Yet when said guy turns out to be Ellie's seemingly mild-mannered accountant, the man she's been secretly crushing on for the past three years, Ellie vows to stop "living vicariously through the sex lives of other people. I need this to stop being my sex life, and I need to get one of my own" (72). Might creating a sex life of her own not require Ellie to give up her voyeuristic tendencies, but instead, to share them with another? Someone just as good at hiding his own kinky desires as she is herself?
Such a set-up implies a "taming-of-the-female-rake" story will follow, yet O'Reilly refuses to buy into such a female-sexuality-squashing trope. Instead, she spins a tale of a woman who thinks of herself as the queen of casual sex learning to ask for what she wants—even if what she wants is a combination of both kink and commitment.
But when the anonymous man shows up as a computer consultant at the office where Meredith works, and almost immediately picks up on Meredith's controlling vibe, Meredith's self-control starts to crack. O'Reilly openly confronts the gendered assumptions surrounding D/s:
"I knew bossy women existed," Lucas explains to Meredith. "The problem has been trying to find one.... It's hardly a topic you can bring up in the middle of a first date. 'Oh, by the way, I really want to be bent over the end of the bed and spanked, would you be up for that?' It's OK when women say it.... Then it's kind of kinky, you know? Naughty. But when a man says it, women think it's weird" (751)
O'Reilly also challenges such assumptions through her depiction of the relationship that Meredith and Lucas develop, a relationship between an older woman and a younger man built on both D/s sexual proclivities as well as on romantic connection.
These three stories work so well in novella format because each woman has a prior relationship (of sorts) with the man with whom she subsequently develops a more romantic attachment, allowing the romantic arc to develop quickly (FYI, all couples appear to be white Brits, although no real discussion of race/ethnicity appears in any of the volumes). And because each story takes place over a relatively short space of time, allowing the focus to remain on character development and romance arc rather than on drawn-out plot. And because O'Reilly has a real gift for writing not only complex characters, but scorchingly hot sex scenes, scenes made all the more compelling for the way they insist on the compatibility, rather than the opposition of, romantic commitment and sexual kink.
Jane O'Reilly's website tagline reads "Quirky romance for smart thinking women," a tag more than applicable to her Indecent novellas. So, if you'd like a more feminist erotic reading experience than 50 Shades offers, why not give indecency a try?