Title: Threads of Desire
Author: Eleri Stone
Publisher: Carina Press
Erotica is a fairly limited genre in that the primary interest is in the sexual relationship between the main characters. Since there is only so much variation one can have in the sexual act, and the wording used to describe such acts are somewhat limited, one can tire of erotica fairly easily, so I don’t read a lot of it. Like a sugary desert, overdoing it can easily destroy your taste for it and, despite a common belief that it is somehow easy to churn it out, good erotica is actually very difficult to write well.
Even if you’re reading the story just for the sex, your enjoyment of those scenes is greatly increased if you are invested in the characters and engaged in their story. It is the relationship that gives power to the sex scenes. Strength in these areas makes the difference between erotica and pornography. Another difference is that erotica honours the beauty and intimacy of the sexual act whereas pornography cheapens and debases it.
You take an enormous risk when you read erotica, because it could so easily be truly dreadful. However, Eleni Stone is one of the authors that writes erotica well. The first erotica I ever read was one of hers, a romance that I stumbled upon not realising that it had crossed the line between romance and erotica. Intrigued, I read some more of the genre, and quickly realised that in lesser hands, something that is supposed to be deeply moving can easily become ridiculous or, at the least, self-indulgent and gratuitous. This is why I do not read self-published erotica – it’s just too hard to get right and too easy to do badly. If the readers of erotica are as undiscerning as many assume, then they need the gatekeepers more, not less.
As in any romance, the tension is in what keeps the lovers apart, or stops them from committing to each other. In this instance, Ily is a virtual pauper from the street and Kal is a rich man, but Ily’s mistrust of powerful men is the more potent issue. Ms Stone handles the emotional/psychological aspects of her characters well, and it’s this skill that makes her erotica stand above the mediocre.
She tells us very little about the world we find ourselves in, instead the culture of the world is revealed as we follow the characters through the story. Ily is a weaver Mage. She uses a kind of magic to weave her masterpieces. I recognised it as the magic of deep creativity.
Kal employs her to make a carpet for him and she lives at his house and enjoys his bed and other comforts as she does so, but Kal has a hidden agenda and Ily remains emotionally aloof, knowing that when their business is finished, she will go on her way. Even so, part of her wishes the end could be different.
Apart from the intricacies of their relationship, there are two subtle mysteries that drive the story; one is Kal’s agenda and the other is the cause of Ily’s mistrust. The tension builds to a satisfying climax (pun intended) as these unravel near the end of the book.
As with all scenes in any book, the sex scenes shouldn’t be there unless they move the story forward and the intimate scenes in this book do just that. They are a integral part of a sensitive love story, written by an author skilled in the art of writing the most intimate of scenes in an evocative way. There is nothing pretentious about this story, but if you are looking for good erotica, you need go no further.