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As opposed to straight erotica, which focuses primarily on the sex rather than on the plot or characterization, erotic romance is about the emotional journey lived through sexual experience. This sub-genre pushes boundaries, uses graphic language(including F-bomb), contains multiple sex scenes explicitly described…and because it’s romance, it has a happily ever after. Erotic romance can bring in BDSM, sex toys, anal sex, ménages, and multiple partners. These are stories that cannot be told if you take sex out of the equation.
The equivalent of NC-17 in the movie world. Sometimes described as one level shy of erotic romance. At this heat level, there’s explicit sex, indelicate language(including F-bomb), and graphic depictions of a sexual nature used to further the story. Scorcher might also include sex toys, mild BDSM, and other light forms of kink.
The equivalent of an R-rated movie. The majority of romance novels fall into this heat category. With steamy romance, you can expect action-packed love scenes where the reader goes along for the ride. There is graphic sex on the page, and what is happening between the couple is described with specific language, but emphasis is more on the emotional than physical. Swearing, but no F-bomb. Steamy romance doesn’t fade to black. Instead, it follows the participants right through the door and climbs into the bed along with them.
The equivalent of a PG13-rated movie. Kissing, touching, and intimate scenes are shared usually with focus on feelings and emotions rather than body parts. Sexual tension and love scenes might be included in the story, but most descriptions of physical intimacy still happen “behind closed doors.”