Erotica or erotic romance: that is the question. All playing hard and fast with Hamlet aside, there are a lot questions, still, about what erotic romance is, where the boundary between romance and erotic romance is, and where then the dividing line between erotic romance and erotica exists. Questions abound; definitive answers, do not. Divisions, categories and labels create a slippery slope for who gets to decide what fiction belongs where. Does Reader A’s opinion supersede Reader B’s if they don’t agree on what level of sexuality is too much for a simple romance label or what level isn’t enough for an erotic tag? It’s a quagmire for certain, one that Black Lace has stepped into with its re-release of Pamela Rochford’s 1997 title Dangerous Consequences.
The front cover of Dangerous Consequences declares it erotic romance and the back simply as romance (one Black Lace recommends should be sold to adults only). Given that this is a Black Lace title and not a Harlequin Blaze or a Kensington Brava is enough indication that Dangerous Consequences will be on the leading edge of super hot fiction. What falls under “super hot” is open to a wealth of interpretation.
Dangerous Consequences, doesn’t hold with the current crop of erotic romances that feature traditional romance relationships heated up to scorch, but instead is full of easy sex: sex between the hero and heroine, sex between the heroine and other men, sex between the hero and other women, sex between the hero, heroine and a third party.
The busy girl at the center is Rachel Kemp, a rather ordinary PhD candidate and lecturer at the University of London. Lost in thought over her hated academic advisor Colin Gibson, Rachel spills coffee all over Luke Holloway’s notes. Luke, a fellow lecturer, forgives the mess over an unspilled cup of coffee, then asks Rachel out to dinner. It’s a beginning that could belong to any romance. Straight romance Dangerous Consequences is not. The fiction itself speaks very loudly to this point when Rachel, after her initial meeting with Luke, drops to the floor and masturbates with the handle of a hairbrush. Rachel and Luke quickly begin a physical relationship showcased by scenes that are hot, graphic, and don’t stray far from what is expected of any erotic romance.
It’s after a misdirected email that questions of, “What should this book be labeled?” begin to arise. Rachel sends an explicit missive to Luke through the university’s email system that ends up with Leonard Hollis, head of the library. Leonard threatens Rachel with exposure (misuse of university resources, inappropriate behavior at the workplace and that sort of thing) if she doesn’t agree to be punished by him. Rachel, fearing for her job and her degree, submits to Leonard’s appetite for inflecting sexual humiliation. That is a rather deep and dark topic for erotic romance—even if Dangerous Consequences skims the surface of the subject—one that seems more appropriate for erotica.
The plot is split between sex and academia and never becomes a cohesive whole. Much of the middle of the book swirls around Luke’s cousin Max (a mysterious character that is never adequately delved into), something Max has up his sleeve for Rachel, and Max’s sexual appetite. When the plot focuses on a bit of intrigue surrounding Rachel’s job and studies, Max is pushed to the side as an adjunct character.
The intrigue, such as it is, begins subtly and is a backburner storyline for the first three quarters of the book. Rachel is dismissed from her job amid a document stealing scandal, documents Rachel handled for her PhD research, then she jumps to the conclusion that Luke set her up to take the fall. By this point, the story’s building blocks should already be in place, poised to fall to their natural conclusions. Instead, the dismissal and finger pointing feel like the too late launch of what should be the story’s first turning point.
Questions of what to call Dangerous Consequences aside, the book’s plotting is too uneven to allow a sense of emersion. It is a quick two hundred and fifty pages, most of which feature sex scenes that are hot, but too quickly become repetitive in both action and language. Had Dangerous Consequences found a balance between the heat and intrigue the consequences of reading would be more enjoyable.
You can visit Pamela here and purchase this book here and here.