Books

From classic bonkbusters to erotic newbies, the sexiest reads for the beach

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Anna Brech
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There's no finer pleasure in life than lying on a beach, Piña Colada in one hand and naughty novel in the other. 

Sexually charged books are made for holidays, offering up a perfect storm of escapism, fantasy and hilarity (and the most creative innuendos around). They're gripping enough to consume in one juicy feast without being too taxing that they interrupt our go-to cycle of sunbathing, swimming and cocktails.

From mainstream fiction with a hefty dose of sex to fully charged rip-roaring eroticism, check out the new steamy reads that make 50 Shades look tame - plus a few classics of the genre, for good measure.

Have your fans at the ready for the kinkiest books around...

  • Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

    This debut novel from the prize-winning American poet, Jill Alexander Essbaum, tells the story of a lonely Swiss housewife who embarks on a series of short-lived but intense sexual affairs.

    It's being touted as a modern, racier version of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, with literary kudos to match the saucier scenes.

    Buy it here

  • Ginny’s Lesson by Anna Bayes

    Explicit lesbian sex scenes are promised in this raunchy tale of Ginny, who is tired of playing passive sloppy seconds every time Melissa wants comfort sex.

    She decides to teach Melissa a lesson - with unexpected consequences. Author Anna Bayes, a bisexual submissive, is a dab hand when it comes to contemporary, paranormal, BDSM and LGBT erotic romances.

    Buy it here

  • The Santangelos by Jackie Collins

    The latest Jackie Collins novel is as promising as you'd expect on the lust front, delivering 'revenge and passion' by the bucket load.

    An epic family saga, it tells the story of a sex-crazed Italian family who live by the motto 'never fuck with a Santangelo'.

    Buy it here

  • The Gentlemen's Club by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

    The first in this celebrated and sensuous Noire series is set in Victorian London and follows the life of its sexually emancipated protagonist Mademoiselle Noire. 

    Get set for a mind-blowing read that balances 'kinky Victoriana' with beautifully crafted prose.  

    Buy it here

  • The List: My Year of Sexual Adventures by Joanna Bolouri

    Scottish comedian Joanna Bolouri's first book is set around a spurned lover who decides to cheer herself up by creating a list of things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try - a kind of sex-based bucket list she must tick off within the year.

    All kinds of naughtiness prevails in her 12 months of no-strings pleasure, making for a filthy and hilarious read.

    Buy it here

  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

    You can always rely on Sarah Waters to dream up some truly electric sex scenes and her latest book does not disappoint. 

    The year is 1922 and spinster Frances is spellbound by the arrival of Lilian Barber, who moves into her and her mother's house as a lodger with her husband Leonard Barber.

    Matters quickly escalate amid a series of heart-stopping and tender - yet unbearably tense - encounters between the two women.

    Buy it here

  • Captivated By You by Sylvia Day

    Bestselling author Sylvia Day returns with the fourth installment in her hugely successful Crossfire series.

    Gideon and Eva are now secret newlyweds, but marriage threatens to cast a shadow on their electric sexual chemistry. Fear not, though; there's still plenty of panting and thrusting to keep you gripped amid the plot twists. 

    Buy it here

  • The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

    A family holiday is thrown into jeopardy when Jenn falls for Nathan, her step-daughter's passionate and youthful boyfriend.

    Sensual and intense, The Lemon Grove explores themes of ageing and sexual identity with a deft touch that will have you hooked from the out.

    Buy it here

  • Falling for Jillian by Kristen Proby

    New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby is on top form in this, her third offering in the Love Under the Big Sky series (yes, really). 

    War veteran Zack can't keep his hands off city girl Jillian - and she may be just the person to help him fight the demons of his past.

    Cue: hanky panky galore.

    Buy it here

  • The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

    Philippa Gregory is not an author to shy away from ribald content of a Tudor flavour (think corsets and 'cunny' chat), so we anticipate plenty of Henry VIII-fuelled steaminess from her latest book, based around Kateryn Parr - Henry's last and least eager wife, who must leave her secret lover to become Queen.

    Buy it here 

  • Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

    Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell's latest book is based around the life of Manhattan author Pandy (Pandemonia), who is overwhelmed by the fame of her own fictional creation ‘Monica'.

    Expect biting wit, boozy nights out, hot men and sexacapades aplenty. 

    Buy it here

  • Cover to Covers by Alexandrea Weis

    Just like a certain Christian Grey, oil tycoon Tyler Moore is used to getting his own way. Whether in the boardroom or the bedroom, he is always in charge - that is, until intriguing romance author Monique comes into his life.

    Needless to say, things kick off between the sheets for a riotously sexy read. 

    Buy it here

  • Lace by Shirley Conran

    Any now onto a few erotic classics...

    Before 50 Shades was steaming up commuter Kindles, Shirley Conran gave us the gift of Lace, the original bonkbuster par excellence.

    A Mills & Boon-y whirlwind of Swiss boarding school chicanery, bed-hopping champagne heirs and sleazy Parisian photographers, this is eroticism at its most entertaining.

    Buy it here

  • The Story of O by Pauline Réage

    This extraordinary pornographic novel set the publishing world alight when it was first published - both in French and English - in Paris, in 1954.

    Tackling themes of dominance and female submission, it features whips and chains aplenty and is seriously hardcore. Pauline Réage is a pen name for a woman writing in homage to her secret lover. 

    Buy it here

  • Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

    Based around a scandalous affair between an upper class married woman and her game keeper, Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in the UK on the grounds of obscenity for over thirty years. 

    Nowadays, the writing is perhaps a little flowery but the image of the rugged gardener still gets our attention. 

    Buy it here

  • Riders by Jilly Cooper

    Jilly Cooper hit on a money-maker when she chanced on a killer formula of sex and horses. 

    Years before the cover was 'sanitised' for a modern audience, this book was delighting with its potent fusion of ridiculously-named Lotharios (step forward Rupert Campbell-Black) and mildly naughty sex scenes.

    Buy it here

  • The Sexual Life of Catherine M by Catherine Millet

    Parisian art critic Catherine M. documents her sexual awakening in the the seedy sex clubs of Paris.

    This memoir details a life of exploration and submission in precise and sparse detail, as well as opening the reader's eyes to many alternative manifestations of desire. 

    Buy it here

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

    Long established as one of the greatest novels ever written, Madame Bovary sparked moral outrage upon publication in 1857. 

    The enigmatic lead Emma Bovary never fails to captivate, as she reaches out of the provincial confines of her life as a bourgeois housewife to take on a series of lovers. 

    Buy it here

  • Sexus by Henry Miller

    Henry Miller flouts all the rules as he dips beneath the surface of respectable 1920s America in this fictionalised account of his own life.

    A staggering narrative of sexual endurance and openness, it culminates in the most jaw-droppingly honest description of an orgy you will likely ever read.

    Buy it here

  • My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday

    Safe behind the walls of anonymity, hundreds of real women responded to Nancy Friday's call for details of their own most private fantasies, in this fascinating and exhilarating read. 

    The secret garden is a hidden place where ordinary women are free to express the sexual dreams they have never dared to confide before. Compelling beach-side reading is guaranteed. 

    Buy it here

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Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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