The Romance-Erotica Spectrum: What about Accounting for it All?

As author Stefanie Simpson wrote two weeks ago, romance and erotica sit on a far broader spectrum than one might imagine at first glance, particularly when one considers society’s prevailing narratives about these genres so often—and so disappointingly—cast aspersions on the validity of them entirely.

Rather than rehash the points Stefanie presented so adeptly in her own post, this week I though it would be worth exploring where Accounting for it All falls on said spectrum by examining it through the sub-genres presented in her post, namely erotica, erotic romance, steamy romance, and sweet romance.

Accounting for it All and Erotica

If we’re to take Stefanie’s definition of erotica as having its focus on inciting arousal and exploring the nature of sex and sexuality, Accounting for it All really only embodies about half of that definition, and loosely at that.

When writing the novel, it was among my goals to ensure themes similar to those explored on this blog—which is to say those related to sexuality and sex work—were featured throughout the manuscript. In this way, one could argue Accounting for it All does share some overlap with the definition of erotica.

At the same time, arousal did not figure among my goals when writing the book. On the contrary, much of the sex featured in it is meant to be viewed as perfunctory, part of the “this is just my day job” sentiment those who work in pornography will tell you is rather commonplace.

What about erotic romance?

If not strictly speaking erotica, perhaps Accounting for it All is instead better described as erotic romance given that it does “explore relationships through the use of sex and romance.”

As I’ve written in other posts and as is described in the book’s blurb, our protagonist, Robin, must navigate both blossoming and long-term relationships, with sex figuring into both in a meaningful way.

The question of whether this makes the entire book a work of erotic romance might then appear resolved. However, one must also consider the scope and proportion of these relationship-based subplots when evaluating for genre. With much of the book also focused on Robin’s experiences in the adult industry alongside her confrontation of the ever-present audit and her own demons, the erotic romance angles do not remain sufficiently in the fore—at least in my opinion—to classify the entirety of the novel as erotic romance.

It’s also worth mentioning that much of the manuscript’s sex takes place outside the bounds of intimate relationships. In other words, it’s performative rather than romantic.

All of this leads me to consider Accounting for it All as a book that incorporates elements of erotic romance as opposed to being a erotic romance unto itself.

Steam Machine

With steamy romance being “more focused on the couple and plot,” one might then think Accounting for it All to be more appropriately categorized as such in light of its emphasis on broader plot dynamics beyond the bounds of any particular relationship.

Again, though, one must take scope and proportion into account. Is Accounting for it All more focused on the couple and the plot, or simply the plot itself?

This depends on the section of the book under examination. The earliest chapters focus heavily on the advancement of the story lines related to Robin’s accounting work (or lack thereof) at Pornucopia, with only teases of what’s to come in Robin’s romance life.

As the book advances, a greater emphasis is placed on the romantic aspects of the story, with Robin’s relationships putting increased strain on her professionally and personally.

So is Accounting for it All a steamy romance? It might be save for one critical point.

The Sweet Spot

In her post, Stef describes sweet romances as “romances without sex” or with sex that’s “fade to black.” Though there is sex in Accounting for it All, that which is on the page is mostly performative, with the romantic sex being fade to black or simply implied in the aftermath.

It’s for that reason I feel Accounting for it All isn’t a steamy romance, but perhaps instead more similar to a sweet romance—at least where the sex in romantic relationships is concerned.

A Balancing Act

To classify Accounting for it All as a sweet romance alone wouldn’t be quite apt, either; its focus on the suspense-related plots pertaining to both the IRS audit and Robin’s career in pornography take the fore on more of the pages than they do not. As such, I personally have found it much more easily classified as romantic suspense, which for the purposes of this post I’ll define as a primarily suspense plot supported by romantic interests.

Like Stef says, though:

There aren’t always defined lines for these categories, and how we individually classify books will vary. Much of it is about individual tastes and expectations.

Stefanie Simpson

With that in mind, I certainly won’t begrudge anyone their take on Accounting for it All once it’s released in November 2018, but I’ll be curious once it’s out to see what the community at large considers it, if it feels the matter merits consideration at all.

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2 thoughts on “The Romance-Erotica Spectrum: What about Accounting for it All?”

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