At the Back Fence Issue #280

October 8 – 9, 2007 

From the Desks of Laurie Likes Books & Anne Marble:

Two Readers Journey Through Erotic Romance

Last month I decided that our “romance family tree”, in which we explored the roots of the modern genre romance through a series of columns, needed some expansion as new branches have/are becoming more prominent. There’s been an explosion in the world of erotic romance, which I don’t believe existed beyond the fringe and certainly wasn’t an actual sub-genre as recently as a decade ago. Anne and I have written about our own experiences with erotic romance, which means that this is a lengthy column. As such, it’ll be posted in two parts…on two successive days. First up is my segment. Please come back tomorrow for Anne’s contribution. We’ve provided questions for each segment so that there’s no need to wait for Anne’s piece in order to begin discussion on the ATBF Forum.

Laurie Likes Books

Part I | Part II

Part I – October 8 (Laurie Likes Books):

When I suggested that Anne and I write about the explosion of erotic romance, my mind overflowed with ideas. After all, for a couple of years, I read a ton of erotic romance, but earlier this year I stopped buying and reading almost any of it. So…did I write about the best of it, or why I stopped reading it? In the end I decided to do both. First up: my favorite erotic romances, which will lead directly into what stopped me almost cold turkey. I’ve already written about some of my favorites in two year-end ATBF wrap-ups, but there’s more to discuss, so hopefully I won’t bore those who previously read those columns.

I’m going to start with my absolute favorite short stores in print – from Brava and Secrets anthologies – that pretty well introduced me to erotic romance. I suspected long ago that a little erotic romance goes a long way, and I’ve found that, for me, that’s generally the case. For the most part the Secrets stories are more “descriptive” than the Bravas, which I know many don’t even classify as erotic romance, but since their focus is love-making, I do. That said, though, these stories are more than simply sex; I like the characters and their stories, regardless of how far-fetched some may be. The most “romance-y” of the group is Morgan Leigh’s Murphy’s Law. If you think any erotic romance is too erotic for you, this one would be the one to try. Shannon McKenna’s are quite intense, but then, so is the one I’ve listed by Janelle Denison; until I looked it up in my database, I thought it too was by McKenna.

Love’s Prisoner
MaryJanice Davidson
Secrets Volume 5
In the first of Davidson’s Wyndham werewolf series, Jeannie Lawrence is trapped in an elevator with Michael Wyndham. She is at the peak of her cycle and it’s the during the full moon. After their encounter, Michael is convinced he’s found his life-mate, but Jeannie’s not so sure. During this controversial short story, not only does Michael kidnap Jeannie, he forces her submission to him to assure that Jeannie complies with his safety measures.
The Wilde One
Janelle Denison
Bad Boys To Go
Adrian Wilde and Chayse Douglas share an incredible chemistry. She plans on using his attraction to her in order to gain his approval to pose in a calendar she’s photographing. He’ll do it, but only if she spends the weekend at his mountain cabin. This is a terrificcabin romance, and not just because the love scenes sizzle. Those who like Shannon McKenna’s short stories should really like this.
Candidate for the Kiss
Angela Knight
Secrets Volume 6
After reporter Dana Ivory stumbles onto the path of secret agent – and vampire Gabriel Archer, his superiors believe she could be an asset. His next assignment? Turn her into a vampire – whether she wants it or not. She doesn’t want it, but he doesn’t want to have to force her unless he has no choice. So instead, he decides to use all his seductively persuasive powers.
Murphy’s Law
Morgan Leigh
Perfect for the Beach
Kat Murphy has loved with her lawyer boss, Sam Parrish, for some time, but she’s sure he’ll never get over the death of his wife. So she quits her job and borrows a friend’s beach house. Sam loves Kat too, but barrier’s she’s put up have prevented him from acting on his feelings. But no more…Sam confronts her at the beach. He won’t allow her to hide her feelings any longer.
Melt Down
Shannon McKenna
Bad Boys Next Exit
A case of mistaken identity leads Michael McNamara to believe head-hunter Jane Duvall is a thief right in the middle of a date at the hotel he owns. His plan to punish her after exploiting the sexual tension between them leads to the truth – she’s not a thief, she’s a head-hunter – and the two spend the remainder of the night exploring each other, and cutting to the core of each other’s emotions. Mac hones in like a laser on Jane’s vulnerabilities, and she can’t help but try to do the same in kind. Like the two other short stories I’ve listed here by the author, this one is brutal in its intensity.
Something Wild
Shannon McKenna
All Through the Night
Annie Simon is escaping a bad relationship with very little money in a beat-up old car and doesn’t know what to make of the hot guy on a motorcycle. Jake Kerr appoints himself Annie’s keeper, and while attempting to keep her safe on the road, they submit to the incredible passion they feel. Annie’s determined to be her own woman and Jake’s intensity scares her. For his part, Jake sees a woman taking foolish chances and will do anything to protect her. Fireworks and lots of hot sex ensue.
Touch Me
Shannon McKenna
I Brake for Bad Boys
Jonah Markham acts on his long-standing passion for his masseuse, Tess Langley, by hiring her to care for his guests during a weekend at his mountain cabin. Tess has some preconceived notions about Jonah, but could really use the money. When she discovers that she’s the only guest invited for the weekend, it might be all over before it begins, but Jonah slowly seduces Tess into staying. As with the other two McKenna stories I’ve written about, the hero gets beneath the heroine’s skin in a very deep level, which creates fiery encounters that threaten to consume the two.

After experiencing what was considered mainstream erotic romance until a few years ago, I decided to test more hard-core waters and picked up a couple of Ellora’s Cave titles at the ubs. Both books were written by Marly Chance; there’s actually a third title expected in her Oath trilogy, although by now I’ve given up expecting to see it. Oath of Seduction and Oath of Challenge explore the romances of two interplanetary (Earth and Shimeria) couples. Both surprised me with credible world-building, characterization, humor, and emotional intensity. Because these romances are set on another world, society’s rules are different. And because these romances are also erotic romances set on another world, some of those different societal rules revolve around sex. This is something I was to note over and over as I read more erotic romances featuring non-humans, and I think it’s a big part of why paranormals and erotic romance go hand in hand.

Shimerians are born with psychic powers, and there are more male babies born than female babies, so until Shimeria and Earth signed a compact, Shimarian males generally came to Earth and kidnapped the women believed to be their mates. The two human women in Chance’s two books signed the registry years ago that would allow their Shimerian mates to “court” them on Shimeria; a decade or so later and that time has come, but with established lives and careers, they women aren’t too happy to go through with their oaths.

Because Shimerians have psychic powers, mind-rape is possible, and so, to protect women against such mental violations, mates must be “linked” through a third party – always another male. A one-time linkage is established at the moment of the woman’s orgasm (but doesn’t require intercourse) as that’s when her defenses are down, and thereafter the two males are able to create a mental shield for her. Sex is viewed differently than on Earth, so the two women in these books, in addition to fighting against the over-whelming masculinity presented by their possible mates, must also cope with the idea of bringing another male into a sexual situation.

Until I read these books, I’d never come across any sort of love scene – outside of a crappy Bertrice Small historical – where more than two people were involved at the same time. Yet the whole linkage thing, given that it didn’t require intercourse, was not sooo kinky that it went beyond my comfort zone, although it did stretch it a bit. I enjoyed both books so much, and after reading many other erotic romances, determined that they were “mild” enough to use as test books with AAR reviewers who thought they might like to review erotic romances but had previously not read any. My thought process about erotic romance is similar to what I believe about trad Regencies: You either “get them”, or you don’t, which is why only those reviewers who like to read erotic romance are assigned to review them.

I was a far more innocent reader just after my move from Brava and Secrets anthologies than I am today. By the time 2005 ended, I included a section for the erotic romances I’d most enjoyed in my annual favorite reads column, and did the same the next year. While my absolute favorite overall is vanilla, you could look at my two years of reading erotic romance as a journey along an ever-more-kinky road. So as not to force you to read about those favorites, I’ll simply list them here – but I’ll also provide links to faux pop-ups for those of you who weren’t around then, or weren’t interested at that time.

My favorite erotic romances for 2005:

  • Fever – Kimberly Dean (cabin romance…comes as close to a DIK as I imagine any erotic romance ever will)
  • By Moon Rise – Tielle St. Claire (shapeshifter)
  • Jane and the Sneaky Dom – Hannah Murray (unstructured D/s)
  • Lion in Love – Elizabeth Lapthorne (D/s)
  • Against the Wall – Rhyannon Byrd (contemp)
  • Hooked – Diana Hunter (D/s)
  • The Empress’ New Clothes – Jaid Black (interplanetary)
  • Bound by the Dream – Angela Knight (SF)
  • No Fear – Jaid Black (interplanetary)
  • Triple Play – Rhyannon Byrd (threesome)

My favorite erotic romances for 2006:

  • Stranded – Victoria Michaels aka Angela Knight (SF and D/s)
  • Bridefight – MaryJanice Davidson (shapeshifter interplanetary)
  • Spontaneous Combustion – Nicole Austin (threesome)
  • Erotic Stranger – Cheyenne McCray (D/s)
  • Hot for Santa – Lacey Alexander (unstructured D/s)

You can see that I’d enjoyed fewer stories in this sub-genre in 2006 than I had in 2005, although, to be fair, I did continue to read books in Lora Leigh’s Breed series in 2006, and enjoyed them…just not quite enough for them to have made my list for 2006 (the same goes for 2005, actually). In fact, by the end of 2006 I’d read a series of stories that eventually led me to discover that I needed a big break from reading erotic romance altogether. Why? The more I read, it seemed, the more willing I was to read material that I wouldn’t previously have read. Now, in and of itself, that’s not a bad thing. After all, when I started to read romance, I was only willing to read historicals. Then I started to add contemporaries into the mix, then series romance, then trad Regencies, and so on and so on.

The difference between those kinds of romance and what is labeled erotic romance has to do with the sexual content of it, but not in terms of what’s being done to whom; as always, as long as the adults are consenting, have at it. I realize I’m always the one who asks readers to separate fantasy from reality, but for me, sex is tied up in love. Yes, that’s a horribly old-fashioned concept, and probably a strange one considering my overall liberal views on just about everything, but there you have it. So reading certain books and stories and buying into their mixed-up logic as to why sex with three or four people in a bed, or sharing wives with brothers or “pack-mates” was okay and, in an odd way, made sense given the context of the stories, became increasingly uncomfortable for me.

Fairly early on in my kinkathon, I’d read the first in another very popular series by Lora Leigh. The series featured three brothers who were so damaged by their father’s sending them off at an impressionable age to be used as sex toys in unimaginably evil ways that in order to mitigate what they were forced to do to each other before, in the present time they needed to share their women. I was pretty close to horrified after finishing that first book, but several cyber friends encouraged me to continue the series. By the time I’d finished with it – and thankfully, in a short story that ends the series, the men are “healed” and no longer need to share – I can’t say I actually liked it, but I will admit that in a way I bought into the logic behind their actions.

And I really did enjoy one of the two Rhyannon Byrd titles on my 2005 list about a woman who, at the behest of her boss’ best friend, agrees to a threesome so that the boss willl finally “get” that he loves her and cannot live without her. By seeing his friend with the woman he can’t bring himself to admit he loves, the logic goes, boss man will finally come to his senses. And, yes, another Lora Leigh short story (which is part of the best of the several EC anthologies I read; five of the six stories in Tales from the Temple I earned B level grades from me) also features a woman and two men, who, after crashing on Venus, experience heightened sexuality and a biological need to mate.

But at least these books featured “love” – and an “HEA”. And, yes, I even enjoyed parts of another of Leigh’s series – which also featured the sharing of partners within a “love” relationship (and eventually the third party wasn’t “needed”) – as well as a story by Lacey Alexander that skirted the line, also because at the base of it was a love relationship and an HEA. And given that I’d really enjoyed one of Alexander’s short stories, I took another recommendation and tried another of her series. The combination of that series and a single release from the Aphrodisia imprint sent me over the edge.

Until that point, the more erotic romance I read, the more willing I was to venture out into more hard-core material and accept as arousing things that in real life make me squeamish. So by the time I finished those last stories, my fear was this: At one point far less hard-core material was more than I could handle…and then I could. Now this newer set of stories went too far for me to handle, but if I continued to read them, would I eventually find them acceptable as well? And, what then…how far was I willing to go, and how would I feel about myself if I continued?

Yes, these are just stories, and fantasy is not reality. But my internal alarm went off and I realized that for me, I couldn’t continue, particularly because of the cross-over effect. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that romance readers have happy sex lives…there’s nothing like reading a terrific love scene to inspire a woman, after all. If the point of erotic content is to arouse, and that’s my dictionary’s definition of it, then would reading more and more hard-core content be like over-reliance on a vibrator so that anything not super-kinky would leave me, fictionally and literally, numb?

The stories that triggered my alarm, as previously mentioned, were a series by Lacey Alexander and an Aphrodisia release by Kate Douglas, whose earlier short story, Barbarian, I thoroughly enjoyed. My problem with this last grouping by Alexander went beyond the usual “men are always hard, the women always wet, and they can f_ck forever” complaint that can be made about erotic romance in general. ” No, it was that, unlike the other stories I’d read, these were only about the sex; love was not a part of these books, which were being sold as erotic romance. As for the Aphrodisia novel, I wish I’d known then what I know now: that the imprint is not really erotic romance; it’s erotica. Because while there was “love” involved for the four shapeshifters (two men and two women), and two main “couples”, there was not eventual monogamy for any of them. Instead, the foursome sometimes went at it as a full contingent, and at other times, as three, or as two (and not just in the traditional coupling) – and that was really more than I could tolerate.

So I made a fairly conscious effort to stop buying and reading erotic romance, and didn’t read any for more than six months. I did recently, though, pick up Jaci Burton’s Wild, Wicked, & Wanton, which features three short erotic romances, two of which have storylines practically de rigeur in the sub-genre these days: the threesome with two men and a woman ending with true romance for one of the men and the woman; and the independent woman who secretly wants to be dominated, but has always shied away from the one man who will give her what she wants without destroying her independence. The third story featured voyeurism, and of the three, I actually found that one most troubling. I really liked Wicked (I must be a closet submissive because I gravitate toward stories like this), and thought Wild – the threesome story – was better than average. Wanton, not so much.

Burton’s book was published by Penguin’s Heat imprint, and though as little as five years ago I doubt a mainstream publisher would have considered a threesome to be part of romance, things have changed. Obviously, so have I, but I now know definitively where my internal line in the sand is drawn. It’s moved in the past few years from the last time I wrote about this topic, when I concluded that, for me, if there were more than two in a bed, regardless of the HEA and how much I might like the story, I didn’t consider it erotic romance. My new line in the sand comes here (and given that I’m not going to read stories that go beyond that, I don’t look for it to change again): No more than two in a bed after a commitment of love, and if there’s no love involved, I won’t be.

What about you?

Questions To Consider for Part I:

  • Do you read erotic romance? If so, when did you start, and what were the first stories/books that turned you on, no pun intended? If not, did you ever read it, or have you never tried? If you’ve never tried, why not?
  • Do you think erotic romance has forever changed the face of mainstream romance, and is that a good or bad thing?
  • If you read erotic romance, do you have any personal limits in terms of what you won’t read? Conversely, what are the themes you like best in erotic romance?
  • How “hard-core” is your erotic romance reading? Are you basically a Brava anthology reader, or do you
  • Laurie was quite personal in terms of describing her journey of reading erotic romance. Was it too much information for you, or did it provide food for thought?
  • Please share your favorite erotic romance stories and novels. Tell us who wrote them, what they are about, and why you enjoyed them.
  • Has reading erotic romance changed any of your attitudes about sex or love? Have you ever read any erotic romance that either went beyond or acceptance level, or changed it?
  • What are your definitions for erotic romance and erotica? How important a distinction is this in the labeling of books?

Part II – October 9 (Anne Marble):

Years ago, an independent bookstore chain in the Baltimore area started shelving the Black Lace novels (which were then labeled as “Erotic fiction written by women for women”) at the end of the romance section. I was so annoyed. Didn’t they know those were erotica and not romance? Didn’t they know they are not the same thing? Now, it seems maybe they were ahead of their time. But this was before Brava, and before the popularity of Ellora’s Cave, let alone Aphrodisia, Heat, Red, Spice, and other erotic romance lines. Who’da thunk we would one day see Brava as one of the “tamer” lines of erotic romance? And I still find it hard to believe that one of the biggest controversies years ago was a Blaze where the hero and heroine had phone sex!

It’s hard to remember there was a time even before Brava when Blaze was the only regular source of very sexy romance, other than the then-annual Secrets anthologies and the occasional Thea Devine or Bertrice Small. Oh, and the “spanking stories” advertised in the back of Romantic Times magazine. Believe me, I had tried Thea Devine. I never got far. Since then, I’ve heard about the scene where the hero marks the woman with his semen. I’m glad I never made it that far. She just wasn’t that erotic to me. I did read and enjoy one Bertrice Small, Enchantress Mine, but I couldn’t get into the Skye O’Malley books, with their mighty lances. (Nor did I enjoy her erotic novellas for Brava years later.) On the other hand, many of the Black Lace novels weren’t much of a replacement – they so often seemed to involve subplots about sophisticated older couples who sexually dominated women. Also, most of them were contemporaries with only a smattering of historicals and other sub-genres. I remember being thrilled when I found a Black Lace novel that was like an erotic fantasy novel, complete with muscular warrior. I never made it to the muscular warrior part because of the scene where the heroine got pleasure by impaling herself on a stone – part of an ancient sculpture, I think. Whatever you say about Thea Devine, at least her heroines get to have sex with men, not stone. Still, for years, it seemed as if the only romance author who could combine erotic steam and romance was Robin Schone, and her style is not for all tastes.

Erotica and romance truly married when e-books came along. My first visit to Ellora’s Cave was so long ago that my e-mail was answered by the founder – and winner in AAR’s PPP Contest for 2000, Tina Engler. (I didn’t even realize she was also Jaid Black.) My first Ellora’s Cave book was A Slave’s Price by Shelby Morgen, but for some reason, I didn’t read it right away. So the first erotic romance e-book I remember reading was actually an anthology called Bodice Rippers. It promised stories that brought back the “old style” romance. It delivered, if old style romance means tying up the heroine and leaving her alone with a candlestick in a very personal area. Despite some parts that made me wince, the book was hot. At the same time, I kept hoping for books that could deliver erotic romance without making the poor heroines go through such pain.

Over time, the Ellora’s Cave site grew, and I found myself returning. When I first visited, there were a few titles, and many of them belonged to series. Now, they had so much more, and so many categories – bondage and capture, menage or more, etc. Even better, in most cases, menage meant “two men and one woman.” Well it was about time! My first menage book was Lora Leigh’s Menage a Magickvery early Lora Leigh as I bought an earlier printing of the book rather than the Ellora’s Cave version. I liked the idea of male wizards who were “forced” to marry the heroine so that the magick in their world wouldn’t come to an end. But did the wizards have to be twins? Eww. To my surprise, however, I found that easier to deal with than the writing style and the annoying heroine who hated and feared the Wizard Twins. OK, it might be the natural reaction for a woman to hate being forced into a threesome, but did she have to be so whiny about it? This is very early Lora Leigh, and it doesn’t live up to her better known books, such as the Breed series Laurie mentioned earlier. When I read Wolfe’s Hope, I didn’t even connect Lora Leigh as the author of the earlier book. All I cared about was that I had found a book that combined an explosive perceived betrayal plot with erotic romance. The extremely alpha Wolfe was someone I should have hated when he tied Hope to that bed for revenge, but Lora Leigh managed to make him sympathetic. That’s what the best erotic romances do – use the erotic content to add to a great story. It’s a delicate balance that not everyone can accomplish. As Lynne Connolly says, “The best erotic romance explores character and relationship as much as it includes hot sexual action. And it’s not called ‘erotic’ for no reason, the scenes do have to give the reader a tingle. I find them empowering.”

Another writer who managed that delicate balance is Shiloh Walker, in the first Hunter book, The Hunters: Declan and Tory. This is one of those erotic romances so cool that you would read it even if it didn’t have hot sex. The heroine, Tory, is no wilting lily – she even demands that Declan have sex with her in his partial wolf form.

Besides those books, I bought everything from a book about a cop hero who lived as a transvestite during an assignment to books about futuristic princesses and faeries. Through Fictionwise and reader recommendations, I found other publishers as well. I was like a kid in a candy shop, buying so many different flavors that I ended up with too many books and didn’t end up reading everything I bought. But that was OK because now I will always have a stock of erotic romance in case I run out. I bought everything from fantasy novels by Cheyenne McCray and Jaci Burton to Jaid Black futuristics.

What else did I like? On the humorous side, I liked Sahara Kelly’s Beating Level Nine, an adorable story that managed to combine vampires and addictive on-line computer games. Surely if vampires existed in the present, they would get hooked on computer games just like the rest of us. I also adored Sahara Kelly’s Persephone’s Wings, about a heroine who ends up living among the faeries, in part because they need her organizational skills. I had just read A Midsummer Night’s Dream and loved reading Kelly’s entirely different take on Oberon and Titania, not to mention Puck.

A darker read was Angela Knight’s futuristic Mercenaries, where the heroine faces a daunting choice – stay on her home planet and get auctioned off to the high bidder or agree to be a mercenary star captain’s sex slave in order to prove she really wants to leave the planet. Of course, she agrees, even when his first officer joins them in bed. Yes, this is another alpha hero who learns that this lovely women he has just found is “a natural submissive.” This story had me torn between enjoyment and being squicked out. On the one hand, the hero is more compassionate than any man she has ever met on that planet. On the other hand, they do some rather uncomfortable things. I also don’t buy the “natural submissive” thing. Still, for all that he put that heroine through, he was careful and considerate of her, which is far more than can be said for print romance “heroes” such as Rosemary Rogers’ Steve Morgan. In print romances, bondage and domination were usually reserved for skanky villain sex scenes. Writers such as Angela Knight showed us that heroes and heroines could participate willingly in these scenarios. More rarely, the women get to be the dominant ones. I bought Sascha Illyvich’s Mistress Kitty and Trent because it was the only dominant female book I could find at the time, but I just wasn’t that into it, probably because the book was a collection of stories about the dominatrix life style, rather than a novel. It was still better than the femdom novels I had found in print, where dominatrix is another word for “evil bitch.” At least Mistress Kitty and Trent had an HEA.

I’m not the only one who wishes dominant females weren’t so rare in erotic romance. Kay wishes there were more stories about dominant females. She’s found that in romance, especially erotic romance, there are a lot of stories about strong businesswomen who want “the big, strong man to be the Dom in their sex life.” She wants to see more stories where the woman gets to be the Dom in all areas of her life. Janet finds that she has to read other genres to find take-charge heroines. She says, “It’s a shame that a genre written by women for women have such lacking female characters.” Even in male/male romances, Janet noticed that authors tend to make one of the males into “the girl.” In order words, “He’s delicate and needs a daddy to take care of him.” On the other hand, Lydia Joyce doesn’t enjoy dominant women because she needs to read about “male characters with backbone, who can stand up to very strong women.” Also, while Kassiana likes male dominance and m/m romance, and wishes m/m would become a larger part of romance, she finds female dominant a turn off.

At first, male/male romances were as rare as femdom. Then publishers listened to readers. It seemed some women like male/male/female stories because of the male/male content. Would women enjoy erotic romances that left out the “f” in the m/m/f? Sure enough, they did. It should come as no surprise as female fan fiction fans were reading (and writing) gay erotica for decades. Publishers didn’t always realize this. Early on, EC’s guidelines said that they didn’t take gay romances because their books were geared toward women’s sexual fantasies. What? I guess at the time they didn’t realize how many women like those stories. Maybe the mainstream popularity of Suzanne Brockmann’s Jules is a sign that many romance readers are more willing to accept gay characters, even if not everyone wants to read about graphic male/male sex. For example, Terri loves the Jules thread in Brockmann’s Troubleshooter books, even if she doesn’t want her m/m stories to get too graphic.

Before EC got into the m/m business, I bought several gay romance titles from a then new press, Torquere Press, when I learned they specialized in GBLT (gay, bisexual, lesbian,transgender) romance. Eventually I discovered some of the erotic romance publishers, including Changeling Press, Liquid Silver, and Loose-Id, pouncing on them when I learned that they had whole sections devoted to male/male romance. Even better, many of the titles stressed the romance rather than erotic, and stressed “just sex” rather than “Oh please tie me up, Jake” sex. One of my first was Willa Okati’s vampire romance, A Willful Taste. You thought your paranormal creatures were tortured enough? Imagine them gay! Because e-book publishers can sell to a niche audience, they can publish everything from gay werewolf stories to true BDSM lifestyle stories.

But it wasn’t just e-books all the way for me. I bought more than my share of erotica romance in print – I just didn’t feel like experimenting as much because of the higher prices. When the Black Lace books first came out, they were mass market books priced at $5.95, so I could experiment more. I didn’t do much experimentation with Brave’s trade paperbacks and have yet to take the plunge on Harlequin’s Spice line, despite the great reviews some of the titles have received. This year, however, I began to buy more print erotic romance. I even bought my first Joey Hill book, the trade paperback The Vampire Queen’s Servant. The cover shows a man wearing handcuffs? How could I resist? And I have my eye on Emma Holly’s Fairyville because it has both the fey and m/m scenes.

It should be interesting to find out what the publishers have in store for me.

Questions To Consider for Part II:

  • Is it “easier” to accept extreme or unusual sexual behaviors of non-humans in erotic romance? In other words, if you read erotic romance, do you find that you gravitate toward paranormal, fantasy, or alien stories?
  • What do you think about the recent increase in popularity of gay erotic romance? Have you read any, or do you plan to? If you have, what can you say about those titles you’ve read?
  • Like increased sexuality in mainstream romance, do you think mainstream romance will eventually feature gay or lesbian couples (in starring roles) as opposed to being relegated to the occasional secondary role? What would you think if that were the case? Would you read gay romance, or is just too much of a stretch for your imagination? Conversely, for the gay and lesbian among our readership, do you want to read mainstream gay or lesbian romance, and how does mainstream straight romance satisfy your romantic reading needs?
  • Laurie wrote that she finds herself drawn to erotic romances featuring strong women but even stronger men who take control in the bedroom. On the other hand, Anne wishes for more equality of sexual footing, or even women who dominate – without being dominatrixes. What about you?
  • If you read erotic romance, who are your “go-to” authors? Are there authors you steer clear of, and why? Similarly, are there themes you gravitate toward, and those you won’t read?
  • If you’ve read erotica and/or erotic romance for as long as Anne (longer than Laurie), what changes have you noted over the years?
  • Whether or not you read erotic romance, what do you think about the increased erotic content of mainstream romance novels? Do you like it in general, mostly dislike it, think it gives authors an easy way out of writing with more emotional depth, or find it depends?
  • Which erotic romance authors have you followed as they have crossed over into the mainstream, and vice versa?

TTFN, as Tigger said to Winnie the Pooh,
Laurie Likes Books and Anne Marble

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