Inside the largest publisher of erotic romance in the world

Cave of Lust 

Inside the largest publisher of erotic romance in the world

At 11:30 Tuesday morning, when Joey Hill took her usual break for lunch, she waited to bite into her vegetarian Boca Burger sandwich until Omar was safely in chains, Freda was blindfolded, bound, gagged, and thoroughly contented in the bedroom, and Jake was driving across town to join the couple in their usual ménage a trois.

Although Joey herself has been a practicing submissive whose husband has long indulged her interests, following lunch she would spend the remaining few hours continuing to have her way with the three people she was briefly leaving in her office. There were no other concerns as great as meeting her self-imposed deadline to get her latest BDSM novel to her publisher, Akron, Ohio, based Ellora's Cave, which had already published more than two dozen of her books.

As for Omar, Freda, and Jake, Joey was never certain in what directions her novel's characters would take her but she did know that by the time she helped them finish their adventures, they and their readers would all have smiles on their faces.

***

WARNING: The following article contains explicit language and graphic descriptions of better sex than you're having.

***

    Akron, Ohio, was once called the rubber capital of the world, a place where car manufacturers, the military, aircraft companies and the like purchased the tires that helped keep the nation on the move. Today it might still be considered the "rubber" capital, at least in the demand for condoms purchased for those men lucky enough to have girlfriends, wives, or lovers who have discovered Akron's newest industry – erotic e-book publishing.

For more than a decade, Ellora's Cave has been shattering the myth that women have little interest in sex and almost no interest in reading explicit stories that involve graphic descriptions of every pleasurable variation a couple (or more) can enjoy. Or as one reporter attending last year's Book Expo America, a gathering of the top professionals in the publishing industry, commented, an Ellora's Cave novel might be described as "boy meets girl, girl ties-up boy, and they live happily ever after."

The story behind Ellora's Cave, the nation's largest e-book publisher of erotic romance, is really the story of the frustrations of single parent Tina Engler. More than a decade ago, she realized that the reading of romance novels, her personal escape from the cares of paying bills, taking care of children, and finishing her education, had gotten boring. Not only were they formulaic, they did not reflect real life. The language, always explicit between lovers in real life, was filled with euphemisms. Tina didn't mind reading about a man's cock but she did get annoyed with "the man root." And the explicit "cunt" was far better than "the mound of Venus."     Finally Tina had enough. Her life was difficult, the demands on her time leaving her exhausted. Romance novels had once eased the frustrations, but women's fiction had not kept up with the realities of a woman's life. She wanted real life, real sex, and just when she thought such books were as rare as a man who preferred taking her dancing to taking her to the Super Bowl, she read that one!

The novel, the name of which was forgotten long ago, was an Irish historical romance, chaste and unbelievable.  "There was just no sex and it bored me to tears," said Engler, never realizing that her frustrations and a return to school to learn e-commerce would be the key to unexpected, great personal wealth.

"I do remember that the [heroine of the Irish romance] was a real wuss, but in romance novels you want the fantasy of the Alpha Male. In real life he'd probably drive you insane."

The timing for Engler's frustration was critical. It was a period just before the Millennium when book stores were still thriving and even the smaller stores carried hundreds of titles in their romance sections. It was easy to see what was available and what wasn't, and seemingly every publisher tried to have a romance or erotica line. In addition, computers were just becoming a marketing tool: e-commerce was more a fascinating area of study on the college level than a fully understood sales tool.

Engler did not think about e-commerce at the time. She was a writer, not a publisher. All she wanted to do was read a more honest romance, and if that meant she had to write one, that was fine with her. She decided the type of book she wanted to read, giving birth to a hybrid of romance and erotica that what would later be called Romantica®, Engler's creation under the pen name Jaid Black. The latter was the perfect name for a sensitive, skilled, yet slightly hard-boiled writer who was not afraid to have her heroine tell the hero "fuck me!" or to grab his erection and start the process herself.

Black did more than use explicit language. She recognized that being in love often leads to bawdy humor in a relationship, adding that reality to her novel in progress, The Empress' New Clothes. She was certain women would relate, certain they would enjoy her writing, and no matter how far she deviated from "tradition" in romance writing, she made certain there was always a happy ending.

***

Zor buried his face in Muta's breasts to ease the vile stench that rose up as a result of Kita's overly zealous snorting. He glanced towards his brother and snorted. "You will allow the pugmuff nothing with beans in it whilst we are on our quest."

Dak nodded, his own eyes stinging. "Aye, brother, no beans a'tall." – The Empress's New Clothes published by Ellora's Cave and written by founder Tina "Jaid Black" Engler.

***

Zor turned Kyra around so that her back was against his chest. Opening his knees to spread her legs wide, he freed his erect shaft and impaled her on it. She cried out, her slick folds wrapping around him, accepting him fully inside of her. Zor resumed his intimate stroking, one hand making lazy circles around her clit while the other played with her nipples..." – From Jaid Black's The Empress' New Clothes.

***

The reaction of the New York publishing houses was what Engler both expected and was frustrated to encounter.

 "[The structure of a published romance] was standard in the industry. When sex was presented, it was really glossed over. For example, the woman [in a romance novel] is getting a massage, and the next thing you know she discovers the joys of being a woman. It was like 'WHAT?' How did...? And I'd read and reread. I gotta be missing something. Even slamming the bedroom door [in the face of the reader] is better than nonsensical stuff.," explained Engler.

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