Note: This blog post is one I wrote exactly four years ago, prompted by a reviewer who complained about the lack of “heat” in my work. I thought it was worth a quick update and a re-run…
“Show me the money!” screams Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the film Jerry Maguire. In porn parlance, it’s called “the money shot.” Yes, romance novels are often associated with sex—an image promoted by torrid covers of shirtless men clutching panting heroines in the throes of passion.
Is there anything wrong with that? No, of course not. It’s all good fun; escapism had for less than the price of a movie ticket. I used to gobble up bodice-rippers when I was a hormonal teen. White lines would appear on the spine of the paperbacks where the particularly juicy scenes could be found. Sometimes, with historical romances, I would actually learn something other than intimate details of procreation.
In this topsy-turvy world, writing romance novels without “money shots” has actually become controversial. Unless the book specifies it’s Amish or Christian, some people expect a little friction between the sheets. Even if the story is categorized as Young Adult, readers often look for the spice…and get annoyed when it fails to materialize.
In traditional Regency romance (romance set during the British Regency from 1811-1820), no explicit sex occurs. The last few years have seen the rise of a more modern Regency romance; romances of a non-traditional sensual variety (ie: more “marketable”).
So why on Earth would an author swim against the tide of filthy lucre (money) and write what might be termed “clean” or “sweet” romance…especially considering reader expectations? Call me crazy, but personally I think readers should have choices. I don’t think novels and stories without explicit sex scenes need be antiseptic or anemic. In my romances, for example, my characters have physical feelings and thoughts. For me, the money shot is the kiss! I also tend to put exciting adventure in my stories…fisticuffs, sword fights, and escapes from death.
If you’re looking for a good time that doesn’t involve *ahem* “biology,” check out Clean Indie Reads. The blog features “flinch-free” fiction in a variety of genres. (Psst: several of the CIR authors are having an upcoming Valentine’s Day promo, February 11 – 14, 2018). Clean Reads (slogan All Story. No Guilt) is also a publisher I’ve working with in the past, which specializes in sweet romance and fiction in various genres.
I guess you could say “clean” fiction is now edgy. And I guess I can call myself a maverick.