Jaunty Guest

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Jaunty Guests

Please join us in welcoming our special guest blogger for today, Avon Red author Toni Blake!

Hello there, and color me thrilled to be invited to guest blog here at Jaunty Quills! I’m Toni Blake and I’ll start by telling you that my book, SWEPT AWAY, is the first full-length novel being released by Avon’s steamy new Red line and it will be hitting the shelves any day now. (And if you’d like to read an excerpt or learn more, just pop on over to www.ToniBlake.com.)

Now the Red line is being labeled as erotica – erotica is all the rage right now, of course. But don’t let that fool you into thinking every book being called erotica right now is real, true erotica.

What do I mean by that? Well, erotica, by traditional definition, is generally a story of one (or more) person’s “sexual journey,” and it doesn’t necessarily or even usually contain a romance or monogamous relationship. But these days, erotica means – oh, a lot of things. Pretty much any book that has a lot of sex in it is being called erotica.

Now, I’ll be honest – this has been hard for me, as an author of super sexy romance novels, to swallow. People keep saying, “Toni, when did you switch over to writing erotica and why?” I have to explain that I’m writing the same kind of books I’ve been writing all along – emotional and fairly complex (if I do say so myself) romance novels that happen to have a heavy sensual/sexual element to them. But at heart, they’re definitely romance novels, filled with conflict and emotion and yearning and all that good stuff we all love.

But apparently, this is erotica now ; ) I’m really trying to embrace that, since it seems out of my control. Yet, of course, erotica is a lot of other things, too. It can be a lot more graphic/blunt in language and sexual situations than my books are. It can also follow that traditional definition I mentioned – being mostly about the sexual journey without a happily ever after. And it can straddle any of these lines.

So what do you think? How do you define erotica? Do you care how a book is labeled, or do you choose strictly on story, cover, and that sort of thing? And if you are a reader who enjoys hot, sexy books, are you open to reading all the forms of erotica I touched on above, or do you prefer to stick to “erotic romance?”

I’m writing this about ten days before it will be posted, as I’ll be winging my way back from vacation right around the time you’re reading this. But I shall do my best to pop in and respond to any comments. And thanks again to Kim and the other ladies here at Jaunty Quills for having me!


15 thoughts on “What IS Erotica?

  1. When I read/look for erotica, I’m looking for something different than a good love story and lots of hot sex.

    When I read erotica, plot’s important, but I also want sex that pushes the boundaries of what we normally see in romance novels. Like the kind of sex in The Story of O and A N Roquelare/Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series, and Bertrice Small’s books.

    That’s what I think of when I think of erotica; as opposed to lots of hot sex between the same people (ie, the hero and heroine).

    I can get hot sex between one man and one woman any time I pick up a romance novel, pretty much. For me to read an erotica, I want some other elements: I want serious bondage, light S/M, multiple partners, and menages.

    I want the stuff you don’t find in romance novels. ‘Cause when I read erotica, I don’t read it for the love story. No sirree. I read it for the fantasy.

  2. AndreaW says:

    I agree with Colleen, that erotica contains elements outside of the “normal” romance (bondage, S/M, multiple partners, etc.) That’s why I feel that there is a huge difference between erotica and erotic romance. Personally, I prefer erotic romance for the HEA that erotica isn’t required to have.

  3. Toni, the label bothers me, too, but no matter how much we try to explain the difference, the publishers are determined to call it erotica, aren’t they? Versus erotic romance, which I think is more descriptive of what I’m writing, at least (and it sounds like you, too).

    Not that I think there’s anything wrong with erotica. Like Colleen said, it’s the straight up fantasy element and that can be fun and hot. But I’m afraid that if Colleen was looking for erotica and accidentally picked up something like PARLOR GAMES, she’d be disappointed. So, at least they’re still shelving us with romance and hopefully that will keep the mistake grabs to a minimum.

    Of course, the opposite problem is also true. Someone who wants an erotic romance might shy away from picking up the Reds (or the Berkley Heats or whatever) because they think it IS erotica and they’re looking for the HEA.

    Sigh.

  4. Robyn DeHart says:

    I guess I’m surprised that there is a confusion. They haven’t started shelving the hard core erotica with the romance, have they? The covers are different too than what we’ve seen with the erotic romance books. When I’ve seen true erotica in the stores (only ones I’ve ever read were Anne Rice’s – and wow, what an eye opener :-O) they look like what they are, the covers, the titles. I would think the average erotica reader would be as well versed in their reading choice as romance readers are. Maybe I’ll all wet and maybe people are confused, y’all certainly know better than I do since you’re more invovled with this particular subgenre. But perhaps the crossing of the two genres will only bring you more readers. I figure if anyone can do erotica well, it’s romance authors, since we know emotion and senses.

    As far as personal tastes go, the super hot sex works for me, but I admit the hard core language just stops me cold. I don’t know what it is about that, but it doesn’t work for me. To each his own.

  5. Shana Shana says:

    I don’t think I’ve read widely enough to come up with an accurate definition, but I can speak to my personal taste. I don’t mind reading hot sex scenes, but I find them boring and gratuitous if there’s no emotional connection between the participants. I’m interested in romance, not sex alone; emotion, not titillation. I’ve started a few erotic books and then just put them down after a chapter or two because I thought they were boring. I didn’t care about the characters, and it seemed like all they ever did was have sex. But I have read some books that were labeled romantica or super sexy, and they were really good. With the way the market is right now, everything is jammed together, and it’s really hard to tell what you’re going to get when you buy a sexier book.

  6. Toni Blake says:

    Hey, thanks for all this great feedback. I agree with pretty much everything everyone is saying ; ) so am not sure I have a lot to add.

    Although yes, to a large degree, erotica IS being shelved with romance now, at least in the area where I live, so I presume it’s a pretty widespread thing. I don’t personally mind that at all – I’m all for erotica – but I do think it could be really challenging for readers to know what they’re buying. I have a fear that readers might buy my SWEPT AWAY expecting erotica and throw it against the wall because it’s much more “erotic romance.” That said, I have noticed that the book does NOT say erotica anywhere on it, and the cover conveys “sexy romance,” so as long as readers shop by my cover, I’m okay ; ) That said, I’ve seen pretty hardcore erotica books that look like very typical romance novels.

    I understand why publishers are doing this – calling everything at all erotic by the “erotica” label – because right now erotica is hot, selling like mad. I just hope readers don’t become too confused – or upset with authors if they accidentally buy something they weren’t expecting.

  7. They don’t put ‘erotica’ on it because Wal-Mart will definitely not stock it if it’s labeled that way.

  8. Robyn DeHart says:

    Well, Toni, the confusion makes more sense if they’re shelving the books together in some stores. That hasn’t been the case where I am. So I can easily see your concern.

    Shane, I’m with you, it’s all about the emotion for me. I love hotter scenes when they stem from the characters and are relavant to the plot at hand.

  9. Lacey Kaye says:

    Maybe I’ll all wet and maybe people are confused

    Robyn, was that intentional given the subject at hand???

  10. I’m just popping in to say hi to Toni! Thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear some more about Swept Away, if you’re willing to fill us in. ;)

    As to erotic romance versus erotica, I prefer the former as opposed to the latter. It’s very important to me that there is real love and emotion involved as well as an HEA. I just can’t get into a book that’s all about sex for the sake of sex. (Although, I have to admit that some erotic romance can be pretty hard core. I’ve read several Ellora’s Cave books and have been surprised. I think it depends on the author.)

    That being said, I do think the line between the two of them is getting thinner. I can understand the concern that a reader might pick up an erotica novel thinking it’s erotic romance and vice versa.

  11. Robyn DeHart says:

    *snort* Lacey, you’re a hoot!

    No, it wasn’t intentional. Purely Freudian, I’m afraid. But how funny.

  12. Toni Blake says:

    Hey Kim : ) Thanks for asking about Swept Away. It’s the story of Kat Spencer, who is relaxing on her family’s private island, trying to mentally prepare for her wedding, when a guy from her past literally washes up on the beach. She last saw Brock Denton 10 years ago, when she tried to seduce him and failed. He was a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks then, and now he’s an FBI Agent who just leapt off a passing yacht after his cover was blown. Before long, they’re stranded on the island and this time HE’s trying to SEDUCE her. Which is a problem, her being engaged and all ; ) And still being wildly attracted to him, too : ) There are also bad guys and danger and some humor and lots of emotion about it all. And to me, as I already mentioned, it’s definitely a “sexy romance.” : )

    About erotica, I’ve actually read plenty that contains lots of emotion, but it can just sometimes be a different sort of emotion than in a traditional romance novel. I think the best erotica definitely contains emotion (in fact, I think that’s the difference between erotica and porn) but the emotion is often more about the sex than the romance part, or it’s about WHY the person is doing the things they’re doing and how they feel about it afterward, etc. Some erotica – which is being referred to as romantica – DOES have romance mixed with erotica, like really extreme sexual situations, extreme language, etc., but tied with a developing romance, so in those books you can have emotions both about the sex AND the guy ; )

  13. Swept Away sounds great, Toni. Can’t wait to read it!

    I actually read quite a bit of what I think most people would term erotic romance or romantica, and I can think of several authors who are very good at combining emotion and extremely erotic sex scenes. I enjoy Shannon McKenna, Lora Leigh (At least the books in her Ellora’s Cave Breed series) and Monica Burns, to name a few. But I’m the first to admit, I’m very picky. There are certain things I just won’t read (Multi-partners, S&M, etc) and erotica tends to contain quite a few of these elements, LOL. To me, someone having sex with multiple partners at one time isn’t a love story. But then I think it becomes a matter of opinion. What might not seem like a romance to me might be a romance to someone else. :)

  14. That’s what I think is the beauty. There’s room enough for everyone in the big romance world. There’s a flavor of romance or erotic romance for every taste. Don’t like one? Try another! That’s the best part of our genre.

  15. I think the grey line is what is exactly erotic romance.

    What I meant to say, but failed to make myself clear, was that to me, almost any romance I pick up I can expect good, hot sex (nowadays, that’s the norm for many romance novels).

    If I want something that totally pushes the envelope and gets wayy beyond that, I think of erotica. Things like hardcore BDSM, lots of same sex, little plot, little emotion.

    The trick is, at least to me, what is erotic romance. To me, it’s a combination of the above. It has more plot, but the sex does push the boundaries of regular romance novel sex.

    In erotic romance, I want a HEA, and more plot than an erotica, but I’m also okay with sex between others than just the h/h (including the H or H getting it on with someone else as long as they come back together, permanently, with a commitment).

    Does that make sense? I want the boundaries pushed in erotic romance, like some BDSM, multi partners, etc., but I want the HEA.

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