I’m Not "Unclean"!
I hate the word clean when followed by the word romance! There, I said it! I love romance, that’s for sure, but it’s the expression “clean romance” that I dislike.
Why call those heart-wrenching small-town romance “clean?” Why “clean"? A love story devoid of explicit sex can have other qualifiers, because if they are called “clean”, it means that every other type of romance is “unclean”. Does that mean I’m “unclean”? If that’s the case, let it be!
Don’t get me wrong. A story can be sweet, light, heart-warming… and with those words I can guess that that the sex intensity is low while my interest remains sky high. On the opposite, when the word romance is linked with “passionate, intense, dark,” I know what kind of novel I get.
You think I am against sweet romance? WRONG!! I love them. I am an avid reader of romance novels in general, and I would miss out on so many facets of the human experience if I didn’t read sweet or light romance as they should be called.
Little anecdote… an incredible British lady introduced me first to this type of romance many years ago. Betty, the mother of a friend and a WWII bride who emigrated to Canada with the love her life, LOVED this subgenre. When I told her that I had decided to write a romance novel, she had been one of my very first cheerleaders, and my very first beta reader too!
What she didn’t know, I wasn’t into sweet romance 😉
Proud and nervous, I handed her my shiny new manuscript for her to read. A couple of weeks later, she invited me back for tea and to give me her impressions. Between tea and crumpets, she told me her opinion of my story and candidly revealed that she had skipped certain parts. Puzzled, I asked her which ones, and she only smiled. I understood and smiled too. I respected her taste. That night, she offered me to read one of her favorite books by Maeve Binchy and loved it. It opened a brand-new world to me and to this day, even if it had been years since she passed, I still remember this evening with fondness and I still read the stories she loved.
Romance is diverse and inclusive; it’s a fascinating genre. And that’s why I think that “clean” shouldn’t be a descriptive for any subgenre, like saying that it is “right” or “wrong.”
Whatever the type of romance that makes your heart flutter, you will find the perfect gem to cozy up to. It may be sweet or hot, full of sex or filled with shy kisses, I don’t care. It’s the beauty of it.
And rest assured that I will always promote sweet romance, and hot stories too. And for me, they will never be defined as clean or unclean, right or wrong… they will always be incredibly perfect.