Well… I have been pondering this question for some time now. Why? Because, I admit it, I read a lot of romance novels of all heat levels — all the way up to erotica; and I have noticed that the difference between erotica and steamy romance is very blurred.
I would say there is a difference, but at times it’s really hard to pick out and even harder to explain, but I’m going to try. The differences are based on my observations only and certainly not something I’ve scientifically researched.
So, what are the differences?
- Descriptive word use
- In erotica, you get a full frontal assault and there is no questioning what body part is receiving attention and what is getting done to that body part. The body part is glorified in all its splendor and there is no shame in the words used to pay it homage.
- Steamy romance — the choice of words are softer, more subtle, not actually naming the part, but perhaps pointing to its location. Yes, there is plenty of loving attention to the body part as well, but attention is shown in a more “flowery” kind of way, but with a mix of a good “pounding” when needed. Catch my drift?
- Frequency of sex
- In erotica, all the time, all ways, any ways.
- Steamy romance, there’s a buildup in the story that leads to the sex scene. In some stories, the couple may not get together until half way through the book — the peak if you will LOL! I crack me up.
- In erotica, the point of the story is the sex. The best way to describe this is with erotica anthologies. The focus of each short story is the sex — the how, when, and where, doesn’t really matter, but you know that in each story, that the couple will end up boinking. Why, because that’s the point of the story. There is no plot twist, except maybe if the alpha male twists something on alpha female, but that’s it. The goal is for the couple to succumb to their lust and have brain numbing sex while they’re together.
- Steamy erotica, like I said above, there’s a build up to the sexual encounter. The plot moves and winds for the couple to overcome certain things together and sex just happens to be one of the things that brings them closer. In most stories, the sex is the act that solidifies their bond and brings out their feelings of love. That’s where the “romance” comes in
Here’s a few more related questions:
Can steamy romance have “explicit” language and scenes? Yes.
Then shouldn’t it be called “erotica?” Perhaps.
So is there really a difference, if steamy romance can have the same type of scenes that erotica can have? The difference may be miniscule and the only difference, may be in the way the author and/or publisher decide how to categorize the story and market it.
Either way, as a reader, whether you purchase a book categorized under erotica or romance, I think it’s fair to say that you’re going to be reading some scenes that can have you wiggling in your pants — and really isn’t that the point of both these categories because when it comes down to it, a great author regardless of genre, will make you feel the characters — in this case the feel includes pleasure.