Carol Memmott of USA Todayreports on the latest trend in the romance book business: erotica.
Plain old courtship just doesn't seem to cut it anymore. At least not with readers of romance novels.
More women want more fiction about what's going on between the sheets, book publishers say.
"If you had said five years ago, 'erotic, hot, sexy romances,' people would have said 'What, are you crazy?' " says Kensington editor in chief John Scognamiglio. "Publishing goes in cycles. Erotica now seems to be the new hot thing."
Kensington introduced its erotica line, Aphrodisia, in January. Harlequin's Spice imprint hits stores in May, and HarperCollins will publish the first two titles in its Avon Red line in June. Berkley was a pioneer with its Heat line last May.
"Over the past few years, romances have gotten sexier," says Liate Stehlik of Avon Red, "And with the advent of Sex and the City and more sex in movies and online, there's a sexual aspect to all forms of entertainment that women are feeling more entitled to than they have in the past."
But that doesn't mean customers fit a stereotype.
"They really appeal to a wide variety of women - 18- and 19-year-olds as well as women into their 50s and 60s," Harlequin's Susan Pezzack says.
The article notes that the steamier new romances can be set in any subgenre: science fiction, futuristic, historical or contemporary. That's optional: but what's not optional is the steaminess factor. We feel faint just thinking about it.