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  • Writer's pictureSusan Gable

Not Spicy…Not Sweet…Just Right?

It seems like romance is divided up into two classifications: steamy (aka “spicy) and sweet (aka “clean.” Which begs the question – the other kind is “dirty?” Really?) When I try to book promotions for my novels, those are usually the two options.

But some of us don’t fall into either camp. My books aren’t hot and heavy. But I can’t label them as sweet because my characters swear (confession time – so do I, sometimes) and I tend to leave the bedroom door open.

Why do I leave the bedroom door open? Because my books follow the development and growth of a romantic relationship. For some of us, there’s a lot of meaning the first time you shed your clothes and get intimate with someone. That’s a big turning point in a relationship. It’s a scary, vulnerable moment, too. Everyone worries going into that situation.

Do you remember the first time you took your clothes off in front of someone and got intimate with them? For some of us, it was a long time ago. I was married for a long time. After my divorce, when I started a new relationship, let me tell you…that moment can definitely be scary. How you both handle it says a lot about each of you. (One generally hopes that the fear is leading up to the big reveal, not that your partner is horrified after you shed your clothing! Though that’s often part of what’s feared.)

Since it’s a big turning point, I feel the reader ought to be in on that journey as well.

I could close the door and pick you up the next morning. Or later that afternoon, or whenever. But I feel like you’d miss something. Something important (besides sex!) likely happened during that time.

My books are about way more than sex. They even cover more than just the romantic relationship. I border between romance and women’s fiction with what I write. You’ll meet the family members and other folks who matter to my hero and heroine.

But the sex matters, too.

I do have one book where I closed the bedroom door – my very first book. After that, I opened the door.

I’m not sure what to do going forward. Because I’m in this middle ground of not spicy, not sweet. Maybe it is time to reevaluate my thinking and writing and shut the door going forward. (Writing those love scenes can be...excuse the unintended euphemism but totally appropriate word…hard.)

I know the readers who want sweet aren’t happy with the on-screen love scenes. The only really bad reviews on my first-in-series A Hero to Keep on Amazon are from people who thought they were getting a “clean” or Christian book, and instead found sex and the occasional swear word. I ended up putting a disclaimer in the description because I don’t want to disappoint or upset readers!

But what about everyone else? Do you get upset if you pick up a book that was listed with “steamy” romances, only to discover that there’s one, maybe two, love scenes, and those aren’t as heavy duty as you’d expected?

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