supposed to be autobiographical.

Well, I was manning a polling station in Oxford again earlier this year and we'd got this tome for £2.99 up Smiths with three shite gossip magazines, which we bought in case the netty was out of paper and to sneer at their inhabitants. While waiting for people to vote (turnout at my station was about 16%) I read this, and it was suitably direbollockal. Here's why.

Executive Summary

Hurray. More BDSM. wow.

A bit more detail, if you don't mind?

Sophie and Adam meet, get into a relationship, shag a lot, and engage in lots of craply written BDSM from her viewpoint which fails sex forever. In between this, they go in for sub-Mills & Boon slushing over each other. This is to show, presumably, that despite their habit of him tying her up and birching her till she cries, putting a collar and lead on her and making her eat out a doggie bowl, and tying her up in the bath and then dribbling on her but pretending it's wee (don't ask), they're actually totally in WUV with each other.

The end result is that the novel is dead boring. Really it is. Plot? Character development? What we need that for when we can have more gratuitous porking. The closest we get is when she starts getting all het up because she can't orgasm for some reason (I forget what, it's never made exactly clear), and this is clearly a big deal. His solution? Get her tied up in an uncomfortable position and count to five, and if she's not doing an impression of that scene in When Harry Met Sally, it's gonna go hard with her. It works. I am sure that on some level, this fails sex forever; I certainly can't believe it. However, since this is the closest the novel gets to character development, I have to give it some credence. Because character development is something that we are woefully short of. Who are these people, I wonder. We know that they both work in publishing (which is probably true) but we don't really know what they get up to short of kinky sex. Why do they have such a stonk-on for each other? I mean, in 50SOG we knew it was because Christian Grey was giga-rich and had a beef spear of considerable magnitude but here... nope. They just alternate between BDSM sessions and gushing over each other.

Sometimes both at once. And sometimes it kinda seems to cross the line from BDSM and into abuse. Call me old fashioned, but in my day we did it with safe words and agreeing in advance what we would and wouldn't feel comfortable with. None of that here. Such as that time when he had her tied up and blindfolded in the bath and urinated on her, which she objected to massively after the fact (and rightly so, because she'd never said she was willing to do anything involving waste products) but then un-objected to when he revealed he'd actually taken a mouthful of warm water and dribbled it on her. Ahem. This is supposed to be okay then? I'd actually say that that is even more creepy, in that he knew on some level that she didn't like to be weed on but rather than having the gallantry to confront her about it, he had to try to do it surreptitiously by the back door, if you will. Yeah.

Then there's the figging. You can look it up if you don't know what it is, but basically it's where you stuff a piece of specially shaped root ginger up your partner's arse. What fun.

Thing is, there is something deeply unsettling about this novel. For a start, there's the conflation of BDSM and abuse. I appreciate that some people like that sort of thing, which is fair enough. But Adam seems to cross the line a bit too much for comfort and she very rarely challenges him on this because, we're supposed to believe, she's completely in WUV with him. I personally think she's being a bit of a doormat, and at the same time this is all sold as empowering to women. Fhat the wuck. I was led to believe that a core tenet of feminism was women taking control of their sexuality. Even if that includes being submissive or masochistic, granted, but the key thing here is being in control. Where there are no safe words or agreed boundaries, in a BDSM type affair, then there is no control and unless you, the sub, trust your partner absolutely and beyond belief, and he or she is worthy of it, you're going to be at risk of all manner of abuse. However, we're supposed to believe that this completely boundary-less relationship in which BDSM is routinely conflated with just plain degradation for its own sake is allegedly empowering to women.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy it.

The writing is also pretty hopeless as well and both Sophie and Adam are eminently slappable. Though they might enjoy that.