It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings

AAR’s sensuality ratings have come under discussion lately due to the changing nature of the romance industry in general. With the recent proliferation of racier novels, what was once declared Hot may now be considered barely Warm by our readers. The language used in love scenes, once a deciding factor in rating, has also changed drastically in recent years.  Quaint euphemisms such as “manhood” or “heated channel” have fallen by the wayside.

If we update our sensuality ratings in response to changes in the industry, what sort of changes should we make?

One issue under discussion was possibly adding another category after Burning.  For instance, Penelope and Prince Charming by Jennifer Ashley was given a Burning rating because of some mild anal play and very frank love scenes. But does PaPC compare to Sarah’s Seduction by Lora Leigh which would be given the same rating by today’s rules?

And how should language affect rating? In the not so distant past the words “cock” and “clit” were pretty rare in mainstream romance, their presence garnering a Hot rating just on principal. Is it shocking to read a review rated Warm, only to find language once considered very blue when you read the book? Conversely, some readers may be disappointed to purchase a book rated Burning because of language or one delicately described incident of alternative lovemaking, when their hope was for something more raunchy.

Another factor that should be addressed is sexual violence. (Let’s not get bogged down in comments about how there is nothing sexual about rape.) Recently I read a book by a favorite author who’s writing is normally rated PG. The book was a departure for the author and there was an extremely violent rape scene that was written in great detail. Where would that fit in the current rating system? With more female action heroes in urban fantasy novels and paranormals, should we also have a violence rating to encompass their adventures?

If you read our current sensuality ratings, you’ll see that they are outdated and clunky. This issue was raised in another blog by SandyAAR, but the comments got bogged down in unrelated discussions regarding the difference between romance and erotica, and a lot of readers commented that they were satisfied with the status quo. So the idea was scrapped for a number of years. I feel its time to try again. My suggestions are:

None:

At no point in the book is lovemaking (or rape or other sexual violence) described beyond mention that it has occurred. There may be kisses or petting, pregnancy, mention of a wedding night, etc, but at no time is the reader present during a love scene or forced intercourse.

Warm:

Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.  The reader is present when sex occurs for an unlimited number of times, written with gentler euphemisms or correct terminology (orgasm, penis, erection, bundle of nerves, etc).

Hot:

Sex with variations. The reader is present during self-pleasure to orgasm, oral sex, light bondage, sex toys, anal play, etc. Love scenes written with racier verbage (quim, cum, cock, clit, etc).

Burning:

Sex with more extreme variations. Anal penetration, extreme bondage, multiple partners, homoeroticism. The book is still about the romance, though, not the eroticism. I’d say that sex with a manimal would be included here, too. For language, see Hot.

There you have it. I’m not sure where or how violence could be or even if it should be included in our rating system. Perhaps its best to leave it up to the reviewer to mention instances that readers may find upsetting.

How about our rating system in general? Do you also feel its time for a change? One other point that might be raised – should the sensuality rating be renamed the sexuality rating? There are numerous books that are very sensual that contain little or no actual sex.

Whether or not the publishers agree to my suggestions, we welcome your opinion.

- Wendy AAR

Note from SandyAAR:  These are posted in order to get discussion going again about an update to our sensuality ratings.  These proposed designations are not final.

54 Responses to “It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings”

  1. Judy says:

    Great blog on sensuality ratings.
    Not knowing how many readers are turned off or offended by sex in books, I think adding “none” to the ratings would be important.
    The other three categories should stay the same.

  2. Jane G says:

    Maybe you could include several different rankings? Or keywords specifying the various sensual contents?

  3. “Maybe you could include several different rankings? Or keywords specifying the various sensual contents?”

    I think that’s a really good idea. Tags/keywords could give a much better idea of the contents of the book than an overall rating, particularly if you want to give some indication of the level/type of violence depicted as well as of the type of sex depicted and the language used to describe it.

    A tagging/keyword system would also avoid seeming to make value judgements about particular types of acts. For example, it seems extremely odd to me that “homoeroticism” would automatically take a book into “burning.” What if it’s a kisses-only book about two men? Why would that merit a “burning” rating?

  4. Katja says:

    In all honesty:
    I usually ignore the sensuality rating, because to me language being used, overall setting / feelings between h/h, even my personal situation at the time of reading have a lot of impact how I perceive love scenes in a book.
    Seeing that I’ll read anything from “none” to “burning” as long as its well written and fits the characters and the story, sensuality rating has never been of much interest to me.
    If I’m not in the mood, I’ll probably skip love scenes altogether and just read the rest of the book. (And if I’m in the mood I might just re-read some favourite scenes in a erotica ;-)

    But if there has to be sensuality rating (and I can see, how that would be helpful to other people) I agree: If anything, then keywords would be a good idea, because one persons “hot” button might be another persons “none” issue ;-)
    And somehow frequency of loce scenes vs. rest of content would sometimes be helpful. Especially if I’m in a skipping mood, it can get tedious (and hard to follow an overall storyline) if one has to skip every second page in certain chapters.

  5. Tee says:

    I, too, totally read past or ignore the sensuality ratings in reviews. So, for me, leaving them off would work just as well. But I can see for those who look for them, the above three categories seem to be defining enough (at least until our tolerance parameters are stretched once more up the road).

    I would be in favor of naming them sexuality ratings rather than sensuality, since that’s what is really being personally evaluated.

    Happy to hear that you’re not getting into the violence ratings. As with sexuality, I prefer to rate the books I read myself in that direction.

  6. Lori says:

    Laura Vivanco: “Maybe you could include several different rankings? Or keywords specifying the various sensual contents?”I think that’s a really good idea. Tags/keywords could give a much better idea of the contents of the book than an overall rating, particularly if you want to give some indication of the level/type of violence depicted as well as of the type of sex depicted and the language used to describe it.A tagging/keyword system would also avoid seeming to make value judgements about particular types of acts. For example, it seems extremely odd to me that “homoeroticism” would automatically take a book into “burning.” What if it’s a kisses-only book about two men? Why would that merit a “burning” rating?

    I think updating makes sense, things change and you need to make sure you keep current. I agree with Laura that automatically making m/m stories a “burning” rating does not make sense. I think the ratings should not be dependant on the gender identification of the characters, but on the explicitness of the writing. Like any other book, there can be more or less emphasis on the physical relationship and the ratings should simply reflect that. If tags can help with that, then that should be considered.
    I also agree that sensuality is not always tied to sexuality, so I don’t know if that can be broken out or not. This is not a quick check box item, but is more subjective. Some writing can be explicit sexually, but not really very sensual.

  7. AAR Sandy says:

    Just to keep things on track here, I am not certain how a system of keywords could be created — it’s a technical challenge I’m not sure we could crack. Sensuality ratings are what’s on the table here today.

    • RobinB says:

      AAR Sandy: Just to keep things on track here, I am not certain how a system of keywords could be created — it’s a technical challenge I’m not sure we could crack.Sensuality ratings are what’s on the table here today.

      Sandy, as a kind of guidance, you might want to check out the way keywords accompany ratings for television programs. I especially notice these keywords on programs like “Justified”, “Spartacus”, “Boardwalk Empire”, et. al. All of these are programs which are definitely not for children or for those with delicate sensibilities, and the specific keywords (violence, nudity, etc.) are ways people can understand why a program has a TV-MA rating, for example.

      I look at the sensuality ratings when I read AAR reviews, mainly because I like romance fiction to be, shall we say, “spicy”! I’ve read one or two novels that would be considered very low on the sensuality/sexuality scale, and I just felt that something was missing from the story!

    • MD says:

      AAR Sandy: Just to keep things on track here, I am not certain how a system of keywords could be created — it’s a technical challenge I’m not sure we could crack. Sensuality ratings are what’s on the table here today.

      Why is that a technical challenge (asks someone who has tech experience and could maybe suggest solutions)? In any case, I would find keywords very useful, because some of the rating boundaries fall differently for me (I am much less bothered by explicit language than by some of the, let’s say, “less vanilla” play). Even if keywords went into the review directly (and so weren’t searchable), but it just said something like “Rated hot because of X”, I’d think it would be very useful, much more so than a single rating. Just like movies say “Rated R: offensive language”. Only “R” may be displayed prominently, but someone who wants to find out why, can.

  8. LeeAnn says:

    New rankings are a good idea, but I’m not happy with the word “none”. It just doesn’t go anywhere or say anything when there’s still romance in the book. Maybe something innocent like, “sweet”. Then again, maybe that sounds, well, too sweet. Then again, the opposite of hot or burning is “cool”.

    • Carrie says:

      LeeAnn: New rankings are a good idea, but I’m not happy with the word “none”.It just doesn’t go anywhere or say anything when there’s still romance in the book.Maybe something innocent like, “sweet”. Then again, maybe that sounds, well, too sweet. Then again, the opposite of hot or burning is “cool”.

      I like the idea of “cool” instead of “none,” although I still prefer the term, “subtle.”

      I’m good with keeping the status quo or updating as you detailed above. While I wouldn’t mind a heads up about sexual violence (or graphic violence of any kind) in the review itself, I don’t see a good way to add that to the general ratings.

      A rating system is helpful for me. I look at the sensuality rating to get an idea of where to mentally shelve the book. In other words, sometimes I’m in the mood for “subtle” and sometimes I’m in the mood for “hot,” and I like knowing which books to pull off my shelf (or upload on the Kindle).

  9. Jean Wan says:

    I agree that Kisses should be kept Kisses – “none” doesn’t seem right.

    Otherwise, I kind of see it like upsizing cup sizes – the medium becomes small, large becomes medium, etc.

    Other possible alternatives for ratings – going for a movie ratings, or video game ratings style? G, PG, M/AA, R, X type thing?

  10. DabneyAAR says:

    When I first began reading romances four years ago, I found the sensuality ratings to be hugely helpful–along with the fabulous power search feature. I knew I liked fairly racy books (the hot and warm categories) and preferred historicals and contemporaries. To this day, I don’t read many subtle or kisses books–they’re just not what I’m looking for in a romance. I love that AAR has the sensuality ratings.

    For me, the frequency of the love scenes plays into the rating. In the book I review today, Unraveled, the middle third of the book is almost nonstop sex. I mentioned it in the review because I know there are readers that might dissuade from reading the book. We could consider adding, in addition to sensuality/sexuality ratings, a frequency rating.

    I rate same sex romances with the same standards I used for heterosexual romances. I would bump up the rating were either the hero or the heroine having sex with both men and women.

  11. lauren says:

    For those that are uncomfortable with sex in books I think a rating system is a handy thing to have…I do think that “none” is not quite right…maybe “innocent” would be better…it doesn’t mean nothing happens it just means no detail.

  12. Cecilia Ryan says:

    “Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.”

    You’re kidding, right? Are you seriously suggesting perpetuating the idea that GLBTQ relationships are somehow more adult than M/F relationships?

    Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

    • Carrie says:

      Cecilia Ryan: “Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.”You’re kidding, right? Are you seriously suggesting perpetuating the idea that GLBTQ relationships are somehow more adult than M/F relationships?Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

      I would think of it more as “vanilla” and not “adult.” I’m sure no offense is meant. The ratings are never perfect, and always try to hit at a middle ground. For the majority of readers, vanilla sex is going to be m/f in a missionary position with few variations. I don’t consider oral sex more “adult” than straight sex, but I can see where in a rating system it might be considered a little more adult. I’m assuming m/m and f/f is in that same category…an alternative.

      Cheers.

    • lauren says:

      Cecilia Ryan: “Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.”You’re kidding, right? Are you seriously suggesting perpetuating the idea that GLBTQ relationships are somehow more adult than M/F relationships?Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

      Goodness I don’t believe anything negative or otherwise was intended…but as a avid reader of romance and in particular books with more eroticism in them I do prefer to exclude any gay/lesbian relationships for the most part…in other words I do not seek stories in that vein but I am not offended by them either…heck there are people out there that don’t like masturbation either and would welcome knowing that so they could pass that book by if they choose.

    • Wendy - AAR says:

      Cecilia Ryan: “Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.”You’re kidding, right? Are you seriously suggesting perpetuating the idea that GLBTQ relationships are somehow more adult than M/F relationships?Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

      Cecilia, no offense was intended. Gay/Lesbian relationships and love scenes in a novel are in no way shocking to me. But I’m not the general public. We have to consider everyone who depends on the website, and same sex love scenes are not considered main stream, no matter how progressive society has become.

      • Danielle says:

        Wendy – AAR:
        Cecilia, no offense was intended. Gay/Lesbian relationships and love scenes in a novel are in no way shocking to me. But I’m not the general public. We have to consider everyone who depends on the website, and same sex love scenes are not considered main stream, no matter how progressive society has become.

        Does the average AAR reader pick books from the review list based only on grade, sensuality rating and book type, bypassing the actual review? Otherwise, only in the absence of review content that discusses the relationship and the characters would it seem possible to remain ignorant of what sexual lifestyle the novel presents. More problematically, to assign a book that contains only kisses, for example, a sensuality rating that is based on gender and not on heat seems a value judgment, not a content description. Does AAR really want to change the sensuality rating into an arbiter of moral values, mainstream or not?

    • London says:

      Cecilia Ryan: “Straight sex only, Male/Female only, with no alternatives involved.”You’re kidding, right? Are you seriously suggesting perpetuating the idea that GLBTQ relationships are somehow more adult than M/F relationships?Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

      My thoughts exactly. We should be past the point where ratings are based on sexual orientation. The amount of sex depecticted in a novel is completely independent of the gender of the adults involved.

  13. KLeRosier says:

    I agree a new system is needed. This post made a good stab at a system.
    “Adult” bookstores are porn stores. The word adult may be a poor choice but it has long been used to signify not for minors.

    I wouldn’t use ambiguous words like Hot, Warm, or even Vanilla because it’s meaning varies with individual. Even straight sex is misleading.

    I think some rating is important since so many things can be offending to different people. I’d want it to be more descriptive than the one suggested in this blog but admit it is a challenge.

    Below is the rating system Wild Rose Press uses. It has more definitive descriptions but some words like sizzling need to be replace.

    I would replace the tittles with numbers or something less ambiguous, and maybe add a 1-2 gradient or level between (3)Spicy and (4)Hot

    Wild Rose Press Sensuality Rating:
    Sweet : Contains no visual love scenes but can include sexual tension.

    Sensual : Contains a high degree of sexual tension, steamy kisses and passionate clinches, but all fully consummated love scenes will be implied behind closed doors and not described.

    Spicy : Contains detailed love scenes, including descriptions of foreplay and consummation.

    Hot : Contains sizzling detailed love scenes and explicit content, which may be offensive to some.

    GLV: Contains graphic language and/or violence.

  14. Amber says:

    I liked this spread to cover the books I see being published. The only thing I somewhat objected to is the “Scorching” terminology. When put in place, beside None, Warm and Hot, then it becomes more clear. But all in its own, if I hear “Scorching”, I think of something more along the lines what’s described in Warm or Hot. Because Scorching is, in itself, a kind of euphemism for hot sex. So I’d expect euphemisms in the book. I like the Wild Rose Press’s GLV for graphic language or violence. Just another label that could convey the idea of holy-freaking-cow-this-is-explicit-and-raunchy-as-hell.

  15. Tesa says:

    I definitely think that ratings should be more about the actual writing than about the gender of the characters, as was previously mentioned by Lori. When I think of an author like J.R. Ward, who is gradually moving into more developed m/m narratives, all of her books hit the “Hot” and above while what we’ve seen from Suzanne Brockmann’s m/m scenes (Troubleshooters only) is basically Kisses. I want to know that going into the book and I find the sensuality ratings system really useful for that.

    That said, it would make sense to move something from “Warm” to “Hot” or “Burning” if there are more than two partners of any gender. I suppose one could argue that menages could be vanilla, by virtue of the description, but when they appear I expect things to be pretty graphic.

  16. Pamela says:

    I agree with the poster that suggested an a few word explanation to follow the rating like one sees on cable show. Ie: rated hot for frequent explicit sex.

  17. Louise says:

    I agree with what many have said – the None doesn’t work for me. Either Subtle, Sweet, Kisses – any of those are better. Beyond that? I think Wendy has set up some general guidelines that work and that would be easy to follow/understand for reviewers and readers alike! Kudos, Wendy!

    • Wendy - AAR says:

      Louise: I agree with what many have said – the None doesn’t work for me. Either Subtle, Sweet, Kisses – any of those are better. Beyond that? I think Wendy has set up some general guidelines that work and that would be easy to follow/understand for reviewers and readers alike! Kudos, Wendy!

      Thanks Louise! I actually felt the same way about the “none” designation, but sometimes there aren’t kisses and there can be romance without a single suggestion of sex beyond the abstract. Platonic, asexual, nothing seemed to work.

      Perhaps Mild, in keeping with the Hot and Burning designations?

  18. Kat J. says:

    How about a rating for sexuality and one for violence?

    H/R = Hot/Rape, H/V = Hot/violence, H/B = Hot/bondage, H/MS = Hot/Sadism

    That would cover the violence aspect as separate from sex.

  19. Wendy - AAR says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions! There are some good ideas here and hopefully we’ve provided a means of simplifying the ratings.

  20. I agree that sensuality ratings are much needed, as long as the rankings aren’t misleading about the “tone” of the book. For instance, I have a novel of corruption, greed and suspense in an historical New York City setting. The hero and heroine are very magnetically/sensually drawn, but according to the discussion above the book would be ranked “sweet” or “none”. Both of those would seriously misrepresent the book, whereas “tender” would be less syrupy.

  21. xina says:

    I usually ignore the sensuality readings. Ten years ago when I first started reading romance and reading the board, I did pay attention, but now..not so much. I do realize that these ratings are important to some, and I also agree that romance novels have, for the most part, gotten more explicit. For those readers that want to know what they are wading into, I think it’s a good idea.
    Why not just keep the n/a rating, instead of none. Also, still keeping the kisses rating? I think that is helpful. As for the keyword tagging system, I can see that getting way out of hand. You could have a long, long list of keywords. I would think the review itself could explain as much as the reader has to know and further with the sensuality rating. When decided you could post the template of those ratings instead of using keywords.
    At any rate. I do agree that it is time for an update.

  22. Melissa says:

    I think the ratings could be revised. I am doubtful about putting homoerotic work automatically in the Burning category. It seems there’s nothing more inherently erotic about this work; some stories are very much in a ‘kisses’ category and others definitely in the ‘burning’ category. It should be obvious from the main text of the review whether the main characters are m/f, m/m or f/f.

  23. Sue Stewart says:

    I agree that sexual orientation should not be tied to a rating. I also agree that some people may prefer to not encounter GLBTQ relationships — but I have *never* seen a review of a book that included other than M/F relationships that failed to mention it.

    THUS — no need to tie either “straight” or alternate gender combinations to any rating. The synopsis in the review will protect those who don’t want to read books with these relationships.

  24. CindyS says:

    I am a reader who has always looked at the sensuality ratings because I have no interest in books without sex. Now, I don’t need to know all the nitty gritty about what kind of sex is happening because I don’t like spoilers. The idea of tags would be like spoilers for a reader like me. (There was a movie tag that told me exactly what was going to happen to one character which took the shock and emotion out of the scene because I knew it was coming.

    What I want to know is how sexy the book is – and in today’s market I think erotica has become more main stream and there was a need to maybe look at the top level of the ratings.

    I do think there is a wide gap between the warm and hot with these groupings but it’s a start – maybe even just adding romantica as a final rating which should let readers know that anything goes.

    CindyS

  25. Yuri says:

    I agree with everyone else re: the m/m relationships. It should be obvious from the review that it is m/m but it has nothing to do with the sensuality ratings and shouldn’t be a factor.

    Also agree with Subtle / Kisses designation rather than none. Sweet may not always be descriptive as some Kisses romances may not be that sweet.

    Re: Sensuality vs sexuality I would prefer to keep it to the former simply because I’m afraid that otherwise all the AAR reviews will get caught in the internet filters for public access computers and I won’t be able to read them!

  26. Nikki says:

    Everybody has their own place they’re coming from. The two Romance sensuality rating categories I’d like to see are:

    Integral
    Gratuitous

    : )

  27. PatH AAR says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    * “None” is a great rating especially for some of the Amish and ultra conservative Christian books I’ve read.

    * “Alternative” could be considered as a rating for those that deal with bondage, three-/four-/many-way couplings, gay/lesbian, and other alternative lifestyle books.

    * Since the power search is such a wonderful tool for readers who are just dipping into romance or those who want to broaden their reading or want to take the sensuality level up or down, shouldn’t there be some correlation be made if the ratings are changed? In other words, shouldn’t a review read “warm–formerly known as hot” so readers would know that yesterday’s hot is today’s warm?

    • Benoibe says:

      PatH AAR: A couple of thoughts:* “None” is a great rating especially for some of the Amish and ultra conservative Christian books I’ve read.* “Alternative” could be considered as a rating for those that deal with bondage, three-/four-/many-way couplings, gay/lesbian, and other alternative lifestyle books.* Since the power search is such a wonderful tool for readers who are just dipping into romance or those who want to broaden their reading or want to take the sensuality level up or down, shouldn’t there be some correlation be made if the ratings are changed?In other words, shouldn’t a review read “warm–formerly known as hot” so readers would know that yesterday’s hot is today’s warm?

      I’m very much in agreement with PatH!! Especially about the “alterbpnative

    • Benoibe says:

      PatH AAR: A couple of thoughts:* “None” is a great rating especially for some of the Amish and ultra conservative Christian books I’ve read.* “Alternative” could be considered as a rating for those that deal with bondage, three-/four-/many-way couplings, gay/lesbian, and other alternative lifestyle books.* Since the power search is such a wonderful tool for readers who are just dipping into romance or those who want to broaden their reading or want to take the sensuality level up or down, shouldn’t there be some correlation be made if the ratings are changed?In other words, shouldn’t a review read “warm–formerly known as hot” so readers would know that yesterday’s hot is today’s warm?

      I’m very much in agreement with PatH!! Especially about the “alternative” label. It is nearly essential. For readers seeking those type of novels and for those who would not be interested in the stories. It’s not offensive, as my music is considered alternative.. :)

  28. What a timely discussion since I currently have a romance WIP and am diong erotica under a pen name. Thanks!

  29. Benoibe says:

    I wonder are these changes going to be retrospective? Or will novels published after a certain date be guided by these new ratings?

    But my true request is that there be something between none and warm. Subtle was a great word already used for a romance that is pg. “None” would mean there’s no romantic moments at all. Especially to new users. And there is a great difference between none and warm.

    I also suggest plus and minus type system, as is used with the grading system. So Warm +” or “Warmer” could help distinguish those books with a few nice love scenes, vs a sexy novel that uses innuendo and builds intensity with soft words that actually amount to sexy scenes. Those that aren’t quite hot but they are more than warm. For example.

    I think Lisa Kleypas is a great example of an author I consider warm for the most part. But they are very passionate. Some are pure passion. They may or may not hit the hot rating, but she’s got a few books that I would have trouble categorizing. I’d call them “Warmer”.

    Anyway, I hope these might be valuable suggestions. I don’t mean to ramble. I love this site and always have it open in a tab.
    Your ratings have helped me find books that are cherished.
    Thank you.

  30. Luluwrites says:

    I don’t see much point in revamping, if all you are doing is replacing “subtle” and “kisses” with “none”. If for no other reason than there has never been a book written with absolutely no sensuality at least alluded to, except maybe Green Eggs and Ham.

    I agree with KLeRosier. There are lots of book sites out there that handle this issue easily. Her suggestions from Wild Rose Press are just one example. Several book review blogs and e-book publishers have similar systems that work well too.

    Or go to codes that the reader can easily access to interpret – e.g. m/m. Or, break reviewed books into overall categories e.g. romantic, sensual and erotic. Then if a member only likes to read books with some sex, but without graphic language and limited experimentation they can search through all the books in the “sensual” category. Then within each of these categories you can break them down further.

    And I do think showing a violence factor could have some value, if this site actually reviews books with any graphic violence. I’d much rather read a book with graphic, non-vanilla sexuality than one with gratuitous violence.

    I’d say either make a meaningful change, or don’t bother changing it at all.

  31. Sometimes the warnings are more offensive than the material! There’s a difference between a kisses-only gay romance and a raunchy erotic four-way. Putting those in the same “alternative” category is like equating gay with kink. I also don’t see what rape has to do with anything. A book can be kisses-only with a non-titillating rape scene. I don’t like the idea of tying rape or sexuality with a heat rating.

    I do see it as a value judgment when the “offensive” content (language, homoeroticism, dubious consent) alters the heat rating.

  32. Moriah Jovan says:

    I also don’t see what rape has to do with anything. A book can be kisses-only with a non-titillating rape scene. I don’t like the idea of tying rape or sexuality with a heat rating.

    I like forced seduction, which is frequently called rape by people who don’t like it. So if I see a tag with forced seduction, I’ll pay attention for my own reasons. Other people will pay attention for their reasons, which may not necessarily coincide.

  33. @Moriah

    I’m not arguing against tags to indicate specific content, just scratching my head over the idea that rape or homosexuality makes a book “hotter.”

  34. Rwa kulszowa says:

    Od dawna szukałem artykułu na temat It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings All About Romance’s News & Commentary Blog . Dzięki

  35. pwnn says:

    Homosexual relationships are not any more erotic than heterosexual ones. Neither are the romances. They vary just like m/f. Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Klugar pretty much fade to black and kisses. A historical by Tamara Allen will have very subtle sexuality – or a sex scene far less explicit than in a 1985 Trad Regency by Balogh. A Josh Lanyon will usually have one or two relatively short emotion and character based sex scenes. Whereas one by K.A. Mitchell will be scorching like a Lora Leigh and others with truly hardcore bdsm or continuous sex might blow one’s head off. It’s all not the same.

    The m/m designation as HOT or erotic as others have pointed out is just flat out mislabeling for many books. It’s just pandering to moral judgements on what isn’t seen as “acceptable” behavior. As if seeing a kiss between two men is the same as watching a man and woman fully engage in kinky sex because it’s just so perverted and taboo. This isn’t the 1950s, it’s not even the 1990s anymore.

    Moreover, I don’t see who it would helpful to – not to anyone trying to choose between m/m books based on heat level certainly. And not to those who don’t want to read m/m at all – regardless of heat level.

  36. pwnn says:

    I agree with the idea that frequency should be mentioned. More and more I’m finding it’s not the heat level I’m concerned with but the frequency and length – because too many and too long just becomes dull in most cases. I’d rather have more plot and character development than half a dozen 8 page sex scenes tossed in and a book with one Burning sex scene reads far less like romantica than one with half a dozen hot or warm ones.

    I like the Violence rating idea as well.

  37. Ellie says:

    I like a good, consistent heat rating, because that helps me pick out books that match my reading mood. Reading one you’re not in the mood for could spoil the best of books for a reader.

    I don’t want a violence rating. There’s a lot of elements in books to appeal or repel and I don’t see the point in a violence warning, unless other tags were also added to books.

    While the old rating system may need modernizing, I do not prefer the suggested one. “None” only makes sense to me when applied to women’s fiction, historical fiction or YA. Subtle or sweet are good descriptions for a kisses only type romance. Your other suggested ratings seem to be broken down by sexual act and don’t incorporate the amount of sexual tension and focus on sexual matters. Page counts of sex scenes also don’t matter to me, I don’t think they are equivalent to the hotness level.

  38. Suzette says:

    I love your website and come specifically for the ratings. I try to avoid books with explicit sexual content and trust the judgement of your reviewers to help me pick books. I don’t mind some nondescriptive sex and appreciate the “subtle” rating. I think “none” is too obscure. I want a rating between “none” and “warm” as these are the books I target.

  39. Lucy Francis says:

    I’ve used your ratings as a reader for years, but had intended on using them as a writer, so I have a standardized sort of way to let potential readers know what to expect from my books. I agree that it’s time for an updated version, and the separation described between hot and burning looks good. I agree with Suzette, though, that there needs to be another level between None and Warm. I think None looks good. Perhaps break down Warm into two levels: One, the reader is present but the sex is written very subtly, more about the emotions than the body parts or thrusting. Two, the sex is more vibrant, hotter but without delving into harsh language, or extraneous activities with toys, ropes, or anal. To me, oral could go with either Warm or Hot depending on whether the reader is given an overall view of the scene or an extreme closeup.

  40. worldclock says:

    It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings All About Romance’s News & Commentary Blog – just great!

  41. Laura says:

    I suggest separating out ‘hotness’/explicitness from the genders of characters involved in the sexual relationship(s) depicted in a book. For example, there are ‘sweet’ male/male romances (though they may be in the minority of m/m books) that shouldn’t be automatically rated as hot just because the two characters are both male. (same with f/f or any ménage pairing variation). Noting these relationships exist in the book is still likely worth doing, because each of us has our preferences as to what kind of pairings we prefer to read, but they aren’t representative of sexual explicitness anymore, if they ever were, and should not be conflated.

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