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BDSM Novels to Curl Up With for a Steamy Night In

The crème de la crème of the genre.

Marie Claire

BDSM: bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If your curiosity is piqued and/or you get excited by the concept, you’re not alone; this is one of the most popular kinks in the world. For many people, especially those whose knowledge of BDSM stems from films like Fifty Shades and songs like Rihanna’s S&M, the practice can sound intimidating. Don't worry—there’s plenty of ways to ease into the community, and erotic novels are a prime place to start. Not only can these novels show how exactly what the lifestyle entails, they also offer a peek into the minds of those who practice it. Whether you’re new to the BDSM community or a connoisseur looking for your next great read, here are some steamy selects that take erotic reading to the next level.

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1 'Club Shadowlands' by Cherise Sinclair
amazon.com
$14.99

Ask any BDSM literary lover for book recommendations and you’ll probably hear the same name: Cherise Sinclair. Club Shadowlands, the first of the Masters of the Shadowlands series, is a must-have for your erotica library. It revolves around a vanilla accountant who stumbles into a BDSM club called Club Shadowlands in the middle of the night. The club owner, Master Z, decides to take her under his wing and she gets sucked into the world of BDSM. But wait, there’s more! Turns out that Mr. Z can read minds, which is a bit weird but definitely makes for some steamy sex scenes. 

2 'Story of O' by Pauline Reage
amazon.com
$16.00
$12.37 (23% off)

This 1954 novel was written by a woman who didn’t claim authorship of the book until 40 years after it was published (Pauline Reage is a pen name), so you can surmise from that just how explicit and X-rated the content is. It revolves around a Frenchwoman named O who is presented as a gift to a wealthy older gentleman by her former master. Her complete submission is definitely very dedicated (to say the least), and the scenes much more intense with brutal brandings and whippings, but overall it’s a beautifully written story about the extreme ends of BDSM culture.

3 'Haven' by Rebekah Witherspoon
amazon.com
$14.99

You might be expecting something crass from a series titled Beards & Bondage, but don’t be fooled. The story beautifully encompasses loss and grief, and how sharing your pain with someone else can help with recovery. Quick rundown: a city girl goes on a camping trip in the forest only to be attacked by two crazy men who murder her brother. She is saved by a reclusive mountain man who hides her in his cabin. Although she eventually returns to her normal life and tries to recover from the trauma, she can’t stop thinking about the man who saved her. When she returns to his doorstep, the two ignite a passionate D/S relationship that allows her to cope with the emotional aftermath of her brother’s death. 

4 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E.L. James
amazon.com
$14.04

Say what you want about the 50 Shades franchise, but the series is responsible for bringing the world of BDSM into mainstream spotlight. As such, we have to give the original some credit—the storyline may run a bit cliché (young billionaire dominant with a naïve, submissive bookworm), but the steady progression of the main protagonist’s (Anastasia) sexual journey from hesitance to enthusiasm is pretty informative and a fun read.

5 'Bared To You' by Sylvia Day
amazon.com
$15.00
$9.96 (34% off)

Sylvia Day’s bestseller shares some similarities to Fifty Shades: Gideon is a damaged soul and an eccentric billionaire who harbors a desire to dominate women. However, his romantic interest Eva is equally damaged, so the relationship they share is turbulent and codependent. The book touches on themes like whether two damaged souls can build a healthy relationship, and shows how BDSM could help a couple heal from their wounded pasts.

6 'Push The Button' by Feminista Jones
amazon.com
$12.00

This story is a little different from other BDSM novels because it presents a love triangle between a woman’s current master and her former one. Her former master is abusive and emotionally manipulative, and the differing dynamics between the two show the contrast between a healthy BDSM relationship and an unhealthy one.

7 'Wicked Ties' by Shayla Black
amazon.com
$16.00
$12.38 (23% off)

Brace yourself for some explicit sex scenes, wicked dirty talk, and very creative ways to pleasure your partner. The story revolves around a hostess of a cable sex talk show who meets a self-proclaimed alpha dominant. When she needs protection from a looming stalker, he steps in as her bodyguard, and their attraction for each other turns into a full-fledged D/S relationship. It’s insanely lush, provocative and evocative AF. 

8 'Tears of Tess' by Pepper Winters
amazon.com
$13.99

If you’re looking for a secure BDSM relationship with safe words, this might not be for you. Granted, the premise is twisted–the protagonist is kidnapped and sold into a sex ring where she is bought by a “master” called Q (who just so happens to be smoldering hot). But Q is far from the typical dark and sadistic master Tess expected, and she can’t help but feel sexual excitement and heated passion when it comes to their relationship.

9 'Screw The Roses, Send Me The Thorns' by Philip Miller and Molly Devon
amazon.com
$24.95
$20.39 (18% off)

Looking for some straight-up, no-fuss information about the BDSM world? For those looking for a practical beginner’s guide to BDSM, this book is the perfect primer for the kink community. It features step-by-step instructions, illustrations and very informative diagrams to help you digest the technical elements behind a healthy, consensual BDSM relationship. You name it—bondage techniques, impact play, SM roleplay—this book has it all. 

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