Monday, May 8, 2006

Let's talk about sex, baby

It’s been long gone since the days of the Marquis de Sade and Pauline Réage’s “dirty little book” Story of O. With titles such as Tempt Me, Touch Me, Taste Me (do not laugh, I’m not kidding!), erotic romance is today’s big thing in women’s fiction. Yes, bigger than Fabio *gasp* and those juicy half-naked men on the covers and their huge man tits.

These aren’t your grandma’s romance novels,” says Susan Pezzack, editor of Spice Books, Harlequin’s new erotica line that debuts this month. “Erotica was once considered a dirty little secret, and no one would admit to reading it. Now it’s considered more of an art form, it’s more acceptable to be on display in major bookstores, and women aren’t embarrassed to purchase it. It’s becoming more and more mainstream.”

Harlequin isn’t the only publishing house who has taken notice. Last January, Kensington introduced its erotic romance imprint Aphrodisia, while Berkley launched Heat in May. HarperCollins follows next with Avon Red books, which are scheduled to hit stores in June. Apparently, it’s true: sex does sell. Duh.

Tina Engler (also known as Jaid Black) knew it all along. A frustrated erotic writer, she started her web site Ellora’s Cave, when publishers and literary agents (who are probably now kicking themselves LOL) told her that women would not buy her stories of female sexual desire. But Engler turned out to be right. She says, “Women read these books, and it makes them feel normal about their own fantasies.”

Still, even though erotica is considered more explicit than the typical storybook romance, it’s not just all about the sex. Really? Hmm...

In a CBS2 Chicago interview, author Penny Dawn says, “Women demand more than just the cheap thrill. They need the whole package.” (Though, do not fret, dear readers and kinky Trollop. As author Robin Schone says, “If there’s going to be sex, you’re going to get it.”)

The key difference between erotica and pornography is that there’s a definite plot in erotica,” says May Chen, an editor at Avon Red. “Erotica writers can tell a story. There is a definite hero or heroine. You might have a few sex scenes in there, but it’s not gratuitous.”

One of the first authors on the new Avon Red label is Liz Maverick, who thinks that while men have always had outlets for their erotic fantasies, such as movies and magazines, women are finally coming around to creating their own. “I think Sex and the City had a large part in it,” she says. “For a lot of 20- and 30-something women, we would watch the show and see these women talk about sex and make it fun. Then we would call our girlfriends and talk about the show. I think it opened a lot of things up.”

Especially words. The language of erotica is different from the traditional romance novels. I guess instead of saying her gates of heaven, love canal, or his member, pecker, phallus of love, rod, wang, dong, schlong, towering lance, piercing sword of manliness, ooh la la manroot!—they just use the words big balls, dick, prick, cock, pussy, cum and fuck fuck fuck. No delta of love too—or worse, moist delta of love!

When writing erotic romance, Maverick says there are certain words that just fit the mood. “You want it to be sexy,” she says. “Sometimes, flowery language doesn’t fit as well as a good expletive.” I couldn’t fucking agree more. *wink*

Labels: , ,

21 comment(s):

Anonymous Vixen said...

It's amazing to me how many women I have met who love romance but don't like to admit it. I used to be shy about it too. lol.

Some of the smartest women I know read romance!

Harlot, great article! Hey if anyone has any HOT recs. Share!

5/08/2006 09:08:00 AM  

Anonymous Trollop said...

I'm dying to read some good erotica! I've yet to read any, because of the horror stories I've heard about awful books with really weird sex.

I need recommendations; these are my guidelines:

-no sex with animals or children
-no same gender sex
-no threesomes or orgies
-no objects up guys ass

I think that's more or less it lol In general no freaky/weird stuff!

5/08/2006 10:46:00 AM  

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

Is light bondage included in your "no freaky/weird stuff"? You can easily get into your four "no-no's" at Ellora's Cave, but there are some good contemporary stuff there with a healthy dose of romance plot.

I think my one complaint about erotica is while there is a romance plot going on behind the sex, sometimes the overall plot of the book is lacking or hardly there. There is no storyline other than the sex in many of the books. The quality of the stories also very much more greatly than in traditionally published books, IMO.

5/08/2006 11:25:00 AM  

Blogger RSS Spirit Combine said...

Some women I have met like their porn "man style" all visual and without context. But most women I think need narrative to get to their "readlease" point.

I think aesthetically women and men are on the same plane when reading words. There could easily pop up co-educational pornographic romps, excuse me what is the publishing industry soft pedal? Right, Literary Erotica.

To me co-educational erotica would be the apotheosis of the form. If you could get men and women more or less equally turned on by the smut, kudos.


5/08/2006 11:35:00 AM  

Blogger Gatxan said...

Has anyone read Story of O? I saw the film ages when I was 12 or 13 and remember it caused a "great impression" to me...LOL! Is the book readable/enjoyable? Maybe I'd give it a try...

5/08/2006 12:28:00 PM  

Blogger nica ha said...

i wouldn't mind reading one of those too, but i'd have to agree with Trollop's guidelines. that's what keeps me away from it is i'd rather not read something creepy before i go to bed and have horrible nightmares! lol!!

maybe if someone could suggest a good one that could be in a future club reading, then again if it turns out weird then we'll all be traumatized, lol

5/08/2006 04:42:00 PM  

Anonymous Trollop said...

>>>then again if it turns out weird then we'll all be traumatized

Oh lol Nica so true.

O.K. this is what we'll do. We'll have Harlot read it first, in case there is any freaky/weird stuff going on she'll be the only one traumatized lol :P That way we'll all be warned.

She can keep reading them until she finds a good/safe one for us!

5/08/2006 05:46:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Never seen the movie but i've read the STORY OF O. Well, actually just the beginning LOL.

A perv (and very malicious!) prof of mine suggested i should read it after saying i love to read and that i prefer books with romance since i tend to get bored without it.

After O got fucked in the ass, while she's giving another man some forced blowjob, she's gagged and masked, i dropped the book and never opened it again. :S Not sure what type of books you enjoy LOL, but if you like sadism and masochism, this book is for you.

5/08/2006 07:52:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

>>>O.K. this is what we'll do. We'll have Harlot read it first, in case there is any freaky/weird stuff going on she'll be the only one traumatized lol :P That way we'll all be warned.

You Trollop!!! Grrr..

*sigh* I guess i can do it for you guys. :S I even read that dirty DIRTY ebook you sent with nuns having orgies! See what i have to live with?!? And she has corrupted me beyond belief! *sniff*

5/08/2006 07:59:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Trollop, Harlot, and those who know me, I could write a master thesis on said subject lol!

I've read Thea Devine, Robin Shone, Bertrice Small, some novels, some anthology. I think by definition, you are going to get "deviant" scenes. Its the nature of the beast! If you don't like the appliances, fingers etc.. up the tush, sorry its there lol. It is arousing but not satisfying, leaves you like, cold. But to form an opinion, you HAVE to read one. I recently did and would be happy to send it to you, a Thea Devine.

Instead of erotica taking off, I see romance authors making their books more and more erotic to satisfy this erotic female fantasy.Example:
Shannon Mckenna
Susan Johnson-listed as very erotic
Cheryl Holt-listed as very erotc
Liz Carlyle
Lisa Klepas
Christie Ridgway.
They've all gotten a LOT more erotic.....AND I LOVE IT!!

IMO, "erotica" leaves you feeling like you need a shower.

Very erotic romance is fabulous :P

5/08/2006 09:08:00 PM  

Blogger 357martini said...

lets not

5/08/2006 10:44:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Why 357martini, you're back! Oh LOL Still not getting any visitors? Oh you poor old fart.. :S Well, again, you're not gonna get any from here. Sorry. :P

5/08/2006 10:53:00 PM  

Anonymous Vixen said...

I should clarify... When I say I want HOT recs. I would like something with the same guidelines Trollop listed above. Somethings I just can't read.

5/08/2006 11:11:00 PM  

Anonymous Lanie said...

I think there is a distinction between erotica and erotic romance or romatica. Most erotica I have read (Black Lace, Nexus etc) are books where main protagonists have lots and lots of sex, with each other and other people but there isn't perhaps a romantic HEA.

Erotic romance or romantica I find combines a romance story with really hot sex! :P

I'd recommend the following authors/books if you want to read erotic romance:

Sarah McCarty - Promises Kept, Promises Prevail, Promises Linger (western historical).

Cheyenne McCray - Wildfire, Wildcat, Wildcard, Wild borders, Forbidden Magic

Jaci Burton - Storm for all Seasons series

I also like Shiloh Walker, Lora Leigh (mostly her BDSM books :P), Angela Knight...there are more but that's all I can recall off the top of my head.


5/09/2006 12:33:00 AM  

Blogger Gatxan said...


really??? Maybe it wasn't Story of O the movie I saw... I remember some kind of "soft bondage" and a bit rough men but nothing about being gagged and masked... LOL! Or maybe the movie is softer than the book...

Is there an ebook about dirty nuns having orgies? LOL!!! Guess this was sent to you when you went to that spiritual retirement of yours....;)

5/09/2006 04:33:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

>>>Is there an ebook about dirty nuns having orgies? LOL!!! Guess this was sent to you when you went to that spiritual retirement of yours....;)

Harlot got that from the nuns in that thing she did and is now trying to blame it on me! In any case, I HEARD, that it was a nun and a priest; not an orgie. And it was a weird ass book. EUWWWW

5/09/2006 05:05:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking foward to see what Avon Red is going to offer. I believe that line comes out in June. Hoping it will be more on the romance side with lots of hot sex.

For suggestions, I would have to agree with Hotmama on Thea Devine. I read one of her books a few months ago and the story was pretty good and the sex was hot, hot, hot. When I get home I'll post the name of the book.

5/09/2006 05:28:00 PM  

Blogger Sandra Richards said...

Red Sage has anthologies going back years that are still available on the shelves. The series is called Secrets and each volume has 4 novellas that are erotic romance and are excellently written. Many really great writers broke into publishing with them.

Red Sage also puts out a line of novel length erotic romances called Cheek. If you've never read anything from them, and want to jump into a novel, try something--anything--by Emma Holly. She is not only imaginative, she's just a fun read and has romance authors drooling at how she writes.

5/10/2006 02:12:00 AM  

Blogger DelorumRex said...

Hey nice.. I have been working on a story. part funny, part erotic. If you get a chance cum by and take a look.
Duke Lacrosse Private Eye

5/13/2006 04:33:00 PM  

Blogger AuthorM said...

Hi, everyone! I found this blog purely by 'net surfing accident. I don't usually jump into blogs where I haven't introduced myself, so quick and dirty (ha!) My name's Megan, I write and read erotica and erotic romance -- and if you're new to the genre and want to try it out because you're afraid of the "wierd" stuff, I completely understand. ;) I write for Amber Quill Press ( and you can find many short stories, novellas and novels there (in all genres, not just erotic). Ellora's Cave is another online publisher and most of their work seems to have the harder edged content in it -- but I don't write for them so I can't comment on all the books there. Some authors to check out from AQP would be Jacki King, Penny Dawn, Ellie Marvel, Natalie Damschroder, Lacey Hart...hee. :) Two authors I enjoy from EC are Lauren Dane and Anya Bast, but they do write BDSM and multiple partnered work.

As for myself, I have a wide selection of genres in short, medium and long fiction, I haven't done much same gender fiction or BDSM or what you might consider kinky. I hope my books have plot beyond just the sex -- at least, I strive for that. I really enjoy fantasty and science fiction.

If you'd like to start reading erotica, an online purchase of a short story could be a way to go. The monetary investment is less and so is your time -- of course, a short story isn't going to offer you the depth of characterization that a novel would, or even a novella, but it's a way to sample if erotic writing is your "thing."

If you like paranormal, I have to say that Sand Castle is one of the favorite stories I've written. Amidst a Crowd of Stars is futuristic, short, erotic AND romantic, and is also another of my faves. Playing the Game would have to be my favorite contemporary. You can check out my website if you like.

I'll be publishing my first novel with the new Spice line from Harlequin in January 2007. That book's less romance, more erotica.

So. I'm done hijacking the thread. Just thought I'd chime in to say that if you're not sure about erotic work, try a short story. has a wide selection from many e-pubs and you can try out a few before you dive into a novel.

The traditional pubs are catching up, but I think you'll still find the "hottest" work from the e-pubs. Then again, you'll find some real stinkers, too! :) But that's true of anywhere.

Hope this helped those of you considering taking the leap to those "dirty" books!


5/23/2006 09:02:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Hullo Megan, welcome :D

Thanks for the info. Trollop and i are quite impartial to reading books that have characters having sex with the same gender (not that there's anything wrong with that) or threesomes or orgies. And please nothing up the arse, or ack, animals! :S As kinky as Trollop and i are, LOL, yeah, we're sort of virgins when it comes to erotica. :P

5/24/2006 08:03:00 PM