June 12, 2009

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

To most readers, the phrase “Sweet Romance” induces the gag reflex, if not a bored sigh. This genre has the embarrassing stereotype of being syrupy fiction with naïve heroines and flawless, pure heroes. It sometimes seems that publishers integrate every modestly written tome into the Inspirational category, but not all sweet fiction books apply. Sweet Romance stories do not have to include story lines of faith.

One of the exciting things about the new world of e-book publishing is that there is more room for those authors struggling to find a foothold for their writing. E-books are not just the new way of picking up a book; they are an ever widening chasm of new and reinvented genres. Sweet Romance no longer means the worn, dog-eared paperback on grandma’s shelf. The whole market has changed.

There are authors all over the world writing stories with three-dimensional characters and breathtaking suspense. And all without graphic sequences of intimacy. For those who feel books without shock value won’t sell, check out some of the new and upcoming authors at review sites such as The Long and Short of It, or Dear Author. Almost all online review sites rate the heat of their featured books. Clearly, there is a market for readers who desire more restraint and emotional connection in their purchases.

In last month’s issue of my monthly newsletter THE PRIVATEER NEWSLETTER, I reviewed Miss Mae’s latest release, IT’S ELEMENTARY DEAR WINIFRED. It was a wonderful adventure--

“Talk about a Victorian fun house: revolving rooms, trick mirrors, and trapdoors, with a cast of characters cleverly plopped onto your Adventure Sundae scoop by scoop. Tie-in Sherlock Holmes and his notorious adversary, Dr. Moriarty, and you have a big red cherry on top.”

Hers is a perfect example of well-written historical fiction without the so often unnecessary details of intimacy. This doesn’t mean that romance in the sweet genre is not romantic. Consider such classics as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, or even today’s TWILIGHT. Clearly, talented writing can take a reader on an emotional journey to happily ever after without following the love struck couple behind closed doors.

With so many genres available on the web for e-book enthusiasts, I was happy to find the small author’s group "The Sweetest Romance" some while ago. This group of writers focuses their storytelling on adventure, humor, and every day challenges, with romance lines that highlight the developing feelings of love two people can discover and share.

There are many other groups, publishers, and bookstores that currently cater to those with conservative taste. A lack of graphic imagery in a romantic storyline does not take away from the quality or satisfaction of the journey. In fact, it touches the heart and reminds us all why we love to fall in love.

Some of my sweet, romantic recommended reads:

“It’s Elementary, Dear Winifred” by Miss Mae
“An Unlikely Missionary” by Skylar Burris
“Journey to Forgiveness” (Inspirational) by Laurean Brooks
And my own historical with sweet suspense,
“The Privateer” by Danielle Thorne


Miss Mae said...

This is an excellent post, Danielle, and you've explained the "sweetest" form of romance succinctly.

As you say, sweet romance is by no means boring, and considering the successes of highly acclaimed films adapted from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens' books--to mention a couple--I think it's definitely making a comeback.

Miss Mae

Hywela Lyn said...

Yes, this is a great post Danielle, I do agree, 'sweet' doesn't have to mean 'tame' and it's possible to write a gripping romance that keeps one on the edge of ones seat and provides a satisfying 'hea' without having graphic bedroom scenes. (Miss Mae's delightful suspense stories are a\case in point!)

Lacey Diamond said...

Great post! I have to admit I do write some of those steamy romances. But I have a new release HOT PROPERTY from Awe-Struck that is a sweet contemporary romance. I really enjoyed writing this book. I think it's a much better book than if I'd had explicit bedroom scenes. I want what goes on behind closed doors for my readers imagination.

Linda Swift said...

Great post, Danielle. And I agree completely with what you say. I think we do the readers no favors by putting so many graphic details into our books. It robs them of the opportunity to use their own imaginations. Good luck with your book sales. Linda