Heat Levels in Romance

I had the amazing good fortune to spend the last weekend with hundreds of fellow writers on a virtual author retreat. During one of our “virtual happy hours,” we had a conversation about heat level in books. Like how and when we use the “P” and “C” words.

Here’s my take (and I really would love to hear yours!):
Erotica (five flames — sometimes 10 flames!) is a story where someone experiences personal growth through a sexual experience. No happily ever after required, though there might be one. ALL the words are used.
Erotic romance (five flames) is where two or more people come together and sex plays a big part in either bringing them together or tearing them apart. But you’re guaranteed a happily ever after. You’ll see all the “P” and “C” words** here. Lots of thrusting and wall banging and, well, you get the picture.
Steamy romance (4 to 3 flames?) is where the bedroom door is still open but you’re not using all the “P” and “C” words. You might get away with a “C” here and there. But for the most part there’s a lot of suggestion — and there are a fair amount of these smexy scenes or at least smexy attraction is ongoing much of the time. Oh, and a definite HEA is required.
Sexy romance (2 to 3 flames?) is when sex is definitely going on but it’s not graphic at all. You’re still in the bedroom with the characters but you’re not getting tons of details, and the number of bedroom shenanigans is limited.
Do you agree with these definitions? You, the readers, are really what counts in this definition equation.

** You know what I’m talking about, right? LOL

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