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Romance Literature Genres from Porn to Erotic Romance

Updated on January 23, 2012

The New Erotic Romance Novel

lt is generally believed that Americans don't read any more, they would rather watch movies and television. But the truth is romance publishing is a billion-dollar industry accounting for 40 percent of the market. Someone out there gotta be reading those erotic and romance books.

However, they are not necessarily the same people any more. The original readership for erotic and romance novels - the people who consumed Barbara Cartland, Harlequins, and regencies, - is aging.

Instead, there are new people who have spent years watching more honest sexual material in films and on TV. The dreaded F word no longer rocks their world, and they see no point in closing the bedroom door on a sex scene. They like those, because they weren't brought up to think good girls don't.

Resulting from this, long-standing publishing industry axioms about good erotic romance writing no longer ring true. Even if the older, more easily electrified readers are still active, many of them have also changed their minds and are drawn to the younger generations' stuff.

The New Heroines

E-publishers like Ellora’s Cave offer the more adventurous reader the pleasures of boundless romance, wherein heroines have no shame admitting they enjoy sex with their handsome heroes. They can do this without forcing themselves into a femme fatale role. The characterization of sex in these new novels is no longer bland and vague, it is passionate, eager and hot, featuring more impetuous pleasures, like bondage and submission.

Traditional print publishers also saw their chance at making the reader's future hot and steamy. Most print houses have already started turning out erotic romance and women's erotica. The readers loved the physically more arousing books. Many erotic romances have made the best-seller lists of the USA Today, Publisher's Weekly and Barnes and Noble.

Great Story-Telling and Trademark Style

Making it to success is not just a matter of piecing a few explicit sex scenes together. Best-selling erotic writing takes creative energy that grabs the imagination of its readers. Fans exploring this intriguing market will sample all sorts of things, but will only come back to writers that develop a trademark style.

In order to survive when the erotic craze is gone - because like many others it will be gone, - the writer needs to seize the reader's loyalty. A decade ago, westerns were the thing, but now they are nowhere near sellable. Regencies used to dominate the market, but today readers are just not interested.

But even when publishers are no longer super excited by erotic romance, the average reader will still hurt for more than just pallid, mediocre story-telling. They are going to crave not just clever plots and character construction, but also lots of steam. But what exactly is the future looking like for erotic romance?

Styles of Romantic Writing

Although erotic romances are not your mother's Harlequins, they're not your husband's porn either. Read the definitions below to get familiar with different genres and what to expect when reading them.

Pornography: Created as masturbation material for bored suburban housewives, pornography comes to life with the sole purpose of sexually arousing the reader as fast as possible. The main character tends to be a a male with many partners. Monogamous relationships are uncommon and the tale certainly does not end in one for our hero. Well-crafted plots, good characterization, and beautiful writing are uncommon, because the story usually needs to hold the reader's attention only for a short while at a time.

Erotica: Sexually explicit fiction with a more literary bent is called Erotica. The plot usually involves a male hero with better characterization than in porn. Also, the style of writing tends to be literate. On the other hand, do not look for Erotica books, if you are looking to read about stable romantic relationships and a romance-style happy endings. This is still polyamorous fun!

Women's Erotica: This genre is still closer to literary erotica than to romance. It tells the story of a woman with strong, well-developed characterization. On her voyage of self-discovery, she often experiments with sexual practices like bondage and submission. She will also share her bed with more than just one partner. A few of these books might end in a monogamous relationship, but this is still rare.

Mainstream romance: The sole focus of mainstream romance is usually the formation of a monogamous romantic relationship between a male and a female. Plot and characterization of players is of central importance, as is the presence of a well-developed romantic conflict. Sexual intercourse is not necessarily presented on the pages. If it is, it has much less focus than other plot elements do. The language is full of euphemisms carefully avoiding 4-letter words. You can hardly ever find more than 3 love scenes in a book, and these portrayals are usually short, no more than a few pages. The story draws to a happy closure as our hero and heroine become a monogamous married couple. This Happily Ever After (HEA) ending is always required by editors and readers alike.

Erotic Romance: If you are looking for a romantic novel where the love scenes receive more attention, but the characters are still well-drawn and the focus of the tale still remains the formation of a romantic relationship, you are looking for erotic romance. Love making scenes are more numerous and often better written, with sex playing an important role in driving the plot, which is littered with more frequent love scenes. Expect a language that is more blunt and is considerably less euphemistic. An HEA remains critical in erotic romance.

While mainstream romance always ends with one male and one female in a committed relationship, erotic romance usually features as many as 3 different partners. Since the readers of these books expect a certain level of emotional intensity, it is rare that a book includes more than 3 partners and is still well-written.

Erotic romance is a safe way for the reader to explore alternative lifestyles that they might never experience personally. It doesn't matter how many people are in the relationship, readers will still want to know they stay together at the end, and this makes an erotic romance a romance novel more than anything else.

Top Erotic Romance Authors

  • Alison Tyler
  • John Patrick
  • Lora Leigh
  • Delilah Devlin
  • Selena Kitt
  • Michael Hemmingson
  • Kate Douglas

Which romance genre do you read?

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    • Angusaxon profile image

      Angusaxon 5 years ago from Right here!

      This is a good Quick Reference sheet for the field in question. I am my self taking my first steps in publishing and find your article useful to me to be able to label my texts, but I can see that things are not necessarily obedient to this classification model. Bla bla bla , well we all knew that before, so I will just leave you a link to my authors blog if you care to look at it;

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I will always love my romance novels and very suggestive romance is the better. I guess I didn't realize all the different types of books on sex was out there. This is very interesting and I voted up


    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks KoffeeKlatchGals and romancebooks. :)

    • romancebooks profile image

      romancebooks 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much for this very interesting read... I don't feel so alone now in enjoying women's erotica... Of course, I still love romance novels as well, but these two categories aren't mutually exclusive :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Reading about all the genres was fascinating. I had no idea my favorite is Erotic Romance. Up and interesting.

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks Epi! It's far from world class presentation, but it's mine. Have a great day. :)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      .....thank you for allowing to explore all of these specific genres with you in this world class presentation and expose - I wish you continued health and happiness in the new year of 2012 and if you look to my Facebook page with a direct link back here you will see this most well researched and provocative hub as written so expertly by you ..... lake erie time ontario canada 11:15am

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Good advice, raciniwa. :D I'm trying to make the most of it every day.

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 6 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      lol...yeah, yeah Mr. Escapism...just don't forget to make the most of it...

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Hahaha Ardie, funny you say that, because all my impure fantasies take place on the other side that you mention and that I have been taught was the residence of evil. I feel as if I belonged there. I'm already thinking of quitting theology school.

      raciniwa, I hear you. I am called Mr. Escapism.

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 6 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      yeah, i agree with you...i may call it chauvinistic but i guess it's part of your male made up...anyway reality is far from it...when you've entered the adulthood world this thing comes with great responsibility...maybe it's an escape though to be in another dimension cause reality is harsh...

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Haunty, your comments here are hilarious! And I agree with you on NOT getting your wife sex books for Christmas hahah Let her pick her own favorites.

      Well, I'm glad you're over being Prince Prude-a-Lot. Welcome to the other side. You know, the one where people don't blush at the word sex.

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks, Manoj. I agree with you. People are pretentious! lol

    • makusr profile image

      Manoj Kumar Srivastava 6 years ago from India

      Haunty a nice piece of information. I've written one naughty piece for fun on wattpad site. It's what a day. But I like to read all the stuff. You need all the nine emotions to make your life complete.

      Classic:- Everybody loves to discuss but don't like to read.

      Porn:- Everybody loves to read but don't like to discuss.


    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Ardie, I voted 'all' on my poll. And I only read them for the sex! I prefer e-books because I can find the good stuff more easily. (This, of course, is a lie, because you know that I am the prude prince of HubLand.)

      raciniwa, I am not surprised. Most girls love the magical land. :) I hate it because I'm a typical male who doesn't want to read about sex as some sort of mystical voyage to another dimension, with hot waves lapping on distant shores and stars exploding in the abyss between two overlapping souls, only to find out chapters later that it was the actual description of sexual intercourse. That is so phony! lol

      Princesswithapen, I agree with you and thanks for offering a glimpse into the workings of the female mind. If I find an novel somewhere in a drawers I will know who I'm dealing with. :)

      guyjackson, romance always continues because we need it to do just that.

      parentsreview, thanks for stopping in and reading. Don't give your wife a book about sex, you can do better than that!

    • parentsreview profile image

      parentsreview 6 years ago from Lansdowne, PA

      This is a great hub! I wish you'd written it a month ago before I bought my wife's Christmas presents. Some of this is probably right up her alley. Oh well, there's always next year.

    • guyjackson profile image

      Guyene Jackson 6 years ago from USA


      romance always continue.... with male and female in a committed relationship have life is everything good !

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Romance literature and erotic literature does more rounds that we think. Women, who have been exposed to this genre always have a novel tucked away somewhere in their drawers or closet for a cozy read on a rainy day. Like raciniwa mentions, these novels offer a glimpse into the feeling of being swept off your feet and carried away by a knight in shining armor. Nice hub!


    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 6 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      well, i admit i read those novels...The Harlequin, Silhouette...maybe it's part of a girls fictional romance...and how to be sweep off the feet and be carried away to magical land...

      this hub surely piqued my interest...

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Wow...this is an interesting read. I had no idea there were so many literary styles for s e x. Surely something I will have to look into further...thanks for the info!