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Is Spice Line Dead?

I haven’t seen a Harlequin Spice release in four months. Romantic Times gave Megan Hart’s Dirty a 4 1/2 star review and it is a January release. Megan Hart also has a cover flat up for her next book, Broken, on her website but that is a May 2007 release. I’ve got to assume that since RT reviewed the book its going to be released, but the lack of release for 4 months has to raise some eyebrows, no?

I’m of two minds regarding Hart’s release. Jayne liked her Pot of Gold and I liked her first story in the Josie and Jack series Playing the Game. But I am a little apprehensive of the stories given Ms. Hart’s comments about them not being a romance.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. Angie
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 07:32:49

    I thought I remember reading or hearing somewhere that they were short on submissions. Maybe they took a hiatus to regroup or they only planned a few releases to see how sales went and then refocus marketing or direction? (all speculation of course, I’m just throwing things out there)

  2. May
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 08:17:50

    Because I was curious, I went over to eHar to look at the Spice page.

    Has anybody noticed that the Madore antho’s been sold out?

  3. Lauren
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 12:10:37

    I have a Spice release in spring of 2008 so I hope they’re not dead. My novella, all the novellas in the anthology, What Happens in Vegas, are erotic romance complete with HEA.

    I’d also like to point out that I’ve read Dirty, Broken and Perfect and while they are erotic novels, they all have a romantic resolution at the end, they’re all romantic but they’re bigger than that. They’re not straight romance but they are romantic.

    I’d hate to see readers simply refusing to read a book because it seems a little different than the standard fare. If so, they’d be missing out on probably one of the most amazing books to come out in a very long time. Dirty is catching a lot of buzz because it’s a great book.

  4. Jane
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 12:37:43

    I appreciate what you are saying, Lauren, but for me, any book that is not a romance is really only a buy after a recommendation of a fellow reader. Erotica, on its own, does not appeal to me. There has to be something more than mere exploration of a woman’s sexual journey. I find that concept (not necessarily the execution) to be boring. Therefore in order for an erotic book to be a buy, there needs to be some greater hook such as a great love story or a paranormal thread or a mystery or something.

    It’s why I think chick lit is no longer saleable. My guess is that the female exploration of her id, ego and super ego, by itself, has little appeal to romance readers these days. I read the RT review, the blurb, and the tiny excerpt at Hart’s page and while the writing does sound good, I just can’t see me shelling out the trade paperback price for a book that is romantic but not a romance.

  5. May
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 12:48:28

    I don’t read a great deal of erotica, but I disagree with the point of view that erotica is always about the exploration of a woman’s sexuality.

    But if you’re looking for recommends, I strongly suggest Alison Tyler–or, check out her blog, since she’s writing her erotic memoirs on it.

  6. Jane
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 12:59:31

    Oh, and is Alison Tyler’s blog the same concept as girlwithaonetrackmind? And is this the same Alison Tyler who wrote all those categories way back when? I think I own about 20 of them.

  7. May
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 13:10:36

    I suggested that you take a trip over to her blog because it’s a free sample of her work.

    I don’t read girlwithaonetrackmind, so I can’t say. Though maybe I should, since I read Belle de Jour and Alexa at NY Hotties. I think it started from someone asking her how she got started writing erotica.

    I don’t think she’s written categories. She’s a well-known erotica editor/writer, and while I’ve not seen any official bibliographies, Fantastic Fiction doesn’t include any categories her bibliography. The Spice guidelines suggests reading her work, by the way.

  8. Alison Kent
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 13:52:46

    [quote comment="12189"]Oh, and is Alison Tyler’s blog the same concept as girlwithaonetrackmind? And is this the same Alison Tyler who wrote all those categories way back when? I think I own about 20 of them.[/quote]

    She’s written for Black Lace, and edits a lot of erotica anthologies, etc., but I don’t think she’s ever written category books.

  9. Nonny
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 15:18:21

    I don’t think SPICE is dead, but the impression I got from a Q&A with the main editor back in… um, Julyish?… was that they aren’t putting out as many books as the other lines. I think they’re only doing eight a year.

    The Q&A is probably still in the eharlequin archives, if you want to go look for it. :)

  10. Nuj
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 16:46:25

    May’s right. While some publishers might say their erotica is about a woman’s exploration of her sexuality, I don’t think the majority of erotica fits that bill. I KNOW Dirty, Broken, and Perfect don’t.

    However, there’s no reason to venture into something you really don’t like. I really don’t like vampires or secret baby books, no matter who writes them, so I generally choose not to read them. That doesn’t mean there’s ANYTHING wrong with those books at all.

    Because the sexual content of Dirty is quite high, I’d suggest you don’t bother with it.

  11. bam
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:12:42

    I wasn’t ever interested in the SPICE because like Jane, I’ve found the subject of a “mere exploration of a woman’s sexual journey” to be quite boring. I’m not a prude or anything, but I like a little clean with my dirty. Most of the erotica books I’ve read are sex, sex, sex, and the story gets swept to the side. Plus the women in it are usually neurotic types who analyze their sexual escapes to death.

    It’s why I think chick lit is no longer saleable. My guess is that the female exploration of her id, ego and super ego, by itself, has little appeal to romance readers these days.

    Word to the word, Jane. If I wanted to read about some neurotic woman whining about her weight, her lack of sex life, her career trajectory, and her relationship with her mother… wait, I never do.

    The reason I like reading romance is that I like watching the relationship develop between the female lead and the male lead and I enjoy knowing that no matter what fucked up shit happens to them, they’ll get together in the end and live happily ever after.

  12. Angie
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:20:28

    This is interesting to me because two of you have noted erotica as a woman’s exploration of her sexuality.

    I just finished editing an erotica book. It’s told from a male POV (it’s also written by a male author) and while there’s sex, there’s also a story and the sex has not much at all to do with exploring sexuality, lolol. I guess we’re reading (or looking at) different erotica because I don’t consider it to be about the exploration of a woman’s sexuality at all. I think that’s a very narrow definition of a large genre. It’s like saying that romance is all about a woman trying to find a husband. It’s a limiting (and I think inaccurate) description.

  13. Jane
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:21:36

    So, someone tell us what it is.

  14. Nuj
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:24:54

    So, someone tell us what it is

    It’s a novel in which sex plays a large role in the story.

  15. bam
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:27:06

    I just finished editing an erotica book. It’s told from a male POV (it’s also written by a male author) and while there’s sex, there’s also a story and the sex has not much at all to do with exploring sexuality, lolol. I guess we’re reading (or looking at) different erotica because I don’t consider it to be about the exploration of a woman’s sexuality at all. I think that’s a very narrow definition of a large genre

    I was talking about Spice alone, Angie. Should have clarified that, my bad. This is lifted directly from their submission guidelines:

    Stories in this line will range from highly sensual love stories to more contemplative, humorous tales to gritty, slice-of-life experiences of sex and the modern woman.

    Oddly enough, I would like to read an erotica based on the man’s point of view, provided that it’s well-written and doesn’t come off porny and cheap.

  16. Nonny
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:28:38

    Nuj said: It’s a novel in which sex plays a large role in the story.

    Dead on.

    The recent trend of “a women’s sexual journey” is a chick lit theme superimposed onto the erotica genre… it should not be considered the definition of erotica.

  17. bam
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:32:45

    The Unsinkable Mrs. Giggles has a wonderful rant regarding Sex and the Single Heroine here. Honestly, yo, I love that bitch. I wish she were my grandma.

  18. Angie
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:33:52

    Oh, well I can’t speak for the Spice line, obviously, lol. I was speaking of erotica in general.

    I think the definition Nuj provided is accurate, if rather dry. But the purpose of erotica, in my mind, is more to titillate than romance or erotic romance, while still telling a story.

    And Bam, I think Nage is a fun storyteller, though porny and cheap is always open to your point of view (some people think romance is porny and cheap, lolol)

  19. bam
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:38:19

    (some people think romance is porny and cheap, lolol)

    Damn, girl, ain’t the the mothafuckin’ truth.

  20. Nuj
    Dec 08, 2006 @ 17:54:58

    Stories in this line will range from highly sensual love stories to more contemplative, humorous tales to gritty, slice-of-life experiences of sex and the modern woman.

    I don’t know how you get from that to ” a ‘mere exploration of a woman’s sexual journey’.” I don’t see the words exploration or journey in that definition at all.

  21. Jane
    Dec 09, 2006 @ 00:04:41

    I guess I don’t really understand erotica. Any novel with a significant amount of sex is erotica? I thought erotica was a story about sex. And most books told in the first person female are stories about that female having sex and what? Just having sex? Having lots of sex?

  22. May
    Dec 09, 2006 @ 12:17:44

    It’s not just a book with a lot of sex, though that it has a lot of sex is certainly true.

    It’s a book that will not be whole without the sex, where the sex is an integral part of the plot.

    I really think you should pick up an Alison Tyler novel–I’ve her single author anthology Exposed, and I really liked her Cheek novel Sweet Thing.

  23. Karen Scott
    Dec 09, 2006 @ 19:40:17

    I read Alison Tyler’s Sweet Thing in my local Borders a while ago. I got to about page 50 (I was speed reading to see if I wanted to buy) but it sucked, so I didn’t get it.

  24. shuzluva
    Dec 12, 2006 @ 16:56:23

    I think everyone here has hit the nail on the head so to speak…I need romance with my hot sex. Bam said:

    The reason I like reading romance is that I like watching the relationship develop between the female lead and the male lead…

    …and I couldn’t agree more. If I wanted to read great erotica, I’d dig up The Story of O, but since that’s never appealed to me, I stick to romantica. And the best always have a strong storyline with plenty of sex seamlessly worked into the plot.

    If I’m rambling in all sorts of directions, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m sick and logged on ’cause I heard there was a great romance/romantica/erotica discussion going on. Glad to know I wasn’t lead astray.

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