Mild, Medium, Hot or Suicide?

Once in a while, I read customer reviews or get reader mail complaining about the level of sex in my books. I think this is partly my own fault, because I’ve written everything from the sweet traditional Regency (my first two stories) to my newest novella, which was originally targeted for Harlequin’s sexy Undone! line. It’s no wonder that readers who prefer just one heat level get confused.

But I’ve actually put a lot of thought into how to package my reissued stories. I want my covers to hint (though not scream) at the sensuality. I’ve also try to address this in the product descriptions I write (excerpt here).

LADY EM’S INDISCRETION is an original, sexy Regency novella (short story) by award-winning author Elena Greene. Length: about 13,000 words (7 chapters). Sensuality: Erotic. Lovemaking scenes are central to the story.

I didn’t originally call this story “erotic” because I’ve read erotic romances that are far edgier than this (bondage, multiple partners, etc…) I only updated it to “erotic” after several complaints. But I still get the occasional review that this novella has too much sex in it. Funny, they also sometimes complain that it is too short.

So while at a pub with friends last night, I wracked my brains and came up with a brilliant solution for helping readers find what they want.

I thought about the fact that I read all levels of romance, from sweet to erotic. Characterization and storytelling are what matter most. But it’s totally different when Buffalo chicken wings are concerned. “Mild” is too bland, “Hot” is too spicy and “Suicide” would probably kill me. So it’s always “Medium” for me.

Taking the chicken wing analogy to romance, romance novels could be categorized and labeled as follows:

Mild – things you can talk about at a PTA or church meeting
Medium – things you’ll admit having done
Hot – things you’ve actually done
Suicide – things that are fun to imagine but you’d probably never do

All we have to do is get bookstores and reviewers to buy into this. It should be a snap.

What do you think? How would you handle this?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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