Four years ago (or somewhere around there) when the first erotica publishers began making a splash, the main characters had foreplay in the first chapter -- or erotic dreams or actual intercourse. The emotional buildup to having sex or the emotional consequences of having intercourse so quickly wasn't dealt with in the later chapters. This bothered me because emotions play such a big part in physical intimacy. Now that the big houses are jumping on the erotica bandwagon, it will be interesting to see if the emotion is dealt with as it should be. In the guidelines for the new Harlequin Spice line, it says "We want novels that will take the genre above and beyond today's stereotypical erotica stories" . . . which, I'm fairly certain they mean with more emotions.
Ever since the romance genre began, I think we've been heading in this direction and I don't think erotica is ever going away. Personally, I love having the option of escalating the heat in my stories, and it really opens doors for me. I'm continually experimenting and my stories have gotten hotter and gutsier. In my recent release, Endangered by Magic, the heroine was raised as a gypsy and is now a British spy. The hero is a shapeshifter. I have scenes that are pretty hot where there's some heavy foreplay with him as a panther (no, they didn't make love in his animal form -- I couldn't quite imagine that . . . or maybe I could and was turned off!
Women are diverse in their likes/dislikes (which is great -- wouldn't the world be boring if we were all alike?) and thank goodness there's a variety to choose from. I'm glad that the inspirational romance market is finally taking off, too. The romance market is ever-evolving and it's exciting to push the envelope, to be on the cutting edge and to be responsible for those changes!