Every romance novel has two basic elements:
Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot.
Do you prefer a chaste love story, with nothing more explicit than holding hands? Or do you prefer something more sensual, even erotic? Or perhaps you prefer something in-between depending on your mood.
Most readers have a definite preference regarding the explicitness and development of the physical relationship in a Romance. So, sensuality ratings for suggested titles are provided on this guide. The rating system is based heavily on the system created by a website called All About Romance.
Below is a complete explanation of each level of rating from All About Romance:
|Kisses||Kisses only. Many of these books are quite simply "sweet."||Most traditional Regencies fit this category, as well Harlequin Romance and Silhouette Romance titles. Authors who tend to write "Kisses" romances include Betty Neels, Nicole Burnham, Lisa Wingate, and Donna Simpson.|
|Subtle||No explicit sensuality. Kissing and touching, but physical romance is described in general terms or implied. The emphasis is on how lovemaking made the characters feel emotionally, and not on graphic description, although this does not equate to the use of euphemism or only "petting." Rather, if lovemaking occurs, it is alluded to rather than described, so that the reader's imagination becomes paramount.||Many Harlequin American Romances are written with "Subtle" sensuality. Authors who write at this level of sensuality include Pamela Morsi, LaVyrle Spencer, Debbie Macomber, and Deborah Smith. Traditional Regency authors who tend to write books with "Subtle" sensuality include Patricia Oliver and Karen Harbaugh.|
|Warm||Moderately explicit sensuality. While our lovers do make love, and the reader is there with them, physical details are described, but are not graphically depicted. Much is left to the reader's imagination and/or possibly the use of euphemistic "code words." But what's most important are feelings and emotions, not body parts. While there is sexual tension, there may not be more than one or two love scenes in the whole book. The vast majority of single title romances feature "Warm" sensuality.||Series lines that are generally "Warm" include Harlequin American Romance and Silhouette Special Edition. The vast majority of single title romances fall in either the "Warm" or "Hot" category. Authors who often write at this level of sensuality include Nora Roberts, Susan Wiggs, Rebecca York, Judith Arnold, Mary Balogh (trads and single titles), Edith Layton, and Candace Camp.|
|Hot||Very explicit sensuality. There is an expanded focus throughout the book on sexual feelings and desires. The love scenes are longer, and there are at least two or three of them. The characters often think about their sexual feelings and desires, and making love is graphically depicted, and there may be strong use of euphemistic "code words." Both the emotions of the hero and heroine and the physical feelings of both are important during love scenes.||Most Harlequin Temptations and Blazes, as well as a good number of Silhouette Desires, are "Hot." Authors who tend to write "Hot" romances include J.D. Robb, Leanne Banks, Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley, Karen Marie Moning, Linda Howard, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Andersen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and pre-romantic suspense Julie Garwood|
|Burning||Extremely explicit sensuality - these books are often considered "romantica," a hybrid between erotica and romance.. Sexual feelings and desires are strongly focused on and some books in this category have sex as the primary focus. The details are thoroughly graphic, and may include what some readers might consider kinky.||Many Harlequin Blaze titles are "Burning," as are many of Kensington's Brava line. Authors who are writing Burning romance include "old-line" authors such as Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, and Bertrice Small (who never met a manroot she didn't love), and newer authors to romantica such as Alison Kent, Emma Holly, Cheryl Holt, and Angela Knight|
Lords and Ladies, Sheiks and shapechangers, Witches and Warriors, Romance offers a little for everyone no matter what time or place interests you.
Ancient Scotland, Regency England, modern-day Colorado, and Victorian Egypt offer the settings for our lovers. The challenges to True Love? Feuding clans, corporate spies, demons, and each other!
With so many options, choosing a romance novel can quickly get overwhelming. Here are several titles that are perennial favorites of Romance Readers: