I started reading romance in the late 19th century … well, okay, not that long ago, but suffice it to say I’ve been hanging out with sexy heroes and the woman who love them for a really long time.

I’ve always enjoyed the culmination of the romance with the sweet and tender (or very hot) sex scene. But I’ve noticed, as no doubt you have as well, that these scenes in main stream books have become *ah hem* very detailed.

It’s not that it surprises me. What’s been allowed on the big screen without an “X” rating being slapped onto a movie has changed exponentially since I was a kid. I really don’t remember specific titles, but I recently watched a movie and remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t watching with my children or *gulp* my mother-in-law. It was less the yards of flesh and more the actions, explicit actions, that when watched with Mr. Nina were hot, but I was definitely surprised by how much they got away with. And now that’s translated to the small screen. Less with naked bodies and more with language.

So it’s not really surprising that romance books are following suit. It used to be the hero and heroine would have that one sex scene described in euphemisms. Now it seems like authors are being asked to put the sex in often and graphically. Like … really detailed.

Now here’s the interesting thing. In movies, woman can be shown naked. Everything. Breasts, butt, genitalia. For a long time. Men on the other hand can be shown in all their naked frontal glory for less than a second. And absolutely NO hint of arousal, otherwise the movie loses its “R” rating.

But books seem to go in the opposite direction. All the graphic euphemisms for men’s genitalia are found within the sex scenes. But the women? Nothing. They’re “entered” or “filled”. They have “most sensitive spots” and “tender flesh”. Because this isn’t erotic romance, it’s main stream. I’m currently editing a short novella that I “thought” was an erotic romance. But I think if I just change some of the intimate wording that my story will fall into the realm of just romance. Sexy romance, but not erotica.

But I wonder. how far can an author push the love scenes before a reader decides they’re reading erotica? At what point does it push the line from just sexy to over the top? Has the line become so blurred that even readers aren’t sure what they’re reading? Are there words/acts that you just don’t want to see? Because this whole thing is certainly confusing me and I’d love to hear what you think.

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