Everyone knows sex sells. Take a look at ads for GoDaddy.com, Carl Jr.’s hamburgers, and perfume ads, and you’ll agree with me. Because of the sexy nature of the ads, they remain planted in consumers’ minds, and those businesses watch their sales go through the roof each time a new commercial launches.
The same holds true for romance novels. Sex and romance go hand in hand. When I first started reading erotic romance, I have to admit it was thrilling, but the bloom has started to fade off the rose. I’ve found lately that I don’t purchase as many erotic titles as I used to, and I’m less likely to try new-to-me erotic romance authors. The fact is, erotic romance has gotten a little extreme for my taste. It seems authors are trying to outkink each other.
There are basically three heat levels of romance. Sweet (inspirational is sweet with religious content), sensual, and erotic. I read books in all three categories, but my writing remains firmly planted in sweet and sensual.
Below are some of the gripes I have about erotic romance:
• Lack of plot. Whenever I find one that has a good plot and sexy scenes, I’m always excited. I’m tired of sex scene after sex scene. I just end up skipping over them.
• Excessive curse words. Curse words can be used to signal anger, excitement, etc. They can also be used in dialogue to distinguish the speech patterns of certain characters from others. However, if everyone in the book is cursing up a storm, it’s a turn off. I don’t need the f-bomb dropped every three sentences.
• Graphic descriptions. This goes hand in hand with excessive curse words for me. Granted, I tend to use euphemisms in my writing. I realize that not everyone appreciates words like shaft, manhood, arousal, and apex of her thighs as substitutions for sexual organs, but that’s what I’m comfortable writing.
I’m okay reading words like c*ck and p*ssy, but when they show up every five sentences, I get aggravated. And the one word that I absolutely can’t tolerate as a female sex organ is the word c*nt. Ugh. It knocks me out of a sex scene every time, but the word has become more prevalent in erotic romance and gets tossed around more than a frisbee on a sunny afternoon in the park.
• Unbelievable sexual scenarios. I used the word unbelievable because I’m hard-pressed to believe these are part of the billion-dollar genre romance. I think we need a new genre for these types of books. Just a thought…
- A ménage à trois is no longer enough. Now we have heroines sleeping with as many as seven men. Seven. I found one like this. The more the merrier, I guess.
- Voluntary incest. I still can’t believe this is considered romance.
I often run across conversation threads on Goodreads where readers bemoan their displeasure with erotic romance. Some are gravitating toward the opposite end of the spectrum—toward sweet books. I’m not sure if there are more readers reading sweet, or if it’s simply that they’ve become more vocal, but sweet books are taking off.
The Clean Romances Group on Goodreads has over 900 members and continues to grow steadily. My first sweet romance will be published by Astraea Press, a publisher dedicated to offering clean romance and fiction. Even though they only opened their doors in February of this year, they have dozens of published books by approximately twenty-five authors. They’re growing so fast that the owner just hired several more editors and another cover artist to meet the demand of submissions.
I realize this is all about personal taste, and we express our preferences by deciding how to spend our limited income. Anyone who prefers sweet or erotic won’t buy my sensual books any more than I will buy an erotic book that includes the situations I listed above.
So tell me, what are your preferences? What are you getting tired of seeing in the genre(s) you read?