Erotica has been attracting a lot of attention lately. While some articles cover a balanced view of the publishing phenomenon, romance readers have also been subjected to less savoury coverage. Witness the story on CBS2, May 3 of this year: “Is it about time or are these sex sellers going too far?”
This particular press clipping brings up two questions:
- Why is a romance sub-genre attracting so much attention?
- Is this attention good for the genre?
The answer to question 1 seems quite obvious. Erotica explores sexuality. Sex sells. And when it comes to women? Sex and the City, before it became a cliché, made the same kind of impact. The concept of women not only being sexual beings, but openly reading about and exploring their sexuality is still news. What seems to escape most coverage, however, is that these examples (Sex and the City and the higher sensuality in romance novels) were created to accurately represent women’s lives, not vice versa.
The answer to question 2, is a bit trickier. Even ignoring the myriad of prejudicial implications against the genre, against the readers, and against women in general enclosed in those two little words ‘sex sellers’, this type of sensationalist journalism attempts to find scandal where none exists. And even if bad coverage is still coverage, the possible negative impact of such stories far outweighs any potential benefits.
Pick of May: Big Trouble by Marianna Jameson
Joe Casey has moved back into the family business to test Brennan Shipping Industries’ computer networks. He hires a team of expert ‘hackers’, including Naomi Connor, who has spent years searching for a way to atone for past sins.
This novel is smart, quick, and very easy to read. Jameson is clearly dealing with an area of expertise, as she describes computers, networks, hacking secrets, and security issues with aplomb. Special mention should go to a very funny scene where the two main characters indulge in a little techno-babble as foreplay.
Where Jameson really shines is in her development of the relationship between the characters. There is the usual denial, arguments, and slow ease into inevitability, but, at the same time, a sense that these characters really like each other. Unlike other close proximity novels where the characters fight their attraction for all of two paragraphs, Naomi and Joe both recognise their professional boundaries and the possible implications of a relationship. This professionalism adds both to their individual characters and their relationship. Their growing mutual affection warms the entire story.