When I read a recent tweet about an author's male/male Amish erotica story, I gasped,
"You can't do that!"
And then I corrected myself. I can't do that. She can do whatever she likes, and if she does it well, it should sell nicely on the e-market. It will be years before I see such a book on my to-be-read mountain of mass market paperback romance, but it may happen. I'm personally thrilled by the breadth of ideas romance novels now embrace and look forward to innovation in the genre.
I actually don't believe in bad ideas--only poor execution. Any writer of sufficient skill and creativity should be able to write a romance that works, regardless of premise. I, for once, contemplate rhinoceros-shifter erotica involving their incredible tentacular wangs, but I know I'm not skilled enough to pull it off.
(There's a pun in there, somewhere.)
And yet, certain topics NEVER appear on my bookshelf . . .
Eczema, or psoriasis or Herpes of any simplex. Heroes and heroines never have common skin conditions. In the 43 books I have ready to pass on to someone else, I've never once seen the word "suppuration" (though I admit to avoiding zombie romance). Author Connie Brockway has speculated on twitter that you could give a hero poison ivy in a romantic comedy, but otherwise agrees there's no bringing the sexy back after a rash.
Wheelchair erotica. Although wheelchair users have active, creative sex lives too, they don't make it into mass market paperback. Sure, your protagonist may be temporarily "trapped" in a chair, but when it comes to saving the day and winning her heart, paraplegics need not apply. I believe there's market for novels that show people with disabilities experiencing glorious sex and life-long love. Write them, and the readers will come.
(Oh, wait . . . was that another pun?)
Abortion. No heroine has one. No heroine ever has (not even in deep back story). No heroine contemplates one. I think have seen mirror characters hint vaguely at the possibility in "secret baby" plots, but no one uses the "A" word. I know romance writers of every political, religious and ideological stripe. Regardless of what our personal feelings and experiences have been, this topic is the biggest taboo of all (and one that won't be debated in my blog comments, by the way. I'm interested in why authors as a strategy shy away from the topic. Today I'll be moderating, so please keep it analytical and civil. If I can tell by your comment where you fall on the debate spectrum, it probably won't get through.)
(Huh. My choices here probably help answer my question, don't they?)
Hero in poverty. Historical ares the exception: I've seen a few "Baron Must Marry Money To Save the Estate Someone Else Impoverished" plots, but never in contemporaries. Alpha males have mega bucks. Their wealth is their manhood and the two are well-matched in size.
Inspirational erotica. For some reason, inviting Jesus into the bedroom with the hero and heroine means I, the reader, must be locked out.
So tell me, where am I wrong? What good books have you read that break any of these taboos? What are some no-nos in romance I haven't yet mentioned? And can anyone remember who is working on the m/m Amish erotic novel?