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Super Sweet to Sizzling Hot

Super Sweet to Sizzling Hot, Heat Levels Defined in Romance by Tara L. Ames

According to Romance Writers of America, (RWA), romance is a billion-dollar industry and still leads the market in sales compared to all other genres. Readers want to escape for a while and be swept away to that wonderful world of fiction, whether it’s a sweet love story or an erotic romantic adventure. That’s the beauty of books, there is something out there for everyone. And that includes varying degrees of heat in a romance novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ve define below the heat level found in romances ranging from sweet to erotic:

Heat Scale 1-5

1-2 Clean Romance

If writing a sweet, clean romance, the hero and heroine may not kiss until the very end of the book, when all their troubles have been resolved and they discover they can’t live without one another. The TV series and movies aired on the Hallmark Channel are perfect examples of this genre. My favorite one is When Calls the Heart.

3+ Steamy Romance

While some readers prefer their hero and heroine to only hold hands or kiss each other lightly on the lips, others may want the heat turned up a few notches between their two main characters—such as with mine in the Alpha Aviators Series.

In THE RISK TAKER, book 1 in the series, Top Gun Navy Aviator LT Commander Michael Merrick wanted Commercial Artists Samantha Jackson to be a distraction, not the main attraction, morning, noon, and night.

I can assure you they are doing a lot more than just light hand holding and spooning—but not to the point where it involves other couples, or whips and chains, which leads me to the next two levels-whew!! These will really sizzle you.

4 -5 Erotica Romance Vs Erotic Romance

Erotica romance actually has a plot and multi-dimensional characters who have problems to overcome or resolve. Their love scenes, however, usually propel the story and involve colorful dialogue, sex toys, more than one partner: Vampire/Werewolf/Shifter (V/W/S), M/M/F, F/F/M—the initials go on, but you get the jest of it. Many books include BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) scenes. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James is a perfect example of this genre.

Erotic Romance has two or more characters and the whole story may be nothing but getting it on. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail here.

Most importantly, as a writer if you state you write sweet and clean or erotica romance then your book better be at that expected heat level, or you could upset your readers.

To learn more about Tara L. Ames, an award winning author, and her books, feel free to check out her website at

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