Whole Lotta Screwin’ Going’ On


In an earlier post I talked about the section on Ellora’s Cave’s website called EC for men. I’m intrigued by it for a few reasons. The target reader is primarily men, but all the authors seem to be women. And assuming that’s the case, do women capture what men really want? Why aren’t men writing these stories as well? Is EC for Men finding an audience?

Ellora’s Cave’s description of this line says it’s “stories written specifically for our male readers. Although many women enjoy them too! The stories are shorter, focus more on the sex than the “relationship”, are aimed at male sexual fantasies. More of what men want or need from women—sex, love, acceptance, admiration, dirty talk; less of what they don’t need (judgment, drama, expectation of anticipating woman’s needs).

Interesting, right? I haven’t seen another line try this approach and I applaud EC for giving it a go. Perhaps there are underserved readers out there who’d embrace this line. In any case, I decided to give it a spin for myself so I ordered and read four of the stories.

Let me say right off that I refer to them as “stories” because they are certainly in no way novels or even novellas. The EC for Men description says the stories are short,  7,000 to 30,000 words, but all four of the ones I read were most definitely in the 7,000 word count range. They’re also not romances. EC says the stories focus “more” on the sex than the relationship. Well, in all honesty, the ones I read focused only on the sex and zero on the relationship. There was a whole lotta screwin’ going’ on.

An interesting discovery in these books is that they are 100% written from the man’s POV. There’s nary a female POV to be had, which is very different from “traditional” erotic romance whose primary target audience is women. Most of the POV is from the heroine, but we definitely want, and get, the male viewpoint sprinkled throughout the story. Apparently EC for Men readers prefer being able to deduce for themselves what the girl might be thinking rather than having the author give us her take on things.

Overall I thought the stories were well written and accomplished the goal of giving straight males their fantasies. Uninhibited women without relationship expectations, without drama – without pubic hair! – are all the rage at EC for men. One of the stories actually had the woman demand that her guy lie on his back on the bed so that she can “do all the work.” Several of the stories also contain female/female scenarios.

I admire publishers who brave new territory and try different venues, and I tip my hat to Ellora’s Cave for embarking on EC for Men. That said, the line launched nearly a year ago and there are, to date, only fourteen available stories. I’m wondering if EC for Men is a new frontier that’s failing to find a home.

I’d love to know what readers think.

Until next time,

Elizabeth

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5 Comments

  • madeline iva
    October 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I would have to say that I admire the dream of a publisher who does mostly erotic romance starting this venture. To me it’s idealistic –in a good way– to provide men an emotional outlet. That said, have you ever noticed how many journals in stores are made for women — and so very few for men? Because men don’t need to pour out their feelings like we do? It’s a cold cruel world if that’s true.

    Meanwhile, there’s the ideal and then there’s the reality.

    I really suspect that there is a hidden world of men’s romantic emotions that is rising up slowly. Think about the romantic dead wife motif in movies where you’d least expect it–like Lethal Weapon. Think about the rise of the bromance and how men need friends that they can not only hang out with, but also love. Video games are getting much more emotive these days too.

    Yet I wonder how EC might have struggled with the reality of getting men hooked on erotic romance. What men will purchase to read with a girlfriend may be so different from what they buy or want on their own. I also have to confess that I actually don’t know what men respond to. I thought the covers for the EC stories wouldn’t really do it for men. I asked DH and found out I was wrong. He meanwhile, didn’t respond to the EC covers I liked and he thought that straight men would NOT want a guy and a woman on the cover–even if they were in a clinch. Women, on the other hand, love a clinch on a romance cover. Go figure.

    • Liz Everly
      October 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      So, what’s this difference between EC’s line for men and just straight up porn?

      • Elizabeth Shore
        October 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

        Yeah, it’s a good question. I suppose if one thinks that part of the definition of porn includes being degrading to women then EC for Men wouldn’t fit the bill. The stories were respectful of the women in that the guys didn’t want to hurt them or debase them in any way. There was just zero emotion incorporated into the stories. But if one’s definition of porn is the straight “obscene writings or drawings having little or no artistic merit,” well . . .

    • Elizabeth Shore
      October 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      I think the EC for Men cover thing is a little like porn, meaning that porn films use as few shots of the male actor’s face as possible b/c the men watching the film want to envision themselves as that guy. The fantasy is tainted if they see another dude’s face with the woman. Same thing with the EC for Men covers.

  • madelineiva
    October 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I just wish they’d really embrace it, really go for it.

    This is what I want to say: In the same way that some massively famous romance authors have a heroine who makes no effort with her looks attract a smoking hot guy who is completely ga-ga for her, I wish guys could…but then I realize: wait. The guy who makes no effort, yet the smokin’ hot babe falls for him completely, and has no expectations of him? That’s, like, the majority of almost every TV show and movie we see. Erg.

    Maybe what drives my curiosity about EC for men is that I WANT to see story lines that I WISH guys wanted. Stories about the hot guy who plays hard to get (and when the woman finally wins him over, then hot sex ensues). The guy who’s placed in the middle of douche-land (Hollywood, maybe?), and tries to deal with it without becoming douche-y himself and gets his just reward (when hot sex ensues). The really uber nerdy-guy that the woman winds up with who turns out to be totally hot underneath (and then they have a lot of hot sex together).

    I still think EC For Men is a visionary concept. I think we’ll see in the coming decades romance for men take off. (By romance, I don’t mean just instructions from society/commerce: buy roses on this day, buy diamonds for that occasion, etc.) I wonder if first person narrative would clear up the issue you mentioned, Elizabeth. If the first person narrator gets the guy out of the frame, so to speak.

    Meanwhile, it was nice seeing a few guys pop up at the romance conference we just attended. They didn’t look so very comfortable, but I believe their time will come.

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