intense sensations

Should your heroine’s knickers have a gusset?

Posted on: October 5, 2011

Asking for Trouble (Black Lace)Asking for Trouble by Kristina Lloyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a writer of erotica, there are many things I’ve tried to learn from this book. How to make condoms sexy. How to coarsen my vocabulary. When to let my heroine wear knickers with a gusset. And many other tricks of the trade.

But there’s one thing that, for my money, Kristina does better than any other writer of erotica, and that’s to use her sophisticated mastery of language to describe quite complex physical sensations. She does it very simply and accurately and the effect is very powerful.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of her language. What she is doing is very difficult. For she doesn’t just focus on the physical. She manages to dig out and express the emotional roots of desire.

I recommend this book to every writer. Kristina can be lyrical at times but she is never self-indulgent. And when she needs to be crude she is definitively crude. Above all, she strives to be accurate. Her touchstone is undoubtedly herself, her own body, her own desires, her own responses. For this reason alone the book is very daring. Many writers of erotica fall back on well-worn phrases. They do not make best use of the raw material available to them – themselves.

As an example, here is a description of Beth walking along the beach in Brighton.

The wind buffeted me and, every now and again, my steps went crooked and drunken because it was so ferociously strong. It was warm and arid too: my eyes didn’t stream the way they would do in a chill wind. That rushing air had the opposite effect; it made my eyeballs feel strangely dry.

There are some emotions lying beneath the surface of those stark sentences but even if you are not aware of them, because I have lifted the words out of their context, you get a sense of how clinically accurate Kristina can be.

Stephen King once wrote in one of his introductions to Salem’s Lot (June 15, 2005):

So turn off the television … and we’ll talk about vampires here in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them, because while I was working on this book, I believed in them myself.

Whenever I pick up Kristina’s book and re-read her sentences about Ilya and Beth, her vivid descriptions of Brighton, her sharp and swanky dialogue, I believe that what I am reading is real. Because while Kristina was writing this book, it was real.

Not everyone can handle this kind of authenticity. This book isn’t for everyone. Beth degrades herself in ways that are sick and disgusting. She does things that no woman should ever do. But I believe in her. I understand her. I care about her. And for that Kristina earns my everlasting respect.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

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4 Responses to "Should your heroine’s knickers have a gusset?"

Thank you so much for this! You write damn good reviews – analytical, insightful and witty – and I’m thrilled to be the subject of one.

I love that you now have a ‘gusset’ tag. It’s one of those words I really like (but must use sparingly) because it’s so un-pretty and kinda functional rather than seductive. I’m sure plenty of people find it ugly but for me, ugly and hot are often linked.

And you’re totally right, that book was very real to me; it was an unleashing.

Thank you.

[…] for Trouble, my bestselling title, got a fabulous, intelligent review from Vanessa Wu. I want to quote the entire piece but I’m picking this part: Don’t be fooled by the […]

I have to agree with you about Kristina Lloyd’s erotic fiction. It’s delectable. She does, as you say, manage to dig out the emotional roots of desire and they are tangled and complex and ambiguous – which makes the sex just that much hotter in my opinion.

Fine praise from an expert in the genre!

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