Sunday, June 15, 2014

Behind The Cover: Romance Heat Levels

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

At BWL, part of the book information an author provides is a genre designation and if it involves a romance, either as the main genre or a sub-genre, they also include the romance heat level.  Now this throws off many people, especially since heat levels, just like comfort levels, vary from author to author, and reader to reader.

Something to consider, I started my career in the erotica field of the spectrum, so my 3 probably differs from someone who has never even read an erotic romance's definition of a 3.

So I have a basic scale that the authors are provided.
1: Sweet  --- 5: Melt your screen HOT

I had hoped that would be enough, but I forgot, not everyone is as comfortable with my level of screen melting.  So for some people, screen melting might be fairly tame to me.  So I still find at times, that authors have problems deciding what deserves a 3, versus when does it tip into a 4.  This isn't through any fault of their own - so please, don't read that into what I am saying.  It all has to do with our own perceptions of things.

So here in plain terms, is what I think of with each heat level designation.

1. We are talking sweet or inspirational romances, or those that only hint at a romance subplot, etc.

Cover results ... NO nudity or any kind!  Full clothing, no embraces that even hint at passion or lust.  Maybe dreamy eyes or holding hands, but that's it.

2. Close the door romances, and those with a bit more of a romance subplot, where a kiss is really all the readers are privy to.

Cover results ... Maybe a shoulder, bare male torso, or a soft kiss.  Nothing majorly scandalous.

3. Now we are getting somewhere - bedroom door is open, but details are flowery or fairly sparse in detail.

Cover results ... Bare skin, maybe an embrace with a more passionate kiss.

4. Details are flowing and clothes are flying. Yeah baby!

Cover results ... Nudity alert!  Might have a partially nude couple, bare torsos on guys, suggestive images, etc on the cover.

 5. These are generally spice releases, but I have seen a couple some through with a heat rating of 5 for a non-spice (generally because the romance is a sub-plot but it is still explicit!).

Cover results ... No holds barred, anything and everything goes on the cover, which matches the characters.  *wink, wink*

Can we tell what covers I still enjoy creating?