I was recently reading an author’s newsletter and was surprised to find that she took exception to her romances being called “sweet” by a couple of reviewers. I was a bit taken aback when I read on – she stated that a couple of readers were confused as they seem to take the word sweet to mean clean – no sex. I am guessing they were not happy to find out there was a lot of sex on the pages.
As a reviewer, I often use “sweet” in the description of the books I read but now I feel I should explain what I mean by that word.
Yes, often “sweet” means a clean read with no sex or little sex that is not written in a graphic format. As a long-time reader of various genres of romance that still holds true, but I find that to me there is more to “sweet” than what most understand. I think of “sweet” as the couple getting to know each other, doing things together, before hopping in bed.
If a book is considered erotica or erotic then usually there is little sweet to be had, at least not in the mind of the average romance reader, but they are not reading for “sweet”. Readers want a bad boy and have him fill the pages doing naughty things.
In my reviews, I often say “sweet yet steamy” just so that readers know there is some sex and usually written in a graphic manner, but still, there are a number of things the couple (and I have to admit it is mostly the male) do that I consider sweet. For example: He remembers her favorite flower and goes above and beyond to make sure she gets them on her birthday or just after a day at work that could have been better. There is conversation, discussion, laughter and maybe even some tears and not just bouncing on a bed (or other stationary objects). To put it simply, the hero shows his softer side and sometimes only to her.
I will apologize to anyone who misunderstands my use of the word “sweet” but to me I find a romantic, loving guy to be sweet. He can be hot and sexy, of course, who would complain about that? But if that stud is made human by adding compassion, humor, loves kids and puppies, and gets along with her wacky family, then he is immediately a book boyfriend in many eyes.
So yes “sweet” is good and I will continue to use that word but I will be more careful to make sure readers know there is more on the pages than a couple holding hands and walking off into the sunset.