There’s a difference. Lately, I’ve heard the terms being used interchangeably, but erotica and erotic romance are two distinct story genres. Some readers like both, but others might not. Here’s a guide to help you understand the difference:
- Erotica — This is the story of a character’s sexual evolution. It’s all about the character exploring their sexuality and their boundaries. Expect hot, explicit sex scenes, potential darkness, and often multiple partners. There doesn’t have to be a happily-ever-after, but there should be growth in the character if the erotica is any good. Good erotica also has a strong story line and doesn’t simply skip from one sex scene to the next — although there will be a lot of hanky panky going on.
- Erotic Romance — This is a love story cranked up to 10. It’s about two characters (or more) falling in love and lust with one another. The focus is on the emotional relationship, and it should be strengthened by a sexual connection. The characters are committed to one another and care for one another. It’s a romance, so a happy ending is expected.
I started my career with Black Lace Books, which was the premier publisher of women’s erotica back in its time. My early stories were published through them, so they’re mainly in the erotica genre. My preference, though, is erotic romance, and I couldn’t help but let that creep in to most of my erotica stories. Today, I write mainly erotic romance, although I did venture back into the world of erotica a few years ago with Private Dancer.
Through the years, the pendulum has swung wildly on just how explicit both genres will go and what sexual practices are explored. Today, most of my books would probably just be considered “hot.” I think sensuality is not only in the act, but in the buildup of sexual tension. So whatever you read, enjoy it, but be aware of what you’re buying so you’re not surprised or disappointed.