Tuesday, May 08, 2007

To Bamp-chicka-wow-wow or not...

Or what I like and don't like about erotic romance.

For some reason, lately I've been pondering what makes certain books work better for me than others, from subgenre to subgenre. Erotic Romance is a genre that definitely sticks out. I can easily see the similarities between my favorites, and the things that make me cringe and groan may as well be written in neon.

Now, what I mean by erotic romance (as always, I am speaking only from my own personal experience), are e-published books which contain a number of sex scenes described in frank, explicit language. There are usually quite a few more sex scenes than in more "mainstream" romance, and acts are often included that you won't find on the regular shelves, like anal sex, bondage, and threesomes. Altogether more adventurous. There are certain things that I definitely like about erotic romance. I like there to be sex in my books as the physical expression of the hero and heroine's growing feelings. I also appreciate more straightforward language, as I'm not a big fan of grottoes of love and manroots. Pussy and cock, thank you very much.

But in order to accomodate the amped-up level of sexuality, authors often turn to certain devices that inspire the same reaction in me as when I'm watching a porno: uncontrollable laughter and cringing. Soon after the hero and heroine meet, they are undeniably drawn to each other, and the physical reactions begin. You know, the veritable waterfall from the heroine's nether regions, and the dick so hard it's gonna bust out from the hero's pants. You can hear that Bamp-chicka-wow-wow music begin, and you just know they're going to be getting it on soon, probably in an unusual location with the threat of being interrupted or discovered. But here's the thing: descriptions of biological reactions alone are not sexy if I don't really get why. That means some good physical description, some sparkling dialogue to reveal personality, etc. I've gotta want the hero and heroine to get it on. Just because the author tells me they want to, is not enough. There must be tension or emotion or something.

Many times authors have some kind of history between the hero and heroine, i.e. old friends, former lovers, work colleagues. Now this certainly makes sense, because if they know and care about each other already, the reader might buy their quick jump into the sack a little more. But sometimes this makes for an even bigger shortcut on the author's part. We get to hear about how often the characters think about/fantasize about each other (without glimpses of said thoughts and fantasies), and obligatory hardening and gushing, but the actual backstory is skimped on, as is any sort of character development or relationship development. It's just "Yes! We finally got to the fizz-nucking!"

I guess what I am saying is let me get to know the characters a bit, let me see their interactions, their chemistry (even if it's in dreams or flashbacks), so when we finally get to the no holds barred sexin', I'm interested. Otherwise, it's raunchy and boring. The books that have worked best for me, had characters that were neither cardboard nor blow-up dolls, and the connection between the two (or three) of them, was strong enough that I was excited to see them contort themselves and get up to wacky hijinks, rather than shaking my fist to the sky, angry once again at my impulsive purchase.


Stacy~ said...

Devon, you are spot on with this. I love erotic romance, but I've been gravitating more towards stories where there is an emotional connection established before the clothes are ripped off. Reading a hot story where the h/h are at it before the end of the first chapter can be such a turn-off, and a lot of times, I'm completely bored and uninterested in what's happening. Now when there's some tension drawn out between them before it gets dirty, then it can be really hot and sexy.

Great post.

Devon said...

Thanks, Stacy! Lately, I've been finding myself interested in a lot of ebooks described as Erotic Romance, but I've been burned in the past, and it makes me nervous about making an impulse buy. At least with a print book, you could bring it to the ubs or swap or something, but you're kinda screwed with an ebook.

Anonymous said...


Great post, and I totally agree. I love a strong story, a strong connection that's shown, rather than told, so I can see it for myself, and when it's done right, the sex is so satisfying to read about.

My husband and I were talking about porn the other day, how even there, women like a little story and men don't care if there's a story. The same is true for a book, but there, of course, the story has to be a little more than the pizza delivery boy rings the doorbell.

Devon said...

Hi CJ! Porn either makes me break into embarrassed giggles or I get bored. Definitely prefer reading sex to watching.

Did you ever see Pizza Boy" with Patrick Dempsey when he was still totally geek instead of totally chic? It sucked, but your comment just made me think of it.