Today I thought I'd share my thoughts on the external benefits of reading erotic romance - in other words not just the pleasure of immersing oneself in fantasy with big, hot, raring-to-go hunks, but whether or not it improves individual's sex lives and spices up bedroom time.
Certainly I believe introducing eroticism into the bedroom in the form of literature can only be beneficial, it gets you in the mood, gives you ideas and heightens the awareness of all things sexy - including your partner who, lets face it, can occasionally be neglected.
I say this because I did a secret bit of research recently on a friend who was an unwitting guinea pig - still is. She loves her man very much, they have been together for years, but she was finding that when it came to playing 'hide the sausage' it just wasn't happening for her, she wasn't up for it, the desire just not there - luckily she likes to talk, a lot, especially after a glass of wine.
In a totally separate conversation, we went on to chat about what books we were reading. At this point I confessed that I'd just re-read The Story of O. She however told me she was reading some awful zombie story. It was all horror, gore and suspense. I say awful because to me that sort of story is awful, and certainly not my choice of bed-time reading. No, I like to snuggle down with heart-stoppingly gorgeous men and wonderfully romantic and sexy tales spinning around my head, not blood and guts spilling out all over the place and wondering what every bump and bang in the house is at night - but that's just me.
Anyway, being a bit bossy, which I'm afraid I am, I told her that her reading material may well be the root of her libido problem. At which point she topped up our wine and said, "Go on." I pointed out that it was logical, if you're stressed and wound up as you go to sleep, wondering if that zombie is going to come and get you (doesn't help that she lives in a creepy old farmhouse that dates back two hundred years) then how are you going to feel in the mood for a bit of fun. For her this was like a revelation, for me it was common sense (told you I'm bossy!!!).
I set her a challenge to just read books I recommended for the next month to see if she would feel able to make the switch from fleecy pyjamas to satin nightie!
All the time I was being very scientific- well, no, not really but there you go - and I started off with gentle romances with a bit of action and when she said how much she enjoyed them I upped the heat level. Giving her stories with much more graphic sex scenes and a sprinkle of kink.
Before long she was texting me to say how much she was enjoying the books, she was neglecting her day time chores to read and getting through my paperback collection at a rate of knots.
Time to ply her with wine again...
Sure enough, she was soon telling me about the naughtiness her and hubby had been up to the night before, not loads of details but enough to make her blush and for me to know that my experiment had been a success. "I'm going to have to get a Kindle," she said. "So people can't see the covers of what I'm reading!"
So in conclusion I would say that yes, reading erotic novels of any heat level can increase your sex-drive. And one of the most poignant things my friend said was that as she was reading all of these books, thinking about the dashing heroes and the sex and emotions, when actually, she had a hero of her own, lying right next to her, she just had to grab what was hers and make herself the star of her own erotic novel!!
Do share your thoughts, I would love to know if anyone else has done any serious studies on this matter!
Oh, and talking of married couples, check out my co-author with Natalie Dae called That Filthy Book. All about a relationship that finds itself on a steep learning curve as the hero and heroine rediscover the joys of how they used to be...and more!