Sex in Romance Books: We Need to Stop Using the Term “Clean” Because it’s Not “Dirty”

Today I’m talking about something that has been on my mind recently and that’s sex in romance books. The push to write this comes from a discussion I had with a few authors. They all have been told at one time or another by some readers that they should consider writing “clean” books. Because they won’t read any more of their books otherwise.

Now one of these authors is one I read all the time and her covers clearly indicate that there are sex scenes. They are not erotic or erotica or even close to it. This author and many others I read actually write all different heat levels. I include heat level in my reviews so that readers know if it’s their preferred heat level.

Sex isn’t Dirty

Sex is one of the most natural things in the world and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Now I’m not saying you’re wrong if you don’t want to read sex scenes. There are a million reasons to not want to read them from having kids around and not wanting them to read it to just not liking them. To each their own and what they like. I personally don’t like to read hardcore BDSM or threesomes, but I’m not going to tell an author not to write it or bash those that read it.

Readers that say things like this to authors tend to say it in a way that makes it sound like they should be ashamed. It also adds to the stigma that romance novels are porn and shames other readers. This is why so many romance readers hide what they read.

Call it Sweet, Chaste, or Closed Door

I personally call anything with no mention of sex “sweet” because they usually tend to also have a Hallmark movie or fairytale feel. If they still have some grit to them like Lynda Cox’s Brokken Road books do. Then I call them “chaste” like she does because they aren’t all sunshine and roses, but still no sex scenes. “closed door” is another great way to refer to any book that doesn’t have sex scenes in it. Any of those terms take away the shameful undertone that “clean” can have.

I get that sometimes a cover and/or blurb doesn’t indicate if there are sex scenes or not. When you aren’t expecting a sex scene it can be shocking. I’ve been shocked both ways, but not in a bad way. But if you buy a book that has a half-dressed person or couple on it, there is a pretty good chance there is sex in it. Don’t get mad at the author for writing it.

If you’re ever not sure if there is sex or not in a book, you can look at the reviews on the site you are on or Google reviews of the book. Many bloggers include heat levels in their reviews.

Why is Sex Even in Romances?

The short answer is sex sells, but that is not the only reason. Again sex is a natural thing and you expect that a healthy couple in a relationship will have sex (the pre-marital sex in books debate is for another day). Everyone has their reasons for wanting to read sex scenes and they aren’t all the same. With authors, they don’t always start out planning to write sex scenes, but the story leads to it naturally and sometimes it’s the other way around.

Sex scenes aren’t just filler and usually add to the story. You can tell the difference in most cases. I know many readers that don’t like sex scenes so they just skim over them for anything that might be mentioned later. They don’t have a problem with sex being in the book, but just don’t like to read them.

Sex isn’t just in Romance

A funny thing is that when you attach romance to a book is when people tend to change how they feel about it. For example, my dad loves westerns, but won’t touch the westerns I have because they are romance. Guess what is the westerns he’s read? Yep, sex. Many men (not all) will read fiction that has sex scenes and romance, but don’t have a problem until romance is attached to the book. Outlander is another example of this. Romance didn’t really get attached to it until the show started. Before then many men would talk about it like it was sci-fi or fantasy only.

There are tons of fiction books that aren’t marketed as romance and have graphic sex scenes. My brother reads sci-fi and fantasy books and just about every single one has sex in it. I’ve read historical fiction that isn’t marketed as romance, but romance is a huge part of the story.

I end with saying authors can’t please everyone and readers can’t expect authors to change for them. There is always a book out there that fits your needs.

If you are ever looking for books with specific heat levels while here on my blog. You can hover (or click if on a phone) over the word “Reviews” on my menu and hover over “By Spice Level”. All you have to do is click on whatever level you are looking for and it will take you to a page of only reviews that match that level.

On my blog, I read from 1 kiss to 5 kisses.

1 – means there are little to no kisses in the book and not even a whisper of sex. You can’t get any more “sweet” than that.

2 – means that sex is behind closed doors. It can be lead up to as in going into a room or kissing, but clothes are still on. Or it’s just referenced as happening without details.

3 – means there are sex scenes, but they aren’t graphic as in not every little detail and the language is pretty tame for the most part. There aren’t usually more than 2 sex scenes.

4 – means the sex scenes are more graphic and the language is a bit more explicit. There are usually more sex scenes and they are longer.

5 – means the doors are wide open and things are getting more on the BDSM (I don’t consider blindfolds and light restraints to be on this level) side of things. Sex scenes tend to happen a lot (as in over 5) or there are just scenes that aren’t fitting for other levels.

Advertisements

Drama in the Romance Community: Why You Shouldn’t Boycott the Books and How You Can Make Your Voice Heard

You’re getting a bonus blog today and sadly it’s not for a good reason.

If you’re on any social media and follow romance authors then you’ve probably heard about the latest drama involving a cover model. If you haven’t then just look up Suzan Tisdale on FB because she has a video talking about it.

Now the reason for this post is because Many readers are saying they won’t buy books with this model on the cover. THIS IS NOT a good thing to do because you will be hurting the authors you love more than you will be hurting him.

Reasons not to do this

  1. Not every author has control over their covers so they can’t change them. If they are with a publisher they can’t just say I don’t want him on my book anymore.
  2. Not every indie author can afford to change their cover. Most aren’t rolling in money so they can’t just change it. Covers can cost $150 and up per book and if they need to change many that’s a fortune. Stock images are cheap by themselves either.
  3. You may not even know he’s on their covers. Authors buy stock images and sometimes you don’t even recognize the model after editing. I know one that has him on several covers and I didn’t know it and can’t tell which ones.
  4. Not buying their books will mean less money coming in for them. They could be planning to change the cover, but no sales mean no money to do it.
  5. A new cover isn’t instant. If the authors are changing their covers it will take time. Cover design takes time and artists are busy (I know one that books up months in advance). They have to work with the authors to get new images and design the covers.

What you can do

  1. support the authors looking to change their covers. Buy their books and when they change their covers your Kindle editions will update. If you already have the book then buy for friends.
  2. Spread the love. If you see authors, cover artists, and cover models offering to help authors change their covers share the news. If you know of romance books that have heroines that are curvy and/or struggle with body image share them.
  3. Voice your opinions nicely to publishers. There is power in numbers and if they see a lot of readers aren’t into a cover they sometimes will change it. I’ve seen this done before when readers didn’t like a cover.

My feelings on this

I personally pay little attention to male models on covers and I don’t buy a book based on its cover. Pretty colors and dresses get my attention more. I’m not going to punish authors for having him on their covers. I’m also not a cover model follower and there are only two male models that I usually recognize right away. I only know one’s name (Michael Foster) and follow him because he is very sweet and kind at all times.

I know I was offended by what was said and not just because I’m a curvy girl. No one should by body shamed or judged by how they look. Ugly is on the inside and it comes to the surface no matter what you do.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Book Blogger

Text placeholder

It’s Random Friday!

Life and work have been getting in the way of my normal schedule, but I’m back. Today I want to talk about the pros and cons of being a book blogger. I think this post will help authors, bloggers, and people thinking about being a blogger.

The Pros

1. Your voice is heard

One of the reasons I started my blog was so my reviews would be seen and read. Meaning my voice was heard more about the books I love.

2. You find new authors

I have found many new to me and new authors by blogging. These authors I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. They submitted review requests and most have become favorites of mine.

3. You help authors

This was another reason I started blogging. I could help authors by writing reviews or posting about their books. I love to help newer authors that are just starting out by reviewing their books.

4. You get free books

This is a perk to being a book blogger. When you read my reviews you have seen that some say I received a copy to review. I am sent those to review either through requests or review teams I’m on. I still buy books and review them.

5. People come to you for recommendations

I love to recommend books to people so it’s great when people ask me if I’ve reviewed a certain book or say they were waiting for you to review a certain book. It means they trust you and your reviews.

6. You get some books before others

I love being one of the first people to get a book to review. It means I can review before or on release day and that really helps spread the word about a book. Sometimes it’s months in advance and sometimes weeks.

The Cons

1. You have deadlines

I have to decide what I read based on when reviews are due for a lot of books. Sometimes authors don’t have a deadline and then I read in order I receive. This schedule is always changing.

2. Review requests come first

Your personal reading goes on the back burner. I’ve bought many books, but haven’t gotten to read them because the ones that I’m sent come first. I don’t want to leave those ones sitting and forget about them.

3. Sometimes you get too many requests

I hate when I have a packed schedule and have to turn down requests. It can be because they have a deadline or I’m backed up and don’t want them waiting months for a review. I always explain why I’m turning it down when it’s my schedule.

4. You don’t love every book

My policy is I write a review for every book I read, especially ones I’m sent. I hate it the most when a book is a 3 heart rating or less for me and I was sent it to review. I always keep my reviews positive even when I don’t like it and explain it’s not for me. But I have to keep honest and post it.

 

Those are my pros and cons. Do you have any to add to the list?

Who I am as a Reader in 500 words or less

Who I am as a Reader

I saw this idea on a list of ideas and had to try it. I will break mine down into sections.

Summary

I’m an avid reader of historical romance that is addicted to books and loves many authors. I like all kinds from Medieval to westerns and from sweet to steamy. I’m never without a book and proudly call myself a modern-day bluestocking. You won’t find spoilers in my reviews and I keep it honest and real.

My Challenges 

Finding the balance between books and life outside my blog. I can’t always accept a book due to my schedule and life can get in the way and cause me to miss a requested date. I hate writing 3 hearts or less reviews, but I have to be honest. Trying to read all the books and getting burnt out. Not taking time to read for fun.

My Missions

It has always been to help authors spread the word about their books. I want to pull people in just enough so they want to read the book themselves. I want to help end the stereotype people believe about romance readers and stop the shame some feel from reading romance. I want to bring attention to authors that dare to be different with their stories. I want to help new authors find their place in the book world and encourage them to keep going. All authors need to be encouraged to keep it up.

My Values

I believe in staying honest without being harsh. I don’t bash books or authors. I’m transparent about what goes on behind the scenes. I don’t believe in approaching others with offers of reviews just to get a book that I want. I will never promote getting a book from a pirate site. I don’t take on books I’m not truly interested or don’t have time for. Every review helps even in a small way good or bad.

Where I See Myself in the Book World

I see myself as a small blogger that will help any author if I can. I’m not perfect and I’m still learning. I have become known for taking on the books other won’t touch whether it be because it’s a new author, darker, handles tough subjects, is diverse, or anything else that isn’t considered the “norm”.

Literary Book Gifts Review: Pride & Prejudice T-Shirt + Special Offer

Literary Book Gifts Review_ Pride & Prejudice Tee Shirt (1)

Today I have something special for you that is book related. I was contacted by Melissa who runs Literary Book Gifts about her shirts and bags recently. As soon as I saw her site I was instantly in love with her designs! It took me a bit to decide on which one I wanted to buy and show off. What better for this blog than a Pride & Prejudice shirt! be sure to scroll down for the special offer!!!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Price: 💲💲💲 Quality: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Fit: 😍😍😍😍

I got the XL in Heather Grey and love it! The fit is a little snug, but it does say on the site that they run small and this is the largest women’s size. So I was expecting a snug fit on me. I was worried about the design being stretched across my chest because I’m big busted. It did not stretch or distort one bit on me. The shirt is super soft, well made, and the design is very well printed. The sleeves are the perfect length for me unlike most the do the little cap sleeves that I can’t stand.

The price is a bit on the higher side at $28 for me for one item that I can’t see in person (I’m cheap and on a budget). But I have no problem paying that for this quality shirt and design. I plan to buy more as gifts and for myself.

If you need up to 3XL in women’s or 5XL in men’s thet are available upon request and are being added to the site as soon as possible.

Now the Special Offer!!!

20% off

Melissa has kindly provided me with a discount code for you guys! If you use code SASSYBOOKLOVER20 at checkout you will receive 20% off anything in the store, no minimum, and it can be used unlimited times. —> https://literarybookgifts.com/

If you order share your photos of your gifts and tag me on Instagram @sassybooklover

How My Rating System Works & How I Write Reviews

Add heading (32)

Welcome back!

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of talk about rating systems and reviews. Some don’t understand the process of how someone writes a review and rates a book. So I thought I would explain my process and rating system so you understand me and it may help you with others. Now my Review Policy goes into a lot of detail about what I review and don’t review and how to submit a request. It also explains each heart and kiss meaning. This post is going to elaborate on the ratings and writing of reviews.

My Ratings

I use hearts in place of stars. They mean the same as stars and are just what I prefer to use.  I rate a book on a whole which means that I base it on my overall feeling at the end of the book and how glued to it I was. For example, a book has 4 hearts, but my review looks to you like it should be 5 hearts. There are many reasons it could lose that one heart and usually, it’s in the review as to why. It could be that it was too slow for me, too fast or parts were dragged out. Sometimes it’s because of the hero or heroine just didn’t work for me. At times it can just be as simple as it didn’t leave me wowed, but I still liked it and there’s nothing I can pinpoint to put in the review.

3 heart reviews for me usually have equal positives and negatives in the review. I’m usually split on it where I liked parts but also didn’t like a lot of parts. These tend to be ones that are also affected by my kiss rating, lacking story details, and not liking the hero or heroine for most or all of the story. Too many plot holes without hints of they will be resolved in another book. Many 5 kiss rated books land here if they are mostly love scenes and not enough story for me.

Now my kiss ratings for spice level are going to be different for every reader. What I may consider still on the sweet side others may think it’s too steamy. I use halves at times in my kiss rating because some may be just in between ratings for me. I base my rating on how many love scenes there are, how often they appear and the details in the scenes. These ratings also can affect my heart rating depending on how natural to the story they feel and if they take up too much of the story.

For example, books I give 4 kisses to usually have 3 or more love scenes that are detailed and may have more adult language. The scenes can be close together in books, but they don’t take up pages and don’t take away from the story. They are still natural to the story and characters. 5 kisses usually for me take up too much of the story and the scenes happen too early in a full-length book.

It’s like watching a movie or show and asking myself would I watch it with kids around and would it make my dad uncomfortable. I consider Outlander (the show) to be 4 kisses and it makes my dad squirm and I wouldn’t want kids around for those love scenes. There is full on nudity and nothing is left to the imagination. 3 kisses have nudity but only show from the back and sometimes the side without showing things still. So in a book that would be skimming over details a bit leaving things to the imagination and having 3 or less scenes most of the time.

How I Write My Reviews

When I write reviews I break it into three parts my overall thoughts, the heroine, and the hero. I don’t like to rewrite the blurb or retell the whole story. I try to keep it to the point about what I like without spoilers or going into too much detail. I use the blurb as a guide as to what I can safely mention with more details if needed. My reason is that I want readers to get a taste of what’s in the book with enough detail to keep them guessing. I don’t want to give it all away and a reader not want to read it for themselves because they know what happens. That’s why I say I loved such and such scenes or I didn’t see that coming with whoever. I stay vague so readers will have to read to find out what I’m talking about. If I went into details they would be really long reviews and you wouldn’t have to read the book. I do all that when talking to my brother to organize my thoughts because he’s not going to read the book (and isn’t fully listening) and is being my sounding board.

When I talk about the heroine and hero I talk about their personalities a bit, if I like them, understand them, and some things they do. I do this because I know there are certain types that readers like and don’t like and like to know before buying a book. If a heroine is strong and bold I will talk about that. Same goes for heroes that are misunderstood and come off one way, but change. I don’t go into full details on them but hint at things.

I sometimes add a section about other characters that I loved. How I hope to see them again or wished to have an ending to their story.

I also will include trigger warnings if there is something in great detail and a big part of the story. When I do trigger warnings I still try to avoid spoilers, but I have to mention the specific trigger. I will sometimes praise an authors way of handling a topic if they didn’t use it as an add-in or didn’t ignore the effects it can have. Using it an add-in or treating it as nothing will lower my rating and be mentioned in the review.

I will also praise being historical accurate on things that many don’t even though I understand the reasons for not being accurate with some things. I don’t point out inaccuracies or let them affect my rating unless they are really bad (using modern slag like cool or modern clothing etc).

If you ever have a question about something in a review of mine feel free to ask me by commenting or contacting me.

Where Have I Been & Amazon Troubles

Add heading (28)

Where have I been? I know that’s what you have been wondering for the past week. If you’re not friends with me on FB then you have been wondering why no reviews suddenly. I got hit with a bad summer cold that wore me out and I couldn’t read. I’m talking horrible sore throat for days followed by a bad cough and congestion after that. My mom was hit with Strep so there was the worry about me having that too. I just started to really feel better a couple of days ago, but wanted to give myself a good amount of time to rest.

I had planned to read yesterday and last night for a review today. But I was woken up at 7am yesterday to my mom taking my brother to the ER. He had gotten hit with this cold too, but he got a nosebleed that would not stop and wasn’t a little one. Good news is it was nothing serious but took almost two hours to stop it and most likely due to a sinus infection. The focus was on him for the day and making sure he was okay.

I will have a review for you on Friday.

Now my Amazon troubles. In short, I’ve been banned from reviewing on Amazon. This happened at the same time that I got sick so I’ve been dealing with that too. I contacted them three times before I heard back about why all my reviews were gone and why I couldn’t post any. I was told that elements of my account indicated that I have a relationship to sellers, publishers, and other reviewers. Or that I received compensation for my reviews or requested free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

Do I have a relationship with these people? Not in the sense of being a close friend or family member. I’ve never met a single one in person. I’m a fan, reader, and blogger. My reviews show that I read the books and aren’t always 4 and 5 star reviews so they are honest too. I have bought many of the books and products I’ve reviewed on my own because I wanted them. Not because I was asked to review them.

Am I compensated for my reviews? No. I would never take payment for a review. I am given books to review, but I voluntarily review them. They are honest reviews which means authors don’t expect glowing reviews just because they gave me the books. The only money I make is as an affiliate and that is very little ( a few cents at a time). That’s not for reviews and is just links I post for things I love.

Have I requested free or discounted products in exchange for reviews? No. I know some bloggers will approach authors and publishers for books they want to read. But I don’t do that as I don’t feel its right to do. If I want to read a book I will buy it if there hasn’t been an opportunity to review through a tour, street team, or author asking me if I want to read it. I do have on my blog that if an author submits a book they need to provide a copy. This is standard for bloggers as we can’t possibly afford to buy every book and we usually buy the ones we love.

Need Your Help! Which Contemporary Should I Read?

Need Your Help (1)

If you follow me on Instagram (@sassybooklover) then you know that back in February I won a box full of books. This box was a mystery to me until it arrived and it was full of Contemporary romances. I’ve never read one before and It gave me the idea to once a month read one and post a review here. Now, this is where I need your help. I have no clue as to which one to start with and I know some of you also read contemporary. So you may have read some of these or could just be interested in them.

Here is the picture from my Instagram so you can see the covers. Please vote below and leave a comment. I am not the biggest paranormal fan outside of ghosts, but I will keep an open mind.

Capture

Book Blogger Tag

Book Blogger Tag

It’s Random Friday and time for another tag! I found this one on Trice Read and thought it was a great way for you to get to know how I work.

Enjoy!

Where Do You Typically Write Your Blog Posts?

In my living room with fur babies running around me.

How Long Does It Take You To Write A Book Review?

Depends on the book. It can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour because I try to avoid spoilers and include what I love. Sometimes if the book wasn’t my favorite or the blurb is very short it takes me longer.

When Did You Start Your Book Blog?

It’s been two years now and I love it.

What’s The Worst Thing About Having A Book Blog In Your Opinion?

Falling into reader burn out. This is why I don’t post every day because I don’t want to get burned out and not be posting reviews.

What Is The Best Thing About Having A Book Blog In Your Opinion?

Helping authors get the word out about their books! Especially the new authors that are publishing their first book.

What Blog Post Have You Had The Most Fun Writing So Far?

I think my post about why I write reviews was the most fun.

What Is Your Favorite Type Of Blog Posts To Write?

I really love writing book reviews. I can share my love of a book and it helps me learn what I like and don’t like in books.

When Do You Typically Write?

In the afternoon most of the time.

How Do You Write YOur Book Reviews? With A Cup Of Coffee or Tea? With Netflix? Cuddled With YOur Fur Baby? 

Usually cuddled with my fur baby next to me while the tv plays in the background.

When Do Write You Write Your Book Reviews? Right After Finishing The Book? Two Weeks After Finishing The Book?

I read at night most of the time so I write my review the next day. That’s enough time to think and not forget anything. If I read during the day then right after I finish.

How Often Do You Post?

I post three times a week. Usually, two are reviews, but sometimes all three are reviews.

New Releases This Month That I’m Looking Forward To!

New Releases This Month That I'm Looking Forward Too! (1)

It’s Random Friday and today I am kicking off the idea I talked about on Monday. A post about the new releases this month that I’m looking forward to. I know how hard it is to keep up with all the new releases especially when you love so many authors. I plan to do this once a month at the beginning of the month.

 

 

39076139Blessings from Heaven by Lynn Winchester

Releasing April 18

I can’t wait to continue the series.

 

 

 

39685317Lord of Fortune by Darcy Burke

Releasing April 24

I have been waiting for this book for a long time and can’t wait to dive into it!