Apr 22 2013 11:30am

Sweet Erotics Should Not Be an Oxymoron!

Tart by Lauren DaneSweet erotic romances, or “vanilla erotic romance,” have been MIA lately. These are romances that are erotic, but don't have BDSM, or extremely kinky stuff. Like pony play. Or...artichokes as sex toys. (I've never read the latter, thankfully, but, you get my point.)

I'm worn out by what we are seeing in erotic romance. It seems all we see now are BDSM novels. There was BDSM erotic romance well before Fifty Shades of Grey—but with that book's success, newer releases have been cookie cutter versions of FSOG.

What happened to the love stories, the plots, and the emotions of erotic romance? BDSM is hot now, and a few years ago, it was menages; but if you try to force the story, it doesn't work, no matter what kink you're putting in there.

Erotic romance doesn't have to be super kinky, or extreme, or out there. Not  that there shouldn't be those books, it just feels as though it's in every book. And some authors seem uncomfortable writing it, or that's how it comes across.

There are a number of authors who write erotic romances extremely well and write very hot scenes, and there isn't necessarily BDSM involved. Sure, some of their books have it. Sometimes, that's what fits for the relationship and the characters. A great example is Lauren Dane. She writes characters who have smoking-hot chemistry, but unless the character's personality, or that specific coming together works with chains and gags or such, she won't write it just to have it. And a number of her heroines are not at all submissive. So there aren't any dominant/submissive aspects in the romance. For some of her stories, the heroine loves being collared. And it's hot. For others, if the hero tried, I'm pretty sure the heroine would punch him in the junk.

Exposed to You by Beth KeryBeth Kery's serials definitely have BDSM, but her One Night of Passion series doesn't so much. Both are equally hot. And that's fabulous. We don't always need whips and pain and paddling for a hot book. I'm not saying we shouldn't ever; just that it shouldn't be written just for the sake of being popular.

Stories with BDSM or elements of BDSM should make sense within the book, fit with the characters, their personality, the relationship. Opal Carew's writing fits that bill, as does Jasmine Haynes's. (And both also write, or at least have written “sweet erotic romances.”)

What's my point?

Write hot books. I'm all for that. Experiment some. Light bondage, role play, all good. My gripe is, write what fits, and make it reasonable. You have the heroine who is “super fair and delicate” and even grabbing her in excitement bruises her. Well, she won't be doing a major BDSM session and want to go ride a horse the next hour, after she's been paddled or striped so much she's got welts. I think that's also why I dislike it. That stuff hurts. Yet in romance, characters experience pain and injuries that set them back—bring tears, possible hospitalization—and within a few hours, or the next day, they're up and at 'em like an Olympic athlete.

Bliss by Opal CarewBring back the soft and sweet sexytimes. By that, I mean get wild in the sack. Have your characters go crazy. But why do you have to throw the hedgehog in? There is a lot of sexy, erotic stuff that people can do without props, toys, or strange elements.

Discussing a book with a friend, where the hero enjoyed oral sex, plus vaginal insertion, I mentioned “it was like her cooch was more a candy dispenser than a vagina.” There's a line when it becomes overkill. Don't cross it. When something becomes weird, disturbing, or confusing, you've probably gone too far.

Do you miss the super hot, sexy erotic romances, when the focus was on the characters and their steamy relationships, instead of how “out there” and “kinky” authors could write the story? Or do you think the kinkier the better? - A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet

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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I tried explaining to a few of my friends the difference between BDSM/kinky erotica, erotica and then just romance because they see it all as the same thing. It's obviously not if you actually read enough of the genre, but the basic dividing line between erotica and romance for me is erotica is a relationship where sex leads to love (and therefore is the focal point and motivator for the couple), where as romance is kind of the reverse, but not quite--certainly not saying I've never read a romance where the couple get together for the sex first or "have this thing" between them that sparks the relationship.

I've read a few of Lauren Dane's books, including the Tart/Lush books pictured and I think you're totally right about her. A lot of times her erotica is, in fact, based on family and family values.

I think another point of confusion might come with how people classify themselves as readers. We saw that a lot of people who read 50 Shades would never consider themselves romance/erotica readers and might never read one again. I think the same goes for "sweet erotica" readers. They don't consider it erotica, it's hot contemporary.
Lindsay Beeson
3. lindsayb
I also wish there were more regular/romantic erotic options minus the whips and chains. My favorites are R. L Mathewson (which to me is sort of like a crossover between erotic and regular contemporary/paranormal. She has sexier sexytimes than most romance, not quite as much as most erotic. "Tall, Dark, and Lonely" is one of my favorites. Olivia Cunning has a nice mix of erotic books involving rockstars- one of which has some light BDSM- but most of which do not. Cherrie Lynn writes some great books about Demons and Angels and another about a tattoo shop. Laura Kaye is a good choice for contemporary. My absolute favorite erotic romance author is Laurann Dohner- her New Species books are incredible and contain pretty much every element I love in a book- shifters.. wounded heroes.. evil mastermind plots.. love based relationships.. and sexy alpha males. I like her Cyborg and Zorn Warriors books as well (sexy space travel!). I'm also fond of Eve Langlais' Furry United Coalition books. I want love relationships in my erotic romance. I enjoy the menages and triads really only if they involve commited partners who are all in love with each other.. ie Lauren Dane's and Olivia Cunnings books.
4. Torifl
YES!! Bring back sexy. lol I love erotics but so tired of the endless virgin meet broody man ones that have been the soup du jour the past year. So many have such incredable unrealistic scences. I mean honestly, who meets someone and within the 24 hrs is calling them master/mistress and having certain implements stuck in them? How can I believe the romance when the set up is so unbelievable?

I really enjoy Lauren Dane, Lorilei James, Megan Hart, and Sindra Van Yssel because they write erotic romances that focus more on the romance and what it takes to maintain a relationship. You never feel any of the bondage that MAY enter the bedroom is for gratutious or shock value. Plus, both parties are mature, intelligent, people who really seem to enjoy being together.
Lime Cello
5. Limecello
@JenniferProffitt - heh, actually, I agree/disagree with you. Or
specifically, the term "erotica" - I would say that Lauren Dane does NOT
write erotica. That when you're using the term "erotica" you actually
mean erotic romance. I actually have a post about this going up next week, according to TPTB! But in the end - yes! There totally are differences!

@Ellie - *heart*

@Lindsay - I've read some of Olivia Cunning's books, and I agree. I'm definitely going to read more. I've read all but her newest(?) Sinner's book. I would also venture to say that Kele Moon is another such author. Shannon McKenna! Her books are some of the first really hot ones that I read, but definitely no BDSM. Thanks for all your recs!

@Tori - I don't even mind virgin heroines (they do exist!) - but yes, the virgin heroine who meets a billionaire who is uber into BDSM. Orly? They're like... O_o an ant infestation these days. :X And that's another great point. Smart characters. Wish more authors would bother writing those. The good ones do - which is why we love them!
Allison Brennan
6. Allison_Brennan
Totally agree. And I agree about Shannon McKenna. She's always been one of my favorites. I'm not a huge fan of erotic romance as a subgenre, though I'll read it if there are other elements -- I like Shannon because there was always a good suspense subplot in her work. So the story itself has to be exceptional -- and then make it hot, or not, just make it work for the characters. Another favorite is Lorelei James. She has (usually) strong female characters to go with her strong male characters. There's some BDSM if it fits the story, but not all her books are.
7. kyatty2007
Completely agree!! Things need to be "realistic"--as in the story and the passion between the H/H needs to fit *their* personalities. If she's not a sub then don't put her in that role...and vice versa. Not every guy is a dom, let alone the "super" doms we're seeing a LOT of right now. Reading contemp erotic romances should be about the relationship and what makes those smexy times oh so smexy is the chemistry...and that can never be forced or it comes off fake and blech.
Lime Cello
8. Limecello
@Allison - I like the hot books :D but I also like the whole package. If the book is "hot" but the characters and plot weak, I get annoyed. In fact, I recently DNF'd a few books everyone else in the universe seemed to lurrrrrrve. (Despite them admitting there were major flaws.) I can't get past that. Which is why I'm a happily self proclaimed judgeybearmeanreader. And that's fine. There are enough romances out there that are all around awesome - that those in my humble opinion are the ones that should be pimped out and squee-d about from on the rooftops.

@kyatty - *heart* I so agree. As you said - some of the "super doms" don't fit. And then they're just assholes. So I totally want to ... what's the character in Tangled? Anyway, they deserve a large cast iron skillet to the head. That'll straighten them out. :D
9. Hassna
i feel that the Shadowlands books by Cherise Sinclair should come under this catagory despite they have BDSM elements in them, they are SWEET , if i can say so ;)
Rae Alley
10. rszalley
I had a moment last week thinking about this with the Sarah Mayberry discussion. Her book, Her Best Worst Mistake, fits this. I'll never look at mangos quite the same after thY.
Stephanie Julian
11. Stephanie Julian
I always go back to my tried and true: Lora Leigh. She was the first erotic author I read that I thought okay, this is how it's done. Yes, the plot can go over the top but that doesn't matter when the characters drag you under.
Alisa Kwitney
12. AlisaKwitney
I just read and loved After Hours by Cara Mckenna. It was emotional, quirky and felt so authentic. As for billionaires: I always start reading uber rich heroes as some kind of Bill Gates/Donald Trump mash up, which is a real mood killer.
Trish Ward
13. Trishward
Great post! I would love to read great stories that are full of great lives that have great tales with romance in them. Characters that you can "take with you" and come away being a better you! I've read romance all my life and LOVE it but I don't need all the junk and wierd sex with it. There are wonderful writers and a lot of okay writers. I'm just wanting to say a big YES to good stories and not so much fade books out there. A great book is still a wonder to find! (write about real manly men - sexy as hell, built like a world class athlete and not some push over who drops his pants first when he sees a boob!!)
14. Blueheart13
Thank you! for this post. I've been missing the hot sweet romances of late. I'm not really interested in BDSM except, maybe, for titillation.

Oh, totally agree with the make it realistic request. The athletics after the whips & chains just doesn't ring true. And the super suspense books, where the bad guy knows where you're at and they're in incredible danger of loss of life/limb but they have time to stop and get all hot & bothered? Sorry, I don't buy that a (insert hero occupation of choice), in the middle of a mission, is going to stop and go at it without making sure everyone, especially he & the heroine, are safe.
15. Glittergirl
Here, Here!! I so agree with you about this topic. I am so tired of BDSM books. I adore erotic romance but pain and ass-hole "heros" just turn me off. I read a big name author last month that I was really excited about and almost didn't finish the book. I did not get book 2 because it was more of the same. I just finished a half length debut novel by Samanthe Beck THE PRIVATE PRACTICE that was absolutely delightful. The heroine wanted a wild-sex tutor so she could be all she needed to be for her newly available highschool crush. It was a sweet story with some really good sex. I loved it and the hero/tutor/Tyler Longfoot is my new book boyfriend, sigh. Thank you for this post.
16. juliagabriel
Amen to this! I like books where the "romance" is equal to the "erotic." I enjoyed FSOG well enough but I'm over the BDSM thing at this point. I have so many of these on my iPad that were DNFs (The Siren, Beth Kery's serial). And I don't mind virgins and billionaires (I grew up on Harlequins) but some of these dom men seem to have no redeeming characteristics.
Carmen Pinzon
17. bungluna
@Glittergirl-That sounded so good that I went and got it. Thanks for adding to my TBR pile.
Janis Clark
18. maliamartin
I agree. What happened to contemporary romance that develops the relationship first, then introduces some serious heat? I recently discovered Lauren Dane and Opal Carew and am enjoying both author's reads. Maya Banks has knocked it out of the park with her Breathless trilogy. Jaci Burton's Play by Play series is also amazing.
19. Coleen K
I love Jaci Burton's Play-by-Play series. Super hot athletes, strong women, great sex and falling in love.

I read the FSOG series and enjoyed the love story more than the BDSM, it got old after a while.

This is a great post and I've got a lot of new authors to add to my list!
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