I was updating my website earlier today, putting up some recent reviews when something struck me – several times in reviews, not just of my books, but of others from the erotic romance lines – I would see one review saying how totally sexyhot the book was and another saying the book was more sensual than erotic.
I bring that up as an illustration only (not as a judgment). Erotic is in the eye of the beholder. Our sexuality is intimate, what each of us thinks of as scorching hot will be different depending on personal factors.
And yet – I find the notion that books are now somehow only “erotic” if they are menages or contain a great deal of kink to be disturbing as an author. There seems to be a trend now that books are only considered “erotic” if they’re menages or contain a great deal of kink. I don’t think this is good for the genre as a whole – first because people just toss in eight people and a monkey with a flogger to be “edgy” and “hot” when, come on, joking aside, it’s ridiculous. This doesn’t make for a better book at all, in fact the story suffers overall when an author tries to wedge in more and more outrageous sex to push an envelope that doesn’t have a damned thing to do with whether or not the book is good or even sexy. It would be like if all thrillers suddenly had eleventy thousand car chases with rocket boosters, laser headlights and ninjas escaping from every window. It’s overkill and it’s really not making the story more suspense filled.
I write erotic romances differently than I write my sensual romances. Meaning, the level of detail and the presence of sex in the books is relayed differently. A sex scene in my erotics will usually be longer and written in greater detail than it would be in my sensual romances.
For instance Coming Undone has more detailed sex scenes than say, Taking Chase has. The scenes are much longer and usually, though not always, more frequent and done with more graphic terms. The sex between both couples, however, is still charged, still intense and in both cases, it’s a central way they communicate with each other.
But to me, Coming Undone is an erotic romance, just as Laid Bare is. Laid Bare is undoubtedly a more sexually charged book. It’s a menage book and it has a lot of kink in it. Because that’s who these people were to each other. But it’s not “more” erotic than Coming Undone, it’s just a different sort of erotic. (Certainly whether or not it’s sexy or hot or whatever, is in the eye of each reader – I’m getting more at genre definitions rather than individual tastes and preferences).
I wonder if this blurring of lines is good or bad for us as authors and for us as readers – in truth, I prefer a looser definition anyway – if I could just write hot and not have to worry about that further definition of erotic, that would always be aces with me. At the same time, when we keep pushing and pushing and the books about snail shifters and elevensomes with random fuck scenes with eight sex toys and some sparklers – I think this erodes the genre as a whole.
Every scene should matter.
No matter the genre or the book, scenes just tossed into a book that are unrelated to the overall story arc degrade the story.
Yes, I’m cranky and old and judgy, LOL, and this does come dangerously close to “in my day” post land, but there you go…