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How Women Are Daring to Live Out Their Sex Fantasies a Year on From Fifty Shades

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It's nearly a year since Fifty Shades of Grey launched itself at the world, leaving its 70million female readers quivering with either excitement or indignation.

The question now is: what effect, if any, has Fifty Shades had on the sex life of the women worldwide who devoured the trilogy?

Did the antics of Ana and Christian - constantly on heat, having sex in public, spanking up a frenzy and generally stirring up a sexual storm - merely lubricate the imaginings of its readers?

Or did it inspire women to actually act on those awakened desires and fantasies?

Judging by the massive spike in the sale of sex toys (my kegel toner balls and bondage tape sold out pretty much instantly the second the book hit) and the eye-wateringly explicit secrets told to me for my new book, Dare: What Happens When Fantasies Come True, the answer is that Fifty Shades did more than just liberate women's minds. It's made them bolder, more experimental, keener to turn those erotic daydreams into real life adventures.

Women are doing one hell of a lot more than simply locking themselves in the bedroom while "mummy has a little lie-down".

Sex with virgins, sex outside, sex on a plane, sex with a male escort, on stage, live on a webcam, threesomes, foursomes, moresomes - you name it, women today are doing it... and telling me.

Dare is a collection of 30 women's real life experiences detailing what happened when they decided to take their sexual fantasies - something that existed perfectly in their heads - through to the often brutal reality of their beds.

The result is a selection of stories that blows the woefully outdated belief that women only like 'romantic' sex to smithereens.

These aren't all young, 'out there' twentysomethings, by the way. I'm talking bright, 'normal' women spanning all age groups. Their confessions might be anonymous and their names fictional but their age, profession and experiences are real.

Writing the book was quite the eye-opener - and I've been writing about sex and listening to people talk about it for over two decades.

The end result of their fantasy reenactments is an eclectic mix of steamy success stories, giggly disasters and out-and-out cock-ups of spectacular proportions. Entertaining and endlessly fascinating.

I was so impressed by this proudly brazen new attitude to sex, it was also the inspiration for my new product range of the same name, Dare!

Fifty Shades didn't just revitalise publishing - showing that yes, people do buy books still, after all - it's revolutionised the way women behave in the bedroom. We're pluckier, spunkier, more daring, more likely to open our mouths and own up to wanting to try stuff that would make our grandmothers leave the country, let alone faint. Which, quite frankly, is the best news I've heard in years.

Whatever you think of Fifty Shades (and does it really matter if it's not written terribly well?), it woke millions of women from a bored, sexual stupor and reminded them of how astonishingly good great sex can be. For that, EL James, we shall all be grateful.

Dare: What Happens When Fantasies Come True, by Tracey Cox, is out now (Hodder and Stoughton, £7.99 paperback, £4.99 kindle); her Dare product range is now available from lovehoney.co.uk.

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