Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Romance Novels and Sex

I've recently been seeing a trend in romance novels away from the "open door" themes. One author, in particular, is now retooling her previous novels to a "sweet" approach, incorporating help from her daughter to tone down the language and close that door (or possibly even remove references to sex altogether - I haven't read her just-released sweet version). I've seen several other authors following that same vein.

Just a few years ago, publishers and editors were insisting on "going there," adding steam to romance novels. My own editor, while I was writing COOKIE THERAPY, told me I needed to include those things I'd left out, open the bedroom door. Now some authors are looking to to reverse the course as a way to introduce younger women "safely" to the genre.

I'm not one who believes in "the requisite sex scene." I've read my share of steamy romances, and I've read my share of sweet romances. The operative word here is romance. You don't have to have sex to make the book romantic. Sex isn't the same as romance. One of my cohorts recently had a review where a reader told her "too much plot, not enough romance." She believes she covered the romance angle, so her interpretation was "not enough sex." Is she right?

I grew up reading Victoria Holt, gothic romances. In all of the books she wrote, there are maybe two that make direct reference to sex (and she wrote dozens). One was a case of kidnap and rape (done the way only Victoria Holt could), and the other was a case of the woman not willing to acquiesce without the sanctity of marriage. While everyone thought the hero was creating a sham marriage, it turned out to be real, and the very vague bedroom references were important to validate the birth of a child which would complicate the fact the hero was supposed to marry someone else for political reasons. In both of those books, the door was effectively shut, without all the explicit detail you read today, but the heroes were just as romantic. Kristan Higgins is a good example of "closed door" books today, and her heroes definitely create throbbing hearts. In my most recent book, THE TWINS, the hero isn't able to "perform" due to his injuries, which made the decision in that book easy. Is Jared romantic? I think so!

As I continue my writing journey, I thought I'd reach out to my readers. Do you like the steamy bits? Or is that trend passing? Would you prefer to get back to the romantic traits without the chemical combustion? Are you a mom who wants to pass your love of romance on to her kids but don't want to subject them to flying body parts? 

I'd love to hear what you think!

1 comment:

  1. I think that the romance audience is varied enough so the author (or characters) should get to choose. No matter what, some readers will want more, some will want less. If you're writing for a traditional publishing imprint, the editors there will have the final say, because they know their target market's tastes.