Katie Porter – Day 12 – Love Is Alive in Erotic Romance

The Emotional Arc of the Erotic Romance

Thanks to Read-A-Romance Month for inviting Katie Porter to stop by on Erotica Day. Although we should say, thanks for inviting Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown. Although we have individual careers, we  co-write erotic romance as Katie Porter.  But what do we define as erotic romance, especially versus sexy romances or erotic novels? Own

We’ve always maintained that there are four arcs in any romance. For the historical, paranormal, and even sexy contemporary sub-genres, those arcs are the heroine’s personal arc, the hero’s personal arc, the romance, and the external plot. If a determined reporter not taken seriously by her male peers meets a Secret Service man who nearly failed in his duties, they have a lot to learn about themselves, particularly through the contentious opening moments of their romance. Then, what happens if there’s a bomb in the White House?

The hero and heroine will have to work together to save the President, in the midst of falling in love. Now here’s the best part: the last plot arc to be resolved determines the genre. If the bomb is diffused last, it’s a suspense thriller a la John Grisham, no matter that there may be a romantic element along the way. However, if the bomb is diffused and then the hero and heroine kiss and declare their love, it’s romantic suspense. We’re reading for that romance nappy ending.

Erotic romance is a little different in that the four arcs differ slightly. Most erotic romances do not have a significant external plot. There is no bomb about go off. No, the fourth arc is sexual. The hero and heroine have just as much self-discovery to accomplish, and they still have to fall in love, at least happily for now.

The sexual journey is the key to determining whether a novel is erotic romance or erotic. For example, in OWN, the first of our “Command Force Alpha” series from Samhain (Aug 26), Evan and Kat explore a D/s relationship that both need to accept for their own emotional gratification and identity, as well as their sexual compatibility. Until that acceptance is resolved, they haven’t sufficiently traveled those arcs.

If the sexual journey is resolved last, it’s like that bomb in the White House. One makes the novel a suspense thriller, Bindwhereas the other makes the story erotic. The heroine or hero’s sexual journey is the last plot point resolved, and the pair could part ways , mutually satisfied. They–and the reader–don’t expect a happy ending.

However, if readers expect a happy ending, they should be looking for erotic romance. The last plot point to be resolved is the romance. They can’t get to that HEA without first believing that their sexual proclivities dovetail. What would happen to a woman who didn’t want to be a submissive falls for an out and out Dominant man? Their love affair, no matter how passionate, will leave something to be desired. Such differences could feasibly be overcome in real life, but this is romance. The reader wants it all.

Returning to OWN, Kat has to realize the wonder of becoming Evan’s submissive as well as his life partner, while Evan must accept not only Kat’s love but his responsibility to care her as her Dominant. That sexual compatibility is the bomb being diffused. The “I love you”s follows. Readers are left feeling that a strong, developed pair of individuals are sexually matched and set to love one another for the long haul. Nothing has been left to chance. The couple is secure when we finish the novel.

So, speaking of OWN, we’re curious about your thoughts on this topic. What does “erotic romance” mean to you?


Charlotte Stein, Laura Kaye, and Cara McKenna, all of whom write outstanding erotic romance. They’re standouts no matter whether writing short stories or full length novels.

 Questions for the author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

Carrie: I married  my English husband of 17 years after knowing him for less than a year. Or maybe he did the braver thing by moving with me to the US!

Lorelie: I completed face-first rappelling down a 50-foot wall during Army basic training.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

Carrie: I’ve always known, but I haven’t always been committed. My commitment hit me on the head in 2006 when my husband left for an internship in Richmond, VA while I stayed with our toddler girls in Madison, WI. It was either write or go nuts!

Lorelie: I set adult goals that followed through on middle school ambitions. To make it happen, I wrote longhand on lunch breaks while working for the Department of Defense!

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Carrie: Fire and Rain, a contemporary rancher category romance, by Elizabeth Lowell. For worst or, in this case, for better, you never forget your first!

Lorelie: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. That was my safe place for a number of years.

Katie (or Carrie and Lorelei, really) is/are offering a complete set of the Vegas Top Guns series, which includes Double Down, Inside Bet, Hold ’Em, Hard Way and Bare Knuckle to one U.S. winner, as well as two digital copies of OWN to two more(entry below). They are also offering two digital copies of OWN to international readers (enter here). we can provide the same prize in any digital format.


Katie Porter Katie Porter is the multiple-award winning writing team of long-time friends Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty. Carrie holds an MA in history, loves moves, and has no fear of gross things like dissecting formaldehyde sharks, while Lorelie, a US Army veteran and true-crime devotee, screams like a little girl around spiders. With eight joint books and over twenty-five titles between them, they’re looking forward to the fall launch of their La Femme Nikita-inspired “Command Force Alpha” series of BDSM military suspense.


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  • storywitch

    Good morning, ladies! Nice to be sharing the spotlight with you today and enjoyed your post. I envy you the wealth of knowledge you have at your fingertips – military, science, history… When I write any of those elements in my books, I interrogate my sources to the point they’re ready to issue restraining orders, I’m so worried I’ll get something wrong (lol). And Lorelei, I scream like a little girl at spiders, too, though I make my husband take them outside because I won’t hurt them (unless it’s an accidental mashing because I find one on me and body slam myself against a wall in terror – though usually I just do the funky chicken until it abandons ship). Have a great day!

  • Isabel Alexandra Almeida


    As a Portuguese Literary blogger that reads mainly erotic romances or erotic novels, I loved to read this interesting article and to get to know two more writers of this literary genre that I hadn´t know yet, and who write in partnership. I am looking forward to discover this titles, and realy liked the article, I will keekp it in my computer, for future reference, and eventualy quotes where I will mention the author and the blog. Keep on the good job!

  • Erica H

    I never really broke down the parts of a romance novel. That was quite interesting.

  • Brenda E

    I love that you ladies come from such varied backgrounds. What a wonderful partnership – you each bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences to the table. I’m new to this genre so I’m not exactly sure what erotic romance means to me except maybe questioning “my safe place.” If that makes sense.

  • rebecca moe

    Thanks for the explanation/definition! I never really thought about the differences between erotic romance and erotic novels, but yours makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks for posting!

  • Felicia M. Ciaudelli

    What an awesome article – thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  • Gina Burgos

    Love Erotica Romance!

  • Hannah B

    Hi Katie, Carrie, Lorilei I enjoyed your post and look forward to reading your books. I am a fan or erotic romance.

  • Linnea Bassin

    I enjoy all forms of romance if well written!!!!

  • Beverly Long

    Congrats on all your success. Congrats, too, Carrie, on your recent RITA nomination.

  • Emmel

    Sometimes I think the romance and the external plot blend. For example, in a historical, someone having to marry to preserve or resurrect the family fortunes serves both elements. Or whether someone does or doesn’t want to live in a small town in a contemporary. Yes, these elements can be discrete, but they don’t have to be. Very interesting column!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    This is a great explanation on erotica vs erotic romance. No big surprise that I am fonder of erotic romance since I am obsessed with getting happy endings 🙂 I sometimes feel a little gipped if I invest a lot of time in a book, grow to love the characters and then don’t get my happy ever after. I’m looking forward to checking out your books and I think it is amazing that you guys write as a team. Thanks for your RARM contribution and increasing the length of my to be read list with your books as well as your recommendations.

  • Hi Carrie and Lorelei – Thanks so much for joining Read-A-Romance Month today, and for writing such an insightful essay!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Ladies, thanls so much an interesting explanation on erotica vs erotic romance. I like having HEA in my romance books. I love a well written romance, the sexier the better.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I like the difference between erotica and erotic romance. I’m still surprised to find out you’re two people. LOL

  • Stephanie M.

    I learned some things from your article today, thank you. I haven’t read your books, yet. Where’s a good place to start?

  • Sue G.

    Erotic romance to me just means it a romance with extra heat.

    • Katie Porter

      It’s certainly a very flexible sub-genre. That’s one of the things I love about it!

  • Timitra

    Very interesting post thanks for sharing

    • Katie Porter

      Thank YOU for stopping by!

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I learned something very interesting.

    • Katie Porter

      I’m so glad you learned something!

  • donnas

    It really depends, but Im glad people are realizing there really are stories and character arcs in them. It had a bad rap for a while as a genre. Still does but the rep is getting better I believe.

    • Katie Porter

      Great, I’d love erotica and erotic romance to get some respect. And not only for self-serving reasons! *g*

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for the post. I know that in the past, I have often been disappointed in some of the erotic romance books that I have read because there just wasn’t much of a plot. The genre is changing to include more and more books like yours that have all of what I enjoy in reading – character development, a plot/storyline that moves along at a good pace and the sexy times that the characters enjoy.

    • Katie Porter

      I’ll never say anything on those who’ve come before me. No matter the nuances of their books, they were game changers. Writers who were willing to push boundaries and try new, often mind blowing things. I think they should be commended for that!

  • mariannewestrich

    Look forward to OWN coming out later this month!

    • Katie Porter

      So am I! LOL

  • Jen C

    Thank you for this. I never thought much about how to define erotic romance (or how writing works from an author’s perspective), but I can definitely see now how the distinction is in the sexual arc. Explaining it that way makes this genre much more approachable I believe.

    • Katie Porter

      Great! If you want any suggestions on where to start, I always have tons. 🙂

  • Judy Goodnight

    Thanks for the story arc explanation. I learned something new today.

    • Katie Porter

      Yay! It’s always a good day when you learn something new. 🙂

  • Your genre explanations are very useful. Although I mostly read other romance genres, I have read a variety of erotic romances in the past few years, both historical and contemporary, by several different authors, and they all involved D/s relationships. Is that just a coincidence, or is it a defining expectation of the erotic romance genre?

    • Katie Porter

      Somewhere in between, probably. I wouldn’t say that D/s is an *expectation*, per se, but it is absolutely more prevalent in erotic romance. If you’re not into it, there are definitely other erotic romances to try. I just read Love is a Battlefield by Viv Arend and Elle Kennedy & while the hero is definitely large & in charge, there’s not really any overt D/s. You could maybe give that one a try?

  • MK

    What a fantastic point about how the last story arc defines the book style! I had never thought about it that way, but it totally makes sense. Thanks!! I always love when I learn something about the craft when reading these posts

    • Katie Porter

      It’s definitely an arc we have to shape to have the story be any good! At least for us. *g*

  • Pamby50

    Thanks for taking the time to explain the difference. I am a romance reader & want the HEA. I read erotic books earlier & didn’t like them. So I am being persuaded to try again.

    • Katie Porter

      Is it self-serving for me to say Yay to that? 😉 But really, I love to read the genre as much as I love to write it, so I’m super glad.

  • Erin F

    love that explanation!! I like erotica b/c not only does it push the limits of comfort zones but it displays such raw emotion. Thanks for sharing!

    • Katie Porter

      Thanks, Erin! We love the emotion and the angst too!

  • Peni Anne

    First of all thank you for your explanation. I have never really thought of the difference between erotica and erotica romance. I have thought more of the difference between erotica (romance) and contemporary romance. I deducted, right or wrong, that the difference is with a contemporary you have a story which can include erotica but it isn’t just about the sex. Where as erotica is all about the sex. The story behind it, if there is any at all, is just an excuse to make the sex plausible.

    If I may ask, where do authors who include BDSM get their information from. Is it so widely know the forms and “punishments” that it just is? I’m not asking if either of you are participating necessarily but some of it is kind of ‘out there’ for me. Just curious.

  • Ruth

    This is a great explanation. Thanks for the post.