“Christina Lauren” is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, whose best-selling Beautiful series installments each center on an unlikely but kinetic couple—and each features a strong female lead. In this one, bright London-based engineer Ruby Miller is sent on an extended business trip to the Big Apple for work that’s up close and personal with a hunky—and recently divorced—urban planner, Niall Stella. The pair wind up blowing off steam in some intriguing ways.
Though E.L. James’s story of BDSM continues to captivate the world, we’re still not sure why. There are movies with more innovative and groundbreaking sex scenes, and the book series itself is filled with awkward metaphors and unconvincing melodrama. But sexy books can be smart too—and these 10 deliciously naughty alternatives to Fifty Shades of Grey are riskier and, simply, better.