My First Smut

Let’s go straight for the bodice rippers

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short essays 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 has smut played in your life?

This week, we tell Holly’s story.

Original Cover of The Bride by Julie Garwood

The Bride by Julie Garwood.

I was in early high school.

For those of you unfamiliar with Julie Garwood’s work, The Bride is a classic, old school, Medieval Scottish Bodice Ripper published in 1989. From what I recall, there was a lot of alpha male posturing and high adventure. I have an idea in my head that it was my mom’s copy – I read widely and no bookshelves were off-limits, and by this point I had already read through all of my dad’s adventure stories plus the complete works of John Steinbeck – but when I was last at my parents’ house, a copy of The Bride was nowhere to be found. (This is not because my mother got rid of her smut, because there were other Garwoods lying around.) So, either I’m misremembering, or it got lost in the shuffle of Smut Exchange.

The Bride may have been the first smut I read, but Smut Exchange is the way I truly developed a love for the genre. Later in high school – junior year, maybe? – my friends and I had a Smut Exchange. Periodically, someone would bring in a shopping bag full of smut that they had read, and the rest of us would fall on the pile of books like a ravenous horde of zombies. I’d regularly be carrying 6-8 extra books around in my already overstuffed backpack, which is probably why I stopped growing. The fun wasn’t just in reading books, though – there was the thrill of discovering new authors, and also the fact that we were doing this together, though we never actually discussed the books in a formal way. Special shoutouts have to go to Amy, who actually purchased books instead of getting them from the library and was therefore our primary smut supplier, and also to Sarah, who introduced us all to the joy (meaning, the titillated horror) (all of which is to say: WTF did I just read?) of Skye O’Malley.

All of this is probably why I still sort of love Bodice Rippers.

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us a note and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

2 thoughts on “Let’s go straight for the bodice rippers”

  1. Holly, I didn’t read The Bride until 2008, so it must not have been my copy that was your first Smut. Good story though! Love you! Mom


    1. Huh. That’s what I get for not keeping a reading log in high school, I guess. Maybe it was a different Garwood? It was definitely a Scottish Highlander romance.


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