I’m back! We’re back! Or, trying to be. And I’m happy to say that kicking it off will be ALBTALBS friend author Jill Sorenson! I really hope you’ll chime in. 🙂
The Dirty Scale: Sexy vs. Erotic
Hello Limecello & friends! I’m a little nervous about my upcoming release. While I was writing Riding Dirty, I wasn’t sure if the story would be erotic or just really sexy. I left it open, letting the heat level develop naturally. I’d plotted the character details and suspense elements, but I hadn’t planned a specific number of sex scenes. I ended up with 6, about 50 pages out of 320, which is roughly 15% of my story. Sexier than my other books, but does it qualify as erotic romance? Let’s discuss.
One of my favorite romance novels is Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun. It’s very sexy. The hero and heroine get in on in the bar parking lot, against a stranger’s truck, shortly after meeting. They continue to have steamy encounters, but the sex is mostly vanilla and I don’t think it’s the primary focus. There’s a lot happening between these characters outside of the bedroom.
(This is not the cover for Liberating Lacey, but let’s pretend it is.)
Victoria Dahl’s Looking for Trouble is another great example. The hero and heroine have an intensely erotic hookup early in the story. There are several detailed sex scenes with words like pussy, cock and cunt. Is it dirty? Absolutely. Is it an erotic romance? I’m not sure. I think the characters’ emotional journeys and family issues take precedent. The non-sexual moments in the story are just as important, if not more.
In both of these novels, the ways the characters relate to each other sexually is integral to the storyline, but the sex isn’t the main course. Just an extra-yummy dessert.
I’ve heard that an erotic romance won’t make sense if you can take out the sex scenes. I’ve also heard that the sex must be edgy to qualify. Anal, ménage, bdsm—this is the stuff of “real” erotic romance. Some authors insist it’s about language used, not about type of sex or quantity of sex scenes. Cock is ubiquitous in almost all heat levels, but pussy and cunt are seldom seen in the mainstream.
This is RWA’s definition of erotic romance:
Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).
Riding Dirty doesn’t probably qualify as erotic based on quantity. I don’t think it qualifies under the “without the sex, the story falls apart” standard, either. But the language is definitely graphic, and the sex isn’t what I’d call vanilla. Maybe instead of “sexy” (which can mean almost anything) or “erotic” (which indicates a central sexual journey) we can coin a new term for the in-betweeners: Dirty Romance.
What do you think makes an erotic romance? The number of sex scenes, type of sex, language used, sexual journey? Something else?
And since I’m sure you’re dying for more … here’s Jill’s book info 😀
Psychologist Mia Richards wants revenge. Her new client, tattooed Cole “Shank” Shepherd, provides the perfect means. She just has to manipulate the felon-turned-informant into eliminating her husband’s killers—members of Cole’s rival motorcycle club. The first step, seducing Cole, is simple. As for walking away before she falls hard—it’s already too late…
Dirty Eleven practically raised Cole, and he plans to double-cross the cops rather than sell them out. But smart, sexy Mia is an irresistible distraction. While she’s evaluating his mind, all he can think about is her body…until he discovers her true intentions. Walking a fine line between desire and betrayal, they’ll have to outrun her past, his enemies and the law for a love that’s dangerously real.