Announcement, Smut Reporting

Smut is Political

We at The Smut Report are opposed to racism in all its forms, including pervasive systemic racism. And we want to state this out loud because it is our responsibility to speak out.

We feel compelled to state this outright in view of the ongoing protests in the US after the horrific murder of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor) (and Ahmaud Arbery) (and and and). Black lives matter, and we recognize that we are part of the culture that has ignored and minimized Black voices for decades and centuries. Beyond that, we had planned to recognize and celebrate Pride Month in June, highlighting other marginalized voices. 

Because of the situation we currently find ourselves in, we want to be explicit: Smut is Political. And therefore, the work we do is also political. It’s easy to declare that some things – like romance books – shouldn’t be political, but that’s a viewpoint of the privileged.

When we say politics, we don’t mean voting (though you should definitely vote!), but rather the fact that smut can reinforce narratives about what stories are worth telling, what stories are worth listening to – and by extension, which people deserve happily ever afters and which lives have value. 

Smut might provide an avenue for escapist fantasy, but smut has historically and also continues to:

  • Glorify the military-industrial complex by valorizing hyper-alpha heroes with guns
  • Gloss over an economic slump, massive civil unrest, state violence, and repressive laws in the years following the Napoleonic Wars and during the Gilded Age
  • Paint ruthless businessmen as the most desirable romantic partners
  • Portray the Ideal Town in the United States as lily-white and straight and Christian and homogenous 

This doesn’t mean that we’re never going to read another military or cop hero, or another Regency romance, or another billionaire romance, or another romance set in Anytown, USA. But when we read these stories, we read them with the understanding of both why we’re reading them (sometimes fantasy is satisfying and fun) and what they represent. And we recognize that, while we might read these stories, we also want to read books that tell other, less well represented stories. Everyone deserves a happily ever after; we all deserve to have our love stories told with dignity and respect. We want to see the communities and diversity of our world reflected in the stories we read, as beautiful and messy and complicated on the page as they are in real life. 

We will therefore continue to read and promote stories by marginalized voices and about marginalized people. We will do our best to highlight problematic content – and problematic erasures – in the books we read. We will continue to educate ourselves so we can be better allies in this ongoing struggle. 

Right now, as we look forward to Pride Month and back to the systemic racism and violence perpetrated against Black citizens that has culminated in our current upheaval, we as persons of privilege are hyper-aware of our responsibility to acknowledge and amplify marginalized voices. But our responsibility doesn’t end when quiet normalcy returns. Amplification of marginalized voices is an ongoing responsibility, and one which we will continue to take seriously. We have been linking to various resources to promote allyship on our social media pages – especially our Twitter page – so if you would like more information about what you can do to be a good ally, we encourage you to head over there.

In addition, we encourage you to head over to these sites that promote Black authors and Black romance:

Girl, Have You Read…?

Black Chick Lit

WOC In Romance

Review

Review: Resolutions by Lucy Eden (2019)

Heat Factor: Steamy enough to satisfy.

Character Chemistry: They are pretty darn cute together.

Plot: In an attempt to stop being such a weenie after failing to tell her best friend she’s in love with him, Jane sets out to tackle a huge list of resolutions. When said best friend sees the list, he volunteers to help her finish them off before the New Year. 

Overall: I just want to pinch their cheeks because of all the cuteness.

Continue reading “Review: Resolutions by Lucy Eden (2019)”
Review

Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (2020)

Heat Factor: This sauce is spicy

Character Chemistry: Initial awkwardness leads to friendship leads to steam

Plot: Jasmine and Ashton are just running lines! They swear! Nothing to see here!

Overall: This is the wokest book I’ve ever read

Continue reading “Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (2020)”
My First Smut

My First Smut: Read What Brings You Joy

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, we hear from romance author Hallie Alexander, who was hooked when she read her first book by Lorraine Heath.


First romance novel you read:

Falling Into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath

What stage of life were you in?

Very much an adult. I grew up in a “literature only” house so there wasn’t any smut lying around for preteen-Hallie to happen upon.

How’d you get your hands on the book?

I picked it up on a whim at the library where I worked. I must have liked the cover. I knew absolutely nothing about romance except that it was a forbidden genre growing up.

What was the reading experience like?

I couldn’t believe books with happy endings existed! I plowed through all the Lorraine Heath’s my library carried. Then I tried my first Kristan Higgins (it was probably the next shelf down) and read everything of hers. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed reading!

What made the experience special?

We had recently moved 600 miles from family and everyone we knew. Escaping into those books gave me comfort.

What role does smut play in your life?

I know when I open up a book of smut I will get an empowering story full of hope, even if the H/H have to struggle to get there. They will get there. That’s the point. Where else can you find that kind of emotional journey with a guarantee that it will all work out in the end?

TL;DR: Life is messy. Read what brings you joy.


Bio:

Hallie Alexander’s debut historical romance, A Widow’s Guide to Scandal, was published in 2020 by Soul Mate Publishing. It was a finalist in the 2019 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. She writes steamy, feminist historical romances that take place in America with feisty heroines who become the heroes of their own story as their swoon-worthy partners work to deserve their love. She is a Northerner living in the South with her husband, three children, and Doodles of Mayhem™, Bruno and Willow.

Connect with Hallie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Thanks, Hallie, for sharing! We are always happy to connect with smut enthusiasts, and are super excited to read A Widow’s Guide to Scandal. Watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

Review

Review: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata (2018)

Heat Factor: slooooooooooooow burn

Character Chemistry: sparking constantly

Plot: Pairs figure skating team antagonizes each other into a HEA

Overall: low drama, satisfying slow burn

Continue reading “Review: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata (2018)”
Review

Review: Chaos & the Geek by Elizabeth Stevens (2020)

Grace Grayson Security, Book #1

Heat Factor: Pretty tame for open door sexytimes

Character Chemistry: Obviously living with the person you haven’t been able to talk to for years will result in everything resolving into a HEA because forced proximity

Plot: Pretty classic best friend’s sibling

Overall: There were some really good things and some things I wished hadn’t been there

Continue reading “Review: Chaos & the Geek by Elizabeth Stevens (2020)”