Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Earn my submission or bite me! #erotica vs #romance

This week's Thrusty Thursday post is a little early. But I have a book release on Friday, so I decided to post this today.

Also it's not a book review. Well, not it the normal sense. Still, It was triggered by a book I read recently. So while I'm not going to mention the actual title, I want to discuss the content.

It's no secret that as well as other romance categories, I read erotic romance and erotica. And for those who don't know the difference between the two, I'll help you out.

Wikipedia has a good definition of Erotic Romance: 

"Erotic romance novels are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction.[1] The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline."

It goes on to say that...

"Erotic romance novels have romance as the main focus of the plot line, and they are characterized by strong, often explicit, sexual content.[3] The books can contain elements of any of the other romance subgenres, such as paranormal elements, chick lit, hen lit, historical fiction, etc. In fact, many erotic romance novels are often categorized by one of the categories already defined in the industry.

Erotic romance novels take the reader beyond the bedroom door where more traditional romance does not breach that barrier. The sex scenes, while explicit, are there for the purpose of character development."

Passionate Ink describes Erotica as "stories about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Emotion and character growth are important facets of a true erotic story. However, erotica is NOT designed to show the development of a romantic relationship, although it is not prohibited if the author chooses to explore romance. Happily Ever Afters are NOT an intrinsic part of erotica, though they can be included."

Maree Anderson's Porn vs Erotica vs Erotic Romance post states the differences clearly in my book.
She wrote and I agree "For me, the key points when defining erotica are emphasis on a “sexual journey” or “sexual exploration”, rather than emphasis on a developing relationship. And for those readers expecting a traditional “And they lived happily ever after”? Well, don’t hold your breath. It’s more likely to be an “Oh yeah, baby! I’m sexually satisfied and rather happy…. For now.”"

In my head these differences are clear. So as a reader it really annoys me when an author masquerades erotica as erotic romance and I feel cheated.

I recently bought a book marked as contemporary romance. As I read, the hero and heroine seemed to tumble from one sexual encounter to the other, which I didn't mind, as I thought it was an erotic romance.

However, halfway through the story when I was expecting to see some 'romantic development' between the two, the hero sets the heroine up with 3 of his friends without her prior knowledge, in a scene that includes very dubious consent, coerced bondage and forced submission.

And I was left thinking, "Hello! Where is the romance?"

Don't get me wrong. It is obvious the story was about the sexual journey of the characters rather than the development of a romantic relationship between them. This scenario works perfectly well in an erotica story. And if I knew that was what I was buying I would've been perfectly happy.  

But in a romance, erotic or not, I draw the line at forced submission, puh-lease. There is nothing romantic about tying a woman up against her wishes and displaying her for the pleasure of your friends. She's never been in a ménage, didn't have a safe word and when she said no, it was ignored.

I personally think like for respect, submission should be earned not forced. You shouldn't bully your sub. She/he should submit freely not by coercion. Otherwise it's not romance.

Come on, people. What do y'all think? Am I wrong here? Where do you draw the line between romance and erotica? I'd love to know what you think.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I normally don't read erotic romance and never erotica (I like romance too much). You were pretty clear about the difference between the two in your post. You are absolutely correct about respect and consent being important no matter what genre it is.

  2. Agh, no safe word? Ignored her no? Is your kindle still alive or have you broken it by throwing it across the room?
    Mine wouldn't be had I read that. I have no problems with reading dubious consent etc if it's labelled as such. I will even read wham bang, thank you ma'am stories - sometimes that is just what you need ;-)

    But, as a reader you need to know what you're buying, so you know what to expect and I fully agree with your definitions, Kiru.

    1. Considering I'd lost the use of 2 eReaders recently, I tried to contain my anger and simply switched off and went to sleep when I read that scene. I couldn't bring myself to continue reading. I felt so cheated. :(

  3. I like your definitions too. I like reading all types of books and like Doris I don't mind erotica if I know that's what I know I am reading. So in the book you comment on, it would annoy me if it was advertised as one thing and ending up being something else. Women are not objects! A lack of basic respect would annoy the heck out of me! grrrrrr...

    1. Absolutely! It was marked as contemporary romance and I expected it to deal with contemporary issues. Treating 'his woman' the way the hero did is just not acceptable to me in that genre.

      But if it was marked as erotica, I would've happily suspended disbelief to carry on reading it.

  4. No safeword? No consent? Erotica? NOT. Porn? Yes.

    1. As it happens there are lot of 'dubious consent' scenarios in Erotica stories. When it is marked as such, I have no problem with it, as I know what to expect. I can choose to read it or walk away.

  5. The definitions work for me. If you're going to use the moniker of 'romance' to promote your book, it better have that element in there. Pure erotica is about sex for me. That doesn't mean the woman (or man) is humilated and asked to do things they're not comfortable with...that's borderline rape for me. To set someone up for a nice steamy romance and then throw in "Hey honey, How about I tie you up and my friends have a go?" ..."No." ... "Then it's a yes?" ... "No." ... "I'll call them straight away!" :|

  6. A very interesting post, Kiru. I love sweet romance too much, but I have enjoyed some erotic romance. I agree with you on the issue of forced submission and a 'no' being ignored. Even if I put on my 'I am going to be objective and open-minded' cap, I will not enjoy such a story. My main reason for not reading the more erotic novels are that it seems as if writers think you have to use 'raw' words in order for it to be hot. I'm sorry, I don't think of vagina's as p*$$y and I don't think swearing for its own sake it cool, so it limits how much I can enjoy a story when it is littered with words that I don't usually use. I would love to read a seriously flaming hot novel with my kind of language. Is that too much to ask?
    Okay, I think I have digressed, but I hope I answered your question adequately :-)

  7. Great post and thanks for clearing up the difference between Erotic and Erotica! Very helpful!

  8. No, there is nothing worse than expecting one thing from reading the cover or part of the book then it flip and your in a different book. I like to pick when I read certain content and not have it thrust upon me.

    1. I agree. Which is why I put down my phone as soon as I read that scene and will not go back to that book. At least not yet.

  9. I wouldn't like that either. If it's erotic romance, then I expect the heroine to be respected and cherished, and not treated like his own personal property to use and abuse as he sees fit.

    A no is a no even in fiction.

    You're right. That book should have been labeled erotic only with a warning about bondage.

  10. I know the freedom of speech thing, but in my opinion that book shouldn't even have been written. It just encourages abuse. Thanks for an interesting post. I didn't know what erotica was. Being a romance junky, that probably won't feature in my reading list.

  11. Hadn't thought about sex scenes as part of character development, but that's food for thought.

  12. Sounds like they ran out of ideas and needed to fill up space. Either that or they wanted to add that but could not go through the trouble of rewriting the story so that it would make sense for the reader.

    I agree with you there is a difference between erotica, erotic romance and romance. If done correctly they can all be magical. The problem is authors forget that erotica stories are still stories. They are so busy getting to the "blow by blow action", they lose sight of not only their characters but also their readers. I stopped reading erotica because I was left feeling "disappointed and unsatisfied",especially when there is a nonexistent plot (which unfortunately is usually the case}. I always ended up with more questions than answers, whether I finished the story or not.

    I think people forget that the brain is the most sexual organ we have, and once you stimulate that you can get pretty hot and dirty all by yourself. As a reader I am investing myself, so yeah I get pretty upset when I don't get what is advertised. Many a book and e-readers have suffered at my hands. I am only allowed to use the apps now and my hubby has wisely put them on things that he knows, I will regret losing, such as my laptop.

  13. GRRRRRR! I am frothing at the mouth. I hate books that cheat me. I HATE COERCION in sex. I would have flung my eReader across the room too!


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