Erotic or Mainstream Romance?

So I've now read about 12 different definitions of erotic romance, and I still don't have a clear understanding of where the line is drawn. I mean obviously if there is a menage or some serious BDSM then I understand clearly that it's Erotic Romance. However explicit sex, strong language describing the sexual act, and sex as being part of the development of the relationship/character is described as what it takes to make an erotic romance on most of the sites I looked at.

If that's the case then Dark Waters could very easily be an erotic romance. Quill, my heroine, has some serious issues with sex because of some awful things that happened to her in the past, and part of her character development is being able to get past that. She also has a shockingly dirty mouth, especially about sexual things.

So here's what I'm wondering: where do you draw the line between erotic and mainstream romance?


To me, mainstream romance uses euphemisms and more demure word choices when descibing the sex act. Erotica is plain in describing the sex act. Mainstream romance sticks to basic sex, erotica heads into more adventurous territory.

Those are the only differences. Both forms of romance use the sex scenes to continue the character development. Something major always happens for the main characters during these scenes, they don't just have sex and then carry on as usual.
Meghan Conrad said…
It's also going to have a lot to do with the frequency of the sex scenes. If, say, the book's about her getting past these sexual issues, but in your 100K novel, there's two sex scenes in the last 20K and that's it, it's probably not an erotic romance. Erotic romances tend to have sex fairly early and often--almost never starting later than halfway through the book. Often it's not "we're falling in love and deepening the relationship through sex", but rather "we're totally in lust, and our love story stems from that."
Lesley Speller said…
Ohhh...I think I've got it now! Thanks!

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