Blissed Out: Bedded Bliss, A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After

Unknownby Madeline Iva 

Before talking about this new book BEDDED BLISS from Cleis Press and edited by Kristina Wright, I wanted to say something about this OTHER work I read recently –

In the OTHER work I read, a woman hid her erotic books from her husband,  who suspected she was hiding something–like an affair. Then they had an agonizing drama as they made various mis-assumptions about what was going on, until finally they sat down and had a horribly awkward conversation about her book collection and how she was wanted sex like this, and this, and this from the various BDSM books she liked best.  (Imagine flipping the premise and a husband who stops hiding his collection of smexy says to the wife: okay, I want to do this this and this–pointing to the various BDSM photos.  Hmmm.)  It’s a story about a couple’s horrible communication skills, if nothing else.

While I really appreciate THAT author’s need to liberate women out there in the heart land–I was expecting a romance.  This OTHER work was NOT a romance—although it was marketed as one.  After making a number of pterodactyl noises, I threw it at the wall, waking my husband next to me who muttered What? What? What?

BEDDED BLISS is not romance either – but it’s not trying to be.  It’s the Joy of Sex with stories instead of illustrations.  The book starts without assuming that anything is wrong in the first place with your sex life or each other–as many other books do. The title, the cover, and back blurb make clear it’s a guide, and a source of inspiration all rolled into one.  It uses imagination and voice to express female monogamous desire, sexual wants, and urges.  And then…you know.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.  

Charlotte Stein knows all about restraint, and when to abandon it.
Charlotte Stein knows all about restraint, and when to abandon it.

For instance, Charlotte Stein’s story is the voice of a woman discussing her husband in those moments where her ‘filthy’ urges are at their strongest. Oh and there’s also men writing in this collection from the male point of view.  Plus as an added bonus there are sensual suggestions for each chapter.

I think the concept for the book is spot on.  As romance authors, we’re in the job of providing easy emotional catharsis for our readers.  We’re writing sex in the way we want it: safe, gratifying, grunty-hard, and yet also romantic — but I think–couples who read together aside–most women to enjoy *ahem* reading erotic romance and erotica in private.

That’s as it should be, some would say–and more power to you all who do so.  There’s nothing I enjoy more about this world of romance than the spread of sexual gratification across our beautiful land.

Yet one doesn’t want a certain schism to creep in—a schism wherein sex with oneself and a book by (fill in the blank here) is far better than sex with your ever-lovin’ partner.

After all, while I like to read Shoshanna Evers, and she may be a great erotic writer, I’m not in a relationship with her, am I?  Maybe the best sex you have should be with your partner and not a three way between you, Maya Banks, and Mr. Buzzy if you see what I mean?

UnknownThus—Bedded Bliss is an attempt, I would say, to restore the orgasmic balance in a woman’s life. It’s definitely an invitation for partners to join in, and share fantasies that turn you on, (because if you’re turned on then your man will be turned on as well, slut that he is.) And maybe what turns you on are guys who like giving women oral or at least stories about guys who like giving women oral.  I’m looking at you Christopher Cole. ;>

BEDDED BLISS is a book, in short, to help get some conversation going.

Which is not easy.  Oh, I’m not saying the man in your life won’t be interested in the book. Far from it. I couldn’t get my hands on my copy for weeks because my husband bogarted it as soon as it came in the mail.

But getting him to talk about it was nigh impossible.

After reclaiming possession of the book, I tried.

What did you think?

It had a lot of short stories in it.

Okay – and????

I don’t like short stories.


Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that guys are deliberately being difficult to talk to when it comes to discussing sex.  I think it’s just a biological thing.  Like the more you talk about sex to a man, or the more he is thinking about sex as you talk to him, the more his eyes open up wide, (or squinch tight) and those areas of his brain that involve analysis, articulation, and verbal expression just pop off one by one.  Evolutionarily I’d guess that the men who shut up and nodded a lot when the possibility of sex appeared probably got more of the nasty than guys who yammered on about football scores.  Thus the universal expressions of his pleasure–those almost Shakespearean expressions of poetry and beauty–take the limited form of Oh baby.  Oh…yeah.  Mmm.

Not that women are much better.  God, yes, yes, yes, harder, oh God! is not much of an improvement.  And we are socialized to think that wanting filthy grunty sweaty sex makes us whores. 🙁

So, really, anything that helps foster good couples communication is great.  Because (in my humble experience) great communication often leads to great sex.

Christine D'Abo is one to watch in the erotic romance world.
Christine D’Abo is one to watch in the erotic romance world.

That said, there are some excellent candid essays about sex and fun sensual exercises included in every chapter of BEDDED BLISS.  Myself, I was excited to see Charlotte Stein’s work included. I’ll read anything she writes and be slaveringly happy.  The book also has some writing by Christine D’Abo and a fun handful of some other familiar names.

The nasty secret is that men can be quite touchy and sensitive talking about how they perform.  So talking specifically about your own sex life can be quite tricky.  This book gives you something else to point at and say: That. Yes, please.  It starts out slowly, and addresses some challenges couples face, including the post-baby thing, age, and stressful times in a relationship.

I suspect that it’s easier to use as a guide than pointing at your fav sex scene in a book where the guy has a ten and a half inch willy and is Count Dred, a deathless Nascar vampire clone from Planet DoMe.  (After all, we may relish this cray-cray stuff, but it’s hard for a guy to pay attention to the specific kind of sex in a scene when he’s rolling his eyes constantly.)  With BEDDED BLISS your partner can turn to another page and say well how about that?

With it’s soft n pretty looks that are appropriate for almost any bedroom book shelf, I’d definitely recommend this book as a slammin’ Valentine’s Day gift (9 days and counting, people.)

It’s an especially great gift if combined with that other precious commodity in couple’s lives –enough alone time to try it out.

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  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    “I think it’s just a biological thing.” Uh, no — can’t agree. It’s completely socially constructed. Men who are not raised in that “I can’t talk about feelings or relationships” bullshit don’t have that problem. As the legal and cultural differences between sexes narrow, the social ones seem to be artificially increased — for example, so many more pink toys for girls now than there were a few decades ago. People don’t like to let go of their privileges.

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
    • Post authorLizEverly

      There are more pink toys for girls now? I had no idea. I have two daughters. One is 12 and one is 15–so they are a little out of the pink toy stages. I think I come down somewhere in the middle of all this. I tried gender-neutral rooms/toys/clothes/language an my oldest daughter is just a frilly girl. Loves the pink, sparkly stuff. My youngest–raised the same way, is not into any of the pink stuff. So I think biology (or personality?) DOES play a role, which I would NOT have said 16 years ago before I had kids. They seems to be born with their own little quirks and personalities, no matter what you do as a parent. That said, I wholeheartedly agree that if you are raised to talk about your feelings, whether you are a man or a woman, it’s better all the way around. Interesting post, Madeline.

      Reply to LizEverly
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Well, I agree in part with what you’re saying. And this is the great part of writing erotic romance when we write guys who talk about their feelings, anticipate a woman’s needs–if we can dream it, it can happen! And you’re right, guys self-monitor each other like crazy and don’t allow certain things to be discussed. But a) a lot of guys are getting better about that and b)I stick to my thoughts-drain-from-the-head theory. I’ve seen guys who are in touch and will talk about their emotions go all helplessly brain-blank watching women talk about sex.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      “It’s completely socially constructed. Men who are not raised in that “I can’t talk about feelings or relationships” bullshit don’t have that problem.” I wouldn’t universally state that as a truth, either. I know men who have no issues discussing feelings, but that doesn’t automatically equate with them wanting to talk about sex. Or if they do want to talk about sex it’s because they’re viewing it as a type of verbal foreplay to the act itself. I also haven’t noticed more pink toys for girls, but then again I have no little ones in the house so I’m outta that discussion.

      Interesting post, Madeline. And “sensual exercises”? Hmmm ….

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorAuthor Charmaine Gordon

    Back to the book, I do believe you like it. A long time ago when dearest first husband and I joyfully indulged in passion, there came a time when he brought a little book home and one night began to read softly to me, a totally hot story. We never finished the book since every time he came to the part where. . .you know, he threw the book on the floor and we enacted our own ending.

    Thanks for stirring the memory pot. Those were the days, my friend.

    Reply to Author Charmaine Gordon

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