Tuesday, June 27

Guilty Conscience

I posted last week about an erotic romance that I'd read that I thought was okay but not good. Well, the Author popped in today and I'm feeling rather guilty. Portia De Costa (aka Wendywoo) posted that Entertaining Mr. Stone isn't a romance and being the author, of course, she's right, and if you read the book, you know it really isn't a romance at all. It's good erotica, but it's not good romance, I should have made this point more clear in my original blog post.

And, she left the following comment on my post about Pamela Rochford's Dangerous Consequence...

Pamela Rochford is a friend of mine, and the character of Jude Devereux is a purely fictional character, because when she wrote the book, Pamela had never heard of the real Jude Devereux and just made the name up. :)

Okay, I'm taking her at her word on this one--LOL, and if I take Ms. Devereux out of the equation, this was also a good erotica, perhaps leaning a little more towards erotic romance. To be completely honest, she could have pushed the erotica envelope further than she did. It does have a HEA, so it does fall more under the erotic romance umbrella.

And, this circles us back to the question, What's the difference between erotica romance, erotica and erotica that happens to have a HEA?

Heck, I know it when I read it, but how do we figure it out when a publisher markets erotica as erotic romance? And, does it really matter? Or am I really just splitting hairs?

Good lord, I'm giving myself a headache.

13 comments:

Wendywoo/Portia said...

Oh dear, my turn to feel guilty now... I never meant to give you a headache! :)

But you're so right. It *is* a confusing question... and I don't think there's an easy answer because I'm sure there are lots of books that straddle the definitions and don't fit neatly into any one of the categories ie. erotic romance, erotica, and erotica+HEA. A lot of the time, I'm not quite sure what I'm writing anyway... sometimes what feels romantic to me clearly isn't romantic to someone else. I'm always reminded of the old Madonna song 'Erotica' which is blatantly about transgressive eroticism, but also features the word 'romance' in the lyrics... I think my books are romantic by that definition *but* that definition isn't the normal one. :) Does that make sense at all?

Anyway, apart from that, it is, as you say, the way the publishers and book retailers are presenting the different types of books that's causing the confusion. And it's not just Black Lace... Hasn't Kensington's Aphrodisia recently been 'reclassified' too? I've read in a number of blogs that it's now called 'erotic romance' even though authors originally thought they were being signed to write 'erotica'?

And regarding Entertaining Mr Stone itself... romance or no romance, there's definitely a HEA for those characters, as their story is continued in various short stories in the BL Wicked Words anthologies... and in the most recent one of those, there's an ending that's really quite traditional - even if the preceding 'action' isn't! ;)

This is a great blog... I've bookmarked it for regular visits.

love

Wendy

Tara Marie said...

Wendy...there's definitely a HEA for those characters, as their story is continued in various short stories in the BL Wicked Words anthologies... and in the most recent one of those, there's an ending that's really quite traditional - even if the preceding 'action' isn't! ;)

You've completely peaked my curiosity, so I'm going to need to find these books. Give me a list and I'll start searching.

And, you're making my round about point. The whole situation is subjective to the reader, it's impossible to pigeon hole anything that falls between the lines.

Thanks for visiting again.

Tara

Wendy said...

Well I would totally do away with the erotica + HEA category - but that's just me. These are my definitions, which I'm sure many would find simplistic - but it's been working for me so far!

Erotic romance - a traditional romance with lots of hot sex. Also, I tend to notice these books feature more monogamous characters. The heroine doesn't go out boffing 3 other guys after she boinks the hero.

Erotica - Anything goes. I pretty much expect multiple partners here. Also, the "tone" of erotica feels vastly different to me from ER. Like you, "I know it, when I read it." I also don't expect a traditional HEA - but I do expect the heroine (at least) to be in a "better place" at the end. She doesn't have to get the guy(s) - but I want her to be stronger, more secure, and sassy.

wendywoo/portia said...

Wendy, would you say it was okay, in erotica, if there was a HEA, albeit a non traditional one?

I'm thinking... the heroine falls in love with one guy, and ends up with him forever, but not in a conventional relationship ie. engagement, marriage, babies etc. I see my characters mostly in a committed but open relationship... That's the sort of conclusion I tend to go for, but it's an erotica conclusion, not a romance one.

And I think the heroine's personal growth, and understanding of her own nature and needs and strengths is at least as, if not *more* important than the HEA. Although I do like there to be both growth and guy! And the latter doesn't depend on the former... he's more of a facilitator. She *could* grow and be stronger without him, but she just chooses to be with him...

Ack, I getting myself in knots here! :)

wendywoo/portia said...

Tara Marie, the books to look out for are the Black Lace Wicked Words compilations... Sex on the Move, Sex and Music, and Sex and Shopping... but I'm not going to give too much detail away as it'll spoil things! ;)

Wendy said...

Wendywoo (so many Wendys LOL!),
My definition of HEA is much more open than say your traditional romance reader. I'm not throwing stones here - just stating that I don't "require" the hero and heroine to even get married at the end of a traditional romance novel. They could say, "I love you, let's move in together" and that would work for me.

So in erotica - if she and the guy end up together in an open relationship that's dandy. As long as it's what feels "right" for both characters. Mainly I just want a "better" heroine at the end of it. And if getting the guy (or guys) makes her better? More power to her.

I know erotica when I read it - which doesn't give anyone a clear definition, but I do think the feel of the story is just different somehow. I mean, Emma Holly's Black Lace work (for me) is vastly different from her more traditional romance work. Oh sure, you have hot sex in both - but I can't not place the books side by side and categorize them the same.

Which is clear as mud right? Talking on this subject always makes me feel like I'm going in circles.

wendywoo/portia said...

Yes, it's a 'tone' thing, isn't it, Wendy? I can't define it, but like you, I know the difference when I read. I've had a couple of romances published, not by big publishers, but similar to Harlequin Presents, and that was an entirely different 'me' writing. I've also had one pubbed by Ellora's, so that *was* erotic romance. I found that quite tough to do, because I was sort of suspended between my two worlds until it all suddenly clicked, and it started to feel right.

Amie Stuart said...

The difference is, I think, in the eye of the reader.

Fickle Fiona said...

Not sure I buy the whole, "she didn't know Jude Devereux," comment.

And even if her head really was buried in that much sand...shouldn't somebody have fixed that point?

Fi

Jane said...

I agree with Fiona. Hello critique partner? Editor? McFly? Of course, Lysnay Sands got away with naming her hero Brad Cruise. Ugh.

Nicole said...

Also, isn't the author British? I'd imagine that Jude Devereaux isn't nearly as well known there, so I can believe not having heard of her.

wendywoo/portia said...

Yes, Pamela and I are both British, and Dangerous Consequences is a reissue of a book originally published in the mid 1990s, back when relatively few people in the Brit writing scene were on the Internet, and I know that Pamela had never seen a copy of Romantic Times.

Pamela is one of my oldest friends and the fact that she'd never heard of Jude Devereux at that time is the God's honest truth!

Tara Marie said...

The two Wendys--nice discussion, and like Amie said, it's in the eye of the reader.

Fi and Jane, I'm going with Nicole and believing the author hadn't heard of JD.