If you are new to the romance genre, it’s important to realize the distinction between “sweet” romance and “spicy” romance. According to Raine at Author’s of Mainstreet:

Sweet romances emphasize the emotional intimacy between the hero and the heroine. Although these stories may contain sexual tension, they do not contain sex scenes—think of G to PG rated movies. It is possible for the hero and heroine to have had a sexual history, but it’s not shown on the page. Kissing is okay. Everything else is frowned upon. The same thing applies to offensive language.

On her blog, Melissa Combs describes the heat levels in romance. She describes spice romance as:

sensual, sexual, and edgy. Characters are comfortable with their sexuality. You can push sexual boundaries but never cross them. The sex/love scenes are usually longer and can increase in frequency. The Harlequin imprint Blaze falls into this category of romance. (Comparable to rated-R)

For fun, I used ChatGPT to summarize the difference between sweet and spicy romance. The chatbot did a pretty good job, although I did have to edit the description below. (I also ran it through a plagiarism checker.)

The difference between sweet romance and spicy romance lies in the level of sensuality and explicitness portrayed in the romantic relationship depicted in the story.

Sweet romance novels typically focus on the emotional connection and romantic journey between two characters. These stories are characterized by their light and wholesome content, with little to no explicit language or sexual scenes. The emphasis is on the emotional and intellectual connection between the characters, and the development of a loving relationship that is based on mutual respect, trust, and affection.

On the other hand, spicy romance novels are characterized by their sensual content. These stories often include explicit language and sexual scenes that are described in detail. The physical attraction and sexual chemistry between the characters is important, and the story is often driven by the passion and desire that they share. However, emotional and intellectual connection between the characters can also be very important.

Both sweet and spicy romances include a happy ending where the characters get together “for now” or for keeps.

Reading Sweet Romance to Escape

Adulting is hard. There are so many things to tend to: the full-time job, paying the bills, parenting the kids, working the side hustle, planning for retirement. It all gets…overwhelming. Sometimes we need a break. Sweet romance novels can provide that break.

It can remind us of a time when life was simpler, when responsibilities weren’t so multitudinous, and the kids didn’t knock on the door when mom and dad were trying to have “quiet” time. Not that that’s ever happened to me.

Reading Sweet Romance to Remember

Reading about a couple’s young love can remind us of the butterflies we once felt with our spouse or partner. The best sweet romance can help reignite those butterflies toward our significant other. We can get lost in the sweetness of “first love,” and reinvigorate our youthful, romantic side. Who doesn’t want that?

Why I Keep It Sweet

There are a few reasons:

  1. I’m generally a private person.
  2. I don’t want my kids, my family, or my church family to read explicit material written by me. That’s just…embarrassing, imo. I want to be able to share my stories without blushing or caveats such as, “Skip Chapter 10 if you don’t want to be surprised.”
  3. I want to uphold the ideal of preserving sex for marriage. While I do reserve the artistic freedom to allow my characters to make choices based on their own belief systems, most of my stories will honor the sacredness of the marriage bond and edify and encourage people who choose to wait.

No Judgement Zone

I realize sweet romance isn’t everyone’s thing. I’m not here to judge anyone’s reading choices. Writers have different goals, and readers have different tastes and that’s fine. Some readers enjoy both sweet and spicy stories, and I’m here to satisfy that sweet need!

Do you like spicy or sweet? Or both?

Let me know!

I love hearing from you.

Until next time.