Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What is the difference between Erotica and Romance? My Personal Definition

One conversation that L, my BBF (Best Book Friend), and I were having was on how I had rated a novel on Goodreads.  Not sure how this conversation morphed into a difference between erotica and contemporary romance -

Me: "Personally, my definition differs from mainstream."
L:"How so?" 
Me: "I think it'll be a blog post."
Here is my definition is a nutshell -

  • Erotica: That's a book with main story line is a sexual encounter 
  • Romance: That's a book with two characters who's end result is a Happily Ever After
Still not sure where I am driving the discussion?  Let me give you two main stream books to describe how I see the difference.
  • Think Erotica as  - Jenna Jameson's "Sugar"
  • Think Romance as - Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight"

Are we closer to understanding my definition now?  Personally, I have no clue how Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. assign literature to the different labels or genres, but they do.  And, I don't agree.  What seems to be the opinion of JQ Public is any romance novel with sex in it is erotica.  

Ah, nope.  Don’t believe me? Kristan Higgins seems to have a similar thought as “It's not the sex!"

Let me share this with you:  A 2006 article in USA Today said 95% American have premarital sex.  So, at this point, I pretty much believe any characters in my romance novels that become involved are going to have sex.  Now, you may wish the author not to give you a blow by blow description of every touch, movement or act.  That’s fine because that is what Nora Roberts is for.  But just because the book has sex in it does not make it erotica to me.  The sexual encounter may be erotic, as it’s sexually stimulating in parts, but the overall story arc is the personal relationship or the romance.  Got it?  If I classify as erotica, the story line has not a thing to do with the relationship; it’s strictly about the sex.  

Now, I have read serials where the entire serial shelf has changed over each book.  The characters grew thus the story became more about the relationship and less about the sex.  I have a perfect illustration of a recent Goodreads review I posted.  I will be up front:  this story is about same sex relationship.  Not your thing to read?  I’m not telling you read the books although you should and Amazon links are provided.  I using this as an example to point to my reviews here and my erotica versus romance percentages below for the serial, Up-Ending Tad.

Loser Takes It All =       100% Erotica  
Test of Endurance =       90 % Erotica / 10% Romance
Sideline Submission =   80% Erotica / 20% Romance
Prized Possession =      50% Erotica/ 50 % Romance
Bringing It Home  =       15% Erotica/ 85% Romance 

As you can see, my view of the story changed as it progressed.  I can also use examples from my two favorite authors, Sawyer Bennett’s Wicked Fall and Nicole Edwards’ Never Say Never.  Whoa, there were several pages of very sexually stimulating scenes in each book.  Kink, public, same gender or you name it sex can be in the book.  The novel's sole purpose was not to describe a sexual encounter or two.   Again, these books were about the journey of the relationship of the characters to an eventual HEA.  If you didn’t go to the link to Kristan Higgins article, here it is again. I’m not alone. 

This horse has been beaten.  You may not agree with me.  That is okay.  It’s personal preference.  You may go with the Oxford Dictionary definition.  Just don’t comment on my Goodreads reviews you disagree with my shelving of the book.  My bookcases, my labels.

I’ve given you my opinion.  Where is the line you draw when defining a piece of literature as erotica or romance? Does sex versus no sex weigh on the decision?  Please join in the conversation in the comments below.


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