Rating Scale/Romance-Erotic Heat Levels
The following guidelines describe the level of "heat" or sensuality associated with our romance/erotic romance, and erotica stories. Sweet, Sensual, Sizzle and Erotic romance must have a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending. We do not assign heat levels to mainstream, literary, or commercial fiction (except for romance/erotic works), but we do assign a GLVS* warning to stories that contain graphic language/violent situations.
Sweet Romance. A sweet romance focuses on the romantic relationship between the couple. No intimate scenes or sexual situations are described in the book. The book closes the door on any love scene. We may know the main characters have sex but we don’t read about it. Sexual tension is important and can be at a high level. Consider the following two distinctions in a sweet romance.
- Clean/sweet – no foul language, no graphic elements, no sex, no mention of sex, no talking about sex; chaste kissing, hand-holding allowed; no violence. (ex. YA, Inspirational) HEA
- Sweet/sweet -- no sex, or sex happens behind closed doors; sex may be mentioned, or discussed, or happen, but not described; sexual attraction/sensual tension may exist; flirting, kissing, all fully clothed; characters may use an occasional curse word; no violence.
Sensual Romance. A sensual romance elevates the sensuality level of the story with at least one consummated love scene. The love/sex scene is an integral part of the story, and could contribute to the conflict, but is not explicitly described. Emotion, conflict, and sexual tension run high; they drive the story, rather than the race to have sex.
- Additional guidance: any books with nudity; at least one consummated love scene or more but not fully described; high sexual tension; sex talk okay but in “cleaner” language; touching/fondling okay; sex scenes generally happen in the last half of the book. HEA
Sizzling Hot/Steamy/Erotic Romance. Hot/steamy/erotic romance with HEA; graphic sex, complete sex acts, multiple sexual encounters; sexual language/dirty sex talk used; everything graphically described; sex is integral to the story line and perhaps part of conflict, character growth, plot, etc.
- Sizzle. A sizzle romance can be sensual, playful, sexy, edgy and/or graphic. Sex scenes are more frequent and detailed in description. The number of sexual encounters/love scenes (two or more) that occur within the story, as well as the length and depth of description, define this level of heat. The emphasis, however, is on telling the romantic story, not how often or plentiful the sex.
- Erotic Romance. An erotic romance story pushes past the boundaries of traditional romance. Sexual situations not found in traditional sweet-sensual-sizzle romance can be found in erotic romance. The sex is hot and plentiful, the language is graphic and real, and the multiple love/sex scenes throughout are explicitly described. The plot must stay within the confines of a romantic story of two people, with the sex often the driver of the story. HEA ending is a must.
Erotica: An erotica story goes beyond erotic romance to explore sexuality at a higher and diverse level. There may, or may not, be a romance or romantic elements – this is consensual sex, or sexual activity, for the sake of sex and sexual pleasure/gratification. Stories can still be sensual, sexy, intimate and satisfying, while moving beyond traditional intimacy and sexual boundaries. The stories are no holds barred on most sexual situations and may contain elements that are offensive to some. Ménage, multiple partners, BDSM, taboo fantasies are acceptable. The sex is plentiful, sporadic, intentional, chaotic, random, implied, controlled, denied, or maybe not even there at all. Illegal acts are never included in our erotica stories. HEA is not required or expected.
- Additional guidance. Graphic and erotic sex without HEA; sex for the sake of sex; graphically described; sexual language used; multiple partners and various types/levels of sexual activity and partners.
GLVS*. This book contains graphic language and/or violent situations, of a sexual nature or otherwise.