I was talking this week to a friend about writing, and the differences between Romance novels, Erotic Romances, and Erotica, and even sans coffee, what I said made a lot of sense, so I decided to put it in a blog post so everyone can appreciate my pre-coffee wisdom (muhahahaha!)
Basically, there’s three different kinds of Romance. There’s Romance, Erotic Romance, and Erotica.
Now, within each kind, there’s plenty of difference, as far as genre and heat level, but what my friend was asking about was the difference in the heat levels, and what constitutes a Romance vs. Erotica.
And beyond the graphic nature of the sexual moments in the stories, there is a significant differences in the areas.
Romances, which deal with all heat levels, from “closed door” inspirational romances to very steamy sexual tension and eventually intimacy, is about The Couple. How the hero and the heroine’s relationship develops and eventually reaches a Happily Ever After (HEA) is the core of a true romance novel.
The heat of the sexy scenes can vary, of course, but that doesn’t mean that all straight romance won’t have you wanting a cold shower when it’s over. Romances tend to remain fairly traditional in their sex scenes as well–while you might find a hero who puts a blindfold on the heroine, or even some hand cuffs for a little fun, you’re not going to step into the full on BDSM found in books like 50 Shades of Gray.
Erotic Romance–like romance–focuses on the relationship between the H/h, but the language, especially the descriptions of sexual encounters are usually more explicit. Words like pussy, cock, dick and clit are some of the more titillating language used regularly. There remains an overall more graphic detail about the kinds of sexual activity–BDSM, anal sex, things outside of vanilla sex, and run the gambit of fantastic situations.
Occasionally in Erotic Romance, you’ll find the hero or heroine in a sexual relationship with someone else at the beginning. One example I’m thinking of is Lauren Dane’s Wolves Triad, where the hero happens to sleep with another woman the night before he meets his Mate, and when the heroine comes to his home, she winds up throwing out (or burning??) his bed sheets because she can smell the other woman there. (They were werewolves.)
HOWEVER, the key difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica is that there is an HEA at the end. The couple “wins,” and they are together. Or the threesome finds a way to make their arrangement work–or whatever the coupling is for the story–but regardless, they are together, and all is right with the world.
Erotica, while similar in language to Erotic Romance, differs in that a Happily Ever After for the couple is not required. A character can have multiple partners throughout the storyline, and sex is more casual–in that the participants usually won’t end up together.
The sexual exploration winds up being a way for the hero or heroine to change/understand/explore some part of themselves–for those Erotica novels that delve a little deeper into the characters anyway.
This is also where you can find a lot of very short (less than 40 pages) erotic stories–casual encounters that lead to sex, with no consequences, and both parties walk away sexually fulfilled.
Myself, as a reader, I prefer to keep it within the boundaries of Romance, because I like the Happily Ever After. The few straight Erotica stories I’ve read have left me disappointed and wishing for more story and resolution, and of course, the characters to wind up together in the end. That is just the way I like my stories, though. Everyone has their favorites, of course. 🙂
Do you have a preference?