So Define Hot... (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

If you take a look at some of the bestselling novels -- adult or YA -- you'll notice that many (not all) of them incorporate a high degree of heat. I'm talking about romance, sex, interpersonal connection kind of heat. And if you go by the current out-of-control adult bestseller, it would seem that sex is the necessary ingredient. But I beg to differ!

To me, heat isn't all about what happens behind the closed door (the one that often stays closed in YA lit.) It's about everything that leads up to that. It's about the slow simmer that turns into the rolling boil of desire. Heat is about chemistry. It's about what brings two people together, what turns them on to each other. To me, sweet, nurturing romance is even hotter than down and dirty lust.

I know there are many out there who read a romantic story and go back to reread the - shall we say 'explicit'  bits over again. But to me the real heat is in the parts that lead up to that. I want to reread the sweet sexy wooing bits, the scenes in which the characters' thoughts and actions act as a magnet to draw the other person in. I'm not saying the explicit elements aren't hot too. They are of course. But in my opinion, the relationshipy elements that create the path to the explicit elements are just as hot.

In YA circles there is a lot of talk about how far the characters can go. I personally believe there really aren't rules to this. Lots of folks say there are. But those rules have all been broken. I suppose if you want your book in every school library and in the school fairs, you've got to leave out the sex scenes. But truthfully you've got to leave out a lot more than that to get into those arenas. So I say let the truth of the story and the characters play out as each story demands. But in doing so, enjoy the fun in letting the heat show up long before it's played out in physical connections.

Where do you like to see heat in romantic stories?


  1. I so agree with you! For me, it's all about that slow simmer. A lot of times the story feels over, finished once that fire gets "doused."

  2. That's a good point, Coleen. Sometimes we have to think about how to build it up again once it's been "doused"!

  3. I'm with you, Cheryl--the steamy scenes only work for me if they're preceded by a fantastic "simmer."

  4. In my opinion you nailed it. The hottest scenes are the build up if you do them right!!!!!


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