Read something recently on an literary agency blog I follow, and I'd like to throw it out there for general debate.
The agents were discussing genre trends -- what's hot and what's not. And according to one of the agents, the erotic romance trend has "cooled off". She suggests this could be because the genre is being diluted by the increasingly hot love scenes that are now commonplace in paranormals and historicals.
I know there'll be faction of people out there who'll be pleased to hear that the erotic romance trend might have peaked and be on its way down. To quote Emma Holly in an interview with the Smart Bitches quoted in Beyond Heaving Bosoms, "they would be happier if the erotic branch of the romance tree could simply be lopped off."
Now there's a visual for you. Ouch!
Take it from a girl whose introduction to "the deed" was being told "It's messy and painful and you only do it because you love the person", reading romances and realizing from what I read that I could expect a heckuva lot more than messy and painful, was pretty revolutionary. And reading erotic romance was even more of ahem! an eye-opener. More fun than an "insert tab A into slot B" manual, that's for sure ;-).
Sure, paranormals and historicals are getting "hotter", but I like the upfront, unabashed honesty of the erotic romance genre. It doesn't pussyfoot around with euphemisms or have to walk some unseen line that makes it still acceptable to the general reading public. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is. It's "out there". It pushes boundaries. And IMHO, an exquisitely written, emotionally heartwrenching love scene can also push boundaries and be an explicit, fully-realized sex scene, where the main characters are being honest and upfront about what they like, want, and feel comfortable with. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive.
In Beyond Heaving Bosoms, The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan say,
"There's more to erotic romance than "Yar! Here be buttsecks!" Kind of. Because pushing people's boundaries sexually means pushing the boundary in the narrative sense as well. Erotic romance has also helped challenge some of the heteronormative assumptions about romance in general. Bottom line, erotica pushes boundaries. Literally and figuratively."
Yar, me hearties! Let's hear it for the boundary-pushers!
So here's my question: Is erotic romance as a separate genre on its way out?
Personally, I sure as heck hope not!