Romantic Times explained it this way:
Erotica - Contains explicit sexual content. Anything goes. Sex is the story. The descriptions are frank and the language graphic. Don’t look for a happy ending here.
Erotic Romance - The hero and heroine make love very early on in these books. No Flowery euphemisms in bed, just straight-talking graphic language. There’s a solid plot and the sex scenes are integral to the relationship. Although multiple partners are acceptable, most couples are in a monogamous relationship and there’s a happy ending.
Hot Romance - Sexual tension permeates these books, and the love scenes, although steamy, are not as frank as in erotic romance. The language and descriptions are tamer. They follow a strict romance format: monogamous relationships and happy endings.
I believe Romantic Times' descriptions are excellent.
Now you ask why I am writing about this subject. Well, for one thing, I had a conversation with a friend and she was really confused about the differences between the genres. She wrote a love scene and was really upset with herself about it possibly being erotica. I read it and no it wasn’t, but to her (she’d never written a love scene before) this was a line crossing. She had entered a place that subconsciously she was embarrassed about, which is very common not only with authors but readers also.
As for me, I write romance--Fantasy and Contemporary Romance, and I'm proud of it. Why? Mainly because I love to read it. I also write love scenes in my novels. Why? Because that is the natural flow of what two people in love end up doing. So what is wrong with that? Well, if you’re honest, there’s nothing wrong with two adults in love making love.
I don’t write Erotica or Erotic Romance. I’m not even sure if I ever will but I don’t believe in saying never. That always comes back to bite you. So if one day I do make an attempt at it, I will do so with my eyes open and focused on the story.
Each of these genres has large followings. Each one sells tons of books. It’s up to the reader to choose what they want to read. If you’ve never read any of the above genres, look them up, buy one of the better authors and read it. Then you decide whether or not you like it.
Now, as an author, I feel in my heart that to close the door to an avenue of growth will stunt my ability to write. If I decide to write Erotica one day, does this make me a bad person? No, I don’t believe so. If I end up writing a thriller, I am still the same person I was when I wrote romance. So just as you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover don’t judge an author by her genre.
For those who have never read any of these genres, keep in mind that just because you don’t read them doesn’t place them in the off-limits category because of the sex/love scenes. Just like in Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, you might like Green Eggs and Ham.
Posted by Speck for Judy, home on vacation with no internet:--)