Katherine E. Morrissey's
essay outlines key moments in the history of erotic romance in America, beginning with the "hot historicals" produced (primarily) in America in the 1970s and moving to the production of "erotic" media in America and the United Kingdom in the 1990s. Next, I examine the melding of the terms erotic and romance by American publishers over the course of the late '90s and early 2000s, as well as the debate this provoked among online communities of romance readers at the time. [...] I conclude this essay by asking where erotic romance is headed next and identifying a set of questions we need to ask as this process unfolds. (42-3)
Morrissey does argue, though, that:
Rather than seeing the 1970s Avon publications as an origin point for erotic romance, this period should be recognized as a moment where the erotic again becomes visible. Like the sheik romances so popular in America and the West in the 1920s, the erotic romances of the '70s are indicative of a period of reconfiguration across broader Western culture and a moment where the representation of sexual desire in romance was renegotiated. (44-5)
Morrissey, Katherine E. "Steamy, Spicy, Sensual: Tracing the Cycles of Erotic Romance". Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets and Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland 2015. 42-58.