Romance Heat Levels: Steamy, Erotic, Shocking :)

Heat ratings for romance offer readers a quick way to identify the books that are a fit with their tastes. As a reader, they save me time. As an author, I hope they save readers from shock. 🙂 Almost every book I’ve published has a sexual content note in the description. I decided within my first weeks to rate my books like movies. As a reader, I prefer hot books. I spend more time checking out books that include sex—or have complaints about too much sex—than I do perusing mainstream, low-heat, uncontroversial books.

Those outraged 1-star reviews squealing about dirty, filthy, nasty sex grab my attention. Yes, I’m perverted like that. 😉

Baby Countdown 4 Riven
This early book includes Thug and Avenger, now collected in NASTY. It was rejected for an ad because the cover is “too provocative.”

This morning I did a search on romance heat ratings. As we’ve all noticed, there’s no consistent system. I looked at author websites, reviewer websites, and publisher websites. One person’s idea of sensual is my idea of sexless. Two systems put LGBT content of any kind into an erotic category. I’m tempted to explain everything that’s wrong with that, but I have a book to finish. The term ‘Hot’ is sometimes used for books I’d consider barely sensual. It’s clear many people approach the concept of heat in romance from a more mainstream stance than I do.

Some of these rating systems state straight out that erotic books lack plot and emotion, as if that’s a fact instead of an uninformed opinion. According to these people, as soon as you get into a high heat rating, you’re in the land of no character development and nothing but sex. One of these self-elected experts assumes that emotion ends when graphic sex begins. I’m attempting to grasp this limited view, but it’s not making sense to me. In my world, sexual intimacy includes emotion.

When I started my search, I planned to include links to a few heat rating systems as a resource for readers. The anti-erotic bias, even in ratings systems offered by sites that seemed open to erotic fiction, surprised me. I’m still puzzling over the concept that books with LGBT

Towed Viv 4
Towed is included in my collection NASTY. The hunky tow truck driver had been watching her for longer than she knew.

characters are automatically assigned a high heat rating. Apparently, the existence of anyone gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or otherwise differing from gender-normative heterosexuality automatically makes the book erotica.

I’m annoyed that people are making uniformed statements about all erotic fiction, equating every book with explicit sex scenes with plot-less smut. I write erotica, too. It seems that the authors of these romance ratings haven’t read much erotica, or they’d know there’s a long history of literary erotica. And there’s some entertaining smut around, too. I decided not to name specific sites. I don’t blog to call people out. I’d rather spend my time writing character-driven erotic books, the books that a surprising number of self-elected experts assume can’t exist.

One of the challenges of putting content notes in my book descriptions is that I don’t want to spoil the book. Still, many readers want to know ahead of time if a book contains BDSM, a virgin, instant love, spanking, possible triggers, menage, bisexuality, adult language, violence, and other things that might be a selling point or stopping points. I’ve opted to give away details that have the greatest potential to disturb or entice readers. I have a few triggers myself, so I respect that many people want an idea of what they’re getting into when it comes to potentially disturbing content.

Here are a few of my books:  Werewolf's First Love new 6

Werewolf’s First Love

This was my first romance and it’s one of my favorites. It’s the most intimate and tender love story I’ve written. Both characters are virgins. It’s an interracial romance between a Wyatt, a white shifter raised in a wolf pack, and Charity, a Black church singer who lives in the town below his territory. I grew up on a ranch and enjoyed going back to my beginnings. There’s explicit sex and mild consensual BDSM.

 

Mr. Beast: An Adult Fairy Tale

This short tale has surprised me by becoming my most popular erotic romances. It attracted a couple of mean reviews. I’d be grateful to any readers who would help balance those out with honest reviews! Tap the hot man on the cover to reach the book page.

Mr. Beast 3This is one of my mildest books. The heroine is unconventional in her desires, though, and I made the characters more diverse than they are in the old versions. I’ve been enjoying wicked fairy tale retellings most of my life. I adore books by Tanith Lee, Angela Carter, and tales collected by Ellen Datlow.

I haven’t seen the Disney movie. Under my erotica pen name, I wrote several fairy tales before I ever heard of this movie. The news of the gay character delighted me. I read a couple of the oldest versions of Beauty and the Beast, and then I wrote mine. Many readers didn’t read or ignored my note on the differences between fairy tales and contemporary romance. The rude reviews are reminders that I can’t please everyone. I’m glad some of the readers appreciate it.

Beyond Bad Boy—Classified as Erotica by AmazonWhite Trash 10

White Trash is my breakout book. This is where I threw out everything I’d been studying about romance and pushed disturbing themes from Amazon top sellers to the extreme. I wrote it before Mr. Beast. It came out of frustration and anger. Like Werewolf’s First Love, it takes off from life out in the sticks. This book has also attracted mean reviews. If you’ve read it and have time to leave your honest review, it would mean a lot to me.

This book is closer to who I am as an author than most of the other books I’ve published. It’s strange, dark, and disturbing. I’m gratified that some readers grasped my intentions with this book. I decided not to explain it, because that would feel like cheating. I’d rather that you have your own experience and make of it what you will.

Due to reader demand, you powerful people you, I wrote White Trash 2: Training the Billionaire’s Daughter. It’s available for the sale price of 99 cents in preorder on Amazon.

Virgin in Africa

Bisexual Romance with BDSM

Virgin in Africa, originally titled Losing It in Africa

The threesome: A curvy hacker, a billionaire and his bodyguard
This was my first self-published novel. It’s a billionaire first boss interracial MMF menage romantic thriller. Yeah, not a write-to-market book. It’s now available exclusively to members of my private High-Heat Book Club. If you want to subscribe and get your free copy of Virgin in Africa, tap the hot Black man on the book cover. As a club member you get my weekly newsletter with special previews, mini updates on my travels—plus hot free and on-sale books from me and selected authors. Many of the participating authors are offering scorching bestsellers in these deals. 🙂

Virgin in Africa contains BDSM and sex scenes, including MMF. Possible triggers for older man younger woman/boss employee lust, male dominance, punishment and detailed first-time sex with two men. This is a dirty book and a full-length standalone thriller. Yes, a unicorn book: Character arcs, action beyond sex, and lots of detailed, orgasmic goodness. Apparently, this isn’t supposed to exist, but it does because I wrote it. I hope you enjoy it.

Love,

Viv

from a ranch next to a Maya village at the tip of the Yucatan peninsula

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