Rita Nominees that Sizzle: Focus on Erotic Romance

Only three novels reached finalist status in the Rita Award nomination process in the category of Erotic Romance this year. Romance Writers of America describes the Erotic Romance category as covering novels in which “strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres.” As in other romances, the love story is the main focus of the novel. The judging guideline requires that scenes of explicit sexual interaction are blended with and form a significant part of the love story. Also, the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

Here is an overview of the three finalists. These stories are for mature audiences.

Erotic Romance

Claim Me
by J. Kenner
Random House Group, Bantam
Shauna Summers, editor

For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real.

Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.

I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both.

But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely.

Private Practice
by Samanthe Beck
Entangled Publishing, Brazen
Heather Howland, editor

He’ll teach her how to bring a man to his knees…

Dr. Ellie Swan has a plan: open her practice in tiny Bluelick, Kentucky, so she can keep an eye on her diabetic father, and make hometown golden-boy Roger Reynolds fall in love with her. But Ellie has a problem. Roger seeks a skilled, sexually adventurous partner, and bookish Ellie doesn’t qualify.

Tyler Longfoot only cares about three things: shaking his bad boy image, qualifying for the loan his company needs to rehab a piece of Bluelick’s history, and convincing Ellie to keep quiet about the “incident” that lands him on her doorstep at two a.m. with a bullet in his behind.

The adorable Dr. Swan drives a mean bargain, though. If sex-on-a-stick Tyler will teach Ellie how to bring a man to his knees, she’ll forget about the bullet. Armed with The Wild Woman’s Guide to Sex and Tyler’s lessons, Ellie is confident she can become what Roger needs…if she doesn’t fall for Tyler first

When I’m Bad I’m Better in It Stings So Sweet
by Stephanie Draven
Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Sensation
Cindy Hwang, editor

They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon.The Twenties were roaring and the women—young, open, rebellious, and willing—set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…

In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.

Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants topunish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.

Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.

Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.

One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…

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