The best way to describe what's happened with m/m erotic romance in the past five years or so would be to compare it to an atomic explosion. But things have been changing in the past two decades, leading up to this. Twenty years ago there were a handful of authors submitting hard copy to print publishers for erotic anthologies. Most the the time, back then, there was very little romance in the m/m romance sub-genre. Actually, it wasn't even called m/m romance. It was called "Gay/Lesbian," and the margins were wide but the opportunities small for writers. And it was usually more about the eroticism than the romance.
But in the past five years, I've concentrated more on m/m erotic romance, mostly with full length novels. And I'm not just talking about writing m/m erotic romance, I'm talking about reading it, too. Here's something else that's changed: the number of straight women authors writing m/m erotic romance has grown by a wide margin. And as a reader, I've fallen in love with more than a few of these blossoming women authors. It hasn't helped my book buying budget, but it's given me hours of entertainment and insight I wasn't able to find ten years ago.
The other day I was lurking about romance blogs and I spotted an interesting comment. Someone mentioned in a blog post s/he found most erotic romances poorly written, and only a small amount well written. Frankly, I don't know where this person has been shopping for books, because my experience has been exactly the opposite. The person who commented also said s/he couldn't find enough emotion in the erotic romances s/he had read. Again, I was floored. I've also read quite a few hetero erotic romances in the past few years and I've been shocked at how well-written they are. Honestly, I simply don't get this negativity. And if I were to read between the lines, I'd have to conclude the person who commented simply isn't into erotic romance and cannot judge what's out there with an objective eye. And this is unfortunate, especially because it was such a broad statement. Personally, I'm not into historicals. They just aren't my thing. But, I do know there are some great historical romances out there right now and I'd never, EVER, be pompous enough to make a generalization that most historicals are poorly written. Frankly, because this isn't my favorite sub-genre to write, I wouldn't consider myself qualified to make a statement about historicals. But I guess my ego isn't as big as the person who made the comment about erotic romance (smile).
Writing erotic romance isn't easy. Everyone has a different opinion about how an erotic romance should be written. Most agree the erotic scenes should help push the love story forward. In other words, if all the erotic scenes were to be removed from an erotic romance, would there still be a love story? And, for most people, eroticism is all about emotion. This is the reason readers are buying erotic romances. Sex is one of the most important emotions human beings can experience. Even when it's not something I can relate to, it's still emotional for me.
I still haven't come up with my own personal definition for erotic romance, and I've been writing erotic m/m romances for a long time. As an author, I receive some of my best advice about writing erotic romance from my readers. I once had a reader tell me the happily-ever-after ending for her would have been if the two main characters in one of my books hadn't remained together in the end. She would have preferred them to go in different directions. In her opinion, this would have been happily-ever-after. I didn't do this because I didn't think most readers would agree...I didn't agree. But this is a classic example of how differently readers will react to erotic romance. The semiotics with regard to communication and literature, in general, is so vast it's virtually impossible to pinpoint what's considered happily-ever-after. But I do know a lot of authors are out there working very hard right now to nail it. Because there are more than a handful excellent erotic romances on the market, and most of the books I've read have been well-written and carefully crafted with skill and attention to the emotional details involved.
Duke's driven by his ambition to be the best fighter pilot in the Navy, not the fact that he's a closeted gay man. But he's garnered a reputation for being overly aggressive and far too impulsive. He likes to think the chances he takes are heroic and wise, but there are many in the Navy who think he's reckless and irresponsible.
And when the Navy sends Duke to the most rigorous flight class in the world, he becomes even more aggressive in order to be the big, bad "top gun" everyone expects him to be. But while he's working hard to be number one, he meets an attractive young civilian flight instructor named Jaime who turns his entire life upside down. Though it starts out as a harmless flirtation, their connection becomes so intense Duke begins to wonder whether or not he can continue to abide by the rules of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
After a serious accident that leaves Duke so devastated he can barely fly a plane, Duke begins to question his goals, his ferocious need to be number one, and his unyielding devotion to a military that refuses to treat him with dignity and equality. He realizes the only good thing that has ever happened to him was falling in love with Jaime, and he discovers he has two choices. Both have the potential to change his and Jaime's lives forever, and both come with serious consequences. But he can only choose one. And even while Duke is wrestling with the biggest decision of his life, his passion for Jaime burns hotter than ever.