When is Erotic truly Erotic?
Recently A Knight of Passion was reviewed by Romantic Times (Check out the April issue on page 128 ).
Here's part of the review:
It's a good review, no doubt about it. But there is just one teeny-tiny problem—RT reviewed my book in the Erotica category. A Knight of Passion erotica? Considering I'd asked for my book to be reviewed for the historical romance section, I had to find out why. I got a very nice reply from the Executive Editor, and she explained that choosing the category is solely at the discretion of the reviewer and editor. And then she pointed out that on my website, I was calling AKOP "Erotic Historical Romance." And she was right. I was labeling my novel an erotic historical romance, yet in my mind, my book is a historical romance first and erotic second. But this category "blunder" really made me think.... Does my book truly belong within erotica?
"Although betrayal and villains play a major role in historical romances, Hyatt's tale is different. The supposed bad guy isn't so bad. The hero is a man of honor willing to die for the woman he loves, and the heroine plays her part well. What makes this story come to life are the emotional elements and the struggle to discover the true instigator of evil."
Okay, I admit my love scenes DO tend to arouse, I certainly don't know to what degree, but one thing I DO know, my book is NOT dedicated to sexual love. Quite the opposite actually, AKOP is dedicated to the turbulent romance between Rianna and Reynard, of which sex is just a natural outcome, and the culmination of two people falling in love and expressing that love physically and emotionally. But is it REALLY erotic?
Definition of Erotica: 1 : literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality. 2 : depictions of things erotic. (According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.)
Definition of Erotic: 1 : of. devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire. 2 : strongly marked or effected by sexual desire. (According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.)
Before A Knight of Passion was published, I'd written nine novels, all "mainstream" steamy historical romances, using the usual flowery words in my descriptive love scenes like manroot and love chalice. I had a whole notebook dedicated to those "purple" terms, and I even dared to use the word cock to add some spice to my scenes. Meanwhile I was reviewing erotic romances for Historical Romance Club, and secretly envying all those lucky authors that got to use terms like pussy. Why couldn't I use those words? And then the day came when my editor suggested I make my love scenes erotic as I was already 3/4 of the way there... Wow, ME use terms like pussy and cock instead of pulsating man meat and honey pot? What a concept! And do you know what I did? I simply replaced all those flowery terms with more straight forward ones.
Let's look at these examples:
"Reynard swallowed her cry, feeling the tiny muscles of her love chalice convulse around him, clamping upon his pulsating manroot. Grabbing her hips, he rammed his lance into her. Suddenly he threw back his head, his body stiffening. Thrusting one final time, he came, roaring her name. His hot seed burst forth in orgasmic pleasure. The euphoria rushed through his body, pulsating from head to toe. Collapsing upon her lush curves, he was blissfully and wholly sated."
"Reynard swallowed her cry, feeling the tiny muscles of her pussy convulse around him, clamping upon his pulsating cock. Grabbing her hips, he rammed his erection into her. Suddenly he threw back his head, his body stiffening. Thrusting one final time, he came, roaring her name. His hot cum burst forth in orgasmic pleasure. The euphoria rushed through his body, pulsating from head to toe. Collapsing upon her lush curves, he was blissfully and wholly sated."
(Ahhh yes, NOW I remember why I switched to "erotic".) But tell me, has anyone EVER heard the terms manroot and love passage OUTSIDE of romance? I'm willing to bet that's a big fat – NO! In this day and age, are we as readers so naive and "innocent" that we need to use flowery terms to describe the beautiful act of lovemaking when in fact we are ALL perfectly aware of what goes where and when and how? Has not the line between romance and erotic romance gotten thinner and thinner until it is now blurred? In recent years, I've noticed more and more "mainstream" romance authors making their love scenes more erotic, but are their books placed in the Erotica category? I think not.
This led me to think about other elements of my story, namely the violence and language. I like to be as accurate as possible but without giving the gory details, but no matter how you look at it, killing somebody with a sword is a violent and bloody act. And I'd bet a million donuts that men have been swearing for thousands of years, and wouldn't be surprised to learn that there were caveman grunts equivalent to "screw you" (I'm sure we could ask those cavemen on the Geico commercials, but they'd probably be insulted... LOL).
So I decided to drop the word Erotic from the description of A Knight of Passion, for surely it is so much more than erotic, and came up with another equally descriptive word which explains it all: Explicit.
Exactly! What better way to describe A Knight of Passion—explicit in violence, language, sex and even character development. It implies so many things without actually labeling it.
Definition of Explicit: 1 a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent. b : open in the depiction of nudity or sexuality. (According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.)
So now I'm curious to know, when do you as a reader or author think erotic is truly erotic? Is erotic merely the use of a few choice terms in a love scene, or is it something more than that?
definitely explicit and not erotica
I am a reviewer here and actually just had a few books that were more erotica than NOT and should have been in the erotica catergory but were NOT so I can truthfully say yours is not in that erotica genre just from what you say and did.
Explicit is good and erotic tends to be a lot more steamy sex than sometimes a story should have .. if it goes with a story line in excess of what you would really want to read in a book or historical NOT listed as erotica then it is erotic .. conversely if the story comes first and a few well placed and explicit scenes but not overly out of bounds would be highly romantic and sensual.
So I would definitely lose the erotic from your listing and just say historical romance. Go for it you have not crossed that line or even come near to erotic from what I see. Believe me it is hard to review a book not listed as erotic when it so easily can be seen as such... I think that line is being blurred depending on sales. Most writers stick to a certain genre and have faithful readers and erotica readers expect a high level to be in each book of love scenes and more very very explicit and sometimes vulgar ... hot steamy romance works for your books I think. But that is just my opinion.
I bring this up because I recently read some books for review that should have been under erotica since it has so much in them. I am fair and say it like it is but I would like to have been warned it was really erotica and not they were listed as, I have mentioned in some reviews that erotica fans would love these boos and believe me there are more books not listed as erotica than listed. Yours was an exception if I had read it I would have questioned it but we also have mulitple genres historical romance/erotica or contemporary romance/erotica or other flowery names for it menage a trois or whatever.
So my opinion is NO not erotica for your books as yet. Guess we wait and find out what everyone else has to say in their opinions too. Everything is subjective hence the reason yours got put in the erotic genre I bet. So now that you have taken it out I bet your reviews will change a bit for the better. I hope. Good luck.
Yes The Lines Are Blurring More And More
I think your books can have the sub genres to include what you prefer but also so that other readers know that the book might be more interesting with a good story line to it too ... it seems the sub genres are the deciding factor in what is erotic and explicit or worse ... I have found one this week that was not listed as erotic at all they get away with saying it is something that might be called erotic but they do not list it as .. bypassing it so again the lines are getting more blurred by the day with authors, publishers and readers... I think if they have blurbs to go by and the genre and sub genre headings your readers will find you no matter what it is put under and enjoy it.
Well as we know what happened at RT this year too for one of the erotica authors and genres ... so maybe it is just as well this year you did not get to have it reviewed ... next year might be the proper timing when all this huss and fuss is fixed over what is what regarding erotica and over the top and not ... so good luck to you and I still want to put yours on my TBB pile <smiles>
In my humble opinion......
I as a reader really don't think it matters. As an author, I can see why having a book distiniguished one way and not another. But I think when it actually comes down to the reader (who is ultimately the one who matters) if the storyline is great, then they will always return when you write another book. And to me, manroot and love juices just remind me too much of the old victorian romances.
Hmm manroot and love juices I have not seen or read lately
Those are definitely terms many do not use much anymore true but I would love to have a contest where you have to alternative wording for some of those anatomical parts and see how creative people can come up with some get downright dirty and vulgar and others can be amusing and fun yet very descriptive too .. so it is interesting how people perceive writing as good or bad, erotic or not. All it is is wording something one way or another and is judged on by others.
But true that the storyline should be first then any romance or sex fit into it nicely.