Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pushing the Envelope

Seems these days more and more authors are pushing the envelope and in some ways that might not neccesarily be a good thing. Already erotica or 'romantica' authors fight the comparisons between what we write and porn. It's a very fine line we walk to begin with. Most of us know the differences between the two. Porn is sex without any kind of story, emotion, character developement, etc. We writers of erotic romance show in our work how through the sexual journey emotions are heighted, self-awareness is gained and how this journal can lead to love and the promise of a happy ever after.

Readers of our work know there are many subgenres such as menage and bdsm. They are popular with folks who like a spicy tale, aren't they?  Lately I've noticed lots of authors pushing the envelope and the word on the street is that many smalls pubs are encouraging their writers to put out more and more menages and adding more and men with one woman into the mix. Do we really want to see our heroine, the woman we are rooting for, having sex with a half a dozen men or more? Really? Pushing the envelope. But how far can that envelope be pushed without crossing the line into something that can clearly be labeled as porn? Tough subject I know, but I've certainly been wondering about it lately. Now maybe it's my old-fashioned southern upbringing kicking in but when I began writing erotic romance there were a number of self-imposed rules that stuck firmly in my brain."Stranger sex' is a personal taboo with me and I never do it unless my characters are built into a mythological/paranormal world where there is an undeniable connection that is not only sexual but emotional and psychic. My straight contemporary stories usually involve one man/one woman and though they feel free to experiment sexually they stick with each other for that.

Over the past week or so I've read scenes that involve multiple partners (all of whom are strangers to the heroine) and it makes me wonder if there isn't a little bit of "line crossing" going on. How does the heroine build any kind of emotional bond with these multitudes of brawny fellas? Fact is, she probably doesn't. So does this kind of story cross the line into porn? And does the fact she eventually 'gets with' the hero absolve the heroine and make her seem less of a loose-knickers sort of person? I'd be interested to hear what ya'll think? And if you are a reader of erotic romance, does this behavior by the heroine turn you off or make you hungry to buy more? Inquiring minds want know.

In other news: I have a release TOMORROW. Return of the Daredevil, a sequel to Return to Delight (Ellora's Cave) tells the story of T Dobbs and Melanie Honeycutt. T is the youngest of the Dobbs' brothers and has been off doing his thing as a stunt man but the small town of Delight, Texas and the lure of one sexy little lady proves irresistable to a man who longs to get 'back to his roots".

Even MORE news:
My hot paranormal/shifter menage Tinderbox was accepted by Jaid Black and Ellora's Cave for inclusion in the anthology Something Wicked This Way Comes. Have no idea when the books will be released (I'm included in Volume 2) but will be sure to let ya'll know as soon as dates are released. In the meantime, let me share the cover with you.

Here's a little bit about Return of the Daredevil! Hope you like it.

Scrumptious scoundrel. Daredevil T Dobbs, the sexiest cowboy to ever walk the streets of Delight, Texas, headed out of town, taking Melanie Honeycutt’s heart with him. But now he’s back and hotter than ever. Trust him? Her head says no but her body has other ideas.

Stubborn woman. She was the girl T never forgot and the woman he yearns for in the deepest part of his heart. But what’s a man to do when she doesn’t believe he’s home for good? T knows his way around dangerous curves, and Mel’s are hot enough to burn a man. He figures it’ll take a slow hand and some downright smokin’-hot sex to melt her reserve but he’s definitely up for the challenge.


Copyright © REGINA CARLYSLE, 2011

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

She looked up and froze to see T silhouetted in the doorway of the gym.

The sun was at his back, casting him in shadows, and the entire room went still. Heavy air seemed to hover like a living thing in the gym and even the teenaged girls didn’t make a peep as he filled up the room with his presence. But even cast in shadow, it was impossible to mistake that long, lean frame or the swagger in his stride as he finally began to cross the room. T’s bootheels rapped sharply on the carefully tended hardwood. He moved like a man who did what he pleased and took what he wanted. Determination marked his every step and as he drew closer, the shadows lifted, showing Mel the glint in his storm-colored eyes. They were hungry eyes. Sexy eyes. Heavily lashed, they narrowed dangerously beneath the brim of a straw summery cowboy hat that had definitely seen better days. T’s hair beneath the battered hat was long, thick and black, brushing the tops of sturdy shoulders that she practically itched to stroke with her fingers. The hint of a five o’clock shadow covered the lower part of his sexy, masculine face. Oh boy. T for trouble. Suddenly he grinned, throwing her even further off guard as he tipped back the brim of his hat and moved in close enough to touch.

“Hey, darlin’,” he drawled. Before she could blink, T Dobbs wrapped a muscular arm around her, hauling her close, and breathed against her lips. “Damn, woman. I missed you. Kiss me hello, sweet thang.”

The world instantly melted away.

Just like that he stole every bit of good sense she’d ever possessed as his lips took hers in a savage kiss that quite simply rocked her world. There was nothing tentative in T’s mouth slowly devouring hers. His tongue cruised over her lips, tasting thoroughly before dipping deep until she could taste all the complex flavors of this man she’d always loved. If anything his kisses were even better than they’d been all those many years ago. A flash of jealousy whipped through her as she wondered about how he’d gained all this expertise but then the anger was dashed away under the seductive lash of his tongue.

She was lost. Taken under. Obliterated with just one touch.

One big hand cupped the curve of her jaw as a twitter of sound swept the room. Giggling and applause and chatter came at her as if from a distance but, truth be told, she could barely hear it over the roar of blood in her ears. Her nipples went hard against the practical cotton of her bra and she gasped at the sensation.

“Hey! Get your hands off her. What do you think you’re doing?”


Harlie Williams said...

Great blog Regina. Porn is porn, no matter how you sugar coat it in writing. I mean, when is the trend going to stop. I realize that there are people you like this stuff but I'll stick with the more "traditional" erotica. Menage is fine but after 3 people, I'm lost.

Congrats on the release tomorrow and your anthology release.

Molly Daniels said...

Yeah, not liking the 'stranger sex' either...and I can 'get' a threesome, but more? (head scratch) Still have problems with men who don't mind 'sharing', even if they're both involved...makes me wonder about their commitment level.


Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks for the input, Harley and I definitely agree with you. The sex for sex sake thing and no emotional involvement crosses a lot of lines for me. It's a personal preferrence, I know.

Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks Molly. Hey, I'll never forget a scene where the guy is in the alley, grabs the woman walking by and they immediately have sex. This turns out to be the hero and heroine and they don't even know each others' names! WTF? I don't find anything at all romantic about that. Lots of different things can 'float someones' boat' but it's not my thing. I WANT the romance PLUS the hot sex.

Scarlett Knight said...

Seems like once you get away from 2 central lovers in a book, adding different partners, etc., it strays from the whole idea of the traditional "romance" and goes into other territories. I agree that erotic romance is all about the emotional connection and the journey of the relationship in addition to the good, steamy sex! ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Reg,

I couldn’t agree more. I'm teased sometimes about writing 'porn' and my defense is that I have a lot of plot, and a hero/heroine who are or end up in a monogamous, loving relationship with a HEA. With stranger sex and multiples, that somehow crosses the line for me. I mean, am I writing porn or romance, you know? lol I just don’t think I could go there, though I know it’s a turn on for a lot of people, and I certainly see nothing wrong with that. Everyone is different, and that’s what makes the world go round, after all.
Congratulations on all of your good news. So very cool. Awesome to be in an EC anthology.

Regina Carlysle said...

I know what you mean. Of course erotic romance isn't really traditional per se BUT we want the romance, love, emotional connection. Sometimes this can be achieved with menage if the explanation of how it works happens. But six or seven strangers? And the hero is cool with it? Yes, I know this is supposed to be fantasy but it rather stretches the bounds of any kind of realism when we consider that alpha males really really don't like to share.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hey Taylor!!!! Yeah, I get teased a lot by family and close non writer friends and usually I'm okay with that. It happens and when it's done with a sense of fun, it's all right. But in reality, I would never want to be considered a porn writer. Fantasy is all fine and good but it's hard to cross that 'good taste' barrier and have my heroine behave as less than a lady (and yes, ladies DO enjoy sex but with strangers??? I don't know about that)

Naomi Jones said...

In the world of porn, there's no emotion. No personality. When reading erotic, I would think the characters are supposed to pull you in with their charm and ability to relate. Not so much in porn. As far as the menage, I like two guys and one girl, but that's just me. But there's always a connection with the characters.

Congrats on the new release.

Regina Carlysle said...

Naomi, I agree. Menage (when done right) can work and be emotionally satisfying. But a baker's dozen doesn't quite cut it.

Elece said...

Hmm...well, first off, a big, huge congrats on your much awaited RTD!! Super excited to read it! And it's great to finally know your secret. I'm looking forward to the anthology release date. :0)

Erotic vs erotica?! Personally, and I may be wrong, but I see erotica as "porn" esk. Not to say there's anything wrong with it. To each it's own. Now, if I'm looking for an erotic romance (romance being the operative word), I'm not exactly happy to read the latter. If it's romance I'm looking for, then I'm okay with up to 2 men 1 woman. Anything more than that is beyond comprehension.

But if you're looking for something without romance, without any sense of reality...well then, porn/erotica is another story. Whatever floats your boat, right? So needless to say, these days you really have to READ the blurb or excerpt with authors pushing the envelope on the erotic romance label. There's nothing worse than reading about, as u said "a loose-knickered" lady when I want a true HEA.

And if I'm gonna read porn...it better be damn sexy! LOL!!! Just sayin'... ;0))

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

Interesting post, Regina,

I'll be honest. I'm buying more "oldies" these days because erotic romance has been pushing the envelope past my comfort zone. There's an ick factor with a certain word and some BDSM acts for me.

Of course if a blurb sounds like a hot romance with plenty of good ol' fashioned sex, I'm happy to buy it.

Harlie Williams said...

I would agree Ashlyn. I'm loving the Values from the Vault at EC and going back to the earlier works. Call me old fashioned but I thought romance was romance. And erotic romance was still a romance but with hotter sex? Did I miss the memo somewhere?

With some of the new books coming out, some of the blurbs and such, read straight out of a porn film and to me that's not erotic romance or even erotica. Its just porn.

chirth7 said...

Thanks for asking, I'd love to answer. What I look for in a great erotic romance is anything & everything the characters can do together during sex, as long as it's leading to love.
So if there's an extra partner lets say, for me, they have to be a part of this couple, making a loving threesome or it reads more like sex for sex's sake. Where Johnny my good buddy is going to come over and use you and leave.That wouldn't be good. But you know, I think that could even be done right, by having it be a part of the girls fantasy to have say someone watching her have sex or having the Hero watch her have sex. But I need the love & commitment eventually. In the beginning it's alright with me that they have hot down and dirty erotic sex, because I know they'll be staying together and there's probably respect shown that makes we want him or them for myself. ;)

Hope that helps. Thanks!

Hugs, Christine

Desiree Holt said...

For me it's all about the romance and the emotion. Have I written edgier? Sure. Do I enjoy it as much? Not really. It's all about the characters and what they feel for each other. And each physical act has to have meaning. Maybe that's why BDSM fascinates me so much because more than any other sexual relationship it involves a very deep level of trust. And when I write it, I can really get into my characters' heads...and hearts.

Regina Carlysle said...

Elece, erotic and erotica are in reality the same thing. Romantica (begun by Jaid Black at EC) is the combination of romance and erotica (which I love). Erotic is deals with the woman's sexual journey and does have a story, yet it's not always a Happy Ever After ending. Porn, on the other hand, is primarily geared, I think, toward male audiences and has little to no emotion, romance, love etc.

Don't get me wrong, I like the hot stuff. Hell, I write it but I DO think some of this really teeters on the line of becoming just too much.

Regina Carlysle said...

I hear ya, Ash. There are certain WORDS that ick me out. I'll confess I've used them a few times but I shudder when I actually write them. Bad of me, I know, and it sometimes makes me feel like the biggest hypocrit alive. My big problem is with the C word. You know the one I mean. To me it carries such negative connotations when spoken by a man to a woman. When I DO use that word, it's normally the woman "thinking' it rather than saying it but it still bothers me.

Like you, I find I am skipping through the sex scenes quite a bit and thinking...lets get on with the story.

Regina Carlysle said...

Agreed Harley. And your definitions are spot on.

Regina Carlysle said...

It's perfect, Christine. That's what I think too. Fantasy is good. We're in the fantasy business after all but when it's just a nameless/faceless thing, it just feels dirty to me.

Regina Carlysle said...

Right on, Des! If they aren't a loving/caring/committed (eventually) couple, I really don't want to invest my time.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Regina, I prefer tradiational sexy romances and don't read heavy erotica, menage or many partners. But I love the delicious sensual tension in your excerpt. That's a hero who calls your attention and a book I'd love to read.

Anonymous said...

I write both erotica and erotic romance. I don't write porn. My erotic romance always has a HEA (or happy for now). I try to put in all the emotional connections, character development etc. that you mention.

But even with my erotica, I try to bring out some sort of connection between the couple (usually couples, sometimes a menage), and some character development (depending on the length of the story). I guess I write them that way, because that's the way I like to read them.

I do agree that you can't call it erotic romance if the hero or heroine is off having a six-way. It doesn't fit the "romance" part of the story. I wouldn't think it would be conducive to an HEA.

Great post!

Congrats on your release tomorrow and your anthology. =)

C. Zampa said...

Good post, Regina.

I'll go as far as to say that, sometimes, I don't even expect sex to have meaning in a book..at least not every sex scene.

In real life, it doesn't always have meaning, either; sometimes, in real life it's just a physical act with no emotion, only for pleasure's sake. But, to me, that doesn't even necessarily make it porn.

I mean, as a single woman, I can't expect for every intimate encounter with a man to be meaningful. That's not realistic. But I'm no Linda Lovelace, either! LOL...So, on the same token, it doesn't upset me to see sexual encounters in fiction that are just fun sex.

It's so weird, because I can't really TELL you what porn is. I can't put it into words...but if I see a porn film, I can say with surety, "Now THAT is porn." LOL.

I wish I could put my finger on exactly what makes it so icky to me.

Again, good blog and I've enjoyed the comments, too!

Jen B. said...

Stranger sex is stranger sex. In paranormal you can kind of let go and accept the speed love or mating bond or whatever the authors chooses to call it. But, in contemporary erotic, it is porn. I have read a couple of books like that and didn't like them very much. I would prefer it if publishers made it clear in the blurb so that I can skip those stories.

And the menage thing is interesting. I don't get it when it is more than 3 although I really enjoyed Maya Banks' Sweet Temptation. There was one scene with 5 guys. Somehow, that scene worked because of the build up. I will confess, at the end of the scene I wondered how the poor woman would walk the next morning. And how would the guys be able to look each other in the eye next time they see each other. Oh well, mysteries I will never solve.

Cari Quinn said...

Excellent blog, Regina. I think this has a lot to do with the general shift toward "bigger, better, more." We have a very gluttonous society. So once one thing's "accepted" then we start going for more. "Oh, I love erotic romance with 2 guys and a girl, what about with 4 guys?" And I think it's true with writers too. We want to stay on track with the trends (some more than others) and everything is getting progressively...well, dirtier. No way around it. Since I write ero rom, I obviously don't mind dirty, but mine's always loving dirty, LOL. I just finished a m/m/f menage that's probably the most explicit story I've ever written, but there's no doubt that those three people love each other and they're committed. So does that make it better? I don't know, and I guess it's something every reader and writer has to decide for themselves.

And I hear you on the "c" word. I use it occasionally too, but it still gives me pause.

Cari Quinn said...

Oh, and on stranger sex...my upcoming EC novella, Hot Text, is about strangers who hook up, but they have a sort of shared history in that they have loved ones who are involved. The way they meet is sort of intense and leads to an intense encounter neither expects. But it wasn't just about sex with them. They make a much deeper connection even though they'd just met and couldn't be in love (but of course, they end up that way!) I really think it depends on a reader's comfort zone and how the story is told.

I could keep talking about this topic all day! Regina, I think we need to continue this in email, LOL.

Harlie Williams said...

I could too Cari. I'm finding more and more authors and pubs are getting dirtier and dirtier. I love a good menage and I can't wait for yours.

Harlie Williams said...

Also, Cari...the stranger sex you are describing is fine. They have a connection, just not a physical one. Stranger sex is to me is pulling someone out of the crowd and screwing them. Just like they were a piece of candy in a candy store.

Harlie Williams said...

One last thing...for now anyways...I can't stand it when I'm reading a BDSM book and the sub is passed around like a piece of meat! Hate that. I don't like the sharing in a D/s relationship unless its a committed menage BDSM relationship.

Dragon Momma said...

I have to admit, I LOVE menage books! But, and that is a big little word, there HAS to be some kind of lasting connection between all involved. The most I can handle in a menage romance/bdsm type book is 4 guys, one woman. I have read such, and there IS that connection between her and all of them. Mainly I think, because the guys are brothers. That was a hot read... *fans self over the memory* Three is the main number that I will seek out, with the above 4 count having caught my attention because of 1: who the author was 2: the blurb about the story 3: the promise of HEA.

A perfect example of HEA romances that involve 3 men and one woman are some of the books from Heather Rainier. In her M/F/M/M books, there is romance, there is connection, there is love and there is commitment from all, usually with her marrying one of them legally, the rest via a commitment ceremony. Leah Brooke does the same with her M/F/M/M books. She even has one that is M/F/M/M/M and it is wonderful. But, the men are shifters. While the woman complains that there is no love (yet) from the men, the concept of scent drawing them close to start with is explained as the body knowing FIRST who you ARE going to love. (liked that)

If there are more than 3 men, if the blurb sucks, then I am NOT buying it. There HAS to be commitment, love, etc., for me to want it. Sex for sex....gotta admit to you, ladies, been there, done that. I want the romance with it. Sex for sex sake? No appeal anymore. Besides, if I want that, I'll drive up the adult store and rent a movie.


dragn_lady at yahoo dot com

ps. Regina, your shifter book, Jaguar Hunger, was and still IS freakin AWESOME! (tis a menage, ladies) Like I mentioned above, with them being shifters, their body knew first. You had the commitment and love following. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey ladies,

I agree with a lot of you that it is a fine line between erotica and porn. For me, the story has to include a connection of some sort and I do like menages from time to time but it really depends on the purpose of them (ie. Experimenting, completing a fantasy etc.) Rather than "oh let's just add a 3rd/4th/5th person." I've found that I did read menages for a while but got bored pretty quickly.

Congrats on the new release, Regina!


Regina Carlysle said...

Why thank you, Mona! Such a wonderful compliment.

Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks Casey! And honey, I feel the same way. I KNOW there are times we push things, try things and try to be edgier with our work but IMO if we have to be careful when we present our central characters. Do we really want our heroine (the woman we want a HEA for) to sleep with dozens of men?

Regina Carlysle said...

I understand what you're saying Carol. Single women often have encounters that mean less than others. I do think that our stories should reflect real life but then also push the boundaries a bit into fantasy where there is more exploration, maybe a more edgy tone to the actual sex scenes.

Regina Carlysle said...

I view menage in the same way Jen. I have had FOUR at the most and that was in one book and involved special paranormal circumstances. It's the only time I've done that. In contemporary? I've not done and like you wonder how they could look each other in the eye the next day. LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

Let's DO Cari!!!!! LMAO. Honestly though, with the texting thing? How many of our best friends are women we met in a cyber-way??? It's becoming more common for sure. So in talking 'stranger sex' I don't actually view that as such. Stranger sex is like the guy in the alley who grabs the woman, they have wild monkey sex and don't know each others' names. THAT is stranger sex. At least to me.

And yes, you're right...we are a gluttonous society. We keep pushing and pushing. Even on regular tv we hear words and watch scenarios that would have been totally taboo even ten years ago. IT's crazy. But honestly, in our stories won't we run out of WAYS to have sex? Will we begin to push the boundaries so much that nothing is sacred? This is my chief worry and it seems we are constantly challenged with ways in which to keep things fresh without delving into the sordid.

Regina Carlysle said...

Ewwww, Harley. I hate that passing around thing too.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hugs, Stacy!!!!! Since you loved Jaguar Hunger I hope you'll like Tinderbox which is in the same Texas Jag world, a menage and features Violet, Aaron and Noah from Jag Hunger. It's a quickie but I hope you'll like it. And yes, if they are in the paranormal world where all the rules are different, anything goes (along with the emotional committment). Then I have a lot less problem with two guys and one woman. It's the whole...she walks into the room and screws every male standing that bothers me.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hey Yvonne! I actually enjoy writing them but yes, the actions can seem all MORE OF THE SAME. We all keep pushing those boundaries but figuring out where to STOP is troublesome. We never want to move into the porn realm. Then we lose the magic of what we do. At least that's how I see it.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, you know what?
When I mentioned that we women often have sex just for the sake of having sex...I didn't mean the SEX should be boring!! LOL!!!

I just mean there's not always love and white picket fences for us...it's just good hot, wonderuful sex.

Can I say that on here? LOL...

Kathy Kulig said...

Like you said porn has no story, emotion or character development or arc. The sex is mechanical. Whether or not you would consider sex with a stranger or multiple partners in real life, some readers enjoy reading these stories and writers enjoy writing them. It is a different dynamic than traditional erotica. The emotions and relationships are complicated, which can set up for some interesting conflicts. ;) I think 'stranger sex' can work too. Haven't you ever met someone at a party for the first time and felt that instant tug of attraction? Now what if your long time boyfriend just dumped you and your best friend introduced you to this guy? Suppose his girlfriend just left him for your boyfriend? Stranger sex becomes get even sex. I know cliche, just saying. there's one kind of emotion working at the beginning since they're strangers, then another emotion takes over and the relationship changes.