Read any romance publisher’s guidelines and you’ll find a list of no-no’s a quarter page long. Some things, the publishers maintain, are just to squicky. Their readers just won’t stand for it!
It’s occurred to me that those lists are not so much a “don’t” list as a “get as close to these things as possible without actually doing them” list. Far as I can tell, readers LOVE when we skate the edges. They want authors to toy with taboos, dip a toe in the wrong. In fact, they hope we’ll get as close to breaking the rules as possible, and even sometimes to break them outright.
So here’s a list of rules that supposedly never get broken…but are in effect broken all the time.
NO pedophilia…unless it’s an alien species, vampire, or werewolf who’s “just reached maturity.” Heck, in many stories that involve a type of “heat” in non-human species, the characters have sex before they go into heat. I’m no biologist…but if a female hasn’t developed the ability to reproduce, she hasn’t reached adulthood.
Don’t even get me started on child-like heroines. That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.
NO incest. OK, this pretty much holds…except when it doesn’t. V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series was all the rage when I was a kid. Sure the doors were closed, but there was hella incest. Plus, I hear there’s a new Young Adult story coming out about a brother and sister pairing.
NO rape as titillation. Um,…yeah. Rape as titillation is as old as the romance genre. Perhaps not outright rape- but the threat of rape? The fear of rape? Everywhere! Remember Gone With the Wind? Sure, I’d have bedded Rhett Butler. But that doesn’t make his actions any less rapey.
In fact, it can be hard to find a steamy erotic novel without a hint of rape-as-titillation. And in old-school romances, it’s as common as virgin heroines. (Which makes it all the more gross. And pedophilic.)
NO bodily functions as sexual activity. I’ve never seen an outright golden-shower, nor scat play (thank goodness.) But I’ve seen enema play hinted at. Perhaps not often, but it’s there.
NO bestiality…unless your characters are werewolves, shape shifters, aliens, centaurs, mystical beings with two penises, or you are Joey W. Hill.
NO necrophilia…unless your characters are vampires. Or zombies, ghosts, or frankensteins.
Which rules did I break in my new release, LUST AFTER DEATH? Let’s see…
Pedophilia of sorts? Check!
Rape as titillation? Indeed!
Bodily functions? Unfortunately, no.
Bestiality? Not in this book!
Necrophilia? OF COURSE!! It’s zombies!
So if you’re looking for a mildly pedophilic book with a hint of rape and a healthy dollop of necrophilia, Lust After Death is the book for you! It also comes equipped with a marriage of convenience, a mad scientist and a scary hive-mind.
In the Pacific Northwest, where life hurries to keep pace with technology, a re-animated bride named Josie struggles to escape her creator and to find her identity in the half-erased circuitry of her mind and body.
Assassin Bane Connor just wants to get the girl to the Zombie Underground and receive his payoff—a mental reset that will erase his memories as well as his guilt. But an attack by a rival faction derails his rescue, and the wide-eyed female whose circuitry requires a husband tears at his hardened heart and ignites desire like he’s never known.
Acting as Josie’s spouse-substitute is tougher than Bane expected. The newborn stein needs touch to live, and wanting her is a complication he doesn’t need. To make matters worse, she sees into the darkest recesses of his mind. The last thing a killer wants is for his lover to read his thoughts, but if Josie can love him the way he’s programmed, perhaps Bane can find a way to heal his past.
Birkenstock-wearing glamour girl and mother of two by immaculate conception, Daisy Harris still isn’t sure if she writes erotica. Her paranormal romances start out innocently enough. However, her characters behave like complete sluts. Much to Miss Harris’s dismay, the sex tends to get completely out of hand.
She writes about trampy mermaids, sexy dragons, and snuff-y shark-shifters. Her work also features zombie ingenues, horny gods, and some holiday characters like you’ve never seen them before. And there’s almost always a mad scientist in there somewhere.