Thirty Erotic Novels That Are Actually Erotic

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What constitutes an erotic novel? If you were to ask contributors to a February 2019 Cosmopolitan online piece, they’d say, “The common misconception about the genre is assuming the word ‘erotic’ immediately translates to smut or filth or straight-up pornography. People seem to forget that erotic is a blanket term for anything that turns us on sexually, and the beauty of turn-ons is that they’re different for everyone. Same goes for the world of erotic fiction.” They’d be wrong—as evidenced by the books they compiled, which included Forever by Judy Blume, Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Never mind their decrying of “filth” or “straight-up pornography” (there’s nothing wrong with either of those things!) “erotic” is not just shorthand for “books with sex in them” or “books that give you pants feelings.” I’m sure someone could get turned on by Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks, but we’re not about to put Cravings on a list of erotic novels!  

But rather than spending 1000 words rage-ranting about precisely why Forever and Lolita don’t belong in the same category as books by Nora Roberts and explaining how Roberts isn’t erotica either, I’m going to give you a list of erotic fiction titles and erotic romances that actually ARE erotic. Whether you like BDSM or vanilla heat, I’ve tried to cover a wide array of what constitutes eroticism. Let’s turn this hot-take frown upside down with a mix of classic recs, newer authors, and utterly bonkers alien planet hijinks!   

  1. Control by Charlotte Stein
  2. The Submission Gift by Solace Ames
  3. Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan
  4. Dirty by Megan Hart
  5. The Red by Tiffany Reisz
  6. Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
  7. Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
  8. Strange Attractions by Emma Holly
  9. Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun
  10. American Queen by Sierra Simone
  11. For Real by Alexis Hall
  12. Fit by Rebekah Weatherspoon
  13. Personal Geography by Tamsen Parker
  14. My Lord, Lady, and Gentleman by Nicola Davidson
  15. Laid Bare by Lauren Dane
  16. Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai
  17. Natural Law by Joey W. Hill
  18. Sin and Ink by Naima Simone
  19. Perv by Dakota Gray
  20. Simply Carnal by Kate Pearce
  21. Whip, Stir, and Serve by Caitlyn Frost and Henry Drake
  22. Princess Shanyin: The Complete Obsession Saga, by Liliana Lee
  23. Toxic Desire by Robin Lovett
  24. Thirsty by Mia Hopkins
  25. Hold ‘Em by Katie Porter
  26. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
  27. Callie, Unwrapped by Amy Jo Cousins
  28. The Lust Diaries: The Complete Series by Tasha L. Harrison
  29. The King of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle
  30. His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade
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