The more I surf the web the more I'm reminded that point-of-view is a subjective thing. We all know how much of a hot button a word like "pornography" is, particularly when it comes to describing or defining what exactly pornography is. It should come as no surprise then, that the same should be true when it comes to interpreting what different people might mean when using terms like "erotic" or "erotica". Some see no difference between erotica and porn, others think of erotica as porn-lite. It might be a little more soft-core, with better packaging, but still requires a brown paper wrapper if you want to take it on the bus.
If porn is at one end of the scale and erotica at the other, imagine what happens when you introduce the word "romance" into the mix. You would expect things to become watered down significantly. Especially when you're talking about fiction. Recently I had an opportunity to see for myself if that were true when I surfed over to the Blushing Books website. I found them by clicking a blog link for a spanking blog. Blushing Books do have a blog to promote their ebooks, which are spanking and BDSM themed. Their slogan is "We'll make your cheeks blush!" This seemed promising.
I was more encouraged by the fact that they were offering free samples. I like the try before you buy concept, who wouldn't? Perhaps the soft-core cover images in their shopping cart should have raised a flag. I mean, these looked more like my mother's Harlequin romances. Could there be such a thing as a BDSM romance story? Of course, they had used the word erotic in describing themselves. But, come on, I've read plenty of "erotica" that was explicit enough to serve my appetites and plenty of it was written by women. For the price of a free download, what did I have to lose?
"Santa's Little Helper". It had an appealing cover and what sounded like a promising story. Yes, even in erotica, the story (or the fact that there is something even close to one) still matters to me. So, what the hell, I gave it a try. And...
Okay, not so heavy in the erotic department. Don't get me wrong, this is a well-written story. It has actual characters with real problems and a plot that rises out of those problems that anyone would want to see resolved, which is why I stuck with it to the end. I suppose you could call this an erotic romance, but I would have to say that this story tilts more heavily to the romance than the erotic. In the one 'will they or won't they' scene the action skips to the next morning without actually exploring either explicitly or through euphemism the scene's logical denouement. As to the spanking... well, that was light as well. I wasn't expecting the Marquis De Sade, but perhaps something a shade more intense would have been fine too. As I said, the story is well-written and charming enough, so I certainly won't trash it, but I will say that if you're looking for something stimulating this might be a little too PG for that.
I can only imagine that the reason for offering such a "clean" story as their freebie is because the publisher is trying to appeal to a wider audience without scaring off novice readers. I'll also acknowledge that I'm not the target audience for Blushing Books; they bill themselves as providing erotica for women. I'd say that Santa's Little Helper fits more as romance for women, but as I mentioned at the start, point-of-view is a subjective thing. That being said, I wouldn't rule out trying another freebie to see if Blushing Books offers something with a little more spice to it.