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Popular Quality BDSM Novels

The Sharp Edge of Love: Extreme Sex! Mythic Romance! Primal Intensity! by Galen

The Sharp Edge of Love tears the cover off our culture's normally masked sexual identity and exposes the raw volcanic core within. This scintillating work tells the true stories of the erotic desires and fantasies of sexually submissive women, questing for their truth.
Gordon by Edith Templeton

Originally written under a pseudonym, this thrilling novel of passion in post-World War II London was banned upon its publication in the late 1960s, and is only now being republished under the author?s real name. Edith Templeton creates an indelible character in the smartly dressed Louisa, a savvy young woman in the midst of a divorce who meets a charismatic man in a pub and within an hour has been sexually conquered by him on a garden bench. Thus begins her baffling but magnetic love affair with, and virtual enslavement to, Richard Gordon.
Blue: The Color of Desire by Patrick Linney

There is a glut of [bad stories] out there that present a completely ridiculous and unrealistic view to the 'vanilla' world outside of the lifestyle that some of us embrace daily. This is not one of those books - this presents a completely true world, a believable scenario that I think not only helps us kinky folk dream, but gives us something that we can strive toward. Honest, moving, and sometimes emotionally jarring. These are two real people, in a real relationship, not the cardboard cutouts that we don't seem to be able to escape in this genre.
Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair by Elizabeth McNeill

Forget the movie! It's forgettable and formulaic. This 'journal' is anything but. The film does it no justice whatsoever. And much of what's in the film is from the terribly lacking imagination of the screenwriter, and not at all from the book. Let me state that I do not believe the events in the book to be true, but because of that, I have to say it is one of THE great novels ever pumped out by the U.S.. And ultimately, it is a tragedy that will etch itself into the tissue of the reader's brain for life, whether you like S/M, or whether you think it's uninteresting, or sick. The love of this woman is QUITE sincere; and the inward pain she experiences puts all the belt-beatings to shame.
Story of O by Pauline Reage. 1954.

Widely read novel about a young woman enticed into erotic SM and increasingly all-encompassing enslavement in the remote town of Roissy under the tutelage of her lover, René, and the experienced Sir Stephen. Published originally in French under the pseudonym Pauline Réage, whose identity (Dominique Aury) mystified readers and the media for a generation. The book is the source for a popular BDSM jewelry item: a ring with a dangling circle, symbolic of various BDSM elements such as the continuity of topping and bottoming, the cycle of life and love, openness of mind and body to one's beloveds, and the underlying conundrum of consent turning shackles into freedom.
Related Works:

Return to the Chateau: Preceded by, A Girl in Love (aka Story of O Part II)

More recent translation of the Story of O

VHS Video Story of O

In The Realm of the Senses. Film(video) by Nagisa Oshima, 1976.

(One of only a few videos on this website, and I recommend it highly.) This extraordinary subtitled film is based on the real life relationship during the 1930s between a renowned Japanese artist and a lover, whose intimate, self-propelled BDSM relationship sucked them into unusual emotional and physical depths. This is a truly unusual, eye-opening, and arousing film that is sexually explicit, yet not pornographic in a prurient sense. The film depicts the development of some very heavy BDSM between partners who are increasingly compelled and driven by their desires in a natural, obsessive, but highly isolated, way. That this is in fact a researched documentary makes it all the more stunning and memorable, going beyond the remarkable acting, sensitive directing, and intimate photography. It is a shock for the viewer to be taken into private moments that may have been art or may have been private life for the participants. Perhaps it is a testimony to the consciously artistic bent of the couple for us to appreciate the sexually heated, complex, and probably inevitable motivations, developments, and shocking denouements involved.

Also available as In the Realm of the Senses, DVD and In the Realm of the Senses, video, dubbed into English. Also related though not as stunning: In the Realm of Passion, another documentary of an obsession and murder in 1895 in Japan. Subtitled.
Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden.
Fiction that reads like an autobiography detailing the life and servitude of a geisha. Fascinating to read in a D/s light. Well-researched.
Topping From Below, by Laura Reese.
Startlingly ingenious plot right from page one! A murder mystery with myriad twists and turns, this book also intertwines a lot of well-researched, knowledgeable descriptions and thoughtful developments of modern BDSM in complex relationships. I finished this book in three sittings, unable to put it down for the second half even though it took me late into the night. The plot has lots of nonconsensual activities as well as consensual ones; but this is not a case of the author's simply not understanding that modern BDSM emphasizes forthright communication between the partners about any issue that could compromise informed consent. In fact, the author clearly has thought deeply about many of the subtle issues involved, and maturely does not go overboard in talking down to the reader. There is also a nice tip of the hat to The Story of O that anyone who has read that book will pick up. The present tense writing style drove me nuts, along with some minor writing flaws; but the book was still worth it. Though my opinion might be controversial, I think this book is a step forward in "normalizing" BDSM in fiction by merely treating it as a relevant element that forwards a quality plot and character development in a useful way. Not everyone who does BDSM is good, and not everyone who does BDSM is bad; and when it comes to fiction with a plot and characters this promising, to obsess about whether a book gives a politically correct vision of what BDSM is about is beside the point. This book is a great read, and I highly recommend it to novices, experienced players, and those who just like a good murder mystery with lots of amazing, kinky sex and an ending that nevertheless stays ambiguous right to the point of revelation. Well, I'd have ended it differently; but the author has a reasonable literary case here. More like a murder mystery than erotica.
Domina: The Sextopians, by Gloria G. Brame.
Arden McLane, Jr., is a man without purpose, without ambition, without future, without a clue. Then he finds his destiny in the sordid, subterranean world of DOMINA, a wealthy woman of mystery and inflexible will. As one of her captive minions, Arden finds through bizarre torments and transcendant emotions truths he cannot deny. In Domina's cage, Arden finds the freedom to be himself.
Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings, by the Marquis de Sade.
Justine is a novel about a young, naive woman who is coerced and (non-consensually) enticed into a swirl of sexual humiliation and BDSM activities. Written in the late 1700s, this book retains its readability as well as being of historical interest as an early work depicting d/s and SM. The Marquis de Sade (Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade), from whom the word "sadism" derives, was a colorful character with broad sexual and BDSM interests, which he described in eye-opening detail in his various works. Although it is clear from many of his writings (such as Philosophy in the Bedroom and 120 Days of Sodom) that consent was not frequently an element of his assignations and orgies, in at least a few of his autobiographical and fictional accounts it appears that some involvements were mutually satisfying and consensually sought out by the women (and men) who suffered at his hand. Other books by the Marquis de Sade include: The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings and Juliette . See also Venus in Furs, by Leopold Sacher-Masoch.
Venus in Furs With Selected Letters of Sacher-Masoch, by Leopold Sacher-Masoch.
This novel, based on the worshipful, intense fantasies about a female-dom/ male-submissive relationship by Leopold Sacher-Masoch (whence the word "masochism"), was written in the 1800s. Of historical interest. The character of the female dom was based on Emilie Matajaan, an acquaintance of Sacher-Masoch's. Also interesting: The Confessions of Wanda Von Sacher-Masoch, by Wanda Von Sacher-Masoch, commentary by Marian Phillips, Caroline Hebert, V. Vale. See also: Justine, by the Marquis de Sade.