Monday, June 23, 2008

What's the Difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica?

So, I've been selling in this erotic marketplace for the past three years and someone just asked me why one thing worked and another didn't. I blithely said, well that's because the largest number of readers are in Erotic Romance, and they asked me to explain the difference.

I thought everyone knew - but realized that there are some writers who aren't even familiar with the term "romantica," so here goes.

I believe that Romantica is a term coined by the Ellora's Cave gals for their brand of erotic romance novels. They feature the happy monogamous endings and wish fulfillment of your average romance novel, but with many explicit sex scenes. The main character is always a woman, even though the story can be told from alternating points of view.

Erotica is sexually charged fiction, but it's payoff is not the traditional romance novel happy ending - anything goes with anyone.

So my interrogator asked me to give some examples of good Erotic Romance (because she wasn't taken with anything she'd read in this category so far) and I wanted to say, "all my client's work," but many of the books I've sold haven't been published yet.

The only one that is is PARIS HANGOVER by Kristen Lobe.

So can you guys recommend some really good Romantica, and Erotic Romance?

Good erotica too?


Jill Elaine Hughes said...

Good romantica: Anything by Emma Holly, Michelle M. Pillow, Portia da Costa, and Allison Tyler. (And I'll plug myself here, too---check out my romantica novel MARKET FOR LOVE coming out from Virgin Books this fall under my pseudonym Jamaica Layne).

Erotica---check out books by Zane, Nancy Friday, Catherine Millet, and Erica Jong. Also check out anything in Virgin's Black Lace line. Some of their titles are "romantica", but most are no-holds-barred erotica.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

And of course as a romantica author, my first inclination is to say, "any of my books." But really, a few things to look for.
One; if you want the story and not JUST the sex, don't buy a Quickie. Those are too short to have much in the way of plot. Buy a longer book, and look for a storyline that interests you ASIDE from the sex. If you like suspense, buy a suspense, if you like regency settings, look for one of those. Then check out the blogs or websites of those authors for excerpts. You'll get an idea of their style and whether or not they're a good fit for your reading tastes.

Anonymous said...

For Romantica, I really like Nancy Madore's "Enchanted" by Harlequin Spice.

TJ Michaels said...

I agree with Cindy...sort of. Some of the Ellora's Cave quickies are very well done in that you get a full plot, suspense, issue resolution and the scorching sex. Yes, hard to believe, but it's true. If paranormal is what you're into, a Quickie that's actually won reader's choice awards because of the plot development is SPIRIT OF THE PRYDE by yours truly.

Also, anything, and I mean ANYTHING by Lauren Dane. Her Cascadia Wolves series is wildly popular. I've read every single one and have never been disappointed.

Also, Shelley Munro's Middlemarch series is awesome.

Again, these are all paranormal, but excellent Romantica. And these are all Ellora's Caves books as EC has trademarked the term Romantica.

Happy reading!


Stacia said...

"Romantica" is a trademarked term exclusive to Ellora's Cave, just FYI. Any other publisher releases erotic romance. :-)

Yeah, of course the temptation to point to my EC books is there. But there are a lot of great writers and stories at EC (I agree, avoid Quickies if you want more story, and look for excerpts--I post the entire first chapter of each of my books on my site, to give readers more of a taste; I'm far from the only one.)

Anna J. Evans is a good one (disclosure: she's my CP and we've also written books together, but she also regularly gets Recommended Reads and five-star reviews all over the place, and has just sold a book to NAL Heat.) Sherrill Quinn is also moving from EC and epubs to Kensington. Dakota Cassidy is a good one; Christine D'Abo, Sylvia Day, Nathalie Gray, Joey Hill...along with the "old school" names (by which I mean they've moved on from EC, not that there's anything dated about their work) like Christine Warren, Angela Knight, Lora Leigh...

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

I also recommend _3_ by Julie Hilden and ENVY by Kathryn Harris. These are both erotic thrillers (very explicit, but with very well-developed plots and literary themes).

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. The difference is whether or not she'll respect you in the morning.

NikkiS said...

Great topic! But as an author who's been with Ellora's Cave for a number of years, I thought maybe I could clarify something. "Romantica" is, actually, a legal term. It is the word that Ellora's Cave has trademarked for THEIR particular brand of erotic romance. So, to use it in reference to any other publisher's erotic romance is....technically...a violation. Albeit....a flattering one! a menage author I had to add that not while all of the endings are "happily ever after"...they're not necessarily monogamous! Committed, yes. But that's not to say they can't involve a triad...or a moresome for that matter...of happy, committed people. Of...almost any combination, btw. lol I have several titles that explore that possibility. And...I it well! ;-)


ryan field said...

There's a little of both on a web site, , and on another,

For print erotica...anything edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (former sex columnist for the Village Voice) or Alison Tyler who does a lot for Cleis Press.

Amie Stuart said...

I write romantica (or erotic romance if you will) but I don't read a lot of it. However, I do like Jami Alden!
Also Incubus by Raine Weaver (it's an e-book but's wonderful) and Wolf's Gate in the HOWL Anthology. Also by Raine Weaver--who in the interest of fairness, is my critique partner. =)

Anonymous said...

Well, actually Romantica(r) is a registered trademark of Ellora's Cave Publishing. It can only be used to describe EC books. The generic term for the genre is "erotic romance".

And recently the main character in erotic romance doesn't have to be a woman. The hot fad now for the heterosexual female reader is -- male/male romance.

Recommendations for good erotic romance? That's like asking someone to recommend a good romance or a good science or history book - the category is so broad, there are things for every taste. Does your interrogator like contemporary or historical, paranormal, fantasy? Specific sexual interests like menage or BDSM or male/male?

Raelene Gorlinsky

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

I was told that Romantica was a trademarked term only Ellora's Cave is allowed to use. Before I knew that (and before I wrote for EC) I used it to mean pretty much what you said, Lori.

My M/f relationships always involve sex, but the sex scenes are driven by the story and the whole things has to have a happy, but not sappy ending.

I'm pretty tame for EC and in fact had my first "erotic romance" pubbed by their mainstream imprint, Cerridwen Press. Also, I write lighthearted, romantic comedy which lends itself to the sensuous rather than the hard core heat level.

I'd love for you to try any of my books. My readers know to expect the unexpected with me so about the only thing that's predictable is the romantica and the fact that I'm going to make them smile if not laugh out loud. Think, Mary Janice Davidson with more fleshed out sex scenes. (How's that for word usage?)


Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

I'm 100% romantica. I write for Ellora's Cave and all of my books are sexy, sensual romances. Are they good? Hell, yeah! If fans and reviewers are any indication, I guess I am.

To be honest, I'm not crazy about the direction erotica is taking. I'm all for big love in whatever form it takes, but I still prefer mine M/f with a happy but not sappy ending. And also because I incorporate loads of comedy my stuff tends to be light and unpredictable in the story lines.

I don't put comedy in the sex scenes though. IMO, it's incompatible with good steamy erotic sex. I'm feeling pretty tame these days and may have to find another venue like NY for my work. I think they're finally edgy enough for my unusual plots and unpredictable twists, but still romantic enough to appreciate a good M/f relationship.


Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

Read my stuff! (I'm not too shy, Cindy. LOL)

We write for the same publishers. She knows my smart-ass self and will probably forgive me. LOL

ilyakogan said...

I'm working on something that could be described as YA paranormal romantica.

I've had one agent's opinion about the project already but I want to ask this forum anyway. How hard is it to sell something like that?

Stephanie Julian said...

As a reader, I want hot sex with my romance, not just hot sex so erotica doesn't do it for me.
I think you have to start with the incomparable Emma Holly and work out from there. Don't miss Lora Leigh (especially her EC books) and Angela Knight and the Secrets anthologies.
And sure, I'll plug my own books, SEDUCED BY MAGIC and the forthcoming SEDUCED IN SHADOW by Stephanie Julian.

Ravenous Romance said...

You guys are great! Thanks you, and it is dully noted thst the general publishing term is erotic romance (see changed headline above).

Regarding the author who wrote to me about the YA erotic romance, the main character MUST be over 16, or it will never get published.

I also just picked up a Lora Leigh, and she is hot. I love it.

BTW, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Alison Tyler are my clients.

ilyakogan said...

Thanks Lori!

I got an interesting bit of response from an agent that I met socially. He (I wonder if his gender is a liability in this case? The main character is a 16 y/o girl..) thought that explicit scenes, if they were essential to the story and not just thrown in just because you can, were a huge asset. He used Stephenie Meyer as an example. He said that there is hunger for romance and erotica folded judiciously into other genres.

P.S. Thanks again for the age advice. The age of consent plays a role in the book. Not that many people know that it differs from state to state : in NY it's 17 and in NJ it's 16...

BernardL said...

If the main character is a man, then the work would be Mantica? :) Sorry... would it still be considered erotic romance if the main character was a man, but all other tenets were followed?

ryan field said...

Didn't know that Rachel and Alison were your clients. They're the best, and I'm proud to have been in their books...especially one that I didn't think I'd ever get into in a million years. And Rachel has a great cupcake blog, too, that's very addictive!!

I hope you keep blogging about this. I learned a few important things from the comments as well.

Kristine Overbrook said...

Sweet Backlash by Violet Heart

due out in July 14th from Phaze Publishing.

I am one of her critique partners and IMHO it's fantastic Erotic Romance.

Anonymous said...

There's some of both in my debut collection, available at Lulu (

(/shameless self promotion)

Unknown said...

Gift of the Goddess by Denise Rossetti published by Ellora's Cave. It's a fantasy bases romantica but by far the best thing I have read from Ellora's Cave.

Anonymous said...

I might be mistaken, but I thought Ellora's Cave trademarked the term "romantica".

D L Jackson said...

Barbara Elsborg. She writes both Erotica and Romantica.
Perfect Timing was published at Elloras Cave in April and she's got another coming out August 5th with Loose Id, The Consolation Prize. Sexy, funny and hot, hot, hot.
The first is Romantica, the second Paranormal Erotica.

Um, she's got another coming out with Ellora's, but I'm not sure of the release date.

yanmaneee said...

christian louboutin outlet
nike air max
yeezy shoes
ferragamo belts
balenciaga shoes
coach outlet
christian louboutin shoes
christian louboutin outlet
air max 270

Anonymous said...

try this website visit the site buy replica bags online look what i found this page