by Charlotte Rose
When I wrote my first erotic romance 20 years ago, it was sold in the secret back section of book stores, sex novelty shops, or by mail order, in a plain brown wrapper. How things have changed! Books are so much more accessible now due the advent of the e-reader, the convenience (and addictive nature) of technological wonders such as the Amazon “one click” buying method, and the explosion in self-published books in the erotic romance genre.
I remember being one of the most popular guests at cocktail parties in the nineties once the hostess revealed, “She writes erotic books.” It was rare for a woman to write that stuff—and admit it—back then. Guys would happily gather around me to ask if I got my story ideas from real life. But women just were not as open or interested in talking about sexy books… then.
Today, women are proud devotees of the erotic romance novel. From what I have witnessed, many have absolutely no problem talking about sex, publically drooling over hot alpha male heroes they adore, or posting a comment in social media suggesting that reading a particular scene inspired them to, um, jump hubby’s bones. The internet has made reading a social and community experience, where women connect to share their excitement. (They are very vocal about criticisms, too).
And they love the authors of these books—like sisters, and best friends. It is like a sorority, where the authors are very accessible, social, and have genuinely warm relationships with their fans. In the past year there has been an explosion of multiple-author book signings, bringing many best-selling authors together at once; and events like The Naughty Mafia in Las Vegas and Wicked Girls Book Night Out where fans can meet and party with their favorite authors.
The general consensus is that erotic romances are good for us — even if we temporarily get a little lost in them and lose sleep because we can’t put the book down without finding out what happens next.
I spoke to some of today’s best-selling authors —Jasinda Wilder, M. Leighton, and Michelle A. Valentine — and also asked several psychologists to chime in on the benefits of this trend. Here are some of the insights they shared:
They Help You Express Yourself
“I believe the steamy romance novel craze has helped women in expressing their own sexual desires to their partners in a healthy way. Reading these novels give them a sense of empowerment over their own physical needs and allow them to know they aren’t alone—that it’s okay to want a fulfilling sexual relationship. I can’t tell you how many times readers have told me that their husbands thank me. It’s nice to know that not only have my stories entertained them, but have improved their quality of life as well.”
Michelle A. Valentine, best-selling author, The Black Falcon Series
They Help You Explore
“I have gotten loads of feedback from women telling me how much acting out the scenes from my books has enriched their love lives or how the material has encouraged them to be more creative. And too many times to count, I've gotten messages from women saying their husbands thank me. LOL While that is humorous, it seems that kick-starting the libido with sensual reading can end in some fun time between mates. Pleasurable reading followed by pleasurable exploration. I call that win-win!”
M. Leighton, best-selling author, The Bad Boy Series
They Show You What a Good Relationship Can Be
“Why is erotic romance good for readers? It's spice. People talk all the time about "spicing up their love life." Usually this takes the form of pornography and sex toys. Now, there's nothing wrong with those things, but if your love life with your partner is failing, those things are merely temporary solutions to a permanent problem. Reading erotic romance can be different. If the story is as much a true romance, where the love is as vital as the sex, then the couple can find a sense of renewal; they can see a different way of doing things. I'm not saying it is sex therapy, but it's close. It's new, it's different, it's titillating, and all this, with only words on a page. It's an escape; it's a fresh perspective on love, on sexuality. Erotic romance, at its best, shows what a good romantic relationship should be: a balanced, erotic partnership, wherein both people seek the pleasure and happiness of the other person as their primary focus.”
Jasinda Wilder, best-selling author, Stripped, Falling into You, Big Girls Do It Better
They Offer Fun, Fantasy, and Exploration
“The benefits of erotic romances can fun and entertaining to read, encourage fantasy, and encourage explorations of new sexual activities in a safe way. These may be activities that you do or don't want to try in real life, or may not have the opportunity to try in real life. Do erotic romances create false expectations of men? Perhaps. But no more so than Disney, Jerry Maguire (since when do we need someone else to complete us?), or just about any romantic comedy ever made. If you are someone who left Mr. and Mrs. Smith feeling despondent that you are not married to Brad Pitt or left Harry Potter looking for your magic wand, then yes, you may want to exercise caution when reading erotic romances. However, for most people, erotic romance novels are fiction and can be used as wonderfully sexually stimulating tools for fantasy.”
Alexis Conason, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
They Are Great Aphrodisiacs
“Erotic romances are an important way to get in touch with your romantic feelings and sexual fantasies. They are a way to develop those fantasies, to better understand what you need, what turns you on, and what helps you feel very intimately connected with your partner. Erotic romances can be great aphrodisiacs, and truly a benefit to relationships. Or they can be a fulfillment in themselves and a detriment to your relationship. Isn't this true of so many things in life? If you can bring it home and share it, it's great. But if you escape into it, and meet your needs in a more solitary and self-absorbed way, it can become a problem or worsen existing problems. We want to feel the heat! But the important thing is to take those home, talk about them, enact them, experiment, and be freer as a couple.”
Carl G. Hindy, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist
They Help You Accept Love
“There are multiple benefits to erotic reading material. Specifically for those that are uncomfortable with intimacy or their sexuality, reading erotic romances can increase comfort. For couples that have problems with differing sex drives, I recommend reading these novels as foreplay or a way to increase desire. Additionally, these novels often describe relationships between individuals that learn to accept the love of another and be vulnerable. This is modeling positive outcomes for individuals that struggle with allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable in relationships.”
Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist
© 2013 Charlotte Rose
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlotte Rose is a journalist specializing in love, sex, and the new erotic romance revolution, and she is also an author in the erotic romance genre. She pens the “Hot Romance” Column for The Three Tomatoes. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteRoseBooks.
This article is reprinted with permission from Hot Romance with Charlotte Rose.
For more from Charlotte, visit:http://www.thethreetomatoes.com/charlotterose.html.