There is a constant debate over on bookstagram that gets incredibly heated, and it goes something like this: Team Steam or Team Sweet? But I’m here to say, why can’t we have both in a single book? Cue me ripping off my business suit and revealing my superhero spandex uniform underneath. It’s neon and bedazzled.
A while ago I noticed this great divide between readers who like reading scenes of intimacy between characters and those who absolutely do not. These two reader groups rarely ever cross over, and personally, I think a lot of amazing friendships are missed out on in the bookish community because of it. I also noticed another sector of readers that say steamy romances often feel too unrealistic and sex driven, relying on the act of intimacy to carry the plot rather than the storyline, and that on the flip side, sweet books feel corny or too hallmarky. (Hallmarky is totally a word, right?) That’s when I decided I wanted to write a book that could bridge the divide and bring these different reader groups together in the form of a closed door romantic comedy.
Now, I’m not claiming to have invented the wheel or anything. There are plenty of authors who have been doing this successfully for some time already (if you’re reading this Sariah Wilson, I love you!), but they are rare and harder to find. And they are definitely lacking in the romantic comedy world. Usually you have to pick between men with rippling abs on the cover (I know…it’s such a trial to have to look at them, right?) or inspirational fiction. NOW WAIT, if you’re an author who writes in one of those genres, don’t hit me with stones yet. Both genres are wonderful and important and needed. But today, I’m specifically highlighting that murky in between genre. We’ll refer to it as the golden bridge crossing between these two different worlds of readers, bringing them together into a new civilization! Am I being too dramatic? Answer: no.
Because if K-dramas and Turkish romance shows have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes, women don’t want the characters to have sex. GASP. I know. This is blowing your mind. But there’s something about the buildup, the chemistry being pulled taut through the entire novel; the writer having to bring to life every discrete brush of fingers, every tantalizing close breath against the heroine’s neck, longing looks, and desire so palpable it feels like the pages will burst on fire without dipping over into explicit content.
Maybe it’s that in a closed door romance, the heroines are often wooed by loving acts outside of sexual intimacy and sometimes that is a breath of fresh air? I have a theory that women (even those who like the steamiest of reads) sometimes want a story that doesn’t center around sex, even if they don’t realize it yet. Evidence being the number of reviews I see placed on closed door romances that say things along the lines of, “Never even missed the sex! The story was that good! Favorite read this year!” So this can’t be all in my head, right? The fact that foreign shows are constantly being praised on social media and yet they barely ever show the main characters kissing has to mean something. (If you haven’t watched all fifty-one episodes of Erkenci Kus yet, I’ll pause while you get caught up.)
So what does a great book that can bridge this gap and fill a void in the romance market look like practically? This is what I always strive to write: A ton of laughs, because a hit of serotonin is good for everyone. Mature content that discusses real world issues without crossing over into crass or crude language. Lots of innuendo, because innuendo is sort of like being in on an inside joke with your best friend. Loads and loads of heart palpitating chemistry that carries through the entire book. Supporting characters that are fun and enjoyable but also have very little to do with the story, because let’s face it, no one picked up the book to hear about them. And of course…great make out scenes!
So far, I have two romantic comedies out on the market that aim to tick all the boxes mentioned above. And how’s it going for me? Amazing! I’ve received so much support, and I love that my reader base spans across the steamy and sweet world, with them often coming together to buddy read one of my books!
I think it’s time we shine a brighter light on this sub-genre and give it a recognizable name so others can feel more comfortable to join. Here’s a couple ideas: Steamy Sweet? Sweetie Steamies? I’ll keep working on it.
Have I convinced you to give it a try yet?