Books to take to bed and shake up your life between the sheets

The Date Night Manifesto A booster shot for relationships By Sophia Ledingham Matador (2015) €12.99 HHIII

The words 'Date Night' always make me think of 2010's Tina Fey/Steve Carrell movie. I liked quite a lot of it, but also felt that it could have been even better than it was.

Everything was there: two funny people who are good at their jobs being funny people, a heightened plot, and several screwball moments that were pretty hilarious.

If it wasn't perfect, that's okay, it was still fun.

Date Night for non-comedic movie stars can often end up feeling the same: all the pieces are in place, but the plan to take time out and reignite that loving feeling can often go awry.

What started out as candles-and-champers romance can easily get sidetracked into a symposium on family issues, a session of bickering about what needs doing round the house, or in the worst case, the airing of resentments that have been building, but no one had had the time to air them. Disaster! With Valentine's Day approaching, the pressure is on.

In Date Night Manifesto, Ledingham sets down a series of principles to follow in order to avoid such scenaria. At best, the book is full of nuggets of common sense, plainly spoken; at its least best, it's nuggets of common sense expanded well beyond their capacity, and turned into pages of text when a paragraph would do. The ideas are sound and yet in many ways are let down by the information being expanded to achieve book-length proportions.

The quest to recapture that giddy love feeling is most likely the primary determining factor when one or the other partner embarks on an affair.

All those annoying habits, irritating qualities and failures to communicate fall by the wayside and life is thrilling and sexy once more.

The desire to reinvigorate a long-term relationship is a sincere one for many couples, and as long as both are willing to give it a go, then there's no reason why Ledingham's suggestions can't bring back the magic.

Big Bad Ass Book Of Sex

By Nancy Armstrong Sterling (2014) €24 HHHII

Neither all that big, nor all that bad ass, this book mixes direct explanations about kinky sexual practices with fictional stories based on said kinky sexual practices - basically, all the stuff that Fifty Shades of Grey ushered out of the sexual practices closet.

In addition to BDSM, you get guidelines for conducting a stress-free threesome and a discourse on sex gadgets, among other topics. Armstrong's tone is straightforward and accessible, and the whole project is terrific in its way, because it demystifies many aspects of sexuality that many may have found to intimidating to investigate.

As regards the fiction, the stories are short, and as such cut directly to the chase, sometimes at the expense of suspense and titillation. No pun intended


How To Seduce A Billionaire

By Portia Da Costa Ebury (2015) €5.99 eBook HIIII

Speaking of Fifty Shades: once something becomes a genre the basic elements become fairly immutable and here, many of the same tropes found in EL James' series pop up.

A lowly admin who is a virgin becomes the inexplicable focus of charismatic yet oddly vulnerable CEO and she is singled out for special attention.

The dialogue isn't very natural, and is simply there to get us from point A to point Sexy, and it's not a satisfying read.

The Liar

By Nora Roberts Piatkus (2015) €20.85 HHIII

Perfect romantic reading for the cynical among us, who yet hold out hope for true love.

Shelby's husband has died and left her in an extraordinary mess: a fraudster on a breathtaking scale, Richard has left her millions in debt and with a small child to protect.

All her dreams in pieces, she nevertheless shows exceptional fortitude and cleverness in clearing as much debt as she can before moving back to her home town, where she meets hunky carpenter Griffin.

This starts out strong but the pace sags mightily right around the time the twist that was meant to raise the stakes occurs.

A Single Kiss

By Grace Burrowes Sourcebooks Casablanca (2015) €6.51 eBook HHHII

The accomplished author of romance set in the English Regency period has now turned her hand to contemporary romance, with mixed results.

Burrowes knows her way around an alpha male hero who is nevertheless cuddly and openly loving.

Her heroines, however, continue to be fairly neurotic and there only to allow the fellows to show their best qualities.

Here, Hannah is raising her child alone, and is grateful to finally get a decent job with a reputable law firm.

Working under Trevor Knightley is tougher than she'd thought, because she has A Big Secret that she must keep from him. Although she fancies him like mad, she is fighting her attraction.

If you want good sexy writing and dislike period romances, I'd give this a look.