Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest author Delaney Diamond: My On-Again/Off-Again Affair With Erotic Romance

Delaney Diamond is the bestselling author of African-American and interracial romance.  Her latest books, Worth Waiting For (sweet interracial romance) and The Temptation of a Good Man (sensual African-American romance), will be released this fall. Visit or join her at to stay up to date on future releases. 

Everyone knows sex sells. Take a look at ads for, 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?


Charles Gramlich said...

It's gotta be about story for me, and too often the erotic aspects just get in the way of the story. I like good eroticism if it works with the story and advances it, but not if it's just the equivalent of filler.

Delaney Diamond said...

I agree, Charles. Sometimes it doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose and is overdone.

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces, Delaney!

I started out exploring this genre by buying an anthology (edited by a popular writer) and another that's considered a classic of the genre. I burned the first one before I was a quarter way through (literally) and gave away the second after reading just four of the stories.

Incest? Bestiality? Rape? Mutilation? Necrophilia? Sorry, this is not my idea of erotica. It scares me that people actually get turned on by that stuff.

Since then I've read an anthology by Lexy Harper that was what I expect erotica to be: story driven with well developed characters and great sex. I won't be purchasing any erotica in future unless it's recommended by someone I trust.

Delaney Diamond said...

Hi Liane,

Happy to be here!

Yes, sometimes it can get a bit crazy. There's a new press that recently launched that's only looking for the far out stuff: necrophilia, incest, beastility, and some other things I'd never even heard of--I had to look up the words.

Romance already gets a bad rap, so having these types of books lumped into romance is bothersome to me. Like you, I've become very cautious about what I buy because I don't like surprises.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I have to admit, I've never read an erotic romance novel. I like the sensual and the sweet, though some of the sweets don't even allow you to feel the romance.

But while you clearly draw a line between the genres, I find the sensual is often knocking on the doors of the erotic.

I read a Carly Phillips sensual romance a few years ago and was shocked at the descriptions of the body parts. I thought the descriptions she used were reserved for erotica.

In either case, it is the story that should drive any romance, be it sweet, sensual or erotic. Once that story is lost, the entire book becomes unappealing.

Lynn Emery said...

I've rarely found erotica done well (IMO) with fascinating characters and a great plot. So I stopped reading them some time ago, but I'm open to recommendations.

But I do read a lot of mystery, suspense and thrillers. One thing that I'm tired of in some books is something similar, the gruesome and gory that just seems to be in the book for shock value. I've read some stories where the killing scenes go on and on. Loads of graphic details of organs being ripped out, etc. I can be just as scared without the splat and splatter details. I start to skip those sections, like you tend to skip the kinkier than kinky sex scenes. :o) I've even gotten bored with so-called "chilling" tales. Author trying so hard to scare me that I saw through it and yawned.

Liane Spicer said...

Delaney, I've looked up one of those words too - I won't even say what it is - and wish I hadn't. Even remembering it now makes me want to hurl.

Where do they go from here? Cannibalism as erotica?

KeVin K. said...

Cannibalism as erotica. Decades from now you'll be known as the first to publicly proclaim the dawn of the new hot genre, Liane. I'm sure of it.

Men are visually driven, which is why porn sites outnumber all others combined on the web. And why there's a vanishingly small market for sensual stories aimed at male readers; to much thought and emotion involved.

I have read only a few erotic romances written by friends and colleagues and those out of solidarity. I have no interest in writing erotic romance, and some sensual romances I've read -- well, as Justice Potter of the US Supreme Court said about pornography half a century ago: "I know it when I see it." I've seen it trying to pass for "sensuous romance" way to often; books that seem meant to be read one-handed.

I prefer to read and write sweet romances, preferably in accurate historical settings. This may be due to the fact my wife, who introduced me to reading romances, loves Regencies.

Deanna Jewel said...

Delaney - thank you for a great post! Thank you for stating the obvious for many books out there. I agree with what you've stated - I don't need to know that characters know the f word and spew it throughout the book. Sex scenes need to be pre-empted with sexual tension between the characters and not written just to see how many can be in the book.

Many of the erotic romances go over the edge of erotica for the shock factor and as stated, I find myself skipping over them as they don't grow the character.

Kevin, thank you for the laugh! I've not heard the term 'one-handed' reads!

Jewel Amethyst said...

One handed reads, Kevin? Interesting terminology. Must be a male thing.

Delaney Diamond said...

Jewel, you're so right. More story, please! That's what I feel like yelling sometimes. If the story's well thought out and put together, it makes the sex scenes even better.

Lynn, you make a good point about mysteries/thrillers, which is another genre I tend to read. I prefer spine-tingling to slash and gore.

Delaney Diamond said...

Cannibalism as never know, Liane. It would certainly be different, wouldn't it?

Kevin, I can relate to your wife. Back when I started reading romances, some of the first ones I read were Regency historicals. I've recently become fixated on Highlander/Scottish ones, but Regency is a staple on my bookshelf.

Delaney Diamond said...

Deanna, thank you! Whatever happened to sexual tension? The build up to the act? I end up skipping over the constant sex and wondering when in the world are they going to get to know each other outside of being horizontal. Where's the romance in romance?

BTW, I read an excerpt from your book Never Surrender months ago and just LOVE your writing style. It's so sensual and emotional, I decided I had to have it. It's on my TBR list. :)