X: X – Rated X? Heat Levels in Romance Books
Ha! I’ll bet you wondered what people are coming up with for ‘X’ in the A to Z Blog Challenge. I mulled over that one for quite a long time myself. This is one of the trickier letters to write about. So in a bit of a stretch, I went with Rated X and the heat levels in romance books.
Most people know what ‘Rated X’ means when talking about movies. But what about books? Romance stories run the gamut from where nary a kiss is seen, all the way to graphic scenes that hold nothing back. How are books rated?
Romance heat levels are subjective and the descriptions vary with different publishers, and also from author to author. Readers also can rate books differently. What’s too racy for one reader may be too tame and boring for another. Publishers rate their books on different heat levels, so readers can find books in the styles they most like to read. Unfortunately, each publisher has their own heat ratings, so they can vary from book to book.
Chris and Cecelia have a good blog post where they discuss what makes one romance sweet and another erotica. Here’s what they have to say about it:
Sweet Romance doesn’t contain any sexual scenes. We have an understanding that the main characters have sex but there is no description of the acts. There might be sexual tension throughout the story.
Sensual Romance has an increased level of sensuality in love scenes, which are consummated, and an integral part of the story. The love scenes are not explicitly described even though they might occur more than once on the course of the story. Emotion and conflict run high. No graphic language or violence is used in love/sex scenes’ descriptions.
Erotic Romance is a step up from Sensual where the sex scenes are hot, the language graphic, and the love/sex scenes thoroughly described. There is an abundance of sexual tension and sex/love scenes abound. Erotic romances can push the envelope almost to the edge of erotica but the characters in erotic romance are generally in monogamic relationships and the stories are expected to end in HEA.
Erotica usually means no holds barred. Ménage/multiple partners, BDSM and other less discussed taboos are frequently explored openly. The sex is plentiful, sporadic, intentional, chaotic and VERY explicit. Language can be often crude. An HEA is not required. The only no-no for publishers of this heat level seems to be illegal or some taboo subjects (usually described in the publisher’ submission guidelines).
And that’s our ‘X’ post for the day!