Monday, December 04, 2006

Kate Duffy GuestBlog: Love, Not Lust

Contest!!! One lucky commenting Bella wins a six-pack of Brava selections!!!

Kensington Books Senior Editor Kate Duffy is probably the one woman in "the industry" over whom I've had a fangrl moment. I mean, she created Brava and Silhouette and has gathered the books and authors that have entertained -- and continue to entertain -- millions of romance fiction readers.

Kate and all of this week's Hot Topic GuestBloggers graciously agreed to write about the differences between - and definitions of - erotica and erotic romance (erom) so we could have that big ol dialogue we've been aching for. I also asked them what having access to erotic lit has meant to women, and the actualization of their sexual fantasies/sexualities.

A warm Bella buongiorno for Ms. Kate as she carves right into the heart of the issues :

I love Michelle’s approach to this topic but I don’t have anything remotely intelligent to say about the differences between erotica and erotic romance. I just know I am not a huge fan of the former, and I am a huge fan of the latter. If it doesn’t have romance, no matter what the sensuality level, just pass me by.

And I also don’t know how important fantasy is to women. I know romance is pretty damn rare in real life. So are compassion, empathy, generosity, humor, intelligence and
bravery. And yet you find all these elements in romance novels. So, yeah, I guess these fantasies are fairly important to women. At least to this woman.

Frankly, I am in this for the money. Your money. I want it all. And romance publishing is my cunning plan to get it.

Most discussions I have seen on websites were about where we are in romance publishing or where we’ve been. My experience here is limited. Most of what I read made me want to drive a #2 pencil through my brain, so I had to quit.

But the feeling I got was that while you guys were discussing, I was making plans for 2009. And, for the most part, those plans are limited to exploiting to their utmost potential the creativity and imagination of great writers. Selling their books. Selling lots of their books. Making lots of money.

Brava, the imprint I oversee, publishes the kind of books I want to read. When I was first asked to explain these books, I called them erotic romance and I defined them as,

”Erotic romance is sexual love and desire combined with deep emotional commitment.”

I think it’s that commitment that separates some of the erotic romance from some of the erotica. In other words, the hero and heroine may think it’s lust, the reader know it’s love. The hero and heroine may think it’s temporary, the reader knows it’s forever.

So, thanks, Michelle, for making me stop and take a minute to think about what I am doing. And thanks for letting me put on my two cents.


What do you think separates erotic romance from erotica? At what point do you figure out it's love, not lust that's driving the h/hn?

Encore! Author and Erotica Editor Adam Nevill (Virgin Books) visits tomorrow as Hot Topic Week continues. Adam lives in London and has a BA (Hons) in English Literature and a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. He began writing professionally for magazines and newspapers in 1995, before switching exclusively to fiction. He is the author of nine erotic novels under the name Lindsay Gordon, published by the Nexus imprint at Virgin Books, and of the occult thriller "Banquet for the Damned" under his own name. His short supernatural fiction will be featured in this year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies in both the UK and US. He began editing Nexus in January 2005 and became Erotica Editor of all fiction imprints and erotic memoirs for Virgin Books in June 2005. He currently commissions and edits around seventy books a year with his assistant editor Donna Condon.
Encore due! Special thanks to fellow Minnesotan Connie Brockway for allowing me to use Kate's Squawk Radio Chicken. You can visit Connie et. al at
Encore tre! Today, Bella Stacy has published an interview she did recently with me at Stacy's Place on Earth. Sheesh, she's a tough interviewer. And I can't seem to shut up. Shocking, that.


Stacy~ said...

Kate, what a pleasure it is to have you here! I am a huge, huge fan of the Brava books - have not read a bad one out of the bunch. I've read stories by some of my favorite authors - Lori Foster, Jill Shalvis - and discovered some new faves along the way - Dianne Castell, Erin McCarthy, Lucy Monroe. I agree with your definition of erotic romance, and believe the Bravas fit the bill. They are sexy without being sleazy, and very romantic. That's how I like my books. I vote for the HEA over just strictly the physical satisfaction. With erotic romance, I believe you can have both. Without the emotion, I don't really find it all that sexy.

Erotica is not a genre I read much from, and I'm just fine with that. I believe it has its place, and I don't think I'd want to see it go away completely, it's just not what works for me.

And Kate, if those Bravas keep being as hot and sexy as they are, you can have my money LOL.

amy kennedy said...

Kate, no #2 pencils in the brain today I hope.

I too love the Brava line--I especially like the combo-platter books: Bad Boys (fill in the blank) they're a great way to find new authors (to me) and fun reads.

Erotica doesn't give me the emotion I crave, and sometimes it can even make me feel bad/shame. Like watching porn and feeling sorry for the actors.

Not that I've ever watched porn.

Erotic romance gives me everything--a place for my own fantasies and an HEA.

It's love not lust when the Hero or the Heroine does some little thing that is so sweet for the other and has nothing to do with sex.

Kati said...

Hi Kate - Welcome! What a great topic and terrific honor to have you here with us at RBtB!

I read both erotica and erotic romance, but they serve very different purposes in my mind. I read erotica for the fantasy. I'm pretty specific about what kinds of erotica I read (not to yuck anyone else's yum, but I don't care for bondage), but since I don't have issues with and in fact enjoy reading, encounters that include, more than one person. I think generally in erotic romance, that's not an element that you're going to find.

I enjoy erotic romance because it features extremely hot sex and an HEA. They serve different purposes for me. I don't have a particular preference for one genre over the other, except that (and I realize this is a generalization) I find that erotic romance seems to be better written and edited than erotica. I'm not sure what that's a symptom of, but I do find it's true.

Also, Kate, I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about one of my favorite books, "Whitney, My Love." I know that you edited it. I know that it was a different era in romance, but when you worked on it, did you realize that it was going to be as polarizing as it was? Personally, I adore the book, but know that many readers find the forced seduction scene to be really offensive. What did you think of McNaught's decision to add to the book? Did you edit others of her books? I've been on a Judith McNaught re-reading glom lately, and so have been really enjoying her books, even if nowadays they seem kind of old school. Sorry, I know this is off topic, but I couldn't help it, since we have you here. Hope you don't mind my asking.


I absolutely agree with Kate about the committment between the characters make it a romantica vs erotica.

Deborah Chan said...

I love the Brava book line. I found that the erotica is just sex and not much of a story on but the erotic romance has a happily ever after.

Shuck Ying said...

I am an avid reader of erotic romance and I love that they are more sexy and romantic. HEA is my thing not just the sex.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post. Alarmingly honest. Definitely unromantic! I think we all read romance because real life is so devoid of it, so you'll keep racking in the $$! Guaranteed happy endings guarantee income.

Erotica is just hot sex between hot people. Position trumps emotion. Erotic romance combines position and emotion and character development...and usually only involves two committed adults! Maggie Robinson

ev said...

I much prefer erotic romance over erotica, although I do read both. I tend to respond to erotica the same way I do to a porn movie- I spend most of it laughing my a$$ off. I just have a warped sense of humor I guess. And a vivid imagination that doesn't usually need any more ideas than it already has stored up there.

I am like Amy in that I prefer the emotion that romance stories give me.

You know it's going to be love and not lust when the story line actually has a story before they land in the sack, or whereever.

amy kennedy said...

Maggie, position and emotion, great line. Maybe I've read the wrong erotica--I don't see it as hot sex between hot people so much as just sex (with fetishes) between people who maybe should be seeing therapists.

But then if Marykate says she reads them and enjoys them, well then, I want names, MK. Books and authors.

Although MK, I gotta say, I sort of like bondage. And spanking.

Unknown said...

I liked what you said about emotional commitment. I think that is a key factor.

Unknown said...

Erotic Romance usually has a HEA.

Kati said...

Ames - Definitely to each her own. My own personal feeling is that sex shouldn't hurt, and so bondage doesn't appeal to me. But as Michelle always says, it doesn't mean you want to do it just cause you enjoy reading about it. I just tend to get pulled out of scenes because I keep thinking, "doesn't that hurt?!" Anyway, erotica, how 'bout Emma Holly's "Menage?" or "The Tutor" by Portia de Costa. I love both of them!

amy kennedy said...

Okay MK, I get that. See for me I get the pain/pleasure thing and it is most definately to each her own.

Now, I wonder if Emma's Strange Attractions would be considered erotica? Oh yeah, and I've read and enjoyed Ann Rice's (under a diff. name) Beauty trilogy. Well, I guess I do like erotica. Wonder that.

Ev said:
"You know it's love not lust when the story line actually has a story before thay land in the sack..."

Kind of like the difference between an "R" rated movie and an "X" rated movie.

Kristi Cook said...

I love to read good erotic romance--but am not a fan of erotica, simply because it lacks the emotional punch for me. I guess I define the difference as this: in erotic romance, there is still a character-driven plot, with some super sexy love scenes. The language can be more explicit , but deeply-felt emotions go hand in hand with the love scenes. Erotica is less plot dependent, and oftentimes the sex scenes drive the plot, instead of the other way around, and the emotional connection is generally lacking.

I do think, though, that for an erotic romance to work, it has to fit within the characters' story. You can't just tack on super sexy love scenes and explicit language in any romance and make it work. In the same vein, I'm just as puzzled when I read a super-sweet romance where it just doesn't fit the characters--when I feel that the characters would have hopped in bed by chapter 6 rather than wait till their wedding night. It's all about what's right for the story, IMO!

And I think BRAVA does a fabulous job, getting it *just* right!

amy kennedy said...

I just thought of something though, Ev, both those books I mentioned above did have story lines--interresting story lines. Maybe you're like me and didn't realize you had actually read some erotica that was truly enjoyable.

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome to RBTB, Kate!! I really love your Squawk pic but I have to admit I'm a little worried about the machette. :o)

I am all about the romance. I love the hot scenes. I feel that sex is a part romance but if there is no HEA in the horizon, I'm outta there.

Kate-- Can I skip the middle man and just send you my money in exchange for books? :o)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

amyskf writes:I don't see it as hot sex between hot people so much as just sex (with fetishes) between people who maybe should be seeing therapists.

LOL, but a pithy way to put what often rings hollow for me in lots of erotica. Listen, I've got my own twists and bends, so I don't judge what gets anyone off.

But if the author doesn't show me why little honey likes it rough and from behind, the book lacks the emotion that makes the erotica work. It's a case of poor plotting and characterization that makes the thing about titillation, but NOT about eroticism.

And the author having the heroine or hero say, "you know, lover, I don't like it this way cause Uncle Amos or somebody abused me" doesn't cut it for me. Weak.

NOW! HAPPY HAPPY! Whitney, My Love. So glad you brought it up, MK. I reread it this weekend to get ready for today and here's what I came up w/re the "forced seduction" scene. (If you haven't figured it out, I love me some FS im romance).

So, I was struck by the fact that McNaught's pivotal, controversial scene is one of the most clearly defined examples of FS, that is, one is clear the experience is not rape. There's no question in my mind w/this as in some other FS scenes.

I like that you get what Kate's saying here, Maggie, cause it's important. Romance is a business and the industry makes money when good novels are chosen, published and purchased. We all win, and are all cogs in the wheel. Smart industry folks respect the role readers play in the health of the industry.

Janice Maynard said...

Hey, Kate ! Michelle - What a great week you have lined up! And on a topic near and dear to my heart. I fell in love with the Brava line from the first, because it gave me (as a reader) exactly what I wanted. Stong romance with hot sex. Period.

Having said that... I do read erotica from time to time. Some Black Lace authors are really excellent. But I will say that I think the quality in erotica is all over the map. Which makes it hard to find something consistently good.


amy kennedy said...

Oooh Michelle, yes, as always I was going for the laugh. But later I did let it be known that I have my own fetishes--and don't want anybody messing with them, so sorry about the therapist crack.

I hate to admit I have never read Whitney, My Love. I don't hate to admit I too love reading forced seductions. So I will read Whitney, My Love--and not just the good parts.

Kate Duffy said...

Thank you all very kindly. Brava is a real treat to work on and starting in late 07, we will bring out some backlist titles in mass market which I cannot wait for.

WHITNEY was a terrific book which I loved just as it was originally written. I didn't worry about anyone else's reaction, I just knew we had to publish it. And the other curious thing is that it was going to be sent back to the agent unread because the editor to whom it had been sent disdained romance. I said I'd like to take a look. I didn't work on anything else by Judith that I remember. I think I switched jobs and she went to Linda Marrow.


Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Kate to RBTB! You're one of my favoritist people's editor...Sylvia Day. I think she's a fantastic writer and am so glad you're making her write write write!!!! More great books for us!!

I like a lot of story with my sex. I"m not a big fan of the erotica that is about the character's sexual journey. Give me a great story, with hot smokin' sex, a menage or two, lots of action and emotionally satisfying ending (I don't need a HEA to feel satisfied) then I'm good to go. And personally I haven't read any lately that would qualify. Except Sasha White's Bound. That's a great example of erotica.

I like a good romance, but I don't NEED it to be happy with my book reading experience.

I think the Aphrodisia line has a mixed bag. There are some erotic romance titles and some erotica. I don't think they can ALL be classified as erotic/romance.

amy kennedy said...

I forgot to comment on something Kristine Cook said--when the type of characters and the type of romance don't fit--talk about stopping my reading cold.

Kate, thank goodness romance has you.

I have to get ready for work now, I'll check back later.

kim h said...

hi karen love brava novels
i read what i like and most books i read are erotic and i love it.

Vivi Anna said...

Michelle, read your interview at Stacy's place...awesome! Can't wait for part two!

ellie said...

I have been enjoying the Brava line and think it has everything, the romance, the emotion that is definitely necessary and the important ingredients that make it such a successful book line.

pearl said...

I rarely read erotica and I prefer to have a nice blend of romance, sex, emotion and a meeting of the minds. This means more to me.

Kate Duffy said...

I want to go back to this part of Michelle's question,"At what point do you figure out it's love..."

Page one. It's the characters who take longer to catch on - that's part of the fun. They give away their deeper feelings for each other time and time again and yet continue to deny those very feelings.


alissa said...

I read romance and not much of erotic books though since they do not really contain what I feel should be in a book. I did love Whitney, My Love and appreciated the entire story.

Jennifer Y. said...

What do you think separates erotic romance from erotica?

To me it is about the HEA...erotic romances usually have them, but erotica books don't necessarily have to have one. I haven't read that much erotica though.

Toni Blake said...

I don't post here as often as I'd like, but as I am a HUGE fan of Michelle's and this is a topic near and dear to my heart, thought I'd pop in and mention that there is a lot of blurring of lines when it comes to what gets labeled as erotic romance and erotica these days. For instance, what I personally call "very sexy romance" my publisher calls "erotica." And I've read work that I would call "erotica" but which others call "erotic romance."

For me, it's not just love and commitment that separate erotic romance from erotica. I tend to base it greatly on the level of erotic content. I've read many books that were romantic and ended with a commitment that I still consider erotica.

To me, it's about what DRIVES the story and the character growth MORE: the romance or the sex. Sometimes, even in a romantic book, the answer is the sex.
Thus I feel that sometimes a book can be romantic but still be erotica.

My 2 cents ...

Unknown said...

I love erotic romance, but not so much erotica. To me the difference is in what takes presidence. If the sex is what drives the story and takes center stage, I consider that erotica. If the romantic relationship is the driving force, it would fall into romance or erotic romance in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind vividly hot sex scenes, so writers feel free to include those ... please! I do however prefer an emotional connection to be present as well. To each his or her own though. I would never begrudge someone else their own preferences and opinions.

Hugs all!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much Kate for sharing your thoughts with us also! Great insights!

Anonymous said...

Sometime it is difficult to distinguish between erotica and erotic romance because each publisher seems to have different requirments.

Lisa W.

Anonymous said...

I read both types of books. To me it all depends on the authors.


Anonymous said...

HEA is a must for me. So I think erotic romance is more geared towards that.


Anonymous said...

I am an avid reader and just love the Brava line. The authors are great and I love the stories.


Jennifer Y. said...

I agree with what Toni Blake said...the line does get blurred with some is not always clear cut what genre a book would fall into. There are many books that I might call erotic romance that others would label erotica.

What drives the story is important as it sex or romance?

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Ladies - I'm an old RBTBlogger who's been lurking rather than posting the past months. Welcome Kate and thanks, Michelle for the great topic. It's still morning here in the far north so you've been having this fab conversation a while now - still, I'll add two cents even if I'm late.

The thing that struck me most about what Kate said is "I don’t know how important fantasy is to women. I know romance is pretty damn rare in real life. So are compassion, empathy, generosity, humor, intelligence and bravery. And yet you find all these elements in romance novels.”

That’s it for me – getting all those emotions into the story and then having the benefit of great sensuality and sex. It’s the deep, touch-the-soul emotions that make the sex great, not the other way around.

One thing that does annoy me is reading most of a book (can be very well written; can be “erotic romance”) where the focus is – despite weak references to the contrary – on physical attraction, lust and phenomenal sex and this leads to the last four chapters where the dialogue suddenly centers on “but you know it’s not all about the sex, darling. That’s a benefit – it’s YOU I love.” Nuh, uh – what happened to “show don’t tell”?

The best for me is when, as so many of you say, the passion and tension grow between body AND mind and make us long for the consummation (if you’ll pardon the Victorian word choice!)

Anyway – wonderful topic. And so great to see that most agree – it’s the romantic relationship that counts!


Vivi Anna said...

My question is this, based on what some of you are saying about what drives the story...

Let's say the action plot drives the story and not the romance or the sex, but the book has some hot hot hot sex in it...what would you classify that as???

I wonder, because I don't think I write either erotic romance or erotica....a friend of mine coined a new genre for me... erotic-adventure... LOL

CrystalGB said...

I think erotica focuses more on just the sex and not on romantic feelings.

Wolfy said...

I find that erotic is a romance that has true emotional feelings that are expanded on, but there is a story line and is an enjoyable read. Erotica to me, IMO is more about sex for the sake of sex and does not take into account romance or even a workable HEA........Thank you Kate for your time today.

Vivi Anna said...

Erotica is about the characters sexual journey and finding themselves through the exploration of sex, which can encompass many feelings...desire, self-fulfillment, exploring boundaries and fantasies, and can encompass a romance. But ultimately it is not about how a couple come together to get their HEA.

The HEA is basically the defining factor for a romance...

What do you think?

Kati said...

I totally agree, Vivi. I don't open an erotica piece expecting an HEA, just as I don't open a mystery expecting one. But when I open an erotic romance, I do expect HEA.

Erotica is about a sexual journey (that may very well feature a couple who has an HEA, but it's not a requirement), an erotic romance is a relationship journey, and always features an HEA.

That's just my interpretation, and how I interpret the difference.

Patrice Michelle said...

Vivi wrote: The HEA is basically the defining factor for a romance...

I agree! Romance has always been defined by the HEA. To me, erotic romance is the couple's journey from meeting to mishaps to falling in love, all with descriptive, heartfelt love scenes along the way.

Kris said...

THank you Kate for coming! I love Brava books and am so glad that they exist and that I found them. I have found so many cool new authors from them, thank you! I love erotic romance, I love my HEA. it is something that i really enjoy. Erotica does not have to have the romance aspect of erotic romance. And if I read erotica I miss that, I keep waiting for it but it is not usually there.

Kate Duffy said...

I think the sex is different in erotic romance because it is not an obstacle. In more traditional romances, will they or won't they? And when?
In erotic romance, they will and often but their problems are not orchestrated by their attraction to one another - that is very quickly a given, usually. No, I think their sexual compatibility asks the author to create intense situational or emotional circumstances that must be resolved for the hero and heroine to be happy.

This has been great fun and you have been very kind and thought provoking.

Many thanks, Kate

Jennifer Y. said...

My question is this, based on what some of you are saying about what drives the story...

Let's say the action plot drives the story and not the romance or the sex, but the book has some hot hot hot sex in it...what would you classify that as???

I wonder, because I don't think I write either erotic romance or erotica....a friend of mine coined a new genre for me... erotic-adventure... LOL

I can see your point. I was just making a generalization I guess based on the books that I have read. Something I probably shouldn't have done...sorry. For me, I guess the book as a whole should be one way of determining the need to look at each part...this includes what drives the story, the characters, their motivation, plot, conclusion, etc. However, to me the most important requirement for a book to be a part of the romance genre (be it erotic, inspirational, or anything else), is the HEA. That is my main determining point. Of course that is just me and my opinion.

I like your new genre name. I think there are a lot of books out there that don't fit a cookie-cutter mold or definition of a genre..that is how new genres get created. It also makes it difficult to define a genre because everyone has a different idea of what it should be. I don't think there is one right or wrong answer.

The HEA is basically the defining factor for a romance...

Exactly! I find those essential in a romance, like I said above. Not all erotica books have a is not requirement, but IMHO for a book to be considered an erotic romance it needs a HEA.

This reminds me a lot of a discussion that I had with someone about the difference between romantic suspense and a suspense with romantic elements. You have to consider what dominates the story...the romance, the suspense or something else...and it is different for everyone. Same with erotic romance vs. erotica.

I think some of the confusion on genre definitions comes from the different publishers and how they label books. Each publisher seems to have their own definition and idea of what sells and label books accordingly.

Sorry for rambling and apologies if I made no sense...this was all just my opinion of course.

Unknown said...

Fascinating discussion-always interesting to hear Kate Duffy talk. here's my question

-so would you define a book where the HEA is a menage as an erotic romance or erotica? To me, that still qualifies as erotic romance but for many people, and for BRAVA that would be considered erotica.

How about when people explore the other sides of their sexuality-perhaps they are bisexual? Is that erotica if that end up in a happy relationship?

I agree that erotica can be about the sexual journey but I think erotic romance can be too. I think I write erotic romance but many would disagree with me (I am contracted to write for Aphrodisia and not Brava)

It's a fascinating question and I think the boundaries are blurring all the time.

Toni Blake said...

Vivi Anna: Erotic adventure - I like it! And I'm all for defining new sub-genres. For me personally, I really like thinking about terms to define my own work because it helps me hone in on the "constants" in my work, which I think goes to branding. Which is getting a bit off-topic, but anyhoo - I love the sound of "erotic adventure" : )

Kate P: For me, if a book has a series of menage and/or envelope-pushing sex scenes that are very graphic, etc., I would personally probably define it as erotica even if it has an HEA (although it's one of those things where I think one has to judge each work individually.) But, of course, that's just me. Lots of other folks view it differently, which is totally cool. So sometimes we're talking apples and oranges, and sometimes we're just talking apples and other apples that are being labeled oranges ; )

I actually find it pretty fascinating that thousands of very intelligent women define these things with so much variation - but I guess it just speaks to our individuality : )

Rashmi said...

All those book - I'm salivating at the mere thought. Count me in for this contest!!!

Signed : abookworm

Playground Monitor said...

Sheesh! I spend a day Christmas shopping and I come back to find 50 comments.

I'm an HEA girl all the way. I want to at least know there's a lifetime of love together for the hero and heroine. It can be hot and habanero spicy along the way, but gimme that HEA.

I'm also a one man/one woman reader. I'll readily admit I'm old school -- old enough to get the senior discount at Ross each Tuesday. :grin: But the fact there's a wide variety of romances out there just means more people get to read what they like.

P.S. More free books on the Playground on Wednesday. Refer a friend and both of your qualify!

catslady said...

I probably haven't read enough of either to comment. I guess I've concluded from various sites that there just isn't enough story to erotica but an emphasis on the sex. Erotic goes futher then other romances but still has more of a story. It doesn't bother me to read either but I truly love characterization above all in my reading so normally those aren't the kind of books for me. But - hey - to each his own and I hate any kind of censorship. There's enough books out there for everyone.

Unknown said...

Even though I have my preferences, which do cover quite a range, I am glad that so many new genres and subgenres are coming to fruition. I think anything that attracts more people to read is a good thing. Everyone has such great thoughts on the matter, and I can see validity in all of them. In my experience I have found most things not to be black or white, but somewhere in between. Thanks to everyone for the thought provoking discussion.

Hugs all!

Jennifer Y. said...

I agree bamabelle!

amy kennedy said...

Lizees! How are you? Good points, especially about suddenly adding love at the end when all you've seen in the book is lust.

Erotic-adventure--yes, please, Vivs.

Marilyn, isn't it swell that are so many books for so many people. The more I read the comments the more I was convinced that the lines are completely blurred.

Maybe it's like art--I don't know the difference between erotica or erotic romance, but I know what I like.

Stacy~ said...

MK, I had no idea Kate edited "W,ML". Thank you for that tidbit of knowledge. It's one of my all-time fave books. McNaught, along with Kleypas, are are the very top of my list for best historical authors, the ones that totally wrecked me with emotion. Politically correct or not, "W,ML" is a classic.

I also agree that a woman can have fantasies that she has no wish to experience in real life, but to read about them can be wildly exciting and arousing. Not all fantasies need to be realized to make them work. I totally get the forced seduction or even the m/f/m but I can't be sure I'd actually enjoy them in real life. However they are very powerful images that somehow work in my mind as being really, really hot. Hey, that's just me.

Ames, Strange Attractions didn't work for me, even though I totally loved the premise. I preferred EH's "All U Can Eat". I think I prefer that the sex scenes not always be so controlled, but rather more spontaneous and about just "letting go" without boundaries. Again, that's just me.

My feeling about the definition of erotic romance is that it doesn't matter how much sex is in it, or how explicit it is (i.e. multiple partners, etc), as long as the h/h make some sort of commitment to each other, where there is a definite sign of the HEA, it's romance. Now how can that be, you ask? Well, I've read stories where the h/h explore their fantasies, a lot of times involving other people, but always with the h/h involved in some fashion, and it's a journey that ultimately leads them to each other - falling in love or at least deciding that they only need each other. Emotion is involved. I can buy into that.

Vivi, you are starting a new trend here, girl - I love the idea of erotic adventure! If anyone can do it, you can ;)

Great discussion. I am loving the responses.

Vivi Anna said...

Okay, it's decided. Erotic-adventure it is!!! LOL

I might have another one coming soon...fingers crossed I get the deal!

This is a great discussion. I love that we're able to have it. That we all feel confident enough to share our opinions with each other. Yeah, Go Bellas!

KimW said... prize! I love those Brava books. I'm always coming in late here.

I've seen similar discussions on this subject and for me, I just read the excerpt and decide if I'll like the book. The definition of a romance, love, a relationship etc. varies from person to person. I think it's difficult to label a story. What one may think is romance, another won't. Confusing! I'm just glad there's a lot of hot stories out there for me to read with a HEA.

Robin L. Rotham said...

I'm one who counts any story about love with HEA as a romance. Doesn't matter who the couple/trio/etc. are, though I do generally prefer to see a woman in there somewhere -- otherwise I have a hard time inserting myself into the fantasy. :D I'm still married to the first man I ever kissed and find reading and writing about the wild lives I never lived, stimulating. If dh and I didn't have active fantasy lives, we'd probably be pretty bored by now, LOL!

Kate Pearce, you definitely write erotic romance. Speaking of which, don't you have a book you should be finishing so I can read it? (Must write faster!)

And that's funny, Stacy -- I had just the opposite reactions to EH. I absolutely adored Strange Attractions and could barely get through All U Can Eat. I was afraid she was losing her touch until I read an excerpt from an upcoming release. (whew!)

Great discussion and excellent post by Kate Duffy!

Stacy~ said...

Robn, different strokes, huh? LOL. I read SA twice and it still didn't grab me. I've read AUCE several times, and it just works ;) That's why it's so great we readers have so many choices.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas and new e-friends! And grazie mille, Ms. Kate, for opening Hot Topic Week with this perfect discussion.

I think erotica and erom have to be defined differently from one another, not only because they're different animals, but also because of the most important reason: readers need to know where to find the types of books they like, and publishers need to learn how to give them what they want.

As writers, we may not want to be labeled. Even though I sweat prose like the next girl, I "report" on romance, so I'm a journalist.

I've read wonderfully romantic novels which end in a comitted love triangle, but -- and please hear me on this -- the majority of romance readers don't find that necessarily romantic, which is. not. to. say. they. are. homophobic. or. narrow-minded.

You seem to have that in mind as you comment, because you keep saying, sorta, "not that there's anything wrong with it," when writing about the content that makes you comfortable.

The maj of rom readers want one man/one woman all the way through the thing and, unless the story is, e.g., a medieval and the hero is a knight assuaging blood lust after battle with a wench -- they don't buy "infidelity" by h or hn and are turned off by it.

To me, definitions are about the bottom line. But let's credit the publishing world w/ being savvy by having heard smart women when they said, "I want hot fantasy, sometimes w/ romance, sometimes not, and I will buy a lot of it if you publish it."

Continuing w/ the "bottom line," well, line, if I can't define erotica or erom for readers, I certainly can't make accurate suggestions of which books they might enjoy. My job is to help them spend their hard-earned entertainment dollars wisely, so I need to be consistent in offering genre and sub-genre to readers who are looking to buy only w/in those.

Romance? Like Kate D is fond of saying, is about the love story. It's central, and w/in a romance the reader should constantly be thinking (w/out being drawn from the prose) how will they end up together. Period. It's all about the love.

A thriller w/ romantic elements is just that. But a story about a man and woman falling in love while going through thrilling events is a romance as long as the action doesn't outpace or overwhelm the arc from boy meets girl ro HEA. (Do me a favor and don't paint me anything because I'm talking boy/girl romance. That's so hack, and totally unfair).

What makes for erotic romance in the label sense? The reader looking for erom has can expect more scenes of heightened sensuality and sophisticated language about sexual intimacy, sensuality and the human form than in a general romance.

Erotica? Let's talk more about it today with Adam Nevill, shall we?

Anonymous said...

I love to read erotic romance and I love to write it. I also agree with everyone else who posted before me. When I pick up an erotic romance, I'm looking for the emotional punch and the HEA of a regular romance but with the increased depth and characterization that comes from inculding the sexual relationship along with the emotional relationship. If a book is labeled erotic romance and I get to the end and my HEA isn't there, I do feel cheated.

I do read erotic books. I don't mean to imply I don't. If I were to classfy the ones that appeal to me, I would call them more women's fiction than straight erotica as they usually involve an emotional journey of the main protagnist that results in character growth and self understanding by the time the end of the story is reached. My erotic choices may or may not have elements of romance, but they always have strong characterization. I'm pretty much a reader who is in the story for the connection to the characters versus the connection to the plot. I think that's why my preference leans more toward erotic romance than toward erotica.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm coming really late to the party, but I just wanted to add that I've noticed that in the books I would call erotic romance there is an element of respect even in early couplings. Even if the h/h don't know that they are falling in love, even if they don't think they like each other very much, there is always respect for each other, and you can see it in thought, words and actions. In erotica I often find this missing--there is lust but that seems to be all. In fact, sometimes there is an element of humiliation involved. I'm afraid that I just can't personally believe that these people are in love, no matter how many times the author tries to tell me they are. Sometimes you can tell me one thing and show me another. It's not always overt, sometimes it's just a lack, but that inclusion or exclusion of respect really draws the line in the sand for me. If the characters respect themselves and each other, that for me forms a base that makes it romantic, and lets me believe that love will be able to grow here.

Then, of course, I like for my erotic romance to evolve from respect to caring to love and, ultimately, a HEA is lovely.

Just another take

Cara North said...

Another late arrival to the blog. I enjoyed getting a viewpoint straight from the editors mouth. In addition everyone who weighed in has contributed things for me to think about and keep in mind as a writer. I write erotic romance, and I read lots of stuff, but I love reading erotic romance. Thanks for hosting this topic I will be checking back in to read more as the week goes on.

Dannyfiredragon said...

I think the difference is where the major focus is in the story.

Erotic romance is the main focus on the relationship, how it develops etc. plus the relation has to be hot. An HEA is definitely a must.

In erotica the main focus is on the sexual relationship, the rest of the plot is secondary and an HEA is not a must.

Liz said...

the HEA or some type of happy ending

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