I find it fascinating to read reviews from readers because, with any given romance novel, you’ll have readers decrying the lack of sexual content and readers complaining the same book was nothing but one sex scene after another. It’s unfortunate that many great books are unfairly maligned because, three bears porridge style, they weren’t just the right heat for the reader. Unfortunate but unavoidable I’m afraid. I’ve come to the decision that heat level is the great, subjective beast and, even within the erotic genre the range is wide and varied on how sex is portrayed and how intricate it is to the story line. Personally, I want my heroes to experience an emotional bond and have sex. But I don’t like accessory sex and I need the balance between sex and plot to be appropriate for the story/genre. For example, when I write a romantic suspense novel (a.k.a. Hoale Construction Mysteries) I focus much more on the plot, and the romance between the characters is woven into that story line. By contrast, my Blood-Hound series is erotic paranormal so the emphasis is on the relationship and the story falls into line behind that.
Part of why authors write stories with more sex than seems plausible is pressure from both readers and publishers. I once had a publisher tell me I had too much plot in one of my books. I sat there blinking for a while and then decided I wanted to write under my own imprint so I could tell my stories the way they should be written rather than to a formula requiring so much from column a and so much from column b. But the reality is that certain publishers require a higher heat level and, to be fair, they’re simply reflecting the tastes of their audience. The good news is that there is indeed an audience for just about any story or heat level the author can write. So, if one man’s erotica is another man’s sweet vanilla…well, so be it. It’s all good.