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Dating in Washington, D.C. can be rough for anyone. But you know what makes it even tougher? Secretly being part owner of a sex club. I mean, it’s also not ideal if your father is a disgraced former politician, but it’s really going to be the sex club thing that makes the dating world hard to navigate. In a pair of new books, D.C.-based author Alisha Rai reminds us that no matter how many shitty dates you’ve been on with self-absorbed defense contractors who “aren’t allowed to tell you” what they do, it could be worse. At least you don’t have to explain that you’re a silent partner in a sex club. Probably. No judgment either way.

Type: Be My Fantasy and Stay My Fantasy are two erotic romance novellas that add up to about one book’s worth of pages and time on your e-reader. They tell a contained and complete story, but they’re also part of a multi-author story set called “Club Prestige.” Each story in the collection focuses on a different one of the women who own “an exclusive strip club in the super sexy nation’s capital.” Incidentally, this marks the first time anyone every used the term “super sexy nation’s capital” and was referring to D.C.

The couple: Elizabeth Marie Harding is the 20-something daughter of a former U.S. Senator who was undone (pun proudly intended) by a sex scandal. Elizabeth has a lineage that dates back to Plymouth Rock, a Harvard degree, a seat on a bunch of charitable boards, and a scandalous secret alter ego named Tess, whose interests are less “Washington Press Club” and more “Washington sex club.” Elizabeth is mostly comfortable with who she is, but her parents have no idea and really wish she’d just marry Luca Santos, the heir apparent to her family’s lucrative business. The book might say what the business is, but I don’t remember and it doesn’t really matter. All we need to know is that Luca comes from a more humble background, but he’s smart, hard-working, and very good at whatever the business is, so he’s everything Senator and Mrs. Harding could ever want in a husband for the daughter they don’t give a shit about.

The story: Elizabeth and Luca went on some dates a few years back, but both of them were just trying to be the person they thought the other was looking for. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t the road to relationship success, and they called it off. Their paths have crossed once in awhile since then because of Luca’s connection through the family business, but mostly they fantasize about each other privately and ignore each other publicly. This works out great, right up until the moment Luca catches Elizabeth leaving Club Prestige in disguise. He calls her out on her sexy high jinks, she asks him to keep her sexy high jinks a secret, and as a result, the two engage in sexy high jinks together.

How’s the sex? Well, it’s a little extra naughty, but you probably guessed that from all the stuff I wrote above about the sex club. The sex isn’t that shocking though, and it’s surprisingly vulnerable and uncertain for two people so in touch with their sexual desires. Turns out kinky sex can be as intimate as boring sex – maybe even more so, since you really have to trust someone before you ask them to come join you in the secret room of your sex club.

Is this book for you? The next time someone tells me that romance novels are porn for women, I will hand him (or her, but probably him) one of Alisha Rai’s books. She does an excellent job of writing books that have highly sexual themes that are also multi-dimensional and character-driven. Sexual freedom and desire are important in these books, but they’re important because the romantic and relationship stakes are high for these two characters, and sex is an important part of a romantic relationship for them. This is a story about two people figuring out their relationship. As a bonus, this story is also way more interesting and has much better sex than most of the D.C. dating stories I’ve heard.

Quick side note: if you find that this set of books is very much for you, read Rai’s A Gentleman in the Streets. The characters overlap a bit, and the themes and tone are similar, plus A Gentleman in the Streets spends 3-4 chapters at an orgy. So, there’s that.

Conclusion: Washington feminists are getting happy endings all over the place this summer [ed. note: heh]: in the same month Stay My Fantasy was released, Hillary Clinton locked down the delegates needed to become the first woman to be nominated as a major party presidential candidate. In our nation’s capital, ladies are running for President AND running sex clubs. The “girl power” movement is finally paying off.

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