Woman and man kissingAn avid reader of Contemporary romance, no matter the age group, I’ve read everything from the first kiss to spanking. Most readers thrive on the emotional intensity, angst, or the roller-coaster love of contemporary romances. How are the lines drawn between age groups? Does the author hold a certain responsibility to the reader if they incorporate sex in their novels? There are quite a few books that are labeled Young Adult, yet are so graphic, they would make you blush while reading. There are also books labeled Erotic Novels that are more romantic then erotic. According to the definition of erotica, 97% of the books on my kindle contain erotic themes.

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e·rot·i·ca- noun (used with a singular or plural verb) literature or art dealing with sexual love.

 

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Here’s a breakdown by target age group:

Young Adult- 15-17 years old, usually dealing with coming of age issues such as first kisses, first boyfriends, bullying, prom, virginity/sexuality, first encounters with drugs or violence, etc. These usually have a strong voice and the story arc usually ends with a sense of hope.

I love reading YA romances, because they take me back to my first kiss, butterflies, and holding hands. Do I think sex should be allowed in YA books? I do. I think that the author has a powerful voice in forming young adults, and it would be unrealistic to think that 17 year olds aren’t thinking about sex. However, if you are a labeling your book YA, then you have a certain responsibility to the reader. Themes such as safe sex and waiting for the right time should be addressed. Also, it doesn’t need graphic details.

A great example would be Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. It is obvious where Echo and Noah’s relationship is going, but the author doesn’t dwell on it.

New Adult (Upper YA)- 18-25ish years old, usually revolving around experiencing some kind of monumental first—first love, first time away from home or first real job, first sense of adult responsibility.

New Adult isn’t sexed-up YA! There are quite a few “NA” books with extremely graphic sex scenes (I’m not complaining!!). The problem is that the two MC are usually going at it like rabbits, and not actually getting to the relationship part of the book. Just because your MC is in college doesn’t make the book NA.

There are quite a few good examples in this genre: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Hopeless by Coleen Hoover, and The Edge of Never by JA Redmerski all of which are my favorites in this genre. There are sex scenes and they can be graphic in nature, but not extreme.

Adult– 25+ years old, there are similar conflicts in both NA and Adult romances. However, Adult Romances quite often have the main characters dealing with questions of babies or children, divorce and marriage.

This is about the time to get down and dirty, give me every detail.. fill it full of feelings, caresses, and sensuality. Readers seek love and happily ever after; a different life!

I love Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street and Take This Regret by A.L. Jackson for this age group!

Erotica– 18+ (?) I find that most books are labeled Erotic and are not actually erotic. When I think Erotica, I think sexual fantasies on such themes as prostitution, orgies, homosexuality, sadomasochism, cross-dressing, incest and many other taboo subjects and fetishes. BDSM is one of the most popular Sub-Genres in erotic literature, and part of the new “Mommy Porn” explosion.

Tiffany Reisz lives by, “It’s not Erotica, unless it hurts.” Though, I don’t think every erotic novel has to include masochism, there is a dark, painful feel to erotica that is not in Adult Romances. For example, there’s a huge difference between Georgia Cates’ Beauty from Pain and Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren. Both are labeled Erotic Romances, but if you’ve read both books, you’ll know there’s a huge difference (more than just the sub-genre)!

Everyone’s read about Christian, Gideon, and Gabriel, but my favorites are The Original Sinners Series by Tiffany Reisz and Up in the Air Trilogy by R. K. Lilley.

As a reader, I usually place myself in the MC’s shoes, so keep that in mind while writing. Make it realistic, switch things up, don’t use the same terms for body parts or scenes. Granted, safe sex doesn’t always happen in real life, but neither do happy endings and multiple orgasms! Address that issue, no matter the age group.

There is a time and place in most every Contemporary Romance for sex, it brings out the dynamic between the couple. It can help you feel the passion and connection between the characters. Too much or too little can be boring! Of course, you can have tension and chemistry without sex, but how long can the characters stay on the edge before they fall. And besides, where’s the fun in that?

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