Scene: the Information Desk. Time: about a year ago.
Elderly lady, very well put together with perfect makeup and hair: Excuse me? Do you have love stories here?
Me: Yes! What kind of love story do you want?
EL: You know…..Love stories with…love…in them.
Me (lowering voice): Ok, how do you feel about sex scenes?
EL: Oh, yes please. Lots of those.
Me: [Five books later, at the stacks]: And then there’s THIS author. I had to put her down because it had too many sex scenes for me.
EL: Oh lovely!
EL’s husband (wearily, to me): Gee thanks.
When people ask me what I never thought I’d be doing at work, asking total strangers how they feel about sex scenes is pretty much my definition of the “They never told me!” However, from a Librarian’s perspective, it’s an important question. People want different things in their book and if you want something to spice up your days (or nights), we’re here for you!
So, if you want to get some “love” reading in before this Valentine’s Day, here’s a list that goes from clean to steeeeeaaamy.
Behind Closed Doors
The technical term for “no sex, low violence, no swearing” is Clean Reads-just in case you want to use the official term the next time you come in.
Even now / Karen Kingsbury .
Kay’s note: The queen of clean reads is Karen Kingsbury. She is also prolific, so if you like her books, you have a treat!
Emily Anderson—a college freshman raised by her grandparents who’s about to take her first internship as a journalist. But before she can move ahead, she discovers a love story whose tragic ending came with her birth. As a result, she is drawn to look back and search out the mother she’s never met. A young woman seeking answers to her heart’s deep questions. A man and woman separated by lies and long years, who have never forgotten each other. With hallmark tenderness and power, Karen Kingsbury weaves a tapestry of lives, losses, love, and faith—and the miracle of resurrection.
The grand Sophy / Georgette Heyer.
Kay’s note: If you want a more traditional and fun, but clean, romance, you really can’t go wrong with Georgette Heyer.
When Lady Ombersley agrees to take in her young niece, no one expects Sophy, who sweeps in and immediately takes the ton by storm. Sophy discovers that her aunt’s family is in desperate need of her talent for setting everything right: Ceclia is in love with a poet, Charles has tyrannical tendencies that are being aggravated by his grim fiancee, her uncle is of no use at all, and the younger children are in desperate need of some fun and freedom. By the time she’s done, Sophy has commandeered Charles’s horses, his household, and finally, his heart.
I’m defining this category as books where you have a slow romantic build to the denouement…and then the couple try to figure out who’s trying to kill them, usually culminating the in the bad person falling over a cliff.
River road : a novel / Jayne Ann Krentz.
It’s been thirteen years since Lucy Sheridan was in Summer River. The last time she visited her aunt Sara there, as a teenager, she’d been sent home suddenly after being dragged out of a wild party– by the guy she had a crush on, just to make it more embarrassing. Obviously Mason Fletcher– only a few years older but somehow a lot more of a grown-up– was the overprotective type who thought he had to come to her rescue. Now, returning after her aunt’s fatal car accident, Lucy is learning there was more to the story than she realized at the time. Mason had saved her from a very nasty crime that night– and soon afterward, Tristan, the cold-blooded rich kid who’d targeted her, disappeared mysteriously, his body never found. Summer River has changed, from a sleepy farm town into a trendy upscale spot in California’s wine country. And when he and Lucy make a shocking discovery inside Sara’s house, and some of Tristan’s old friends start acting suspicious, Mason’s quietly fierce instincts kick into gear.
Welcome to Temptation / Jennifer Crusie.
Kay’s note: This book has, in my opinion, the best “water tower as secondary character” in a novel.
Sophie Dempsey is the straightest arrow in her family of con artists and former juvenile offenders. She has taken care of her family her entire life, even raising her sister Amy and her brother Davy when their father lost interest in them. Now she runs a wedding-video business with Amy in Cincinnati; dates a dull, sexless therapist; and is eternally searching for comfort. When Sophie and Amy are invited by their old friend Clea, an aspiring actress and former porn star, to make a video showcasing her talents to use for her great comeback, Sophie is less than enthusiastic. But she soon finds herself in Clea’s hometown of Temptation, Ohio, where the locals are immediately suspicious of them and their project. The plan is to shoot the video in a few days, but things keep getting in the way, like the town’s sexy mayor, small-town politics, the parade of Clea’s admirers, and a murder.
Heat level: volcanic
Defined as the hero and heroine do what…well…consenting adults do.
Notorious pleasures / Elizabeth Hoyt .
Kay’s note: I love Elizabeth’s Hoyt’s books because she tries a different situation in each one. She even has a book where the villain of the previous two books is the hero (and it works!). The one I’ve recommended below is the second in her Maiden Lane series and could be loosely described as the “two clever aristocrats banter” style of romance.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect – and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire – desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero’s wedding nears, and Griffin’s enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?
When he was wicked / Julia Quinn.
Kay’s note: Although I enjoy reading romances, one of the things I sometimes have issues with is the heroes: they often feel interchangeable and not fully written. That’s not the case in Julia Quinn’s novels; my favorite of her works is When he was wicked.
Michael Stirling and his cousin John, the Earl of Kilmartin, are as close as brothers. However, Michael is secretly in love with John’s wife Francesca Bridgerton. When John suddenly dies from an aneurysm, Michael is wracked with guild and pain from his loss. The earldom is now Michael’s responsiblity, but he doesn’t want it. And, his self-imposed exile to India does nothing to relieve him of his shame–or his longing for Francesca. Even though he is determined to remain simply her friend and confidant when he returns to London, the temptation is far too great.
And that author I recommended to the Elderly Lady? Just stop by the Information Desk some day and I’ll give you the author’s name.