When Does “Steamy Hot” Become “Too Hot”?

Let me start by saying, I published my first romance over twenty years ago. Back then, you couldn’t use profanity, most love scenes were off camera, or dealt with very carefully and always between married heterosexual couples.

There was no ménage à trois, no same-sex romp between the sheets, no multi-cultural romance, and heaven help you if you tried to sneak in a little S&M. You were promptly branded a writer of pure smut and likely banned from submitting to certain publishers.

Slowly but surely the reins began to loosen. First, it was Silhouette Intimate Moments and a very few Harlequin Presents. With their titillating success, the other big NY publishers brought out their own lines that pushed the boundaries, allowed on-screen love scenes and even the risqué oral sex. Oh my!

Gone were the days of cock teasing, of using euphemisms in place of the real thing. Now, not only did the hero and heroine openly declare their utmost desires, they acted on them. Sure, there were still the purists, those that believed in preserving our chastity. And, bless them, the publishers maintained those sweet lines that still sell very well today.

However, the biggest surge in sales has come in the steamier lines. Even Harlequin, the one last major hold out in publishing erotic romance, has finally seen the light and begun their own line complete with language and all the other aspects once considered strictly off limits.

The sexual revolution began in contemporary romances, presumably where the author felt more comfortable expressing their more lurid instincts. Slowly, though, it moved backward in time finally challenging the historical moors. I actually began my erotic journey in historical, first with The Muse and then with my award-winning novella, The Mysterious Mrs. Pennybaker. Both are set in the Roaring Twenties…a time when everything we now see as normal was considered risqué but still took place. In abundance.

In The Muse, Nancy Fraser brings her characters to life, weaves a believable ménage, and the sensual eroticism is brilliantly written. When I wanted more, I acknowledged Ms. Fraser wrote a fantastic story! ~ Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

For The Mysterious Mrs. Pennybaker, two men are always better than one. I loved the descriptions and the feeling of actually being in the Roaring 20’s. ~ Cutting Muse Blog Review

I write erotic romance and I love it. The idea of creating something so sensual, so graphic, appeals to me. Not because I’m a dirty old lady or a pervert, but because there is something primal about two (or three) people expressing their utmost desires together. One of my favorite challenges came when I was tasked with turning the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, The Devil’s Sooty Brother, into an erotic romance. The end result, Do You Want Me, not only tackles the fairy tale but also the Irish Mob, a soldier’s code of ethics, some extremely hot sex, and the formerly taboo multiple partners.

Do You Want Me is a great read that kept me going from start to finish. It was a real page turner that I just did not want to put down. ~ Long and Short Reviews

There are still avenues I haven’t tried and may never. Not because I’m a prude (obviously), but because it’s not an area that interests me. My measuring stick for what I’ll attempt to write is based on what I like to read. However, like most measuring devices, the stick can be moved.

If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d write a fantasy erotic romance, I’d have adamantly shook my head and said “no way”. Yet, this past summer, Decadent Publishing released The Vessel, and wow has it been a fun ride! Written entirely from the hero’s point-of-view, it features a by-the-book military hero and a wise-cracking, alien princess heroine.

The Vessel is a must-read for fans of erotica and science fiction alike. I can’t recommend it highly enough! – Long and Short Reviews

Still the question looms (even for those of us who believe the steamer, the better), is there such a thing as too hot?

As a multi-published author, I have worked with a half dozen different publishers and currently actively write for four. Here’s what I believe is and will always remain taboo:

Parent/Child Incest – Sibling incest has become less of a taboo as long as there’s a non-related third party involved.

Pedophilia – The one taboo that will never, and should never, be lifted.

Bestiality – A gray area with shifter romances, but still nobody should be doing it with the family dog!

Other than the recognized taboos mentioned above, pretty much anything goes in today’s erotic romance. I’m looking forward to my next erotic historical challenge…a story of sibling rivalry set in ancient Rome. Think of all the possibilities!

What do you still consider to be out of bounds? What is your favorite kinky fix? Inquiring minds want to know!

Nancy

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