Remember when Harlequin introduced the "Temptation" line and Silhouette introduced "Desire" and "Intimate Moments"? Probably not. But believe me, compared with their predecessors, those titles contained some racy stuff. They signaled the banging open of the bedroom door. Unfortunately, Roget's Thesaurus banged open along with the door, so although readers were getting eyeful after eyeful of rapturous horizontalism, they were also being fed some really laughable euphemisms to describe the action. (Netherlips? Isn't that what the eastern and western edges of the Netherlands are called? Are they grasslands? Or swamp lands?)
Anyway, this silly sexspeak went on for a good many years. Then the bodacious Tina Engler came along and essentially decided it was time to call a spade a spade. Thanks to Ellora's rockin' Cave, readers no longer had to ask themselves, His "member" of what? The Elks' Club? And why does this member broadcast "seed"? Is he a conservationist? A landscaper? And what kind of seed? Ah, grass seed, I'll bet. In the Netherlips. All the delicate obfuscation came to an end with EC's "erotic" romances. A cock became a cock, plain and simple (and usually large and turgid), and it shot copious amounts of cum into every hot, dripping, swollen, gaping, achingly impatient pussy it could.
The dam had burst, so to speak. Once the Netherlips became as drenched at they could get, a kind of frenzied adventuring began. Erotic romance wouldn't content itself with settling in the land of explicit, one-on-one m/f sex. Nuh-uh. This was a Brave New World, by gum, and it had all sorts of raunchy regions to explore. Joyful masturbation. Happy-toys. Positions that defied gravity and rewrote the Kama Sutra. Menages of ever-increasing numbers. Hardcore BDSM. Fetishism. Sex with shifters, vampires, demons, aliens. Fantasy rape that veered this close (+) to actual rape. Double penetration. Multiple dicks. Twincest. Octucest (well, you know that's bound to turn up sooner or later!)
This exuberant progression has led me to a question, which is the point of my post. Are sex scenes and sexual relationships, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, now considered too "vanilla" if they don't contain one or more of the above elements? (I'm really getting sick of the term vanilla, like I'm sick of Oh. My. God. and Wow. Just. Wow. But I digress.) Have readers begun to expect and even demand ongoing one-upmanship? Can relationships still be perceived as thrilling and satisfying if they are made up of (GASP!) two people who just like to fuck? Or (DOUBLE GASP!) make love?
I'm just wonderin'.