Adult Romance: Where's the Middle Ground?
Sorry this isn't a review. I've been striking out with books that I think you guys will appreciate. That being said, I want to address what I feel is a big gaping hole in the adult romance market: PG-13 romance novels.
For my upcoming release, I decided to try my hand at adult romantic comedy. My new book is at the editor right now, so in my brief down-time, I thought I'd read some of the competition. This past week, I picked up a couple books that are currently successful in the romantic comedy genre on Amazon. I'm not going to tell you the titles, because it's not my intent to bag on another author's work. I'm just making an observation.
The first book I read was ranked under 100 on the Amazon sales rank. I chose it because the plot in the synopsis sounded unique and it was one of the few I found with a handsome CLOTHED man on the front. The first 70% had no sex and the last 30% was nothing but sex. The male lead was a sexual beast. He was crass, had a foul mouth and had a one tracked mind. He used so many F words and genital references that I had a hard time liking him, even though at sometimes he was charming and thoughtful.
I was more selective with the second book. There wasn't even a man on the cover and I read the one star reviews which mostly complained about the lack of sexual description. It sounded funny and safe...and it kind of was. The characters were having tons of sex, but none of it was described. However, neither was a single kiss. ZERO description. No inner monologue about how dreamy the guy was, or how he made her feel. Nothing to make the reader swoon, and nothing to make the relationship believable on the part of the protagonist. There was still over a dozen F words though. Not to mention so much drinking that IDK how this girl functioned. So while the sex wasn't descriptive, the book still would have earned an R rating by MPAA guidelines for language. I don't mind a handful of bible swears and even a well deserved S***. But I really can't stand the F word.
So where's the middle ground? I don't want to read every gross, vulgar and sometimes obscene detail of intimacy, but I do want something. A sexy make out, a steamy kiss or two...or ten, some flirty innuendo. Something to make me buy into the relationship. Enough passion to make me believe the couple's feelings are real. And I don't want to hear a guy tell a woman what he wants to do to her, using expletives. NOT SEXY!
I've tried reading sweet romance but it's often hard for me to digest because it just doesn't seem real. And honestly, it can be pretty cheesy. I know that's hypocritical since I'm the queen of cheese in my own writing, but my stuff is about teenagers so I give myself a pass.
Though my own religious morals adhere to a chaste lifestyle before marriage, I recognize that isn't the standard for the majority of the world. And I'm okay with reading a fade-to-black scene, even between two non-married individuals. My husband's okay with it too. A spicy book can help spice up your love life. *wink*
There's no book rating system, and there's no way to tell how much sex and language you'll get until you're invested in the story. Sometimes you think a book will be okay, then BAM, it hits you out of the blue. That's why I read so much YA. It's generally clean. But sometimes, I'd like a more mature plot and conflict than the standard high school stuff. Don't mistake that for wanting issues. I don't want drama like divorce and dealing with loss, etc. I still want fluff. Just grown up fluff.
Now that I've rambled for five minutes, what's my point? At the risk of sounding like a moral degenerate, I want more books that are clean but NOT wholesome. LOL. PG-13 romance novels - they should be a thing. I know they exist but they need their own category on Amazon. It can be called Clean-ish.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you have them, feel free to leave them in a nice way. :-)