Erotic Romance

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Erotic Romance Subgenre

Erotic romance is a sub-genre of the romance genre. As defined by Romance Writers of America's (RWA) special interest chapter, Passionate Ink, erotic romance is about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline. Happily Ever After is a REQUIREMENT to be an erotic romance.

In 1995 erotic romance started with the first Secrets anthology, Secrets Volume 1, published by Red Sage Publishing, Inc, and caught on with readers immediately. The very first authors of erotic romance are Bonnie Hamre, Alice Gains, Jeanie LeGendre and Ivy Landon. Secrets Volume 1 is still in print to this day, as are all the other Secrets Volumes released since then. The staying power of these anthologies is a testament to quality of the authors. Secrets Volume 2 won the Independent Publishers Follett Literary award for fiction.

Doubleday took notice and bought all the Secrets Volumes for their book club in 1998.

Some of the most recognized names in romance published with Red Sage Publishing in the early days of erotic romance. Angela Knight, Mary Janice Davidson, Susan Kearney, Emma Holly, Liz Maverick and many others published erotic romances with Red Sage Publishing starting in 1995.

The early erotic romance authors are Rita nominated authors, New York Times listed authors, Golden Hearts winners and novel of the year authors, and USA Today listed authors. In other words some of the best authors in the business established the foundations of erotic romance with Red Sage Publishing starting in 1995 and continuing today. eRedSage.com.


The subgenre, which is sometimes referred to as romantica (a trademark of Ellora's Cave Publishing) got its start in ePublishing/small press. High volume sales showed New York publishers there was an untapped market for erotic romance that they could fill and since approximately 2005 they have incorporated new imprints to meet the demand of readers. Stats for erotic romance are difficult to verify as publishers tend to lump erotic romance in with established categories such as historicals, contemporaries, paranormals and other subgenres. Erotic romance writers who are members of RWA have petitioned unsuccessfully within the organization for a separate subgenre category under RWA's Golden Heart and RITA contests.


Erotic romance novels have romance as the main focus of the plot line, and they are characterized by strong, often explicit, sexual content. The books can contain elements of any of the other romance subgenres, such as paranormal elements, chick lit, hen lit, historical fiction, etc. In fact, many erotic romance novels are often categorized by one of the categories already defined in the industry. As a result, reader unhappiness has been noted in the blogosphere as to whether romance has too much sex. Dear Author, a romance commentary blog, has discussed the subject at length on numerous occasions.


Erotic romance novels can range from short story to single title length. All publishers currently have some form of erotic romance or erotica imprint. The subgenre's novels take the reader beyond the bedroom door where more traditional romance does not breach that barrier. The sex scenes, while explicit, are there for the purpose of character development. Erotic romance should not be confused with pornography. Works of pornography consist of sexual acts without a plot line. Erotic romance however includes well-developed characters and at least one primary plot with the possibility of subplots. The primary and/or subplots can stand alone without the explicit sex, but the characterizations in the story will suffer dramatically if the sexual content is removed.


Erotic romance writers generally have more flexibility in pushing the envelope of erotic romance than authors for traditional print publishers, although this has changed dramatically since 2005 when NY publishers began to explore the subgenre with lines such as Aphrodisa, Avon Red and others. With ePublishing, the writer has even greater leeway in most instances to write on subjects that in the past have been taboo, such as menage, BDSM, gay lit and other topics. There are however, a number of subjects still considered off limits, even in erotic romance. Themes such as pedophilia, incest, and bestiality are discouraged by all publishers, and the reputable ePublishers and print publishers will not accept submissions that contain such themes as part of the overall character ARC.


Small press and ePublishers still remain the stronghold of the subgenre, and the market is still a strong one as is evident by the phenomenal growth of Samhain Publishing which has grown since its start in 2006 to be one of the leading ePublishers in the industry with a strong list of erotic romance from new and upcoming authors to such well-established authors such as Lucy Monroe, Jaci Burton and others. Both Ellora's Cave Publishing and Samhain Publishing have partnered with New York publishers to expand some of their works into mass market. Ellora's Cave with Pocket Books and Samhain Publishing with Kensington Books.

Erotic Romance Publishers

Here are publishers that publish primarily erotic romance or erotica. See also category:Erotica Publishers for an additional list.

Erotic Romance Publications

Erotic Romance Authors

Erotic Romance Organizations