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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweet or Steamy?

by Anna Campbell

Right from when I first started reading romance novels in state school (I was an early convert to the genre!), I've always liked a passionate read. As a teenager, books by Anne Mather or Kathleen Woodiwiss definitely got my adolescent heart pounding. All those wonderful sensual scenes and that sizzle of sexual tension.

But just lately I seem to have been on a reading jag for sweeter books so I thought I'd talk about a couple of sweeter reads that I've enjoyed over the years.

One of my all-time favorite books is A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS (1983) by Eva Ibbotson. I dare you not to be charmed by this gorgeous story of a Russian countess trying to make her way in England after the revolution and the lovely, heartbreaking, triumphant romance she has with the owner of the house where she finds work as a maid. I must have read this twenty times and it never fails to make me smile. Kisses are about as hot as this book gets, and I didn't mind at all!

One of my favorite category romances ever is the unforgettable A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE (2010) by Liz Fielding. I'm pretty much a pushover for any of Liz's books. She writes so beautifully and with such deep emotion and her characters really take a hold on your heart.

This lovely romance is set on a game park in Africa, a place Liz knows well. Two damaged and outwardly incompatible people meet and find themselves falling hopelessly in love against the odds, but they both have to deal with the pain of the past before they can move on to the future they both deserve.

Like COUNTESS, this is another one I finished with a big happy sigh. A really good steamy romance doesn't stint on the emotion, but there's just something that catches at your heart about these particular books with their sweeter edge. And plenty of sensual tension if not actual love scenes.

My final sweet read is another all-time favorite of mine. Sophie Weston is an English writer who wrote some brilliant shorter romances, but my favorite book of hers by far is THE BEDROOM ASSIGNMENT (2002).

This one actually has a love scene but I find that with sweet and steamy, often the difference is one of tone rather than whether the relationship reaches physical consummation within the pages of the story. Mind you, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a steamy read with that title which really doesn't express the pleasures of the story within!

The heroine of this one basically falls for the hero at first sight. He's the one who has to become self-aware enough to recognize that his new employee is the woman who will change his life forever and fulfill him in ways he's never imagined. This one will break your heart and then put it together again for a beautiful, sigh-worthy ending. Well worth going to the effort to track down.

So my question for you is, sweet or steamy or a mixture of both depending on your mood?

15 comments:

PJ Ausdenmore said...

For me, it's a matter of mood. Sometimes I want the sexy sizzle of a hot read but other times I prefer an emotional story with sexual tension but no more. There are many wonderful books out there that fit both descriptions and just because a story is sweet doesn't mean it's devoid of depth and emotion. Some of the most emotionally fulfilling books I've read had no sex scenes. Thanks for some new titles to add to my list, Anna!

Jo's Daughter said...

I like the sweeter stories because I read romantic books for the emotions, the connection between people, the love and the friendship they find in each other.

Alina P said...

Most of the time I prefer steamy, but I have been known to read sweet from time to time :)

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, you put that just perfectly. I actually find that some writers can make the touch of a hand more powerful than others can with a whole long love scene. Hope you enjoy these books - they're all lovely!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Jo! That's interesting! I've read all of those things in steamy books but I agree with you, the sweet books can really tug at your emotions, can't they?

Anna Campbell said...

Alina, I tend to go through phases. At the moment, it's definitely a yen for the softer, more emotional books over books with really strongly sexual plots. I'm sure I'll go back to those in time!

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, what great choices! I haven't read that Sophie Weston but the others are classics, aren't they? Like PJ I find it depends on my mood. I remember being on vacation just a few days before Christmas a few years ago and picking up Liz Fielding's latest sweet Christmas story and just melting into it. It was perfect for my mood and the holiday. Other times I want the high drama and tension of a steamier read. Thank goodness there are so many excellent romance writers to deliver what we want, when we want.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you, Anna. I prefer sweet romances. Why? Because sex scenes offend me? No. Because they bore me.

In such a scene, two people can do only so many things. Going into minute detail is absurd. Most variations are either gross or ludicrous.

But if the author focuses on the characters' hearts and heads, there is much more going on. Including just about anything that would interest me.

Kaelee said...

HI Anna ~ I go for a mixture of sweet and steamy with sweet winning out most of the time.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I must lend you that Sophie Weston. I just loved it (I actually thought I HAD lent it to you - I raved about it at the time and I've read it a couple of times since). I just read Liz's latest FOR HIS EYES ONLY which is a little steamier than her usual - she writes the most gorgeous heroes. I'm always in love by the time I finish one of her books. And of course, the Eva Ibbotson is an absolute classic.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Mary Anne. I must say love scenes where it's a purely physical event don't particularly draw me in either. What I love about a good love scene in a romance is that generally there IS a lot going on with heads and hearts. Having said that, lots can go on with heads and hearts when the characters aren't in bed too!

Anna Campbell said...

Kaelee, how interesting! I do love a steamy read but it really does depend on my mood. I hope you'll take some of my recommendations and give them a go. If you like sweet romances, these should really be right up your alley.

hope said...

I love them both too, just as I like salty as well as sweet snacks. It all depends on what my day, week or even night is like. I have read awesome sweet YA novels as well as sultry hot passionate romances that make me melt. All are wonderful as long as the story works and characters appeal in some way, Thanks for the heads up on those new authors (to me) and some new great reads.

Anna Campbell said...

Hope, how lovely I've introduced some new writers to you. I've read lots of stuff by all of them and I doubt you'll be disappointed in anything you pick up from them. I love your sweet and salty comparison. How right you are!

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the sweet and steamy divide! See you next month!