No, I'm not talking about those women who wore long dresses, sunbonnets, and rode the Conastoga Wagons out west. Had you goin', didn't I? Nope. I'm talking about the pioneers who brought erotic romance out of the shadows and into the mainstream of society.
Erotica (not erotic romance) has always been around but it was an underground thing. These books were written and passed around on the sly. Erotica, as you know, is about the woman's sexual journey and doesn't necessarily have the happily-ever-after most of us crave. Erotic ROMANCE is a whole other ball of wax. Back in the early 1970's when romance hit the market in a big way, it was an explosion. Women devoured them. Writers such a Barbara Cartland and later Kathleen E. Woodiwiss paved new ground and readers couldn't get enough. Still readers wanted more. More explicit sex, more adventuous heroines. Remember the term Bodice Ripper? Well, back then, that's pretty much what romance books were. The heroine tended to be a victim who was fortunate enough to have a big, brawny hero who could bail her delicate ass out of a jam, give her lots of sex and a baby at the end.
Readers wanted more and so did writers. There were plenty of writers who'd do hotter work, pushing the envelope of what constituted a REAL heroine and how she might behave. She wasn't necessarily a victim, but a take charge woman who wanted a say in how her story unfolded. She was strong, funny, smart and fearless. She grabbed hold of life and fought for what she wanted. She wasn't 20 years old either...sometimes she was 30 or older.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Problem was, back in those days, the 70's, 80's and even the 90's a writer had only one place to peddle her work and that was New York but the traditional publishers weren't buying. Internet publishing was a slow-starter in those days so options were really limited. Most of these writers, many very talented, were told...uh uh, too raw, nope, too hot. Or the really down-pat line of...we suggest you study the market. In layman's terms, that means there wasn't a neat little slot to put this work in. Erotic Romance wasn't a mainstream genre...it was a sub-genre that didn't seem to fit anywhere.
Writers like Robin Shone finally broke through in the mid-90's. Women devoured stories like Awaken, My Love and clammored for more. In 2000, Ellora's Cave Publishing debuted and it was as if a whole new world opened up. Yes, they proved, women wanted SEX, they wanted ADVENTURE, they wanted to test the bounds of everything a woman could be. It was okay for a woman to refuse to be a victim and take charge of her own life AND her sexual pleasure.
Today it's a brand new world out there but many writers bled along the way. They were Pioneers in this new genre, refusing to compromise despite being told "NO..you don't fit IN." So the next time you're at a booksigning or conference or convention and you meet an older writer of erotic romance, take a second or two to thank her for sticking to her guns.
Contest: Today I'm giving away a deck of Ellora's Cave Playing cards to one lucky winner and I have a question for you. What is the sexiest part of a MAN??? Ripped abs, strong arms? A fine ass? Name your poison. I've written my answer down in advance. Whoever's answer matches MINE wins. Easy. In the event we have matching answers, I'll draw a name from among them. Good luck!
Anne's WINNER: Viola Estrella!!!!! YAY, Viola! You've won a download of Anne Rainey's A Diamond at Midnight. Way to go, WOMAN! To collect your prize email Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org