Back before the advent of the ereader visiting bookshops was one of my most loved experiences. I’d go book-hopping at lunchtime from work, always visiting the science fiction and fantasy shelves. (And cookbooks.) One place I never browsed was the enormous romance section. Even as a teenager I never read Mills and Boon or Harlequin. So it might seem a little odd that I ended up writing science fiction romance.
I suppose it’s because, whether you like it or not, sex, love, and romance are a part of life. It can be a powerful driver. Look at books like Doctor Zhivago or Romeo and Juliet. Look at historical figures like the Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal as a monument to his dead wife, Mutaz Mahal. Or Henry VIII’s all-consuming (if short lived) love for Anne Boleyn.
But ‘soppy stuff’ didn’t fit into the blokey world of science fiction. Admittedly, James T. Kirk cut a swathe through the ladies in Star Trek, ‘alien’ or not. In the original Star Wars trilogy, though, there was hardly a female in sight, apart from Princess Leia. And the Big Romance with Han Solo was all bickering and one kiss. I thought I could do better than that. So I did.
The result was my first SF novel, The Iron Admiral, which is about a man who lived for his career until it was taken from him. In trying to clear his name he meets an engineer and falls desperately in love for the first time. But she believes he was responsible for an attack which killed her father. Star-crossed lovers, you see. Yes, there are some pretty tame sex scenes. Because for most humans, sex is an intimacy that is a part of love. The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy is free. Find the details here.
Needless to say, the tastes of romance readers when it comes to sex vary. Some enjoy detailed, blow-by-blow sexy times, others like sensual without the ‘how-to’ manual, and still others would prefer authors to close the door and leave it to the reader’s imagination. In science fiction romance, if a book has a headless male torso on the cover, you can be pretty sure that the sex will be frequent and steamy. I think my books fall into that middle group – sensual without the ‘how-to’ manual, a couple of paragraphs, not a couple of pages.
That’s not in any way a judgement. I’m a Star Wars fan, some people love Star Trek. To each his/her own. These days I tend to avoid the books with a high sexual content, or if I read them, I skip over the sex scenes.
It seems I’m not the only. Fellow author Pauline Baird Jones has set up a new website for people just like me.
Welcome to Blush Free Books, a website and newsletter dedicated to building a community of readers who love exciting, action-filled, and well-written books that are hotter than the clean and sweet, but close the door on the steamy scenes.
There are communities aplenty for steamy and inspirational books, but there is an underserved group in the middle: readers who crave well-written books with all the action, suspense, excitement, and romance without the graphic sex. These stories have the edge-of-your-seat action with a hint of spicy language and some of the sexual tension not found in the cleaner-sweeter stories.
I reckon that pretty much describes my books so of course I’ve signed up – both as a reader and an author. You’ll find a few other familiar names, like Veronica Scott, SE Smith, Kyndra Hatch, and Carol van Natta. And, of course, Pauline Baird Jones. Read my review of her book, Relatively Risky, here.
Blush Free Books is not just for SFR. It includes fantasy, paranormal, and crime and suspense. So, if you’re like me and Pauline and find yourself enjoying the love interest but skipping the sex scenes, pop on over and take a look. It’s free and you can register as a reader and/or an author.