Some Like It Hot
Much has been written about the rise of erotic romance since the stunning success of the Fifty Shades series, but this article on Salon.com is the best I’ve read. To me it gets to the heart of why people read erotic romance—and it’s not for the reasons that those who neither read nor write in the genre seem to believe. The article quotes author Anna Alexander, who sums it up well:
People are at their most vulnerable when they’re naked together, which leads them to admit their true feelings even if only to themselves.
Few would suggest that mysteries, thrillers, and horror novels should not dramatize killings because those scenes would only serve to titillate readers. It’s pretty clear that violence is inherent to those novels, and the degree to which the violence is graphically depicted depends on the author and the story.
So why is it difficult to understand that in novels about romantic love, where sexual attraction is intrinsic to the plot and character development, dramatization of the sex scenes can be integral to the story, rather than existing for cheap thrills?
Readers enjoy erotic romance for the same reason they enjoy other romance novels: because love conquers all. This belief is fundamental to human happiness. When the reader’s taste and the author’s talent are dismissed (by people ignorant of the genre, who’ve never read any of the literary-quality novels it’s produced), we are all diminished. This attitude says that we, as a species, shouldn’t value love. Shouldn’t value the decision of whom to marry and have children with. Shouldn’t value the joy that a fulfilling sexual relationship brings to our lives.
As an author of romantic women’s fiction, I generally don’t write novels where the sexual journey is key to the storyline. The sex scenes aren’t graphic, because they don’t need to be. But some stories can’t be told without fully dramatized sex scenes. That’s why erotica and erotic romance exist. It’s not about the sex—it’s about the story.
What do you think? Does the edginess of erotic romance appeal to you? Or do you prefer the bedroom door to be closed?