SEXUAL HEAT LEVELS IN ROMANCE
Everyone has his or her own definition of what is “sexy.” In romance novels, heat levels can range from as tepid as room temperature to as hot as the sun.
We appreciate the wide scope of sensuality that exists in the genre. Many book blogs provide sensuality grades for their reviews. As our analyses are fairly detailed, our reviewers at Sweet Savage Flame typically don’t give these ratings.
For that reason, we created a chart listing 6 different levels of heat in romances.
If you’d like to see heat levels in future reviews, please, let us know in the comments.
6 LEVEL OF SEX IN ROMANCE
These are romances devoid of any hint of eroticism.
Think of teen romances from the 1970s to 1990s, like those written by Ellen Conford, Francine Pascal, or Caroline Cooney.
Romances that we label sweet have kissing and perhaps closed-door sex scenes if any. There are no other sexual partners for either hero or heroine.
A declaration of love is essential, as it is that which is the culmination of the story.
These books include those by Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland, or early Harlequin Romances by authors such as Betty Neels.
The reader is privy to the sexual desires of the characters in a warm romance.
Romantic & sexual passages can be euphemistic, brief, and not very graphic. Nevertheless, the emotional experience is prominent.
The warm heat level is typical in many category romances such as the Harlequin Presents line.
Historical romance authors like Laurie McBain, Jude Deveraux, or Julie Garwood wrote love scenes with this style.
4. SENSUAL (aka HOT)
Love scenes in sensual romances are descriptive of both action and emotion. Open-door sex scenes are an absolute must.
Metaphoric language is common in books from the genre’s early years.
But s the 20th century came to a close, authors began to use more accurate terms for body parts. Coarse or “vulgar” language is kept to a minimum.
Sex is designed both to thrill the reader and demonstrate the evolution of the love story.
The Dell Candlelight Ecstasy, Ecstasy Supreme, Harlequin Temptation, and Silhouette Desire lines ushered these kinds of love scenes into contemporary romance.
Erotic romances place heavy emphasis on sexual activities. Not just for the main characters, but side characters also can engage in love-play.
The scenes are pretty explicit. Flowery euphemisms were used in the past. However, the more contemporary erotic romances don’t hold back with raunchy or smutty words.
It’s possible for the hero or heroine to have multiple partners. Still, in the end, monogamous love wins out.
Significant vintage erotic romances authors are Bertrice Small and Susan Johnson, and later Thea Devine and Robin Schone,
Note: we use the term “pornographic” with no negative or positive connations. We use it as a neutral term for a type of novel.
Sex is the primary theme of pornographic works. Any romance in a book with this heat level is a bi-product of the story.
These novels do not typically focus on plots. Instead, a series of sexual escapades is designed to arouse the reader.
There is no overarching love story, even if there is a happy one for a couple.
Anne Rice’s erotic novels written under the names Anne Rampling and A. N. Roquelaure, and Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus are romantic pornographic books.
What do you think of our six levels of heat in romance? Do you agree with our rankings? One person’s kink may be another’s “usual.” So these are relative terms.
Let us know what you think. Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.