But this month's topic is: How have romance novels changed over the past decade? Is there still a market for non-explicit romance?
I don't think it's only been over the past 10 years, but over a much longer time frame, that romance novels have steadily become more explicit. I can remember my mom and her sisters, (all gone but one aunt, almost 90), complaining loudly as they exchanged their "libraries" by the shopping-bag load. "No sex in this one, but a good story." "No sex in this one either, but a very sexy hero." "No sex in any of these? Hardly worth reading!" And they'd all laugh, then launch into dirty stories that had me hanging on every word as a pre-teen, wanting to understand this grown-up world they lived in, and obviously enjoyed so much.
So when I wrote my first novel, I made sure to put in the kinds of scenes my mom and her sisters would have enjoyed. They were old-fashioned gals, so the idea of there being more than one man with a woman would have shocked them. Not to say they wouldn't have read it, and fanned themselves during the hot scenes, but they'd have been uncomfortable. Sex between two men or two women? Nah, not interesting to them...unless maybe one of them had picked one up and read it, then told the others about it. They all had mostly happy marriages, but the excitement had faded from their bedrooms, and they wanted to recapture those feelings, even vicariously, to enjoy them again.
And bondage? A little pretend violence is all they'd have enjoyed. Reading about a female being tied up and/or humiliated would have made them tell each other, "I didn't finish it. It was too awful. He beat her, and she was supposed to enjoy it?" Then they'd have done some serious swearing in Polish, while explaining to each other just what the gal should have done to the man when he suggested her allowing him to hurt her. For all of their domesticity, they were strong women, and you don't hit a strong woman.
Over just the past 10 years, the heat level has remained pretty constant in romance novels. The beauty is that we can all seek out the level we want to read. Some like the pushing-the-envelope erotic stories, with multiple partners, partners of both sexes, and erotic violence with and without implements. Then others like more romance and less sex, so for them there are romances that focus on the love that grows between two (or more) people, encouraging them to form a committed relationship that we hope will result in a HEA...but we do get to experience what they do in the bedroom while falling in love. And yes, there are still readers who want to read about the romance without any real sizzle. They still want to experience falling in love, but they don't want to read the details of what happens when the lovers get down to it.
The many new choices in publishing have allowed for different voices to be made available, and hopefully there are readers enough for all of us. What do you think? What kind of romances do you like to read? Do you have any trouble finding them?
What do the other participating authors think? Read their thoughts at:
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/