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Jesus. Effing. Christ.

I was at Erecsite earlier today, when I came across the following comment by an author called Cheryl Anne Gardner:

“Good Luck to you in this. We need more publishers open to all kinds of sexuality and romance. My new one coming out in January has consentual rape, BDSM, and cutting and blood play … and the darn thing is a romance as well.”

Cutting and blood play?

Pardon me while I pass out.

121 Comments »


  • Michelle
    November 29
    8:52 pm

    Katrina, my comment about caring more about shock value versus characterization was obviously not targeted to a specific author. There is without a doubt well written romantica/erotica with excellent characterization, plot and intelligent people. But (sorry to break it to you) there is romantica/erotica that has no plot, no characterization etc-just one bad sex scene after another strung together. My point is that in those carrying the banner to push romance past any boundaries have to be careful that pushing the boundaries doesn’t become the main target at the expense of story etc.

    Just as in some action movies lets have more wrecks/bigger explosions/more blood guts and gore-usually at the expense of story line. Bigger and more isn’t always better.

    Also I think people keep bringing up pedophilia because of the people that keep saying NO Boundaries whatsoever. Some people just want some acknowledgement that there are some boundaries that won’t be crossed or shouldn’t be crossed in a romance novel.

    I don’t know if any of you have read Morgan Hawkes Interstellar Discipline (sp?). Now that book has major BDSM/kinks but is one hell of a book. If you would take out all of the sex/kinks you would still be left with one great fantasy/scifi novel. The worldbuilding is excellent.

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  • Anonymous
    November 29
    9:34 pm

    “That doesn’t make me blind to or resistant to evolutions within the genre. It’s simply that in my opinion books with these elements aren’t part of the genre. They’re their own genre.”

    Ah, but see, Ms. Roberts, this is about your books. It’s about authors like you, with some fame and notoriety, needing to have some distance between your work – which you consider ‘true’ romance – and the work of erotica authors.

    Simply put, while you may not be ‘afraid’ of this new, and very popular, type of romance – it is having an impact on the rest of the genre as a whole. It’s changing some elements of romance because it’s profitable and the public enjoys it and will pay big bucks for it.

    Since I’m just a reader from way back, and not an author, I can only give my opinion as such. But when I see someone of your caliber say things like “I will be asked to comment” followed by something that puts down an entire group of writers, no matter how slyly or backhandedly it may be, it pisses me off. Just because it isn’t ‘your’ definition of romance, certainly doesn’t give you the right to call it ‘not romance, but a whole other genre’. Why? Because from what I’ve seen here, a lot of writers look up to you. A lot of them, regardless of what they write, see you as an excellent example of what one can be if they work hard.

    Your comments read more to me like someone who trying to chastise without actually doing any serious PR damage. Not of course that you’d need to worry. It’s a catch 22 isn’t it – if you say you don’t possible have enough weight in the community to sway opinion, it looks a bit hypocritical after the bit about having to comment to the media.

    And if you say you can sway opinion, then you sound like an egomaniac and it sure does make me wonder why you’d be saying what you’ll have to tell the reporters, when they ask, that erotica isn’t romance, erotica is it’s own genre.

    Shirley

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  • Shiloh Walker
    November 29
    9:35 pm

    Also I think people keep bringing up pedophilia because of the people that keep saying NO Boundaries whatsoever. Some people just want some acknowledgment that there are some boundaries that won’t be crossed or shouldn’t be crossed in a romance novel.

    You said it very well, Michelle.

    Every time I see the “no boundaries”, red flags go up for me.

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  • Nora Roberts
    November 29
    9:57 pm

    I absolutely agree that I want some distance between my work and Erotica. I don’t write Erotica, and don’t consider Erotica Romance. I never said that Erotica wasn’t a valid form of fiction.

    And yes, I’d absolutely say I don’t consider Erotica Romance here, there, anywhere asked. I’m entitled–whether or not I have some notariety–to express my opinion and my beliefs.

    I put down no one–and wasn’t sly. I think I was pretty clear and straight-forward. I don’t consider it an insult or a put down to have the opinion that books containing certain elements don’t fit into my perception of the genre. They don’t.

    I’m asked routinely about Romance, and Erotic Romance and Erotica–simply because many reporters like to bring up sex in an interview. It’s not egotistical, it’s just fact. And when asked I do say Erotica is another genre–because I think it is.

    And frankly, people like you tire me. People who enjoy trying to reinterpret comments to make them something they’re not.

    It’s not about my books. If I thought it was, that would be egotistical.

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  • Shiloh Walker
    November 29
    10:24 pm


    Ah, but see, Ms. Roberts, this is about your books. It’s about authors like you, with some fame and notoriety, needing to have some distance between your work – which you consider ‘true’ romance – and the work of erotica authors.

    I’m going to chime on this, speaking as an author that writes both erotic romance and more mainstream romance.

    Honestly, I consider everything I’ve written to be romance. Yes, most of it is erotic romance~but I consider erotic romance a subgenre of romance, simply because my books would hold as a romance if the sexual aspects were pulled out. But if you pulled the romance aspects out of it, it wouldn’t work as erotica…because there would be no plot, and erotica must certainly have a plot, even if it’s one that is sexually driven.

    That’s my thinking on how erotic romance does qualify as romance and not as an offshoot of erotica.

    Whether or not others agree with me is up to them, but it doesn’t change how I view my work.

    That said, it’s my opinion that there needs to be some distance between standard, mainstream romance, between erotic romance, between erotica.

    I often pick up romantic suspenses for a family friend. She’s a friend that is deeply religious~for the most part, she and I have similar religious beliefs, however romance with a lot of hot sex in it doesn’t bother me. It would bother her. She’s perfectly entitled to not want to read hot sex. I don’t want to pick up a romantic suspense that I plan on giving to her and then turn out that it’s actually more an erotic romantic suspense.

    There’s a big difference and I like to be able to gauge what I’m buying her.

    On a reader standpoint, I’m not always in the mood for ‘erotic romance’ and more often than not, unless it’s an author that is ‘proven’ to me, one I’ve read and enjoyed before, I’m more likely to pick up a mainstream romance than an erotic one, just because I’ve been disappointed on that front, all erotic, no romance. It’s not my preference. I want fifty/fifty at least, and I’d rather more romance and less erotic if the author can’t mix them well.

    The distance does need to be there and not because authors want it… but because as readers, none of us want to be let down in our reading choices. Buying a book that’s tossed into romance when it really is erotica leaves unhappy readers~and on the flipside, those who want to read erotica, if they pick up a book labeled erotica and it’s really just a spicy romance, they’d likely be disappointed, and they are entitled to that.

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  • Sarah McCarty
    November 29
    10:47 pm

    What Shiloh said. *G*

    I write erotic romance and mainstream romance. I didn’t take offence at Nora’s comments nor see them as elitist. And I agree, there does need to be a distance between the classifications.

    OT, but one thing occurred to me today while I was typing back and forth. We’ve established there’s plenty of material for readers who want pretty much any level of sexual content except one. Those readers that want no sexual content in their Romance but also don’t want a religious component are hard pressed to find romance reading material. I’m not even sure there’s any Category left that don’t have some level of sexual content, is there? I picked up a Presents recently and was shocked to see the heat level in a presents. Not because it was bad but because it was there. 🙂

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  • Katrina Strauss
    November 29
    10:51 pm

    I don’t read Nora Roberts, but I’m a diehard fan of one certain JD Robb. Hmm, go figure. 😉 Nora’s own work is proof that there are different brands of romance to be enjoyed, and room for diversity among readers of romance.

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  • Maya
    November 29
    11:01 pm

    Sarah,

    Harlequin Presents have always been a bit on the racy side. Before Blaze, they were the “sexiest” of the Harlequin lines. I’m not saying they’re erotic, because they aren’t, but there’s definitely sex.

    Harlequin Romance is the sweet line, but there are also other lines that aren’t heavy into sexual content. Harlequin Supers for example. While you’ll find sex scenes, they aren’t uber hot.

    I love Harlequin Presents as well as the regular Harlequin Romances. I buy most of the releases each month.

    I think there is still plenty of romances without huge sexual content to be had. I know, because I read a lot of it *g*

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  • Anonymous
    November 29
    11:01 pm

    Obviously not tired enough to stop responding. Truly, what does it matter what I think? I’m only a reader, a buyer, I’m not a writer.

    There isn’t any reinterpreting going on from my end, young lady. And I guess I can say that, unless you’re well past sixty. What I’m saying is that you are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine. The difference between us is that I don’t get media shots and interviews. My opinions don’t get plastered in mags, papers, all over the internet, etc. Yours, however, do.

    Whether your elitist, well, that has its own definition IMO. I simply think you’re part of the ‘old’ – not bad, mind you – romance crowd. You like the ‘guidelines’ to stay where they are, so to speak.

    Just out of curiosity, since I know it has been asked of other ‘old’ romance authors lately, have you been asked to spice it up? Is that why you’re so vehement that a little bit of “C and P” can’t possibly be romance?

    I think Katrina has it right. Romance, as a genre, is a broad brand. There’s something for everyone. Just because my idea doesn’t fit everyone else’s doesn’t mean things like Inspirationals aren’t romances. They just aren’t my kind of romance 🙂

    Shirley

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  • Shannon Stacey
    November 29
    11:09 pm

    I don’t know if any of you have read Morgan Hawkes Interstellar Discipline (sp?). Now that book has major BDSM/kinks but is one hell of a book.

    The Interstellar Discipline books were my first brush with erotic romance that strayed just a little outside my comfort zone, but the books were so excellent I was okay with that. I think I even enjoyed having my boundaries tested.

    But, in my opinion, Morgan Hawke is a gifted writer who believes in her stories and was crafting them (and crafting them incredibly well) before kink became the new erotic.

    Too many authors—and the e-publishers who enable them—are in it solely for the money now, though. Anybody who reads widely in e-published erotic romance knows things like story and craft and grammar take a backseat if you’ve got really good kink and a lot of it. And for the e-publishers and e-published authors who DO care about those things, that’s an incredibly frustrating place to find the industry.

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  • Sarah McCarty
    November 29
    11:24 pm

    Maya-

    Do any have no sexual content

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  • Maya
    November 29
    11:37 pm

    The Harlequin Romances operate (mostly) on a closed door system. I remember a few (very few) that had lead up and then glossing over, but for the most part, there is no described sex. Sometimes it happens and the reader knows it happens but the door is shut.

    I really, really love Harlequin Romances. A recent one I read that I thought was really terrific was Reunited: Marriage in a Million, but as stated, I read several a month (just not THIS month or last *sob) I’ve purchased the releases, just haven’t had a chance to read them.

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  • Michelle
    November 30
    12:32 am

    Shannon Stacey thank you. You put into words what I had been trying to say. I think Morgan Hawke is an example of an author who comes up with her plots, characters, setting and then added the sex in, not vice versa.

    Have you read Tempestuous? I love that book.

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  • Nora Roberts
    November 30
    12:45 am

    The trolls are out again. I wonder, do I have some sort of magnetic field that attracts them?

    Cookies, cookies, where are those cookies? Ah, here’s one.

    No, I’ve never been asked to ‘spice things up’.

    Opinions, there are infinite opinions. The fact that mine get media attention now and then? That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.

    I believe most rational people would agree, I’m still entitled to that opinion.

    And no more cookies for you, since you can’t stay on topic and prefer to target me instead. Which makes you, imo, boring.

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  • Angelia Sparrow
    November 30
    1:25 am

    Blood play is hot, if done right.

    It’s an intense kink, and best done with a vampire role-playing subtext (IMO) between two people who love and trust each otehr a GREAT deal.

    I’m not talking gore levels appropriate to a Hammer film. I’m talking some very sexy teasing with a small, sharp blade and a tiny nick, then a licking of the three drops or so that follow.

    At the moment, the only place I’m using any blood is in erotic horror. (or as a side effect of piercings)

    Then again, I’m the one over here doing my laps in the perv pool.

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  • Leslie Kelly
    November 30
    2:49 am

    >Harlequin Presents have always been a bit on the racy side. Before Blaze, they were the “sexiest” of the Harlequin < < Actually, Desire and Temptation were both much freer with the sexual content than Presents. I know when I was first trying to sell, Presents had certain restrictions regarding the characters’ relationship before the door could be open on the sex and how far it could stay open. Temptation…where I ended up…did not. Sarah, I am pretty sure the Harlequin Romance line, which remained after Silhouette Romance & Hq Romance came together, is “sweet” romance with no blatant sexual content. And no religion.

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  • Miki
    November 30
    5:02 am

    Okay, Karen, I’m a reader, NOT an author. I’ve hesitated posting and I’m not sure I can be concise, but I’ll try.

    First, I agree on the pedophilia. Not even just not romance, it’s evil, wrong, vile…. I can appreciate that in humanity’s history, the age of minority has differed, but I don’t ever want to go into the bedroom – or even just the lustful thoughts – of a 30-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl. Not ever.

    Same with Daddy/daughter, guys who want to fantasize and roll-play rapes, brother/sister (or brother/brother, whatever).

    Second, I think there’s a lot of heat here because for writers of erotic romance, there have been various lines drawn in the sand over the years. I remember being shocked when I first read a (Harlequin Presents) where the hero and heroine took off their shirts and rubbed up against each other. Whew! Gave me shivers!

    Times have changed.

    But these authors have had to have heard over the years: you can’t write this, you can’t write that, you’re writing pornography! Evil, vile, wicked, ptooey! So I can understand their defensiveness.

    If the spectrum of romance went from A to Z with A being sweet, sweet love and Z being wild-and-crazy-monkey-sex, I’d say I’m closer to the A end of the scale than the Z. Although I do have a particular taste for J, M, and R for some reason. *wink*

    I first discovered erotic romance through an Ellora’s Cave novel approximately 3 years ago, and I jumped into the pool without testing the waters first. And – boy! – was I appalled at some of what I read. I posted some pretty outraged comments over at EC Chat. And the gracious Shiloh Walker (who’s been commenting here) and Jaci Burton wrote me offlist and gently offered me some points of view that I’d never considered before. Very graciously, very patiently. And they managed to change my mind … on a few things, anyway.

    So I moved from maybe B or C over to … oh maybe … F or G on that spectrum. And picked up a taste for those J, M and R stories too.

    I pretty much only read a few trusted authors, though, because there’s a lot more I consider shocking and disgusting than the average erotica/erotic romance reader.

    And when I do venture into new territory, I as a reader am very grateful for publishers who are willing to label or post “disclaimers” – no matter how tongue-in-cheek they are. I don’t consider those labels as censoring the books. I consider them as road-signs and hints to help me choose a good book.

    And for the record? If a book was labeled as having sexuality that included cutting or bloodplay (or even spanking), yes, I’d gladly, even thankfully leave that book “on the table” and find something else, even if I’d probably enjoy the rest of the story. I am tired of cringing my way through love scenes that cross too many of my personal lines.

    (Oh, and I’m not a big vampire fan. But even with those I have been happily surprised to read and enjoy, I usually wince when the get to the biting part).

    Having said all that (and yes, I know, “concise” has flown out the window), I’d still like to read my J, M and R stories. And there are those who find those as offensive as I find the N, T or Y stories. So finding the final “boundary” for what can be considered erotic and still considered romance is probably never going to happen. It’ll constantly be shifting.

    I can only say, my personal “romance” boundary will never include pedophilia. Of course, I think it’s already been crossed with the shape-shifter sex-in-animal-form scenes. To me, there’s the same horror and abhorrence…because it may be couched in shape-shifter language (like Daddy/daughter language), but the mental picture is still a woman and her canine companion doing the wild thing. Ewww.

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  • Karyna DaRosa
    November 30
    8:48 pm

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t the phrase: consensual rape an oxymoron?

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  • Anonymous
    December 3
    11:43 pm

    I’m not into a lot of what has been discussed. The blood play, BDSM. I want an erotic romance to include things that I personally find erotic. Which is why I’m put off if any of those things are in erotic romance or even erotica, but I’m ok with it in other types of fiction.

    As for pedophilia. It’s abhorrent and anything that normalizes it is repugnant. There’s not really a justification for why it might be ok in a romance. I don’t want to read it in historical romance, because while romance can serve as an literary exploration of emotion and sexuality, it probably shouldn’t explore those things using the body of a 15 year old as the medium. The concept is still the same no matter what century it is.

    As to the consensual rape, someone, I don’t remember who pointed out that it’s an argument about semantics. Damn right it is. But words are powerful things. The fact that consenual rape had to be mentioned seperatly than S&M proves that people know that.

    Rape is a brutal and vile crime. I find turning it into a bedroom game to move novels/e-books offensive. Consensual rape is not rape, so let’s not call it that.

    CJ

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  • Anonymous
    December 3
    11:46 pm

    I just wanted to clarify what I said above. It’s not the fantasy/role playing aspect I’m critisizing. Though I think it may have come across that way. It’s the simply the terminology.

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  • Tvetunge
    March 2
    5:12 am

    There’s a lot of guesses in these comments.

    And whyever did pedophilia get mixed into it?

    Anyway.

    Consensual rape is a kind of sexual playfighting.
    Yes, rape is very abhorrent.
    And so is violence.
    And in spite of this, ten and twelve-year-olds playfight.
    Now, why shouldn’t adults playfight?
    And why shouldn’t adults involve sex in it?

    Cutting.. I’m not sure if what is referred to is the practice of near-suiciding which according to the media is all the craze with just about any black-clad youth, or if it’s the sexual blood play activity.

    Blood play is for people who has blood as a fetish.
    They do not associate blood with death, but with life. Life, intimacy, and being near each other.
    Another, separate reason is the risk of it. The danger is used as an aphrodisiac, the same as having sex leaning out a window might be.
    Now, I saw something about ‘open wounds’ up there.

    You don’t make any open wounds.
    If muscle tissue is cut, it’s done wrong.
    For blood play, a very sharp knife is used. Like a scalpel. The reason for this is that noone wants infections. So everything involved is medical-grade.
    Also, only the dermal tissue is cut. The ‘open wound’ is a scratch a few millimeters deep. Or perhaps just one millimeter. I’m not into this myself, so I don’t know -that- many details.
    Nevertheless, these cuts will bleed, and since there can be several scratches, it might look like a lot. It certainly lends itself so shocking photography.

    But the fact is, the receiving part hardly feels it, and the wounds will heal in a matter of hours, not days.

    http://www.symtoys.com/sexmap/sexmap1.1.gif is a nice thing to look at if you want an overview of what the human mind and libido is capable of.
    (and it’s all nice and informative without being overly graphical, too)

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