Mormon Erotica

Romance - General
188 Pages
Reviewed on 08/20/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Donna Banta is author of the novels Mormon Erotica, False Prophet, and The Girls from Fourth Ward. She earned a degree in English from Brigham Young University and was married in the Mormon temple in Oakland, California. For many years she tried to remain active in the LDS Church as a “Mormon Feminist,” an effort that led to her premature release from practically every ward position she was called to fill. Now she’s just a feminist and her calling is writing. She lives in San Francisco with her husband.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Don’t let the title of this book fool you: Mormon Erotica is really about loss of freedom, a loss that forced a younger Sadie to become an ex-Mormon. So when Sadie and her college sweetheart, a long divorced but practising Mormon, 45-year-old Jim Maxwell, suddenly run into each other again, Cupid shoots an arrow at both their hearts again. But the problem is Jim really isn’t free to love Sadie: not only is she no longer a member of the church, but she’s written an “erotic” “pornographic” book about Mormons. His devout sister Kelli, his bishop, his ex-wife, and the Mormon community in his ward are scandalized when a photo of Jim and Sadie locking lips surfaces on Facebook. Tongues start wagging; Jim’s bishop comes a-calling to “help” him with his problem. And all Jim feels is fully alive, and in love, for the first time in 12 years! Interestingly enough, the only one who is cheering for him is his teenaged daughter who keeps a diary; her reflections contrast the impact of the traditional Mormon restrictions on young women with the current generation’s more liberated thinking. But as Jim becomes more deeply involved with Sadie, he too must confront the difficulties he and Sadie might face if they marry. What does he decide to do? Readers will enjoy finding out!

I loved this book. Mormon Erotica by Donna Banta is, by far, one of the most enjoyable and most informative books I’ve read this year. I started and finished it within a few hours. It kept me riveted like the best thrillers do…except Mormon Erotica is anything but a thriller. It’s humorous and eye-opening, yet in some respects, annoying. Why annoying? It’s always annoying, at least to me, and obviously to the author, to observe families whose religious beliefs dictate their every decision, including whom to love and marry, and put control of their lives into other people’s hands. I stated that Mormon Erotica is informative. It is for those who don’t know much about how and why Mormons live as they do, go on missions, spend hours in church related activities every weekend and believe strongly in the afterlife along with their place in Heaven. Mormon Erotica helped me understand my own Mormon relatives a little better than I did. I can only say thank heaven they’re not quite like the Mormons in this book! Enjoy!

Donna Banta

A review of my book from Holly Welker, editor of Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage:

Mormon Erotica is a joyous page-turner that, despite the title, is far more concerned with love and romance than sex. While the book contains plenty of reflection on Mormon attitudes toward sex and marriage, the action depicted is strictly PG. As with so many romance novels, the suspense lies not in whether it will end with its hero and heroine poised to live happily ever after, but what sorts of personal discoveries and growth will make them worthy of that reward. I was always curious about and frequently surprised by the routes the characters forged to true love.

If you don’t like romance novels, there’s a chance you won’t like Mormon Erotica. To me, this post-Mormon twist on the romance novel is a breath of fresh air, but then, I have a fondness for romance novels, having read dozens if not hundreds of them, from cheap formulaic paperbacks I checked out from the public library when I was in junior high to great classics of English literature like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. For that matter, as a teen I even read a few Mormon romance novels, such as those by Jack Weyland. I think Mormon courtship and marriage make great material for narrative, and I’m glad writers are tackling it in fiction for an audience beyond active Latter-day Saints. It’s especially nice to read a novel that takes you on a good-natured romp through the subject.

One of the best elements of Mormon Erotica is the main character, Jim, who is devout but not fanatical. Jim’s first marriage was disastrous and brief—but his ex-wife still plans to be married to him for time and all eternity, since they didn’t get a temple divorce to go with the civil one. Jim is comfortable in his role as a single dad too lazy and jaded to attempt another marriage—until he sees an old college girlfriend, Sadie Gordon, at a wedding reception. She’s hot, charming, and completely inactive, and she’s written a novel full of Mormons having sex. The title of Banta’s book refers to the way Sadie’s novel is characterized.

Less compelling are a couple of the supporting characters. Jim and Sadie each have a relative who seems like a caricature of the most awful Mormon you can imagine: small-minded, judgmental, and completely unable to understand boundaries. I’m certain there are Mormons like that, but they were so consistent and predictable that I was aghast at their actions without being surprised, a fact made all the more obvious given that Jim and Sadie did surprise me in interesting ways.

Occasional chapters are from the perspective of Jim’s teenage daughter, Julia. I don’t spend enough time around teenagers these days to know if Banta got twenty-first-century teen lingo and social interactions exactly right, but I thought she did a great job making the basic psychology of adolescence interesting for an audience of adults. Julia was so compelling that I’m now interested in reading The Girls From Fourth Ward, Banta’s murder mystery about four girls who hope to go to BYU.