Katherine Furman

J.A. Redmerski’s The Edge of Never became a New Adult blockbuster when it was published in 2012, just as this vanguard genre was finding traction in the literary world and with readers. The story swept readers up in the romance between 20-year-olds Camryn Bennett and Andrew Parrish, capturing the wild, sometimes reckless desires to leave home and live an authentic, fulfilling life—both defining themes of this new category of fiction. Add in sexual discovery and emotional growth, and you get a true archetype of the genre. 

The Edge of Always begins with the couple living in Texas. In love, engaged and with a baby girl on the way, they are looking toward the future: where they will live, what they will do and how they can stay true to themselves in the process. Andrew’s love for cars has him working at a garage, even though his hefty inheritance is more than enough to keep them afloat for a good long time. And Camryn is mulling over whether they should move to North Carolina or stay in Texas. Meanwhile, they indulge their passion for music by playing in clubs at night, with both of them singing and Andrew playing guitar. But life doesn’t always follow an easy road, of course. When tragedy hits, Camryn tailspins into old patterns of withdrawl and new levels of self-destruction. This time it’s Andrew’s turn to take her hand and lead her back to life. 

One of the book’s biggest strengths is the dialogue, which is striking in its honesty. There are no pretentions, and the characters aren’t trying to sound smarter than they are. The slang, the cursing, the earnest admissions seem to be what would actually come out of the mouth of a 20-something. 

No matter what question or obstacle they face, Andrew and Camryn always answer with "I love you." And the inexorable forever assumed in their love is a model of perfection one hopes exists in the real world. With this base of strength, the characters are able to face challenges on their own terms and fully realize themselves in the process. They are not relegated to norms or the normal path in life, because they have the courage (and the bank account) to pave their own way.

The Edge of Always is at heart a testament to the staying power of true love, and a reminder that, no matter how hard life gets, if we are lucky, there is someone there to see us through our trials. 

J.A. Redmerski’s The Edge of Never became a New Adult blockbuster when it was published in 2012, just as this vanguard genre was finding traction in the literary world and with readers. The story swept readers up in the romance between 20-year-olds Camryn Bennett and Andrew Parrish, capturing the wild, sometimes reckless desires to leave home and live an authentic, fulfilling life—both defining themes of this new category of fiction. Add in sexual discovery and emotional growth, and you get a true archetype of the genre. 

When L. Marie Adeline’s S.E.C.R.E.T was released earlier this year, it quickly became a bestseller, garnering praise for its refreshing—some said “feminist”—take on erotic fiction. It centered on Cassie Robichaud’s introduction to S.E.C.R.E.T. (Safe, Erotic, Compelling, Romantic, Ecstatic, and Transformative), a mysterious society devoted to helping women who have lost their self-esteem find the strength to love themselves—and others—by enabling them to act out their deepest (usually repressed) sexual fantasies. Through a series of fiery encounters with gorgeous men, who are all handpicked by S.E.C.R.E.T.’s council members, the women learn to challenge their inner fears and inhibitions under safe conditions. The result is a profound sense of satisfaction and confidence that helps them break down their emotional walls and embrace the self-assured, sexual creatures that were once hidden within. Thanks to S.E.C.R.E.T., Carrie gained the confidence to go after what she wanted, which ended up being Will.

The drama kicks in right at the get-go in the second book in the series, S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared. Unfortunately, though, it looks like a happily-ever-after was not in the cards for Cassie and Will. Having lost Will to another woman—who’s pregnant, no less—Cassie is nursing a seriously broken heart. The icing on the cake? Will is her boss, and the other woman is a co-worker. The worst.

Though Cassie’s heartstrings are playing a sad tune, that doesn’t stop her from orchestrating steamy pick-me-up encounters with some very desirable bad boys. She finds herself between the sheets with a very talented young rocker, and she is irrepressibly drawn back to the tattooed pastry chef from one of her S.E.C.R.E.T. fantasies—but no one makes her heart skip like Will does.

As S.E.C.R.E.T.’s latest success story, Cassie wants to give back by helping the organization select the next woman in need of a reawakening. She finds the perfect candidate in 31-year-old local vintage-store owner Dauphine. Stunted by a massive betrayal in her past, Dauphine has retreated into an isolated existence. Though she pines for closeness—particularly with Mark, the handsome rock star Cassie has no trouble bedding—she is unwilling to take the first steps out of her comfort zone to reach for it. That is, until Cassie and S.E.C.R.E.T. present her with the chance to live again. Taking a leap of faith, Dauphine agrees.

To her alternating shock and delight, Dauphine discovers that each of the ten steps in the S.E.C.R.E.T. process requires that a different elaborate scene be played out, giving plenty of variety to her rendezvous. A different man, a different location, a different emotional issue at hand—such an assortment keeps things hot and heavy for readers along for the ride as Dauphine surrenders to ecstasy in the great outdoors, finds trust at 30,000 feet and learns to be a generous lover in an underground salsa club. 

At its heart, S.E.C.R.E.T. is about women helping women. Yes, it’s about women learning to fully embrace their sex lives, but, almost more importantly, it’s about these women realizing their self-worth and figuring out—and going after—what they really want in life. Though self-discovery is not a new theme for erotica, a female lead relying on a supportive community of women to achieve it is unique. Adeline packs the book with enough heat to satisfy even the most voracious of erotica devotees, and the female-empowerment angle might encourage hesitant-but-curious readers to challenge their own inhibitions and give erotica a try.  

 

When L. Marie Adeline’s S.E.C.R.E.T was released earlier this year, it quickly became a bestseller, garnering praise for its refreshing—some said “feminist”—take on erotic fiction. It centered on Cassie Robichaud’s introduction to S.E.C.R.E.T. (Safe, Erotic, Compelling, Romantic, Ecstatic, and Transformative), a mysterious society devoted to helping women who have lost their self-esteem find the strength […]

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