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?