Even if one removes “erotic romance” from the mix, clearly the sexual content of all romance is not created equal. I am perfectly content to read a novel that has no sexual content other than kissing (sweet), or only implied sex (think PG-rated). I don’t mind if the content is hotter, however, I generally find myself skipping pages if there is too much of a focus on the physical relationship.
My books cannot be classified as “sweet.” The intimate scenes I write are short, but steamy. When I removed the most descriptive sex scenes from Highland Solution, at the request of a young family member who wanted to read it, I only removed about 300 words from a 78,000 word novel.
Still, today I find myself chuckling at some Amazon reviews. One reviewer in the UK who gave it 3 stars commented that it wasn’t sexy enough, while a reviewer in the US who loved it and gave it 5-stars, warns readers who prefer a more chaste story “beware: sexual scenes throughout.”
How do you decide what book might be too graphic for your tastes? Back in the day of paper books, one could flip through the whole book to get an idea, but that isn’t possible with ebooks. Until recently, I have relied on reader reviews to judge whether a romance would be too “sexy” for my tastes. Obviously that isn’t particularly useful as opinions vary dramatically. Some romance review sites include a description of the sexual content. All Romance E-books has a heat index and they rate books using the following scale:
1 flame– Stories will either not have consummated love scenes, or if the loves scenes are consummated detail is not given.
2 flames– Stories will have some love scenes. These will be more sensual then graphic and will mostly rely on euphemism.
3 flames– Stories will have sensual, yet more explicit love scenes, and the language used to describe them may be more graphic and direct.
4 flames– Stories have frequent love scenes that are explicit and described using graphic and direct language.
5 flames– Stories have a high frequency of love scenes that are explicit, described using graphic and direct language, and/or contain subject matter that some readers may consider objectionable.
I think this helps to a point. The reader can understand what kind of love scenes are included, but this tells nothing about the overall amount of them. ARE classified Highland Solution as 3-flames and it is my guess that Highland Courage will be much the same. This is a pretty accurate description in my opinion, but there are really only three significant love scenes in Highland Solution. Someone who prefers more than that might still be disappointed.
Does the sexual content matter to you? If it does, how do you decide what to buy and do you think there is a better way to guide readers in selecting for this content?