The Differences between Erotica, Erotic Romance and Steamy Romance
There is a lot of confusion among readers and even writers about the the differences between Erotica, Erotic Romance and Steamy Romance. Perhaps part of the confusion lies in the odd labeling choices that the publishing industry occasionally makes. Just because they use inconsistent labels on some romance books doesn't change the fairly clear-cut definitions.
Steamy Romance versus Erotic Romance
In Romance, the different between ‘sweet' and ‘steamy' is really a matter of style, almost the same as ‘light' versus ‘dark.' According to most publishers, the sex scenes should be able to be eliminated entirely and the story would still hold up. Therefore, the amount of explicitness should not change the overall sub-genre (i.e. suspense, paranormal, historical or contemporary).
However, Erotic Romance is a different sub-genre. It has a plot arc of the sexual journey separate from the romance arc. Just as there are stories with suspenseful scenes, or inspirational moments, that are not suspense or inspirational stories because they don't have a separate plot arc, the same is true here. If a story doesn't also have a sexual journey, it is just a romance, not matter how explicit the love scenes. Just as any other romance story, Erotic Romance must have a ‘Happily Ever After' ending, or at least a ‘Happily For Now.'
What about Erotica and Porn?
Erotica is actually quite different–although it has a sexual arc, or journey, there is often no romantic arc. And there is rarely a ‘Happily Ever After,' much of the time the ending is either sad or ironic.
Although Porn typically has a loose plot line, it does not require any sort of character arc or personal growth on the part of any characters.
What about Women's Fiction?
Women's fiction is about a woman's personal journey, or several women's journeys. There may or may not be romantic elements, but the romance is not the primary journey, or else there is no ‘Happily Ever After.' It can be sexually explicit or not at all. But if there is a clear sexual journey, it can overlap with Erotica.
More about Erotic Romance
‘Romantica' is trademarked name Ellora's Cave uses for their own line of Erotic Romance. Although Erotic Romance is a separate sub-genre, it can also over-lap with any of the other sub-genres, so you could have a Paranormal Erotic Romance (like Angela Knight's vampire stories), or an Historical Erotic Romance.