Two Retro Romance Novels (And How They’d Be Better With Sex Toys)

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Confession time! I used to sneak-read my Nana’s Harlequins. She had them lined up at the bottom of her bookshelf, but sometimes there was one on the coffee table with a bookmark in it. I think that the first ‘romance’ novel I ever read in full was pirate-themed (there was a pretty lady and a scowling captain on the cover), but I can’t be 100% sure. As a curious pre-teen, it was my first look into a very adult world, and I’m not talking about the romance! Let’s be real, I skimmed through to find the sexy scenes.

Now, keep in mind: this was the early 90’s, and Nana’s romance stash was full of trashy classics from the 70’s and 80’s. If I (and a lot of people) were to read them now, we’d be pretty shocked by the tone of most of them. Without many exceptions, the plot centers on a big strong man (cowboy, wealthy hotel owner, mysterious stranger etc.) and a damsel in some sort of distress who, after hating the big strong hero for most of the story, eventually falls in love and into bed (or barn) with him. There’s usually a big climactic scene where he overpowers her with a kiss and she melts into his arms, or, for a bit of a twist, is horrified by his boldness for a brief few sentences, and then melts into his arms - often after slapping him. In other words, a big strong hero calls all the shots and a damsel eventually succumbs. Fun fact: in even earlier romance novels (we’re talking 50’s and 60’s here) there’s usually no sexy stuff at all! The big climactic moment in pre-sexual revolution romances is the marriage proposal.

Today, there’s a strong focus on consent (of both participants) and female empowerment in our day-to-day sexual and romantic lives, and while we still have some attitude adjusting to do overall, it’s safe to say that the stereotypical male-dominant plot of vintage era romance novels comes across as ridiculously dated in 2018. So, in this edition of the PinkCherry blog, we thought we’d have some fun with them and take them to the erotic fiction side!

We’ve scoured old bookshops and second-hand stores for a few retro romance gems (these are definitely not the Fifty Shades of Grey erotic fiction of today, folks!), and we’re going to re-imagine some of the love scenes. In our versions, we’re going to assume two things. First, that both characters have given and/or received consent for any bodice-ripping that might be going on, and second, that each has unlimited access to any adult toy from our site. We also chose books that star a non-distressed leading lady to begin with. The heroine in each scenario has her life together already, so the romance factor is just icing on a cake that she didn’t bake because she has better things to do!


Spellbound by Jayne Castle

Please meet Lacey, a successful and very self-sufficient interior designer living in LA. Lacey has a bit of a problem, though. She’s dating a rich, controlling guy named Rick. As we learn toward the middle of the story, she’s managed to overhear Rick and his business partners talking over the details of an illegal jewel smuggling scheme. Drama! Now, Rick has a standard way of letting his exes know that he no longer requires their company – he gives them a diamond. Classy, right? Lacey wants Rick to break up with her, give her the diamond, and disappear from her life without finding out that she knows about his jewel-thievery. She’s hired Jed to accompany her to various high-class functions as her new paramour, with the hope that Rick will find out that she’s seeing someone new, and commence with the break-up/diamond giving. Plot twist! She ends up attracted to rough-around-the-edges Jed, after giving him a fancy LA makeover, of course. As it turns out, Jed is a self-made rich guy himself, complete with beach house.

One night, after narrowly escaping one of Rick’s henchmen out for revenge, things get sexy and Jed and Lacey find themselves naked on the beach. Luckily, Jed has come prepared! He ‘…pulled reluctantly away, stooped, and quickly spread the thick wool blanket on the sand…without a word, he held out his hand.’ Now, we’re all for creating a barrier between sand and naked bodies, but we’d suggest trading the scratchy wool blanket with a Fist It Inflatable Play Sheet . There’s less chance of itchiness, and, if the waves should happen to splash our lovers, there’s no musty wet wool smell to worry about.




If the reader has been paying attention, they may have noticed that neither Jed nor Lacey is opposed to a little nipple play. In one case, ‘He edged aside the material of her nightgown until one budding, eager nipple was exposed to the touch of his tongue. When he caught the hardening tip softly but firmly between his teeth, Lacey moaned passionately.’ In another, Lacey has her hands on his bare chest ‘…her nails scraping lightly, enticingly across the flat nipples and then tugging gently on a twist of hair.

We’re going to give Lacey a pair of Nipplettes Vibrating Nipple Clamps to use in this particular sexy scenario. These playful little stimulators are part of our signature PinkCherry collection, and they’re perfect for couples looking to explore nipple play. Bonus: They’re 100% gender neutral.

Okay, back to our story. Jed and Lacey have had a few delightful misunderstandings, but together they’ve managed to scare off Rick and his shady business associates. There have been some sexy rendezvous along the way, and surprise! They’ve fallen in love. Toward the end, we find our pair reunited after one final, charming romantic mishap. Jed is getting just a wee bit conceited as he undresses Lacey and carries her to the bedroom. ‘You’re here in my arms and you’re going to marry me!’ he declares. Lacey, however, immediately calls him on his cockiness, like the badass babe she is. ‘You’re getting awfully good at the masterful bit’ she teases. In our version of the final love scene, Lacey cuffs Jed into the Under the Bed Restraints, teases him mercilessly with a tickler, and makes him propose properly before agreeing to marry him. They then live happily and sexily ever after, having both signed consensual pre-nuptial agreements!


West of the Moon by Edith St. George

We’re not going to stray far from our theme of self-sufficient heroines as we meet Debra Waynesfield, a 25-year-old legal secretary on a month-long hiatus. Debra is solo camping in Yellowstone National Park and spends her time photographing beautiful mountain scenery. We know three very important things about Debra. First, she’s camping by herself, so she’s at least a little fearless. Second, she knows her way around a camper van (instant crush over here!), and third, she is definitely not a damsel in distress! Case in point: Marc is a handsome hiker and fellow photographer who has managed to get himself stuck on the edge of a cliff. Debra helps him down, they share a Thermos of coffee, and he reveals that he is in fact…drum roll please…a cowboy. More specifically, Marc is a rancher at the Double R. Debra reveals her dream of seeing a real-live ranch, and after some campground misadventures and one stormy shared night in the van (in separate beds), Marc invites Debra to come see the ranch. Later, he saves her from falling over a precipice as she’s trying to capture a sunset photo - it’s the perfect excuse for a passionate first kiss, and they both take advantage. ‘His eyes lingered on the soft curve of her lips and his head slowly lowered until his mouth covered hers.’


That night, with Marc back in his pickup truck on the next campsite over, Debra is left thinking about how much her newfound cowboy has aroused her. We’re going to give her a little something to help her fantasize: the Womanizer Liberty. Designed for easy portability (perfect for camping!), this travel version of the best-selling the Womanizer packs tons of pulsating, clitoris-stimulating action into a tiny shape. It’s extra quiet, so there’s no chance Marc will hear, and it’s conveniently USB rechargeable. Yes, we’re suspending disbelief just a little here to assume that Debra’s 1981 era camper van has a USB port somewhere!

The next day, we find Debra and Marc on the road, heading toward the Double R Ranch. Along the way, the attraction between them grows, and there are a few more passionate kisses. As they near the end of their road-trip,  Marc surprises Debra by telling her that he, in fact, owns the ranch they’re heading to. After meeting Marc’s brother, who wants to build a hotel at the ranch (Marc doesn’t), Debra volunteers to cook for the ranch hands working out in the mountains. In the process, she shoots a rogue mountain lion, becomes the crush of several cowboys, reveals herself as a talented singer, and impresses Marc with her many talents.

Back at the ranch, the two have few opportunities for sexy doings, though they’re obviously attracted to each other. Finally one evening, it seems Debra and Marc might be about to get lucky. ‘As if in a feverish dream, she moved with him to his bedroom. His every touch became a promise. Their lips clung as he found the fastening on her dress. She strained against him, her hands kneading the hard muscles of his shoulders’ Alas! Just as Debra pleads ‘Don’t leave me like this, Marc!’ his aunt knocks on the door wanting to talk business. He goes.

Since she’s been left (again) with her very sexy thoughts, we’ll give Debra the Rumblers Rabbit Vibe  Vibe. The Rabbit was specially designed for full coverage dual stimulation. In squishy pink silicone, there are two vibrating modes to shiver and shake through an insertable shaft and classic bunny clit tickler. Deb can enjoy this vibe alone, but if Marc should happen to re-appear, he can (and should!) use it on her, too.

As our story draws to a close, we find Debra coming up with a perfect solution to the Dexter brothers hotel-building disagreement, tearfully accepting the gift of a beautiful horse and (shocker!) hearing Marc’s confession of love and proposal of marriage.

Dear readers, we’re so sorry to have to tell you this, but West of the Moon ends on a bit of a vanilla note, far from the spicy tones of today’s erotic fiction. Marc tells Debra that ‘After that night in my room, I had to stay away from you until you were my own dear wife.’ Looks like there will be no hanky panky before marriage for these two. They kiss and snuggle, which is cute and all, but not particularly sexy. We can only hope that Debra eventually enacts some erotic revenge on Marc for leaving her in the bedroom that time!


The Books

Castle, J. (1982), Spellbound. New York, NY. Dell Publishing Co.

St. George, E. (1981). West of the Moon. New York, NY. Silhouette Books




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Written By: Melanie Pollock

Melanie Pollock is a writer, photographer, researcher and long-time content contributor to PinkCherry. She’s been involved in the adult toy industry for over fifteen years, but her passion for all things sexually positive, inclusive and accesible goes back much further than that. Thanks to a background in journalism, getting to the truth of the matter is always a top priority for her.