I recently read a post on Facebook where a Christian author was complaining that it was getting to the point where Christian books should be labeled as to whether or not they contained described and/or graphic sex, profane language, excessive on camera violence etc. Her chief complaint was that since these books were written for Christians, they shouldn’t have any of that in it.
I didn’t think too much of it. IMHO, Christian books should reflect the world they portray. If any author writes a book that has a drug dealer in it or dirty cops, gang bangers or rock stars, chances are–even if the characters redeem themselves by the end of the book–there’s going to be some language along the way. It just seems natural to me.
But I realize now that she was just trying to protect her genre. And how did I figure this out?
A friend of mine just wrote a fantastic book. It’s gritty and raw. It’s the story of a disillusioned rock star and a graphic designer with a brain tumor. Her book does not end happy. No HEA equals no romance in my world. But so many people are calling her book a romance. (Don’t get me wrong: it’s a fantastic book, most probably the best thing she’s ever written. It’s brilliant.)
Yet to me, it’s not a romance.
But it goes beyond that. I get a Bookbub and eBook Soda email each day. On one such email I received an ad for a book that was a forbidden stepbrother priest romance. Huh? And it was in the inspirational category. Whaaaat?
I’ve prowled around on amazon and I’ve seen the warnings, “This book contains (enter undesirable behavior here.)” Rape, bondage, incest. And these are labeled romance! Some have husbands and wives cheating on each other, hitting each other, and even the unmarried heroes and heroines having sex with other people in the book. Not. Romance. Not to me anyway.
This makes me as indignant as the author who wants to keep Christian fiction clean. I want to keep romance…romantic.
When I first started writing romance there were certain rules that had to be followed. The hero and heroine couldn’t kiss anyone else in the book. I was even turned down once because my hero was in a relationship at the beginning of the book. Never mind that the reader knew before they even did that the relationship was for convenience only and would never stand up in the face of love. The editors didn’t like it.
The words used to describe the actual sex act were nicer. Cleaner, maybe even a little euphemistic, but hey, this is romance, woman’s fantasy. It should be romantic. It needs to be romantic. The relations between the couple should be beautiful. The way love should be.
Language was also cleaner. I can remember when the ‘s’ word couldn’t be used in Harlequins. And the language in single title books, might cross that line from time to time, but definitely not on a regular basis.
So what does this have to do with you?
In July the first book in my new series will be released. It’s a contemporary secular romance. Heartwarming, which means it’ll leave you with the warm fuzzies, and western which means it takes place in Texas and there are cowboys involved. But the main thing is that it’s a little old school.
Yes, it has described love scenes, just a couple. They are beautifully written and very much necessary to the plot. In fact, without the first one, there is no story. There is a touch of language, but you can count the words on one hand, maybe two. And what is used keeps the book firmly in the PG-13 category. Not above.
My main focus for this tale, as it is with any of my books, is the story. I wanted to bring the reader the best story I could.
I love Seth and Jessie. Their love is nearly impossible and has to be weighed against the needs of the Langston family and Jessie’s need to get away from the town that won’t allow her to outlive her undeserved reputation. It’s a poignant story about second chances and unrequited love. But it won’t need any warnings. Unless I say:
Warning: this book contains sweet love scenes between a small town sheriff and his brother’s girl. It may cause feelings of wistfulness and nostalgia. After reading this book people have been known to want to move to Cattle Creek and take up residence. Unfortunately it only exists in the author’s imagination but you can visit again in the next book in the series.
Until then, check out my new website dedicated to the Cattle Creek series.