I am going down the rabbit hole with this one, I going to discus the growing trend of dark erotica.
Firstly what is dark erotica?
Some definitions allude to mixing sexy elements with the horror genre, personally I think it can be a 'romance' that edgy and often pushes the reader's comfort zone. In my experience dark erotica often features damaged heroes and strong with the non-consensual/dubious consent element. This can take the form of originally kidnapping the heroine or being more forceful in the bedroom till the lines blurs and pushing the submissive partner out of their comfort zone but they ultimately gain pleasure from the act.
My personal experience in reading Dark erotica has been something of a mixed bag. I say reading because I utterly failed when I attempted to write it. My latest release Hidden Embers was meant to have a dark, harder hero but I just couldn’t write him that way. After all, if I’m not pulling for my Hero who the hell will?
Ahem, I digress, when reading dark erotic has been something on a mix bag, which is fine that’s just my preference and I don’t penalize the author’s for it. Some I’ve failed to connect with, I wasn’t sure who either the hero or heroine was, I didn’t understand the world or the world order and the pain described was the wrong sort for me. It just didn’t push my buttons and I’m not sure why. Alternatively I read another series and it did push the right buttons on the erotic index but (and this is a BIG but) I felt bad for liking it. I found one scene was pushing the dubious consent and close to the ‘R’ word.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t have a problem reading about dubious or non-consent in a spanking context. Especially when it is well deserved or due to a matter of safety, for me it adds a frisson of excitement to have someone who is strong enough to put their foot down when it counts (it is worth noting this is still with in the realms of fiction). Strong enough to knock down stubborn walls and earn the heroine’s surrender and reveal the raw vulnerability underneath. But this made me uncomfortable, made me question why I was turned on by it, was there something wrong with me finding it hot? It was like my mind was telling me one thing, that I shouldn’t like it while my body was one a totally different wave-length.
In short I came to the rationalisation, that at the end of the day this is fiction. It’s not real, it’s effectively a fantasy and that is ok. Lots of people have darker edged fantasys but that is how they remain as a fantasy.
Now some reader's seem to unfortunately forget this fact, the books often come with warning labels up to the eye balls but to prevent unhappy customer, though it is not always successful. One of my fellow authors has unfortunately suffered this exact thing in one of her historical release. It then made be wonder if it is more acceptable in the sci-fi/paranormal sub-genres where I have read far darker? Are they expecting something sweeter for a historical based book or is it just a case of working on your brand? What ever the answer I will not over analyse it and every now and then enjoy a little tiptoe down a darkened path and indulge with a naughty fantasy ... or ten.