Monday, March 21, 2011

Romance and Erotic Romance...What's your preference?

by Stacey Espino and Eliza March


As a reader I'll devour any type of romance from young adult to sextreme. Going Too Far, Perfect Chemistry, Twilight, etc. are young adult books enjoyed by women and teens alike. I can fall in love with a book that has little or no sex, but I dooo like the romance :)

As a writer, I find it more difficult to switch back and forth between writing classic romance and sextreme romance. For me, it seems that once I started writing erotic books, it was difficult to go back and write tamer sex scenes. A big difference between mainstream romance and erotic romance is word choice. You won't see offensive words (or many) in a classic romance, but they are expected in erotic fiction. In erotic books—cock, pussy, cunt, dick, etc. are commonplace. In mainstream, the descriptions border on purple prose to keep things tame and acceptable to a broader readership. The frequency of sex scenes and type of sex acts will differ as well.

Sexual tension and the build up of a romantic relationship can be even more rewarding than a graphic sex scene if written correctly. It's all about escaping reality and becoming one with the book and characters while you're reading. I think that's why I love reading YA books. They focus on those core emotions we've all had when falling in love. In general, I like the balance of a good plot, great characters and the treat of hot sex scenes.

Although I'm known for my menage books, I also write erotic m/f books (paranormal and futuristic). They are rated scorching which means the sex scenes are hot, but not as graphic or frequent as my sextreme books.

What's your take on switching from romance to erotic romance, Eliza?


Good question for me at the moment, Stacey. My first romantic suspense is being released by SirenBookstrand this month, and because there's a marked difference in my style, I chose to release it under a different name.

Elizabeth Marchat writes sexy romance but her word choice is slightly milder than language her alter ego - me, Eliza March - writes. After writing erotic (SEXTREME - m/f/m and m/m/f) settling down to write a traditional M/F romance with less offensive language and more sexual tension instead of sex was frustrating to say the least for me (...the proverbial, instant gratification girl - LOL). My characters aren't used to holding back and when they think about sex it's in extremely graphic terms.

Now Elizabeth couldn't risk having her sexual encounters border on that purple prose you were talking about, so in several instances, the encounters are sufficiently explicit to satisfy Eliza fans. Finding the balance in language is harder than I thought it would be. It's easier to use explicit language or purple prose than it is to stage the scene so the reader instinctively gets the drift without spelling it out in a four letter word.

The trick to toning down a sexy book is ramping up the sexual tension. Put the characters in a small bath tub, naked, and only give them one towel. Have the plumbing spring a leak. Repeat something similar until the characters don't care where they are or who is watching, they can't keep their hands off each other any longer. Then blow up the building. And start all over again.

When you start reaching for the wine bottle and it's empty, let them make love, for goodness sake!

Personally, I read just about everything, and all genres, but honestly, I like my recreational reading to be romance with real honest to goodness, hot, I-can't-live-without-you-for-another-minute sex (Eliza fans: explicit definition = balls-to-the-wall sex) at some point.

I'm a hopeless romantic and always have been. Because love makes the world go round, I believe in love at first sight, soul mates forever, and happily ever after. On March 30th, I'll have been happily married to the same man for 43 years - if he doesn't do anything to mess up before then. LOL - God bless him.

Thanks, Stacey, for coming by and sharing your thoughts.

I encourage everyone to check out Stacey's books at


Stacey Espino resides in beautiful Ontario, Canada where she is busy raising her five school-aged children. She loves being a Canadian but could do without the brutal winters.

When she’s not escaping into the romantic settings she creates on her laptop, she’s reading one of the many books threatening to overtake her bedroom.

Stacey also writes m/m erotic romance as Winona Wilder.


  1. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want my story romantic and my sex hot, but I'm not a huge fan of extremely graphic prose.
    When one objectively dissects the physical sex act, or acts, they ain't all that pretty without context. Adding romance, or context, gussies them up, so to speak.

  2. Julia, that's a good point. I think it's why romantic erotica is so popular. The story matters, so does the emotion, but you can get down and dirty between the sheets. LOL

  3. I read across the romance subgenres and one of the things I like the best is no matter your mood you can find something to fit. To me if the sex fits the story that's great. If not that's okay too. As long as the plots strong and the characters are engaging I'll probably enjoy it.

  4. I agree with Julia. I devour pretty much every genre of romance but my favorites are the real romantic love stories that don't pull any punches on the sex scenes. But the sex needs to have the emotions backing it or I get bored.

    Really great post!

  5. I got frustrated by euphemisms and "fade to the tide coming in" kind of romance novels when I was in high school! My Mom loved those kinds. Me, I wanted more! More graphic sex! More tension! Don't only describe the hero and make me want him, show me what he's like during sex too! That's why I write erotic romance also. So if you are expecting "sweet" or "sensual" romance, don't open the covers on my books!

  6. Rita, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think romance, sexual tension and sex are all parts of life so they must be part of most stories. LOL But some stories lend themselves more to hot and spicey and others don't need it. Depending on the balance of the story, some may lean to more explicit details and others don't need any details whatsoever; they do better with showing the attraction by inuendo than by blatant scenes. Thanks I loved your comment.

  7. Sondrae & Fions, my mom introduced me to romance novels and because I spent years wondering what exactly was happening between the hero and heroine (must have been too young to understand the euphemisms - LOL) I really started enjoying the romances as authors wrote more explicitly. I wasn't happy with a closed door or the purple prose...besides dragging out the details of an embrace, a touch, or a breath against a cheek can be very sensual. I like remembering what those sensations feel like and experiencing them again during the story--enjoying the emotions the characters experience, too.

    Thank you, both for enhancing our discussion about erotic romance.