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?
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, whereas 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 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.
Buy Katie’s Books: