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In the world of romance writing there are three distinct sub-genres.
- Sweet Romance
- Sensual Romance
- Erotic Romance or Erotica
Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex between the characters. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face. Suitable for young teens or readers with strong religious or moral principles.
Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes, but the language usually isn't harsh and the scenes typically aren't described in an overtly graphic way. The emphasis is on the character's emotions, and the scenes are included so they can consummate their relationship. In other words, the characters aren't having sex just because they can. The scene is there because it's a part of the storyline, but the plot doesn't revolve around the sex scenes. Oftentimes there are only a few sex scenes within the entire story.
Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic and the story may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. Two characters falling in love isn't what the story is about. It's all about the characters having sex and a lot of it.
When I started writing romance novels I decided to write sensual romance. To me, it's the most logical choice because it's what most readers expect. My lead characters make love, but only after they've fallen in love and are emotionally invested in the relationship. Once their relationship is consummated I usually don't write another sex scene between the two as it would be redundant. I'll instead have scenes with foreplay followed by pillow talk.
From time to time, however, a leading man or lady gets involved with the wrong person, and on those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently. For example, in my upcoming novel The Deception, Carrie, the female lead, has just ended a long-term relationship. She then meets Scott, who isn't who he appears to be. Scott knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable so he takes advantage of her. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier, but even then my sex scenes aren't overly graphic. I'm more interested in what the characters are feeling during the scene. Alex, leading man, doesn't appear until after Carrie's relationship with Scott has ended. The one thing I won't do is have my protagonists bed hopping.
If you're looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I'm afraid you won't find it in my books. However, if you're looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I'll think you'll be pleasantly surprised.