Over the years, I’ve heard clueless people call romance novels porn. The last couple years, with the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY craze, the newest incorrect term is mommy porn. (Geez, if you do, you obviously have never read the real mommy porn. Yuck.)
I can tell you there is a big difference between porn and romance novels, including romantic erotica. From here on out, I’ll just refer to it as erotica to make it simple.
First, let’s talk about romance and erotica. Romance books have a lot in common with numerous genres: literary, mystery, science fiction, action/adventure, etc. In fact, romance books can be all of those things. But the underlying difference is there are two people who become attracted to each other, fall in love or decide they cannot live without the other. And of course, they all have the wonderfully required happily ever after. (I swear the journey to that point is always nail-biting.)
That attraction is what leads the book into becoming a romance. Even if they can never kiss, touch or make love. Those romantic feelings are deep inside the heart and overtake the head. They have nothing to do with how many climaxes they can reach with each other. Romance is how a person treats the other, and in turn, how he/she wants to be a better person for the one they love.
There are many readers who love what is called a Closed Door Romance. They never read what happens behind the bedroom door. I refer to those as pure romance. You will find Inspirational and Sweet romances do that in many genres.
Now, in the romance writing world, erotica is romance that shows love through physical actions along with the emotional ones. There are readers who want the full excitement from beginning to end. They’re like your best friend who comes up after a date and asks, “Tell me the details. Don’t leave anything out.” And as most men know, women rarely leave out anything in the telling in private to their best friend. Or the whole office.
In erotica, the writer will cover every sensory involved in a relationship. The emotions of romance wrapped in taste, sound, smell, sight, and especially touch. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time buying a new blouse without touching the material. Thus to me, if the heroine hasn’t touched the man in every way possible, how does she know the whole package (pun intended) will suit her for a lifetime?
For porn, the physical act is what leads and ends the story. No character development and none to little emotion. And no – screaming at the end of climax is not the emotion I’m talking about. Though bravo for the character(s).
I can promise you I do know the difference. In my precocious teens to my early thirties, I read many books that could only be called porn. They never left me satisfied (pun intended again), in particular, on an emotional level.
So next time a person calls a romance (no matter how hot) porn, be sure to correct them. Tell them, it’s like calling a history book, a time travel. If you don’t know the difference between those, you might as well keep your mouth shut and read.