The story begins with devilishly handsome millionaire Christian Grey falling madly in love with ‘innocent, unworldly’ literature student Anastasia Steele - and convincing her to become part of a sado-masochistic relationship involving bondage and sex toys.

Hardly your typical chicklit holiday read. But that hasn't stopped erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey flying off British book shop shelves this summer.

fifty shades

According to recent statistics by Nielson Bookscan, Fifty Shades Of Grey is officially the fastest selling book of 2012, with over 700,000 copies now appearing on bedside tables.

Other best-selling novels, such as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, took over six months to achieve these sales records and Harry Potter even longer.

In short, Fifty Shades has spanked her competition.

And perhaps more surprisingly, none of us are embarrassed about reading it.

Despite the book’s unconventional and salacious plot (even the author, E L James is too ‘mortified’ to talk about the sex scenes in public), British women are unashamedly flicking through its pages in public.

Copies can be spied on the beach and during the morning commute.

In modern Britain, there's no longer seems to be any guilt attached to reading about the ‘kinky f*ckery’ between Christian and Anastasia.

And it's not just book sales that are going through the roof – DIY stores have reported an increase in ‘soft cotton rope’ sales since the book was released earlier this year.

If you aren’t one of the two million women in the UK who have read the novel - in the first book, Christian purchases rope from a hardware store - for not-so DIY-orientated ends.

“Oh, we’ve been selling rope to women,” Clifton Kahn, owner of Lexington Hardware, told The New York Post. “I’d say tenfold more rope than usual in the last six months. The women are definitely buying, and it’s still continuing."

But why limit it to rope? Take a look at HuffPost's tongue-in-cheek predictions of other DIY items that might start flying off the shelves at your local B&Q...

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  • Fifty Shades Of... Props

    Although sales of soft rope have reportedly shot up in the US, we've selected other household items that might sell-out, as couples spice up their love life - Fifty Shades style...

  • Cable Ties

    Anastasia spends a lot of time 'tied up' in Christian. However, although 'Fifty Shades' mainly uses handcuffs and his grey tie to do the deed - could cable ties be the next bondage prop du jour? <strong> Which part of the book?</strong> "He takes out his silver-grey woven tie that leaves small impressions of its weave on my skin... I'm tied to my bed, and I'm so aroused."

  • Wooden Dowel

    Christian tested Ana's 'hard limit' by spanking her with a flogger. However, they made up again and spanking was back on the menu - just on her terms... Perhaps a DIY wooden dowel would satisfy a bondage beginner's curiousity? <strong>Which part of the book?</strong> "He gently trails his palm across my behind again before continuing my spanking. I surrender myself to the rhythm of blows, absorbing each one, savoring each one..."

  • Pegs

    During the trilogy, Ana experiments with nipple clamps. Would Fifty fans dare to try clothes pegs as a DIY alternative? <strong>Which part of the book?</strong> "These clamps are vicious.' He prods the nipple clamps. 'We'll use these ...They're adjustable."

  • Ice Cream Scooper

    The couple's sadomasochistic antics weren't restricted to sex toys - they also experimented with food. Ice cream anyone? <strong>Which part of the book?</strong> "Christian trails a spoonful of ice cream down the center of my body, across my stomach, and into my navel..."

  • Masking Tape

    The kinky couple regularly use blindfolds during their steamy sessions Will Fifty fans ramp it up and use masking tape to cover their lover's eyes? <strong>Which part of the book?</strong> "I Close My Eyes, Feeling the Build Up...Pushing Me Higher, Higher To The Castle In The Air"

Sales of sex toys and bondage gear are also shooting through the roof, according to Neal Slateford, founder of Lovehoney.co.uk.

“It really is a case of Fifty Shades of Wey Hey! Demand has been huge,” Slateford told HuffPost Lifestyle.

“Couples are becoming more and more adventurous in their sex lives. They are buying sex toys like vibrators to use together and achieve perfect sexual happiness. Once you start to experiment, there is no turning back.”

Surprised? Well, don’t be, because according to the recent Durex 'Big British Sex Survey', we’re indulging in risqué lovemaking more often than you think.

The survey discovered that nearly one in four Brits participate in bondage.

Oh yes.

A further 38% admitted to using handcuff during sex and 41% enjoy being spanked. Nearly one in 10 (8%) use a butt plug during sex – another taboo broken in the BSDM world of Fifty Shades.

Intrigued? Take a look at HuffPost's guide to bondage for beginners...

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  • Bondage For Beginners

    "Bondage" covers a very wide spectrum of sex acts, and can mean something different to every person," says Rochelle Peachey, couples counsellor, author and founder of transatlantic dating site <a href="www.iloveyouraccent.com" target="_hplink"> I Love Your Accent</a> Is it being blindfolded and maybe tying your wrists with silk scarves or something way more elaborate? Or something you would like to add to your sex life or is this something you like to do all the time? Whatever it is, as long as you both agree on the boundaries, anything goes. Bondage isn't all whips, dungeons and medieval torture but make no mistake they do play a huge part for many."

  • Make Your Own Rules

    "There are no rules to follow, you make the rues together," says <strong>Rochelle Peachey</strong>. "Create a special word in case it gets too much for you, something sexier than screaming "get off me".

  • Be Sober

    "Although it's often more tempting to play sex games when you're feeling a bit tipsy, it's best not to try bondage when you're under the influence of drink or drugs, as you might misjudge how tightly to tie the knots or, as the restrained person, be unable to establish your comfort levels in an accurate way," says <strong>Emily Dubberley</strong>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Field-Guide-cking-Hands/dp/1592335098" target="_hplink"><em>The Field Guide to F*cking</em></a>.

  • Be Creative

    "Take a DIY approach to bondage if you're on a budget. Clingfilm can be used to wrap around your lover's wrists, and if you use a single layer, it's easy enough to snap. You can get kitsch and use liquorice bootlaces to bind your lover's wrists, go for a cheap option and use toilet paper," advises <strong>Emily Dubberley</strong>.

  • Safety First

    "With bondage, there's a risk you can tie your partner too tightly and cause damage to their nerves. To avoid this, when someone is restrained by their wrists or ankles make sure that you check their extremities (hands and feet) regularly to ensure that they're not going cold (which is a sign that you've blocked their circulation). If the extremities do feel cold, untie your partner immediately and massage their hands or feet to help restore blood flow," explains <strong>Rochelle Peachey</strong>.

  • Be Prepared

    "Make sure that you keep a pair of scissors to hand, so that you can release your partner quickly if the need arises. Similarly, if you're using handcuffs, keep two sets of handcuff keys near by (it's always best to have a spare just in case you lose the first set)," says <strong>Emily Dubberley</strong>.

So why is this book topping the best-selling book lists and being widely (and proudly) discussed by women?

Emily Bendell, CEO of lingerie and lovestuff retailer BlueBella.com believes the secret behind its success is because it’s a sexy book written by a woman – for women.

“Over the past few years, as the genre has become increasingly popular, authors such as KD Grace have ensured there is something on offer for everyone, and with books such as Fifty Shades of Grey accelerating the trend, the genre can only continue to grow in popularity,” she told Huffpost Lifestyle

And it’s not just suburban housewives who are enjoying the book's thrills and spills – a flock of celebrities including Kirsten Stewart, Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres have all come forward gushing over the kinky literature.

“He's the ultimate fantasy figure - a good-looking man who takes control, pushes us to our limits, but makes sure we're all right in the end,” sexpert and author of Sex Academy Dr Pam Spurrs told HuffPost Lifestyle.

Emily Dubberley, author of The Field Guide to F*cking, believes the book’s popularity has helped shed the stigma attached to erotic reading – and the discreet cover (which features a simple grey tie) has helped women take the jump.

"There's still a stigma attached to sex - particularly kinky sex - but Fifty Shades of Grey managed to get around it due to the word-of-mouth way in which it spread: people who'd feel mortified about buying a book with a graphic adult title will happily opt for the relative discretion of 50 Shades of Grey,” Dubberley told HuffPost Lifestyle.

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But not everyone is thrilled with the book.. (WATCH: Grannies react to saucy Fifty Shades)

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