S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed, L. Marie Adeline’s final chapter in her hot erotic S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy hit shelves last month. We were lucky enough to have Adeline share her opinion on the importance of librarians in her life and how her passion for erotica was sparked at her local library.
I had never spoken more than a few polite words to her, but it’s fair to say that at twelve years old the person who might have known me better than my own mother was the woman who worked in the dusty storefront library on Highway #2 in Emeryville, Ontario. The town’s population couldn’t have been a thousand people, and yet a public library was a right, not a privilege; free books as necessary as diesel for the tractors, a drive thru for donuts, and a dry place to store grain over the winter. The librarian was a graying, diminutive woman with neatly coiled hair; everything you’d expect from a person who organizes books for a living. And while she didn’t tolerate noise, she did tolerate me. I was always there, especially during the summer—the first person to arrive after the library opened, and often the last one to leave. I loved more than anything to scan the new arrivals rack. Soon she began to leave out books she knew I’d like, their shiny cellophane covers static-y and virginal.
This woman knew me, so much so, that if for some reason she’d been captured and interrogated about this mouthy kid with the stringy hair and the farmer’s tan, she’d have been able to give them real details. First there was my love affair with Vikings, then New York, then divorce stories, anything involving Siamese cats, the Pittsburgh Steelers (mostly Terry Bradshaw), skulls, high heel shoes (drawing them), Olivia Newton John, and party planning. I loved those old Nostalgia magazines, which gave you helpful hints on making centerpieces out of “Indian” corn and cornucopias out of pretty much anything empty and tipped over on its side. But only under the threat of pain, I believe, would she have told anyone about my dirty mind, which was only just beginning to bud back then.
It started with Forever Amber. But doesn’t it always? She must have pressed it into my hands because I do remember going through a ball gown stage; I drew them obsessively, with a particular interest in the high-waisted dresses of the Restoration era. I remember the cover was moss green with a vivid cameo of its heroine showing just enough décolleté to intrigue. Then I read the story of Amber St. Clare, a lowly actress who slept her way to nobility, eventually becoming a favorite of King Charles II and a duchess. And oh the sex and all its rueful consequences! Illegitimacy, abortion, prostitution, rape, death, ecstasy! Only sometimes love. The erotic scenes seem tame now, but back then even a strategically placed ellipsis had the power to shock and awe me. After Kathleen Winsor’s masterpiece, I was off. I devoured Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s entire oeuvre starting with The Flame and the Flower, a filthy, sweeping 19th century novel about plucky Heather Simmons, raped and rescued by her own husband (natch) and brought to America where she triumphs (natch). More modern erotica followed. I read them faster than the librarian could stock them. Soon the rolling rack of new arrivals solely contained titles such as Scruples, Wifey, Queenie, Once is Not Enough, The Other Side of Midnight, The Carpetbaggers, Rich Man, Poor Man . . . and on and on.
Never once did this small-town librarian question my appetites, nor judge my voracity, nor cock an eyebrow at me if I chose to enjoy a dirty book in situ, when a cover might be too racy to pass muster with my mother, or if she was reading it herself. Funny to think I had a kind of intimacy with this private, quiet stranger that I could never have with my own mother. And yet despite this closeness, this feeling that she knew everything about me, I knew nothing about her, not even, it seems, her name.
Kirkus Reviews says Adeline’s S.E.C.R.E.T. is “Smoothly written…Sexy.”